Monday, June 11, 2012

Be My Texas Valentine: An Interview with NYT Bestselling Author Phyliss Miranda (with a Giveaway)

We've had so much fun with our lovely authors from Petticoats & Pistols, that I thought we should just keep on going! Today I am thrilled to welcome author Phyliss Miranda from Texas, as she chats with us about her books and what it's like to work with other authors. Welcome Phyliss!


MK: What drew you to work with other authors on the book Be My Texas Valentine? Is collaborating with others easier?

PM: Writing with Jodi, Linda, and DeWanna was an easy decision for all of us. Jodi Thomas and DeWanna Pace took their first class together some thirty years ago, but had never had the opportunity to write together.  I took Jodi’s Creative Writing Class in 2001 and she became my mentor.  We all belong to a local writing organization, which just happens to be the oldest continual writing organization in the United States established in April of 1924. 

In 2005, Hilary Sares, who at the time was an acquiring editor for Kensington Publishing, was on the faculty of our annual conference, Frontiers in Writing.  We all spent time together and briefly discussed how much fun it would be to write one and only one anthology. After she left, I received a book flat for My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys by Lorraine Heath, Georgina Gentry, and Teresa Bodwell. Whether it was meant to be a hint or not, I took it as such and as a group we decided Hilary wanted an anthology using Texas songs, so we immediately asked Linda Broday to join our endeavor.  I think she gave it about a half of a second’s thought before she said yes.  We put together our first anthology that we titled Amarillo by Morning. Kensington snapped it up but changed the name to Give Me a Texan. They asked for another and we agreed. Our second anthology was titled Roping the Wind, another good old Texas song, and it was changed to Give Me a Cowboy ... thus our being tagged as the “Give Me Girls” for a while.  As more anthologies came along, we were dubbed by reviewers as “The Ladies of the West” and it’s stuck.  By the third book, we gave up even trying to use a Texas song as the title.  The funny part is that Jodi’s story in Give Me a Texan is Amarillo by Morning by George Streit and mine in Give Me a Cowboy is Roping the Wind by Garth Brooks.

Linda and I do talks on our collaborations and the biggest thing is simply communications. Being friends in and out of writing is a huge benefit. We are a tad different than the typical anthology authors. Three of us were raised in the Panhandle of Texas and Jodi, DeWanna, and I graduated from different high schools in Amarillo fairly close together. Linda was raised not far from here. We all came from the same social-economical class and being Texans at heart, it was easy to work together because we all more or less think alike. We divided up the project from a promotional standpoint based on each of our strengths and weaknesses, so we had four camps doing promotion simultaneously.

Except for Give Me a Cowboy and A Texas Christmas, where we collaborated to the point of writing one another’s character’s dialogue, particularly Linda and I did, since our heroines were a mother/daughter duo who lived on the same ranch, we simply had a topic to write about, so the collaboration was easy.

Give Me a Texas Cowboy was to take place over a four day rodeo in Amarillo, so we had to do a lot of coordination before we penned our first page. The first problem we incurred was staying historically correct. Since there was no rodeo in Amarillo until much later than our story occurred, we had to select a new name. There’s a Kasota railroad crossing outside of town, thus Kasota Springs, Texas, was born. We had to determine things such as: Who was going to be all around cowboy?  The weather needs for each of us. What events and in what order would our characters participate in?  Everything had to be coordinated. In A Texas Christmas we revisited Kasota Springs during the blizzard of 1887; however, everyone fairly well set their stories in parts in and around the main town.  My story Away in the Manger was the fourth story and I wrote it to include the other writer’s characters and some of their plots.

So I guess the answer to your question is with Be My Texas Valentine it was just natural that we’d write the sixth anthology together and never considered making any changes in authors.  As far as collaboration, it can be easy or hard depending on how well the authors work together on a project like ours.  

I’m pleased to say that we absolutely had not one disagreement.  The closest to one was in “Cowboy” when I was hankering to do bull riding, which was a renegade event in those days, because I love bull riding but DeWanna’s story centered on bull riding.  The decision as to which author would use that event really was easy, since Dee’s brother was a bull rider.  I took wild cow milking and to my surprise, had a ball with it. I’ll share a secret with you all. Just for the fun of it, in every book I’ve written I always have a PBR Bull of the Year’s name in it!  So read carefully.

MK: Do you still think about writing a cookbook? (Just a little something I read on your website). 

PM:   Yes.  As a matter of fact, several of us have talked about doing one together and/or separately, but at the moment our other projects must take priority.  We all have files filled with recipes and ideas, so figure it’ll happen one of these days, but not for a while.

MK:  Do you have a favorite character in Be My Texas Valentine? Who and why?

