Every writer has a “voice.” It’s all wrapped up in word choices and how we structure our sentences. Some are dark and brooding. Others are light and quick. It’s like the difference between a tuba and a piccolo.

Of course, before I had a writer’s voice, I had an actual voice. I’m a classically trained soprano. For a while I had a great time singing professional opera. But it wasn’t all fun and games. Once, I fell ill during a run of Mozart’s comedy Cosi Fan Tutte.  My throat felt like raw hamburger. I should have let my understudy take the role of Fiordiligi for final performance, but unless I was flat on my back, I wouldn’t give up a show.

Bad move.

It is said that Mozart hated the soprano who sang Fiordiligi for the opera’s premier and he was trying to kill her with the first aria–Come Scoglio.

I believe it.

The piece is devilishly difficult. It features some of the most challenging runs in the repertoire. The range is extremely wide and jumps of well over an octave are peppered throughout the whole thing. Here’s a YouTube recording of Edita Gruberova (one of my favorites!) singing it:

As you can see, it’s difficult enough to get through when a soprano is healthy and at the top of her game. I was not. My tenor friend told me later that he saw the glint of terror in my eyes as I headed into the first run. But I gave it my all and made it through to the other side with every note and trill intact. The audience went nuts over it. Evidently, terror works.

The next day I woke with no voice at all. Zip. Nada. Nothing.

My DH packed me off to an ENT doctor who specialized in singers. My vocal chords were terribly inflamed and swollen. The doc ordered complete silence for a week. Not even a whisper. I wasn’t even to mentally practice because my chords would be tensing as I “thought” my way through a piece. Then we’d see, he said, if I could avoid having surgery for nodes. 

Nodes on the vocal chords used to be the kiss of death for a singer. I zipped my lips tight.

A vow of silence is ok if you’re in a monastery. I was a mom with two kids under the age of 5. Once the DH went off to work for the day, I was unable to communicate with my girls. They knew what was up, of course, but it was still weird for them to a have a mommy who couldn’t talk. I tried hand gestures. They stopped talking and made gestures back. Neither side knew what the other was trying to say most of the time. Still, we muddled through the week and when I returned to the doctor, I was given the green light to speak and sing once more.

No surgery, thank God.

Fast forward to today. I should preface this by saying I’m incredibly ignorant about popular culture, but I’m still on the look out for voices that speak to me. A few weeks ago, I heard an astounding singer on the radio. The song was passionate and heart-breaking. The artist showed amazing range and depth of feeling. He was in full possession of his vocal instrument. 

It was Sam Smith and the song was Lay Me Down. (See? I told you I was popular-culture stupid.) I became an instant fan.

See why I was so blown away?

And why I’m so sad to hear that Sam needs surgery for a vocal chord hemorrhage.  I’m hopeful for him though, because surgical techniques have improved so much since I was threatened with it. But I’ll still be praying for him. I really want to hear more from this talented guy.

How about you? Do you have a favorite singer? A favorite song? Share and you’ll be entered in a drawing for a digital copy of Maidensong, (my debut title) in winner’s choice of Kindle or Nook format.

_________________________

Mia’s next release hits the bookstore shelves on June 2nd! Pre-order yours today!

Never+Resist+a+Rake-Final

Can he fool his new family?
John Fitzhugh Barrett, surprised to learn he is heir to a marquessate, is determined his new status won’t mean giving up his freedom. But as families from all over England descend upon Somerfield Park for the shooting season, their unmarried daughters are lining up to bag the newest trophy buck-him.

Or is he only fooling himself?
John’s instinct for self-preservation inspires him to divide his attentions between a scandalous young widow, and the safely ineligible Rebecca Kearsey, daughter of a destitute baron.

The charade gives John the illusion of controlling the game but when he loses his heart to the beautiful Rebecca, all bets are off.

Claim yours now!

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Mia Marlowe
Mia Marlowe

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Everyone has their own thoughts on what constitutes the Queen Mother of all swear words. My DH says the phrase is: “SOME ASSEMBLY REQUIRED.”

