Sunday, February 26, 2012


Poor Wench.  She was gone for a really long time.  Years, in fact.  Her memory got buried under slag heaps of laundry, lofty snow-covered mountains of cleaning, metric tons of cooking.  Then there were the interminable dinner parties, entertaining, road trips, sick children, sick parents...not to mention a couple of jobs.  My husband had caught onto the fact that I had a muse and made her thoroughly unwelcome in our house.  There would be no more three a.m. pains with a poem.  Nope.  Not in his house.

Wench caught on.  When I next saw her she was a forlorn creature peeking around corners:

 I had never seen her so reduced.  All she could give me was the occasional  poem whispered in the middle of the night, sort of like two little girls hiding under the covers at a slumber party, whispering so they don't wake up parents.  Poor Wench.  There was no room for her in my house, so she went to Hell.

She finally burst into the house in the middle of the night, in flames, full of fury and spitting righteous indignation.  I recoiled in shock, because this time she was running actual streams of lava.  She was a SOUL ON FIRE and informed me in no uncertain terms that she was not Morrigan, she was certainly not The Wench, she was Persephone the Queen of Hell and I would address her as such.  Apparently Pele's patronage had given her a real jump up in life...or death...or wherever she had been.  Anyway, the most I could hope for was a truce.  I could call her Seph and, like The Terminator, SHE'D BE BACK.  And with that she stormed out, leaving me with the most awful feeling in the pit of my stomach that someday she was going to take revenge on me for banning her from the house.  It was only a matter of time.

Saturday, February 25, 2012


The Wench left me alone for several years after the blackbird incident.  She was always extremely fond of birds, as you see from her picture, so I wasn't quite clear about why she was so miffed.  It seemed she couldn't stay away, though.  She put in another appearance about the time I hit high school, though she was a little changed.  The crow was gone and so was the crescent moon on the forehead.  Her fingernails were bright red and sometimes dripped.  I thought she seemed a little smoky somehow, faintly singed around the edges, sort of like an overbaked cookie.  But she was being sweet and had brought a book of poetry, so I chalked it up to imagination.

Poetry it was then...then and for many years afterwards.  My mother had unintentionally abetted my muse's efforts by reading me such classics as Longfellow's "The Skeleton in Armor," about a ghostly knight in chain mail.  Having fallen on his sword for love of Lady Fair (I think she jilted him), the poor guy was doomed to spend eternity clanking around in his chain mail, trying to find her.  If Mom thought his spectre would frighten me, she was sadly mistaken.  I just developed a thing for guys in chain mail.  I'm still afflicted..

The Wench (I stopped calling her Morrigan when the crow left) helped me write sonnets, couplets, quatrains.  I was a talented classical poet, which of course wouldn't help much when that free verse thing took over, but for a time I did really well.  She was proud of my 100% publication rate and of course claimed all the credit.  But we were getting along, so I didn't dispute it or point out that I was the one up at 3 a.m. in pain with a poem while The Wench smoked a joint and got the munchies.  Or was that me?  I forget.  Well, if it was I never inhaled, anyway.

Then I began to notice...oh, dear...nothing was supposed to rhyme any more.  Other people were writing free verse. I was still hearing echoes of Edna St. Vincent Millay and Dorothy Parker, with quite a bit of Yeats thrown in since I was, after all, half Irish.  I was passe.  When I complained, my muse shrieked, scored up my bright, shiny pages of poetry with her drippy fingernails, thumbed her nose at me and vanished.

This time I felt her absence.  I was bereft.  So I got married.  Well, there were other reasons too, of course.  But the fact was that without The Wench hanging over my shoulder and shoving a pen in my hand, I finally had time to notice men and I married one of them.

That was all it took.  She came roaring back, proprietary as hell, and it suddenly occurred to me maybe Hell was where she had been.  That stuff dripping from her nails appeared to be...lava.  Her eyes weren't just smoky this time, they were burning coals.  She positively reeked of sulphur and there were holes burned in the bottom of her knee-high patent leather boots.  I had the temerity to question her (you could tell I was gaining confidence with a husband in the picture) and she peered haughtily down her aristocratic nose, informing me that she had been spending time with another goddess.  Specifically, Pele.  You know, the one for whom they used to throw virgins down volcanoes.  In Hawaii.  But I was in Pennsylvania, where there aren't any volcanoes, and marriage had taken care of that virginity thing, so I wasn't afraid for myself.  I just told The Wench, formerly Morrigan, that I thought she should be careful.  I didn't want her incinerated.  But she was  pretty much bowled over by Pele and didn't listen.

