Friday, November 6, 2009

Guest Chef - Cindy Miles

I have to give a big fan-girl squee here. Cindy Miles is at the top of my “favorites” list. Her books are light-hearted and uplifting with a touch of whimsy. Her stories remind me of the fairytales I used to dream about as a young girl. I can’t gush enough about how fun her books are and I know as soon as you read the interview below, you will know exactly what I mean when I say that Cindy is extremely entertaining. Please join the Petit Fours and Hot Tamales in welcoming Cindy Miles today!

Cindy Miles grew up on Georgia's haunted coast. Forging her love of storytelling with tales of restless spirits has become a dream fulfilled. With inspiration from Charles Dickens, she adds a touch of whimsy to her ghostly romances. Once she discovered centuries-old castle ruins in the blustery north of England and Scotland, fierce warriors from bygone years--who may still be lingering–-came to life, as well as the women hard-headed enough to handle them!

Cindy still lives on Georgia's haunted coast. And every chance she gets, she crosses The Pond to explore crumbly castles and eerie moors, and with any luck, uncover a mischievous spirit or two!

~~~~

I’m a huge fan of your books and I LOVE the idea of ghostly romances. Not only are your stories light and fun to read, but they are incredibly sexy (even with very little sex involved). Can you tell us where you came up with the idea to write that first book?

Thanks so much! The first book came to me after visiting Scotland with a nurse friend of mine in 2000. We flew into Edinburgh and drove up the northeastern coast. Although we'd seen Edinburgh Castle (and it's AMAZING, sitting on that rock in the city center!), I'd had my heart set on visiting a particular castle that I'd found on several tourism sites. Dunnottar Castle. When we came around a big bend in the single track road and I saw that amazing fortress perched high on a shelf of rock sticking out over the North Sea, I just about died. Lol!

We stayed at a B&B across the road from the castle property, and I visited it a lot in 3 days. It is breathtaking and it literally speaks to me. I remember being there all alone at sunrise, it was FREEZING, and gorgeous, and I half-expected a knight to come slumbering out of the darkened, crumbling entrance. It's a place that is as alive to me as my characters. So, that particular castle, although set in north eastern Scotland, was the inspiration for Dreadmoor Castle in my first published novel, Spirited Away. :) And yes--Tristan is who I wished like
!@#$%!!! would have come strolling out of the mist that day! LOL! So, first came the castle, then Tristan, then the rest sort of just formed the more I thought about it. It has since brought life to the rest of my stories.


Can you give us a little taste of your newest release?

My fifth release, Sept. 1st, was THIRTEEN CHANCES. The hero is Christian de Gaultiers of Arrick-by-the-Sea, and his forever love, Emma. They'd first met in the twelfth century and fell in love just as Christian was preparing to leave for the Crusades. Of course, neither wanted to separate. Christian vowed he'd love her forever and would soon return. Emma, though, wanted a little insurance. Lol! So she'd found an old Welsh book of magic and used an outdated spell, which she badly botched, to keep Christian safe. He died honorably, but in the throws of death he vows never to rest until he and Emma are together. He held true to his word; he walks the earth as a spirit, awaiting Emma's return. And Emma's botched spell pretty much set their dreaded doom for centuries. Every seventy-two years, Emma is drawn to Arrick, without the first memory of hers and Christian's love. But he remembers. And so twelve times, he makes Emma fall in love with him again. But twelve times, he's lost her (thanks to that dang spell!). He doesn't think his heart can take losing her again. And that's where the Ballaster sisters come into play. They're four white witch sisters who have sworn to bring the souls of Christian and Emma together forever. But, the only thing capable of such is a chancy spell, and they've only got one chance left to make it work. Their Thirteenth Chance. :) The fun with this book is that I've brought together ALL of my past heroes/heroines. That was SO much fun!

My Christmas novella, A Christmas Spirit, is included in the A Highlander Christmas anthology with
Sophie Renwick and Dawn Halliday. It just released November 3rd, and my story involves an ancestor of the Munro clan featured in my third novel, Highland Knight. Gabriel Munro is a lonely spirit who meets Paige, a lonely young American on a self-driving tour of the Highlands. Together they find love in a foreboding tower in the deepest of the Highlands during the dead of winter.

(note: Check out a terrific review of A Christmas Spirit by our friends at The Romance Dish)

I also have a short story releasing in December in the Mammoth Book of Time Travel Romances called The Gloaming Hour. :)

You have some awesome settings for your stories and I know you have recently been to Scotland. Can you tell us how you decided upon the locations you chose for your stories and if you have actually visited them? Oh, and you know I have to ask about the nose…