PM:  Melba Ruth Campbell, my hero Hunter Campbell’s mother.  I loved her for two reasons.  First, my beloved mother’s name was Melba Ruth. It just seemed a fitting tribute to my mama.  I also love to write about interfering mothers and mothers-in-law but they have to have good reasons and the best of intentions for what they do; particularly putting someone else’s needs before theirs. Maybe because they remind me of myself ... the bothersome mother with good intentions.

MK: Found on the cover of Give Me A Cowboy, “Rugged and ready and aimin' to please...”, is this a fair description of all the Texas Heartthrob (my word) books?

PM: Our stories are definitely true Texan.  That particular blurb was penned by Hilary Sares on her way home on the Metro.  “Texas Heartthrob” is sure a fair description to me.  As a matter of fact, four of our six covers were Romantic Time’s Heartthrob of the Month.

MK: How has being a native Texan influenced your writing?

PM: It’s a major contributor to my voice and writing style.  I’ve consciously made a decision to write all of my books (so far) with settings in the Texas Panhandle, since I’m a native of the Panhandle.  One of the first things I learned when I began taking classes was to write what you know.  I love to walk the walk, so believe being physically able to see the settings and know of the events is a major contribution.  Most of my stories are based on documented historical events or real people of the Panhandle.

MK: What has been your greatest pleasure since becoming published?

PM: Getting to know so many wonderful people. Having readers come to our booksignings or sending us emails to say how much they love a character is so rewarding. My only regret is that I didn’t get published before my mother passed away.  She would have been so proud of me.  I had started writing before she passed and she’d go to all of Jodi’s and Linda’s booksignings with me, so she’d be really pleased to see me writing with her favorite authors.

MK: What is your favorite bit of Amarillo, Texas history and has it been mentioned in one of your books? 

PM: Although, our first anthology was set in Amarillo, I really didn’t do much of anything special for it regarding the history of Amarillo except how the original town as platted. I did have two scenes where Bat Masterson visited and gambled. At least two of my stories came from real life incidents in Tascosa, the second town to be established in the Texas Panhandle.  The first town, Mobeetie, was settled in 1875; while Amarillo didn’t emerge until around 1887. I have to be very careful writing about true incidents happening here because in many ways the Panhandle is still in our infancy. Many of the founders have grandchildren and great-grandchildren still here. A number of the original ranches are still in existence. At least two of my stories came from accounts of true events out of Ol’ Tascosa, although I turned them around a little to make them fit my needs. 

In Loving Miss Laurel for Be My Texas Valentine I used an incident where the men wanted to pave the streets of Tascosa, while the women wanted an organ for the church. They held an “oyster supper” at the Exchange Hotel for a fee of $1.50. I’ll let you all figure out where they got the oysters. Then I patterned my hero, Hunter Campbell, from a progressive, visionary of the time who had big plans for the town.  However, the railroad passed them up and eventually Amarillo became the largest rural railhead in the world.

Give Me a Texas Ranger was also set in Tascosa and I used factual events of Mickey and Frenchy McCormick and how they were forced into marriage when the county clerk made anybody living together “without the benefit of clergy” sign his Book of Marriage Records.  I took that and turned it around where my Texas Ranger, Hayden McGraw (yep, from Dr. Phil unknowingly) is trying to save a spirited, spitfire of a woman from hanging by saying they are married and has the Book of Marriage Records placed before him as proof of their union. He has a choice to either sign it or let the pretty lady hang. The crusty Ranger was hungry, tired, and just wasn’t in the mood for a hanging, so he signed the book.  As a matter of fact, McGraw’s character was designed from a real life grumpy ol’ Texas Ranger in this area at the time. 

MK: You’re a regular contributor to the wonderfully named Petticoat & Pistols blog. What can a reader expect to read from you on the blog and when can they find you there?

PM:  I typically blog the second Tuesday of the month, but not always.  Sometimes we move around. Tomorrow, I’m blogging on the Houmas House Plantation and Gardens near Baton Rogue, Louisiana, so I hope you all will stop by and leave me a comment or two.  The Fillies at Petticoats and Pistols have ”Here Come the Brides” event coming up the last week of the month, and I’ll be contributing a blog on Thursday.  Since June is the month of love and weddings, we are doing excerpts from our books about marriages. Every day will be different:  Monday, “Marriage of Convenience”; Tuesday, “Forced Marriages”; Wednesday, “Wedding Surprises”; Thursday, “Funny Weddings”, and Friday, “True Love”.  I’m always on the lookout for things that might interest our readers, so if you have anything you’d like for us to blog about, I’d love to have you leave me a message at phylissmiranda.com.

MK:  What is your favorite non-writing Texas pastime?

