Sunday, August 14, 2011

MICHELLE--- please email us

You are a winner from Meg Mims' Release Party.... please email us at goddessfish at gmail dot com

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

And the WINNERS ARE... Double Crossing Giveaways!

Thanks for posting comments yesterday for my launch party!!

Since TIME is a big part of mystery (the ticking clock), I drew 12 names from all the commenters to represent 12 hours. If you posted multiple times, that boosted your chances! Then I narrowed it down to SIX due to the suspense of wondering who are the winners!

The Twelve -- April, both Heidi's, Jessica, Karen, Laura, Maria, Marian, Marjorie, Michelle, Na and Patty.
The SIX WINNERS:  Karen, Marjorie, Maria, Michelle, Patty and Na.


Tuesday, August 9, 2011


First, thanks to the Goddess Fish peeps - Judy and Marianne - for hosting my party! Smoooochies!!

I want to thank ALL OF YOU who have commented on my blog posts, bought my e-book or plan to buy the print copy when it becomes available. I also want to thank Cheryl St. John, Sharon Mignerey and Jacquie Rogers for "stopping in" and sharing their insights of an author's life and work. I want to thank Astraea Press - publisher Stephanie Taylor, editors Brieanna Robertson and Audrey Jamieson, cover artist Elaina Lee, marketing director Alice Bennett and proofreader Elise McCallister, for their hard work. I have to thank my family -- husband, daughter, Dad, sisters and brothers, nieces and nephews -- plus friends of all kinds -- from the Crabs to the OFE to the Wonsies to the SHUpeeps to the "Lunch Girls" and everyone else too!

And I have to thank God most of all for this wonderful blessing.

I planned a midnight snack of hot chocolate ... mmmmmmmmmmm ... plus a shortbread cookie. Or two. ;-) My favorite type of cookie is shortbread. There's something about that buttery crunch that crumbles and almost melts in your mouth. Add a squiggle of chocolate and it's even better.

I'll be drawing prizes and will contact the winners as soon as possible. Again, THANK YOU so much! Please keep in touch -- through my author website blog or Double Crossing for more information, for future books or exciting news, or my Facebook page. I use Twitter - @megmims - also.

The Allure of Romantic Suspense.... Sharon Mignerey

What could be more compelling that a couple falling in love while saving the world .or at least their little corner of it?  In a nutshell, that’s a romantic suspense, like Meg’s brand new book, Double Crossing.  In these stories, the hero and heroine are rarely looking for that perfect someone because they have more important things on their mind—usually solving a crime or staying a step ahead of the villain who is hot on their trail.  These stories can be a light-hearted adventurous romp, can include a deductive mystery, or can be dark with gothic undertones.  The process of falling in love has a way of raising the stakes and making the whole situation worse than it was before.  It sounds like a perfect story, doesn’t it?

I believe these books are perennially popular because of the combination of romance and danger.  As readers, we tend to think of these stories in terms of their plots of suspense or adventure, but the deeper allure has to do with love and honor.  The plots dip into the emotional lives of readers who can easily imagine being so well-loved that someone else is willing to risk his or her life and who can easily imagine being so honorable as to risk one’s own life for the life of a loved one.  Except the honor is rarely that easy or that simple.  These characters usually have to revisit what they value most and decide whether honor or love wins at the end of the day.  And, if an author is skillful, the characters get to walk away with both, though at the time they make their choices, they don’t know that.

The emotional journey a reader gets to take with the characters involved in choosing love or honor is a compelling one that goes to the heart of who we each imagine ourselves being.  We root for these characters and want them to succeed.  They make us imagine the best parts of our own character in the same way that a hero on the evening news who has saved someone else makes us hope we could be just like that in the same circumstances.
 Meg’s heroine, Lily in Double Crossing is exactly this sort of character.  After her father’s murder, she doesn’t sit around wringing her hands and waiting for someone else to fix things.  She takes matters into her own hands and follows the killer’s trail west.  Things get worse for her when two possible heroes get involved, each with their own agendas.  One is the missionary who wants to marry her—but Lily isn’t sure.  Does he want her or her money?  Is he really interested in helping her find her father’s killer, or does he have some other motive for accompanying her.  The other is a wandering Texan who will help … and Lily knows exactly what he wants because he tells her—she gives him money and he’ll protect her in a simple business arrangement.  Except that it soon becomes anything but simple.  Which man will be the honorable one?

