Interview with author Milli Gilbert

I’ve recently had the pleasure to speak one-on-one with the talented author, Milli Gilbert. Milli has four publications out already, and has been quite busy working on several more upcoming releases. Yes, I said several.

Like I said, she’s been busy.

Milli’s books are fun and sexy, and a little bit naughty. Her writing flows effortlessly, and you can’t help but to fall in love with the characters. Check out the links below in Milli’s biography to learn more.

Let’s get on with the interview, shall we?

Where do you see publishing going in the future?
That’s a good question. I think that there will always be traditionally published and independently published authors out there, but I think that with as many people indie-publishing, the way publishing houses do their thing is going to change. They’re already keeping an eye on the hot authors on all the lists anyway, and I think that’s going to end up being the way of the future – though I think once you’re in, you’re probably in, at least for a while, until what you write has gone out of style, anyway.

What do you do when you get writer’s block?
When I can’t get new words out onto the page for a first draft WIP, I have a few options. I can a) go to my other first draft WIP, or one of my two WIPs in the revision process. I can always write a bit of poetry, find a prompt to write to (I have a pinterest board full of them, but I also belong to an online writing group where there is an endless supply of them as well) and often that will summon Matt Muse back to his desk inside my brain, instead of being off on his travels. (I don’t know where he goes, but he always comes back. Sometimes a little worse for wear, and with a dragon or a shape-shifter in tow, but it’s all good.)
If none of those work for me, there’s always pulling out the LEGOs or coloring books or watch a movie, or color code a spreadsheet or something brainless.

Do you prefer writing on a computer, or do you write it all out with pen and paper?
I’ll use whatever medium is appropriate for the situation. Usually, the tablet is more conducive to writing on the go, but if I forget, there is always the phone or pen and paper. But I prefer my laptop. Bigger screen means I can have multiple windows up at the same time, and it’s a lot easier to move between them. Plus, I can type a lot faster than I can hand-write anything. It sometimes also depends on what I’m doing. Sometimes I need to see the whole thing laid out before me, but that’s more of a revisions thing – I print it all out and can look at it and see the thing as a whole. Which reminds me – I need more ink for my printer; I’m at that stage with a section of one of my novels.

Do you write full-time or part-time?
I am a stay-at-home-mom first, and when the kids are being good, I can squeeze words in. I guess that means I’m a part-time writer. When my daughter goes to kindergarten fall 2017, then I’ll have to look for a part time job, but I’m not going to let that get in the way of writing. It’ll take some adjustments, but I’m not giving up on writing.

What’s your view on social media for marketing, and which of them have worked best for you?
For marketing? I have no problem with people putting ads up on their social media feeds. I’ll even occasionally re-tweet or share posts. But I’m only on Facebook and Twitter. I find Twitter easier to reach a larger audience because of hashtags, so I tend to do my advertising that way, but anything I put up on my blog automatically goes to Twitter and to my author Facebook page so it’s pretty much all the same.

 

Milli Gilbert is a stay-at-home mom who loves to play with words almost as much as she loves to play with her kids. All of her stories involve romance, and maybe a little bit of mystery. Milli loves to write about cowboys and shifters. And smut. Don’t forget the smut. And can usually be found trying to find interesting ways to combine them. She has several short stories published, and hopes to have her first full length novel out in late Summer 2017. She just took off after one of her couples to follow them around for a few months – but don’t worry, she’ll be back. Or, you can find her on her blog,  Hairballs of Genius,  and follow her on Twitter. Her books are available on Amazon.

How I Chose My Avatar and Header Image

Setting up social media sites, can be time-consuming and frustrating. We want to make them personal—something that reflects us, or, in some instances, the ideas we want to portray. The choices and decisions seem to go on and on.

The most difficult part for me, though, was choosing the right image for the header and the avatar.

I envy those of you who use your own pictures. That would make things so much easier.

That was not an option for me. I’ve always avoided having my picture taken. Even as a kid, I hid behind my siblings, only peeking out half of my face, just to make my mother happy. (At least, in my opinion she should have been happy. In reality, she wasn’t. Not even a little.)

My wedding was brutal. All eyes are on the bride, right? Yeah…I hated that. I asked the photographer if I could strategically hold my bouquet over my face. She laughed. Apparently she thought I was kidding.

Mother/children pictures? I’d have to search deep for those.

