Alexis: Hi Meggan, thank you for visiting Happily Ever After Thoughts :-) This is your debut book. Can you tell us a little about your road to publication?
Meggan: Sure! I've been writing for what feels like forever—I finished my first "book" when I was in fifth grade. But then came graduate school, and academic papers, and then work, and the writer in me went dormant for awhile; I guess I just couldn't bring myself to sit at the computer after writing that monstrosity of a thesis. I still told stories to myself at night, but I just didn't write them down.
In September of 2009, I woke up one morning with the idea that I would write a book. I finished it in four months (for those of you who have read The Marker, the characters in that very first story were Claire and Michael). As I typed The End, I thought, "Wow, this was fun. Maybe I should try to get it published."
I never made it beyond printing it up and sending it to a friend. Instead, I joined RWA and found out that almost everything I'd done in that book was wrong. But it was a start.
So fast forward exactly one year later. I entered a different manuscript in the San Francisco RWA's Heart to Heart contest, and somehow, I ended up finaling. That manuscript I queried for a bit, before deciding I was going to take some time off and write something else. I'd since finished The Marker, but wasn't sure what I was going to do with it. I didn't enter it into contests. I didn't submit it anywhere. I just kind of…sat on it.
On a lark, I entered it into the Heart to Heart contest last fall. A couple of weeks later, I submitted it to Soul Mate. I didn't expect to be offered a contract. I also didn't expect to final in the contest either—I'd been told Nicholas was rather unsympathetic (and every time I tried to change him, he got worse). Only, I found out that I'd finaled in the contest on the very same day that I was offered a contract with Soul Mate.
I offered to withdraw, but they graciously allowed me to stay in the contest. I wound up winning the category!
Alexis: Congratulations! I love the title of your book. What is The Marker about?
Meggan: Thank you! (My husband thanks you, too, since he came up with it!)
I think I'll just let the back cover speak for itself.
When her father loses her in a poker game, Lexie Markland is sent to work in the household of Nicholas Wetherby for one year to pay off the debt. Innocent, but not naïve, she is savvy enough to know she must maintain her distance from this man, who frustrates her with his relentless teasing but whose kisses bring her to her knees. Because although she may be just another conquest to him, it’s not just her heart in jeopardy should she succumb to Nicholas’ considerable charms.
Since his brother's death almost a year before, nothing has held Nicholas’ attention for long—not women, not booze, not even an excellent hand at cards. Nothing, that is, until he meets the woman he won in a drunken night of poker. Intrigued by his prize and her chilly reserve, he makes it his mission to crack Lexie’s cool demeanor. But even as passion explodes between them, the question remains: will Nicholas be able to take the ultimate risk...and gamble on love?
Alexis: What an interesting set-up. Where did you get the idea for this story?
Meggan: I'm from a gambling town, so the notion of high stakes games is not something that's overly unusual to me. My husband loves poker—he didn't grow up around it like I did, so he likes playing poker and watching The World Series of Poker on TV.
One day we were driving around town, and I turned to him and said, "Hey, wouldn't it be fun to write a story about a guy who wins a girl in a poker game?" And so, The Marker was born.
Alexis: So what are your favorite character traits of Lexie and Nicholas?
Meggan: I like that Lexie is spunky, and she tries to do the right thing. She's a good foil for Nicholas, too. Practical, logical, and as unlucky as he is lucky.
As for Nicholas, I liked the idea of a man who, by all appearances, has everything a man could want: looks, money, luck, women. But he's also haunted by his own recklessness, and by mistakes he made in the past. His depth is hidden beneath the veneer of a feckless flirt.
Alexis: Uh-oh, I think I've fallen for Nicholas already (sigh). Now, you also write paranormal. What kind of paranormal?
Meggan: I like the dark stuff, so I have a series I'm working on involving winged, day-walking (non-sparkly) vampires, who are ruled by a society of queens. They're not…all bad. The first book in the series is called The Queen Killer, and it's completed. I stopped shopping it when The Marker got accepted for publication, but I'm sure I'll start pursuing that again soon. I do love those boys.
I've also recently begun shopping a steampunk/speculative fiction with paranormal elements called Jessie's War.
So I guess you could say, I'm all over the place. Ghosts? Yeah, I've done that. Vampires? Yep, that, too. Paranormal powers, like telepathy, ESP, telekinesis and precognition? Done that, too. I've even written a few short things about a demon or two.
Alexis: Wow, I guess your mind does like to wander :-)What can we expect next from you? Do you have any new releases coming or a work in progress?
Meggan: Right now, I'm shopping Jessie's War, and I'm sure that I'll start shopping The Queen Killer in the next month or two. I'm also working on what is technically the third book in The Marker trilogy: Shanghaied, which is the story of James, Nicholas's friend from The Marker. And if I ever get brave enough, I'll pull out The Silver Chord from underneath my bed. It's the story of Claire and Michael, who also made an appearance in The Marker.
Alexis: Sounds like fans have a lot to look forward to. Thank you so much for sharing your stories with us. It's a pleasure having you visit.
Meggan: Thank you so much for having me! This was fun!
