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Sunday, August 31, 2014

5th Blogiversary Celebration

Five years. That's right, I'm celebrating five years of my blog. Looking back at this year's posts, I see there aren't too many, but there's good reason for that. I'll get to that in a moment. There are lots of things to cover.

First, I want to say that Robin Williams made my day. Please don't take this the wrong way. I am not trying to make light of a tragic situation. I know both depression and addiction are powerful diseases. My point in saying he made my day is that it emphasizes no matter how successful or financially well off you are, you are still not immune. It reminds me that chasing every last dollar and stressing over bills is not the answer. We live in a beautiful world and need to focus on the truly important things.

Now, as soon as I can put my soap box away, let's get on with the party...


A little bit further down this post, you can find details on the blogiversary prizes. Some of you may have noticed that I have been a bit absent from the "writing world" coming close to a year now. At least, I hope you noticed. Well, there's good reason for that. I've actually been living a childhood dream.


I'm currently a Walt Disney World Monorail Pilot! Ever since I was a little boy, I wanted to drive one of those things. Last November, an opportunity arose and I took it. Let me tell you, the actual drive training is one of the most challenging things I've done in a long time. Every minute has been worth it! I am having a blast and spend my days with some absolutely amazing cast members.

As for my writing, I have some plans and things are coming together. 



My friends at Helping Hands Press (www.myhelpinghandspress.com) are helping me celebrate this blogiversary for the next 25 days. I have two projects that I am working on for them. Quite a while ago, I started co-authoring a story called Amish Wonder. When finished, it will be a novella about a young Amish boy thrust out into the secular world. For fans of the Defective Amish Detective, I will be re-editing those stories into a complete novel with a nice surprise on the end.



I am also working with Dinosaur George Media on two different series. Ask DG is a question and answer picture book for young readers. Book 2 will feature illustrations from the very talented Victor Donahue. Both Ask DG and Dinosaur George and the Paleonauts book 2 are expected to be available by Christmas. You can find these books and more here: store.dinosaurgeorge.com



And the one that started it all - The Empyrical Tales. Book Four of the Empyrical Tales will continue the story of Zandria and Olena by telling the tale of The First Queen. The whole series will be revamped and re-introduced soon. Until then, I will keep those details under wraps. Please visit my official website for more details and the series and my other books - www.MillerWords.com

While you are there, please check out my new online store, where you can get autographed copies of all of my paperbacks at a special price with free shipping.

In five years of writing, blogging and social media, I have met some fantastic writers and been blessed with some great fans. I've received humbling reviews and inspiring emails. I've tried my hand (not always successfully) in many different genres and have something for most every type of reader. To celebrate, I am giving away the gifts. Here are the links to five of my paperbacks available through Goodreads.com:














In addition to the paperbacks, Helping Hands Press has put together a prize pack of selected eBooks (mine and some of my author-friends). Lazarus Filmworks, for whom I wrote the adaptation of Daniel's Lot, is also including some prizes. Please be sure to visit both of my sponsors. This part of the giveaway will be done through Rafflecopter exclusively on my blog. You can earn an unlimited amount of entries by using social media once a day for the next 25 days.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

In closing, I want to express my gratitude. That is one thing of which I have an abundance and can afford. I am full of thanks for all of my experiences over the past five years. I am thankful for the people, both real and virtual, that I have met. I am thankful for the opportunities I've had. In this time, I have also watched my family grow and change and I thank God for that gift. Please feel free to share this post and all of the prize links. And, as always, I appreciate any comments on my blog.


Thank you for the past five years,
and I look forward to the next five!
Mark

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Guest Post - Joseph Max Lewis

Happy Fourth of July!

            Imagine how the signers of The Declaration of Independence feel while looking down from heaven and listening to their critics. The thought never occurred to me until my publisher asked me to write a fictional short story relating how John Hancock experienced the 4th of July. Before starting, I read Herbert S. Allan’s even-handed biography of Hancock. Yes, the Founders were all human - Hancock was vain and a clothes horse, for example. But when you study the founding of America from the perspective of a Founder, the greatness of these men staggers you.


            “But they didn’t free the slaves and women and blacks couldn’t vote!”

            Guess what?  No one could meaningfully vote and everyone, everywhere, was in some form of bondage. The English themselves were “subjects.” Except for royalty and a small number of men in a handful of tiny Greek city states, no one had ever controlled their destiny. 

            Writing in the first person forces you to see things through the eyes of the character or historic figure, to imagine what they felt, wanted and thought. The Founders were operating in uncharted waters, laying the foundation to free all mankind and making things up as they went. They were doing it while at war with the most powerful Empire on the face of the planet. On January 1, 1776, George Washington discovered he had only 8,000 enlistments instead of the 20,000 planned. Georgia and South Carolina announced they would not sign if slavery were denounced, let alone outlawed.

