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December 4, 2018

Michelle Miles: How to make $3 million writing books

Do I have your attention? :)

This post isn't about how to make $3 million from writing books. I don't have the secret formula. Sorry about about the click-bait.

I’ve been writing for publication since 2001. The entire lifespan of my son. I’ve seen the industry change from the traditional houses ruling to indie publishing booming. To Amazon claiming its own stake in the publishing game. The rise and fall of small presses. The downsize of traditional publishing.

I joined RWA in 2004 and was so happy to find a writing home, a place where others understood me. A place where I could make connections with other writers. I was hungry to learn everything from craft to industry. Back then, the contest circuit was the way to go. The only way to catch the eye of an agent or editor. Careers were launched that way (I can think of two off the top of my head).

But things changed. The world changed. The industry changed.

One scroll through my Facebook newsfeed shows me ad after ad of someone hawking their latest get rich scheme. And that’s what it feels like to me. Buy their stuff and make an obscene amount of money writing books!

To which I snort.

I have no doubt in my mind that it absolutely works for some people. I know, in fact, there are several courses that DO work and are well-worth the money. But what about the other ones? The ones with promises of endless money just by publishing a book?

I’m not bashing indie publishing—not at all. I’m not bashing anyone who knows how to make money selling anything. Lord knows I suck at it myself. If you can make a living doing something that affords your mortgage, paper towels and laundry soap, I think that’s great. But I also think it’s far too easy to get caught up in the money of books and not the storytelling of books.

I made the mistake myself. I got so pissed off I wasn’t making money writing, I quit for nearly eight months. EIGHT MONTHS of my life I let slip away, not writing, because I was holding a grudge against…nothing tangible. And so I started sending out queries to agents thinking since I couldn’t afford indie publishing then, by God, I would get in with one of the bigger houses and show them!

Wrong.

Sixty-five rejections later… I said, eff this sh*t.

With four completed novels sitting on my hard drive, I got back to work. I rewrote one of my backlist and got it ready for publishing. Then I decided maybe I could buy cover art a little bit at a time and figure out a way to get some inexpensive editing and put these books back out.

I’d already had cover art for my paranormal shifter romance. I decided it may as well make me pennies than sit collecting dust on my hard drive. I put it up for sale and had a nice initial response, a few good reviews. The more I thought about it, the more I decided I’d give indie publishing another go. But this time, I would not let myself be distracted by the “noise” of social media, the lure of getting a publishing contract. I could still write my books and be happy.

Writing is hard, y’all. There is nothing easy about it, really. Is it fun? Hell, yeah. Is it worthwhile? Of course, it is. Do I feel full-filled when I finish a book? Yes! I also get a little zing of excitement when I order cover art and see it land in my email because I know that means my book has finally come to life.

A little piece of me feels likes I'm giving up on that big dream of getting an agent and writing for a "big" publisher. But the other part of me can't stand the thought of letting those books linger, unpublished and unloved. It took a lot of thought and soul-searching, but I finally decided the only person responsible for how I feel about my writing, how successful I think I am, is me. I'm not abandoning my ultimate dream altogether. I'm just modifying it.

So here’s what I think. Do your thing. Write your words. Tell your stories. Don’t worry about what everyone else is doing or listen to the social media noise or worry about the almighty dollar. Be informed, YES. Stay on top of the industry changes, ALWAYS. Know your readers. Know yourself!

Find your worth and keep writing.

November 15, 2018

Blog: Happy Release Day for Whispers of Winter, a holiday anthology #fruitcakelovers #romanticcomedy #MFRWauthor

HAPPY RELEASE DAY!!

