Guest Author: Mia Marshall (+Contest)

Mia MarshallI am excited to welcome author Mia Marshall, who is celebrating the release of her second Elements novel, Shifting Selves.

The Elements urban fantasy series continues in this fast-paced sequel to Broken Elements.

Aidan Brook’s world was shattered when the actions of a brutal murderer revealed long-buried secrets about her past. A powerful elemental, Aidan discovered she possesses the wrong kind of magic. It’s a secret that could cost her sanity—or even her life.

What she needs is some peace and quiet. What she gets is a phone call from a division of the FBI so secret it doesn’t even have a name, asking for her help with a series of shifter disappearances.

Before Aidan can settle into a new routine of pancakes and evenings by the fire, the case develops claws. She quickly finds herself caught between uptight bears, deadly mountain lions, overprotective parents, and unhappy federal agents. Throw in a stalled romance with an enigmatic shifter and the slow dissolution of her chosen family, and it’s hard to say which will drive her mad first: her magic, or her chaotic life.

Make sure you stick around to the end. We’ll be giving away signed copies of Broken Elements and Shifting Selves, as well as an Elements tote bag and water bottle.

Five reasons the Elements series exists the way it does

I am thrilled to be launching the book tour for Shifting Selves here on Literary Escapism. Thanks for letting me stop by!

Shifting Selves is the second book in the Elements urban fantasy series. Like Broken Elements, the first book in the series, it’s set amongst the elementals and shifters of Lake Tahoe. I had a ridiculously fun time writing this book, and I’m so grateful the series developed into its current form. It came very close to being something else entirely, and it was only a series of coincidences, accidents, and interventions (divine or otherwise) that led to the books I’m lucky enough to be writing today.

Five reasons the Elements series exists the way it does:

1. I needed a break from reality. Sometimes, reality can really suck, and the year I wrote Broken Elements was a doozy of a year. I was recovering from an unexpected heart surgery, and I had to quit my job and live with my mother for the duration of the recovery. For a year, I lived in an unfamiliar house in an unfamiliar town with no friends nearby. I needed to escape that reality, and the best way I knew to do that was to create my own–so that’s exactly what I did. I began to write fiction for the first time in years and created a complete world, one with its own mythology and feuds, full of potential for love and loss and general mayhem. I wanted to play in a world that resembled our own but was so much more interesting. Truly, I shouldn’t be surprised that my first impulse was to write urban fantasy, considering that…

2. I’m an urban fantasy reader. All those books the readers of this site love? Yeah, I love them, too. I aspire to write a world as cool as Stacia Kane’s Downside or as nuanced as Patricia Briggs’ Mercy Thompson series. I don’t recall a single moment where I questioned what genre I was going to write. After all, if I was going to lose several valuable reading hours every day, time I could spend discovering another excellent series, then I needed to spend that time in a world of my own making. It’s entirely possible I have an imaginary worlds quota that must be met each day. Besides…

3. The series would have been very different if I didn’t read so much UF and PNR. I began a first draft that would be nearly unrecognizable to readers of the Elements series. Aidan Brook was there, and she was still a water elemental living in a rundown farmhouse in the middle of nowhere, but there the similarities end. In the first draft, she and two roommates ran a sort of paranormal urgent care clinic, and naturally some terribly hot paranormal dude was the first in need of that urgent care (not a euphemism–okay, a little bit of a euphemism). Then I read Larissa Ione’s first Demonica book, which takes place in a demon hospital chock-full of hot men. Though I knew my take on the subject would be very different, it was still too similar for comfort. I muttered a bunch of curses in Ione’s general direction and started from scratch. Immediately, Sera appeared, and the series found its heart in the relationship between the two best friends. And if that wasn’t enough…

MMarshall-Broken Elements4. Simon introduced himself to me. Readers of Broken Elements know Simon is all about timing, and he announced himself at just the right moment. I’d been worried that shifters were becoming overdone in urban fantasy, and I hadn’t planned on including any magical creatures other than elementals–but the overall arc for the series just wasn’t feeling dramatic enough. That’s when Simon appeared to me, fully formed and ready for his first scene. I’m pretty sure I sat up in the middle of a movie and announced, “A were-housecat!” to an empty room. Once Simon appeared, Mac promptly followed. I’ve heard from quite a few readers that it is a Very Good Thing Mac made it into the series, and I’m quite certain it’s a good thing for Aidan, as well. And even if shifters are increasingly common in urban fantasy, I figured I could still add them to this world, particularly since…

5. I wanted to create an atypical urban fantasy heroine. Urban fantasy is loaded with super-tough badass chicks who seem to exist on nothing but air and attitude. There are some great series centered around this kind of heroine, but I didn’t want to write one of my own. Really, I didn’t think I had anything new to say with that kind of protagonist. Instead, I wrote Aidan Brook, who considers exercise the work of the devil, wouldn’t know the difference between a Glock and a Colt 45 if it were pointed at her head, and might lose a fistfight against an especially strong 12-year-old. She’s awkward and uncertain and more than a little broken, and I love writing the Elements world through her eyes.