Yes, I want the excitement of the suspense and its adventure.  These are issues of life and death that really matter.  Just as, in the end, love and honor are what really matter.

Sharon Mignerey is the author of eleven award-winning romance and romantic suspense novels that are known for their emotional intensity.  She and Meg were classmates together at Seton Hill University where they earned master’s degrees in Writing Popular Fiction.  All of Sharon’s titles are available as ebooks, instantly downloadable for your Kindle or Nook.


This post is too late for the "Raise A Cuppa at 8:00" since it was London time, but better late than never. Oh my..... I've been in a virtual fog lately. I just heard about the rioting today. What is going on??? I still don't know the whole story. I promise to find out -- for my own knowledge, and to pray for the poor people who are probably scared out of their biscuit tins.

 After all, this is ENGLAND! People are civilized! They drink tea and eat biscuits and crumpets and scones. They give traveling Americans dimes, since they can't use them (happened to me in York, and I didn't speak a word. The lady just handed it over with a cheery, "Here you go, dear! You can use this back home.") Brits have stiff upper lips (probably from drinking so much tea) and they carry on.

But not rioting. That's NOT the carrying on they ought to be doing. So, here's a CUPPA for you, England!! I'll be posting a bunch of tea cups and pots, pretty and quirky. Here's one, in fact.

Check out the resale shop where I found this cheeky pot. I'll keep posting great pics while we all raise our cups to England! To ENGLAND!!

Now THIS cup and double saucer set screams TRADITION!! Isn't it lovely? Raise another cup for England!

This lovely pot is in honor of a good friend, Old Tim. Here's looking at you, and let's raise another cuppa for England! And for India, since the Brits spent a lot of time there and finally went home.

This bone china beauty was manufactured in Japan. Lovely, isn't it? And thanks to China (and India) where tea is grown. Without England, though, would we be drinking it today? TO ENGLAND!!!

Here's a dragon mug with a covered lid. Perfect for those chilly days when you really want to keep the tea HOT and your fingers warm. Raise another CUPPA FOR ENGLAND!! For England! Where the roses bloom in the gardens, where the the musty smell of London's British Museum's Reading Room is wonderful. Aaaaaah. Much better than flames and smashing windows. Shame on you nasty peeps. TO ENGLAND!!

Besides, you might break the antique tea cups! So go home, and brew a CUPPA!! Raise it to ENGLAND!

This one's for my Sweet Pea! And grandkitty, Lucy. :-)  TO ENGLAND!!!

May it be a peaceful land of green fields, forests, roundabouts and tea at elevenses and four.

Supper Time, Supper Time, Sup Sup Supper Time!

It's supper time! Pretty late, actually. So we're sharing a nice, hot plate of sirloin tips over rice. We need more MEAT to get us through till midnight. If any of you are Vegetarians, or Vegans, you can have rice with your veggie salad. Sorry, but I do love meat. ;-)

I learned a lot about how characters' emotions drive the plot from Sharon Mignerey, a wonderful writer and friend who accompanied me in earning our Master's degrees at Seton Hill University. While I didn't work on Double Crossing at Seton Hill, I sure learned while writing another manuscript that a character's actions will NOT seem real or they will seem idiotic or flat and two-dimensional -- IF YOU DO NOT KNOW their background, motives, values and goals. Sharon will be stopping by around 9:30 p.m. to chat about characters and emotions, I hope. She's a fabulous teacher!

So due to Sharon's diligence, and to another BFF named Sharon who also constantly hammered me about how I didn't understand my characters, I now spend two weeks "discovering" these fictional "people" through sketches (not drawings, but a bit of a scene from their past or current situation with dialogue, to hear how they sound) plus a photo or two (People magazine comes in handy, or Google pictures of silent era actors and actresses, or even old books) and an intense detailed chart.

I found Deb Dixon's Goal, Motivation and Conflict book to be the most helpful in delineating character traits. You want to know their backgrounds (birthday, family, education, social status, marital or other relationships, work, hobbies, interests, etc.) that will affect their values and goals. Augh. Just thinking of all that makes me hungry again. Already?? There's always time for more tea -- in a mug, not a fancy cup, with fishies on it that are perfect for the Goddess Fish Promoters!

And scones for dessert, of course. Pass the lemon curd, raspberry jam and clotted cream.

