Thursday, November 12, 2015

Another Novel Comes Pouring Out

So I haven't updated the blog in a while, and I wish to rectify that immediately and tout de suite. What am I working on these days, you might ask? Well, I am two chapters into a new novel with the working title Teth of the City. Some of you will be excited (and others disturbed) to hear that it has a similar flavor and feeling to Children of the Mechanism. It is not set in the same world (I don't think; we'll see), and it's not about child labor, but it does have that same dirty, dystopian, claustrophobic feeling.

Imagine a vast, grungy metropolis with massive metal walls and buildings (something like Blade Runner's version of Los Angeles without the flying cars, billboards, neon lights or crowds of people). A haze hangs over everything, turned to luminous fire by the rising and setting sun. In the midst of this sprawling city, there is a vast wall, and set into this wall are thousands of small balconies. Our protagonist, Teth, lives and works on one of these balconies, eking out a living while trying to hide from his tragic past. His life begins to unravel when a new courier shows up one day to make his daily delivery of provisions. Her name is Cera, and she seems to know him. Alarmingly, she remembers his past, and she claims to have secret information about things that happened to him long ago, things he has tried very hard to forget.

So there you go. Without giving away too much, that is the gist of Teth of the City. I really, really like the setting, and the story will have some truly creepy and beautiful moments, I do believe. It has a nice dream-like quality to it, in my opinion. If you liked Children of the Mechanism or even Shadows of Tockland, I think this one will be right up your alley. It's pouring out of my brain pretty fast, so it should be completed and published in a couple of months.

 Cover Art by Wisconsinart |

Cover Art © Wisconsinart |

Sunday, September 13, 2015

The Most Compelling Words in the History of Time

Let's play the Opening Paragraph game, folks. It's very simple. I post the opening paragraphs to my various novels, and you decide which one is most compelling and which opening paragraph most makes you want to read the rest of the novel. Sound fun? No? Oh, well, let's play anyway.

Children of the Mechanism 

First came the screaming, the sound of some monstrous thing crying out from the darkness. Then came the babbling, a boy wordlessly pleading for help, and one sound melted into the other. Bik fled from it, fighting his way out of the dream, but the noise chased him, turning at the end into the blare of the morning alarm. Finally, he opened his eyes in the dim, red light and heard it echoing off the metal walls, a singular note, high and harsh.

The Vale of Ghosts

Ann heard screams through the window, though the shutters had been pulled and latched and a pillow shoved into the space behind it. A tortured scream, the scratchy warbling howl of a monster. She was crouched in the dirt beneath the windowsill, jabbing a crooked stick into the ground between her feet and trying to appear like she wasn’t listening, like she hadn’t a care in the world. A ladybug landed on her knee, and she offered it the end of the stick. It climbed onto the stick, and she held it up into the air until it flew away.

Shadows of Tockland

David spotted him first, the old man with the scabs on his head lurching out of his seat on the front row, clapping his big, gnarled hands as he shuffled toward the stage. Bubbles the Clown was the current performer, a petite woman in a loose, silvery costume. She had a bamboo pole balanced on her open palm, a large ceramic plate spinning on top of it. The tent was filled to overflowing, but the attention of most people was drawn upward to the wobbling plate. Consequently, the old man got all the way to the stage without anyone hindering him. He gave one last clap, did a little stutter step on his bare feet, and lunged at Bubbles, snagging one of her billowing pant legs.

Garden of Dust and Thorns 

The shapes of men materialized out of the dust clouds, bodies wreathed in loose cloth of black and gray. Hoods and veils hid their faces, but they moved with purpose, marching in ranks. Though the distance was great, Adhi saw the glint of polished blades, of long silver spears and curved scimitars, catching the heavy rays of the lowering sun as it sank below the ridge in the west. She counted over three dozen men, but there were more of them behind the wall of dust. She saw a hint of movement, as of dozens more, gathering in the open land between the dunes.