As a writer, it’s odd to look at a story that feels right just the way it is and think of all the different paths it could have taken. It’s a reminder of how many stories exist, inside each of us, and how easy it is for one story to demand its voice while the others remain quiet. And while I certainly want to hear as many stories as possible, I have to admit I’m pleased with the way this particular one came out. I hope you like it, too.

Interested in discovering the Elements world? Check out Broken Elements (currently just $2.99) and Shifting Selves, or enter the contest below for the chance to win an Elements goody bag, complete with signed copies of both books!

Meet Mia Marshall!

Mia Marshall has always been obsessed with stories. When younger, her version of cleaning her room involved neatly organizing her books, then ignoring all other messes in favor of re-reading The Wizard of Oz series just one more time. As an adult, she earned an unnecessary number of degrees in literature, education, and film. She planned to spend the rest of her life teaching stories to others until she got distracted and started writing those stories herself.

Mia has lived all over the US west coast and throughout the UK. These days, she lives somewhere in the Sierra Nevada mountains, where she is hard at work on the next Elements book.

MMarshall-Shifting SelvesContact Info
Website: website
Social Media: Facebook | Twitter | Google+ | GoodReads | Pinterest

Want to purchase Mia’s novels?

  1. Broken Elements
  2. Shifting Selves


Contest Time!

Thank you Mia for taking the time to stop by Literary Escapism!

Mia is giving away signed copies of Broken Elements and Shifting Selves, as well as an Elements tote bag and water bottle. To enter, all you have to do is answer this one question: Have you ever read a story that wasn’t clicking until just the right character appeared? If so, which character and which book was it in? Remember, you must answer the question in order to be entered.

Even though I’m not giving the additional entries any more, you can still help support the author by sharing their article, and this contest, on your blog, Twitter, Facebook, or anywhere you can. After all, the more people who are aware of this fabulous author ensures we get more fabulous stories.

The winner must post a review of the novel someplace. Whether it is on their own blog, Amazon, GoodReads, LibraryThing or wherever, it doesn’t matter. Just help get the word out.

The contest will stay open until April 30th at which time I’ll determine the winner with help from this snazzy plug-in that I have.

About Jackie 3273 Articles
I am a 30-something SAHM with two adorable boys and a supportive husband who is very tolerant of my reading addiction. I love to read and easily go through about a dozen books a month – well I did before I had kids. Now, not so much. After my first son was born, I began to take my hobby of reviewing a little more serious and started Literary Escapism to help with my sanity. I love to discuss the fabulous novels I’ve read and meeting all the wonderful people in the book blogging community has been amazing.


  1. I can’t think of one. I usually find that a story either works for me within the first 50 or so pages or else it never really clicks for me.

  2. I have to say, Christopher Stasheff’s “A Warlock in Gramarye” series just did NOT work until he got married. Until that point he was totally self-centred, unrelateable and more that a little obtuse. After the first book (at the end of which, of course, he got married) the character rounded out with the tension and motivation provided by having a wife and family.

    I thinks Stasheff actually wound up rewriting a couple of his early books when they were reprinted for that reason. Ah, the days of Ace doubles!

    • Ahem. That would be the *character*, Rod Gallowglass, was flat and unrelatable. Not Christopher Stasheff.

  3. It’s a great question. It reflects life pretty well, those characters who turn corners in our own plots.

    I can’t recall a novel at the moment so I know this doesn’t count, but Omar’s appearance in HBO’s The Wire series, was a turning point for me. The series was intentionally written like a novel instead of episodically, so the arcs of the characters are very slow. Omar had the sharpest code of ethics, which gave him an edge that cut through the boundaries between the worlds defined by the other characters, like the trickster, like Hermes.

    The Wire lit up when Omar took form.

  4. I can’t think of one either. If a story isn’t clicking, I stop reading it, sadly. Every book has up to the 2nd chapter to captivate me.

    Sometimes when I’m reading Sherlock Holmes, I’m kinda lost until a certain clue comes into the story. But, I’m always interested… waiting for that to appear. Mysteries are like that.

  5. I love this question; it made me think about some books I hadn’t read in awhile. I felt this away about the books in the Harry Potter series. Although I very much enjoyed the books I felt that when it was just Harry without Ron and Hermione it just wasn’t the same. Their personalities and interactions with each other really added a lot to the story for me.

  6. I think I’m a lot like Denise in this regard. If I can’t get into the protagonist pretty quickly, then I struggle to make it through the book at all. That said, interesting side characters make a book so much more enjoyable.

  7. For me, I wasn’t quite into Across the Universe until Harley was introduced. He made right what was out of whack on the ship. And then as quickly as he became part of the story, he was whisked away. He left a very lasting impression though.

  8. The one series that comes to mind is Jonathan Stoud´s Bartimaeus trilogy.
    I love the character of Bartimaeus and he was the one thing that kept me reading.
    I can´t even tell you why the books didn´t click with me. They´re well written, the story is pretty imaginative and I liked the overall bleak tone but I just couldn´t connect to the other characters.

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