But my disposition of having my picture taken was neither here nor there. I didn’t have to post personal pictures on my sites. In fact, many people don’t, and that’s okay.

So what the heck would I do for my headers and images?

Hmm. I pondered and pondered.

I knew I wanted something bright and cheery. Appealing to the eye. Because, you know, who doesn’t like happy?

Problem solved. Flowers were my answer. Roses are a subtle symbol used throughout the series I’m writing, with a particular rose garden being the place my MCs go to work out their problems. It made perfect sense.

I looked through hundreds of images—maybe thousands. Beautiful. Gorgeous. I could smell them emanating from my computer screen.

But nothing felt right.

Then I came across a rose in the dark. It called out to me, and in that moment, I knew my search was over.

roses-316749_640

 

It struck me as odd, because it wasn’t at all what I’d envisioned. But it was such a relief to have it actually done, that I didn’t even care. It made me feel complete, so I went with it.

I chose several different styles—flowers in the dark, flowers photoshopped with a grayscale background—it didn’t matter. Those were the images I was drawn to.

After I acquired a few, I didn’t think any more of it. I moved on with my list of things to do, happy to have that task checked off. But a few days later, I was writing a call to action, asking some fellow writing friends to “get involved!” and “don’t be a wallflower!” I laughed to myself when I wrote those words. I’m the definition of wallflower. And why the heck did I choose that word? I don’t ever use it, or even think it. And what’s up with all the flowers lately?

I started thinking more about my sudden interest in flowers, and realized how what I had chosen fits me perfectly. The flower in the dark is me. I’ll bloom, like I’m supposed to. You’ll know I’m there, through my writings, just like you would know the flower was there through its fragrance. You just won’t see me—or the flower.

The rose I chose for my header image isn’t bathed in darkness like my avatar. Although I looked for it, the black and white backgrounds kept grabbing my attention. Well, that kind of made sense, too. My writing deals with a lot of dark issues—domestic abuse, child abuse, addiction, PTSD, etcetera. But my characters will be strong, and there will always be hope. The “flower” will prevail, even through all the trials and tribulations.

I feel all introspecty (yes, I know that’s not a word, but it’s what I’m thinking) and poetic, having realized my subconscious drew me to these images. It’s a nice feeling, and I can’t say I’ve ever experienced it before. Thus is born my “theme.” I’ll forever associate dark flowers with my name, and at least for as long as my current series runs, which could be a few years, I’ll have a flower with a black and white background as my series theme.

So, I’m curious, how do you choose your avatars and page images for your social media? Do you put your own picture out there, to be friends with everyone? (Lucky you!) Do you choose an image that fits your mood? Business? Whatever it may be? Or do you choose something that represents your personality?

I never really thought about it before—never had a reason to. But now, I find it interesting. How did you come up with your theme?

Distractions!

Disclaimer: This is merely an exaggerated, humorous look at the distractions a writer-mom faces. My kids are in no way mistreated or neglected, so don’t go calling the cops on me. I’m from a small town where everyone knows each other, and everyone knows what a fabulous mom I am. 😉

Writing has ruined me.

I know, I know. Why would anyone say something like that about themselves, right? But really, it has. My kids will gladly attest.

I’ve always been a daydreamer, but I kept it in check, taking pride in my work, taking good care of my kids and home, keeping on top of bills and meetings and all the constant pulls and pushes.

But that all changed.

I’m not saying I don’t do all those things anymore, but God knows it’s a struggle for me these days.

My excuse? Writing.

Since the epiphany shone down on me that I needed to begin writing, my mind has gleefully frolicked through the sunny meadows of LaLa Land, singing to the smiling butterflies and birds that it’s okay. That I have every right to daydream, because it’s my job.

The old great-great-great grandmother cow, grazing over there in the pasture, chews her cud and nods at me in agreement. “That’s right, girl,” she says. “You just go ahead and do your thing. Ain’t nobody gonna say nothin’ to you if you’re workin’.”

I curtsy to her and continue on my merry way, thinking up my next soul-wrenching confrontation and betrayal.

But then my youngest son comes into my meadow (office) and interrupts. We’ll call him Kid 4.

“Mom,” he says, a hint of annoyance in his voice. “I’m hungry. When are you gonna make supper?”

I quirk my brow at him.