            As I imagine Hancock saying, “The hard truth is we will not free the Negro slaves . . . not because we don’t want to, but because we can’t. The southerners would revolt . . . freeing the black man will require a war and the forces of liberty are barely able to fight one war, let alone two.”

            On July 4, 1776, the Founders were almost to a man well educated, affluent and doing quite well as subjects of Britain. In the 18th century, traitors were hung from a gibbet with their hands tied behind their back. Rather than breaking their necks, the traitor took about ten minutes to strangle to death. Traitors’ property was forfeit, so their families were left impoverished. While the Founders were signing their own death warrant, Benedict Arnold was trying to keep his army from disintegrating as he retreated from the disastrous Canadian campaign. "I have often thought how much happier I would have been," said Washington, "if, instead of accepting a command under such circumstances, I had taken up musket on my shoulder and entered the ranks.”  

            They were great men, yet consider the petulance with which they are treated. While reviewing “The Price they Paid” email about the Founders, the left wing site “Snopes” called it part true, part false. Why? Here’s an example: “Francis Lewis had his home and properties destroyed. The enemy jailed his wife, and she died within a few months.” Snopes - “yeah, well . . . she was already sick.” Seriously. I paraphrase, so check it out for yourselves. Part of the disdain appears to be petty racism, sexism and anti-Christianity - the Founders were white male Christians - but there may be something deeper. Writing about an attack on the Framers, Professor Walter Williams wrote, “If I believed in conspiracies, I'd say (Time’s) article is part of a leftist agenda to undermine respect for the founding values of our nation.” 

            Hancock might have said, “No doubt, those who hate liberty and embrace hate amongst the races will use this against us not only now, but far into the future. We can only trust this and future generations will be wise enough to detect the charlatan, understand his aim and reject his deception. That battle is for another time, and will be fought by other men. We must fight the one in front of us now.”

This is a column of opinion and satire. The author knows of no undisclosed facts.  Contact Lewis, the author of John Hancock, in Remington Colt's Revolutionary War Series, visit him at josephmaxlewis.com and click on Rimersburg Rules.  © Joseph M.  Lewis


To link to listen in on the blogtalk radio show with Joseph Max Lewis discussing “The Declaration of Independence”: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/gelatisscoop/2014/07/03/joseph-max-lewis-discusses-the-declaration-of-independence

To stop by Mr. Lewis’ website and connect with him: www.josephmaxlewis.com    



Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Star Wars Stuff

Well, Episdoe VII is officially under way. Principal cast has been announced and shooting has started. As a life-long fan, I have much confidence in JJ. Contrary to many, I totally enjoyed what he did with Star Trek and thought Into Darkness was better than his first one. To me, it seems Mr. Abrams is a fan first and a businessman second. I hope that he makes my beloved universe his own, acknowledges the fans and makes something not only for kids, but also those of us who never really grew up.

Star Wars Weekends 2007

I have my hopes for what I would like to see in the new trilogy; characters like Mara Jade and events like the death of Chewbacca. Don't get me wrong - I don't want to see Chewbacca die. Jar Jar heads that list. Chewbacca's death was an epic moment and a great sacrifice. He swore a life-debt to Han and it should be a necessary moment, even if it does not occur as it did in the Expanded Universe novel.

The cast consists of a young group of relative unknowns. Sound familiar? Still, there is one Harry Potter alum, two from Coen Bros and one that endured Attack the Block. One of the biggest treats for me is to see Max Von Sydow join the ranks of Alec Guinness, Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee. In case you are not familiar with this legendary actor, he starred in the classic Strange Brew.

I could rant about how great the original trilogy was, everything wrong with the prequels and what they musn't ruin in the new movies. I won't do that. We all have our own opinions and own hopes. Isn't that what Star Wars is really about...hope? It is adventure, humor, mystery, love and good conquering evil. On top of all that, it gives us hope...hope that there is something bigger, greater out there - something that binds the universe together. It gives us hope that we can revisit our childhood and remember the things that made us happy.

Star Wars remains one of the earliest inspirations for my own writing. The Hero's Journey is a universal map that applies to my first novel, The Fourth Queen. I even tried my hand at some SW Fan Fiction (which might end up on this blog some day).


"They're for sale, if you want them."

As I continue my training in the Jedi way, I find that I can part with material things. To that end, I have created a Facebook album featuring over 300 figures collected since 1995. Feel free to make me an offer on any or all of them.