Silly Wench.

Friday, February 24, 2012


This morning I had one of those chat loop/Facebook conversations authors sometimes have, in this case with Celtic author Maeve Greyson, who is having a book release.  I'll leave it to Maeve to disclose that here if she cares to (did'ja get that, Maeve-me-girl?), but in the course of the conversation it evolved that the heroine of her latest book just gives her fits.  The girl gives everyone fits, apparently.  It's part of her charm.

The more Maeve talked about her heroine, Ciara, the more she reminded me of my muse.

My muse, otherwise known as "The Wench," appeared when I was five year old and trying to write my first book on my mother's shopping list.  Tall, slender, with a crescent moon tattoed on her forehead and a crow perched on her shoulder, she scared the daylights out of me.  She looked an awful lot like the Celtic Queen, Morrigan, and I knew this how?  Well, because my Nana had read Irish myths and legends to me from the time I gave any indication that I could hear, of course.  "You can never start 'em too young" was her motto and so I learned that Morrigan was the Great Queen - a Mothergoddess of the Irish Celtoi - the goddess of war, death, prophecy and passionate love.

War, death, prophecy and passionate love:  did Nana have any inkling she was creating a romance writer?  Yeah, probably.

Eventually I got used to The Wench hanging around, whispering sweet nothings in my ear.  She was the one who helped me finish my first "book," which I recall was about a Hollywood stunt horse outrunning a brush fire in California, saving the life of the handsome actor who rode him in all his films.  I think that was around the time I was in love with cowboy actors.  The Wench humored me.  She seemed to see promise of some sort in me.  Sometimes she was even kind...until the day I tried to copy her by picking up a fallen baby blackbird which I named Downy.  I fed Downy hamburger and hard-boiled egg yolk on the end of an eyedropper filled with milk, which I cleverly shot down her throat in between bites.  I hauled her to Girl Scout camp in a carton so she didn't die of neglect.  I let her ride around on my shoulder just like Morrigan's crow, though I took the precaution of wearing a length of shower curtain beneath her.  I was obsessed with her, teaching her how to pick through grass for seed in preparation for leaving me someday to make her way in the wild.  My mother was convinced I was going to become a veterinarian.

The Wench was pissed.  I was envisioning myself as Dr. Doolittle instead of a romance writer.  She split.

That was the first time my muse left me.  It wouldn't be the last.

TOMORROW:  Evolution of The Muse   


Wednesday, February 22, 2012


I was the King's daughter once, so many years ago that sometimes now it is hard to remember. Before the tide of time carried away so many things, so many people, it was worth something to be the daughter of a King.
Our little island nation of Alcinia was not rich, except for tin mines honeycombing the south. It wasn't even hospitable. Summer was a brief affair and fall was only a short time of muted colors on the northernmost coast where my father sat his throne at the ancient Keep of Landsfel. Winter was the killing time and spring was hardly better, with frosts that could last into Fifth-Month. But from the south, where men cut thatch in a pattern like the bones of fish, to the north where rock roses spilled down cliffs to the sea, it was my own.
One thinks such things will never change, yet all things do.
* * *
Thus begins the narrative memoir of Tarabenthia, born a princess in the land of Alcinia.  When the idyll of her childhood ends, she will defy her father, tipping the balance in a world poised on the brink of destruction and leaving history to judge her as heroine or harlot.

In a time of war, what would you surrender in the name of love?
Just released, available in pdf or on Kindle, coming in print:

All digital formats and Print 2/27/12:
A multiple award winner, top ten finisher in Preditors & Editors poll for Best Romance Novel of 2008, re-releasing in print 2/27/12.

