I’ve had 30 titles published since 2006. My work has been nominated for a RITA and RT’s Reviewers’ Choice Awards. One of my books even made it into the 2010 Best of PEOPLE magazine! I’ve been blessed with a loyal readership, fabulous reviews and wonderful relationships with my editors and my agent. I’m a lucky girl and I know it.

So why did I decide to change from writing sensual historicals to much sweeter contemporary stories?

It didn’t happen quickly. A couple of years ago, while I was still happily writing historicals for multiple publishers, I started noodling around with a contemporary set in a fictional town in the green hills of the Ozarks. I was living in an urban area at the time and really missing my small town roots. Maybe that’s why I fell in love with my own creation–Coldwater Cove, a place that’s a cross between Lake Woebegone and Mayberry! Then the troop of characters that lived there began clamoring for me to tell their stories.

When I sent the first 3 chapters to my agent, she warned me that this was a HUGE departure from my previous writing. Not only was The Coldwater Warm Hearts Club set in today’s world after I’d made my name writing historicals, this new story read like a completely different voice. And it was wholesome enough to read aloud with your Sunday School class. Not that this series is exclusively for the Christian market. It’s not. The Coldwater Cove stories are sweet romance/women’s fiction in the spirit of Debbie Macomber and Kristan Higgins. But I’m not hindered from letting my characters explore the spiritual side of their lives. My characters are flawed. They wouldn’t be realistic if they weren’t. They’ve made mistakes and will probably make a lot more, but they’re working on it.

Because the bedroom door remains closed in these books, I could spend more time exploring other aspects of my characters’ lives. The romantic relationship isn’t the only one that has a growth arc. I also write about friendships and  relationships between adult children and their parents. In The Coldwater Warm Hearts Club, I take on veterans’ issues—not just my hero dealing with his PTSD and the loss of his leg, but also how a community of faith and hope comes together to help a homeless Viet Nam vet find his way back into society.  And eventually, in coming books, to a restoration of his broken marriage and into a relationship with God.

When I wrote as Mia, my personal rule was that every scene in my stories had to either deepen the character or advance the plot, preferably both, including any love scenes. However, even with those guidelines, I felt conflicted about my writing. Since I’m a Christian, it was a tension I couldn’t continue to ignore. I thought I could ease that tension by sneaking spiritual themes into my books. I wrote several faith conversions in my historical novels, even though one of my editors said I was in danger of giving my readers whiplash. I’m especially proud of Once Upon a Plaid (Kensington, October 2014), a book set in 16th century Scotland about a married couple who are childless in an age when a man needs an heir like he needs his sword arm. Not only are Kat and William trying to save their marriage after losing a stillborn son and several failed pregnancies, William has to deal with his anger and bitterness toward God. He finally realizes that God understands exactly how he feels, because He too watched His Son die.

But even though I was able to slip a good bit of faith into my historicals over the years, I grew more convicted about my writing and knew I needed to take it in a different direction. One of the many good things about being a Christian is that God gives us a do-over when we need one.

And I needed one.

the coldwater warm hearts club I turned down a request for more historicals from one of my other publishers, and told my agent to go ahead and send the first 3 chapters of The Coldwater Warm Hearts Club to my editor at Kensington. She and I have formed a solid working relationship over the years, and I hoped to keep it going. Fortunately, she loved my new voice and the Coldwater Cove series is off and running.

We are physical, emotional and spiritual beings. I write about life and that involves so much more than physical. Moving to writing my sweeter Coldwater Cove series has been very freeing. I love these stories, and I’m very glad to have turned this page in my writing career.

Please don’t think I’ve become anti-sex. Not at all. After all, it was God’s idea in the first place and the Bible is very frank in its discussion of sex of all sorts. I don’t judge what anyone reads.But as it always has been in this business, I can only control what I write. And I choose to write about the kind of folks you might meet in the grocery store line, in your kid’s PTA, or in the mirror each morning.

Life is hysterical. It’s both sadder and sweeter than we realize. It can beat us down to a nubbin’ and lift us up to dizzying heights. The only constant is change, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be better than we ever imagined. This is the latest chapter in my life and I’d love for you to come along for the ride.

Thank you for reading my books.Truly. It means the world to me when someone chooses to spend hours of their life with me and my imaginary friends. If you enjoyed my writing as Mia, I hope you’ll give my Lexi Eddings books a try.

I promise I’ll make you laugh, I’ll make you cry, and I’ll always give you a happy ending.

RWA2014Every year the romance world gathers for the RWA Convention and this year it’s in San Antonio, Texas! I’m totally pumped about heading that way tomorrow. The DH is coming with me so we’re making it a road trip. He’s planning to spend his time hanging around the pool while I keep a whirl-wind schedule of signings, networking and workshops. Here’s a peek into some of what I’ll be up to:

Wednesday July 23rd

5:30-7:30pm Literacy for Life Signing
Rivercenter Marriott

I’ll be joining 500 other authors, who along with our publishers, are offering all the proceeds from the sale of our books to support literacy charities. Over the years, RWA has raised more than a million dollars for this intensely worthy cause. This event is open to the public, so if you’re in the San Antonio area, I’d love to see you there!

Thursday, July 24th

9:45-11:15 Kensington/Sourcebooks Signing
Grand Ballroom, Rivercenter Marriott

Here’s where I need a clone. I’m scheduled to be in two places at once. I’ll start at the Kensington signing with my RITA nominated Plaid Tidings, then half way through the time, I’ll switch to the Sourcebooks event and my final book in the Royal Rakes series, Between a Rake and a Hard Place. If you’re attending the convention, I hope to see you both places!