As always, thank you for reading my blog. 
Please be sure to visit me on FB: www.FB.com/MarkMillerAuthor




Thursday, April 24, 2014

What Would You Do?

First, let me ask: When did we, as a people, stop caring about doing what's right and start only thinking of ourselves?

I know I am generalizing, but I am bombarded daily with acts of selfishness and buffoonery that show no compassion or consideration. I know there are good people in this world (I try to be one of them). Still, my sense of justice is assaulted constantly by those that simply don't care.

With that out of the way, let me get to the reason I asked you here. There is a certain high school student, let's call him P, to maintain his confidentiality. P stands for Pinocchio because this student does not lie, fib, or even swear. His moral compass makes mine look like a Cracker Jack toy.

P is in a predicament. In one of his classes, it seems that the majority of classmates are OK with cheating. Over the past several weeks, they have been sharing answers to quizzes and tests, going so far as to text them or write them on the side of a coffee cup. Worse yet is that they are getting these answers from a Teacher's Aid. In case you don't know, a Teacher's Aid is supposed to be a student of strong character entrusted with helping the teacher. In this case, the Aid is helping other students cheat.

P has a problem. He does not feel he can go to the teacher or administration about this. P is worried about repercussion from his fellow students. In this age group and moral climate, repercussion could easily become physical. P also does not feel he has the support of the administration. Previous experience proves as much in a case where he tried to resolve something anonymously and then the teacher (different than the one above) singled him out to the class because that teacher had some backlash from administration. I should also mention P was a victim of bullying at a younger age. Administration did nothing in that case either, so P has little faith in them and knowledge of the capabilities of his classmates.

What is P supposed to do? What would you do, as a parent or student? It is possible that the teacher won't find out and nothing will happen. If the teacher becomes aware and P does not step forward, what happens? Is P's silence self-preservation or complicity?

I invite comments, suggestions and debate on this topic. Please post comments on this blog, share on Facebook or email me.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Guest Post and Giveaway

Author Jen Cudmore visits with news of her Goodreads Giveaway. Enter at the link below, but you better hurry - the drawing ends on March 30th!



Ever been told how to do your job?

At some point, someone has probably thought they knew how to handle a situation better than you. What's worse is when you're in charge of a project or situation, and the other person decides to insert themselves without your approval. And they just can't take the hint (or the demand!) to leave you alone.

But what do you do when it's the person who hired you?

My first historical novel, The Lawmen of Clayton County: Athena Creek, is about the new marshal of a small town in the Pacific Northwest. He's only on the job three months when he realizes the man who hired him expects full loyalty. And obedience.

Trace Ingram is the stereo-typical cowboy, the kind you'll find in pretty much every Louis L'Amour book. He's been a lawman before, and doesn't need any advice. And yet Charles McCrae, the man who founded the town and hired Trace, makes it plain that if Trace won't follow orders, then he's welcome to leave.

Ever been told by your boss that if you don't do something a specific way, you can find a new job? Trace knows Athena Creek is where he belongs. It doesn't take long for him to see the entire town is loyal to McCrae. So it comes down to a choice: Does Trace uphold the law as he sees fit, or does he let McCrae have his way?

The answer is easy at first. Then Trace begins to investigate three strange murders, all of which point to McCrae as the prime suspect. If Trace isn't careful, he'll be out of a job. Or worse yet, he could wind up dead. 
 
"What would McCrae do next time Trace refused to take orders? His stomach tightened as he remembered Orabella Madison standing in the street in front of the jailhouse, piercing eyes locked on his while she accused him of being McCrae's puppet. No, he wouldn't put up with the businessman's interference, even if it meant being tossed out of town. He was no man's pawn." 

 
©2014 Jen Cudmore (This was taken from a post originally written for a blog tour last August.)

Jen was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest. She first started writing in 2007 and is now a published historical romance author. She currently lives in Alaska with her husband, two children, two boxers, and two cats. 

Visit her blog at www.jencudmore.com
She's also on Facebook,Twitter, Pinterest, and Goodreads.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Spring Into Art 2014

Here is the official press release for the upcoming event. (That guy, Mark Miller, sure talks a lot, sheesh...)


The Mount Dora event series Authors in the Park continues with its Second Annual “Spring into Art” festival, Saturday, March 29 at Long and Scott’s Farm in Mount Dora, FL., event chairman Mark Miller announced today. The Authors in the Park group celebrates literacy while promoting local and independent authors from Lake County, Central Florida and beyond. (www.authorsinthepark.com)

The event, scheduled from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., will be the first time the group has held an event at Long and Scott’s Farm at 26216 County Road 448A, Mount Dora, Miller said.