Whispers of Winter holiday anthology which includes my romantic comedy short story, The Great Fruitcake Bake-off.
When five-time champion Samantha Greene teams up with her new neighbor, Dixon Roberts, for The Great Fruitcake Bake-off, they discover baking a prize-winning entry is complicated, bad guys are plotting to take the crown, and first prize isn't just about a ribbon.
“I’m not entering this year.” I pinned an unbreakable stare on Bethany, my co-worker and long-time friend who lived in the same apartment complex as me. Standing firm, I crossed my arms. “Period.” 
We'd arrived early for work and were piddling over coffee in her cubical like we always did before diving into the nuts and bolts of company business. She rolled her eyes in the “I'm so not believing this” fashion and tweaked the Santa garland decorating her cube's walls. “Why not, Samantha? You should be proud to be the five-time winner of The Great Fruitcake Bake-off. You're a-a”--her words trailed off as she searched the ceiling for the ultimate in descriptive--“legend.” 
         I dropped my arms to twitch my black skirt in place, then I tucked my shoulder-length hair behind my ear. I let loose a long exhale, “Is being a legend in the fruitcake world a good thing?”
“What’s your point?” Bethany asked.
“Alright already, it's exhausting. Finding the perfect recipe, then bake and exhibit it. The tension comes close to killing my holiday enjoyment. Besides”-–I shoved my finger in her direction—-“shouldn't the love be spread? Shouldn’t somebody else win the Bake-off?” 
         “Oh, by golly, Sam.” Bethany's hands covered her eyes. A few seconds passed, then she clasped them to her chest, inhaled, and composed her annoyance before saying, “We're talking fruitcake here. It's not groundbreaking like-like the Declaration of Independence. Or the Pyramids.”
Find this one and many other great stories at:





November 13, 2018

Michelle Miles: NaNo



I’m participating in NaNoWriMo this year. I mean like really participating. Not just signing up and then ignoring my book for the next 30 days.

(For those who may not know, NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month during November where you write 50,000 in 30 days AND survive the Thanksgiving holiday!)

Anyway…I decided to get off my duff and start working on book two in my Dragon Protectors series. I really hadn’t intended to start writing that book yet but when I put the first one up for preorder and it started getting a good response, I figured I better get on it. I even went so far as to go ahead and upload a preorder over at Draft2Digital and gave myself six months to complete it and get it ready for sale.

I can do this.

I sat down and read through the first few pages I’d already had and realized that the story wasn’t half bad. I was kind of impressed.

And then my friend and fellow princess, Elizabeth Essex, mentioned there was a NaNo support group over on FB and invited me to join.

So, I did.

I can totally do this.

I found the ladies over there were posting their daily check-ins with word count and rewards. And so I started writing my butt off.

I sat at the keyboard one Sunday night and hammered out 2100 words. And then I got the 5-day streak badge from NaNo.

Yes, yes. I can do this.

When I logged into NaNo, I also noticed I’d hit the 1,677, 5,000, 10,000 and 25,000 badges. At the time of this writing, I’m hovering at around 28,000 words. I really want to hit that 40,000 mark so I can earn that next badge.

I can tell you with complete confidence, the book is crap. But, hey, I can fix crap. I’m just gonna keep on keeping on.

I'm doing this.

October 18, 2018

Blog: Quilting Magic with Ties #holidayanthology #crafting #readromance


A lot of you know I call my husband Handsome. When we first married, he gave me a card signed with Handsome Husband. I shortened it. (And Handsome is a pretty nice looking guy. )
I grew up when working men wore suits to their job and to church, to shows, etc. I like the look. Handsome’s career began at a large accounting firm and he wore the “uniform” too. He especially liked ties and for a long time, never threw any away.
An employee at his company makes quilts. After a chat, he decided to have one made into a quilt. Take a look:

He had her put on the back his philosophy about ties: 












The good news is he culled through his ties again and had a second quilt made, and a third one: 



Here’s the sash detail and labels:

Some people are soooo creative.
Creativity abounds in this holiday anthology, the Whispers of Winter, featuring my romantic comedy short story, The Great Fruitcake Bake-off: 






October 2, 2018

Michelle Miles: Crafty Crafts

I’ve been in a bad funk with the writing lately (mostly ignoring it) so I decided to turn my attention elsewhere.

Most of you know I do other crafts. I opened my first Etsy shop to sell my handmade cross-stitch ornaments. I stitch A LOT of Santa faces. They are so cute. But I’m expanding and doing other little ornaments.

Stuff like this:
And this:


All these will be post in the shop soon! Shameless plug: https://www.etsy.com/shop/Houseof1000Stitches

In addition to that, I’ve discovered mason jars and how fun they are to paint. I started out simply, too. With these little handmade soap dispensers.


Now I’m painting wine bottles. I’ve got my first attempt going on right now but it’s not finished. Right now, it’s just painted with primer and kinda boring.

