Today’s post for the A-to-Z Challenge is brought to you by the letter M!
I’d like to introduce you to Michele G Miller, an amazing author, my first client, and a good friend of mine. She’s a dedicated writer who loves to dabble in a bit of everything. Pushing herself to always do more, write better, and explore the world of literature makes her a standout in the independent world.
Hi! Let’s start out simple. What have you written?
Thank you for asking me to drop by. I’m best known, if you will, for my contemporary romance series From The Wreckage. There are currently four books FTW, Out of Ruins, All That Remains, and a male point of view novel of book one (FTW) called West. This series run from YA to mature YA/NA as they follow the same characters dealing with the aftermath of a tornado from high school into college. I’ll be releasing book five in the series, After the Fall, come October.
I also have two stand alone reads: Last Call—a NA Romantic comedy with a wedding, blind dates and an Aussie—and Into The Fire—a YA drama about a girl who finds herself after tragedy.
For fantasy fans I have written two novels in The Prophecy of Tyalbrook YA romance series. Never Let You Fall and Never Let You Go. I’ll finish Xander and Skye’s story eventually!
What are you working on at the minute? What’s it about?
I’m co-writing an amazing Contemporary YA novel with Mindy Hayes called Paper Planes and Other Things We Lost (Paper Planes for short). Paper Planes is about two teens in 1993 who connect across country, through letters, because they share one common thread: they both lost parents in a plane crash.
When and why did you decide to become a writer?
I don’t think you decide to become a writer, you just are. My mind has never not made up stories and scenarios. There is a difference between writing and publishing, though. I didn’t consider publishing until the boom of self-publishing hit in 2011-12. With the explosion of ebooks I discovered writers who weren’t on the shelves in bookstores and I thought, “Hey, I can do that too!” I wrote Never Let You Fall in 2012 (published May 2013) after my youngest started Kindergarten, as a bit of a dare with myself. I wanted to both finish a novel, and show my kids the power of following your dreams. Once I started, I couldn’t stop and here we are.
What is your favorite genre to write in and what draws you to this genre?
My passion is writing real stories. Young adults finding love and dealing with hardship. Stories that have an underlying theme, not preachy, but still having impact. Some topics I’ve tackled include death, grief, survivors guilt, self-harm, depression. That list makes my books sound horribly heavy, and they can be, but I don’t glorify the struggles in my writing—I get through them. It’s everyday life.
I’ve learned the best story for me to tell is the one that won’t stop talking.
Out of all the characters you have created, who are you most drawn to?
Picking favorites is a no-no! **Don’t tell the others, but to date my favorites have been West and Dani (Into The Fire). I have a special bond with both of them due to the feelings I had to tap into to write some of their heavier moments.
What/who are your muses?
That changes with each book. I pin a lot of pictures on Pinterest and I listen to a lot of music.
What is your writing process typically like?
Chaos. I don’t typically write from beginning to end. I don’t research everything up front and then sit and write. I’m a pantser—I don’t plot, I fly by the seat of my pants—so I write what I feel. Normally when I begin, I write various scenes all over a story at different times. At some point in the process, while I’m mentally plotting and planning, the perfect moment will pop into my mind and from there I’m able to (for the most part) write straight through.
I’m also do what I call word vomit. Meaning I just write, no real thinking and no editing as I go. I try to be very organic with my words. I write them and then I edit and tweak once the first draft is done. If I don’t know where I’m going with my story then I’ll go back and re-read chapters and play until my mind clears and I have direction.
What goes into your cover-selection process?
This is something I’m very involved in. I came up with the cover concept for my From The Wreckage books and Paper Planes (with Mindy’s help). I know what I like and what feels like my characters.
I also use amazing designers and photographers to put the cover together so if I feel stuck, I count on them to always know what I want. My Tyalbrook covers were designed by Regina, at Mae I Design, with very little direction from me. I believe I told her about the portal, historical concept, enchanted forest, and magic and royalty. She is also the photographer for Into The Fire. She posted that shot on her page one day and I instantly saw Dani. I wasn’t but maybe 20% into writing the book at the time.
Any tips on how to get through the dreaded writer’s block?
I suck at this part. I have found that if I’m writing what I want and what I love, and I don’t over think, I can work through anything in a few days. Typically if I’m stuck I just step away and read or watch some shows. I suggest writers find a trusted tribe of people they can talk things out with. That takes time to cultivate, but once you have your core people they are your CORE people.