Having photos on hand help me "visualize" the characters and "see" them walk, talk, sit, etc.,  while writing a particular scene. Here is how I pictured Lily Granville:

Here is Ace Diamond, Texas rogue/cowboy/ex-Confederate cavalryman:

What about Charles and Kate, you might ask? Hmm. I didn't really need to picture them since they're not major characters. But Emil Todaro, the lawyer? Yes, I did have someone in mind.

He seemed "toadish" enough, anyway. This man was actually a very fine actor, but he did have an odd mouth. Sorry, just my opinion! Visualize him in a high tight collar, a three piece suit and a gold watch chain over his paunch. Don't forget the frog-like gait when walking. Emil Todaro, come to life in my wacky brain. ;-D

Aunt Sylvia is another quirky character, a former actress and "black sheep" of the Granville family, who was fun to write. Here's how I pictured her:

If you're a writer, and are having trouble nailing down a character, try visual images. It helps!

Don't forget to comment! Your last chance for getting into the extra prize drawings I'm giving away will be at our "Midnight Snack" actually taking place at 11 p.m. If you buy TODAY, send me your order confirmations for Double Crossing and you will receive a Kindle or Nook cover zipper pull.  Best of luck for the other drawings!  AND THANK YOU for stopping in!

A Whole New Meaning to DOUBLE CROSSING!

by Jacquie Rogers

Congratulations to
whose new book, Double Crossing, is for sale today!!! 

I've known Meg for many years, starting when we where both newsletter editors for our respective local chapters.  We've only actually met once in the dozen years we've been friends, but I've alwas been a bit awestruck by her talent.  Now her first book is released and I'm really tickled that it finally happened for her  The readers of the world are in for a huge treat!
Double Crossing is a mystery set in the Old West, mostly on the Transcontinental Railroad.  This is such a unique concept that I just had to send Meg my opinion.  (I always send Meg my opinion whether she wants it or not--usually not.) 

“Lively, witty, and edge-of-your-seat suspenseful, Double Crossing is a wonderful read.”  

Now that the cork is out of the barrel, we're in for a bunch of entertaining books by Meg Mims. :)  So buy Double Crossing, read it, and hang onto your hat because more's coming!

As for me, I'm a lowly scribe as well.  I have two current releases: Much Ado About Marshals (more information on my website) and the other is a fantasy romance, Faery Merry Christmas.  After you buy Double Crossing, I'd be honored if you'd check out my books, too. :)

How about a few Old West philosophy?  This is philosophy we can understand.  As John Wayne said, "Talk slow, talk low, and don’t talk too much."

  • Fast is good but accurate is better.
  • Never kick a cow patty on a hot day.
  • If you’re riding ahead of the herd, take a look back every now and again to see if they are still there.
  • Never corner something meaner than you.
  • If your Horse ain't wanting to go there, neither should you.
  • Shoot straight and speak the truth.
  • Never joke with mules or cooks as they have no sense of humor.
  • Don't drink downstream from the herd.
  • Courage is being scared to death and saddling up anyway.
  • Keep all skunks, bankers & lawyers at a distance.
  • Don't go milkin' your neighbors cow.
And there we go--wisdom from those who earned it the hard way.

Best of luck with your writing career, Meg.  May your saddle never slip.

High Tea Time! Mmmm, Mmmm, Good

I love the idea of high tea. Even low tea. LOL Any tea is fine with me. Here's a fancy tea pot -- decaff for me or I'll never get to sleep) with an assortment of goodies. The idea of high tea is not to eat *everything* but to nibble. Have a finger sandwich. Have a piece of See's candy (the best chocolate, this side of the Atlantic, in my opinion.) Enjoy a cookie--but that's my downfall. I would keep reaching for that plate until they were all gone! I can't resist cookies. Mmmm.

In the mood to BUY Double Crossing? Click here to go to Astraea Press! But we're not done with high tea.

Okay, let's get down to business while we much. Mystery vs. Suspense - what's the difference? Well, it does matter. A mystery usually involves an amateur detective who either discovers a dead body (well, that would include Lily Granville, right?) who teams up with an official sleuth (okay, Double Crossing doesn't fit.) Either a policeman (in DC, the police believe her father committed suicide) or a detective or some other official. And the reader usually follows along gathering clues or following red herrings at the same time as the amateur sleuth, which gives them the chance to discover the murderer's identity.