Thank you! Yes, I've been lucky enough to have visited England, Scotland, and Wales several times over the past twelve years. I am particular to the North of England, the north east of Scotland, and (of course!) the western Highlands in Scotland. I grew up on salt water, so I do love to set my stories near the sea. And again, Dunnottar Castle is so spectacular, perched on the North Sea, that it has been inspiration for all of my stories. It is more than breathtaking! Bamburgh Castle in the north of England is another awesome place. It is still inhabited, where Dunnottar is in ruins. I think I lean more toward ruins, though--they really get me going! Bamburgh sits on the North Sea, too, and you can so imagine days gone by while standing on the battlements, overlooking the sea.

As far as the broken nose goes? Lol! Oh, yeah, that was quite an adventure! I took my daughter to Scotland on her spring break this past April (she is a junior in high school). She shares my love of travel, and history, and couldn't WAIT to visit Scotland. Our first full day there, I'd reserved a tour to the Highlands. (we were staying in Edinburgh) Mid-day we arrived at Loch Ness, and we wanted to do a boat tour of the loch (to see Nessy!). The boat was PACKED. And we got stuck below, instead of being out on the top deck with a view. After I pouted for a few minutes, I saw a guy move from his spot by the rail outside. So, basically, I tripped going through a doorway, righted myself, and then just lost balance again (boots heavy!). And I FELL! Mortification!!!!

I was a little dazed, a LOT embarrassed, and I thought "Oh my GOD, what a moron I am!". Then, I saw the blood dripping, and thought it was coming out of my nose. (gross!) Nope! I had gashed the bridge of my nose pretty good, and that's when my daughter freaked. I gashed my forehead open a little, too. OUCH! So the bartender and one of the guides (wearing a kilt and hiking boots!) helped me over to THE OUTSIDE DECK (woohooo! FINALLY!) and tried to bandage me up. My daughter took over because they were NOT doing it right (guys). So then we were moved into the CAPTAINS QUARTERS (woohooo! An even BETTER view!) and I had to talk to the Coast Guard on the radio, who wanted to pick me up and fly me back to Edinburgh. YIKES! I answered several questions, insisted I was fine, and was NO WAY going to miss out on the rest of our tour that day. And honestly, it stopped hurting after about an hour. So ultimately, we finished the tour, with an ugly bandage strapped to my nose and forehead, then our adorable tour guide (he looked like James McAvoy!) drove me and my daughter to the Royal Infirmary in Edinburgh, where I was x-rayed and bandaged. The next day, WHACK! Two fantastic black eyes! So...no makeup for me the entire trip! Lol!

So...for those of you who read my novella, A Christmas Spirit, know that I wrote the majority of that story while on that trip, and that poor Paige's "incident" was totally inspired by my own experience! Lol!


Deep fried Snickers bar!!! You’ve mentioned them a couple of times in your books. When did you try your first one and are they as good as they sound?

Oh, boy, they are RIDICULOUSLY yummy! The first one I had was at a restaurant near Dunnottar Castle. GOSH, that thing was good! I believe they freeze the candy bar, then batter/deep fry it (really fast!).


Do you have any tips or suggestions for the unpublished writers out there?

Yes, one in particular: Follow your heart. While it's virtually unavoidable these days, with our economy and the industry being so packed with submissions, to have an eye for the market. But I believe you can merge your heart with what's selling. You have to love what you're writing, though, and I think that shows in the finished product. You must have a grip on grammar, commas, etc. Leave out the clichés, and be as original with your characters as possible.

FIRST DRAFT IN 30 DAYS by
KAREN WIESNER is one of the best tools out there, in my opinion. I use a modified version of it to this day with every novel I begin. It gives you direction, and a better grip on your characters, plot, etc. You have to know your story to the T, and your characters even better than that. And, mostly--never give up. If becoming a published writer is something you desire, talking about it won't get you there! Write, write, write. No, more than likely your first finished product won't be the book you sell. Don't let that deflate your enthusiasm. The more ammo you have (finished manuscripts), the better chances you have of selling. I've told this story many times, but here goes the short version: The first book me and my agent submitted was rejected. BUT...the editor said she really liked my voice and asked if I had any other finished MANUSCRIPTS. We immediately gave her Spirited Away. They signed me on for my first two books nine days later. ELATION! But...had I not had another finished book, I may still be trying to sell today. So WRITE! When you finish one book, polish it, submit it, and start a NEW ONE. :)


What do you have in store for your readers next?

Wow--I'm actually working on several things right now. I have a story for Jason in mind, as well as a young adult ghost romance I'm working on. :) Jason has always been one of my favorite characters, and I'd love his story to become full-novel worthy! Check my website for updates!! And I LOVE hearing from readers and writers alike. Email me! And meanwhile, check out my two latest releases: Thirteen Chances and A Highlander Christmas!

And thank you SO MUCH for having me here! This is a fantastic blog!
~~~~~
Wow! See what I mean about all the wonderful information? Cindy has offered up 3 CHANCES TO WIN! Leave a comment for her in the comments section and she will choose 3 different winners to receive a signed copy of Thirteen Chances AND A Highlander Christmas! How easy is that? We will post the winners right here on the blog tomorrow.

