He was so ready for this moment he could barely breathe. If he won, he knew he’d be the best Joseph the pageant had ever seen.
Riley loves Christmas, and this year, he wants something special: the chance to play Joseph in his school pageant. Sam, the neighborhood bully and a talented singer, wants the part too and is crushed when Riley lands the role. Riley doesn’t care—until he learns the secret Sam has been keeping from everyone. Now Riley has a choice to make, one that will change his view on Christmas forever.
Told from the perspective of a 12-year-old boy, this charming tale reminds us that being like Christ is the most important celebration of Christmas.
Michele Mirabile enjoys a stunning view of Mount Timpanogos from her home in Utah County, where she lives with her devoted husband and their two spoiled cats. Besides juggling words and delving into her imagination, she loves meeting new people and visiting exotic ports. Her marriage and her beautiful daughter are the greatest accomplishments of her life.
A veteran of the United States Army, Michele has authored travel articles, short stories, and three books that include Your Mother Wears Combat Boots: Humorous, Harrowing, and Heartwarming Stories of Military Women; Dark Side of the Moon; and Choir of Angels.
1. What is your favorite flavor of ice cream? Chocolate of course, mixed with chocolate chunks and smothered with hot fudge. Yum!
2. Please tell us in one sentence only, why we should read your book. Choir of Angels is a tender story about love and forgiveness that will make you fall in love with Christmas all over again.
3. If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be? I’ve always wanted to live in Hawaii where I could spend my days languishing at the beach, and my nights sleeping beneath the stars. If only I could afford to make it happen!
4. What is your favorite quote? My favorite quote is from Stephen King: Creative people aren’t always in charge. And when they do their best work, they’re hardly ever in charge. They’re just sort of rolling along with their eyes shut yelling “Wheeeeeeee!”
5. What TV show do you watch that you’d be embarrassed to admit? Okay, so you caught me. I’ve been watching re-runs of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and I’m enjoying them!
6. What is your favorite season? I love springtime the best, when all the trees and flowers are in bloom and my street looks like a scene from a painting.
7. How did you celebrate the sale of your first book? It’s been a while since Your Mother Wears Combat Boots was released, but my husband and I kicked up our heels and went to dinner. We did the same exciting thing with Dark Side of the Moon, and Choir of Angels.
8. What is something people would be surprised to know about you? Folks are always surprised to discover that I’m a veteran who served as a Staff Sergeant in the United States Army for nearly ten years. My husband is a retired veteran, and between us we served almost fifty years.
9. Favorite place you’ve been. I love to travel and I adore Hawaii and Italy. But I’ve been lucky enough to see such a large part of the world that it’d be impossible for me to pick one place over another. So I’m going to say my favorite place is home with my family.
10. Describe your book in five words. Small book with big message.
11. Do your friends or enemies ever find themselves in your books? I refuse to answer this question on the grounds it might incriminate me.
12. Do you prefer to write in silence or with music? I love to write in silence, and the only interruption I truly don’t mind is the occasional stroll my cats take across my keyboard.
13. What drives you insane about the writing process? I enjoy writing, editing, and hunkering over the keyboard for hours with my head spinning wildly. But I hate the marketing process. I know it’s invaluable, but I resent the time it takes from my sanity and my writing.
14. What is your favorite part of the writing/publishing process? My favorite part is the beginning of each project, when my mind is filled to bursting with ideas and I want to stay up day and night to get them all down on paper. I also love the moment I open the box from the publisher and first see my book in print. It’s kind of a rush to hold that baby in your hands after you’ve nurtured it from the first glimmer of an idea to the last word of the final edit.
14. Scariest moment? One of my scariest moments was the day I nearly drowned while body surfing at Oahu’s NorthShore. I’d never been in the ocean before and the waves were crazy, but I was with experienced friends and figured I was invincible. Right away I got sucked under, and all I could do was claw at the ocean floor and pray. Lucky for me my friends pulled me out and the only lingering effect I suffered was the fact that I could dig sand out of my ears for a year afterward. Youth . . . it’s a wonder any of us survive it.
15. Do you write as you go or do you have the book all planned out from page 1? I usually just start writing, but I already know what I want to write and have the story mapped out in my head. Although making plans can save on time and rewrites and keep an author focused, I tend to make notes as I go and outline each chapter so I don’t lose track of my story. I believe in being flexible, and I love it when a story takes unexpected turns and ends up just writing itself.