I also made this cute candy cane striped mason jar as a vase.


I don’t think I’ll sell the jars since they take so long for me to make BUT I do love making them. I have a whole case of mason jars to experiment with.

Most writers I know have other creative passions. I think it’s that creative brain we have.

Do you do arts and crafts? What do you like to do?

September 20, 2018

CUT! Costumes in Movies, part 4 #historicalromance #moviecostumes #readromance


From the CUT! Costumes in Movies exhibit, I'm focusing on evening gowns. And are there some doozies:


Who loved to play dress up? Me! Once, I went to a tag sale when I was about ten and for a very small fee, I bought a dark blue evening gown. I just loved it. Today is our last look at CUT!! and I'm featuring evening gowns. 

From Phantom of the Opera, we have this lovely pink creation worn by Emily Rossum as Christine:

Isn't it gorgeous? Love the shade of pink, how the train is gathered and embellished with flowers and ribbons.

Have I said how much I LOVE red? This stunning red dress was worn by Laura Flynn Boyle:
A little art deco flavor, slimmer silhouette:
And lastly, a slinky dress and suit:

August 16, 2018

Plotting Princesses: Vicki Batman - You know what’s really annoying? #MFRWorg #readromance #householdchores



I try not to be a gripey person. I take on tasks I dislike and finish them. There is one household chore I really dislike, and I think you’ll be surprised when I say... 

Changing out the toilet paper tube for a fresh roll.


Yep, the springy thing bouncing all over the room, getting on hands and knees and finding it, and pushing all just so to get it back in the holder drives me crazy. I wish I had installed the kind where the roll slips over the rod.

Silly, isn’t it?

July 12, 2018

Vicki Batman : A Writer’s Good Life #MFRWorg #readromance #RWA2018

The best part of being a writer is meeting writers. Sharing, collaborating, buying books. And that’s what I’m doing. I’m at the Romance Writer’s of American convention attending workshops, classes, dinners and lunches, and signing books at the Indie Signing. 

Last year was a huge one for me. I signed at the Indie Signing and my mystery at the Signing for Literacy. I had so much fun. Many writer friends I’ve made over fourteen years stopped by and picked up books. There were strangers who came looking for me! A friend who made the call to notify me I’d finalled in her chapter’s contest.
I think I broke my smile that day.
I’m not a fast writer lately. Life has pushed me around and I do what I do. Though, when I have looked back, I have been amazed at what I’ve done:
35 short stories and essays
2 romantic comedy mysteries
So I’m absorbing new information, hanging with old and new friends, and soon shall be flexing my fingers and hitting the keyboard. 

June 21, 2018

Author Vicki Batman on Handbag and Book - My Observations about Dogs #gettingapet #catsanddogs #romanticcomedy

Some of you may be laughing hysterically just from the title of my blog because you know I grew up with cats, not dogs. My mom didn’t want to fence the yard for a dog. Our first cat was a huge gray guy named appropriately Smokey. He was born between our wooden and the neighbor’s chain link fences. 
Over the years, there were others, like Mischief, Fuzzy, Snuffer. Our last two were farm cats from Kansas named Romper, aka Roo, Roo-roo, Romp, and her sister, Scooter, aka Scoo. 
Handsome, however, grew up with dogs. He loves to tell the story of their sheepdog who ate the Thanksgiving turkey (Christmas Story, anyone?). So when #1son was about three, he adopted Baxter, a sheep dog who grew VERY LARGE. Baxter was too big for little kids and no one could walk him well.
After Baxter and Snuffer passed, we adopted the farm girls. They were little and squirmy and perfect for boys’ love. Both had a long shy streak and would hide behind furniture when people came over.
Many years passed and Handsome began to yearn for another dog.

June 5, 2018

Michelle Miles: Living in a Fishbowl

I had a recent experience on Facebook that has me questioning my very existence on Facebook.

My post was somewhat controversial, though I had no intention of it being that way, and generated over 170 comments (don’t bother looking for it; the post is no longer available for public consumption). It was merely my observation of the double standard that exists in our world. What’s good for the goose is sometimes not good for the gander.