Thanks a ton for blogging with us today, Cindy, and for sharing those wonderful pictures. If anyone would like to see more scenic pictures of Scotland, check out Cindy’s blog at http://cindymiles.blogspot.com/. I am definitely ready to pack my bags…

26 comments:

Linda Henderson said...

I really enjoyed your interview. Your book sounds wonderful. I will have to add it to my must have list.

PJ said...

Great interview! Cindy, I haven't been to Scotland yet in reality but you take me there every time I hear you talk about it or read one of your wonderful stories.

A Chritmas Spirit was the first of your stories that I had read but it so touched my heart that I immediately began searching out your other books. I'm looking forward to many hours of reading pleasure with you and your Highlanders!

~PJ
The Romance Dish

Cyrano said...

I can't begin to tell you how much I enjoyed this interview. (Well, actually I guess I just did)
I loved hearing about your travels. I'm incredibly eager to cross the ocean one day. I've never been outside the U.S. and to me, Scotland, England and Whales are three places I'm dying to see...in that order. I've wanted to visit Scotland since I was a teen, after I started reading Highland romances. Oh, how I adored those books. Oh how I wanted to visit a misty castle and breathe in the air...and oh, to glimpse a hot Celt in a Kilt. Can't think of anything better than that.
But alas, I'm still here. Haven't traveled...yet. I hope to soon and can't wait to see and experience the sights you've seen.
On another note, I can't wait to go out and buy 13 Chances. CAN"T WAIT!!!
I admit, I've never read your books before (Sadly, I never heard of you until today) But now that I have, I plan on devouring all of your works.
I haven't read a good Scottish romance in a long time. Your blurb about 13 Chances made me want to lose myself back in the magic of that place again.
Like I said, CANT WAIT!
Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to visit with us. I truly enjoyed the post.
Good luck in future endeavors and have a wonderful weekend,
Tamara

Tami Brothers said...

Hey Everyone!!!! Hi Cindy!

Thanks a ton for blogging with us today. I have to admit that I tried a deep fried Snickers bar just a few weeks ago at the Georgia National Fair. Oh! My! Gosh! If I could have, I would have gotten a second one. As it was, I was so darned full. BUT I will be searching for those things each and every time I attend a fair.

I am SOOOOO excited to read Jason's story. You made me fall completely in love with him all through your books and I just know you have great things planned for him.