Alexis: For a chance to win an e-copy of The Marker, be sure to leave a comment for Meggan. If I have contact information, I will let you know when you win, otherwise, check the side column for your name on Wednesday under WINNERS :-)
For more information on Meggan’s Romances go to http://megganconnors.wordpress.com/
To buy The Marker, here are a couple quick links:
Barnes and Noble: www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-marker-meggan-connors/1108117587?ean=2940013699359&itm=1&usri=the+marker+by+meggan+connors
Soul Mate Publishing: www.soulmatepublishing.com/the-marker/
Alexis: Check out this excerpt from The Marker.
Pulling away from him as they approached her father, Lexie said softly, “Father. We have a guest,” and laid a gentle hand on his back.
Her father had been having a rough morning, and more than once Lexie had caught him regarding her with sad, glassy eyes. She had assumed he was sick with drink—he was sick more mornings than not these days—but something in his demeanor told her it was more than that. Long ago, she’d learned never to trust surprises.
Even ones as pleasant as finding a man like Nicholas Wetherby at her door.
Markland raised his head and regarded Nicholas with blood-shot eyes. “I have come to collect,” Nicholas said by way of greeting.
“You can’t mean that!” Markland exclaimed. With a groan, he buried his face in his hands and closed his eyes. She wordlessly placed a glass of water in front of him, which, other than a bottle of cheap bourbon, was the only thing she had to offer him. The water sloshed from the glass, and Markland’s eyes shifted from the small pools of water in front of him back to Lexie. She folded her arms against her chest and scowled at him—she was done cleaning up his messes. It was all she ever did anymore. Shrinking under her withering glare, he turned his eyes back to Nicholas.
“It’s completely unfair. Everyone knows you can’t collect on such a wager,” her father protested dully, and Lexie was possessed by the sudden urge to give Nicholas Wetherby anything he wanted, just so long as she didn’t have to listen to her father’s wheedling anymore. Saturday mornings, like clockwork, her father would whine about the latest “unfairness,” as if his actions hadn’t been the cause of all their problems.
“As you would not have collected had I lost?” Nicholas countered, turning those glittering turquoise eyes over to Lexie. His gaze was so intense she had to look away, and she studied the tabletop as if it were the most interesting thing she’d ever seen. “You were salivating over my money last night, and yet, once you’ve lost, you refuse to honor your debt to me?”
Dismayed, she watched the drama play out between the two men. She had heard her father’s protests far too often. She had begged him to stop, but nothing was more important to him—there were always fortunes to be won. For the last five years, her job had been to pick up the pieces. She had taken on some work as a seamstress, but her father, worried about his image among the elite of the city, refused to let her take on too much. She had offered to search for a position as a governess or a schoolteacher, but her father opposed that option too: how would it look if his daughter had to work? Keeping up the appearance of having money seemed to be the only thing concerning John Markland.
If only they could eat appearances.
Lexie put a hand to her forehead, trying to rub away the ache beginning to form just behind her brows. Wearily, she asked, “What did you promise him, Father?”
“Nothing! It was a jest!”
“I have a contract, signed by you. That’s not a jest.”
Lexie found herself intrigued by the masculine timber of his voice. He had the voice of a preacher, deep and melodic, and she turned her gaze to him. He caught her eye and a smile lit his features, and she fought the urge to faint again as her heart danced wildly in her chest. When he smiled, it was as if it were meant just for her, so dazzling she felt temporarily blinded to everything else but the desire to have his lips on her skin again.
Lexie placed a hand on the back of a chair to steady herself as she pushed away the idea. She was no fool. One look at Nicholas Wetherby told her he wasn’t the man for her. A man like him wouldn’t be caught dead courting the destitute daughter of a drunk, even if she were available. Too rich, too good-looking, too self-assured, he could have any woman he wanted. He’d probably marry some pale, blond goddess who would bear him a whole passel of pale, blond children.
Strange, how that thought made her sad. Steeling herself, she said, “I assure you, Mr. Wetherby, whatever my father owes you, I will make every effort to repay you.”
Nicholas nodded. “Your father has already generously provided me with his preferred method of payment.”
Startled, her eyes flew to his face. Trying to cover her surprise, she said, “What did he promise?”
Nicholas glanced over at Markland. “Did you not tell her?”
Markland put his head down on the table. “You can’t do this, Wetherby,” he said miserably.
“Oh, but I can,” he said, his lips curving into a wolfish smile, and her heart lurched painfully in her chest. “Having come here, I intend to collect my marker.”
Markland moaned into the table, refused to look up. Temper flaring, Lexie demanded, “Oh, for God’s sake, Father, what did you lose this time? What is this marker?”
Nicholas turned his bright, glittering eyes to her, his lips curling in the ghost of a smile. “He didn’t tell you?”
“Would I be asking you if he had?” she retorted.
He visibly suppressed a smile, as if he found her amusing. “No, I suppose not.”
“So what’s he lost? What did he bet this time?”
Nicholas ran his eyes over her in a way that sent shivers up her spine, and she felt naked under his gaze, as if he saw through her and into her soul. Silent for what seemed like a long time, he handed her the contract and in a low voice said,
Alexis: Don't forget. Leave a comment for Meggan if you'd like a chance to win The Marker.