Mysteries are also rarely written in "first person Point of View" -- in DC, Lily is the readers' "eyes" since the events are happening to her. The reader gets "hooked" into her character, her emotions, her perceptions or misconceptions and experiences events right along with her, and sometimes can see things coming before Lily. And while I included a murder in the beginning to start Lily's "adventure west," there's more of a sense of potential danger than a lurking serial killer, ready to pounce. And in a "first person POV" style of story, no one else's point of view is revealed. The reader is as unsure of Charles, Ace and Emil Todaro as Lily is.

Now let's talk about westerns. While Double Crossing isn't a "traditional" western, I made certain the "flavor" of the west is included. The train details, the dusty streets of Cheyenne, the "cowboy" Lily enlists to help, all add to that flavor. I loved watching western TV shows as a kid, like Bonanza (thanks, Dad, for sharing your love of them too!) and Gunsmoke, High Chaparral, Wild Wild West and Maverick. I loved John Wayne movies (thanks again, Dad!) and was especially inspired by True Grit, released in 1969. I read the Charles Portis' book in college, and let the premise of a young girl's father being murdered simmer for years.

I started/stopped/resumed and finished writing Double Crossing in 2007. Revised it again completely in 2010, and here it is, for sale. I hope you enjoy my version of "True Grit" on a train!

My good friend Jacquie Rogers, who lives in Idaho and writes western romances, will be stopping by... she's a fount of information about mules, horses, cowboys, costume, etc. and her writing is SO FUNNY! I crack up while reading. Join me for Supper at 8 p.m. and we'll discuss characters and emotions. See you then!

And don't forget to comment! Post your email address to reserve a spot on my newsletter mailing list for a prize giveaway! Send me the order confirmation number if you buy Double Crossing today, and you'll get that cute Kindle or Nook zipper pull! Or put it on your cat or dog's collar instead! Thanks for stopping by!

Lunch at Last! Hope You're Not FULL!

By this time, some of you have won a drawing from Goddess Fish Promotions! WOOT!! Isn't it wonderful? And while we're discussing all this food, research and writing, I'm taking down email addresses and I'll be drawing after midnight tonight for my own special prizes. BUY MY BOOK today through Astraea Press for a Kindle (or Nook) cover zipper pull! Send your purchase info to megmims (at) yahoo (dot) com or through a Facebook message.

Secondly, we'll be getting to the MEAT of what inspired me to write Double Crossing. But first, it's lunch time!What's on the menu? These are offerings at my favorite place, Sweet Afton Tea Room in Plymouth, Michigan, shown above. First of all, a pot of tea (decaff this time, perhaps peppermint) and creamy soup – asparagus with dill, cream of tomato or butternut squash (the best of all three!)  These are my usual favorite lunch choices on their menu. Sorry I don't have pictures -- I was too busy enjoying them!

The Tavern Sandwich
Crusty Parmesan bread is warm and stacked with your choice of Black Forest ham, smoked turkey breast or roast beef and served with a cup of our homemade, seasonal soup, a crispy dill pickle and honey mustard on the side.  Delicious!! I usually choose the ham and add cheese. The roast beef is also very good.

Shepherd’s Pie
Our own version of the classic meat pie from northern Great Britain is made with ground round, caramelized onions, mushrooms, and topped with whipped potatoes. This is fabulous. It's often gone by the time I get to the tea room (I am usually running late) so I fall back on the Tavern Sandwich. 

Okay, down to business while we're munching. Oops, a bit of mustard... where's my napkin?

As I mentioned before, one wonderful place that inspired my love for history is Greenfield Village. Another is the Detroit Historical Museum and their Streets of Old Detroit in the basement. They also had a huge train display, and so did my dad (in our basement.) Odd how I'm now writing about trains! But a good friend, Jean Jacobs Coon, gave me several coffee-table sized books about the transcontinental railroad. She knew I loved research. It took a few years, but I managed to absorb a lot of the details about how the UP and CP's joining in Utah really changed American history. Another great resource was Westward by Rail written by William Rae Fraser, published around 1870.

 Here's another image of the "balloon" style smokestack engine... and a lot of the sparks and soot invaded the cars. I love adding realistic details and how characters have to deal with such things, just like we do now.

So it's true that writing a historical involves lots of research. In fact, someone pointed out in the latest draft that I'd messed up on a tiny detail -- RATS!! She was right, too! Since I take pride in being as accurate as possible (although it *is* fiction, it's still important to subtly introduce or add to readers' knowledge of history), I had to make a quick change. Personally I find it incredibly annoying to read modern ideas of what life was like over a 100 years ago, when simple research is easy to find.