If you're a fan of fantasy historical romance, do not miss this one. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


There is romance and then there's love.  Just plain old love.  And among the creatures I have loved most in my life, one stands out--Dancer Dog.  Here is her story, with love on Valentine's Day.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Writing in the Arena by Michelle Miles

Miriam was kind enough to invite me here to promote my latest release from DCL Publications, Phoenix Fire. So today, I’d like to introduce you to someone who is near and dear to my heart. She’s a tough ol’ gal and she can kick just about any man’s butt. She’s muscular and buff and carries many a scar from her journey.

I’m talking about my heroine, Elena. She’s my gladiatrix.

When I started out with the book, I wanted her world to be authentic to who she was and the struggles she’d gone through. I wrote a long backstory that wouldn’t make it into the book but would give me insight into her character. There were certain things I knew: she fought to live another day, hoping she could someday earn her freedom and knowing it may never happen.

I set out to create this world by researching Ancient Rome and the gladiators. They were heralded. They were heroic. They were larger than life. Yes, most were men. But there were women, too. And not very many of them. They were thrown into the arena as punishment for some crime they committed, entertainment for Citizens and Senators alike.

It fascinated me.

For the story, I put myself in Elena’s shoes (sandals) and imagined what it would be like to live like that. It sucked, quite frankly. To step into the arena, wondering if would be your last day to live. I couldn’t imagine being in a world like that, though I did imagine it. I used every fear I had about dying and put it into Elena. I had to figure out how to write fight scenes with swords, scimitars, tridents, and all manner of weapons. When I wrote Elena’s fight scenes, I wrote them as her.

Here’s a sneak peek:

After participating in the Games for years, Elena could no longer smell the familiar reek of blood and death and rot. She could no longer hear the death noises of men and beasts slaughtering each other. The screams of defiance. The splish of blood against sword. Being inside the arena was like home—and hell.

"Elena, look out!"

Heart pounding, she whirled in time to block the sword. Holding it two-handed, her muscles contracted to ward off the attack. Fatigue had slowed her reaction, turning her limbs into sweat-soaked noodles. The seedy-looking fellow grinned, showing off decaying yellow stumps of teeth.

Their swords clashed and he threw all his weight behind his, pushing her backward. Energy failing, she stumbled, giving him enough opportunity for his stumpy fingers to latch onto her throat and squeeze.

And then later, when Elena is remembering her hatred for the Emperor and how she’d ended up in the arena:

"But aside from all that, you have raw talent," he continued. "In time, I believe you could be one of the best. You will begin training at once and be put into the Games as soon as possible."


"If you wish to live, then you’ll learn how to kill your opponent quickly." He gave her an icy stare. He meant every word. That thin-lipped smile appeared again as his steely gaze moved over her. " can choose to stay here in the palace and serve me."

She knew all too well, even at her tender age, what he meant. Fury bubbled in her throat, sending hot pinpricks through her. That was the moment she first discovered how to shove Fear and Anger into the black void in which she kept them locked. The black void that eventually took shape as her vault. The vault where she kept unwanted things.

Elena personifies her fear and hatred and shoves them away. Until the day the black void nearly overtakes her when she learns she has to fight her lover to the death in the arena.

Here’s the blurb for Phoenix Fire:

Kill, or be killed.

Elena Gaius is Hixyl’s most heralded gladiatrix, catching the Emperor’s eye with her unspoiled beauty and fiery temper. Determined to let no man have her, he forces her into a life of unwanted accolades—for slaughter in the Games. With independence out of reach, Elena knows each day could be her last.

Cassius Antonius is a former general hired by an underground secret order to assassinate the Emperor. When he refuses, they take away the only thing precious to him—his freedom. Forced into servitude, he meets Elena and manipulates her into helping him, forming a shaky alliance and a searing romance.

The two become unwitting pawns in the struggle to save Hixyl from the Emperor’s tyranny. But plans spin out of control with the discovery of their secret tryst, and for their ultimate act of betrayal, the Emperor demands one last entertainment—to be pitted against each other in the Games in a fight to the death.

I hope you enjoy the story, now available from All Romance eBooks and Amazon!

Michelle Miles writes contemporary, paranormal and fantasy romance and is published with Samhain Publishing, Cobblestone Press and DCL Publishing. You can follow her on Twitter @MichelleMiles and “like” her Facebook page at To sign up for her newsletter and read her blog, visit her website at