PM: Between my writing and my seven grandkids (all living in Amarillo, I’m happy to say), I don’t have much time for many hobbies or “favorite” no-writing pastimes. I do love quilts and have quilted several, but hate to piece them. As a matter of fact, you’ll find quilts in most of my stories. I love antiques and travel a lot.

MK: What do you have in store next for your readers? 

PM:  I’m excited about the future.  My new short contemporary romance The Tycoon and the Texan will be out any day as an Amazon exclusive.  So, watch Facebook for the announcement.  Although it’s a modern day story and begins in California, my hero and heroine end up in her hometown in where else but the Panhandle of Texas.  My next love to Texas is the Civil War, particularly, Andersonville Prison.  I’m working on a new series with a Civil War back story, but each book features the next generation after the war and they, of course, all settled in this area of Texas.  I love all of Texas, but like I said before, I write what I know! 

GIVEAWAY

Phyliss is giving away an autographed copy of any of the six anthologies from “The Ladies of the West” to one winner and a gift certificate to Bath and Bodyworks. Comment to enter! You may also find current contests at PhylissMiranda.com and click “Links and Contests”.  Winners will be drawn on June 15th!

All six of the anthologies are still available from BN.com and Amazon.com!


Phyliss Miranda ~.
New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author
Visit me at http://www.phylissmiranda.com and http://petticoatsandpistols.com
"BE MY TEXAS VALENTINE" in your favorite format in book stores and online now!
Still available "A TEXAS CHRISTMAS", "GIVE ME A TEXAS OUTLAW", "GIVE ME A TEXAN",
"GIVE ME A COWBOY", and "GIVE ME A TEXAS RANGER"





11 comments:

  1. Thank you so much for joining us today Phyliss. Reading your interview was like being told a story. The books all sound great and I'm headed over to pick one out now!

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  2. Great interview, Phyliss. The four of you are an awesome combination.

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  3. Enjoyed learning a little more about you Phyliss, and those Texas anthos are really great!

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  4. Hi Phyliss! Loved this interview--I always learn something new here in these interviews. I really did identify with you wishing your mom could have seen you published before she passed. Same here. Of course, I love these anthologies of yours. And those covers... Oh. My. Lord. Really enjoyed this interview. Can't wait to get my questions finished and mine scheduled! LOL MK, this is a super blog!
    Hugs, Phyliss!
    Cheryl

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  5. Phyliss, what an interesting interview. I know so much about you but I found out a few tidbits I didn't know. I'm so proud to be your collaborater-partner. We had great fun writing all six of the anthologies but especially Give Me a Cowboy. I think that's my favorite of all of them. Our characters were all bigger than life.

    Wishing you much success with your e-book that will be available any day. I can't wait for it to come out.

    Lots of love and big hugs,
    Linda

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  6. Phyliss, love the interview. The novella collections sound like such a fun way to write. What a great team.

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  7. Howdy, Phyliss! Delightful interview! What fun to collaborate with your friends on an anthology--not just writing friends, but best friends! P&P is lucky to have you!

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  8. Howdy Phyliss, much as I know you already...from being fillies at Petticoats and Pistols, I learned so much more today! I LOVE your mama's name. And what a treat to be able to "antho" with such good friends you almost think alike.

    I hope to catch up with you in Anaheim or when I get to TEXAS in October. And in closing, I so love being a gramma. Those seven kids are so lucky to have you close by.

    LOVE YOU!

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  9. Thanks to everyone for stopping by and leaving a comment. Isn't this a great blogsite? I know many of you have already visited and some are yet to come; and I just want to tell MK ... thank you for such a great site! We're all gonna have fun in Anaheim for sure. Hugs, Phyliss

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  10. So many lovely visitors and comments today!

    Phyliss - What fun it must be to be writing with some of your mother's favorite authors. She's likely looking down at smiling considering how things turned out for you. Since I haven't read any of the anthologies yet, which would you recommend I read first?

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  11. Morning, MK, I'm pleased to say that all six anthologies are still actively available at both Barnes and Nobles and Amazon, which makes us all happy. It's really hard for me to recommend one over another, But, all four of us are up for major awards at RWA in Anaheim next month with two of the anthologies: "Give Me a Texas Outlaw" and "A Texas Christmas" (which were the two eligible this year). We're up for a RITA, Reader's Choice twice, and Bookseller's Best twice. I have to say for me personally, I love everyone's stories in "Outlaw". I wrote a very special character who won my heart and hopefully will win readers' hearts too. I won an Award of Merit in the Romance Novella division in this year's Holt Medallion contest with my story in "A Texas Christmas", so if you're in the mood for Christmas and a blizzard, that might be the one to go with. Truly my favorite is "Outlaw". Again, thanks for having me. Hugs, Phyliss

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