In fact, my good friend Cheryl St. John, herself an incredibly accurate award-winning historical author, chided me long ago when I first began writing (the earliest version of Double Crossing.) She gently pointed out that I need to do more research on Omaha's history. I hadn't done much research at all, to be honest. So I was glad she encouraged me. So thanks, Cheryl, for the necessary cattle prod! LOL

She plans to stop by around 2:30 p.m. to "chat" -- I'm so happy, because Cheryl is a wonderful writer of both historical and contemporary romance.

I bet you think writing contemporary fiction is a piece of cake in comparison. Think again! I plan to write a contemporary murder mystery set in a courtroom. My grand jury experience will sure came in handy. Without sitting in that seat for nearly six months (yes, months) I would never have known the ins/outs of such details. Even writing about a car traveling down a Memphis highway -- if you've never been there, how do you know what types of signs, trees, drivers, suburbs, stores, etc. you will see? Chances are YOUR READERS will.

So don't assume. You know what that means. ;-)

Here's an excerpt with more food -- and not all that great, given the conditions along the railroad...

Half a dozen black flies, the ones that pestered and bit, crawled on the beehive-shaped screens shielding platters on our table. The greasy potatoes soaked up blood from the close-to-raw beefsteak. The limp pale cabbage wedge also curbed my appetite. Charles and Kate discussed the springtime ceremony that had united the Union Pacific railroad with the Central Pacific in Utah, but my mind dwelled on Porter’s store. Had it been my imagination? Perhaps a good Samaritan had found my bag on a barrel after all. Maybe I’d been too quick to judge.

I jumped when Kate poked my arm. “You’re so distracted, Lily. You haven’t heard a word we’ve said to you. Is something wrong?”

“I’m worried about my uncle, and I can’t wear this suit on the train tomorrow.” I poked the mess on my plate. “I also don’t like beef that looks fresh from the cow.”

A maid carried soiled plates to the kitchen and returned with a pot of coffee. Hotel guests devoured their meals as if they didn’t expect to get another decent meal until reaching California. My head throbbed from the chatter that mingled with rattling wagons, horse cars and pedestrians outside.

Poor Lily! She has no idea there's worse to come. Join me for high tea at 4 p.m. Enjoy, and don't forget to comment!

Second Breakfast (Elevenses) is Ready!

Okay, that first hit of caffeine is winding down and you need fortification. A second cup of Harney & Sons will last until late afternoon (at least it does for me, LOL) but perhaps you need coffee. Oh, and a bit of cake. Your choice of tea and lemon poppyseed cake or coffee and coffee cake. Or mix it up!

And I wonder why I can't lose weight! Sigh.

If you choose to BUY Double Crossing today, you will receive a Kindle cover zipper pull. Send the order confirmation number, of course, to megmims (at) yahoo (dot) com.

Here we go, talking about food again. After Lily's father is murdered, her friend Charles Mason (who wants to marry her) agrees to escort her on the transcontinental train. Lily is hungry after sleeping against Charles' shoulder through the night on the first class train. She also befriends a young woman, Kate Kimball, who is heading to Cheyenne to meet her fiance. Charles buys sandwiches for "lunch" - probably from a train "butcher" who sells candy, newspapers and such. Researching all the details of the train, of what is available to eat or drink during travels, even going to the "washroom" (if you want to know what it was like pre-1900, read my book!), makes writing about the 1800s great fun!

This is the (later famous) Thomas Edison who worked at the age of 12 as a "candy butcher" on the Grand Trunk Western railway in Michigan. I cross those tracks every day. The Edison laboratory is located in Dearborn's Greenfield Village, which inspired my love of history.

Here's some historical facts about Tom:

"At the age of 12, Edison began work as a "candy butcher" aboard the Grand Trunk Railroad's commuter line between Port Huron, Michigan, where we lived with his parents, and Detroit. He sold newspapers, fruit and candy to the passengers. The train left Port Huron about 7:00 in the morning and returned at 9:00 or 9:30 at night. The trip included a six hour layover in Detroit, during which time he claims to have read "the entire public library." He was an omnivorous reader and loved to experiment with chemicals and machinery. He constantly wanted to investigate how things worked and liked to see if he could make things better. On the train he was allowed a table in an empty baggage car on which to work. He even brought a broken printing press, repaired it and taught himself to print. He may have produced the first newspaper printed on a moving train..."  Courtesy of  Thomas Edison House