Also, if you’re simply stuck in a scene with where to go next, I find writing sex, death, or fights for fun help to loosen you up 😉
Do you personally prefer to read e-books or traditional paper/hard back books?
I read mostly e-books, but I collect books so I have many paper/hard backs that I want to read, eventually.
What books are you currently reading?
I’m on a deadline so I’m not reading at all right now. I’m about 60% done with Rachel Higginson’s Five Stages of Falling in Love and about 80% done with Mia Asher’s Sweet Venom. Lately I’ve been working until 3 and 4 in the morning soooo.
Do you let the book stew – leave it for a month and then come back to edit it – or do you prefer to finish it all at once?
I’m kind of impatient so I like to finish it. I have stewed on projects though. Usually I stew up front. After the Fall, book 5 for FTW, has been stewing for almost two years. The moment I introduced Cassie I knew her story, but I was missing parts.
A story can always be improved upon, so I feel that once I’m done writing I need to move on or I begin to second guess myself too much. OR I get this new thought and all of a sudden I’m changing everything and i could have just written another book using that plot idea!
It’s 1am and you’ve been writing all night. What three items are on your desk?
My Thor mug with sweet tea, a note pad and pen (to make notes reminding what I need to verify the next day, because at 1am I just write, no research!) and if I’m lucky I’ll have Twizzlers, jelly beans, or some other sugary junk I shouldn’t eat—I’m looking at you fruit slices and gum drops!
When you aren’t writing, where can we find you?
Writing. No, if it’s fall you’ll find me watching Alabama football or in the mountains. For everyday life, when I don’t write I read or peruse social media and Pinterest trying to avoid writing. Occasionally I clean too.
I’m also the proud CEO of Miller Taxi Service, so I do school drop off and pick up, take oldest to work, drive a diva to dance three days a week, and pick my runner up from his Let Me Run practices twice a week.
Tell me a joke.
Well now that you’ve put me on the spot I can’t think of one!
What is your favorite book and why? Movie?
Book – there are too many. Different things at different times become my favorite. Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein was a favorite as a kid and has been on my mind lately because I bought it for my daughter for Christmas and we’ve been reading it.
Historical romances by Judith McNaught are my guilty pleasures and will always be my favorites.
Gone With the Wind is my favorite movie, but I’m a sucker for sweet romances and sports movies. The Notebook, Sweet Home Alabama, Pretty Woman, Steel Magnolias, Pride and Prejudice, Rudy, Field of Dreams, Remember the Titans, and Jerry Maguire
Where do you see yourself in 5 years’ time?
Hopefully older, wiser, fitter, and just as happy 😉
I have goals, I’d like to be a bestseller, I’d like my books to be sold in Target, I’d like a Chris or Ryan to star in a movie about my books (Pratt, Hemsworth, Evans, Pine, Gosling, Reynolds—I’m not picky), but when it comes down to it my life is about my kids, husband, and living.
What advice do you have for aspiring authors?
Just do it. It’s that simple. Write.
Oh, and when you think you’re ready to publish or take your next step—use Google! Everything you need to know is out there. Read Mark Coker’s blog over at Smashwords.com, read Amazon’s boards on how to get published. Look up your favorite authors agents, publishers, PR people or their blog sites and read up on what they say. Don’t ‘walk’ into FB and just ask people all the questions you could have found the answers to yourself. If you are serious about publishing, research it, live it, breathe it. This isn’t a get rich quick job, it’s tough. Long hours, aching back, missed family time, crazy voices in your head—you have to do it because you love telling stories.
Thank you so much for taking the time to do an interview with me, Michele!
For anyone interested, Michele’s books can be found here:
Never Let You Fall (Prophecy of Tyalbrook, Book 1) — Amazon Link
Never Let You Go (Prophecy of Tyalbrook, Book 2) — Amazon Link
From The Wreckage (From The Wreckage, Book 1) — Amazon Link
Out Of Ruins (From The Wreckage, Book 2) — Amazon Link
All That Remains (From The Wreckage, Book 3) — Amazon Link
WEST (From The Wreckage, Book 1 – his POV) — Amazon Link
Last Call — Amazon Link
Into The Fire: A Wrecked Novel — Amazon Link