Sunday, December 29, 2013

2013 - The Year in Review

Well, the year's not quite over yet, but I thought it might be a good time to do a year in review. If something significant happens between the time of this post and January 1, then I'll come back and update it. However, chances of that slim, so let's get on with the show.

Bear in mind, this blog is mostly about my writing, so we're looking back at the year from that perspective. And, oh man, a lot of stuff happened. There's a lot to mention, so let's get to it.

In March of 2013, I decided to dip my toes into the waters of self-publishing. I had already published one novel, Mary of the Aether, through an indie publishing house and signed a contract for the sequel. But I had a bunch of novels sitting on my hard drive that I thought were worth a read, so I polished them up a bit and put them out through BookBaby.

I published them in this order:

1) Shadows of Tockland 

A post-apocalyptic science fiction novel set in plague-ridden Northwest Arkansas. The story of a traveling clown troupe and all of their harrowing adventures. It got a few really good reviews, including this one.

2) Bloodstone, Deep Water: Book One and A Whisper in the Void, Deep Water: Book Two

Deep Water started out as a single book, but it ballooned to over 200,000 words, so I chopped it right down the middle and published it as a duology. It's a fantasy story with a long history. Basically, it is my third attempt at telling the same story.

I wrote the first version right out of high school, and it was flat-out awful. It was intended to be the first volume of a trilogy, but I never bothered to write volumes two or three. I don't even remember the title of this first attempt at the story, but I do remember the main characters had the incredibly stupid names of "Kieves" and "Redert." My goodness.

The second version was written in 2001, and it came after a period of both intense personal tragedy and great personal happiness. This merging of two conflicting emotional states created a book that was rather dark and troubled but ultimately hopeful.

The final version is the one I self-published this year, and it is actually quite a bit darker but still ultimately hopeful. There's a lot of personal emotion bound up in this story. The writing thereof was cathartic.

Here's a brief, glowing review of Bloodstone.

3) Garden of Dust and Thorns

A "one off" fantasy novel I wrote in the latter half of 2012 about a girl trying to protect a dying garden from an invading army. I'm not sure what the impetus was for this story, but it has something to do with loss and restoration.

Of those four self-published books, Shadows of Tockland has without a doubt garnered the most attention and made the most sales. Deep Water has gotten a little bit of attention, but Garden of Dust and Thorns has mostly sunk into the mire of the internet. Oh well.

Anyway, the self-publishing frenzy ended in May, and I went back to writing other things. I finished a dark science fiction novel called Children of the Mechanism, which I then sold to Malachite Quills. It comes out in February. It is also a story with a long history. The novel is based on a short story I wrote for a creative writing class way back in 1994, which was inspired by a documentary I had watched on CNN about children in the Holocaust. Yep, I told you, it's dark.

I also sold the third volume of my Young Adult series, Mary of Starlight, to Whiskey Creek Press. That happened sometime early in the summer. It also comes out in February. It is a much tighter story than its predecessors, and the second half of the book is pretty intense, relentless, and ultimately quite epic.

I also wrote the last volume of that series this year. It's called Mary of Cosmos, and it wraps up the whole four volume tale pretty nicely. I signed the contract for that one in November, so it should come out sometime toward the end of next year.

After that, I worked a little bit on a new YA novel called The Figment Tree, but I haven't kept up my pace on that one. Honestly, I am still trying to get a bit more publicity and attention for the nine other novels I've already written. Yes, nine novels. If I ever finish it, however, it will be the story with the longest history of anything I've written, since the original idea goes back to my childhood.

I did manage to dredge up some regional attention for Mary of the Aether this year. In June, I got an e-mail from a guy named Ken Stamatis, who is a professor at Harding University. Every summer, he does a series of regional workshops for teachers called "So Many Books, So Little Time." For this workshop, he puts together a list of fifty Young Adult novels as recommended curriculum for the upcoming school year. Now, he works mostly with the big guys like Scholastic, but for some reason he decided he liked Mary of the Aether, and he put it on his list this summer.

As I understand it, it's the first time he's put an independent book on his list. As a result, I got a bit of attention across the state, a number of orders for the book from Arkansas teachers, and I made a few special appearances at schools. It was fun. I enjoyed it. Honestly, however, I wish I had found a way to keep the momentum going. Things pretty much died down after a few months.

Anyway, that is where things stand now. I've made a few internet appearances, doing interviews, book giveaways, and things of that nature. I also had a table at the Northwest Arkansas Author Book Fair, where I got to have a nice long conversation with a prolific writer of westerns named Dusty Richards.

In 2014, I've got three novels coming out, so I'll be busy trying to figure out how to promote them. We'll see what happens!

Thanks for reading this insanely long, rambling post. You win a free high five the next time I see you.


jeffrey miller

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Let's Play A Strange Game

Okay, I've played the quote game a few times where I post one quote from a character from each of my novels. I've also played the game where I posted the opening paragraphs for each of my novels.

Well, now it's time to play a stranger game. In honor of December the 8th, I am going to post the eighth sentence on the twelfth page of each of my novels sans context! If it's a bit of dialogue, I might include the whole quote, instead of just one sentence, but that's it.