I hate anything to do with food. Cooking or eating, I just don’t enjoy it. It’s a nuisance. And on top of it, you have to get it, somehow. Whether you grow it, feed it and slaughter it, go to the grocery store, whatever. It’s a huge pain in the rump. And after you go to all the trouble of cooking it, then you have a huge mess to clean up. Ugh! It’s never ending.

“How about a cookie or a bowl of cereal?”

“Mom, I’m hungry,” he groans.

I sigh as my fingers itch to get to work. “Fine. I’ll get to it soon.”

“Okay. Will you help me with my homework?”

I roll my eyes. I just want to write. His homework isn’t my homework. I lived that life years ago, and I don’t want to do it again.

“Greatest common factors,” he says.

“Yea. My favorite.” My voice is flat. GCFs could be tricky, so yeah, I’d better help him.

“And then I have science. We’re learning about gravitational pull and how it’s different on each planet.”

My eyes glaze over. “Honey, you’re not going to another planet any time soon. How about we talk about that this weekend?”

He scrunches his nose. “It’s my homework.”

I shake my head and grumble under my breath. Damn responsible kid. “Fine. Let’s do this.”

We work each problem, all the while I’m composing a firestorm argument between my two main characters. Kid 4 calls me out several times for my lack of focus.

Kid 3 comes in and joins us. “What’s for supper?”

“Nothing,” I say quickly. “Go make a sandwich if you’re hungry.”

“I need help with diagramming sentences.”

I smack my palm to my forehead and rest my elbow on the table top. I was so close to finishing Kid 4’s homework and getting back to the climax of my argument. I must record it, before it slips away in the midst of gravity and greatest common factors. “Honey, I don’t know a single person who diagrams in real life. I don’t, and I’m a writer!”

He looks at me as if I’d grown two heads.

My motherly instincts tell me I should put him first and shove my characters aside. “Fine. Have a seat.”

My phone buzzes and my husband’s face lights up the screen.

“Hello?”

“What are you making for supper?”

Ugh! What is this? “I just made supper last night. Do you seriously expect it tonight, too?”

“Uhhhhh… yeah?”

I throw my hands up. “This is getting entirely out of control. Every single day, you people want to eat. Ridiculous.”

“Umm…”

“I’ve gotta go. I’m analyzing intransitive verb paraphrase noun adverbial clause agreements right now.”

“What?”

“I have no idea. I’ll see you later.”

Kid 3 and I work for at least a half hour. I keep having to re-read and re-focus, because now, my characters are seeing the errors of their ways and they’re about to make up. It’s a sweet moment that I really need to type out soon.

“Done,” Kid 3 announces, flipping his book closed. “I don’t want a sandwich. Can you cook something?”

“Who do you think I am? Your mother?”

He rolls his eyes and walks out.

Finally, I have a little peace and quiet. Back to frolicking in the meadow…

“Men,” Old Bessie says, smacking her green slimed lips. “I always said they ain’t no good for nothin’ but makin’ babies. They always just strut around here like they own the place, takin’ whatever woman they want, whenever they want ’em.”

I roll my eyes. She means well, but she has the wrong idea about this Romance novel thing. “Bessie, that might be true in your world, but men aren’t bulls. I don’t think that’s going to help me with my characters.”

She gently shakes her head and lowers her face to the lush, green grass.

“Hey, Mom,” my daughter, Kid 2, says from the doorway. “You know how Hitler did experiments on his prisoners?”

My daughter is sharp as a tack; I don’t ever help her with homework, and I know she’s just here to chitchat. But I have an argument to transcribe. “Of course, honey. Everyone knows that.” I wave my hand toward the doorway. “I love you and you’ll forever be my favorite daughter, (she’s my only daughter) but please shut up and go away.”

She plops in the chair at my side, setting her iPad on the table in front of me. “Love you, too. We’re studying his not-so-well-known experiments. Look at this.”

She opens a picture of a skeletal human, naked, in a metal tub filled with ice and water. “They wanted to find the best ways to treat hypothermia for their soldiers. They froze the prisoners, then they’d do things like make them drink scalding hot water, or give them hot water enemas. Others had really bright lights shone on them. Those people usually ended up with third degree burns.” She shrugs. “Most of them died.”

I stare at the ghoulish figure, nothing but his bony chest, shoulders, and head visible above the ice. Every God-awful story I’d ever heard, read, or seen comes crashing down.

Those haunting eyes. Those forsaken souls.

I blink.