For those of you who bake, here's a great recipe for Lemon Poppyseed Cake as a bonus. I like short cuts, so you use a Lemon cake mix! How cool is that? I found this on All

Lemon Poppy Seed Bundt Cake

  • 1/4 cup poppy seeds
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 (18.25 ounce) package lemon cake mix
  • 1 (3.4 ounce) package instant vanilla pudding mix
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 eggs


  1. Soak poppy seeds in milk for 2 hours. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour a 10 inch Bundt pan.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together cake mix and pudding mix. Make a well in the center and pour in water, oil, and eggs. Beat on low speed until blended. Scrape bowl, and beat 4 minutes on medium speed. Blend in poppy seed mixture. Pour batter into prepared pan.
  3. Bake in the preheated oven for 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely. 
I'm not that incompetent in the kitchen - drizzle on some white glaze (a spoonful of water added to at least 1/4 cup of confectioner's sugar, or whatever until it's not too runny or too thick) and ENJOY!!

While you're copying down the recipe, don't forget to comment! Book earrings! Hand-made with the help of several "Lunch Girl" friends! Here's a preview of the prizes:

As you can see, they're quite small. But nice!  BEST OF LUCK to the winners! And buyers. :-D

GOOD MORNING!! Not a Fishy Breakfast

Sorry, no fish for breakfast on this party pavilion table! LOL  Just some fun discussions about food (hey, it's too early to talk about writing and all that business.) Besides, I love including food details into my books.

First, I'll tell you that you *MUST* comment on the blog posts in order to win either the drawings by Goddess Fish or the prizes by me. You *must* enter your email address when you comment (which means you'll get future info about my books via a newsletter) for a chance to win hand-made book earrings. If you *PURCHASE* Double Crossing and send the order confirmation # to megmims (at) yahoo (dot) com, you will receive a Kindle cover zipper pull. Okay, here we go!

My idea of a great breakfast to accompany a great read -- like Double Crossing, and I hope you agree! ;-) -- is Harney & Sons Hot Cinnamon Spice tea with scrambled eggs and fresh blueberry muffins. I make my own scrambled eggs, with light whipped cream (yep! just psssht from the can) because they make very creamy and delicious eggs. SO, you start with some butter in the frying pan, crack three eggs and add the light whipped cream (NOT Reddi-Whip, sorry) and then fold it all in, cooking until they're done. They will look very light yellow and taste delicious. Far better than just with milk! I got that tip while in England, long ago.
Oh, and don't forget the salt and pepper once they're on the plate.

Do I make blueberry muffins? Nah. I buy them - from Meijer, the nearest Panera Bread or whatever. But if you're into baking, check out the Lake Effect Living on-line magazine for a great recipe, and eye the delights of the Blueberry Store in South Haven, Michigan.

Harney & Sons has the best tea I've ever tasted. Believe me, I tried the Kroger brand Cinnamon Spice -- it's more cinnamon than spice, just okay -- so click here to see their selection. Perhaps you'd rather drink Earl Grey like my daughter (the bergamot flavor is her favorite) or brew coffee instead. Sorry. I'm a true blue tea drinker, although my daughter does like Biggby's coffee. Whatever floats your boat at the party!

Now to chat about DOUBLE CROSSING, my new release. Is there food in it? YOU BET!! Before Lily Granville even begins her life-changing adventure, she enjoys an afternoon "tea" with her father in his library. Check out my sample first chapter by clicking here or just enjoy the brief excerpt here.

Etta carried in a silver tray of refreshments and set them on the table between the desk and the leather sofa. I sank into the soft cushion with a whoosh. My feet still hurt from my downtown shopping venture and several hours of errands.

“I bought the handkerchiefs you wanted, Father, and that brass letter opener. I saw a pearl brooch at Marshall Field. The silver setting looked inferior, though.” I plucked up a golden-crusted pastry filled with creamed chicken and dill. “My seamstress had no open appointments today, and I couldn’t find one straw hat that I liked at any of the millinery shops.”

“If you’re serious about China, you’ll have to give up your notions of fashion.”

“True enough,” I said, licking a spot of gravy from my thumb.

“That young man has filled your head with nonsense, in my opinion.”

“Charles is dedicated to God. The China Inland Mission has accepted him, did I tell you? Now he’s raising funds for his passage.”

