MACOMB COUNTY — With a “lemons to lemonade” backstory and two e-books under her belt, romance novelist Michelle Borst is rekindling her efforts to return to the literary world.
Borst released romance novels in 2006 and 2010 through Siren Publishing, a Texas-based e-publisher, both times after major setbacks or crises. But with her life stabling out, she said she is ready to produce a third book under her pen name Mia Bailey.
The first novel, “Spice It Up!,” centered in the realm of cooking TV shows, was the result of her having a self-proclaimed midlife crisis around the time of her daughter’s 16th birthday and a serious car accident that left her unable to sleep. The second, “Of Night and Desire,” about a vampire and a witch, was the result of being laid off.
“I’ve always wanted to write,” she said. “My grandfather was a butcher, and he would bring home rolls of paper and I would be sitting there and actually turn them into little books.”
After graduating high school, she said she floundered between a myriad of jobs, working in salons, bars, fast food restaurants and law firms, but she said she never stopped writing.
Borst decided to go back to school after becoming unexpectedly pregnant at the age of 22. She changed her major several times at Macomb Community College, received two associate degrees, and eventually obtained an undergraduate degree in human resources from Oakland University in 1998.
She then became a career counselor for Michigan Works, working with welfare recipients, felons re-entering the workforce and others seeking employment.
“I was working with individuals like myself, trying to find their way, get a career where they could raise their families,” Borst said. “My life mirrored what my customers were going through. I like to think I was successful in helping people figure out how to make their living while pursuing their goals.”
Last year, Borst finished a master’s degree in professional and school counseling from Central Michigan University, and she is currently employed at Macomb Community College, helping students find their calling.
She said her counseling and writing work hand in hand — her counseling helps her character development, and she uses writing and journaling as therapeutic techniques.
As for why she chose to write in the romance genre, Borst said she enjoys the happy endings. She said she also grew up on “bodice rippers,” or erotic romance novellas.
“We all know that out there in the real world, we don’t always have happy endings,” she said. “(The characters) may not end up together, but there is a happy ending in some kind of acceptance in there, and I love that.”
Borst said her books are rated four out of five on Siren Publishing’s erotic intensity spectrum, but that they are not easy reads.
“There’s plot twists and turns, and characters and issues and a little bit of drama,” she said. “There’s a lot of interaction that goes on with that. I’m not your mother’s romance.”
The Sterling Heights resident said she also occasionally frequents the Shelby Township Writers Group, an informal gathering at the township library for writers to share their writing and critique each other.
Borst said her goal is to be a full-time author published by a major publishing house, and that she never plans to retire. Between her counseling and writing, she said she never plans to stop working because she is happy with what she does.
“I haven’t hit my big break yet,” Borst said. “I’ve got a couple of baby steps going, but that’s with any career — you’ve got to start with the baby steps.”
Borst’s mother, Rosa Borst, said she has been supportive of her daughter’s goals as a writer. She said Michelle was never the type of person to sit and watch TV, and was always writing, doodling or crafting.
“It’s been a long, hard struggle for her, being a single mom and going to school and trying to get her degree,” Rosa said, adding that her daughter remained persistent despite rejection from multiple publishers before she discovered Siren Publishing. “(Writing) is an outlet for her and helps her to get her creative bent out.”
Siren Publishing did not respond for comment by press time.
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