Indie Support Sunday: Mia Heintzelman
Like me, if you’ve been around romancestagram for a while, then you’ve definitely heard of Mia and her sexy rom-coms. Writing everything from holiday novellas to full length novels, Mia features heroines of colour (and heroes, too) as they navigate the world and fall in love.
When she’s not writing her rom-coms that will make you laugh and swoon in equal measure, Mia also designs book covers for fellow authors! And that’s not all, while we might now know her as a romance author, there’s a good chance that sometime in the near future, we’ll know Mia Heintzelman as a horror writer too!
What inspired you to write—was it another author or books you read as you grew up?
My parents. We lived in a house built of bookshelves brimming with books and both my parents read, so it was definitely in the cards for me. I wrote my first book in third grade and won an award for it, so I knew it was the path for me. I just took the scenic route.
Why did you choose romance as the genre to write in?
I’m such an extreme, all or nothing person. For me it’s either romance or horror (add in a little mystery suspense/thriller), but I wanted to write what makes me happy, so, even though I’m a hopeless romantic, I chose romance. Even when I was working a 9-to-5, I always asked sweet couples how they met, what was their story, etc. It felt natural to write a bunch of fictional happily ever afters.
Why did you choose to self-publish instead of going the traditional route?
I chose self-publishing because it was what I learned first when I sought out my author community. Plus, I’m a self-starter, DIYer, tinker lol It’s all some version of “I can do this!” My goal grew to be hybrid, and it’s coming to fruition next year with my debut traditional book, Monopolove. *Cue the ugly tears and dramatic music*
What’s the best and worst part about being an indie author?
The best part is being in control of my words, what I write, and the covers. I get to build relationships with other authors and readers and talk freely about my process. The book community is fierce and amazing. The worst part is I get to wear all the hats in the process. I’m the author, editor, cover illustrator and designer, the head honcho of marketing and advertising, including social media expert. I’m also the funding department who gets to pay for everything. On top of that, I don’t get to be an introvert because I have to talk about myself and my books, in order for people to know they exist. Phew! That felt like a lot.
Do you write full time or is this something you do on the side?
I’m a full-time writer and book cover illustrator and designer. It’s a lot of work, but I feel blessed to write full-time.
Other than writing, what is something you enjoy and are really good at?
I’m a creative, so I enjoy anything that exercises that muscle: painting, drawing, singing and making up songs, dancing, LOTS of school projects with my kids.
If not romance/subgenres of romance, what genre would you like to write in?
I fully plan to write a horror book. It’s on the back burner right now, but the ideas are all percolating for the moment.
What are some of your all time favourite books—ones that you recommend to people or can reread multiple times?
The Hating Game is my jam. Since I have so many favorite books, I’ll just give you my autobuy authors—CoHo (Colleen Hoover), CLo (Christina Lauren), Tessa Bailey (I feel like she needs a cool nickname, so TessBae), Helen Hoang, Farrah Rochon, Olivia Dade, Alexis Daria, Talia Hibbert… I can keep going.
What are your top 5 tips or pieces of advice for aspiring authors?
This is my #1 rule. People are going to come at you from every direction with advice, tips, something to sell you, “rules,” etc. Take what works for you and your process, and toss the rest.
Write the story you want to tell. If you don’t love it, readers will be able to tell.
If you cry (bawling or laughing) while writing it, keep it.
Find your brand and be consistent on all platforms, but don’t allow your brand to box you in.
Comparison is the thief of joy, so keep your eyes on your path and enjoy your journey. Celebrate the big and small wins along the way.
Can you briefly tell me about the books you’ve published so far?
The romance books I’ve published so far are diverse, fun, more-than-just-laughs stories with strong, flawed heroines and heroes with enough heart to love them.
Of your books, who is your favourite character?
Riley Mills from Mingle All the Way. I love her sass and soft heart beneath her tough exterior.
What inspired your published stories? How and when did you come up with these stories and plots?
My inspiration comes from all everywhere, and so often that I have an ongoing list of ideas all in line to be written. Now, to write faster.
How much of yourself do you put into these characters?
I always add at least two things I love into every character I write. Most recently, Allegra Malone (from The Friendship Contract) is a hopeless romantic (check) and she loves R&B music, black romcoms, and a good backyard barbecue.
When you write these stories, what are you hoping your readers will feel?
I hope readers feel happy and emotional after they read my stories. I want them to feel something—preferably a book hangover.
What is a story/stories that you really want to tell?
There’s one book that I’m dying to write but I don’t have time yet. It’s a women’s fiction with romantic elements and it touches on love, second chances, the Harlem Renaissance, family, wealth. It’s going to be amazing and gorgeous but I really need to be focused when I write it to get it just right.
What’s next on the bookshelf for you? Anything you can tell us about a future project?
Ooh, I’m working on so many good shelf additions. On the traditional side, my Love & Games series centering around love and classic board games is coming next year and I can’t wait to share it with the world. In self-pub, I’ve got book 2 in the Terms & Conditions series (Lea & Brandon!), a secret romance author group project, a magical Christmas book with another author, and a New Year’s anthology.
What are your most and least favourite tropes?
Most – Enemies to lovers, friends to lovers, one bed, workplace romance; Least – Secret baby, marriage of convenience, accidental pregnancy, amnesia
What are some tropes you want to write in the future?
Next door neighbors, on the rocks, second chance, return to hometown
What are some topics (sensitive and otherwise) that you think should exist more in romance?
Dating safety, gender equality, black love without trauma
What is your favourite thing about the romance genre?
Without a doubt, the guaranteed happily ever after. I love that these people (two or more) find a way to be together through their differences, circumstances, and personal hang ups.
THIS OR THAT
Ebooks or audiobooks
Historical romance or romantic suspense
Single or Dual POV
Standalones or series
Music or silence while writing
Plotter, pantser or plantser
Tea or coffee
Cold or warm weather
Morning person or night owl
Illustrated cover or photo cover
Stay updated with all of Mia’s book related news, podcasts and other interviews by following her on Instagram and TikTok. And, make sure you check out Dot Covers, where she designs illustrated covers!