When we put ourselves on social media, and post things that are considered hot topics, we unwittingly invite these people into our world. If our thought or opinion doesn’t align with theirs, then we’re open for attack. Everyone and everything comes under careful scrutiny by people who know better and people who have no problem telling us about it.

May 17, 2018

Vicki Batman - Thirty-four #readromance #RLFblog #MFRWorg




34          I counted just the other day because I kinda had thirty in my head. So why the number?



I’ve written thirty-four short stories.

I began by writing my romantic comedy mystery, Temporarily Employed. Then I critiqued six very short stories for a friend, and all of the sudden, the rhythm of writing these fell into my head. Then an idea came, and I was off. I churned out a lot of short stories, many of which were pubbed by magazines and other publishers, some have been in anthologies.

I really do like writing short. My life has been upside down and concentrating on a book is hard for me. I can pop in and out of a short story and feel as if I’ve accomplished a lot.

As for very shorts…

I’ve collected eleven, two of which have never been pubbed before. Here’s a bit about them:

May 1, 2018

Michelle Miles: May Day

It's May! Can you believe how fast it got here? Seems like we were just celebrating New Years Day.

May is probably one of the best months of the year (besides October - I love Fall!). Lots of fun stuff happens in May. My birthday. My husband's birthday. Mother's Day. Memorial Day Weekend. The end of school. It's a busy month for sure.

And this year, we have a royal wedding to look forward to! I can't wait. I enjoy following the royals from their wedding to the birth of their children.

I had a blog post all written and ready to post but after re-reading it (and after my cool down period), I decided it was far too snarky. And so here I am talking about May 1/Beltane while The Fifth Element plays in the background.

I like May even if it is the official beginning of our hot Texas summers. There's lots of shopping happening during the month and cake and ice cream. That just can't be beat.

What do you love about May?

April 19, 2018

Vicki Batman on What's inspiring you? #readromance #springishere #RLFblog

Nature is!
I have always liked the beautiful colors of flowers; however, my obsession really began about three years ago when Handsome and I traveled the Rhine on a river cruise. We began our journey in Lucerne, Switzerland in late June. The weather was perfect, in fact, almost like spring compared to the heat my area experiences in the summer. Many variety of flowers bloomed everywhere. I became captivated and took many photos. Some flowers resembled those grown at home. I also spotted new plants. Even the tiny orange weed in the crack next to a white-washed building captured my fancy. 
This year, the spring flowers are bountiful, most likely due to the abundance of rain and cool temperatures. The antique climbing roses is loaded with tiny pale yellow bouquets. (These are the same plants I nearly chopped down, too.) Every day, I see new things—a snowball viburnum bursting with large blossoms. Many colors of Iris. Hot pink Gerbera daises. Green roses.
The air is fresh, perfumed by the budding flowers. The breeze lifts my hair and brushes across my mouth only to stick on my lip balm (no flavor). On dog walks, Champ, our white malti-poo, toddles along, stopping to pee every ten feet. His smoky gray brother, Jones, has long straight legs and walks like he knows what he is doing, only he doesn’t most of the time. Kids handling super-hero kites which are struggling to find lift. My neighbor is dead-heading the yellow and purple pansies with their fanciful smiles along her front walkway garden.
So how is all this loveliness inspiring?
I’ve been working harder at effective descriptions by adding how I feel and what I see. Hopefully by doing so, you--the reader--are experiencing a better mind picture.

April 3, 2018

Michelle Miles: New Quarter…NEW GOALS! Sorta…


It’s really hard for me to get it in my head that it’s April. APRIL! The first three months of the year are gone in a puff of smoke. 

I think I’ve mentioned before I have this journal I use daily to keep me on track for my goals. I discovered, too, long ago that it’s too hard for me to plan an entire year of goals. With the Best Self, it breaks down the year into 13-week increments. I set three goals for those 13 weeks. They can be anything I want. So, because I want to produce more books and get myself out of debt, I decided to start tracking these goals.

March 15, 2018

What makes a good Ending? #readromance #RLFblog #writing



Hi, everyone! It's Princess Vicki and I want to chat about THE END. You just finished the book,  close it, and sometimes, sigh. The last line sets the tone for how the book ends, a resolution, and is a counterpoint to the opening line which sets the story in motion.
Sometimes, there are lines that stay with us forever. For example:
“Tomorrow is another day.” From Gone With the Wind
“Thank you, God, she thought. Thank you.” From A Knight in Shining Armor (When I reached the end of this one, I sat for about a minute with the book in my hands, then started it again instantly.)
When I finish a story or book, I think a lot about the last line. I have been accused of writing a cliffhanger and maybe so.

