Hard Silence

Hard Silence Cover
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Look for the second book in the Agents Undercover series, Hard Silence. Coming from Carina Press in April 2016.

FBI profiler Jeff Crandall returned to Fiddler, Idaho, to work on new Bureau protocols in peace…and because he hasn’t been able to stop thinking about Abby Quinn. Kind, beautiful and quietly sexy, the petite rancher next door is loved by the entire town but keeps fiercely to herself. She’s a mystery that doesn’t want to be solved, though he’s desperate to try.

Whether that interest is professional or personal is a question he’ll sort out later.

Abby knows sharing her secrets would bring death and destruction to Fiddler. She survived her childhood, barely, but a long list of stepfathers weren’t nearly so lucky: their bodies are buried across the country, waiting to be discovered. The best protection is silence, anonymity and isolation, though the handsome agent next door seems hell-bent on destroying all three.

And he just keeps kissing her

When Jeff is called in to investigate an interstate serial killer case spanning two decades, Abby knows it’s only a matter of time before he connects the dots, sees her for who she really is and walks away. But it’s when he’s standing in the crosshairs of Abby’s past that Jeff faces his biggest challenge yet: how to give the woman he loves the life she doesn’t believe she deserves.

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Writing What You Want

“Write what you know.” We all hear it all the time.

But what I know might not make an interesting story, and, frankly, I don’t want to read about people just like me. Worse, writing about what I know gets dangerously close to autobiography. I definitely don’t make an interesting story.

salzburg-117400_1280So maybe a good middle-ground is to write what I want to know. I get to learn something new, find new places for settings, and push myself to improve my skills.

For Souvenirs, I got to “go” places I’ve always wanted – Europe and London. My previously lifeless internet favorites are now cluttered with tourist stops, hotel photos, and favorite local hangouts in Austria, Italy, and France. I found the perfect train tour, and I plotted every stop. I loved it.

But writing what you want goes farther than that. Sometimes it’s about not focusing on the market, on trends, on predictions of what will be hot this year (or next). Because if you chase that trend, I believe you’ll never catch up.  Worse, you risk writing something uninspired and flat – of turning writing into a dreary chore.

rabbit-422361_1280We call them “plot bunnies” for a reason. Sure, they hop away and make us chase them, they lead us down a different, distracting trail. But when we catch them … they’re soft and fuzzy with twitchy noses and velvety ears. I dare you to be unhappy holding a bunny. And sometimes those trails are exactly what we needed to see – a new view, a different perspective, a challenging path.

Part of my love for Souvenirs is that it was a totally different story than what I’d always written. It’s not a suspense, it’s not set in a small town. Letting myself write it anyway opened up a happiness in the story that comes across on the page.  It refreshed not just me but my other manuscripts as well.

scotney-castle-1044587_1280My newest plot bunny is a historical romance, which scares the bejeesus out of me. I’ve never written anything like it before, the research is daunting, and I don’t know if anyone will buy it. But it’s the story that wants to be told. Scenes, plot points, and snippets of dialogue keep popping into my head. So, rather than stuffing the plot away, I’m writing what I want.

That’s part of the fun of writing.

Souvenirs releases today. I hope you like it.

Mia

Excerpt:

SoulMate_MiaKay_Souvenirs_400x600Their fellow passengers pushed past Grace in a rush to board. One businessman practically knocked her into her mother’s lap in his hurry to get to a window seat.

Hoisting the bulky bag overhead, Grace gasped as her elbows buckled. It listed backward, skewing her balance and threatening to topple onto the passenger across the aisle.

“May I help?” A deep, warm voice rumbled over her shoulder. Before she could answer, the weight of the bag disappeared and she fell against a solid chest. She gazed from large hands, up strong arms, to broad shoulders. Tilting further back, she saw a wide smile. When his hand covered hers, she jerked upright and surrendered the bag.

“Thank you,” she squeaked.

“My pleasure,” he said as he boosted the second bag overhead.

Grace sidestepped to her seat and her volunteer valet walked to the back of the plane, for all intent disappearing since Grace refused to turn and stare. Closing her eyes, she willed her blush to subside and waited for the announcements signaling takeoff for the last leg of their flight to Vienna.

***

The jolt of landing jerked Grace alert. As they taxied to the gate, her mother unfastened her seat belt and perched on the edge of her chair. Her purse jiggled in time to her tapping feet.

“Relax, Mom. Vienna won’t disappear.”

