Michelle Leigh Miller is the author The Evelyn Series and 2021 release The Cottage in Maple Hill. We at Long Shot Books are inspired by her love of words and dedication to her craft. Needless to say we're excited about this interview!
Congrats on releasing your latest book The Cottage in Maple Hill! How have things been going?
Thank you! Pretty well. I’m still getting the hang of marketing and still building my platform, but I’ve been pleased with it, so far.
In your author bio you mention your novel Finding Evelyn had been gathering dust on a flash drive until you published it on Amazon in 2016. Could you describe your experience of how you came across your novel?
I can’t remember when I started writing Finding Evelyn. I’ll think I know, but then I’ll have an earlier memory of working out some part of the novel, so it’s been around in some form since my late 20s, if not earlier. I would work on it in the evenings, here and there, typically after the kids went to bed. It was just something for me to do. When I finished the first draft, I decided it was horrible and literally burned the printed manuscript and deleted it from my computer. But a bad experience with forgetting to save a 10-page paper had apparently made me ridiculous with back-ups. One day, while cleaning off an old flash drive, I found a back-up of Finding Evelyn, titled Battered Not Broken at the time. I started reading and realized it wasn’t as bad as I had thought, and I began editing it again. Then I let two good friends read it, who kept pushing me to pursue publishing it. I think I sent out a couple of query letters, but one weekend I stumbled across Amazon KDP. I had no idea the ability to publish directly through Amazon existed, nor was I an e-book reader. That was on a Wednesday. I published the e-book on Friday, I believe. Just to do it. Just so I could see how it works. Just for fun. And put it out to my friends on my personal Facebook. And the journey began.
Could you tell us more about your journey as you found your way to writing romantic comedy, sweet romance, and women's fiction?
Once I decided to actually pursue this, it took me some time to figure out where Finding Evelyn belonged, in terms of genre. I didn’t know the genre of Women’s Fiction existed, nor did I understand what it meant. Thanks to several author groups, I was able to finally place it in the correct genre. The Cottage in Maple Hill started in my head as a sweet romance, but by the time I finished it also fell into the Women’s Fiction genre. So, for now, all of my published books are in that genre. But I love sweet romance and romantic comedy. I have plans to write in those genres in the future. Maybe? I’m a pantser, so I never really know when I start writing where the story is going to end. I’m still figuring this part of the journey out.
Has your career as a journalist influenced your fiction? Your writing process?
I thought it would. When I first started, I had all these ideas about how my past experience would help me with this experience. In the end, it didn’t. As a matter-of-fact, it slowed me down. I basically had to reteach myself how to write creatively. I had to break old habits and form new, which I found is so much harder than forming new habits from nothing. Hyper-focus on meeting deadlines is helpful, which was formed as a journalist. (When I set those deadlines.) And when I do sit down to write, I typically write fast, which is also a skill that was honed as a journalist. I did have to break myself of going down the research rabbit hole, especially with things that have no right or wrong answer. It’s one thing to research a specific person or specific situation. I had to learn there sometimes is no “right” answer, just a believable answer. In the end, they are two completely different mediums that require different writing styles. Something I didn’t realize until I did both.
Are there any authors who inspire you?
In the indie world – Caroline Noe, Julia Blake, and Melanie A. Smith. All three are inspiring in different ways.
What's the best compliment you've received as an author?
“I couldn’t put it down.” By far, that is the coolest compliment. I know how busy life is and for someone to say they put other things to the side to finish your book, that’s huge.
Is there anything else you'd like readers to know?
You are appreciated. Without readers who enjoyed my books, I wouldn’t have a reason to keep going on this journey.
Check out more about her books, blog, and bio here!
Follow Michelle on Facebook and Instagram.
Buy The Evelyn Series and The Cottage in Maple Hill here.
Photo credit to the author.