“You’ve never been dedicated to working in Chicago among the poor. Charity begins at home,” Father said. “Your mother was devoted to the Ladies’ Society at church.”

“Her charity circle sewed clothing and quilts. I can’t even thread a needle.”

“So we agree.” Father snagged a handful of candied almonds. “You need to gain valuable skills here in Evanston, or at a finishing school, before you run off to China.”

“I’m too old for school! I’ll be twenty in a month—”

“Ripe for marriage, then, and giving me grandchildren. I’d rather dandle a baby on my knee than read letters about you starving in a foreign country. I’m not going to allow you to wed Charles Mason, either. He might be full of the Spirit, but he’s more interested in using your inheritance for his own purposes. I never detected any love in him for you.”

His final words stung. I couldn’t protest much, either. Charles was a decent man, a hard worker, dedicated to his calling, but admiration wasn’t the best foundation for a love match or a lasting marriage. Father might be right about Charles’ interest in my inheritance, too, which nettled me. I changed the subject.

“Tell me about the Early Bird mine, Father. Is it like the Comstock Lode?”

“Quicksilver. Your uncle is set on new technology, hydraulic mining. It uses high pressure jets of water and is quite expensive. He knows more about it than I do.”

I chose a toasted point topped with cheese, tomato and spinach. “Then I’d better travel with you to California so I can ask him myself.”

“You need to stay here where it’s safe.”

“But you cannot protect me from the world forever, Father. I must choose a path—”

“Keep praying, Lily. The Lord will show you the way.” Father bit into an apple cinnamon tart. “You’d have accepted Charles’ marriage proposal last year if you truly loved him.”

After gulping some chilled lemonade, I set down the glass. I’d prayed on my knees every night and morning, waiting for some sign, but nothing changed. I didn’t love Charles, and didn’t share his missionary dream. If I rejected him, I might be stuck in a loveless marriage to someone else. If I married Charles, perhaps my inheritance money would come to good use once I turned twenty-one. 

But I’d be thousands of miles away from home, among foreigners, and might never see Father again. Neither choice led to happiness.

Tiny dust motes danced in a ray of late sunshine beaming through the window’s lace curtain. Cicadas droned outside among the trees. The mournful sound, buzzing low and then high, sent a shiver down my spine.

I hope you're enjoying the "First Course" of my Launch Party offerings! Check back for Second Breakfast (Elevenses), Lunch, High Tea, Supper and a Midnight Snack.


Hello! I'm so glad you're here to join the party. Here's some information about my new release -- Double Crossing is a historical western romantic suspense (bet you can't say that fast five times, LOL) published by Astraea Press and released TODAY!

Here's the story again in a nutshell:

A murder arranged as a suicide … a missing deed  … and a bereft daughter whose sheltered world is shattered.

August, 1869: Lily Granville is stunned by her father’s murder. The police believe it was a suicide but she knows the truth. Guilt plagues her, since she argued bitterly with her father about the family lawyer’s loyalty. And only that lawyer knew her father had possession of a valuable California gold mine deed—a deed vital to fight a court battle against another claimant in California. Now the deed and the lawyer are missing.

Determined to track her father’s killer and join her uncle in Sacramento to fight the court case, Lily heads west on the newly opened transcontinental railroad. After her baggage is ransacked in her Omaha hotel room, she realizes she is no longer the hunter but the prey. It seems her father’s killer believes she is taking the deed west to Sacramento. And as things progress from bad to worse, Lily is uncertain who to trust—the China-bound missionary who wants to marry her, or the wandering Texan who offers to protect her … for a price.

Will Lily survive the journey and unexpected betrayal?

BUY IT TODAY -- and send me your order confirmation number to receive a Kindle cover zipper pull!

A portion of all first sale proceeds will go to Literacy - so you'll be helping a good cause. :-)

New Release Party: Double Crossing by Meg Mims


Goddess Fish Promotions welcomes you to the New Release Party of Double Crossing by Meg Mims.

Meg Mims may have been born in the wrong century. Her love of historical fiction started early, with visits to Michigan’s Greenfield Village and the Streets of Old Detroit at a museum. She was first published in children's magazines, is a staff writer for a real estate business and for Lake Effect Living, a West Coast of Michigan on-line magazine, and is also a watercolor artist and photographer. From a young age, she had a taste for classics such as Jane Eyre and Gone With The Wind, books by A. C. Doyle and Agatha Christie, along with J.R.R. Tolkien and Ursula LeGuin. Now Meg devours historical, cozy and PI mysteries. Her award-winning fiction always has a dead body or two, plus an independent-minded heroine and a sense of justice being served in the end. She lives with her husband, a drooling black cat and a make-my-day Maltese-Poodle, and enjoys games and visits with family and friends far more than housework.