The aisle filled, resembling a blocked conveyor belt as passengers pushed and pressed, children fussed, and bags shifted and fell. Finally everyone moved. The last person in the line was her gentleman valet—tall, well-dressed, dark hair, narrow waist, and long legs. His back was as nice as his front.

Grace’s feet were leaden and her arms felt like rubber, but she managed to reach the carryon bags, walk off the plane, and trudge to baggage claim.

The buzzer rang as the carousel jerked into motion, and Grace recited her ritual, silent “find my luggage” prayer. When both large bags arrived side by side, her relief gave her the extra adrenaline necessary to lift them clear. With that hurdle cleared, she hurried to catch up as her mother reached the revolving door.

After twelve hours of artificial darkness and recycled air in planes and airports, the sunshine and light breeze was a welcome reward. However, in minutes exhaust fumes were overwhelming, perspiration trickled down her back, and weariness set in. Grace groaned in relief as a shuttle van came into view.

“Mother, why don’t you sit while I get a taxi?”

She recognized the voice from the plane. As the heat doubled under her skin, she turned toward the only other recognizable face in Vienna.

“We meet again.” She smiled as she shrugged the heavy bag onto her aching shoulder. She’d probably walk like Quasimodo for the rest of the trip.

“We do. Hello.” His response was wary. He’s probably worried I’ll end up in his lap—again.

“Which hotel, ladies?” The driver asked as he reached for their luggage.

“Hotel Ananas, please.”

“Sir?”

“Same, please.”

“Are you traveling together?” the driver asked.

“No.” The answer was issued in harmonic tandem, the man’s British bass and her Southern alto.

“So, two taxis?”

There wasn’t another vehicle waiting, and the heat was just the other side of warm.

“Why don’t we share?” Grace offered.

“How kind. Thank you.” His mother accepted the invitation.

Her stylish clothes were unwrinkled, and her sleek salt and pepper bob stopped at her jaw. She had a lovely smile, and the crinkles around her eyes suggested she used it a lot. “I’m Camille Brady and this is my son, Ben.”

At his name, he offered his hand with a silent nod. His clothing was as fresh as his mother’s. Grace felt more and more like an unmade bed, and she was sure her ponytail was crooked.

“It’s a pleasure to meet you.” Her mother stepped into the conversation gap. “I’m Charlotte Ward, but please call me Sunny. This is my daughter, Grace.”

She held her breath, worried her mother would slip. It was silly. The chance anyone would recognize her, even using her proper last name, was almost nonexistent. But after the incident last week, she wasn’t taking any chances.

“Ms. Ward?” Ben’s voice rumbled into her thoughts. He was standing by the open taxi, with his hand outstretched and a silent question in his lopsided grin and arched eyebrow. She put her fingers in his.

“Grace, please . . . Ben.”

He sat across from her, and she tucked her feet under the seat to leave room for his long legs. The door slid closed with a muted thunk.

“You wouldn’t happen to be going on a two-week train tour, would you?” her mother asked.

“Austria, Italy, and France?” Camille countered. “What a wonderful coincidence.”

“Isn’t it? It will be nice to know a few people when we get started.”

As the women overran each other in giddy conversation, Grace almost felt guilty for not looking out the window to enjoy the sights zipping by. Almost. They’d have two days in Vienna. It wouldn’t hurt to close her eyes for a minute. Behind sunglasses, no one would notice.

“You’ve come over from the States, then?” Ben asked in a measured, quiet tone.

Lifting lids that were now almost as heavy as her luggage, Grace saw him waiting on an answer. At least he was facing her while his sunglasses shielded his eyes, so she assumed he’d directed the question at her. “Yes. We left Chicago yesterday.”

Ben’s grin stretched his face. “But you’re not from there. I’ve traveled in the U.S. so I recognize the accent.”

Grace relaxed and returned the smile. She’d worked for years to rid herself of her telltale drawl, but it returned when she was with her mother. Sunny embraced her Southernness as if it were a near relation.

“You’ve found us out.” She forced her spine straight. “Where have you been in the States?”

His grin faded. “Mostly New York and Los Angeles.”

“Were you there for pleasure or for business?”

“Business.”

The simple question was on the tip of her tongue. What do you do? It always led to the parenthetical what about you? And it went downhill from there. People couldn’t help their curiosity, but she could help hers. “And you were in Chicago?”

“Umm . . . yes. I spent an extra night there during an unscheduled layover.”

“I hope you made it to the Field Museum.”

“I did, and to the lake shore. It’s odd to stand on a beach and have the skyline that close.”