Dreams in the Void

A man in a tattered leather jerkin and pale blue doublet writhed in the shadowy space between the rocks, clawing at his clothes. Jeren spotted him from the cliff’s edge as he braced himself against a skeletal tree. The highway ran a twisting course through a steep ravine, winding its way toward the snow-capped peaks in the west. Tumbled rocks lined the road here and there, piled up in some places to create makeshift walls, safe places to camp when the harsh winds howled down from the mountains. It was in one of these places that the man lay, kicking at the rocks and thrashing.

Mary of the Aether

The lunatic in the long, gray cloak dashed out of the forest and ran right up onto the front yard, waving his arms in front of him like a child playing tag. He skirted the porch, paused, turned a complete circle and fell onto his hands and knees. A hood obscured most of his face, but Mary could see the tip of a pointy chin covered in whiskers. She sat at the living room window, leaning against the sill and resting her forehead against the cold glass, transfixed by the sight. The crazy man crawled through the high, un-mowed grass, his face close to the ground, shifting back and forth like a bloodhound chasing a scent. He stopped at the driveway, lifted his head and appeared to sniff at the air. Then he scooped up a handful of gravel and sifted it through his fingers.

Okay, folks, that's a whole passel of opening paragraphs just for you. Which one, based on the paragraph alone, makes you want to read the rest of the book?

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Suddenly, Mechanisms!

So if I'm being entirely honest, I'm pretty terrible at self promotion. Lots of writers do a better job at getting their names out there. I see them using book promotions, blog tours, forum posts, paid ads, newsletters, press releases and all manner of interesting tools and online devices to drive sales. I've dabbled in a little bit of all of those without any real sense of whether or not they've helped.

Instead, what tends to happen to me is that all of a sudden one of my books will make a bunch of sales for no particular reason, and then it will taper off. Lately, this has been Children of the Mechanism. For some reason, it has done particular well on the Kindle Unlimited program this past month.

Not sure how to account for that. I haven't really promoted it much, except to mention the new paperback edition I just put out.

So there you go. I suppose if you want to read the book of mine that is getting the most attention lately, this is the one. Ultimately, it is one of my darkest novels, but it has a unique structure and some fairly interesting little characters. Also, lots of weird names like Bik, Hen, Ekir, Kuo, Lus, Tag, Rel.

Just watch out for the Watchers and the Refuse Hole. That's not good times right there, friends. And be sure to feed the Grong while you're at it.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Latest Developments

Various and sundry interesting things are happening in the world of Jeffrey Aaron Miller novels, so let me dive right in. First of all, some of my books are getting new covers and new editions.

Garden of Dust and Thorns is now available as both a Kindle book and in a lovely trade paperback edition. Along with the paperback edition, there is a new cover. Compare and contrast the two, if you will. Which one do you like better?

Old Cover
New Cover

Then there's the new cover for Children of the Mechanism. First, I should explain the recent changes to that book. I got the rights to Children of the Mechanism back from the original publisher. This has given me the opportunity to do some revisions to the story. Nothing major but there were a couple of things I really wanted to change. At the same time, I lost the rights to the original cover art, so I won't reproduce it here. Instead, I cobbled together a new cover, and here it is.

Of course, I already mentioned Dreams in the Void in my previous blog post, so you can scroll down and check that out if you want. In the meantime, I recently published a new novel, which is available for Kindle and in trade paperback. Here it is:

It's the first book in an epic new fantasy series, and I'm already hard at work on book two. More on that one later, so keep checking back, friends. Oh, and feel free to click on any of the covers above to get to the right page for purchase. Thanks!

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Dreams Belong in the Void

So let's talk about the novel of mine that has the longest and most tortured history. In it's latest incarnation, it looks like this:

The first novel I ever completed was a smelly mess I cobbled together with rotten scraps of fantasy ideas in the summer after I graduated high school (that's 1991, to be precise). It was the half-baked story of two brothers (who in this first iteration were called Kieves and Redert. Yep.) who discover a mysterious red crystal in a cave that possesses magical powers. They go some places, destroy some things, meet some people, and it all comes to a lame conclusion, leaving room for sequels that will never be.

Anyway, that first version of the story is sitting in a box in a closet forever. I don't even remember the title.

Ten years later, whilst newly married and living in a super tiny apartment with two cats (including one cat who tried to set himself on fire using a lit candle, but that's another story), I decided to try my hand at writing a novel again. I took the germ of an idea from the first novel and made significant changes. It still involved two brothers, but this time they had the slightly improved names of Jaeren and Korli. (I did say slightly improved).