Bessie looks at me before wandering away. The butterflies and birds flitter off into the unknown, taking my characters with them.

I swallow the lump in my throat and close my laptop. “Guess I’ll go make supper now.”

Reading Recommendations

Will you be looking for something to read this weekend? I have a few suggestions!

Sue Seabury’s book Bite Me is FREE Saturday, March 12. It’s a five star review, and is reported to be hilarious. Molly is having a rotten day, and it just gets worse. In walks a handsome replacement actor on the set she’s trying to manage. Things get even crazier from there. I haven’t yet read it, but I’ll definitely be picking it up.

If you want a little paranormal and a little BDSM, then take a look at JD Carabella’s Arrested by Passion.  The entire series is on sale for 99 cents for the entire weekend. I had an opportunity to review the first story of the series, and I’ve been eager to read the rest.

Another story on my list for the weekend is Unveiling Facade: Part One, a short story of a woman being introduced to BDSM. It has several five-star reviews already, even though it’s only been out a short while. Lisette Kristensen, the author, will be a guest here in April.

Happy reading! Let me know what you think. Better yet, leave a review.

Trials of a New Blogger

I’m new to this blogging stuff. You can probably tell, can’t you?

I posted my first blog just a couple days ago, and it didn’t go well. I mean, the text was there, and all, but it sure as heck didn’t look pretty. All the formatting had disappeared, and it looked kind of like one long, and I do mean long, page of letters. Who would want to read that?

So I researched.

Yeah, that.

I’m not a tech-y person, nor do I want to be. I just want to type and be blissfully unaware of what’s lurking inside my little piece of hardware. But that won’t work if I’m going to make a go of this writing gig, so here goes.

It turns out I have to write in Markdown. What? What the heck is that?

Well, it’s what you can use to make your writing look pretty, as opposed to a really, really long list of letters on a page.

As an example, I bet you would never guess that when I originally typed this, I had italicized that “what” up there.

Mhmm. Really, I did. I’m not joking.

Many of you are probably smarter than I am and realize that formatting is lost when you take it from one platform to another. Something about html and RTF and plain text.

I hate that. I don’t want to deal with it. It should just work, right?

Whatever.

So I’m gonna try this and post it without going back to fix it. Just testing the waters, so to speak. Fun stuff ahead, I’m sure.

Five minutes later

Yeah, another problem. I just tried to lurk through the online cheat sheets to look at the cod I needed to use, because, of course I don’t remember it. Is it asterisks maybe? I don’t know. I guess we’ll just try it and see what kind of wonky stuff we come up with.
So, I’ve indented this with three hits of the tab button. I don’t know if it’ll stick. I’m going to attempt italics here, with single asterisks before and after my word. If all goes well, it will be italicized. Or it may be bolded, because I don’t remember which is which. Or maybe it’s not even supposed to be asterisks, so who knows what will happen? Word

Two tab hits. Double asterisks, which I believe should bold it, if I remember correctly. We shall see. Word
Since my Internet went down and I have no way of testing this at the moment, I’m completely bummed. I was all gung ho to get this going, but apparently I’ll have to wait. It’s this kind of BS that makes things—fun.
Five more minutes pass
So while I’m sitting her twiddling my thumbs, waiting for the Internet to come back to life, I’ll gripe about the other thing that happened this week—my first week of blogging, therefore my first week of being able to gripe.

My designer disappeared. Her email is dead, and I can’t contact her. I assume she’s no longer doing it.

Bummer.

She designed the cover to my first novel almost a year ago, when I ridiculously thought I was ready to publish. (Whew, thank goodness I came to my senses!) I really like her work, but I have a whole entire series planned. Like, I don’t know, five or six books, before it’s all said and done. We had discussed keeping the look similar, which she has the files to.

So now I have to look for someone else. There are a lot of great designers out there, so I’m sure it will be fine, but dang. I really liked her.

I hope everything’s fine with her, wherever she is.
Another five minutes
Just checked, and the Internet’s back up! Here we go. I’m gonna copy and paste this into my blog site and see what happens. I’ll be publishing non-edited work, simply to see what happens. Sorry if it’s too messy. At least it has the potential for a laugh or two, right?

And with this in mind, I have decided to post it to a brand new category. I’m going to keep track of my writing journey, even though it’s already almost two years old. I’ve learned a lot, but holy guacamole, I have a whole lot more to learn. This will be my weekly journal.

