Tuesday, February 17, 2015

A WAY OF ESCAPE - Serena B Miller - One Free Book

Welcome back, Serena. God has really been moving in your writing life. What do you see on the horizon?
Right now I’m gearing up to help promote my next book. More Than Happy: The Wisdom of Amish Parenting came out February 3rd from Simon & Schuster/Howard Publishing. This is my first non-fiction book and is the result of several years of visiting in various Old Order Amish homes. I’ve been very impressed with the relationships I’ve seen between the Amish and their children, and consider the Amish children to be some of the happiest and most contented I’ve ever met. I spent a year interviewing various Amish mothers and fathers to see if I could figure out any valuable methods of parenting that could be applied in non-Amish households. I chose Mennonite writer Paul Stutzman, who was raised by Amish parents, as my co-author. The book involves my observations as an outsider, and Paul’s observations as an insider. My editor, Beth Adams, who is also the mother of two young daughters, was deeply involved in this project. We hope it will help many struggling parents.

Tell us a little about your family.
My first book wasn’t published until I was sixty and my three sons were already grown. Sixty is a long time to wait to get published! But once that first book came out—thanks to my family—I was able to hit the ground running. My oldest son, who has an MBA, acts as my business manager. My middle son and a daughter-in-law, both who have degrees in English, help clean up my manuscripts. My youngest son, who is a computer tech, keeps me current on technology and takes care of the Indie publishing I do. Another daughter-in-law is an accountant and advises me on taxes, etc. My husband, a minister, is a valuable resource for helping me find the spiritual theme in my stories. I don’t start a project until I’ve gotten their input.

Has your writing changed your reading habits? If so, how?
It has absolutely changed my reading habits. My books take a lot of research, so I tend to read nonfiction that relates to whatever topic upon which I’m working. Most of my life, I read any and all fiction I could get my hands on. Now time feels too finite. I’m searching for facts instead of story.

What are you working on right now?
I have two books percolating right now. One is another Amish romance set in Holmes County, Ohio. The other is a contemporary with a strong historical theme running through it.

What outside interests do you have?
At present, I’m trying to learn more about the many plants that are on our farm. My eleven-year-old grandson and I go for walks, bring back interesting plants, and then try to identify them. An Amish midwife introduced me to the science of medicinally useful plants, which is especially fascinating to me.

How do you choose your settings for each book?
Sometimes the settings choose me. In Fearless Hope, I have a New York City crime writer visiting Amish country for the first time. As I’m writing and total immersed in his deep point of view, he is suddenly drawn to an old house that feels strangely familiar. He’s puzzled by the magnetic pull of this one old house and so am I as a writer. I could see it all so clearly down to the water stain on the ceiling and the view from the windows. This was not a plot point I’d intended. Finding out why that house was so eerily familiar drove the story because I wanted to find out what the mystery was, too. I had no idea how that book was going to turn out until I was about three/fourths finished writing it.

If you could spend an evening with one historical person, who would it be and why?
The Apostle Paul, with a list of questions in my hand. There are quite a few things in his writings that I’d love to have clarified.

What is the one thing you wish you had known before you started writing novels?
To pay VERY close attention to contracts before I sign them and to know exactly what each clause means. Publishers don’t pay attorneys’ fees to write contracts for the fun of it. Those contracts are heavily weighted in their favor. Just because you don’t understand a clause doesn’t mean it won’t come back to bite you.

What new lessons is the Lord teaching you right now?
I’m trying to figure out how to find balance. Writing and the business surrounding writing can become all consuming. I have to keep reminding myself that Jesus frequently walked off by himself to rest and pray. That’s hard for me to remember to do.

What are the three best things you can tell other authors to do to be successful?
Don’t ever make success your aim. You can’t control success. You can only control how hard you work and how much you give to your craft. Leave success in the hands of God.

There is no substitute for simply getting words down on the page every day. Too many writers talk things to death and lose the energy behind all their good ideas.

Let go of perfectionism when you’re writing. Don’t let yourself rewrite the first paragraph a zillion times until after you finish the project. Write like your hair is on fire until it is done. Finishing something—even if it is very flawed—is energizing. THEN go back and fix it. I have found that the faster I write, the better the writing. It’s weird, but there is something about writing fast that opens up the creative side of one’s brain. At least that’s how it works with me.

Tell us about the featured book.
A Way of Escape is my first suspense. It involves a prosecutor in Tennessee who has been fighting a local war on drugs. When he is found dead in his office from a cocaine overdose, everyone assumes this is yet another example of a corrupt politician. His wife, who believes she knows his heart, tries to prove her husband’s death was not an accident. Her investigation stirs up a hornet’s nest and scary things begin to happen. When she has to run for her life, she ends up being assisted by the last person on earth she would expect—a man her husband once sent to prison.

