Mia Kay on Pushing Through the First-Draft Panic

I’m so excited to host author Mia Kay today. Mia has recently published Hard Silence, the second book in her Agents Undercover series published by Carina Press. In this interview, Mia shares insights on working through the panic of writing a new story and dealing with the issues of the first story she ever wrote…you know, the one that hides in a drawer until eventually it’s given new life.

Mia also shares her approach to sending out submissions. Dear readers, please share your approach. How many did you send out for your first book? Do you wish you had sent more? Fewer?

How long have you wanted to be a romance writer?

While I was a romance reader, I never really decided to write a romance. My first attempted manuscript became a romance almost accidentally, and I realized how much I liked writing the happy endings. So I went to work learning how to do it better.

When did you decide to write a book?

In high school my favorite English teacher told me I wasn’t creative, so I was in my early 40s before I worked up enough nerve to try again. After years of writing only for work, I wasn’t certain I could write dialogue. Five years later, I’m still trying to get better at it and silence that inner critic. {I’m glad you tried again. English teachers don’t know everything!}

What inspired you to write this story?

Hard Silence’s inspiration came from the characters. Abby and Jeff are briefly on stage in Soft Target, and it was clear Abby was going to have her own book. Since she talks “only when it’s necessary,” it became a question of what would make her be quiet and why she would stay that way. With Jeff, it was about why he would pursue her and how he would get entangled in her life.

Describe your process for writing this particular book.

Sheer panic.  I had written the first few chapters, and I was way off the mark on what I wanted it to be. For a while, it looked like I was going to be the only author to write a boring book about a serial killer. {Lol ;)}

What helped you push through the panic and finish the story?
First, I took a class from Kiss of Death on serial killers and profilers, taught by a retired profiler. It helped me give the story new life. Second, I received excellent advice from my editor that did wonders for tightening the story.

Was this the first book you had written?

The first book I wrote is a small-town, cowboy, reunion romance. I have never submitted it to anyone. After my first writers’ conference, I knew it had major problems. I love the characters, though, so I’m planning a rescue.

What’s wrong with that story?

What isn’t? 🙂 There is a total lack of conflict, both internal and external. They are two nice people who fall in love and there’s no struggle to get there. And there’s no real plot – they have nothing to do. It really is a mess. I’ll keep the characters and the small town in Montana where it’s set, but I think they’ll end up being a “run for your life” sort of story.

What was the rest of your life like while writing Hard Silence?

I have a day job doing outreach and communications. At home, it’s just me and my husband. After work, I come home and try to eat, hang out with my husband, and write all at the same time.

Who gave you feedback as you wrote?

I have two amazing critique partners, Carrie Nichols and C.A. Speakman. And then my two closest friends – Sherry and Patti.

What kept you going through the process?

Once the story got started, it pulled me through all by itself. It gets to a point where it wants to be told. Then it’s hard to shut off.

How many submissions did you send out?

Hard Silence was part of a contract, so there weren’t submissions. For Soft Target, probably five. On Souvenirs, it was three. I knew submitting widely and getting a sea of rejections would discourage me, so I went slowly and used the rejections as a learning tool. I’m a constant student. It’s one of the things I love about writing

0416_9781459293557_Hard_Silence (smaller file)
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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Mia Kay - thumbnail
Mia Kay spent years writing legal documents and keeping people out of trouble. Now she spends her days looking for ways to get her characters into trouble. She lives in Arkansas with her husband, who doesn’t mind discussing (and sometimes causing) mayhem over breakfast.

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2 thoughts on “Mia Kay on Pushing Through the First-Draft Panic

  1. Wow! My first book (Which is, like yours, tucked away and in need of a rescue) went through many submissions, many requests, many rejections–although not the same number of rejections as requests. Sometimes people just never write back!!) so, so few but you’re contracted and published. Congratulations! You chose wisely and put out quality for sure. I love your titles too. Good luck with your series!
    Kimberly Keyes


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