Oh! And I can forget our favorite pirate... Didn't I hear you had something in the works for him???????? Please, please, please say yes!!!

Love ya, Cindy!

Tami

ps - If anyone wants to check out a review of 13 Chances, I posted one back on September 5th. Did I mention that Cindy Miles is my favorite author???? ….grin….

Debbie Kaufman said...

Cindy:
So glad to have you with us today! Wow, nothing like on site research for authenticity. Question: Do you deduct your trips?

LisaK said...

Hi Cindy!!! *waves*
I think by now I've told you often enough how verra, verra much I love your books, so I won't annoy anyone in repeating myself for the nth time. :)

I really had to laugh out loud when I read Christmas Spirit and Paige fell on her nose (me = mean+bad; I know it). I had to think of the picture you posted on your blog when it just had happened to you and I could very much envision what Paige looked like. Don't want to sound like a jerk, okay, I just liked that you put things directly from your life into your novels.

As for your trips - when you tell about them, I always want to pack my things immediately and head out for the next train (cool me, I can reach Scotland via train, big advantage; I'm horribly afraid to fly). I'd like to be a German teacher one day somewhere in the UK. I hope my wish will come true.

Cinthia Hamer said...

Another fan-girl here! Cindy, I just LOVE your books. If you were able to publish one a month, I'd be the first in line to get them! LOL!

After reading Spirited Away, my first reaction was, Dang! Why didn't *I* think of that?

I would love to see Dunnottar Castle. Can't think of any castle in the UK that isn't amazing in its own way. When we took the train from Edinburgh to Holyhead, Wales, we got to see quite a few and the one that sticks in my brain the most is this craggy ruin sitting at the top of a hill overlooking the northern coast of Wales. I've never been able to identify it, but when I spotted it, chillbumps broke out over my body, the hair on the back of my neck stood on end and I vowed that someday, I'd write a book set there.

Can't wait to read Thirteen Chances and A Highlander Christmas. And hope you'll be able to join us at the November meeting and do a signing for us.

Thanks for a great post.

Sandy Elzie said...

Cindy,

Loved your post! I have to admit that I haven't read a Highland romance for...well, a very long time. You've made me want to hit Barnes and Noble today.

Thanks so much for taking time with us today and thanks for the suggestions for the unpublished.

Sandy

Maxine Davis said...

Cindy,

I kept looking at your pic on the side bar and thinking "I'd like to read her books." Well, now after your post. I'm going to look for one to start today! Can't wait.

I went to Scotland a few years back and stayed in a house on the Isle of Skye for a week before trip was cut short, but I WILL go back. You are right, those mists, and castle ruins - it is a wild ride for the imagination!!

Thank you so much for stopping by today.

Nicki Salcedo said...

Cindy, you really changed my world this year. I can't tell you how much your Maggie critique has impacted my writing. Thank you for the encouragement and for stopping by PFHT today!

(oh, I can't wait to read Thirteen Chances!)

Dorthy said...

Cindy~
HI! First off, I'm sorry to say that I have never heard of you or read your books. BUT the good news to that ghastly confession is, I have NOW heard of you, and all your books are on my wish list! Personally I'm excited about this :-)
I can't believe I had never heard of your works before. You do time travel, romance, and SCOTLAND! (is there anything better?)
How could I have just discovered you?!?! But never fear that is being righted!

I'm sorry to hear about your accident while touring Loch Ness. But I'm glad your better, and it didn't ruin your trip.
One day I will get to Scotland, its actually one of my life goals. When I do get there I will have to check out your castle, Dunnottar Castle.

Gannon Carr said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Pam said...

Your interview was very inspiring to this newbie. I can't wait to check out your writing!

Carol Burnside said...

Man, all these stories you're talking about sound great. I'll have to dig through my TBR pile, find your books and bring them to the top. :)

Darcy Crowder said...

Cindy, thanks so much for stopping by. What a wonderful interview. I've always wanted to go to Scotland, England, Wales...have you ever been to Carew Castle in South Wales? Someone way back in the family line did some geneology work and found we are supposedly related to Sir Rhys ap Thomas who was given Carew Castle by Henry IIV. Ever since I heard this as a little girl I've wanted to go there. :)

I absolutely LOVE your books and can't wait to get my hands on A Highlander Christmas.

