Ann Lee Miller earned a BA in creative writing from Ashland (OH) University and writes full-time in Phoenix, but left her heart in New Smyrna Beach, Florida, where she grew up. She loves speaking to young adults and guest lectures on writing at several Arizona colleges. When she isn’t writing or muddling through some crisis—real or imagined—you’ll find her hiking in the Superstition Mountains with her husband or meddling in her kids’ lives.
Ann, who are your favorite authors, and what makes them special to you?
I’d rather read than eat, so I have a lot of favs. But Charles Martin is at the top of the heap. I love him because he exquisitely tells heart-rending stories of characters who live in my memory years after I close the book.
When did you decide you wanted to write?
Growing up on a sailboat, an aquaculture for mold and dysfunction, primed me—in lieu of therapy—to write.
I first thought of writing the year I discovered Sister Sheila had hair. I was in fifth grade at St. Hugh’s Catholic 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.
How do you prepare to write a book?
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.
Tell us a little about your book.
Kicking Eternity is all about chasing dreams—our dreams, God’s dreams, and the mixed-up tangle of both. Here’s a blurb about the book:
Fresh from college, Raine scores a teaching job at New Smyrna Beach Surf and Sailing Camp. A crush on the camp rebel-art teacher threatens to derail her plans to teach orphans in Africa. The broody recreation director spots her brother's meth addiction and Raine's enabling. Raine believes she is helping her brother—until lives are threatened.
What is your Writing schedule like?
Since I started my writing career in my forties, I feel fairly obsessed to accomplish what God created me to do. Think about how the hero in Sweet Home Alabama jammed lightning rods into the sand to make his beautiful glass. He did his work before the lightning struck. I jam a lot of words onto the page before lightning strikes and makes it beautiful.
Which are your favorite books on writing craft and why?
I always have a craft book open. I tend to read them multiple times. Some, like Donald Maass’ The Fire in Fiction, I am wearing out, particularly Chapter 8 where he discusses creating micro-tension. I’m also a huge fan of Maass’ Wrtiting the Breakout Novel, Jack Bickham’s Scene and Structure, and Sol Stein’s Stein On Writing.
What do you do when you are not writing?
I hike in the mountains with my husband, do zumba, and go to garage sales. This year I mentored three girls from my youth group. I’ve worked at teen church camp for more years than I care to reveal—thus the camp setting for Kicking Eternity.
Is there one secret weapon in your writing arsenal you’d be willing to share with other writers?
Prayer. I have a prayer team of eighty people, who for reasons known only to them, said yes when I asked them to pray for my writing. I was inspired by Robin Lee Hatcher. Also, I pray through every aspect of a book. My days are peppered with mini-miracles.
You can connect with Ann at:
Twitter @AnnLeeMillerFind Kicking Eternity on Amazon
Your Turn: Do you have any questions for Ann or comments on the interview? Anyone who leaves a comment with an e-mail address (JaneReader[at]msn[dot]com) will receive a free e-book copy of Kicking Eternity. If you do not want to leave an e-mail address, you may request your book at AnnLeeMiller.com
Sandra Orchard lives in rural Ontario, Canada where inspiration abounds for her romantic suspense novels set in the fictional Niagara towns she creates as their backdrops. Sandra writes for Love Inspired Suspense and Revell Publishing. Married with three grown children, when not writing, she enjoys hanging out with family, brainstorming new stories with fellow writers, and hiking or kayaking in God's beautiful creation. Look for Sandra's latest release, Shades of Truth, in your favorite online stores.