Here we go.

Ahhh… I’m Feeling Thankful

I’m feeling… thankful, at the moment. Tranquil? Content? I’m not really sure of the right word.

As I’m writing this, I’m sitting at the gate, waiting for my plane to arrive. My daughter’s high school dance team is traveling to Orlando to compete at the national level. All the girls are healthy, other than a few of them suffering from their sports-related injuries—my own daughter included. They’re giddy with excitement for what this weekend might bring them.

I watch them and can’t help but smile. They’ve worked so hard, and it all comes down to this. The ultimate competition. The finalé of the season.

But what I’m thankful for is not their competition and impending fun. It’s wonderful for them, but in the realm of life, it’s but a moment in time.

As I look at each of them, smiling and laughing, I’m thinking of their classmates back home. I’m thinking of my own children. Of kids and families everywhere.

We all have hardships. It’s a fact of life. It’s the way it works.

In the past few months, these girls in front of me have been witness to not one, but three very scary events among their classmates.

A seventeen-year-old junior, Sarah, was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma the week of Thanksgiving. By the time the cancer was found, it had spread throughout her body, and she was given a thirty percent chance of survival. The kids were devastated, and they all rallied around her. As she lost her hair, the boys shaved their heads, and the girls cut off at least ten inches of their hair and donated it to Locks of Love. It was a beautiful thing, and Sarah felt loved and supported.

About a month ago, another seventeen-year-old junior, Mary, was having headaches. While she was in the shower, her pain got so bad that she ended up slipping. She fell and hit her head. Upon arrival at the emergency department, she was taken into surgery, and the next morning woke up blind. She was not expected ever to see again.

I can’t even imagine that. I don’t want to imagine that. But that’s another story.

Once again, the kids at school rallied around their classmate. They worked tirelessly to raise money to help her through her rehabilitation. I’m so proud of them and their ambition to help.

The most recent health scare among the student body happened while at school. Last week, a sixteen-year-old boy, Bradley, collapsed during basketball practice. He was rushed to the hospital with seizures. For nearly three days, he was incoherent. If the time was 9:30, he read it as 9:00. His birthday is January 14th, but he insisted it was the 15th. He wasn’t even sure of his name.

Heartbreaking, isn’t it?

But these three kids, amazingly enough, are “coming around.” Sarah had a PET scan and other tests this week after finishing six rounds of chemotherapy. Her parents were thrilled to announce that her tests show all the tumors to be inactive.

Mary, just last week, started seeing shadows and light. And even better, she has progressed to seeing a little out of one eye. She even went to school one day this week.

And Bradley? He came home from the hospital and will be under constant observation by his parents, but he has regained his cognizance.

These three kids are the springboard for my current thankful mood. I’m thankful for their recoveries. I’m thankful for my own family’s health. I’m thankful for everyone around me, and even for all those I don’t know.

The terrifying moments, the joyful moments, the good moments—these are all what I want to convey in my writing. That’s what stories are comprised of. And like the three kids I just told you about, I want my stories to have happy endings. In fact, my stories always will, because I just can’t deal with the not-so-happy.

That’s the beauty of writing.

But unlike fictional stories, so often in life, happy endings aren’t the final outcome. We all know kids who did not beat the odds. We all have had our own health problems. We’ve all lost jobs, sent loved ones off to war, live with loneliness, abuse, or unfathomable things that others can’t even imagine.

These things don’t last forever, though. They end…one way or another.

So while I’m getting myself into the right mindset to write the next scene of The Flood, a story about a combat veteran trying to understand his PTSD, I’m fighting my elatedness. I want him to heal—right now. I don’t want him to suffer through everything I have in store for him. I’m too preoccupied being thankful for the good things and the happy outcomes to be able to put my character through hell.

But even though time is slipping away and I’m not getting any writing accomplished, I’m decidedly content with that. I’m enjoying this tranquil feeling, and I want to bask in it for a little while.

I’d like to share that feeling with you. Look around at your friends or family, or whatever makes you happy in life, and be thankful for it. Really thankful.

Think of what it might be like if that person or thing was hurt, suffering, or even, God forbid, gone.

It’s possible that could happen.

So be thankful for what you have right now. Relish the joy, even among all the other bad crap that’s happening in the world, in your town, even in your own home. Life works in cycles.

Bad times will get better; good times will get worse.

But always be thankful.