Jeffrey Miller

A Writer's Life

Category: Book Reviews (page 3 of 3)

Chris Backe’s Review of Waking Up in the Land of the Morning Calm

There hasn’t been much press about my recent book, Waking Up in the Land of the Morning Calm, but Chris Backe has some good things to say about it in his review last December.

This was going to be the book that I had thought about writing in 2009 when I wanted to compile all the articles I wrote about the Korean War commemorative events in Korea.

Instead, I ended up writing War Remains.

When I hear some of the horror stories that some expats have had in Korea teaching English, I am one of the luckier ones. I probably wouldn’t have stayed here for as long as I did had I taught somewhere else besides ELS and Y0nsei.

And don’t forget those six years of writing for the Korea Times.

Like I said, Chris has some nice things to say about Waking Up

It’s a fairly rare expat in Korea who can claim twenty-plus years in Korea. Jeffrey Miller is one of those guys, of course, and his first-person perspective on Korea’s history since 1990 is a rock-solid one.

Read the rest of the review here.

Interview in Big Al’s Books and Pals

I’m honored and humbled to have been interviewed for Big Al’s Books and Pals’ Author Series. Without question, Big Al’s is the online place to be for book reviews and interviews. How exclusive and important is it? I had to wait for almost a year for my book to be reviewed–the waiting list is that long!

Big Al does a great job promoting authors.

Check out the site when you have the chance.

Review in Three Wise Monkeys

War Remains recently got a nice write up in Three Wise Monkeys; immediately it was linked to another Korean website.

It’s nice to see the novel finally getting more press here in Korea and other places. On Amazon, seven readers have left reviews.

Word of mouth.

That’s what it’s all about.

Writing is easy; Promoting your book is harder

That’s what I’ve been finding out ever since War Remains was published seven months ago.

I’ve done everything that was suggested by authors and indie publishers, from setting up a page on Facebook to having its own blog.

I’ve sent out press releases, have had two newspaper interviews, and have recently entered the novel into a Korean War book competition.

I’ve reviewed Amazon book purchases, such as Cherries: A Vietnam War Novel by John Podlaski and added a hyperlink to my Amazon page.

Unfortunately, the one market I still haven’t been able to make inroads into has been the Korean market. Despite having a major write up and interview in The Korea Times last year, the book is still not available locally.

One thing that writers, especially those of us who self-publish need to do to promote one’s books is persuade buyers to write reviews. It doesn’t have to be much, just a paragraph or two. However, to get folks to do that, is not always easy. Therefore, I’m thinking about having a contest. For everyone who writes a mini-review, I will have a drawing and select one or two names for a free autographed copy of any of my books.

This also works for comments on a blog post about one’s books.

It’s all about getting the word out, isn’t it?

It’s not like Field of Dreams— “if you build it they will come;” it’s more like, if you write it, you’ve got to promote it.

Glowing Praise for War Remains

Received word today of an upcoming review of War Remains by a reviewer for MWSA (Military Writer’s Society of America). Look for this review in a month or two.

In the meantime, all I can say is—wow!

Thank you Ms. Gilmour for the glowing praise.

War Remains by Jeffrey Miller is an excellent read.  Never having been a history buff due to teachers and professors who made it less than enjoyable for me, I am truly grateful for authors like Mr. Miller who can take me through the Korean War days in a way that attaches it to people and emotions and the reality of how it affected families.

When I think about the title War Remains I asked myself as I was reading it, just what the author had in mind.  The title can certainly have multiple meanings.  The obvious seems to be that many of our military were left behind in Korea and families were told they were MIA and unless their remains were to be found and identified, that would continue to be their classification.  From my research, it appears that we have MIA status for approximately 10,000 of our military.  One fifth of those are from Vietnam, and the other four-fifths from the Korean War. Have I ever once given thought about the family members that have been affected in this way? I’m ashamed to say that I don’t think so.  War Remains has touched me in a very special way.

This book led me to research what has been happening for these families.  Hence, to me, the title can also mean that this war remains in the hearts of the survivors.  Jeffrey Miller’s book will open the hearts and the eyes of those who have lived their lives unaffected by the Korean War.  I thank him for that gift.  It should also prove as a source of hope for families still waiting to have closure.

Mr. Miller begins his book with the discovery of a trunk in an attic.  This trunk then finds its way to the son of Sgt. First Class Robert (Bobby) Francis Washkowiak, Ronnie Washkowiak.  The trunk contains many letters from Bobby to his wife, Mary, and their infant son, Ronnie.  When Bobby heads off to war, it is his small beloved family that keeps him going through his time in Korea.  The book uses his many letters, which are then read by Ronnie, and his son, Michael to take us to the time and place when Bobby is writing the letters to his beloved wife.  In this way, we see the side of war from the Korean War happenings which the author does a superb job of writing, telling readers about what the GIs in Korea were facing and about the many battles and the fact that the Korean War is called a “forgotten war.”  Then we move back to present day, when Bobby’s family is always wondering what happened to their father, grandfather, and husband. Just how long should a young woman with a young son hold out hope for her loved one to return?  How long should one wait to accept that your husband has probably been killed?  Mr. Miller does a superb job of transitioning back and forth between time frames.

Mr. Miller has very successfully written a story that shines light onto what many American families have experienced.  It is a beautiful love story, shown through the many letters from Bobby to Mary.  It is a war story, in that we see the Korean War up close and personal, through Bobby and his GI buddies.  We see our military heroes returning to the States never knowing what happened to buddies that they had gotten close to during their service to our country.  It is not always easy reading when you encounter the Chinese in the rice paddies in the deep of night.  But it is encouraging to know that some families have received closure when DNA has been matched to the remains of their loved one.

I highly recommend War Remains to readers…this book has touched me deeply and is sticking with me both in my mind and my heart days after completing it.  War Remains is a very impressive first novel for Jeffrey Miller.

How to Kill Your Book Sales

What’s the quickest and best way to kill your book sales?

Respond to a negative review and then go through an author meltdown of sorts.

It’s one thing to air your dirty laundry online; it’s another and tragic thing to get into an online pissing contest.

I pity the author who didn’t know what she had gotten herself into before it was too late over at Big Al’s Books and Pals.

Big Al, you were a class act for the way you handled this author.

What’s really interesting is the number of hits this author received on her Amazon page. Well, she’s had her Andy Warhol 15 minutes of fame but not what she expected when she took on Big Al and company.

Glowing praise from a satisfied reader

I am deeply grateful and moved by the following commentary as it was written by the son of a Korean War veteran who fought in the same battles I describe in my novel.


Jeffrey Miller has constructed an insightful novel that explores the devastation that war, even forgotten battles in forgotten wars, can visit upon generations of an American family. The first year of the Korean War saw great victories and devastating defeats for both sides. Miller has the humility to know the horror of battle cannot be adequately described, but still conveys the emotional highs and lows felt by soldiers, veterans, widows, and children. Miller explores the emotional needs of the soldiers and their families to understand the unfathomable and how those needs can be met despite the collective reluctance of veterans and society to confront these stories and the psychological scars they’ve left, even after half a century. This is an impressive, well-researched first novel.

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