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News From Mia’s Desk

As I don’t have any interviews to post this week, I thought that it would be a good time to update you about what’s going on with Mia’s writing right now! I have some exciting news that I’m glad to share. :)

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For fans of Sanctuary, the sequel–featuring Lydia and Flynn’s continuing story–has been drafted. I’m making the final tweaks now. It will soon be edited, with cover art, and released. Expect this in the next two months. I hope that folks who liked the first will equally enjoy Refuge! After the release of this one, books three and four will follow new characters in the same world, though Lydia will be in both stories in some capacity, big or small as fitting the tale itself.

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Anyone who keeps track of my “Am Writing/Reading” page or who reads my interviews will know that I’ve been working on this epic fantasy forever. It’s threatened to pull me under a few times, but today I realized that I’ve challenged myself outside of my writing self. I had originally planned a trilogy, with a cumulative 270K words (90K per book) but that takes a writer whose style is more verbose than mine.

I’m a succinct teller of tales, and I don’t want to stretch beyond myself.

I want my readers to read a story that’s still true to me, and not me being something I’m not. I’ve decided that since the three books were following one plot/story anyways (one story split into three pieces), that I’m going to write one long book and put my aim to something more in my style. I also believe this will keep my from stressing it so much and make it so I’m able to finish it and get it to my readers, because I’ve been working on it for years, from plotting to writing now.

So, I’m excited now to be more realistic and hope to get this story to you all before, you know, the end of the world.

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Adelheid! This is my big one and I know it is. I’m still on the marketing trail following the release of book four–gearing up for another blog tour starting Monday– but I’m not one to let the grass grow too long, and I’ve already begun writing book five. I’ll be taking it slow, focusing on my epic fantasy and other projects, as well as traveling in September, but after I get back from familial visits, I’ll dive in hard and work on Vance’s story. Got some stuff with that one that I’m excited about.

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Very strangely, as time allows, I may actually be writing my first Young Adult story! If it works out, it’ll be released under a pseudonym, but I like my concept so while YA hasn’t usually been my cup of tea, I’m kind of looking forward to giving it a shot! Watch this space for that in the future, as that’s a project that’ll fit in “as time allows” for right now.

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Finally, and the project I’m most excited about right now for a lot of reasons, is this: I’m organizing an anthology of romance stories involving cat form shapeshifters, called Here, Kitty Kitty and featuring myself and five fellow authors, some of whom you’ve met here on this blog!

All profits from this book will be going to charity, to benefit the Exotic Feline Rescue Center in Indiana. I’ve always been enchanted with big cats, especially tigers, and I’m hoping this does well and provides people with romantic, entertaining paranormal tales! This book will be featuring, as I said, myself, alongside Dariel Raye, A. Star, BR Kingsolver, Abigail Owen and featuring a new voice in Jessica Nicholls.

Watch this space for news as it progresses! Right now, we’re hoping for a late September release.

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That’s all from here! I’m excited about all my projects, and hope that you will be too!

~Mia

The Genesis of Adelheid

Today, the following post is also being hosted on the blog of Nancy Popovich. Thank you for hosting me and giving me the chance to share with your readers the crazy path an idea can take!

I will be including this on the Adelheid page of the site. :)

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The Future of Adelheid

Now that there are two books out in my Adelheid series, people are having the chance to see how it works for this series.

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Self-Promotion & Social Media for the Socially Anxious

First of all? I don’t have the secret to this. Yet. I’m working on it, but it’s been on my mind a lot and I wonder how many others face the same thing and struggle with the same battle.

I made the conscious decision to self-publish after a lot of consideration, weighing pros and cons, debate and so forth. I knew that no matter what I did, however, whether it was self-publishing or traditional publishing that I would have to market myself. I also knew that this was going to be my weak spot. Sadly, I was right. (Go figure, huh?)

Really, I’m a nice girl. I’m a writer who writes reasonably enjoyable books, if you like vampires and werewolves and such. But I’m also a girl who is terrified, terrified, of doing the wrong thing, or pissing people off/alienating people. And the lines in promoting yourself are so thin between what works and what annoys people that it puts someone like me in a start of perpetual hyperventilation.

What’s a girl to do?

Work hard. Work slow. Work thoughtfully.

