Me, Mia and Some Other Weres

Once upon a time, there was a famous author called Karen Marie Moning who had a message board and chat room. One night, overcome with curiosity, I clicked on the chat room link and found myself thrust into the middle of a conversation that was mostly consisting of “LMAO!” and “ROFL!!” and a whole lot of smiley faces and random characters.

This was a place I could relate to! It only took me a few minutes to join in on the hilarity, which turned out to be the beginning of an amazing friendship between a small group of people scattered all around the continent. People put down online friendships and relationships as “not real.” I would beg to differ. At least in this case, I am positive that I have found in these strange (in a wonderful way) people friends for life. How do I know? Because after three years and an in-person meeting for a weekend in Atlanta, I still talk to them every single day. They are the first ones I come to when I have news to share, a story to tell, or a problem I can’t resolve. I’ve never met a more supportive group of people in my life. Best of all? They never hesitate to call me out when I’m being an idiot. LOL.

Today I want to talk about one of them, a New Yorker with a heart of gold, who overcame so much adversity – and still does – it makes her life seem like a prime time TV drama. Seriously. Every time she tells me about something that happened to her that day, my jaw goes slack.

Despite everything, this woman has done more with her young life than a lot of people ever do by the time they’re eighty. She’s a social worker, a photographer, an artist, a writer, she has numerous degrees and dreams of travelling the world.

If you’re a fan of Karen Moning, you’ve probably seen Mia’s work. She’s designed a number of wallpapers and graphics for the Fever Series, as well as the beautiful Fever Tarot deck – which I am here to tell you took a lot more effort than even Ms. Moning gave Mia credit for. She makes it look a lot easier than it really is.

Mia was one of the people who read The Beast while it was being written. She read each installment before it even appeared on my blog and she was one of the people who nagged me to write more. You know that saying, “Be careful what you wish for,” right?

As I started writing Bastien, talking to Mia at the same time and sending her chapters so she could tell me if it was worth continuing, she started working on a design of a mask. The first draft she showed me was this one:

Needless to say, I was on pins and needles to see what the finished one would look like. For the next few days, she would send me more pictures of this as it progressed. At some point, she decided that just the mask wasn’t enough. I think it was the same point where I looked at it and because of the frame of mind I was in, saw my Beast in the drawing.

How self-involved is that? LOL to see your own work in someone else’s? Not wanting to sound like a total douche, I broached the subject carefully. “It almost reminds me of Bastien,” I said. To which Mia replied, “That’s what I was thinking too!!” Jaw on the floor again. Somehow, somewhere along the way, either we merged onto the exact same frequency of thought, or Bastien, vain as he is, decided to hijack the both of us to get both his story and his portrait. I can’t say I fault his choice of artist.

He is a demanding one, though. From just a mask, he insisted on addition after addition until… this:

I can honestly say that working with Mia separately on the same subject was the most fun I’ve had with a character probably ever. All credit has to go to her for creating a portrait that is somehow both Bastien and the Beast, furry and sexy at the same time. And having her feedback on what I was writing pulled me out of trouble several times when I thought Bastien and I would kill each other over how the story was going.

Mia deserves a lot more accolades than I or anyone can give her. She pours her heart and soul into her work and it doesn’t always go appreciated. You can see more of her graphic designs in her Happi Anarky Zazzle Store (where you can also find a mug with Beast’s mask on it) and her fabulous photography on her Pixel Fairy  Photography Blog. Show her some love for me, will ya? Stop by and say hi. =)

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