Our treadmill gave up the ghost recently. Yeah, I know. It’s hard to believe we actually wore one out, but we managed it somehow. Anyway since we still have miles to go before we pronounce ourselves fit, we bought a new treadmill.

To save money, we opted for one delivered in pieces. In retrospect, it wasn’t our finest decision.

Treadmill1

 As you can see, even Mack (our ever helpful terrier) seems dubious about the project. The first step on the directions required us to unpack everything and move the boxes to another room. However, we were cautioned strongly against throwing anything away at this point. Either they feared we might accidentally toss something important or they realized we might decide to box the whole kit and kaboodle back up and send it packing.

Treadmill2

Fortunately, my DH is a patient guy. Well, he would be, wouldn’t he? After all, he married me. He’s the methodical sort, a techno-wizard who can make a computer dance and sing. I’ve always done best in subjects where the answer is a matter of opinion so during this project, I was on hand for moral support.

And to keep the dogs out of the way.

Treadmill3

Of course, my DH insists that an intelligent man should be able to figure out two or three good ways to put anything together. However, as a last resort, he’s not above consulting the directions.

treadmill4

In the end, the DH got the treadmill together. It even works. And he didn’t have too many pieces left over. That counts as a win.

How about you? Do you enjoy putting things together? Or are you, like me, all thumbs?

________________________________

Mia’s Never Resist a Rake received 4 1/2 STARS from RTBOOKReveiws

Never+Resist+a+Rake-FinalMarlowe’s delightful tale is replete with unexpected characters, a wonderful romance and a page-turning plot. Marlowe cleverly turns a rascal into a hero readers will adore, while adding a depth of emotion that will touch their hearts.”

Can he fool his new family?
John Fitzhugh Barrett, surprised to learn he is heir to a marquessate, is determined his new status won’t mean giving up his freedom. But as families from all over England descend upon Somerfield Park for the shooting season, their unmarried daughters are lining up to bag the newest trophy buck-him.

Or is he only fooling himself?
John’s instinct for self-preservation inspires him to divide his attentions between a scandalous young widow, and the safely ineligible Rebecca Kearsey, daughter of a destitute baron.

The charade gives John the illusion of controlling the game but when he loses his heart to the beautiful Rebecca, all bets are off.

Pre-order your copy today! 

Amazon | B & N | BookDepository | Powells | IndieBound

 


Mia Marlowe
Mia Marlowe

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The whole media circus surrounding Britt McHenry’s meltdown at a tow lot last week has got me thinking. It’s easy to condemn her over the top insults. They were inexcusable, no matter what the provocation.

Then I thought, “That could have been me behind that counter.” Thankfully, I’m blessed with good teeth, but this baby girl could definitely stand to lose some weight.

But have I ever stood in Britt McHenry’s shoes and destroyed someone with my words? Not that I can remember, but in our own minds we always wear a white hat. This confession may make you hate me, but I’ve probably hurt people by trying to be witty sometimes. In that case, the joke’s on me in the end.

It’s not right. I wish it wasn’t true, but sadly, we do tend to judge people based on their appearance, their education, their jobs. That seems to be the way of the world, whether people say what’s on their minds or not. Britt McHenry just doesn’t have a filter for her thoughts. The whole encounter was a cliche–a pretty, entitled young thing trashing someone who’s powerless, poor and in an unpopular position. 

Do any of us ever get out of middle school?

When I was a kid, I had a little book of verse called The Cheerful Cherub by Rebecca McCann. There was a rhyme for almost every situation and I’m constantly amazing by how many of them I can still recite by heart. I learned from this little collection of poems that people are like books. We can’t judge them by the cover. Here’s a verse I ponder when I’m tempted to dismiss others:

FACES

We’d find each face was beautiful,

However plain it seems,

If, looking past the dull outside,

We saw the wistful dreams.

Oh, how I wish we all had that kind of vision.

Have you ever been the victim of a “mean girl?” I have. When I was in 7th grade, a pair of them decided to make their lives complete by bringing me to tears everyday. Have you ever been the “mean girl?” I hope I haven’t. If I did, it wasn’t intentional. Either way, how did you handle it? Are you ok now, or does that hurt still ache a bit?