“We are extremely excited, not only to be at Long and Scott’s, but because this year’s event will feature both authors and artists,” Miller said. “Long and Scott’s is known for Zellwood Sweet Corn and their fall corn maze as well as being a great supporter of their community.” (www.longandscottfarms.com)

Spring into Art will feature over twenty authors and artists. A wide variety of books will be for sale in all genres and ages, as well as exclusive artwork. Some of the paintings are slated to be sold for charity.

In addition to great books and art, representatives for Team Jay will be on hand, Miller, an author himself, said. Team Jay is a project of the Lake County Firefighters Charity to benefit young Jay, the son of a firefighter currently battling Leukemia. (www.lakefirefightercharity.org)


The outdoor event is free to attend, Miller pointed out. Authors and artists alike will be available to discuss their writing, sign autographs and enjoy a day on the farm. Some author proceeds will be donated to Team Jay and other worthy organizations, he said. Scott’s Country CafĂ© will be open for lunch.

Visit www.Facebook.com/AuthorsInThePark for details on participating authors, artists and event updates. Join the FB event here: www.facebook.com/events/622986207772066





Saturday, February 22, 2014

Artist Interview - Gabe Bush

You know how they say, "It takes a village to raise a child"? Well, publishing a book does not take quite that many, but it helps to have several talented people working together. In this case, Gabe Bush brought his skill as an artist to our little project Dinosaur George and the Paleonauts. Gabe designed and illustrated the cover, as well as some really excellent insets for the chapter headings.



Of course, Loki is not in our book, but I wanted to start this interview showing Gabe's range. He has an impressive background, drawing characters from Asgard to Oz and everywhere in between. And yes, he has done some of them professionally. Now check out the cover for our book:



MM: Gabe, thanks for taking the time to talk with me today. Why don't we begin at the beginning? Please share some of your background and where you honed your skill.

GB: I've been drawing for as long as I can remember. As a kid I remember drawing super heroes a lot, the typical ones like Superman, Batman, the Hulk and Spiderman. Every now and then I would draw some landscape scenes too. One landscape scene I remember drawing often were waterfalls crashing against the rocks below. I’m not sure why I drew that so much, a lot of Bob Ross influence I guess, hahaha. I don’t do a lot of landscape scenes now, though I should. Aside from that, I got my associates in sequential art at San Antonio College and interned a few times at a comic company in San Antonio called Antarctic Press.



MM: So, you went from a boyhood fan to an industry professional. I know you work in education. That is definitely a high value for the Dinosaur George Company. George Blasing has a way of attracting like-minded people. Ultimately, it is about the kids. It seems that you have similar goals. Beyond your drawing, what do you like to do?

GB: I like to spend time with my wife and two girls. It sounds cliche, but kids grow up fast and I only wish I had more time to spend with them. In addition to spending time with my family I try to spend time building up my portfolio. Splitting up my time between the things I enjoy doing can be difficult though. Looking back now, I regret not having spent more time and dedication building up my portfolio before I got a family of my own, instead of getting up at 4 or 5 in the morning to do that now. Hindsight right?



MM: When you are doing something you love, there is not much room for regret. It is great that you enjoy your family. For me personally, my wife and children are my motivation. At least in your social media, it appears that yours are the same. You seem to have a very supportive wife who is also your Number One Fan. What do they think of your artwork?

GB: They think it's awesome—at least that's what they tell me! My whole family is very supportive in what I do, my wife especially. So much so that she even saved up money from her photography business that she does, Heidi’s Portrait Design (shameless plug, I know) and had a portion of the garage made into a room to be my very own man cave/art studio. How awesome is that! She’s not too crazy about the buxom beauties that I sometimes draw though—I like the old school pin up art of the 50’s and 60’s (Gil Elvgren is one of the best)—but she is still very supportive.



MM: Old School Pin Ups, huh? Aren't we all entitled to a guilty pleasure? Mine happens to be zombies. I haven't missed an episode of The Walking Dead. As a writer, my job is to use words to create pictures in people's heads. You do things the other way around - taking something out of your head and put it out there for the world to see. Would you say that is the best thing about your work?

GB: I would take that a step further. It's being able to see the fruits of my labor. It's all well and good finishing a piece and seeing it on the computer monitor or on the paper I drew it on, but to actually have something of mine printed out and used by people, shared amongst people, seeing that people like it enough to talk about it, I think that is what is best about it all.


MM: And like the image above from Dinosaur George and the Paleonauts, it really adds something special. Both Dinosaur George and I were so impressed with your work. It transformed our little story and took it to a new level. And we have received great feedback from our young fans. We all enjoy the benefits of our creativity, but tell me what is the most challenging thing about your work?

GB: That would have to be. . . me! I am really one of the hardest critics of my work. I also have a hard time receiving compliments because of it. I’ll finish an art piece and look at it thinking that I could have done better or see the things I messed up on. The other thing that gets me the most is my attention span. I’ll work on a piece and then get an idea or see something that sparks another idea and then I’ll go off and try working on that. I'll keep doing that, until eventually I’ll have all these pieces that have been started on, but not completed. That is probably the MOST annoying challenge.


MM: Oh, the burden of being TOO gifted? Just kidding. I understand where the muse takes you, you have to go. I know you could see something on TV or hear something one of your children says and then you are off on a whole new tangent. It comes down to focus and discipline for any type of artist. I have a sense of what fuels your creativity, but who, or what, influences your artistic style and direction?

GB: Here is another indecisive moment for me. There have been a lot of different artists that have inspired me throughout the years. To name a few and in no particular order, they have been well-known comic artists, Joe Madureira, Jim Lee, J. Scott Campbell, Humberto Ramos, Edgar Delgado, Adam Hughes, to amazing digital artists like Stanley Lau (Artgerm), Warren Louw, Charlie Bowater, Ray Frenden, Loopydave and Serge Birault (PapaNinja) to famous illustrators and designers such as Sam Spratt, Olly Moss, Drew Struzan, Norman Rockwell and Alphonse Mucha!!....ARRRGH! I can’t do it!...I can’t!...I just can’t say that there has been one person who has influenced me the most. I guess that's a good thing though—art is a living thing, it changes with the times and so should your inspiration.

MM: That is an impressive list. I will leave it to our readers to Google those names. I am sure they will have a rich gallery to view. Now, we have come to the part of the interview where I like to have a little fun. Sometimes, I think asking unusual or humorous questions gives us a special insight that the "safe" questions don't. So, going off the path, tell us something that is not common knowledge about you?

GB: I’m not crazy about swimming. I’ll get in the pool every now and then with the kiddoes, but God gave me two legs to walk with, not two fins to swim with, hahaha.


MM: I'm not big on swimming either. I'm sure it had nothing to do with watching Jaws as a young child. As an artist and a big time superhero fan, if you could be any fictional character, who would you choose?

GB: Ugh, I'm a very indecisive person, well sometimes I am...dah, see what I mean! I like many characters for many reasons. I like Superman and Hulk because they can fly or jump really high and are really strong (I've had many dreams where I'm flying and upon waking up I've had to actually confirm it was just a dream). I enjoy running, so I also like The Flash because of his super speed. That would be awesome to get around that fast! I also really like Batman and Wolverine for their ferocity, cunningness and fighting skills. Hmm, since you are asking for ANY fictional character, I'm going to have to go with the hardly spoken of character, Superhulkflashbatverine, its a mouthful I know. He exists, really, just take my word for it and don't ask anyone.

MM: Superhulkflashbatverine? Sounds a little suspect, but I will let you have that one if you can produce an illustration. I will be watching for it on your Facebook page (link below). Since you mention both Superman and the Hulk, I will bring up a debate that I have had with my own children. With you being something of an expert, who do you think would win between Superman and the Hulk, if they crossed over from their respective universes?

GB: Hmm, thats a tuff one. Superman was always my favorite growing up, but my wife and kids say that I act like the Hulk sometimes because I can get pretty grumpy, hahaha. I'm going to take the middle road and say that it would be a tie. I imagine that they would both eventually just tire each other out and fall on the ground for a nap.

MM: A draw huh? Sounds like you took the easy way out. Then we will leave it to the readers of this interview - please comment below who you think would win that epic battle. Whoever gets the most votes (Superman or Hulk), will be declared the winner. For the sake of our poll, they exist in our current reality - that means no Kryptonite, no additional Gamma radiation and no other superheroes. Gabe, thank you again for visiting with me today. Let's wrap this up with where people can connect with you.

GB: I have a few places on the interwebs that I hang out at. Like I said earlier, I like pin up art so beware the buxom beauties. Consider yourself warned :P





Dinosaur George and the Paleonauts is available on Amazon Kindle and will be a Kindle Countdown Deal beginning March 20th. You can get it here: http://amzn.to/18R8WNt

Autographed books are available from the Dinosaur George Store: store.dinosaurgeorge.com

Also available from Dinosaur George Media:
(in print at the DG Store or on Kindle)


Thanks for taking the time to read my blog. If you enjoyed this interview, please let me know in the comments below or join me on Facebook.