Buffie said...

Hey Cindy! How in the heck did I leave the M&M conference without getting one of her books!!! Sheesh!

Your books sound utterly wonderful and delicious. Thank you so much for sharing some of your travel stories. Scotland is one place I dream of visiting. The dh has promised me we will go there on our 25th anniversary. Hopefully that will happen.

Off to check out your pictures of Scotland.

Susan May said...

Cindy,
I'm a fan also. I bought one of your books a few years back and we talked about our shared love of castles. If you ever need a trip partner-I'm it. I don't like to miss a room, passageway or stone. I have the bookmarker for A Highlander Christmas hanging in my office. I'll make reading the book at Christmas time a present to me.

Andrea said...

Hi, Cindy!

Oh, wow. I love, love, love the pictures and info about Scotland. I am bound and determined to go there one day -- with or without my husband! LOL

Your books sound simply wonderful. I must check them out ... along with the pictures of Scotland at your website. ;)

Gannon Carr said...

Hi, Cindy! Another fan girl here! I have the anthology on my TBB list, and I can't wait to read Thirteen Chances!

I've been to England and Scotland twice, and the ruins and the history that seeps from every inch just cries out for a story to be told. I have a fascination with ghosts and a pretty vivid imagination, so it's no wonder I love you books so much!! :-D

Dianna Love said...

Cindy - Wonderful interview and ouch on the broken nose. I've got Thirteen Chances and am looking forward to reading it this winter. Sounds like a great series.

Congrats on all your success and stay safe traveling.

Cindy Miles said...

WOW! What fantastic posts! I am blown away! I don't think I've ever blogged and recieved such personal, heart-felt comments. THANK YOU SO MUCH!

I'm just getting in from A: working night shift...LAST NIGHT, and then getting off work at 7am this morning and have been Christmas shopping ALL DAY with a pal of mine! The exhaustion has now worn off and I'm HYPER! Lol! So I'm ready to jump in here and say HI to everyone!

Tami...HEY GIRL! Thanks for having me here, and I SO enjoy having you as a #1 Reader! :) Ya'll, Tami is one of the sweetest people I've ever met! :)

Linda: Thanks for adding me to your reading list! I'm glad you enjoyed the interview!

PJ: SO very nice meeting you in Atlanta at M&M this year! And thank you for the fine praise on A Christmas Spirit! I'm thrilled you enjoyed it, and thanks for such a great review!

Cyrano (Tamara): Thanks for checking out my books! I'm always happy to have new readers--especially ones who share a love of Scotland, England, and Wales! Once you get your chance to visit there, you will roll all over the ground loving it! :) I hope you enjoy my books!

Debbie: (when asked do I deduct my trips) HECK YEAH!!! Lol! Site research is fantastic! Sitting amongst 900 year old ruins is beyond mind-blowing. And it smells so darn GOOD there! Lol! I think it's the clover!

LisaK: Haha! Man, that broke nose worked out perfectly for me in Scotland! I worked that sucker right into the story! I was actually proud of my black eyes. BATTLE SCARS! Lol! Thanks for always enthusiastically posting on blogs--you are a sweetie! Nothing quite like a faithful reader!

Cinthia: Hey! Nice to meet another reader-fan! :) And another lover of Scotland! That chillibump feeling? It's something else, huh? It will sneak right up on you, too! So much to see and fall in love with in Scotland/England/Wales. Edinburgh is a cool city. I find it very hard to take a BAD picture anywhere! Thanks so much for posting, and I hope you enjoy the stories!

Okay--I'm going to cut this post into two so I can fit everyone in! XOX!

Cindy Miles said...

Okay...and here's the rest!

Sandy: Hi! I'm glad the writer's stuff was helpful. Check out my website--I have a page for aspiring writers that has several pointers. :) And thanks so much for posting!