I’m not trying to be an overnight sensation. In fact, I don’t want to be. I’d love to be a happy mid-list author. My goal is to eventually release some books that actually cost something and make some money at it. That’d be great, but I really just want people to read my stuff and enjoy it. To enjoy the worlds I create.

Okay, but enough of that. Work hard! Work slow!

No one who fights the type of anxiety battles that I do is going to be able to dive in hard and fast without a heavy prescription for an anti-anxiety medication. (Which I’m not on, hence the harder work.) But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. You just build yourself little by little.

Open up your social media accounts, watch and learn from what other people do. Jump out, peck at the dirt, jump back in. (Yes, this is a little bird metaphor. Go with me.) Send a few innocuous tweets. Post a little fun thing here and there on FB. Badger friends and family as the only people you’re comfortable nagging to get you going.

Do you open up the Goodreads groups page and see all those groups with hundreds of people and quake with fear? (Oh, that’s just me?) Or look at any other massive forum site and just turn and run? (This can’t just be me.) Find one that’s nicely small, suited to what you want, and then join. Be scared for a while. Introduce yourself. Hide under a blanket. Join a thread. Breathe deep.

One thing that has gained me a couple very nice writer friends is to, well, support the community. I got their stories on Smashwords, read them and wrote what I thought were thoughtful reviews and Followed on Twitter, as applicable. (Shout outs to Calista Taylor, Josh Langston, Shalini Boland and Lindsay Buroker for being nice to me.)

One thing I will say is that if you’re a writer like I am, you may need to spend a little money on promotion for someone to help you out, like someone to help with a blog tour or an author’s network.

I’d advise some, but I’m just researching them myself now. But I think I will not escape this entirely free. I understand totally about being on a poor-writer budget, but if you’re not good at diving in, some help may be called for. More on this later if I find some that work for me.

My final thought on the matter is as such: in general, when it comes to promotion, we all actually learned what we need to know in elementary school: play nice, share, take turns, follow directions (like if a site says don’t self-promote, or do it a certain way, listen!) and don’t be mean.

You can do all this, and promote yourself, when you’re terrified of people. It just takes a little more time and perseverance. I’ll let you know how it goes as I get there, but I will get there!

I just might need a paper bag to breathe into as I do. ;)

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Rules are Made…

…to be broken, but with care.

I’ve learned during the course of my life thus far that everyone thinks they are an expert about something. Writers, and those in the writing field, seem particularly prone to it. Perhaps this is because there aren’t as clear cut “rules” about writing as there are about, say, science… so people make them up and then are convinced they’re the authority.

Who knows? It just seems like everyone who has ever strung a sentence together thinks they know how others should write. And that’s not to say that they don’t have a piece of the puzzle, but writing is very subjective in many areas. What works for one person isn’t guaranteed to work for another.

So, my best advice… and, no, I’m no expert… is to listen to a lot, think a lot, and make the best decisions for you and for your stories, and sometimes that will be not taking someone’s advice. Don’t ignore what others say out of ego, because that gets no one anywhere, but out of what will work best.

Because the fact of the matter is that if a writer doesn’t enjoy what they’re writing, nine times out of ten, the reader will know it and they won’t enjoy reading it. So, you have to be okay with what and how you’re writing your story. So if you’re taking everyone’s advice and changing things until you’re discontent? It likely isn’t going to work very well for anyone.

Remember that you can’t make all the people happy all the time, and sometimes you’ll get conflicting advice. Choose Wisely is the best advice I think can be offered.

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The Curse of the Was’s

Recently, I’ve learned that I have a very bad writing habit. It is one of my greatest flaws as an author, and that is the habit of being too passive in sentences that should be active. For example: “I was running towards her” instead of “I ran towards her.” As I’ve become painfully aware of it in my own writing, I’ve begun to see it in that of others.

It seems to be a human habit, really. Why is that, I have to wonder. Do we feel the need to over-qualify our statements, make them less definitive, so that they do not offend? (Perhaps that is just the reason for my own habit of it. I don’t know.)

Whatever the reason, it’s something to watch out for. It’s not always avoidable, of course, but whenever possible, we writers should always try to be active and definitive. It’s quite all right to do so! In fact, it’s better because it engages the reader’s senses and imagination more. And as writers, we should always aim to do that as much as possible.

You want to tell a story and draw your reader as deeply in as you can, which means making them go along with your characters; making them feel it too.

