My guest today is Kara Leigh Miller, author of Young Adult fiction. She is joining me to talk about her new book, Perfectly Imperfect. Kara, thank you for being my guest today.
Let’s start by telling us a little bit about yourself.
My name is Kara Leigh Miller. I’m a wife and stay at home mom to 4 kids, 3 pit bulls, and 6 cats. I’m also the Editorial Director for Anaiah Press. When I’m not herding my family, I’m writing, reading, going to the gym, and playing Monster Busters on my phone. I write young adult books for both the Christian and secular market.
What is Perfectly Imperfect about?
As Isabelle Carson’s life spirals out of control and her carefully crafted, picture-perfect image begins to shatter, Grayson Alexander does what no one else can: he makes her laugh and allows her to be imperfect. With rekindled faith, Isabelle sets out to right all the wrongs in her life. But Grayson has been damaged by his own family secrets, and Isabelle will have to decide if the boy she’s falling for more and more each day is a right or a wrong.
Are you a night owl or morning person?
I always used to be a night owl, but the older I get, the more I like mornings. When everyone is still asleep and the house is quiet, I tend to write the most words. It’s very peaceful, and I always feel more productive when I start my day early.
Do you reward yourself when a book is finished? If so, what is your favorite treat?
Not when I finish writing a book, but when a book is published, I always celebrate, usually by going to dinner with my husband. I love a nice steak dinner from Texas Roadhouse, or alfredo from Olive Garden.
What book do you wish you would have written?
The Twilight Saga. This is my favorite series of all time because it’s just so simple, and despite its inherent problems, it’s an epic love story. I’m actually working on a young adult paranormal series right now that’s an homage to Twilight.
Are you a plotter or a panster?
I’m a hardcore panster. I cannot plot a book, because once I do, I feel like I’ve already told the story, so I lose the ambition to write it. Not to mention, when I plot and then the story strays from what I have planned, I become extremely frustrated. I have to let the characters lead the story, and it’s so much fun to experience what happens as it’s happening.
What does your family think of your writing?
My husband doesn’t really care that much about it. LOL. He knows it brings me joy, so he’s supportive. But my kids love it. They’re always telling their friends that their mom is an author and sharing my website. Oh, and they love to direct people to my Twitter because they think it’s cool I have so many followers.
Are you part of a writing group?
I used to be when I lived in New York—it was a small but really amazing group, and I miss them. There’s not much in the way of writing groups where I live now, unless I want to drive 45 minutes one way to get to a meeting. I do have a small group of friends online, though, that I trust to read and critique my work.
Who was the first person you allowed to read your completed book?
My close writing friend, Kat Daemon. She’s usually always the first person I send my work to. She’s honest in telling me what things I need to fix, but she’s always uplifting and gentle.
Do you experience writer’s block? What do you do to get through it?
Sometimes, and when I do, I tend to work out. Exercise always gets my creative juices flowing. I also binge watch TV shows and read a lot. And when all that fails, I start throwing ideas out to my writing friends and try to talk through what’s blocking me.
Please share your favorite excerpt from your book.
I have so many favorite scenes from this book, but the one that seems to really stand out to my beta readers—and my editor—is the scene where Isabelle and Grayson are in the arcade. Here’s a sneak peek at it…
I follow her into the arcade, and other than a couple of younger kids playing a basketball game, the place is empty. I pull a twenty out of my wallet and feed it into the token machine; then I divide the tokens equally between us.
“So, what game do you want to lose first?” I ask.
“Well, considering you’re going to be the loser, you pick.”
She’s smart, funny, beautiful, and she’s competitive, too? Is there anything about this girl that isn’t perfect for me?
“All right. That one.” I point to a motorcycle racing game.
“That’s not fair. I’ve never driven a motorcycle. You have.”
“I’ll give you a lesson before we start. Deal?”
Isabelle narrows her eyes as if trying to figure out if I’m lying or trying to trick her.
The game is set up so there are two bikes contained within a dome structure. She climbs on one and drops two tokens into the slots to get the game started.
“Scoot forward.” I motion with my hands for her to move. When she does, I swing my leg over the seat and settle in behind her. These bikes are intended for only one person, so there’s not much room.
She chooses one player, and the game starts. I place my hands over hers on the handlebars. Her hands are softer than I expected.
“This button makes you go, and this one makes you stop,” I explain.
Nodding, she pushes the button to go, and on the screen, the bike lurches. She yelps and slams on the brake button.
I laugh. “It’s just a game, Belle. Relax.”
She twists her head to look at me. “I guess just Belle is better than Belle the Bible Thumper.”
“Then, from now on, you’re just Belle.” I grin.
Her gaze drops to my mouth, but then she quickly turns her attention back to the game. “All right, so what am I supposed to do on this stupid game?”
I blow out a breath, but my heart is still racing so hard and fast, I’m convinced she can feel it. “The trick is to find your center of gravity and use it. Sitting upright puts you off balance. Lean forward.” I gently push her forward until she’s in the right position.
“Good.” I once again cover her hands with mine. “Now, press the go button.”
She does, and the bike on the screen takes off quickly down the straight road. Ahead, a curve looms. I don’t say anything because I want to see what she’ll do. She cranks the handlebars to the right, and the bike wipes out. I laugh, and she playfully elbows me.
“What did I do wrong?” she asks.
“You’re driving like it’s a car. It’s not. You need to use your body.”
She continues the game, and this time, when she approaches the curve, I move my hands to her waist. I have no business touching her at all, let alone like this, but I can’t deny how nice it feels.
“Lean into the turn,” I say, guiding her body to the right. “And then straighten.”
She does exactly as I say, and she maneuvers the turn like a pro. I watch over her shoulder while she continues the race. This close, the scent of her floral perfume wraps around me, and I inhale deeply.
The race ends, and she comes in sixth place. She straightens, bringing her back flush to my chest. “Good job, just Belle.”
She gathers her hair and drapes it over her right shoulder then twists her head to the left so we’re face to face. “Thanks for the lesson.”
“You’re welcome.” My voice cracks, and I momentarily freeze at our proximity. My gaze lingers on her mouth, my thoughts consumed with kissing her. “You’re a fast learner.”
“Well, you’re a good teacher.” She smiles.
I feign shock. “Is that a compliment?”
“Nope.” She laughs.
“Of course not. Want another practice run?”
“No, I think I got it.”
“You sure?” I raise a brow.
She hesitates and rubs her palms on her jeans, grazing her hand over mine, and I instinctively tighten my grip on her. Her sharp intake of breath sets my heart racing.
“I got this,” she says.
“All right. Your loss.” Reluctantly, I get off her bike and climb onto the other one.
Isabelle scoots back and wiggles on the seat like she’s trying to get comfortable. She’s got a boyfriend. She’s got a boyfriend. She’s got a boyfriend… I focus on getting the game started. She beats me off the starting line, but I quickly and easily pass her. I’m in the zone, hyper focused and determined to win. But then there’s a tap on my rear wheel, and I spin out of control. Isabelle zooms past me.
I glance over, and she’s giggling like crazy.
“You’re such a cheater,” I say.
She laughs harder. A moment later, she crosses the finish line—in first place. She pumps her fists and lets out a victorious whoop. I shake my head, but I can’t stop smiling.
Even if she did cheat to win, I don’t care. Seeing her like this—face flushed, eyes sparkling, hair a mess, and happy—is so much better than winning any game.
Thanks again for joining me today, Kara. Where can readers go to find out more about your and your books?
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