Monday, December 21, 2015

Looking Back on 2015...

As 2015 comes to an end and the world prepares to welcome 2016, it's once again time to look back on the year and see what I accomplished, what I didn't, and what big changes I faced in 2015. To read my full 2015 goals post, click HERE!

My 2015 Goals Included:

1. Revise the sequel to The Georgia Corbins. 

Status: GOAL MET!

My thoughts: I've been able to revise this sequel and even get it beta read, so it's in good shape and is now awaiting a new home. I'd also like to note that I completely renamed the entire series as follows:
Torn: The Georgia Corbins, Book 1
Tempted: The Georgia Corbins, Book 2
Tainted: The Georgia Corbins, Book 3

2. Revise Fiery Lotus, the sequel to Deadly Orchid

Status: GOAL NOT MET 

My thoughts: In a long, complicated turn of events, I've decided to completely rework this novel and make it the first book in a new series. The new title is now Savage Passion, and I'll be finishing it up and sending it to my agent in early 2016. This will be an adult romantic suspense series with erotic elements.

3. Outline the third book in the Georgia Corbins series. 

Status: GOAL NOT MET

My thoughts; Although I didn't get an outline written, I did start writing it, so that's something! I have a very loose idea of where the story is going.

4. Outline a new YA paranormal with an entirely new species of characters.

Status: GOAL MET!

My thoughts: Not only did I get this book outline, I created a full series bible for it with really badly drawn maps and family trees. Additionally, I started writing it!! I'm 35,000 words into it, and I've titled it: Hallowed Ground (Graves Barren, Book 1)

5. Outline an epic romance that will break all the rules of the genre. 

Status: GOAL NOT MET

My thoughts: I'll be honest, I've completely lost steam on this book and have decided to shelf this idea for the time being. Maybe I'll revisit it in a few years when I finish some other things.

6. Outline a YA paranormal with angels and demons. 

Status: GOAL NOT MET

My thoughts: Like the project in #5, I've decided to shelf this idea as well for the time being.

7. Outline Broken Love, the third book in the Mending Hearts Series that I'm co-writing with Jody Holford.

Status: GOAL NOT MET

My thoughts: I think this is the hardest one to admit I didn't accomplish, and not because it was something I didn't do, but rather because Jody and I have decided not to write this book together. I assure you, it has nothing to do with our friendship or with our publisher, but rather with the fact that we're both in such different places now than we were two years ago when we started writing together, and unfortunately, other deadlines and commitments have made it so neither of us have time to write this book. It's very sad :( Maybe sometime in the future, we can write together again.

8. Outline Blood Blossom, the third book to Deadly Orchid.

Status: GOAL NOT MET

My thoughts; Due to my choice to rework this series (see #2 above), I haven't even touched this book.

9. Write Resistance, the sequel to Inferno.

Status: GOAL NOT MET

My thoughts: Okay, so my co-author, David Jemal, and I hit a little snag with this series. It was originally set to release in July 2015, but due to creative differences with the publisher, we had to step back and regroup. We've recently found a new publisher for it, and will hopefully see it in print in 2016. I am happy to say we did manage to write close to 25,000 words on this sequel. AND, we wrote a 28,000 prequel as well. So, this is a "win" in my book.

10. Write Jaded Love, the spin off to Dangerous Love.

Status: GOAL MET!

My thoughts: Woo hoo!!!! I'm happy to say this book is done and set to release in February 2016!

11. Write a prequel to The Georgia Corbins.

Status: GOAL MET!

My thoughts: When I originally set this goal, I estimated a word count of approximately 24,000 words. I didn't quite hit that goal, but it came in right around 20k, so I'm happy with that.

12. Blog more.

Status: GOAL MET!

My thoughts: Even though I didn't stick to any regular posting schedule, I did post a lot more quality content this year, and so I'm counting that as a win!

12.  Read and Review one book a month.

Status: GOAL KINDA MET

My thoughts: Although I didn't review many books, I did manage to read for pleasure a lot more. Some of my favorites this year:

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver
The Uglies Series by Scott Westerfield
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

13. Attend RWA in NYC.

Status: GOAL NOT MET

My thoughts: I was so looking forward to attending this conference. Unfortunately, due to some big life changes (see below), I just wasn't able to make this happen.

