Michelle Miles, Romance Author

The Accolade and God Speed

Accolade_by_Edmund_Blair_Leighton

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

I’ve been at my current Day Job for a little over two years. Since I started, I left all the décor on the walls and hadn’t really personalized my office much. What can I say? I’ve been burned enough to know that sometimes you just don’t get settled.

But things are going well and the boss seems to really like me so I figured I’m as good as there until I die. Works for me.

Anyway.

I finally brought something for the walls. I chose my posters “The Accolade” and “God Speed” both by Edmund Blair Leighton to hang on the wall over my desk. It makes me happy when I look up and see the knight and the lady. I’ve had some people come by and comment on them.

So the following week, I got a little bold and decided Aragorn (movie poster from Return of the King) needed to go to work with me too. I mean, he’s just sitting in the closet doing nothing. And since I have no place to hang him up at home, why not? I spent hours obsessing over the frame and making sure it looked good. I didn’t want to poke holes in the wall so I got some of those command strips with a hook thinking that would work just fine.

WRONG.

I prepped the wall and measured and everything. I hung up the poster. The frame is big – 27×40. It lasted all of ten minutes before it crashed to the floor. It landed on a corner, so it busted the plexiglass. I was so sad.

At least the poster wasn’t damaged.

I am not to be defeated though. I ordered a new poster frame from Amazon and had it shipped to the office. Aragorn will happily reside on my wall. I swear it will be done.

In the Tower of the Wizard King #Tuesday Teaser 2

IntheToweroftheWizardKingToday’s Tuesday Teaser is another snippet from Wizard King. We’re getting closer to release day and I couldn’t be more excited. You can preorder now at one of the links below.

EXCERPT:

In the Land of Faery Past

“’Tis your wedding day, milady!”

The high-pitched exclamation from Lady Fiona’s handmaiden echoed off the stone walls. Thank the gods for the tapestries to absorb the banshee’s shriek. Fiona pressed two fingers against her temple and rubbed at the headache forming. She hadn’t yet managed to get out of bed but she knew the servants had been coming and going since before dawn.

Aye, indeed it was her wedding day. A day she had long been prepared for since she was but a girl. At age six, she was betrothed to the young prince, Cian, heir to the throne of Anatolia. She’d first met the prince on her ninth birthday, which her parents’ thought was the perfect gift. Fiona wanted a pony or a unicorn. Even a dragon would be a better gift than a stupid boy.

Winnie shoved back the bed curtains letting the bright morning light burst inside Fiona’s cocoon. The girl had opened every window covering to allow the sunbeams to slash across the floor. Fiona had to shield her eyes and blink back the sudden tears from the brilliance.

“’Tis no time for a lie in, my lady. We have to get you dressed and ready!”

The girl pulled back the coverlet and Fiona groaned. It wasn’t that she didn’t want to go to Lambridge Castle, the Anatolia royal family home. Cian was likeable in an unassuming sort of way. She liked him. He liked her.

But there had to be more to life than being someone’s wife, even if she would be queen someday. There had to be passion and fire and intensity and…and…something more. She wanted adventure, not marriage to a boring prince. Mayhap that was other girls’ dreams, but it wasn’t hers.

She threw her arm across her eyes to shield them from the morning glare but Winnie was relentless.

“Come on, now.” She pulled at her wrist, trying to force her to get up. “We have to get you in the bath.”

Fiona groaned her reluctance. She was about to tell the girl to piss off—a most unladylike phrase—when the door to her chamber banged open. A rustle of skirts immediately followed and she knew she was in deep trouble. Fiona bolted upright as her mother came striding in, her cobalt silk and taffeta skirts swishing about her and her constant entourage following her. She halted near the bed, fists on hips.

“You’re still abed? You lazy, good for nothing girl. Get up. Get up now.”

