Writer Re-Boot

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.

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