“Charming,” “Delightful,” and “Downright Sexy” are just a few words reviewers use to describe books by Cindy Miles. Intrigued, I rushed out to pick up my own copy of her latest book, MacGowan’s Ghost. I wasn’t disappointed. It’s been awhile since I read a book I couldn’t put down, but from page one, Cindy had me hooked!

Join me in welcoming Cindy to the blog!

Tell us your background in writing, how did you get started? Did you always want to be a writer?

I remember deciding to write an episode of The Bionic Woman when I was a kid. I made the cover (I think I cut the front picture out of the TV Guide!) with construction paper, stapled it together with a bunch of plain paper, and just started writing. I didn’t get very far, though. It had something to do with Ft. Knox! Lol! I also did a small amount of writing in high school—the sports column, believe it or not! After that, I didn’t do any more writing for pleasure until I’d married, had my son, and graduated college. I finally found some free time to read for pleasure and started reading like a mad woman—until I discovered the paranormal genre of romance. I read and read and read, and then I ran out of things I wanted to read. I decided to write a story myself, and soon after I discovered Romance Writers of America, Georgia Romance Writers, and a few online critique groups, along with some fantastic critique partners.

What do you write?

Ghost romances, but I enjoy time travel as well.

How long were you writing before you sold?

From the time I started my first book until the day I sold, eight years.

Tell us about your first sale, “the call” and the first book you sold?

Funny—I didn’t get “the call”. I got “the email”!!! Strangely enough, the book my agent and I submitted was not the book that sold. Luckily, I had back-up material! Spirited Away was the third book I’d written, but after several overhauls, it became the first of my two-book contract with NAL. I remember the day like it was yesterday! We got a rejection on the book we originally submitted, but with a “we love her voice, but does she have any other projects completed?” We sent them Spirited Away. Nine days later NAL contracted me for 2 books! So for those nine days I was glued to the computer. I knew I was close! I called my mom and told her if I called and she couldn’t understand a WORD I was saying, I’d sold. It was a very exciting moment! Lots of tears and hollering!

Do you have a favorite book you’ve written, or a favorite hero/heroine?

I am particular to INTO THIN AIR, and now that I’ve finished my September release, THIRTEEN CHANCES, I believe I have to say that it is my favorite thus far. Abigail Landry, the heroine from HIGHLAND KNIGHT, is one of my favorite heroines. I used a lot of my own likes/dislikes in her character, so it was fun!

What’s your writing schedule like?

All writers have different routines and things that push them. Mine is the fear of the deadline! I think my brain runs best on that crazy adrenaline. When I’m on deadline, I get up at 4am and write about 12-14 hours/day, and shoot for 3 chapters per day. I’ll break to see my daughter off to school in the morning, clean the kitchen, go on a walk, and shower. I keep a kettle of hot water all day for tea, and crazy snacks like jelly beans, nuts, raisins, Chex Mix! I try to wind down by 6pm, so I can relax for the evening, watch a little CSI, and let my brain think about the next few chapters.

Where do you get your ideas?

I think a lot of writers get asked this, and while some may have very witty answers…I don’t! Gosh, I don’t know where the ideas come from. Usually, the characters form before the actual story does. Once the characters take shape, their personality grows and becomes real, their situations seem to blossom. I imagine what sort of situations I would love to find myself in, and of course they mostly include a crumbly castle or a cozy B&B on the Scottish coast.

Do you plan out your books? Do you plot ahead of time?

Like I said, my characters form first. Once I’ve got them figured out, the story comes. I’ll write a 6-10 page synopsis, and for the most part, I stick to it. I make a lot of random notes along the way, and will write small chapter “blurbs” that consist of 3 or 4 sentences and give the gist of the chapter. Usually, though, I have surprises I hadn’t plotted out popping up. I just go with the flow!

Who are you favorite authors/favorite books?

