For Lovell native Terri Meeker, writing has always been her love – but she was also her harshest critic. That self-deprecating belief pattern almost caused her to not take a pair of stories to a publisher, but with two books coming out this winter and spring, she’s glad she did.
Meeker’s first book, a romantic comedy entitled “Not Quite Darcy,” comes out Jan. 6, and a second book, “Angel of the Somme,” will be released May 19.
The daughter of Wes and the late Ivalee Meeker and a 1978 graduate of Lovell High School, Meeker has been writing most of her life. She gets it from her father, she said, who wrote stories throughout his life and even published a book entitled “Remember When” about his life for each of his children.
“Part of the reason I write is because my dad was always a writer,” she said. “I tend to weave in my hometown and childhood in these books. In my first book, for instance, a character is named Miss Shumway in honor of my grandmother, except instead of homesteading near Kane, this woman is attending a ball, which I think Grandma might have preferred to clearing sagebrush.”
After graduating in ’78, Meeker worked for the Lovell Chronicle for a couple of years, and it was during that time that some of her inspiration for “Not Quite Darcy,” came about.
“Back when I worked at the Chronicle, my old editor, Pat Schmidt, let me have six weeks off to visit England,” Meeker said. “I traveled with a high school friend, Sheri Lundberg, and we stayed at my uncle’s home in London. That home is the setting for my first book, although my story is a time-travel tale and takes place in 1873. My editor describes it as a “romantic time-travel comedy with a twist.”
Meeker attended the University of Wyoming and earned a degree in history, social studies and secondary education. She student taught in Belgium for an American school that was part of Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe, where she studied World War I history, providing valuable background for her second novel, “Angel of the Somme,” which is the first book in a trilogy about World War I.
“My dad’s experiences in the Korean War actually went a long way to inspiring this trilogy, and there are even more local references in this one,” she said. “I’ve named a lot of the characters after local people in his unit. And there is a Captain Lovell as well as a few names of places on the Big Horn Mountains.”
Meeker married her college sweetheart, Mike Garrett, and the family, including three children, has lived in Washington, DC, Virginia Beach, Philadelphia, Selinsgrove, Pa., Albuquerque and Anacortes, Wash., on Fildago Island, following Mike’s career as a writer of computer software for healthcare. Mike and Terri currently live in Springfield, Mo., though they kept their home in Washington and hope to retire there.
Daughter Laine, 27, is a graphic designer in Seattle, daughter Dana, 23, is a radiographer in Seattle and son Jack, 19, is with his parents in Springfield.
While teaching history in school and raising her family, Terri Meeker began to write.
“I would start, but it became too overwhelming, and I would stop,” she said. “I didn’t like what I wrote.”
She nearly scrapped “Not Quite Darcy,” but after her mother died, she returned to the book.
“Two weeks after Mom died (November of 2010), I read my old story,” Meeker said. “It made me laugh and it made me cry. I decided, let me see what I can do with this.”
She posted the book online anonymously, received “great feedback” and finished the book. She then attended a writer’s conference a year and a half ago and pitched both “Darcy” and “Angel” to editors. They liked both of them but suggested that she add to “Not Quite Darcy.” She did so, and the final version will be released in January.
“I sold my first book to the first editor I pitched to. I feel very lucky,” she said.
Meeker’s publisher, Samhain Publishing, sent “Not Quite Darcy” to numerous outlets for reviews, including Goodreads.com, through which several “power readers” read the novel. Said one reviewer, “This is a fantasy type story, so suspend disbelief and enjoy a good romp of falling through the looking glass. The characters are enjoyable.”
Wrote another: “Time travel to Victorian England? Check! Spunky heroine? Check. Totally unassuming but appealing hero? Check!”
And wrote a third: “I never imagined there could be a cross between contemporary chick-lit and a regency romance, but that’s exactly what this glorious book is. Meeker has managed to combine two of my favorite genres, and she does it with flair and wit. It’s funny, romantic and interesting all at once, and it makes me want more.”
“Not Quite Darcy is available through various outlets, including Amazon.com, and Meeker noted that she will have a virtual party on Facebook on the release day, Jan. 6, giving out lots of prizes and free copies.
“I would love to have some Wyomingites join,” she said. “Contact info is on my webpage (terrimeeker.com), or they can just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“I’m just finishing up a book about Billy the Kid. After all that time writing about England, it is kind of nice to be writing about the Wild West!”
By David Peck