14. Build a Successful Freelance Business.

Status: GOAL MET!

My thoughts: I'm not actively advertising my editorial services, but I do edit for people who need it. I've managed to build a decent sized client list simply by word of mouth, which is great! So, if you or someone you know needs editing, send me an email: karaleighmiller(at)gmail(dot)com


Out of 14 goals, I only achieved 6 and a half of them. To most, that probably seems like I failed more than I succeeded, but I don't see it that way. Failing to meet goals isn't always a bad thing because this failure taught me a few things about myself:

First, I can fail and not wallow in an endless pit of self-hatred. Sometimes, it's okay to fail. The world isn't going to end, and I can simply try again.

Secondly, I'm very clearly not a plotter. lol. I had good intentions to get all these books outlined so when I was ready to write them, I could breeze through them. This doesn't mean I'm going to totally give up the idea of plotting because when I can actually do it, it helps me tremendously.

Third, even though I failed to meet a lot of my goals, I accomplished a lot of other things that weren't on my goals list.

  • I wrote a contemporary NA romance titled Tempting Tanner that is currently out on submission. This is the first in the planned Grayson Brothers Series.
  • I attended two conferences this year: The Michigan Writers Workshop and The Florida Writers Association Conference
  • I moved to a new state! I know to some this might not seem like a big deal. I mean, people move all the time, right? But it is a big deal for me because I have lived in the same small town in Upstate, NY my entire life. And now I don't. 
  • I sold Deadly Orchid (a Christian romantic suspense) to Anaiah Press and it's slated for a March 2016 release.
  • I did a (regretfully) short stint as a literary agent at Corvisiero Literary Agency. And even though my time there was brief, I learned SO much. 
  • I made some wonderful new writer friends that I cherish.


Overall, it was a very productive and exciting year. I look forward to what 2016 will bring.

So, tell me, how did you do meeting your goals in 2015??



Wednesday, December 16, 2015

{GUEST POST}: How my Writing Process Impacted my Book by Carrie Dalby

Thanks for having me on your site today, Kara. I decided to focus on something that will give your readers insight into many aspects of Fortitude in the shortest period of time: my writing process. I promise not to make it as boring as it sounds.

Fortitude began life after I saw a picture of a goat in a tree. (https://www.pinterest.com/pin/19492210857092970/) Yes, a hooved creature in an oak tree on Dauphin Island was just the odd sort of thing to get my brain thinking about days gone by. It was by no means glamorous, but I had a location and an animal, and everyone knows a goat in a tree is in want of a human to look after it.

Claire O’Farrell’s younger brother, Kevin, was compiled first but Claire didn’t take long to shape. At first I worried about my stories sounding the same because I was fresh off writing a contemporary YA but I realized Claire’s voice was brave and feisty—a much different personality than the main character in my previous work-in-progress.  She stands on her own with conviction, even if she later doubts her choices.

Next I discovered the time period. After all, it’s difficult to write a historical without a certain year in mind. Information on the deplorable conditions U.S. soldiers met as they gathered in Florida for the Spanish-American War gleamed from a couple pages in the middle of a biography I was reading for fun. I was shocked, sickened, and upset that I’d never learned about the Florida camps in all my history classes. I knew it was a cause Claire would get behind, she just needed a catalyst to get her there in 1898.  Enter Loretta.

When I came across a collection of photographs taken by W.E.B. DuBois depicting African-Americans that were assembled for the 1900 World’s Fair in Paris, the portrait of a young woman immediately spoke to me. (http://www.loc.gov/pictures/resource/cph.3c24687/?co=anedub) She was extremely feminine, fashionable, and confident. Who else could pull off a hat like this? (http://www.loc.gov/pictures/resource/cph.3c24686/?co=anedub) While I gathered the images of a few other characters from this amazing portrait collection (see my Pinterest board for more https://www.pinterest.com/wonderwegian/fortitude/), Loretta’s voice was the loudest. “Tell my story and make it great!” And once you read about her, you know most people can’t tell Miss Loretta Davis “No.”