Character This or That:
Summer or Winter – Riley:
“Hey, I’ll take winter any day. I mean summer’s great, you don’t have to wear your coats and boots or worry about freezing your face off. And who doesn’t love to go fishing or take the boat out on the lake? But winter has Christmas, and RiverwoodElementary School’s annual Christmas pageant. And you know how much I love to sing.”
Top Five Lists:
Pieces of Advice you have for aspiring writers:
- Educate yourself in all aspects of your craft. Study, practice, and read everything you can get your hands on.
- Be consistent. Write every day, and limit interruptions. You’ll never get published if you don’t put in the time.
- Learn from your rejections. A rejection doesn’t always mean your work was bad, so don’t despair. Sometimes it only means it wasn’t right for a particular publication. Rework if necessary, and resubmit elsewhere.
- Be cautious with advice. Be teachable and flexible, but remember it’s your story and your characters. Don’t let others lead you blindly around with their opinions.
- Write. Rewrite. And rewrite again.
Things that bring a smile to your face.
- My family.
- My cats.
- A conversation with good friends.
- The view of Mount Timpanogos from my window.
I’m not one of those writers who haul their laptops around with them everywhere they go. You’re not going to see me plugged in at McDonalds or the local family restaurant. And you’re never going to catch me sitting on a plane or in a hotel lobby clicking away at my keyboard with my face pressed to the screen, oblivious to the world around me. I do the work when I’m home, alone with no interruptions.
When I’m out in the world I’m like a bee gathering pollen, busy collecting facts and information I can use later in my writing. I’m on the lookout for catchy names of people, places and things. And I’m interacting with strangers, taking mental notes of accents, expressions and even attire. It’s amazing how much you can learn by just being observant.
Because fiction and non-fiction alike, are little more than stolen snippets of humanity’s ongoing saga, it’s important for writers to get out and experience the world, to gather the details that bring writing to life. How else can you can push your imagination to new heights, or draw the reader into your story? If you’ve never seen a sunset, how can you describe the colors or the intensity? If you’ve never hooked a fish how can you share the elation? And if you’ve never given birth, how can you explain the pain, or the all-encompassing joy?
The best way to make your writing believable, is to get out in the world and live, and then share those experiences in a way that makes the writer sit up and say, “Hey, I know how that feels.”
I love to travel, to meet new people and experience new things. And over the years I’ve stored an arsenal of memories to include: swimming with stingrays in Grand Cayman; parasailing in Maui; cruising Alaska, the Caribbean, and the Mexican Riviera; purse-shopping in New York city’s China Town; hiking the ruins of Mexico and Belize; cruising the Mississippi in a paddle-boat; ghost hunting in New Orleans; the Snake River rapids in Jackson Hole; a gondola ride in Venice; and a stroll down the streets of Pompeii.
Even the not-so-good memories have become a priceless reservoir to draw on, like chickenpox at Mount Rushmore; a sprained ankle in Florence; and an emergency trip to the hospital while camping at the Grand Canyon. Whether good or bad, all of life’s experiences have shaped my life as a person, and influenced me as a writer. Even the past year, tough as it was, sparked the idea that grew into my new book, Choir of Angels.
As the year rolled over me and my family like a storm over the open sea, all we could do was hold on and pray. While one daughter passed away due to complications of the flu, another announced her first pregnancy. And all the while, my husband continued his battle with cancer. Throughout the roller-coaster ride of stress, anguish and even joy, we clung to our memories, to our goals, and to the life we have built together.
Life is more than an experience. It’s a road of pitfalls, suffering, and times of sheer elation. It’s a world of ups and downs that guide us and help us grow. And if we aren’t fully present, and willing to get out and play, it’ll pass us by altogether.
Choir of Angels is a prime example of the ups and downs of life. It’s the story of Riley, a young boy who learns first hand the joy of love and forgiveness. It’s a story about the true meaning of Christmas, based in part on the kindnesses and acts of service my family and I experienced during our recent times of struggle. It is the perfect mix of fiction and non that will make you fall in love with Christmas all over again.
Life is short, so dust off your bottoms and go out and play. Build your memories while you can, and share them whenever possible.