This is my first full-length Indie-published novel. When it was finished, I hired a professional editor I had worked with before. I wanted to make sure my indie books were every bit as good as my traditionally published ones.

Please give us the first page of the book.
A Way of Escape
Blake Ramsey was in over his head and he knew it. He shoved the kilo of cocaine deep within his desk and slammed the drawer shut. This was the unadulterated stuff, worth well over a hundred grand on the street—a heady number for a small town lawyer.

            After locking the desk drawer, he strode over to this law office’s large front window, slit the blinds, and stared out at the dark, rain-slicked streets of Fallen Oak, Tennessee. It was June, his favorite time of year—rain or no rain. This was his home, his Mayberry, the county to which he had devoted his life.

            This was also where he had taught an adult Sunday school class for the past eight years and won the office of county prosecutor by running on a zero-drug-tolerance platform.

            His wife, Erin, would be shocked and upset when she discovered what he had gotten himself into. He longed to call her and explain, but no cell phone service was available in the remote area of Honduras where she and their teenage daughter were on a mission trip with their church.

            He couldn’t have told her the truth anyway, at least not over the phone. In the past week, he had begun to suspect that his telephones might be bugged. It wasn’t as though he had training in such things so he wasn’t sure. All he knew was that he needed to be careful.

            Still, it would be nice to hear Erin’s voice.

            Tonight he wished with all his heart that he had become a plumber, a mechanic, an accountant, or anything at all except a county prosecutor. As much as he had once loved the law, tonight he wished he had chosen a profession that didn’t constantly pit him against the worst elements and temptations in the county.

How can readers find you on the Internet?
My website is: http://SerenaBMiller.com
Facebook: http://fb.com/AuthorSerenaMiller

Thank you, Serena, for sharing this new book with us. I just started reading it today.

Readers, here are links to the book. By using one when you order, you help support this blog.
A Way of Escape: A Novel - paperback
A Way of Escape: A Novel - Kindle

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Cindy W. said...

Thank you so much for the interview. It's nice to hear that sometimes success waits until a person is older. I would LOVE to win a copy of A Way to Escape. The prologue has me intrigued.

I live in Indiana.

Smiles & Blessings,
Cindy W.

rubynreba said...

A Way to Escape looks like a book I would enjoy. Help from a person that you don't expect help from is always great!
Beth from IA

Caryl Kane said...

Suspense is my favorite genre. I would love a print copy of A Way of Escape.

Caryl in TEXAS

Serena said...

Cindy--it took a loooong time to get published by a traditional publisher, but in the end--I discovered it was not just the perfect time, it was God's timing for me.

Ruby--Help from a person you don't expect help from is especially cool if it happens to be a hunky guy who is wise and kind:-)

Caryl--I LOVE suspense, too! I'm happy that my foray into that genre turned out well.

Melanie Backus said...

Sounds like a good one...I am intrigued!

Melanie Backus, TX

Deanna Stevens said...

wow.. that sounds like a page turner :)
Dee from Nebrrraska

Jackie Tessnair said...

Sounds interesting!!!!Jackie Tessnair N.C.

Kimberly said...

Wow, that sounds like a very good book! I love Lynette Eason and Irene Hannon books so this one seems right up my alley.

Mary Preston said...

Sixty is the new 30 these days. You are just hitting your stride I'm sure.

Mary P


Pam Graber said...

Love a book that grabs me on the first page, which your excerpt has done! And, may I say, sixty is looking younger all the time? I don't know how long ago your 1st book was published but your photo shows a woman in her prime to whom age is just a number.
Pam in Ohio

Beth Gillihan said...

Sounds like a great read! Love the prologue!

Beth in Montana

Donna E said...

Hi. My sister lives in Soddy Daisy Tennessee. And I love suspense. Either one of those things would draw me to this book; both indicates a must read. :)

Dewey OK

Sharon Richmond Bryant said...

Enter me!!
Conway, SC.

Serena said...

Pam and Mary--Thank you for your kind comments! That picture was taken three years ago. I turned sixty-five last month. I'm deliberately open about my age because I hope it might encourage other aspiring authors not to count themselves out because they aren't kids anymore. My mom published her first story in Chicken Soup when she was ninety-three:-)

KayM said...

I love the excerpt and am looking forward to reading your first suspense.

Anonymous said...

Sounds interesting! Shelia from Mississippi