Fiona was out of the sheets as fast as she could move and hustling across the bedchamber to her waiting bath. Her mother barked orders to everyone else to get Fiona packed and ready for her wedding. The wedding gown had been specially made with layers of beautiful Anatolian lace over a supple silk material that hugged her every curve.

While Fiona was in the bath getting her hair washed, her mother trotted over and perched on the edge. She looked over Fiona’s naked body with a critical eye.

“You’ve been at the lemon cakes again, haven’t you?”

“No, Mother,” Fiona said.

PREORDER BUY LINKS:
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The Impersonal Personal Touch of Customer Service

Remember when good customer service meant something? Gosh, I sound like an old fogey. “In my day…” LOL

I was complaining to the husband about how horrible it is to go places because there is no personal connection in stores anymore. You pump gas yourself. You self check at the grocery store. You tag your own bags at the airport when you check them. Pei Wei prefers you use their app or order online instead of calling the store and placing the order. Panera wants you to use their self-serve kiosk instead of talking to, you know, a live person to place your order. Of course that’s still an option but it’s always my luck to get behind the trio of people who order 230498 things and have special requests on every single one of them and then they want to pay with three different cards—gift card, debit card, credit card.

And at the grocery store when I have four items and don’t want to self-check because it’s a pain in the ass, I get in the express lane only to get behind the lady who has 40 coupons for six items and pays with a check. Good lord.

At my bank, when I want to simply deposit a check and actually take the time to park and walk inside, they make me use the ATM machine because I don’t have any other business than depositing a check.

Seriously? Does it cost extra to have some face time with the teller?

Hey, I’m all for being time efficient and stuff but where does it end? Husband was telling me he could see us moving toward having replicators make our food—ala Star Trek. He said, “Think about. All you’d have to do is program a computer to do the work and it’d be done.”

Huh.

Would that cut down on overhead? Human error? I’m not so sure. I think you lose something by having everything so automated these days. You lose that social interaction that’s vital to us as humans. Okay, so I admit I’m not a people person but even *I* need human interaction every now and then.

I also have a big complaint about companies who make you jump through their excessive phone tree hoops to get to a live person. That commercial where the guy is on the phone shouting, “REPRESENTATIVE”? That’s totally me. I hit zero a million times or shout into the phone (if it’s voice activated) OPERATOR until I actually get a person. I don’t want to spend 4 hours trying to navigate through a voice mail system to get to a person. I want a person. Period.

And then when I get a person, I expect my issue to be resolved promptly. Because if I’m calling you there is a reason. Like when Dell arbitrarily canceled my order—I’d ordered a cheap laptop for like $300 and opened an account with them specifically to get their no interest financing. My order never shipped and when I got online to find out why, I discovered it was canceled. So I called. And after finally getting to someone who spoke broken English, I learned the reason they canceled my order was…no reason. She didn’t know why. She said I had plenty of credit and did I want to reinstate the order? Sure, I say. “Oh, let me transfer you to customer service.” Wait. What? Apparently I was talking to Finance. I got transferred to customer service but it turned out that was the wrong department and they transferred me again. I hung up. It just wasn’t worth it. Dell can keep their credit and their laptop.

I guess I’m just disappointed with the way employees treat customers these days. Of course, that’s not ALL clerks. I’ve had some fantastic experiences with sales people, too. The really bad ones, though, are the ones that stick out in my mind.

What about you? Have any customer service horror stories?

On #WritingWednesday: When to Dump

Artists 0007I haven’t done a Writing Wednesday post in a while so thought it was time for that!

I’ve been a little frustrated with my writing lately. I’m not sure why this current book is such a problem for me but I’ve been struggling. I had a chat with a friend on the way home from the RWA Conference back in July and realized the book was all wrong. That was a blow seeing as how I’d written nearly 45,000 words of the 85,000 goal.

When I got home, the following day I threw the whole thing out.

Not literally, mind you. I just knew that it wasn’t working and I needed a different approach.