I’m one of those people who cannot start a story unless I have a title and music. I knew Claire wouldn’t give up on her quest to help humanity, so I brainstormed words relating to that. A thesaurus may or may not have been involved, but when I got to FORTITUDE, I knew that was it. As part of my outlining (half of it went to the recycle bin once I was in the thick of the actual writing) I compiled “Fortitude GROOVE”, a playlist in my iTunes hub.  It has over thirteen hours of music but I listened to the “Master and Commander” soundtrack the most, especially during edits. From that musical selection, I created the “Fortitude SOUNDTRACK” for the book after I was done. That only has twelve songs, but it chronologically follows the storyline and emotions of Claire’s journey. The two prominent songs that you need to go listen to right now are “No Stone Unturned” by Europe and “Carry On” by Mitch Malloy. (I prefer live versions of both, but all are excellent.)

To write I need pictures and music. In the old days I filled notebooks with photos clipped from magazines and put a CD on repeat. Currently I use iTunes and Pinterest for most of my visuals, but it all does the same thing—inspire me. I don’t wait for the muse to come, I seek her out in all the shapes and forms inspiration can take place. What do you do to stay motivated and inspired?

ALL ABOUT FORTITUDE:

Growing up with a Creole best friend, sixteen-year-old Claire O’Farrell held little regard for the Jim Crow laws and the consequences of befriending those of a different color. But once she leaves the haven of her home on Dauphin Island, the reality of racial intolerance can no longer be ignored. Though she’s underage, Claire makes the bold decision to serve alongside Loretta, her best friend, in the “colored camp” hospital tents during the Spanish-American War, but her idealistic attitude and choice of working location immediately puts her in danger. Claire gives her heart to a soldier in the camp, only to find herself caught in the racial violence besieging the area. When the intolerant attitudes and stigma follow her home, she clings to her faith to navigate through her social isolation and find the path she was meant to travel.

BUY NOW: Amazon




ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Born and raised in California, but a resident of Mobile, Alabama since 1996, Carrie Dalby is a homeschooling mom with a love of literature for young adults and children. Some of Carrie’s favorite volunteer hours are with Mobile Writers Guild, SCBWI, and Metro Mobile Reading Council’s Young Author workshops. You can find Carrie anytime on her website: www.carriedalby.com

You can also find her on: Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest


Tuesday, December 15, 2015

{TEASER TUESDAY}: Hallowed Ground

Hallowed Ground is Book 1 of The Graves Barren Series. It's a young adult paranormal  romance. Enjoy :-)


I was grateful for Abby’s presence as I found my locker and tested the combination. It opened easy enough. I shoved my sweater inside, not sure why I’d brought it in the first place. Old habits must really die hard. She showed me to my first class – Algebra – which we did not have together, and promised to meet me right after. I hated needing a personal tour guide. I mean, the school wasn’t that big. I was sure I could find my way around without her assistance, but after the way she snapped at me in the car, I wasn’t about to tell her that.

“Hey, Abby.” I grabbed her arm before she could walk away, then I quickly let go of her. “I just wanted to say thanks for all your help and… everything.”

She smiled. “You’re family, Chloe, and family always comes first.”

I fought back the surge of emotion threatening to overtake me. That was something my mom always used to say, too. I nodded, not sure I could speak anything coherent. Even if I’d wanted to say something further, I didn’t get the chance. Coming down the hall were three very tall guys, all with dark hair and even darker eyes. Flawless, tanned complexions with strong jaws and high cheekbones. They walked side by side by side, almost taking up the entire width of the hall. People knew to move out of their way, parting for them like the Red Sea. I’d never seen anything like it – or them – before. All three of them kept their gazes straight ahead, like they were better than everyone else and couldn’t be bothered to acknowledge any of us peasants. We were peons in their world.

“Who’re they?” I whispered to Abby.

She rolled her eyes. “The Halsteads. The one on the far left is Colton, he’s the oldest. In the middle is Jaxon, and the one on the right is Trenton.”

I couldn’t stop staring. They were like walking gods. Perfectly built, graceful, athletic. They were certainly the type of guys you wouldn’t want to meet in a dark alley alone. I shuddered, and that’s when the one closest to us – Trenton – slowed and looked at me. No, not at me. Through me. It was unnerving, yet, I couldn’t look away. He narrowed his eyes as if squinting against a bright light. I knew my jaw hung open, and apparently he knew it, too, because he gave me a faint smirk followed by a look filled with so much vehemence, it caused me to take a cautionary step back. Then, just as quickly as he acknowledged me, he turned away, returning his gaze forward as if I didn’t exist.