In the romance department, one of my favorite all-time books is Sunrise Song, by Kathleen Eagle. In my opinion, no one does Native American better. This particular book touched me long before I began writing. Another is Apache Flame, by Janis Reams Hudson. I think I read that book 6 times! “Pace Colton” was the hero’s name, and he was seriously something else! I also love Karen Marie Moning’s Highlanders, as well as her Fever series. I love Stephen King, especially Lisey’s Story. And I am a StephenieMeyerMinon! Twilight was my favorite in the series. I couldn’t put that thing down! I also love the classics, like Charles Dickens and Jane Austen.

What do you do when you’re not writing?

Attempt to clean my house after ignoring it while writing! At home, my daughter and I (my son is off to college!) are totally hooked on CSI: Miami and New York. We bake; we have hot tea, go for walks, and hang out. She’s a great kid. I love to travel to the places I write about, and my daughter and I are headed to Scotland in April! I do like to ride the motorcycle with my husband. He drives, I ride. We love the beach and the river in summer, and ghost tours in Savannah in the fall!

What advice can you give aspiring writers?

The biggest piece of advice I can suggest is KEEP WRITING. When you finish one story, edit it, brush it up and make the WHOLE THING (not just the first 3 chapters!) submission-ready. Research your agents and editors to see who accepts/likes your type of work. Submit it. THEN MOVE ON TO THE NEXT STORY. I call stories “ammo”. The more ammo you have when submitting, the better your chances. As I said before, the story we submitted first was rejected. But I had back-up. I’m ever so glad! Also…First Draft in 30 Days by Karen Weisner. In my opinion, this is one of the BEST workbooks an aspiring (and a published!) author can invest in. It gives you worksheets to fill out and walk you through your entire story. I’ve whittled it down to fit my own personal needs, but I absolutely love it. I always fill out a character analysis chart on my hero and heroine—and sometimes a smaller version for a strong secondary character—before starting a story/synopsis. And finally, study the market. Write what you love, YES—but keep your mind open to what is selling. Karen Fox lists an active Romance Deals section in her Marketing News. You can see what is being sold by who, for who, and to who!

Give us your first line (or a favorite line) from your current work in progress and/or a blurb?

Yikes! This is hard! I’ve scrolled through a few pages of my September release, THIRTEEN CHANCES:
Emma smiled. “I, err…want to touch you.”
Christian all but choked. On what, he hadn’t a clue. He had no spit, air couldn’t get caught, and God knows he hadn’t had food in more than eight centuries.
‘Twas fear, he realized. He was bloody choking on fear.
Emma suddenly chuckled. “You perv. I want to touch your hand.” She shook her head. “Jeesh. I’m not that kind of girl.”
Christian steadied his gaze onto her blue ones, which seemed glassy in the darkness. “Too bad.” He held out his hand. “Go ahead.”

Where can we find you on the web?
Come by and visit me at http://www.cindy-miles.com/. There you can link to my MySpace, enter contests, or check out my Blog. And I love receiving reader email, so drop me a line!

I would love to give away a signed copy of my current release, MacGowan’s Ghost! Here’s the blurb:

Odin’s Thumb Inn and Pub may be owned by brooding Highlander Gabe MacGowan, but it is actually run by a crew of ornery ghosts, who aren’t eager for their home to undergo a change in management. Gabe intends to sell the pub not only to give his son a more stable environment but to escape what really haunts him—his wife’s death.
Leave it to fun-loving American Allie Morgan to come to Gabe’s rescue. Hired to oust the sneaky spirits, who are chasing away potential buyers of the inn, Allie ends up winning the hearts of everyone in the Scottish seaside village, including those of the ghost of a sea captain and Gabe himself. Now all she has to do is find a way to help the sexy Highlander chase away his own ghosts.

Thanks to Cindy for stopping by. If you’d like a chance to win a copy of Cindy’s book, just leave a comment with an email addy! Believe me, you won’t be disappointed.