The second time around, it became the story of a mysterious red suit that feeds on angry emotions. Various characters with weirdly spelled names appear and die, and it all ends in dramatic fashion. Thematically, it went from being "random fantasy tale #523" to a focused story about confronting and overcoming tragedy and grief. It almost got published once (by a Canadian publisher), but it wound up in a box in a closet forever. It was called Deep Water.

Despite the utter failure of attempt two, I felt I was onto something, thematically at least. So finally, about three years ago, I sat down and determined to make it work. The brothers became Jeren and Cen, and it became the story of a red suit, a shared dream, and an island nation slowly sinking into madness. It sat around on a hard drive for a while, but eventually I published it as two books: Bloodstone and A Whisper in the Void. It even had a nice hand-drawn map done by my wife.

And here we are, friends. The final iteration of the story. I combined the two volumes into one 187,000-word tome, made various minor additions, and now it is available as both an ebook and a trade paperback called Dreams in the Void. I even added a little pronunciation guide at the end of the book. The thing is heavy enough to be a door stopper.

As a tale about a gradual descent into pain and madness, I think it turned out pretty good, so check it out. There's the Kindle version and the Trade Paperback version to serve all your bookly needs.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Actual Paper for Actual People

So sometimes you just want to hold actual pieces of paper in your hand when you read instead of flipping and flopping imaginary pages on a Kindle device. To that end, I am releasing trade paperback versions of all of my novels that are currently "ebook only."

This includes Shadows of Tockland, my post-apocalyptic science fiction novel with clowns and circus people and plague-ridden zombies and tyrannical overlords. In fact, a nice 5x8" paperback version of that one is already available right HERE.
Then there's Garden of Dust and Thorns, which is a fantasy novel with animals fighting armed soldiers and all sorts of crazy things going on. You can get the paperback to that one HERE.

Deep Water will be next. I'm merging the two volumes of the Deep Water duology into one volume. So Bloodstone and A Whisper in the Void will get combined into a massive 6x9" paperback of 500 pages called Deep Water Dreaming. Look for that one very soon. I have to do some major formatting and such first, but it's coming.

Eventually, the same thing will happen to every ebook I've ever written or will write, so brace yourselves. Actual paper for actual people, just like it was for hundreds of years.

Monday, June 8, 2015

The Positive Power of Ghosts

So in the last few months, I've gone through a bit of a change for the better. Specifically, my outlook on life has become more positive as I have dragged myself out of the slime of despondency and disillusionment. That sounds vague, but suffice it to say that I had found myself in a rather dark head space for a few years. Since shortly after the beginning of 2015, I have been revitalized in almost every way: in hope, in faith, in outlook, in self-confidence.

Now, this has led to a time of deep reflection about the kinds of stories I've written. The simple fact is that my writing had become increasingly bleak. From the lighthearted Mary of the Aether, I worked my way to the much darker, more violent, but still ultimately hopeful Shadows of Tockland. From there, I descended into the bleak despair of Children of the Mechanism, which contained some of my most gruesome scenes. And finally I wound up in the savagely hopeless wasteland of Fading Man.

It was not a healthy trajectory.

Right before the sudden rediscovery of a positive outlook on life, I wrote a paranormal fantasy novel called The Vale of Ghosts. It was filled with hopeless gloom and harrowing scenes. Honestly, I didn't know to do with it, and so it sat, complete and ready to go, in a folder on my hard drive.

Well, I finally went back and did some work on it. I didn't want to gut the novel or remove its teeth, but I did want to inject it with glimmers of hope and faith and maybe clip out some of the more indulgently bleak passages.

Having done so, I am now self-publishing that novel. It is the first volume of a planned multi-volume fantasy series called The Archaust Saga. I have no idea what readers will make of it, but I think the rewrite salvaged it. It still contains some truly harrowing scenes, and it still wrestles with despair, but it is not the same story that I wrote last year. It is better in every way.

Anyway, you can read the first chapter at my website, if you'd like. Just click the book cover. The opening chapter is pretty intense.