*** Copyright 2015, Kara Leigh Miller ***

Monday, December 14, 2015

{COVER REVEAL}: Jaded Love

I have been waiting for this day forever! I can FINALLY share the cover for Jaded Love with all of you!!!!! Be sure to scroll all the way to the end of the post for a chance to win a copy of Dangerous Love, Book 1 of The Mending Hearts Series.

Okay, enough chatting. Here it is....






They can pretend they're fine...

Moving to NYC is supposed to be the fresh start Kristy Andrews so desperately needs, but she can't seem to shake the after-effects of having been kidnapped last year.

Detective Jackson Reed never meant to kill an innocent man, but knowing that doesn't change the guilt he lives with every single day.

But they can't hide forever...

When Kristy and Jackson meet, the connection is instantaneous, but neither is ready to open up about their pasts. Can love and trust conquer their demons?

In order to have a future, they'll have to face their past...

When Kristy starts receiving threatening messages, her anxiety kicks into overdrive, but the last thing she wants is Jackson worrying about her.

Jackson may doubt his ability to return to active duty, but he has no doubts about his instincts concerning Kristy. Someone is trying to hurt her, and he refuses to let that happen, even if it means going back to work; something he wasn't sure he'd do.

As the threats increase, Jackson shows Kristy that strength doesn't mean facing her fears alone, and Kristy shows Jackson that forgiveness starts from within. Can they save each other before it's too late? Or will the past come back to haunt them?




About the Authors:


Kara Leigh Miller combines her knowledge and prior editing experience with a passion for the written word and a love for all things romance. Represented by Dawn Dowdle of Blue Ridge Literary Agency, Kara is a multi-genre published author, and an avid reader with eclectic tastes that range from the tame to the taboo. She currently lives in Michigan with her husband, three kids, three pit bulls, and two cats. When she's not busy writing romance novels that leave readers swooning, she's spending time with her family. Find her anytime at: www.karaleighmiller.com




Jody Holford lives in British Columbia with her husband and two daughters. She is a fan of Nora Roberts, Jill Shalvis, Rachel Gibson, and Rainbow Rowell. In reading and writing, she likes characters who are flawed, but driven toward the pursuit of love and happiness. In November 2013, she published A Not So Lonely Christmas with Short Fuse Literary. In December 2014, she published Forever Christmas through Kindle Direct. In 2016, Damaged and Falling for Home will be available from Penner Publishing. Find her anytime at: http://jodyholford.weebly.com




GIVEAWAY  ~  GIVEAWAY  ~  GIVEAWAY!
The below giveaway is sponsored solely by Jody Holford and Kara Leigh Miller and is in no way sponsored by Anaiah Press, LLC. Furthermore, all prizes will be awarded by the authors directly to the chosen winners. The giveaway starts today and will end on Sunday, December 20, 2015. Winners will be chosen via Rafflecopter and will be notified by email no later than Monday, December 21, 2015. 


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

{TEASER TUESDAY}: Death of a Waterfall 2

"What're they doing over there?" Annabelle asked.

"I don't know." Teghan walked toward them. That's when she saw him. He was leaning on the hood of a royal blue Aston Martin One-77, arms crossed over his chest, one ankle crossed over the other. He was gorgeous. No, he went beyond gorgeous. He was magnificent. So was his car. At least, she guessed it was his car.

"Wow!" Annabelle whispered.

"I know," Teghan said. But she didn't know. Was Annabelle talking about the two million dollar car or the guy? Not that it really mattered. Teghan couldn't take her eyes off him.

        Dressed in navy blue dress pants and a white button up shirt with the sleeves rolled up to his elbows, he was the poster boy for California--tall, athletic, slim yet beautifully muscular with biceps the size of coconuts and a six pack to make Coca-Cola envious. He had naturally short blond hair with a hint of a spike to it, blue eyes deeper than the sea, but just as dangerous. A tiny gold hoop earring graced the corner of his right eyebrow, and his skin looked as though it had been kissed by the sun, tanned to perfection. A bronzed image of a Greek God--that's what he was.

