Bio: Ann Lee Miller earned a BA in creative writing from Ashland (OH) University and writes full-time in
Phoenix, but left her heart in ,
where she grew up. She loves speaking to young adults and guest lectures on
writing at several New Smyrna Beach, Florida Arizona
colleges. When she isn’t writing or muddling through some crisis—real or
imagined—you’ll find her hiking in the
with her husband or meddling in her kids’ lives. Superstition Mountains
Note: Anyone who would like to receive a free e-book copy of Kicking Eternity may request one on the contact page at www.AnnLeeMiller.com.
Tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters.
Some heroines include parts of me, but writers are vultures. We circle our lives and pick the flesh off everyone around us.
What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
I can’t take credit for this, but my father spent several years building a forty-foot sailboat in our backyard. We launched it in the
Miami River and lived aboard at Dinner Key Marina when I
was eleven until I turned thirteen. At the time I didn’t realize how unusual it
was to live on a boat and ride my bicycle down the dock each morning to attend
school. All my friends at the marina did the same. After school every day, I
tossed my books onto my bunk, shimmied into a swimsuit, and jumped overboard.
Sailboats show up in all my books thus far.
When did you first discover that you were a writer?
I always say I became a writer the year I discovered Sister Sheila had hair. I was in fifth grade at St. Hugh’s
School in Miami, knee deep in nouns and verbs, when
Sister Sheila walked through the door in a new habit that showed two inches of
mouse brown hair threaded with silver. Thanks to Sister’s encouragement, I went
on to earn a BA in creative writing from Ashland (OH) University. I’ve been
writing novels for the past fifteen years.
Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
I especially enjoy reading romance and coming of age stories. My favorite authors are Charles Martin, Francine Rivers, Anne Rivers Siddon, and Ann Brashares (The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants).
How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
I start my day by spending time with God. That’s the easy part. The hard part is having the self discipline to stay off the internet until I have accomplished the day’s writing. If I check my e-mail or plug into Facebook, my brain gets cluttered and short circuits. I can’t focus and end up frustrated, unproductive. I’ve always been nosey. I think that’s why the internet is such a temptation. But I need a peaceful well to write from.
How do you choose your characters’ names?
I use a stack of baby books. Names are difficult to choose and hugely important. Sometimes I will change a character’s name after the book is written, but I don’t recommend this.
What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
I’m proud of completing four books. Writing them was the most difficult thing I’ve ever done. When I won a swimming race or graduated from college, I didn’t feel the sense of satisfaction I felt typing The End. In addition to Kicking Eternity, The Art of My Life debuts in September, Avra’s God in December, and Tattered Innocence next March.
If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?
A monkey. They look like they’re having fun swinging around. I would go crazy lying around like my dog does all day!
What is your favorite food?
What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?
I detest plotting, but consider it a necessary evil. I plot every scene for the whole book before I actually write the book. It takes… forever. My first two books were written without plotting. Going back through whole books to fix plot lines felt counterproductive. I tried Randy Ingermanson’s Snowflake method of plotting for my third book and Karen Wiesner’s First Draft In 30 Days for my most recent book. I also use Jack Bickham’s Scene and Structure as I build scenes. To me, it feels so much easier to make changes to the book’s skeleton than to rewrite large portions.
Tell us about the featured book.
Kicking Eternity is all about chasing dreams—our dreams, God’s dreams, and the mixed-up tangle of both.
Stuck in sleepy
one last summer, Raine socks away her camp pay checks, worries about her druggy
brother, and ignores trouble: Cal Koomer. She’s a plane ticket away from
teaching orphans in Africa, and not even New
Smyrna Beach Cal’s
surfer six-pack and the chinks she spies in his rebel armor will derail her.
The artist in
begs to paint Raine’s ivory skin, high cheek bones, and internal sparklers
behind her eyes, but falling for her would send him caterwauling into his
parents’ life. No thanks. The girl was self-righteous waiting to happen. Mom
served sanctimony like vegetables, three servings a day, and he had a gut full.
Rec Director Drew taunts her with “Rainey” and calls her an enabler. He is so infernally there like a horsefly—till he buzzes back to his ex.
Raine's brother tweaks. Her dream of
dies small deaths. Will she figure out what to fight for and what to
free before it's too late?
For anyone who's ever wrestled with their dreams.
Please give us the first page of the book.
Raine pushed the beads on her African bracelet back and forth like the balls on an abacus. Her stomach kneaded, gurgled. She could almost feel sweat dampen her upper lip.
Drew’s forehead creased as he stared at her. Fluorescent tubes hummed overhead in the night air. Shouts and back-slapping ricocheted around the Canteen porch in the sticky-sweet scent of orange blossoms. If she wasn’t fighting to keep her dinner down, she’d tell him where they’d met.
His frown melted into a smile of recognition. “Rainey. Hey. Welcome to Triple S Camp.”
She bristled at the nickname her brothers used to irritate her. “It’s Raine.”
“I remember you as Rainey from the skit you did in junior high youth group. You cried all over the place—a pun on your name.”
“That was my total acting career… and ancient history. Better off forgotten. Please.”
“Sure, Rainey, whatever you say.”
“You remember my name.”
“You weren’t exactly low profile either.” She, like every girl in the youth group, had spent way too much time mooning at the high-school-Drew hunched over his guitar.
Jesse, the camp director, gave a shrill blast on his whistle. “Welcome to New Smyrna Beach Surf and Sailing Camp orientation.”
How can readers find you on the Internet?
Facebook Author Page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Ann-Lee-Miller/356653761022022
Thank you, Ann, for sharing your life and book with us.
Please leave a comment, and Ann will interact with you on the blog. Be sure to come to the actual blog to leave the comments. That's where Ann will be reading and replying to the comments.
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