March 6, 2018

Michelle Miles: Let's talk crafts


I had a hard time coming up with something to blog about. I’m not sure what my mental block is with blogging lately, but I literally stare into space and then … I got nothin’.

I thought about talking about the Oscars but, let’s face it, they were #OscarsSoBoring. I was glad to see Gary Oldman and Sam Rockwell win. The Shape of Water just looks weird to me and I doubt I’ll ever see it.

There’s not much else going on in my life other than writing, editing and stitching. I’ve started an Etsy shop and I’ve been stitching my little fingers to the bone. I make cross-stitched Christmas ornaments. If you follow me on Facebook, you likely have seen me post progress photos of them. They’re fun and they give me a sense of accomplishment because I can finish one in about a week.

I’m also trying to teach myself how to crochet. I have no idea why other than I saw the most gorgeous crocheted blanket on Facebook. It looks like this:


February 20, 2018

Where Did You Get that Story Idea? by Kathleen Baldwin #CreativeInspiration


Good morning! I’m Kathleen Baldwin, author of the award-winning Stranje House novels. Like most authors, the question I’m asked most often by readers is, “Where did you get the idea for your books?”

Every author has her own answer. 

I love adventure in real life and in books. Guess where I get my ideas for my adventurous heros and heroines . . .
You guessed it. For me, adventuring in the wild is a powerful source of inspiration. I love being out in nature. But hey, I also enjoy doing research. How's that for a dichotomy?  Dusty musty old books are often a source of inspiration as well.

TRUTH: Inspiration comes from many places. 
Here's several wonderful authors answering that question.

February 15, 2018

.@VickiBatman - What Makes me Stop Writing? #readromance #RomanceLivesForever #MFRWauthor



I remember the first time my brain didn’t want to write. I’d been working on my first romantic comedy mystery for a few months when Handsome was diagnosed with throat cancer. My whole world stopped. (FMI see Romance Lives Forever at: Romance Lives Forever .)
But how to keep the creativity going? I did develop a game plan—I took writing classes (didn’t comment much but worked on all lessons), played my favorite Word Search no Vowels, I critiqued with friends, journaled, attended my local romance writing chapter meetings. Most importantly, I set a deadline for after when his treatment would end and our lives would be back on track.
On the designated date, I booted up my computer and found my book. It had been haunting me, and when thoughts popped in my head, boom! I wrote them down and saved them. I had decided if I could only write twenty words, that was what I would do. I started with chapter one and worked. I was so nervous because I thought what if I can’t get back in my groove? The next day, I did better, and after that, better, till finally, my fingers were flying again.


February 6, 2018

A Family for the Rancher by Allison B. Collins #CowboystoGrooms #AFamilyfortheRancher #PlottingPrincesses #MFRW @allisonbcollins

Hi, everyone! It’s been ages since I blogged with the Plotting Princesses. So much has happened, but I’ll try to keep it short.

Under my real name, Allison B. Collins, I have a three book deal with Harlequin for a new series, Cowboys to Grooms!  It’s been a dream of mine for years to be a Harlequin author.  I’ve been reading their series for more years than I care to admit, and to now be writing for them—it’s better than the richest of chocolates and the bubbliest of champagnes. It really hit home last summer when I was invited to the Harlequin party at the Romance Writers of America conference.  Strictly for Harlequin authors and employees, I really felt like part of the Harlequin family. (I might have to write about it after the next one, so stay tuned!)

The first book, A FAMILY FOR THE RANCHER, just launched, and I’m over the moon excited about it. This series started out as a dream I had a couple of years ago. As soon as I woke up that next morning, I knew I had to turn it into a series of books. There are five brothers, so five books.  Nash is the oldest brother, and definitely a wounded hero home from the war in Afghanistan. I was so into writing about him that it made me cry several times. Kelsey Summers is the physical therapist Nash’s father hired to help Nash get better.  Kelsey arrives at the ranch with her mother and young daughter in tow. 

Blurb: