Local Author Visits English Classes


Cindy Downhour, Adviser

The lunatic in the long, gray cloak dashed out of the forest and ran right up onto the front yard, waving his arms in front of him like a child playing tag. He skirted the porch, paused, turned a complete circle and fell onto his hands and knees. A hood obscured most of his face, but Mary could see the tip of a pointy chin covered in whiskers. She sat at the living room window, leaning against the sill and resting her forehead against the cold glass, transfixed by the sight. The crazy man crawled through the high, un-mowed grass, his face close to the ground, shifting back and forth like a bloodhound chasing a scent. He stopped at the driveway, lifted his head and appeared to sniff at the air. Then he scooped up a handful of gravel and sifted it through his fingers.

This lead from Jeffrey Miller’s Mary of the Aether sets the stage for his fantasy adventure that was published in 2012.

Miller, a full-time author from Rogers, visited several English classes Friday, September 18, as he told the story of how he became an author. He said the key to being a writer is to have a creative, active imagination. It does not hurt to have the ability to write something that a publisher will publish, too. The secret, he said, is “You have to write a little everyday.” Find your own voice.

Because of Miller’s curiosity as a child, he wrote his first story, The Fifth Crystal, but nothing ever came of it. Much later in life, he sent his first manuscript of a young adult novel to a publisher that came back beat up, and they decided not to publish it. They did tell him, however, that they did like the book. Miller said this made him feel worse than receiving an outright rejection.

In 2009, he started writing another story but had not written in so long that he felt rusty. This novel went through 12 drafts before he finally got a contract in 2012 that led to the Mary of the Aether series. Before that, he spent about six months publishing various short stories in magazines.

Miller encouraged students who are interested in becoming authors to follow the three elements of good storytelling: 1) Make readers care; 2) Have a clear, defined conflict; and 3) Write a hook that pulls the reader in.

Aside from writing novels, Miller does freelance writing for websites, as well. More of his novels and their synopses can be found at jeffreyaaronmiller.com.