So, as painful as it was, I started over.

Oh, it’s basically the same story but the execution is a little different than the first (or second) draft. I started with a different opening that seemed to work much better. Since I had two drafts, I opened up the most recent and cut and paste only a select few lines into the new version. Some scenes got to transfer over but they needed heavy revision. Most scenes were cut entirely. Even characters got the ax. The turning point was different that in the first version. I’d added a whole subplot that revolved around a vampire mafia. Weaving it into the main storyline has been a challenge but he more I worked on it, the more I realized where I was going with the story and how it would work. It was like putting puzzle pieces together.

When I hit the 45k mark, the story was rolling much better. It finally felt like it was starting to gel a little for me.

I’m a Pantser by nature—I have to know only a few little things about the story to get going but overall I like to be surprised while writing. If the whole book is plotted from start to finish then it’s like, eh? Why should I write this? It’s already done.

Since I know this will be a series, I’ve been placing little things in the storyline as I go along to set up for book two. No idea where book three is going to go yet but I’ll worry about that when I get there. 😉

So here’s what I learned from this little adventure. Save all previous drafts, pieces, parts, etc. (even when the book is done or you THINK the book is done). And sometimes it’s really okay to start over even when you’re nearly halfway through with the book.

In the Tower of the Wizard King #TuesdayTeaser 1

IntheToweroftheWizardKingWe are T-Minus 4 weeks until release of Wizard King. I’m so stinking excited! You are going to love this book. There’s time travel, romance, action, adventure, wizards, bad guys, magic, ROMANCE! WIZARDS! Here’s a little tagline/blurb.

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.

To kick off this month’s Tuesday Teaser posts, here are the opening lines of Wizard King. It’s releasing September 1 but buy links are at the bottom of the page to pre-order!

EXCERPT:

Present Day in the Human Realm

An incessant buzzing pulled Aoife Burke out of a dreamy, heavenly sleep. Her hand fumbled on the nightstand trying to silence the thing when a pillow crashed against her face, jarring her from half-asleep to fully awake.

“Make that phone stop already,” her dorm roommate growled. “It’s been going crazy for the last ten minutes.”

Still groggy and trying to wipe the sleep from her eyes, Aoife dropped the pillow to the floor and yanked the cell phone off the charger as it stopped buzzing. When the small screen lit up, she had four missed calls. All from her mother.

Her mother never called her, so to have four missed calls meant something terrible had happened.

She snapped to a sitting position, her fingers fumbling on the screen as she tried to get to the missed calls screen when it started to buzz again. She swiped the screen and answered.

“Mom?”

“Aoife, there you are at last. I’ve called to let you know that your father passed away.” Fiona’s even tone held no emotion whatsoever.

Aoife blinked, a sudden sickness piercing through her gut as her hand tightened on the phone. She hiccupped a breath and forced her mind to remember to inhale, exhale. “What do you mean he passed away? He’s dead?”

Instant regret and guilt poured through her. She’d skipped going home for Christmas three months prior because she couldn’t stand the thought of her mother giving her a frosty reception. When Aoife turned thirteen, her relationship with Fiona underwent a drastic change, something Aoife had never understood.

“Yes, I’m sorry. He’s gone.” Aoife detected a soft quiver in Fiona’s voice as she answered.

Her parents’ marriage had been rocky for a while too, but Aoife naively thought despite all that, they would always be together. Tears pooled in Aoife’s eyes as she clutched the phone and gulped in air, desperate for breath. Her roommate, Jenna, moved to perch on the edge of the bed, putting a comforting arm around her shoulders.

“I’m sorry to have to break the news to you this way, but there’s no time, really.” Fiona sniffed so quiet Aoife almost missed it. “Your sister is in Shanghai filming a movie but I called to let her know. I thought you needed to know, too.”

“Mom, wait—”

“I have to go before it’s too late.”

“Too late for what? Mom!”

But the line went dead.

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