Don’t give into passivity. Much like it’s good for the body to be active, it’s good for the story too!

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Quality Not Required… For Now!

Oh dear me, I had managed to post a lot sooner than this but I have been struck by this absolutely feverish pace of NaNoWriMo writing, and I’d say that my obsessive nature is finally paying off for something. I’m at 40,000 words and it’s only the 14th. If I can keep up this pace, I could have met the 50,000 word challenge at just about mid-month.

I am fully aware that it’s certain not 40,000 good words. It will probably be the roughest thing I’ve written since I started writing more than ten years ago and will take a lot, a lot, a lot of editing to make it half-decent, but I’m okay with that.

What have I learned about NaNo so far?

Well, for someone who writes as much as I do, joining this project might have seemed a little silly, but it’s given me a hard-set goal, which I like, but more importantly it has given me permission to, well, suck. The point is to just write. Don’t stop to worry about how it sounds now, or revise as you go. Just write and write and write!

As a compulsive fixer, writing stories can take me a while because I’m always second guessing my words. This experience has given me permission to write lousy stuff, so long as I actually write it. It’s made me remember that there’s no shame in heavy editing later, but it’s getting that first draft done that’s important.

This is not a lesson I’ve learned very well. I used to be able to do it, but then something happened and I started doubting myself and it severely impacted my writing. I’ve been getting past that more recently, but NaNo is cementing a very important lesson for me, and for any other writers who have similar issues.

The moral of the story is that as long as your basic idea and characters are sound, the initial prose does not have to be perfect when it hits the page. The words just need to get out there, and you can fix it later. For now, don’t worry about it, and just write!

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First Impressions

I’m not sure where I read this, but I read once that the first line of a story has to “grab the reader by the lapels and hold them until the story is over” and that’s always stuck with me. Another good quote is from The West Wing: “An artist’s job is to captivate you for however long we’ve asked for your attention.”

The first line of your story is incredibly important, and the first few pages follow this. Of course, you need to have a captivating tale over all, but if you can’t get a hold of your reader in that first line and those first pages, they aren’t going to give the rest of your book a chance, unless they are really dedicated.

We’ve all been there, as readers. I always try my hardest to finish every book that I begin, but if those first pages don’t grab me, then it gets harder and harder to get through it.

First impressions are important in life, but unlike a person, it is harder for a book to get that second chance. A reader has chosen to read your book as a form of entertainment, as an escape. If you can’t show them that that’s what you will give then, then they will move onto something that will.

The first step is the hardest and when it comes to writing, this is why. There is so much importance on that opening. You have to set up your plot and characters, and you have to capture your reader. Your opening is sort of like a loop of rope on the ground and your reader is the unexpected adventurer that you need to hoist into the air!

And I bet if someone wants to start a story with an adventurer getting caught in the old rope trap then you might have a way to get your reader hooked. Just make sure the rest of the story keeps them there, and you’re all set.

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Characters are People, Too

I have encountered a very stubborn character. This is a character I’ve written before, but I’ve been revising an old series of stories and rewriting them and she has gotten even more stubborn than I’ve expected. She is, quite frankly, refusing to be written. How does this occur? Well, I wrote the first book in the series and that main character just wrote herself.

This one? I open the document and every word feels like I’m bleeding onto the keyboard, one drop, one word, at a time. I have a plot outline I like and a good overall arc, but the actual writing is just creeping along. It’s like writer’s block, but a very tightly focused beam… Maybe we should call it character block?

What’s a girl to do?

My advice to anyone in the same position is to change projects, if you can. You can fight it for a while, but if you go on too long, the frustration will mount and then everything else will grind to a halt too. Every writer, at least every one I have ever met, has had to deal with this kind of dilemma at some point.

Characters are people, too. When you’re really involved in what your writing, they take on their own life. I don’t mind it so much when they actually write, but when they dig their heels in is when it gets annoying. But you can’t let it stop you, or derail your writing entirely. Work on something else for a while.

In my case, I think I’m going to swap entirely. This is a series, so I’m going to swap the books planned as 2 and 3. 2 is the stubborn one, so she’s getting bumped down the line. Maybe it will make her more easily handled if she knows that I mean business, eh?

We’ll see how it goes. If any writers want to chime in with your own advice for unruly characters, feel free!

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