I met Michelle years ago at FF&P’s Gathering — I think the one in New York? She’s here to share a little bit about Holly Lisle’s How to Think Sideways class and how it helped her to find her writing bliss again, as well as tell us some details about the book that came out of it, In the Tower of the Wizard King. She’s giving away one digital download, any format. Details below. Welcome, Michelle!
An old steamer trunk, a portal, and a wizard
First, I just want to say a huge thank you to Jill for letting me take over her blog today. I’m excited to be here! I’m also excited to talk about my newest release, In the Tower of the Wizard King. It’s an epic fantasy with lots of fun stuff like time travel, Faeries, action, adventure, romance, wizards and magic!
Writing this book was definitely a labor of love. It was born from a need to rekindle the joy of writing because at the time I started it, I was almost ready to completely give up. I had hit a really low point. I had five books with a publisher that wasn’t paying me—five GOOD books that deserved a heck of a lot better. I was really disappointed in my sales and I just didn’t know if I wanted to do it anymore. I felt like it wasn’t worth my time because no one was reading what I was putting out. It seemed like a wasted effort.
So I took time off. Four months to be exact. I read lots of craft books. I started writing short stories again. I am also a big supporter of Holly Lisle’s writing classes, so in early 2015 when the email came out she was offering her How to Think Sideways class, I decided that was going to be my last-ditch effort to salvage my writing. I’d heard lots of good things about her class. She only offers it once a year, so I knew if I didn’t jump at it, I would have to wait.
The course is self-paced. One of my favorite lessons was where she has you do what she calls a “Sweet Spot Map”—it’s basically mind-mapping. She gives you six different words to start with and then you build off those. It’s a very personal, thought-provoking exercise designed to let your mind work without constraints and discover all the things you like and dislike. Out of that, she shows you how to leverage those repeater words across the six starters to reveal the things that are most intriguing to you and your writer mind.
I loved it.
It was an eye-opening experience for me and really pinpointed the things I loved and not just about writing.
All this to say that out of that one exercise I discovered most of the elements in Wizard King. An old steamer trunk, a portal, a wizard. I wrote the first scene of the book and built off that. The more story I wrote, the more I discovered about who the characters really were deep down and what motivated them and the bigger the story got. I built a huge world with endless possibilities for these four main characters. And every day I stepped into that world was a day the real world faded to black. I was there in the story with them.
It was great fun.
Wizard King gave me back my joy of writing. I’m so grateful to Holly Lisle and her writing course for that. I hope you’ll check it out!
In the Tower of the Wizard King
In the Age of Wizards, Time is a commodity more valuable than gold. When Aoife (EE-fa) stumbles upon an antique trunk in the attic, it calls to her with an ancient magic. Inside she finds a stairway leading into darkness and cannot resist stepping onto that first stair. It leads her to dark truths her mother never wanted her to uncover and love so powerful she walks through time to save it.
Her magic is dormant.
When Aoife Burke rushes home after the unexpected death of her father, she discovers her mother has vanished amidst inexplicable circumstances. She returns to her childhood home to search for clues of her mother’s whereabouts but another shock awaits her. Sean O’Connell, the object of her girlhood crush, has purchased the family home. She senses Sean is hiding something from her, refuses to let her inside and does everything he can to keep her out. A determined Aoife breaks inside and stumbles upon an antique trunk in the attic. When she opens it, instead of the normal musty clothes and ancient letters, she finds a stairway leading into darkness. It calls to her and she cannot resist stepping into the trunk and onto that first stair where it leads her to magical truths her mother never wanted her to discover.
His magic is dangerous.
Sean O’Connell has been assigned by the Inter-dimensional Portal Protection Agency to keep Aoife and her mother out of Faery. But when she breaks into the house and disappears through the portal in the trunk—like her mother—he has no choice but to follow her, even though stepping into Faery will force him to face his past. Keeping her safe and out of the hands of the Wizard King also becomes a fight to save Aoife’s life from her own mother, who has discovered a time portal in Faery leading her back in time to alter her past mistakes, putting Aoife’s life in peril. Sean is willing to do anything to make sure she’s safe. Even if it means he has to tap into his dangerous magic to do it.
More about Michelle
Michelle Miles grew up in North Central Texas in a rodeo town but was far more interested in nerdy things like Star Trek and Star Wars. She started writing fan fiction in high school. When being an archeologist like Indiana Jones or a Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader didn’t work out, she decided writing was her gig and has wanted to write her own stories ever since.
Her love of romance started when she picked up Victoria Holt and Daphne du Maurier and was immediately smitten with the genre. But she also found another love in the fantasies of Patricia A. McKillip and Anne McCaffrey. Since she couldn’t decide which genre to pick—and because she’s a true Gemini—she decided it would be super fun to write contemporary and fantasy romance. She is a member of Romance Writers of America and has served on the board of several chapters as president and treasurer.
In her spare time, she enjoys listening to music, reading, cross-stitching and watching movies. A Native Texan, she loves castles, dragons, fairies and elves and is an avid Game of Thrones fan.
Longtime followers know I’ve had my ups and downs. I think all writers do. I really enjoyed hearing about your journey back to the joy of writing. Holly’s class sounds great. You/she have me wondering what my writing “sweet spots” are and what those six words were. Thank you for guest blogging today, Michelle! Wishing you much joy and success!