 


Mia Marlowe
Mia Marlowe

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No, I’m not talking about my waistline.

1StorycoasterI’m talking about the midpoint of a story. It’s a delicate time. As I round the corner on page 220 of my current WIP, I’m looking for the tipping point. From now on, my hero and heroine have committed to follow a path. Everything that happens from here on in is because of the action they take now. They aren’t sure where the ride will take them, but there’s no jumping off the coaster till the end.

When I get in my “book head,” it’s easy to get a little lost. Unfortunately, I’m not a plotter. I discover the story along with my character. As they try to figure out what they want and how to get it, I’m busy devising ways to thwart them.

Insert maniacal laughter here!

100_1854Now is when I enter my “Monet” phase. I call it that because it’s hard to make sense of a Monet canvas unless you put a little distance between you and it and view the work from across the room.

Likewise, I’m so close to the characters at this point, it’s hard to make sense of the story structure. The bones are hidden by emotions and motivations, but they still need to be there.

Shagging middleI’ve heard some editors call this part of the story “the shagging middle” because it sometimes devolves into pages and pages of love scenes. Since I always want the lovemaking in my books to mean something, I’d never consider using them as “filler.”

Besides, the book I’m writing now is much sweeter than my other work, so that’s not an option.  So the commitment to join forces to overcome their obstacles for my hero and heroine has to be more emotional than physical.

But either way, this is a crucial time in the life of my story and I type with hope mingled with fear. I always wonder how it’s all going to work out in the end (see my lament above about not being a plotter!) However, on the plus side, if I’m surprised by the turn of events it stands to reason my readers will be tooA Rake by Any Other Name!

How about you? Do you ever find yourself in the middle of a project and wonder where it’s heading? Share it with us and you’ll be entered to win a copy of my latest release A Rake By Any Other Name!

A Rake by Any Other Name is the first Mia Marlowe historical romance I have ever read, but it certainly won’t be the last. This one’s a keeper!

reviewertoppick2Marlowe writes with a unique voice and I particularly loved that she featured the point of view of many of the characters beyond the hero and heroine. It allowed me to embrace the story, the characters, and the setting more fully. Quite frankly, I fell in love, not only with Richard and Sophie, but the whole staff and world of Somerfield Park and Barrett House. I understand this is the first of a series, and I can’t wait to get my hands on the rest.” ~NightOwlRomance

I’ll announce the winner on Sunday, April 12th!

Book 2 of the Somerfield Park Series, Never Resist a Rake is available for Pre-order now!

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Mia Marlowe
Mia Marlowe

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SydneyI often read outside the romance genre. Lately, I’ve been enjoying a 1950′s set mystery series by James Runcie featuring an English vicar as the amateur sleuth. Ok, I’ll admit it. I was roped in by PBS’s Grantchester series.

As enjoyable as the TV shows are, as usual, the books are better. Actually, the TV show plays fast and loose with the characters in ways that stretch credibility. The books take us deeper into the vicar and his friends. With the leisure of the printed word, Runcie takes us inside Sydney’s thoughts, examines his small triumphs and failures and makes us privy to his struggles when his core values are challenged.

EnglandSydney lives on only 550 pounds a year, so even in 1950, it’s not enough to own a motor car. Instead, he rides a bike. One of his favorite rides takes him 4 or 5 miles out of town to enjoy what he calls “a healing view.” It’s a lovely vista of rolling green hills that says quietly to his soul, “This is England.” It never fails to sooth him.

I knew exactly what he meant. I love the view of the pasture and woods outside my back door. It rests me and reminds me that nothing is so urgent that I can’t take a moment to just breathe. I’ve found a number of places I find nourishing in that way.

2010-08-14 11.30.05Some views feed my imagination. This “keyhole” doorway to the Atlantic shore near Hammond Castle is one of my favorites. The castle is located near Gloucester, MA and was built by a scientist, John Hayes Hammond, Jr, who held over 400 patents–second only to Thomas Edison. It makes me think I might discover anything once I step through the portal.

Do you have a favorite “healing” view? Is there a place you take mental trips to when you need a 10 minute vaca?

 


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