“For me it’s standing on the beach and being cold,” she agreed. “After years of flying through Chicago, I finally planned a long layover so I could sightsee.”

“The museum is your favorite?”

“The T-Rex is incredible. Can you imagine being on a hunting trip and running into that?” Her imagination hijacked her tongue. “What would you do?”

His lips twitched. “Am I hungry?”

“You live on roots and berries and the monster is between you and a prehistoric bunny,” she used her hands to gauge the size of the creature, “this big. Fight or flight?”

“Fight.” He smiled. “Definitely.”

Buy it now.

 

Souvenirs

SoulMate_MiaKay_Souvenirs_400x600
Click for an excerpt

A reclusive writer … Grace Donnelley’s successful sci-fi novel is about to become a movie. She wants a vacation with her mother before filming starts, but fears her name will cause a geek riot. So she creates Grace Ward, sometimes schoolteacher and doting daughter of Sunny.

A hounded actor … Bennett Oliver escapes London for a vacation with his mother. He wants to hide from the paparazzi and his brooding reputation. He takes the role of Ben Brady, successful businessman and overprotective son of Camille.

But they never counted on each other … An immediate attraction, aided by their matchmaking mothers, gives Ben and Grace a vacation they never expected — and one they don’t want to lose. Upon returning to their everyday lives, they work to maintain a relationship while trying to find a way to say “by the way, I’m famous.”

When the secrets and lies catch up with them, Ben and Grace struggle to open their lives and re-open their hearts to see if love can be their most treasured souvenir.

Buy it now

 

One Night with a Cowboy

One Night with a Cowboy SamplerI’m honored to be included in One Night With a Cowboy: A Western Romance Sampler from HQN Books.  The other authors are Linda Lael Miller, Diana Palmer, Maisey Yates, Jodi Thomas, Trish Milburn, B.J. Daniels, Delores Fossen, Linda Warren, and Lindsay McKenna.  You can get a glimpse at ten different stories, including my next book in the Agents Undercover series – Hard Silence.

One Night With a Cowboy is FREE and will be available on March 1.

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Ten things no one tells you about writing

I’ve had a part-time/full-time career as a writer for almost a year now. I’m basing that on my first acceptance, not when I first picked up a pen. In that time, I’ve learned some things I think I should pass on.

startup-849804_6401. Don’t quit your day job just yet. My first acceptance? That book hasn’t been released yet. It comes out in March. That’s a year later. My second novel came out in November, but royalties are paid quarterly. The first quarter ends in March.

And, face it, as a new author no one knows who I am. I am not laughing all the way to the bank with bags full of money.

2. People in your life worry about the lack of bags full of money. If I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard any of the following: How are your sales? Have you seen your first check? Do you get paid for this? When are you quitting your day job? They mean well, but it just adds to the anxiety (see item 5).

camel-993822_6403. You’re going to be tired. Since you haven’t quit your day job, you are writing on the weekends and in the evenings. You are also marketing, networking, reading anything you can get your hands on, and keeping up with the rest of your life.

4. Get up and move. In the past two days, I’ve read about authors with carpal tunnel in their wrists and blood clots in their legs. My butt is numb because I’ve spent all weekend redesigning my website. My husband worries more about my health than of the bags full of money.

5. Anxiety does not stop with a contract. It gets worse, actually. There a saying: “The first job of a newly elected politician is to get re-elected.” The same goes for authors, I think. At least it does for me. It’s a fickle business.

student-849827_6406. Writing is now your business. You are working for yourself. Learn everything you can about it. Treat it like a job: show up, be nice, and work hard. Keep your word and hit your deadlines. Be a professional.

7. Continue to learn your craft. Almost every job has training involved. This is no different. Keep learning with books on writing, workshops, classes, blog articles … Your job as a writer is to continue to write, to tell better stories – to tell them faster. No amount of marketing will sell a poorly told story.

8. Someone will always discount you. Just like you have fans, you have detractors. People who think it’s “hysterical” that you write romance or people who take nothing seriously unless it has cites and footnotes. It’s okay – what they think doesn’t matter. Be confident and smile anyway.

9. Surround yourself with other writers. While everyone who loves you will listen, no one understands like another writer. Find a freelance editor, a critique group, a critique partner, and a local writers’ group. Form a group of beta-readers who will be honest with you when you need it.

10. You will never stop being surprised. Whether it’s a great review (or a bad one), your next cover, or an email from your editor, it’s always an adventure.