Maxine: Oh, boy--the Isle of Skye! Didn't you just want to STAY? :) Such a beautiful place! I've only visited Skye (vs. staying overnight there) and I've always wanted to go back for a longer visit. It is breathtaking! I hope you enjoy the books!

Nicki: HEY GIRL! Double extra congrats on that Maggie win--you TOTALLY deserved it! I'm so proud of you! I can't wait to see that book ON THE SHELF!!!! You're a fantastic writer, so keep up the great work!! :) And thanks for posting!

Dorothy: You must follow your heart and make sure your life goal to get to Scotland HAPPENS! It's an unforgettable place, filled with history and mystery and magic (and fried Snickers!). I'm glad you have "found" me and my books, and hope you truly enjoy them! As for the accident on Loch Ness--while I was mortified that I fell (and boy, I did it SO gracefully--snort!) I worked that broke nose! Of course I came back home and my nurse friends told everyone that I'd gotten into a pub fight in Edinburgh. Lol! Thank you so much for posting here!

Gannon: Hey! Yes indeedy, the imagination screams when you're in Scotland! All that mist and eerieness and crags and ruins! Gosh, I love it! My daughter and I are headed back there when she graduates high school (2011) and we're already planning the trip! So much fun! I'm so glad to have a fellow Scotland lover (and ghostie lover) as a reader! Thanks for posting!

Pam: Hey, and thanks for stopping by and posting! And thanks for checking out my books! Always excited to have a new reader on board!

Carol: Hi! Thanks for digging me out of the TBR pile! Those piles PILE UP fast don't they!?! I have two stacks by my bed, ALL of them I'm dying to read. Seemed like there was SO much time to read when I was a kid. Now? Zerp! Hardly no time at all! Thanks for posting!

Darcy: Hi! I've never visited Carew Castle but there's not a castle around I wouldn't want to go to! And how cool about the geneology work! You've got to get there! Thanks for your readership--I'm thrilled you like the books! And thanks for posting!

Buffie: Hi! What a fantastic 25th anniversary trip that would be! You can't go wrong there, honestly! Any season is GREAT! So sorry to have missed you at M&M! I'll be there next year, though! Thanks so much for posting!

Susan: Hey! I'm so glad you like the books! And a trip to Scotland twice a year wouldn't be enough! The older the ruins, and crumblier, the better! Thanks so much for posting here, and for stopping by!

I'll check back in a little later! You guys are fantastic! XOXO!

Cindy Miles said...

Hey Andrea and Diana :) Thanks for the posts! I hope you enjoy the book! And Andrea--my husband is so opposite of me I had no choice but to leave his fanny home. Lol! He prefers to look at castles on the Discovery Channel! Me? I want to WALLER in them! LOL!

Thanks guys--this has been a FANTASTIC blog!!!

Linsey Lanier said...

Hi Cindy,

Thirteen Chances sounds like a terrific storyline. I got goosebumps reading about the hero having to make the heroine fall in love with him all over again, thirteen times.

Love the castle pictures.

That's some very sage advice about merging your heart with what's selling. I'll remember that. I discovered Karen Wiesner's "First Draft in 30 Days" a couple years ago and still use some of her methods.

Thanks for being with us at PF&HT. It's been a delight.

Linsey

Ana Aragón said...

Hi, Cindy,

Sounds like you have a life that's packed full of adventures! I loved reading about your travel experiences and how you meld them into your stories. I've never been to Scotland, but your bring me there everytime I read one of your books.

Thanks so much for sharing yourself with us!

Ana

Cindy Miles said...

Linsey: Hi! Yeah--Karen W.'s book is fantastic! I still use to this day a modified version with every book I start. It's a huge help in getting my story on track, and helps me really get to know my characters as if they were real people. :) Glad you liked the castle pics! I really need to upload more on my website. We took a ton of pics while on the trip. Thanks for posting!!

Ana: Hey! Thanks for being a reader! And if you ever get the chance to visit Scotland (or England or Wales!) you'll have a blast. The accent alone will make you swoon. :)

Thanks to EVERYONE for participating in the blog. What a great turn out, and I'm thrilled to have such NICE new readers!