Jeffrey Miller

A Writer's Life

Category: Panama (page 1 of 2)

And so it begins

TPA_ebook AprilOn June 9, 1976, I started Air Force basic training.

On June 9, 1980, I started classes at Southern Illinois University.

On June 9, 1989, I arrived in Japan to teach English.

Today I published The Panama Affair.

Coincidence? I don’t think so.

After almost two years of writing and revising and then writing and revising more and more, my novel about Panama finally entered the world today. It was a long journey that actually began in 1980 when I first sat down and penned a screenplay about Panama (which has long since disappeared). Of all my novels, this one was the most challenging because of the twists and turns in the story but it was also my most rewarding effort (right up there with Ice Cream Headache) because of the memories I drew upon to bring this story to light.

A lot of memories in this one.

Like all my other books, I hope this one will be successful. There’s always this feeling of apprehension when you come out with a new book. After all those months of writing the story and getting yourself out of all the corners you wrote yourself in, you hope that people will be interested in what you have created. You’ve done all you could do to promote it and hope all those friends who “liked” your status on Facebook or other social networking sites when you uploaded the photo of the cover or shared a blurb with them will be interested in reading the finished product.

Hope. That’s a big word when it comes to self-publishing. It’s not easy these days when you find yourself competing with thousands of other authors who also hope their writing endeavors will also pay off. The market has become a lot more saturated than it was when I published War Remains in 2010.

Without question, it’s a nerve-wracking experience to self-publish. First, you hope that you’ve done all you could have done to tell a good story; then, you have to start marketing and promoting your book. I am at a bit of a disadvantage living in South Korea. It’s not like I can contact a local bookstore and do a signing. Sadly, and sometimes tragically, I have to rely solely on Facebook to let the world know of my literary accomplishment. I’m not alone, though. Indie authors rely on reviews and word of mouth testimonials to help promote and market your book. Those reviews and testimonials will ultimately determine if your book is successful or not.

 And so it begins again. I’ve written and published another book. It’s a good story. There will be many who will like it; others will probably say it was an okay story. Some readers will write reviews; others won’t. After eight books, I know what to expect and what not to expect, but I never give up hope, yes, there’s that word again, that this book will be the one.

In the meantime, I am working on my next book because that’s what writers do.

The Panama Affair — Coming Soon!

22_bigIt’s such a thrill to say those two words, coming soon, when I am ready to publish another novel.

I am very excited about my latest, The Panama Affair. Of all my books, this one was by far the hardest to write. A lot had to do with all the twists and turns in the plot as well as trying to find the right angle to tell a story about Panama, the Canal Zone, and Howard Air Force Base.

This novel dates back to the spring of 1980 when I wrote a screenplay about Panama when I was stationed at George AFB. Although that script has long since vanished, there are still some elements from that script in my novel.

I’m really happy the way this novel turned out–nothing like I imagined when I first started writing it over a year ago.

City on Fire

800px-Panama_clashes_1989

Nearing the end of my novel about Panama and the exciting conclusion which takes place during Operation Just Cause.

Will Kevin Rooney save the friend who betrayed him by the stealing Inez, the girl of his dreams, away from him ten years earlier?

Will Buck Smith, the CIA agent, allow his Panamanian friend, who he saved in the 1964 riots, escape?

With US forces invading Panama City in search of Manuel Noriega, the lives of five people intertwine. Before the night is over only a few will survive.

The Panama Novel eclipses 60,000 words and counting

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Today I reached another milestone: 60,000 words completed for the Panama novel. Realistically speaking, this novel will most likely end up being around 65,000-70,000 words depending on the final chapters.

This photograph was taken right around the same time I was stationed at Howard Air Force Base. On the left is the hangar that I worked of from 1977 to 1978 when I worked in the Repair Cycle Support Unit. That was a pretty awesome job: I went around Howard as well as Albrook picking up items which could be repaired at stateside depots. After I processed them, I had to take them to Packing and Crating for shipment back to the States or pick up repaired items on base and return them to supply.

In the background in the center is the base gym and beyond it, the parade field. My barracks was located on the right next to the first three-story building which was where one of the chow halls was located.

Panama Daze

Howard AFB 2

You might say that I have been in a daze since I started working on my new novel which takes place in Panama during the 1970s-1980s.  For the past two months I have been working on this new novel as much as I can when I am not teaching or spending time with my children. Because of my schedule and wanting to spend time with my children, I only write in the morning from 5-7 and in the evening from 9-12. Surprisingly I have been averaging around 500-700 words a day. I’m nearing the 55,000 word count mark and I can easily see this novel coming in at around 65,000-70,000 words.