"Stop drooling." Harmonie laughed.

Teghan shook her head and forced herself to look away, but as she did, she locked eyes with that guy. He smiled. Oh sweet Jesus have mercy on her. She wondered if it was bad manners to melt into a puddle at his feet.

**Copyright Kara Leigh Miller 2015**

Monday, December 7, 2015

Getting Back to my Writerly Roots

Back in 2010 when I first started writing, I was blissfully ignorant. I didn't know anything about the "rules" of certain genres or what is and isn't acceptable in romance. I had no skills when it came to dialogue, and I used cringe-worthy phrases such as "explosion of love" and "stiff manhood." Yeah, yeah, I know... It's hard to read those early novels now because all I do is cringe and giggle. None of my characters knew what contractions were. And I, as an author, had no grasp on the concept of point-of-view. Holy head hopping! 

I wrote two full length novels and one partial within a year and a half totaling over 260,000 words. I lived, breathed, ate, and slept those stories. I'd stay up into the early morning hours writing. I'd get up early to sneak in words before my family obligations took my attention. These books were the epitome of word vomit. The ideas poured out of me and onto the computer screen. I was on such a high, consumed with telling these stories. 

Of course, I've come a long way as a writer since then. I know more. Write cleaner. Now I can break the rules and not have it be from ignorance. And that's great! It's led to several publications and snagging an agent. I've accomplished a lot more since I took the steps to truly learn my craft, something I will never regret doing. It's something every author should do. 

Unfortunately, doing so has cost me. Now that I'm packing all this knowledge, I've lost that high. I've lost the rush of writing whatever pops into my mind and being mildly happy with it. I can no longer write as much or as quickly as I could before. I don't have the all-consuming drive to focus on just one story. I criticize every word I write as I write it. My characters have stopped talking to me. 

I've lost my passion, my zest for writing.

Lately, I've been doing a lot of self-reflection and soul-searching. My dream has always been to be a writer. Sure, I'd like to make a decent living wage doing so, but if I don't, that's okay, too, because when I first started on this journey, it was purely for myself. I wrote the story I wanted to read / tell. Nothing else mattered. Somewhere along the way, that tidbit of knowledge was cast aside. I began to write for the market, write for trends, write for fans, write whatever I thought had a good chance to sell. All very bad things to do, by the way. 

In an effort to get back to that point in my writing career -- the passion and excitement, not the I-know-nothing part -- I've gone back to my roots. And I can't tell you how much it has helped! I'm excited to be a writer again. I can't wait to get up and write in the morning. I can't wait until my kids go to bed at night so I can write some more.

So, how did I do it? 

1. I started by updating my website / blog. I created a spiffy Press Kit and in doing so, I had to go back and read all my blurbs, sort through reviews to include as praise. That alone was exciting. Knowing I wrote something that someone read and enjoyed -- that's why I started writing in the first place. Because it was FUN! This process made me realize something: I wanted more books to add to my website! Talk about a great motivator ;) 

2. I forced myself to go back and read those early novels. It was my Hayden Falls Saga. Book 1, Death of a Waterfall, was published back in June 2013. I picked up my print copy and read it cover-to-cover, which is something I NEVER do. Once my book is published, I don't look at it again. But I did. And you know what? It was quite good! lol. Sure, there are things I'd change now, but back then, it's what I knew and how I wrote, and I stand by that proudly. 

Then I opened up those long forgotten Word docs of books two and three. And I cringed my way through them. Laughing at myself for some of the things I did and the cheesy dialogue my characters spoke. It wasn't easy, and I'm super grateful I never rushed to publish them. What did this self-inflicted torture show me? 

My passion! As awful as those unedited manuscripts are, there is one thing they have that my recent work doesn't -- raw, undiluted, no holds barred passion. As I read them, I could vividly remember exactly where I was sitting when I wrote them and what I was feeling when I wrote certain scenes. I knew when I'd cried and when I'd laughed during the writing process. And if I can feel it, you bet your butt readers will be able to as well. At the end of the day, isn't that what I owe myself and my readers? A fun, emotionally fulfilling experience?