A murder arranged as a suicide … a missing deed … and a bereft daughter whose sheltered world is shattered.

August, 1869: Lily Granville is stunned by her father’s murder. Only one other person knows about a valuable California gold mine deed -- both are now missing. Lily heads west on the newly opened transcontinental railroad, determined to track the killer. She soon realizes she is no longer the hunter but the prey.

As things progress from bad to worse, Lily is uncertain who to trust—the China-bound missionary who wants to marry her, or the wandering Texan who offers to protect her … for a price. Will Lily survive the journey and unexpected betrayal?

Stay tuned because Meg is going to be visiting with us all day. She's also got some wonderful giveaways planned. Leave a comment, along with your email address for Meg's newsletter, and be entered for a chance to win a pair of hand-designed book earrings (one pair for every ten comments).

Also, every person who purchases a copy of Double Crossing today (must provide purchase verification) will receive a Kindle cover zipper pull. Buy it now HERE!!!

Cheryl St.John: How Much Research is Too Much?

There are definitely plenty of things a writer needs to know before she starts to write her book. Characters don’t exist in a vacuum; they have occupations and homes and families and histories and nationalities and all number of things we need to know to make them three-dimensional and bring realism to the story.

I often set books in the same state and even same geographical area. I own shelves of picture books, reference books and maps as well as books on plants and animals and it's just wise to get the most out of study and resources. Besides the convenience, a location can to chosen to support an important part of the story, like railroads, natural resources, weather and any number of things you might want to feature.

I once wrote a book about a German family who owned a brewery. I had no idea how much work I was in for. I had to select a setting conducive to cold water streams. I had to know enough about brewing beer to decide which method they used and why, and which year would be workable. I chose a year when bottling was first being introduced and also a year that there was a huge Exposition in Denver. So my actual location and the brewery were fabricated, but everything about the people and production and operation and the time period were factual. Keeping facts as close to real as possible makes the reader believe.
I also had to know something about my hero who came to this Colorado town from Alaska, where he’d been delivering mail between tent towns and postal stations. That research was probably the most difficult, because all the facts easily found about Juneau and the Yukon pertain to the gold rush, which didn’t happen until after my time period. So that part of my education took more searching. So besides looking up breweries, their operation and types of brewing methods before I started, I searched for information on sled dogs, Alaskan temperatures, modes of travel and traditional Bavarian foods. I ended up with a binder full of facts and pictures. 

Sometimes I have to make an additional folder on one subject, like say liveries or beer making. In my opinion, you can’t ever know too much about your location or your topic or the cultures of your people.
Confession: I’m a paper person. I’ve learned to use PBWiki, personal online storage, but even though I have that ability and I’ve bookmarker the online information, I still want to be able to flip through my binder and put my finger on that list of names I was going to use. I need to see the paragraph about the competitive advantages of lager brewing over ale. That’s just me. If you are a writer, maybe you’ve got a smarter way to store your research, and if so, I applaud you. The important thing is that your method works for you, and you’re not losing writing time searching for something you’ve lost.

Now just because I have all that info doesn’t mean I will ever need to or that I ever should use it all. A writer knows far more about her subjects than she should ever use in a story. But she needs to know it, because if she didn’t, she’d make mistakes. I have many writer friends who love the research part so much that it takes on a life of its own. Once they start, they can’t stop.

Here’s how to know when to quit researching: If your study is cutting into your production, you’re researching too much. If you get caught up in the fact-finding and aren’t tallying a page count, you’re doing too much research. If you’re not putting words on pages, you’re avoiding writing. Give your study a rest and write the story. You can learn the rest of the details as you need them. I learn enough to get started and then I begin. When I get to something I don’t know, I simply google the subject. If I’m on a roll and need to know something, I leave an asterisk and come back to it after the muse is burned out for the day.

So, yes there is a lot a writer needs to know, but the wise writer knows when to call a halt get down to business.

I have three books out this year:
Marrying the Preacher's Daughter, LIH 6/11
Her Wyoming Man, HH 7/11
Snowflakes and Stetsons, HH 10/11

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