Without question, this is my most ambitious novel since War Remains which contains to stay in the top 50 for Korean War best sellers at Amazon. Today it is at Number 7.

There has been a lot of research and more to come.

It really feels as though I am back in Panama. That period of my life, from 1977-1978, was such an important time. I am happy to finally write about it.

Writing from Memory

Howard AFB 76-78

I’m surprised at how much I still remember about serving at Howard Air Force in the Panama Canal Zone; I’m surprised at how much is still crystal clear.

For my latest novel, which is a thriller set in Panama in the 1970s and 1980s, I am drawing on a lot of memories of the time I spent there from 1976-1978. I can just close my eyes and I am back there at Howard. It’s weird you know, how much that I still remember and how all these memories are overwhelming me now. There are a lot of things which are crystal clear, as though they happened yesterday.

I started this book a little over a year ago. I shelved it last year so I could work on When A Hard Rain Falls and I’ll Be Home For Christmas.

It was a little slow moving at first, but I think I have finally found my rhythm; this past week I have written over 5,000 words.

Panama Red — Panama, 1978

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Trying out my best tough guy pose near Galliard Cut along the Panama Canal in June or July of 1978. I was stationed at Howard Air Force Base in the Panama Canal Zone from 1976-1978.

Not so sure about keeping my hair length with 35-10 regulations, though.

I’ve always looked back fondly on those two years I was stationed in Panama. It was, without question a very interesting time. I would do it all over again in a heartbeat.

One of these days…

I’m going to have to get around to writing a book about the time I spent at Howard Air Force Base and Panama. I have a few essays here, “Crossing the Isthmus of Panama with Howard and Other Stories” but I haven’t been able to take these stories to the next level. I haven’t been able to tie these stories together; I haven’t come up with some interesting story.

Why Panama?

The two years I spent there, from September 1976 to September 1978 were two of the most important years of my life. I had some good times when I was there and met some very wonderful people.

There’s  a story somewhere in those two years, just waiting for me to tell.

Crossing the Isthmus of Panama with Howard and Other Stories, Part 5 — Coming soon

It’s about time for another installment of my life in Panama 76-78. When the holidays roll around, I often think back to when I was stationed at Howard Air Force Base in the Panama Canal Zone. It was my first time away from home during the holidays and for all the years that I have been away from “home” since those two years, those two years that I was stationed in Panama have always been a yardstick of sorts for dealing with holiday nostalgia and those pangs of homesickness.

Here’s a glimpse of what awaits you. Hopefully, I’ll have the chance to write this up before I leave for Laos in six days.

This is what I remember singing in the back of John Hill’s dune buggy with a group of friends from the 24th CAMS squadron as we sped across the Thatcher Ferry Bridge on our way to our favorite watering holes in Panama City.

“Jingle Bells, Shotgun Shells/Rabbits all the way/Oh, what fun it is to ride in a one-horse Chevrolet….”

More to come soon.

In the meantime, may I suggest picking up a copy of Invaders from Mars and Other Tales of Youthful Angst? I have two Christmas essays which will get you in the mood: “1968, the year I Stopped Believing in Santa Claus” and “Out, Out Damn Tree.”

Kindle

Paperback

Picture of the Day: The Ancon Inn — El Paraiso de los Hombres Solteros

Ancon Inn 1a

The ink has faded with age, but not the memories I have of this club–the first club many service members checked out the first time they went to Panama City. I remember that there was a bus stop right in front of the door. You could hop, stagger, or stumble off the bus, right into the Ancon for a cold Atlas or Cerveza Panama or a Rum and Coke. From there it was down the street to the Ovalo or Paris. Maybe stopping off for some monkey meat along the way.

Ancon Inn 2aIn the two years I was stationed at Howard Air Force Base I checked out the Ancon a couple of times, but my favorite bar was the Ovalo and further down the street in the opposite direction, The Foxhole Bar.

Sixty beautiful hostesses? I never counted, but if the card says there were 60 of them, then there must have been. I wouldn’t have known or even bothered to have counted because I was usually pretty tanked when I went downtown with my buddies from Barracks 714.

The Ancon gets mentioned a few times in The Panama Affair and rightfully so.

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