3:15-4:15pm Sourcebooks Spotlight

Sourcebooks is home to some of romance’s hottests authors. Join me for a look at why it’s such a great publisher to partner with!

6-8pm Kensington Party

This is my chance to hobnob with the publishing pros and my fellow Kensington authors. One year, I spent most of the evening with one of my favorite authors, Mary Jo Putney! Imagine my fan-girl joy at being able to rub elbows with Victoria Alexander and Hannah Howell!

Friday, July 25th

3:00-5:00pm RITA/GOLDEN HEART Finalists Reception

I’m thrilled that my Plaid Tidings has been nominated for this prestigious award. It’ll be lovely to join my fellow nominees for this event.

4:30-5:30pm Kensington Spotlight

I’m going to have to hoof it pretty fast to make both of these events since they are in two different hotels! But I’ll be sure to put in an appearance because Kensington is a terrific publishing house and I’m proud to be part of their Zebra line.

6:00pm-? Sourcebooks Dinner

This is always a highlight of the week. Sourcebooks always treats us to a gastronomic celebration. Plus it’s a chance to visit with the likes of Grace Burrowes and the always irrepressible Jade Lee!

Saturday, July 26th

Plaid Tidings12:30-2:00pm Rehearsal for the Awards Ceremony 

Yeah, this is a big enough deal that we have to practice for it. I’ve been instructed to prepare an acceptance speech (even though I think encountering a snow storm in San Antonio is more likely than my winning!)

7:30pm  RITA Awards Ceremony

I’ll be honest. Every year I’ve attended RWA (and I’ve only missed one since 2002!) I’ve wondered how it must feel to be nominated for this honor. Now I know it’s equal parts humbling and exciting. Whether I win or not, it’s thrilling to be named with all the other finalists!

I’ll be posting some pics from the conference on my FB page this week, so pop over to my “Official Page” from time to time. And if you’re going to be in San Antonio, I really want to meet you!

 

 

 

 

 

Red Pencil ThursdayI don’t have a volunteer today, so I’m plopping myself into the RPT hotseat. The opening of the story I’m going to share today is different from my usual fare. It’s a new adult/romantic suspense mash up. The title is still up in the air. I’m hoping you’ll help me with some suggestions.

My heroine lost her hearing to a bout with meningitis while she was in college. Then she lost her marriage when her deafness changed how she and her cop husband communicated. His affair was just the final straw. The new man in her life signs like a Deaf guy even though he hears just fine, but she’s not sure how far she should trust someone with family ties to the Irish mob. When she accidently speechreads a hitman talking on his cellphone about a contract, she becomes his next target.

If you’d like to submit your first 500 words for the Red Pencil gang to critique, please check out the details here. And now to my opening:

Title?

Twenty-three hits and no questions asked. The Valenti job was textbook. Flawlessly executed.

But the deaf girl threatened to screw it all to hell.

Anger crept up Neville Rede’s neck like a rash. Anyone could whack a guy. Give a sixteen-year-old a Glock and a couple hundred dollars and you’ve got yourself a hitter.

But to engineer an accident takes an artist. And the Valenti job was a work of art.

A bloody Sistine Chapel.

Until the deaf girl turned up.

Neville leaned on the cold metal rail and looked down at the Orange line platform. His nose twitched. The air in the T station was always a stale fug of diesel fumes and too many bodies in a confined space, not all of them terribly clean. A good-sized crowd was beginning to gather for the outbound train.

A flat smile tugged at Neville’s lips. Picking the right location was the first task in the art of an accident.

Irritation fizzed along his spine. This was a waste of his talents, but it couldn’t be avoided. Unfortunately, it was his fault. Damned sloppy of him.

He drew a deep breath and shook off the anger. There was nothing personal about what he was about to do. This was about pride of workmanship.

He’d been careless. He had to clean it up.

A hit was a tapestry. Leave a loose thread and sooner or later someone would notice and give it a tug. The entire work could unravel. He’d left something dangling in an otherwise perfect job.

Neville scanned the commuters below. There she was, right on time, her scarlet trench coat a dash of color among the blacks and grays. Whoever said redheads couldn’t wear that shade had never seen Megan Kelley on a rainy day. Even though her figure was a little too round for high fashion, she was still the best looking skirt he’d ever off.

A tingle of desire rippled through him. He tamped it down. He wasn’t some freak with a fetish. He was a professional.

It wasn’t dominance or the buzz or even kinky sex that drove him. It was the connection with the victim, that delicious moment when the soon-to-be dead recognized him as the harbinger of the great dark.

Even in this crowd, he hoped to see that glint of terror-filled awe in Megan Kelley’s green eyes before the spray of blood and crunch of bone and squeal of the train’s emergency brakes.

In that slice of a moment, Neville would feel like God Almighty.

“Outbound train approaching,” a computer-generated voice splatted over the loudspeaker. “All trains terminate at Oak Grove Station.”

“And some commuters terminate sooner,” he murmured.

Megan Kelley shifted her weight from one foot to the other, on the yellow caution line.

The air stirred in anticipation of the coming train. Neville descended the stairs, his tread silent.

Even if she wasn’t deaf, she’d never hear me coming, he thought, pleased by the symmetry. This was art, after all.

Time to tie up his little loose thread. Permanently.

 _________________

Waking Up with a Rake

Mornings never looked so good…

Now for the most important part of Red Pencil Thursday–YOU! Please leave your suggestions and critique.

Oh, and in case you missed it, Sourcebooks is running a sale on Waking Up with a Rake, Book 1 in my Royal Rakes series. Just in time for Valentines Day, Rhys & Olivia’s romance is only $2.99!

Claim YOUR rake today.  Kindle | Nook