I featured Miralle's first book, and I'm happy to have her back with her first Summerside Press book. Welcome, Miralee. Why do you write the kind of books you do?
My first book was women’s contemporary, and the story compelled me to tell it. It was so true to life, with such gripping emotions, that it poured out of my heart. Love Finds You In Last Chance, California, is a totally different type of book, as it’s a historical romance with a suspense thread. To be quite frank, it’s a romance because it needed to fit in with what Summerside wanted, or it might have ended as historical women’s fiction. Now that it’s written, I’m thrilled that it’s a romance…I don’t think it would have been as strong without that aspect. I’m finding that I LOVE portraying characters from the Old West. From now on I may have a tug of war in my heart between writing women’s contemporary and historical, as I’m finding I love both equally well.
I enjoy writing both, too. Besides when you came to know the Lord, what is the happiest day in your life?
I’d have to say when my children were laid in my arms in the hospital. As any mother knows, there’s such an incredible sense of awe that comes with the birth of a child. It’s been a blessing to experience that twice, and the blessings have continued over the years as both our daughter and our son came to faith in Christ, making life decisions that brought joy to both my husband and myself.
How has being published changed your life?
Wow, this could be a long answer…I could almost say “how hasn’t it changed your life” and been shorter, LOL! On a light note, it’s definitely kicked in some brain cells I hadn’t used for years, and is probably keeping me from early senility. I’ve become more creative, more observant, more thoughtful and even busier than I thought possible. Life was going at high speed before I started writing 4 yrs ago, now it’s kicked into super sonic. I don’t have as much time for things I used to do for pleasure…some of those have gone by the wayside. I’ve had to become more focused and disciplined, which has always been a challenge. My writing has stretched me to expand in ways I didn’t know existed before, but I’m loving it!
What are you reading right now?
Much of my reading takes place via audio books right now, when I’m driving, doing housework, etc., but I do try to squeeze in a "real" book as often as possible. Right now I have some of both going…the first in the Yada Yada Prayer Group series, by Neta Jackson, Just As I Am by Virginia Smith, Where the Heart Leads by Kim Vogel Sawyer, and Love Finds You in Valentine, Nebraska, by Irene Brand.
I've read all of them except the Yada Yada books and loved each one of them. What is your current work in progress?
At the time that I’m doing this interview I have several. Of course you know about Love Finds You In Last Chance, California, with the Feb. 2009 release date…I’m in the midst of final edits. I’m doing revisions so I can go into the edit stage with Kregel on Past Shadows (working title only), the sequel to The Other Daughter. And I’ve started writing book 3 for Kregel in that series, and have started another historical romance for Summerside’s consideration.
What would be your dream vacation?
I have so many, it’s hard to pick, LOL! Truly, I’d love to travel abroad on an extended trip, visiting Israel, Africa, Italy, Austria, and New Zealand. How’s that for variety? But I’d also love to find a tropical island somewhere, that is fully equipped just for me…with a satellite for my lap top, a cozy restaurant that serves only foods that I love, a horse to ride around the island, a boat my hubby and I could take out fishing and sailing, and lots of sun and sand to relax on and read….oh, and did I mention Pepsi and chocolate on hand that are calorie free?? Hmm….yep, that works for me!
How do you choose your settings for each book?
I chose the Pacific N.W. for my books with Kregel, as I live there and know the area so well. My Summerside release is set in North Central California, in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. That’s the area that the editor from Summerside and I agreed might work best for my story line…it takes place in the small mining community of Last Chance.
My husband and I were able to spend a few days there so I could research the area and bring the same sense of authenticity to it as I did to my books set in more familiar territory. I want my settings to come alive to my readers, so they feel connected to the area, as well as the characters. For me, that will mean living in that area, or visiting and researching in depth.
What are your hobbies, besides writing and reading?
Horseback riding is at the top of the list. My horse currently resides with her equine buddies at my daughter and son-in-law’s house, so when I have a chance to trail ride, I also have a wonderful riding partner in my daughter. My husband doesn’t care to ride, but he does love to sail, so I share that with him on our sailboat (when he’s not working on it, that is). I also love to putter in my flower beds and vegetable garden, and IF I had time, I’d be oil painting…something I used to do prior to writing.
What is your most difficult writing obstacle, and how do you overcome it?
Coming up with a solid story idea. Once I have the idea, the characters and setting are easy for me. When I began writing I strictly wrote non-fiction and truly thought I didn’t have enough creativity to write fiction. The Lord has broadened my abilities and mind to encompass fiction now, but it’s been a challenge at times. Overcoming? Hmm…I think keeping open ears and eyes to what’s happening around me. Looking and listening for potential story ideas in the news, in people’s lives, in a song…there are so many ways stories can come to a person…it’s a matter of tuning in and being more aware.
What advice would you give to a beginning author?
Don’t get discouraged because your book isn’t snatched up and published the moment you’re finished writing it. Don’t give up because agents and publishers aren’t beating down your door for the first chance at your work, no matter how brilliant you think it might be. Realize that most published authors sweated, worked, learned, cried, and overcame many, many obstacles to get where they are. LEARN the craft before you present your work to an agent or author. Get people’s opinions (beyond your family and friends) from people who ARE published, and be willing to listen. Grow a tough skin and be open to receiving honest critiques of your work. The industry moves slow in some ways, but can change at lightening speed in others. Learn not only the craft, but how the industry works, and you’ll avoid so many “newbie” mistakes.
Tell us about the featured book.
I Love this book. Is it okay to say that first? The characters became so real to me, and their plight important to resolve. The setting in the Old West drew me, as I have a love for that era.
It’s set on a horse ranch on the outskirts of a small mining town in California. Rugged country where even the toughest men find it hard to succeed. Our heroine, Alexia Travers, finds it doubly so, since her father died and left their large horse ranch in her hands. He took out a mortgage on the ranch days before his unexpected death. Alex’s hands are quitting, as they don’t want to work for a woman, and her horses are disappearing. A stranger and his three year old boy come seeking a job and a home. But when disaster threatens Travers Ranch, they must work together to save someone they both love. Can these two independent people learn to depend on God and on each other, and untangle the mystery surrounding the ranch?
I can hardly wait to read and review your book. It's on the top of my to-be-read pile. How can readers find you on the Internet?
I have two sites where I can be found. My web site is updated as I sign contracts for new books, or a book releases. It also has my author bio telling how I started writing, and some of my personal testimony, as well as family pics, and more. The address is:
My blog is updated 1-2 times per week, sometimes less depending on my writing schedule. I try to include articles that deal with family and marriage, as well as do an occasional book review for an author friend, and post updates on my books. It can be found at:
Thanks, Lena. It’s been a pleasure chatting with you and your readers, and I hope you’ll all race to your local Christian book store, Sam’s Club, Borders, Barnes and Noble, Family Christian store, or your favorite place to shop online to buy a copy of Love Finds You In Last Chance, California.
Thank you, Miralee, for spending this time with us.
Readers, you can order this book using this link:
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