3. I dusted off the draft of book two and began the pain-staking process of weeding through it, keeping the scenes that are salvageable, cutting those that aren't, rewriting parts that desperately need it, and writing new parts. I'm happy to say I'm now almost 30,000 (good) words into the Death of a Waterfall sequel, and I hope to have it out sometime next year. 

Returning to this world and these characters has been liberating. I'm finding myself typing faster, spewing more and more ideas... having fun again! And now that I'm back here, I don't plan to leave or lose sight of why I do this in the first place. 

Have you ever lost your passion? What did you do to get it back? 




Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Teaser Tuesday and Book Sale!

Wow, it has been a long time since I've done a Teaser Tuesday here on the blog, but I think it's about time to start up again, don't you?

But before I tease you, allow me to offer you a book sale...



Twenty year old, college freshman, Teghan Jacobs didn’t think anything could be worse than learning she’s pregnant by a man she’s been dating less than six months. Boy, was she wrong. Her mother, whose drowning in the river of denial, refuses to take a side on the issue. Her overbearing, manipulative father threatens to disown her and cut her off from her trust fund if she doesn’t have an abortion.

Donnie Marks couldn’t be happier. The woman he loves, the woman he fought so hard to be with, is going to have his baby. Life has never been better. But when she shows up in his dorm, sobbing and heartbroken, he learns the horrible truth of what happened. He vows to get revenge on the man who's responsible: Teghan's father.



And now, teaser time... Today's sneak peek comes from book two of The Hayden Falls Saga (Death of a Waterfall 2) which is currently untitled....

She fumbled in her purse for her bottle of aspirin, oblivious to the fact she was being watched by him. She had no idea when the headache hit her, but it was fierce enough to make her want to throw up. Or maybe it was the alcohol that made her feel nauseous. Either way, she felt like total shit and really just wanted to go home.

"Damn it," she muttered, "where are they?" Teghan's heel caught on a crack in the road, and she tripped. A string of curses erupted from her mouth.

"Whoa, easy there." His voice was a velvety rasp. Deep, seductive, and so damn masculine it should be illegal. Her gaze met his, amusement danced behind his blue irises. She swallowed the lump that had formed in her throat and almost choked on it.

"Are you okay?" he asked.

His hand clutched her elbow, steadying her. It sent a shiver through her body and for the first time in months, she could feel her libido clawing its way to the surface; scraping at her insides, making her raw with desire.

Teghan straightened and smiled at him. "Yes, I'm fine. Thank you." He released her arm, and she forced herself not to sigh like a lovelorn teenager.

"Good." He stepped back and resumed his leaning position on the hood of the Aston Martin, arms crossed, muscles bulging.

Teghan eyed him. What's his deal? "Nice car."

"Thanks."

"I bet Daddy is real proud of it, too."

He gave her a sexy half smile and raised an eyebrow. "This is all mine, sweetheart." He patted the roof.

"I'm sure it is." Teghan turned to walk back to the club. What a joke. Who the hell comes to a club to stand outside and show off his daddy's car? It was obvious this guy had more money than brains. And that spelled trouble with a capital T. She didn't need any more of that.

"You realize I don't care if you believe me or not, right?" he called after her.

Teghan stopped and turned around. His air of self-confidence bordered on smugness, which caught her off guard. She didn't know if she should smile or be ticked off. "And your little playboy act doesn't work on me."

"Playboy act?" He laughed.

"Oh please," she huffed, trying to ignore the way his laugh made her insides tingle. "An Aston Martin, Armani pants, silk tie, a shirt whose sole purpose is to show off your muscles, Louis Vuitton shoes, a Rolex." Teghan rolled her eyes. "You're a hot shot sucking on the parental teat, using your trust fund to pick up women. It's pathetic."

"You're obviously well versed in the trust fund life yourself." He said it so calmly it stunned her into silence. Or maybe it was the way his gaze raked over her body in a slow caress.

Teghan stared at him, dumbfounded. It takes one to know one. She turned to walk away again but then stopped. No, she wasn't going to leave just yet. She was having too much fun. Not to mention, if she went back inside, she'd have to deal with Donnie pawing at her again. "Okay, hot shot," she sauntered up to him, "take me for a ride."

"What?"

"Better yet, let me drive," she said with a wicked grin.