Tuesday, May 29, 2012
MEET Author Ann Lee Miller. Get a free e-copy of Kicking Eternity
Note: 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. Those who don’t want to leave an e-mail may contact Ann for their free book at AnnLeeMiller.com.
Kicking Eternity—First Place Long Contemporary 2009 Romance Writers of America Faith, Hope, and Love Contest
“Ann Lee Miller writes stories straight from the heart with characters who'll become friends, remaining with you long after you turn that final page. You won't want to miss Kicking Eternity!”
--Jenny B. Jones, Author of the Katie Parker Production Series from Think and The Charmed Life Series, and other single titles from Thomas Nelson
Facebook Author Page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Ann-Lee-Miller/356653761022022
Did you spend time in a convent?
I attended St. Hugh’s Catholic school in Miami, Florida, as a child, and once slept over at the convent with my best friend, Jody. Our favorite nun, bicycle-riding Sister Sheila, invited us, and we were atwitter with anticipation for a week.
The nuns had recently traded in their long-sleeved purple habits that covered all but their faces for mid-calf, three-quarter length sleeved white dresses. We had not quite recovered from the shock of Sister Sheila’s abbreviated veil that showed two inches of mouse-brown hair threaded with silver.
Who knew she had hair?
Now we would find out if the nuns slept on boards and blocks of wood as we suspected, wore jammies, ate the host for dessert, or intoned the Gregorian chants for fun.
The day arrived. Sister Sheila whisked us into the inner sanctum of the convent, her sandals clicking across the terrazzo floor. I scanned the beige couches, white walls, silk flower arrangement on an end table. It looked— just like our houses, only tidier.
Jody begged for a tour, and Sister Sheila barked out a laugh and swung open the first door in the hall. “This is my room.”
Jody and I gulped a breath and poked our heads into the white-walled bedroom.
A crucifix hung over the dresser, but my eyes fastened on the twin bed draped in white chenille like the spread on my mother’s bed. Our air wooshed out simultaneously in the sunlit room.
A bit deflated, but optimistic, we scooted into our seats at the dinner table with six nuns we’d seen hundreds of times at school.
They talked and laughed like normal people. Our chins sunk lower as no hosts or communion wine appeared at table. No chants were uttered.
After dinner and board games, Sister Sheila cheerily hummed as she made us beds out of chaise lounge cushions on the enclosed porch. After she said prayers and disappeared into her own room, Jody and I groused about the fact that we hadn’t spotted a single nun in her jammies. We plotted to take vows when we grew up. Then we’d know.
Though I gave entering the church five minutes serious consideration in my late teens, I married a Protestant pastor and raised four children. Jody became a business woman. Neither of us ever found out what nuns wear to bed.
How did Sister Sheila’s hair jolt you into becoming a writer?
Discovering that Sister Sheila had hair the year she taught me fifth grade English somehow gelled in my mind with all her positive comments on my papers. My parents marriage was in meltdown, and encouragement was a rare thing at home. Sister Sheila made me believe I could write. A dream was born.
How many years did your family live on the sailboat? Why did they?
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 swim suit, and jumped overboard.
Sailboats show up in all my books thus far. In addition to Kicking Eternity, The Art of My Life debuts in September, Avra’s God in December, and Tattered Innocence next March. The books are coming out close together because I’ve been writing for ten years and have a backlog of books now that I’m publishing.
How did you keep from drowning when your family had a spiritual shipwreck (Is that what it was?)
My mother was a devout Catholic, but my father was a new age thinker. Our spirituality was a bit sketchy at best. The shipwreck was my parents’ marriage which had never been happy in my lifetime. My deepest bond and my deepest wounds were from my father. The divorce when I was thirteen was a relief. It separated me from the source of my pain.
All the angst in my childhood made me hungry for God. I searched for Him from age sixteen to eighteen at mass, repeating memorized prayers, writing letters to Him, teaching catechism class. My RA in college had a deep friendship with Jesus that I instinctively recognized as authentic. It was through her influence and encouragement I stepped into a life-long relationship with Him.
I love the title Kicking Eternity, maybe partly because my latest book is Swallowed by LIFE: Mysteries of Death, Resurrection and the Eternal. Your blurb is fantastic. If your books are as well written they’ll be a pleasure to read. How long did it take to write the blurb?
I am glowing from the compliments. Blurbs are so, so difficult to write. They’re like writing poetry—all that work and so little to show for it. This is why I’m a novelist and not a poet! Sometimes it takes me an entire week to write one. The blurb for Kicking Eternity came together in a couple of days carrying it around in my purse and chipping at it every spare moment. Honestly, I felt like I had divine help.
Your blog is full of action verbs that spark emotion and evoke feeling. Does this come from your teaching talents?
I put a lot of energy into snagging just the right verb whenever I write. A good verb can save me from using a handful of unwanted adverbs.
What do you hope your readers take away from Kicking Eternity?
I hope my readers are encouraged to seek out God’s dreams for their lives, then courageously trust God by stepping into those dreams.
Here's more about Ann: 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.