Despite the anxiety and the exhaustion, I love this job. I’d rather do it than eat – and on a lot of days I do just that.

One Night with a Cowboy SamplerMy surprise? I got word in December that five chapters of Hard Silence, the second book in the Agents Undercover series, will be included in a One Night with a Cowboy: A Western Romance Sampler with nine incredible authors. It’s from HQN, and it’s FREE. Be sure and get your copy. Amazon | B&N | Google Books

In addition to the sampler, I have two books releasing in March and April. You can find out more here. And you can follow me to get specific release details.

Today’s the big day!

It’s my grandmother’s birthday!

grandma-1She is one of those grandmothers. She took me to work with her cleaning houses, and never minded that I disappeared into my imagination and never really helped. When I screamed outside, she came running – whether it was a bee or a huge hog that had trapped me and my younger cousin in the barnyard (because we didn’t run as fast as the boys). She never minded when I came over for Sunday afternoons and spent all my time reading. She even handed me books.

Grandma-2We competed over Wheel of Fortune and Scrabble. We were on the same team for Trivial Pursuit – bouncing in our chairs when we knew the answer to the other team’s question. She’s tried for years to teach me to quilt and to make gravy – neither of which I’ve mastered. And, for the last four years, she’s asked when she could read my book.

Today’s that day.

My release day, my debut release day, is my grandmother’s birthday. How cool is that?

1115_9781460394380_Soft_Target_WebI’m going to ride a roller-coaster all day, I’m sure – all while trying to do my day job and not obsess over reviews and Amazon rankings. I hope you have great day.

Remember to get your copy of Soft Target. And remember to leave an honest review once you’ve read it. Grandma wouldn’t want you to lie.

Soft Target

Soft Target by Mia Kay Cover ArkWounded FBI agent Gray Harper will honor his dead partner by returning to work—as soon as the Bureau shrink clears him for duty. In the meantime, a long vacation in his best friend’s hometown sounds like the perfect distraction. But Nate Mathis has another plan. His twin sister, Maggie, has a stalker, and Gray’s the only one Nate trusts to catch the bastard.

Admitting she’s scared would bring the cavalry, and Maggie Mathis has always taken care of herself. She certainly doesn’t need a bodyguard. As far as she knows, Gray’s in town to work as the Mathis family’s new business manager. That she’s always found her brother’s friend handsome is something she’ll keep to herself.

Gray’s real job would be a lot easier if he didn’t have to keep his intentions from Maggie. It would also be easier if he didn’t want to sleep with her. He certainly shouldn’t have kissed her good-night. There never should have been a second date.

All too soon, the line between responsibility and pleasure blurs. Gray hates to think of Maggie in danger. He hates that he thinks about Maggie too much, and of the day he won’t be there to protect her. Secrets aren’t easy to keep from those you love, but Gray needs to guard several with his life…before he risks losing Maggie forever.

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I can’t believe I haven’t told you!

This has been an eventful summer for a lot of different reasons, and I haven’t been updating you like I should.

1115_9781460394380_Soft_Target_WebThe biggest news is that in June I sold my romantic suspense manuscript to Carina Press. I’ve spent my summer working with the fabulous Kerri Buckley and the team at Carina on retitling the book (because I never name it until I have to), edits, and the cover.  (Isn’t it pretty?)

It’s been a terrific summer, full of all sorts of surprises for a first time author as we brought this book to life.  I’ve learned a great deal, and I’m thrilled to be involved with the team at Carina.

The release date is November 16, and it goes up for pre-order next week.  You can find out more about it here.

And I’m busy now writing the second book in the series.

So I’ve not told you because I’ve been too busy having something to tell you.

Who am I?

readingWelcome! I’m a new romance author, and I can’t wait to share my journey with you. As far as me … After a lifetime of reading and telling stories to my friends, I wrote one down (or typed it in, as the case may be). That was four years ago. Since then I’ve learned a few things.

1. Writing is hard.

2. The community is full of amazing, generous people.

3. I’m braver than I thought I was.

4. The learning never ends, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I like to tell stories about places I would love to visit, populated by people I’d like to meet. Well, maybe not the villains. Most of my plots start with “what if?”  As far as genre … expect anything. I write the story I’d want to read. Right now, it’s contemporary romance and romantic suspense – but I love it all. So, settle in. I’ll share what I learn, tell you about the books as they’re released, and share the things that make me laugh. I live in the southern United States. I have a husband who my friends have knighted as Mr. Perfect (MP for short), and I have a day job (which you won’t hear anything about).

~ Mia