Sound random enough for you? In the comments, let me know which of the following sentences sounds the most intriguing.

Mary of the Aether:

“Crazy people in the woods,” he said. “Is that what you asked me about? Crazy people in the woods?”

Mary of Shadows:

“Let’s all have another slice of cake, shall we?” Kristen said. “Just carve around the spatters of blood and feathers.”

Mary of Starlight

She walked around to the back of the building, past a boy sipping a soda—he smiled at her, and she thought there was something mocking in the smile—and found the dented and graffitied bathroom doors near the dumpster.

Mary of Cosmos:

There were figures moving on either side of her, gliding down a beam of light as they dropped into the valley. 

Children of the Mechanism:

Bik smoothed out the mat, a small rectangle of spongy material just barely large enough for him to lie on. 

Shadows of Tockland:

“The audience,” Telly said. "The people. We call ‘em rubes.”

Bloodstone, Deep Water: Book One:

It curled around the ravine wall like fingers, then gushed out onto the road in a great dusky cloud.

A Whisper in the Void, Deep Water: Book Two:

“No, it’s not your fault,” she said. “You didn’t know what sort of man he was. But I did. I did, Jeren, and I tried to tell you.”

Garden of Dust and Thorns:

Here the people of Haven gathered up pears and apples, figs and dates and bananas, oranges and lemons and pomegranates, all that they could ever need and more.

And there you go. The eighth sentence from the twelfth page of each of my novels. Fascinating, I'm sure...

Hey, in other news, get on my mailing list, so I can keep you informed of the latest junk going on in my fictional universe. Click exactly right HERE! Fear not, it is the safest link of all time. It just takes you to the sign up page.

Thankee, folks.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Who Doesn't Like Free Chapters?

Okay, what are the latest goings-on in the writerly world of Jeffrey Aaron Miller? Well, dagnab, that's a good question. Let me see if I can scrounge up some information.

Ah, he does have a couple of novels coming out in February. Would you like to know about them? Sure you would.

Children of the Mechanism
This is a rather dark science fiction story coming in February from Malachite Quills Publishing. I say "dark" only to give fair warning to those who have read Mary of the Aether and will be surprised at the difference in tone. However, those who have read Shadows of Tockland will understand (and if you haven't read Shadows of Tockland, go do it, people. Seriously).

Anyway, back to Children of the Mechanism. To quote the blurb: In the dark depths of a massive factory, slaves live and work under the gaze of cruel robots called Watchers. Their lives are short and harsh and meaningless. Until the day a door opens where no door should be, and some of the slaves escape into the corridors. Gradually the true nature of the factory is revealed, a truth that might change everything and throw open every door. 

It's based on a short story I wrote way back in 1994, which I turned in as a creative writing assignment. I distinctly recall that it troubled my creative writing professor, who was a youngish, bright-eyed teaching assistant. Anywho, I have posted the first chapter on my website, if anyone is curious. Check it out HERE!

Mary of Starlight

Mary of Starlight is the third volume of my four book Young Adult series that began with Mary of the Aether and continued with Mary of Shadows. The release date is earlier than I previously thought. I have been telling people April, but actually it looks like it will come out on February 1.

If you haven't read the previous books, I don't want to say too much. You should go and read those books immediately, please! Thanks :)

I will say that each volume of the series is exponentially more epic than the one before it, as Mary's powers grow, the danger grows, and all things converge into a massive showdown that will obliterate the universe! Or something along those lines. Look, I'm trying to be vague here. If you haven't read the previous books, don't bother reading the blurb for this one. It's got all kinds of spoilerish information. However, if you have read them, press on.

Here is the blurb for book three: Mary Lanham is on the run, desperate to stay one step ahead of the terrible Devourers who pursue her by the dark of night. She flees through lonely places, following country roads, passing through tiny towns and trying to stay out of the public eye. Meanwhile, back in Chesset, her friends find themselves under attack by Lookers who want to use them as bait to draw Mary home. A trap is sprung, and the whole world watches as universes collide in an explosive showdown that will change everything.

I have a sampling of chapter one (but not the entire chapter) if you want to check it out. That link is right HERE!

The fourth and final volume of the series is called Mary of Cosmos, and it should come out sometime toward the end of next year. It concludes the whole story nicely, I believe, but I'll let you be the judge of that, Dear Reader.

Other News

In other news, here is a recent interview I did with Arkansas Book Reviewer, if you haven't read it. It was connected to a giveaway, which is now over, but the interview itself might still be worth a few seconds' perusal.

As for current writings, I am working on another YA novel at the moment called The Figment Tree. I don't want to say too much about it, except that it is set in a trailer park in Bartlesville, Oklahoma in the summer of 1991, and it involves some really weird magic and strange situations and interesting characters.

Here is just the opening sentence to give you a taste of what I mean: It was the first day of summer in the glorious year of 1991 when Nuffy Noe climbed over the fence into the dog-infested forest and saw the lights.

There you go. Live the dream, people. Now, do me a huge favor and go read something I've written! I will be ever so grateful!  :D