Jeffrey Miller

A Writer's Life

Category: Published (page 1 of 7)

When A Hard Rain Falls: You CAN judge a book by its cover


Believe it or not, When A Hard Rain Falls has quickly become one of my best selling books.

Although it does not have the kind of reviews that War Remains and Ice Cream Headache have, it is one of my best selling books on a day-to-day basis.

Inasmuch as it is a good story about a father fighting evil to protect his sons while they are on a camping trip, the cover work by the very multi-talent artist and designer Anna Takahashi proves that you CAN judge a book by its cover.

I just love the cover design and how Anna was able to capture the intensity and the suspense of Keith Mitchell’s story and how an ordinary camping trip becomes one of survival.

This is the second book cover Anna designed for me and it also shows how much we both learned about cover design. First of all the Title font is very strong capturing the story’s suspense. Also the placement of the book blurb is crucial. Your eyes move from the lightning to the title, downward with the rain to the blurb. Finally, the cover is a wrap around design: the back mirrors the front. It is a most appropriate design for the book cover.

Read an eBook Week at Smashwords

March is declared Read an eBook Month, for which is an official sponsor, and to encourage more eBook readers, for the first week 4-10 March inclusive, eBooks can be purchased from the Smashwords site at considerable discounts, sometimes for free, mine own included.

Why not pop along to and have a look around. You never know, you might stumble across a gem. If you find something you like, pass it on. The more readers the merrier.

Go here to see what Smashwords has to offer.

All my titles at Smashwords are 50% during Read an eBook Week. Just enter the coupon code REW50 when checking out.

War Remains

Invaders From Mars and Other Tales of Youthful Angst

Damaged Goods

Waking Up in the Land of the Morning Calm

Number One at Amazon

For an hour, but Number One is still Number One.

This screen shot was taken back in December not long after Waking Up in the Land of the Morning Calm was published. I have to confess that I am an Amazon watcher and periodically check (though some eBook experts think it’s not a good idea) to see if I have sold any books.

I was surprised when I saw that for an hour or two one day back in December it had shot up the charts to Number One. Maybe it’s not saying much how this works or doesn’t work, but it is a marketing tool. It’s one way of getting out the word about your book: people who might frequently check new releases might take a chance with your book.

It’s a nice feeling knowing that your book ha shot up the charts; it’s also a nice feeling knowing that you have a new reader reading your stuff.

Waking Up in the Land of the Morning Calm — President George Bush’s visit to Korea, 2002

Of all the years that I have lived in Korea, 2002 was a rough year to get through if if you were an American living and working in Korea.

Early in the year, U.S. President George Bush included North Korea in his “Axis of Evil” speech and short track speedster, Apolo Ohno became Public Enemy No. 1 Korea after the cross-tracking incident at the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics.

At a World Cup match between the U.S. and Portugal, there were signs (in Hangul) which could be loosely translated as “F**k the U.S.” (wait a minute, aren’t the U.S. and South Korea allies with this whole U.S. – ROK military alliance?). The boos from Korean fans in attendance, every time the U.S. had the ball, might have reminded some Korean old hands of the boos that U.S. men’s basketball team got during the 88 Olympics when the U.S. played the former Soviet Union (read Don Oberdorfer’s excellent Korean history, The Two Koreas for an explanation of this).

However, the real tragedy of the year occurred during the height of the World Cup excitement and fever gripping the nation when two Korean middle-school girls were accidentally killed by a U.S. armored vehicle. It would set off a wave of anti-American sentiment that would get ugly by year’s end with flag burnings, demonstrations in front of the U.S. Embassy, and a few restaurant owners in Seoul putting up signs which read, “No Americans Allowed.”

In February though, at the beginning of this intense year, I managed to talk my way into into the press pool for President Bush’s Korean visit:

Other than the articles I wrote about Korean War commemorations, the occasional interview with one of the top U.S. military leaders on the peninsula, or former U.S. Presidents, I never had the chance to cover a high-profile media event until I talked my way into the press pool for U.S. President George Bush’s visit to Osan Air Base.

Although two staff reporters from The Korea Times covered most of Bush’s visit to Korea, including his meeting with South Korean President Kim Dae-jung, when I heard through my USFK contacts that Bush was going to address the troops at Osan, I immediately went to work calling in as many favors as I could to join the press pool. Thanks to having already worked with the PAOs at Osan and Kunsan Air Bases, I knew the right people to call and they returned those favors.

Osan Air Base, which is adjacent to the Korean town of Songtan, is about an hour south of Seoul. Fortunately, Bush’s visit was on a Wednesday morning (I didn’t have to teach on Wednesday—one of the perks at the Yonsei Foreign Language Institute, no classes on Wednesdays), but I would have to go down the night before because the media had to report to the base no later than three in the morning. Unlike the majority of the media that would be coming down from Yongsan on a bus or arriving by their private vehicles, I had to find my own transportation, which wasn’t a problem because I could take a bus from the Nambu (southern) Bus Terminal. The only drawback was I would have to catch the last bus at 10:30 p.m. and figure out what to do until I could get on base.

With four hours to kill, I hung out in an entertainment and shopping district outside the main gate of the air base. I stopped in one of the bars and had a drink. I watched a handful of Russian and Filipina hostesses hustle drinks from a couple patrons. Not looking military enough, they paid no attention to me….

An excerpt from Waking Up in the Land of the Morning Calm now on sale at Amazon and Lulu.

Waking Up in the Land of the Morning Calm — A North Korean Through the Looking Glass, December 31, 1996


My first trip to Panmunjom, which is not really Panmunjom per se, but the Joint Security Area (JSA) was on a cold, deary New Year’s Eve in 1996. The weather made me feel like I had stepped into some Cold War thriller.

When you step out on Conference Row and enter one of the Military Armistice Commission (MAC) buildings, sometimes one or two of the North Korean guards outside will look in one of the windows to see who is on the tour.

Waking Up in the Land of the Morning Calm.

Waking Up in the Land of the Morning Calm — North Korean School Trip to the Joint Security Area (JSA), 2000

Here’s something you don’t see every day: A North Korean school trip to the Joint Security Area (JSA) and Panmunjom.

This was back in the summer of 2000 during my second trip to the JSA and a trip that I would write about for my first article about “the scariest place in the world.”

Of all the times that I visited the JSA between 1996-2003, this was one of three times that there were visitors on the other side.

I wonder what kind of propaganda the guides were filling the heads of these kids with on this school trip.

In Waking Up in the Land of the Morning Calm, I have an entire section of articles and essays about my visits to the JSA, including this trip, as well a commemorative article on the 25th anniversary of the Panmunjom Ax Murders.

Daejeon, 2011 — Seoul, 1990

In many ways, Daejeon reminds me of what Seoul was for me 21 years ago, especially when I see a truck laden with yontan–the charcoal briquettes used for heating and cooking. A lot of it is used in Daejeon, in fact still used a lot by low-income families across the nation.

I mention yontan a few times in Waking Up in the Land of the Morning Calm.



Waking Up in the Land of the Morning Calm — Now Available in Paperback!

“How did you end up in Korea?” is a question that most people have asked when they learn that I have lived and worked in South Korea. “I turned left at Japan,” I’ve often replied, tweaking a famous line from The Beatles’ A Hard Day’s Night when John Lennon was asked, “How did you find America?” upon which he replied, “Turned left at Greenland.”

Since 1990, Jeffrey Miller, who originally came to South Korea to teach English, has survived nuclear crises, met former U.S. Presidents, Yoko Ono, interviewed the current President of Korea, flown into Panmunjom with CNN and pushed 8G’s in an F-16 in the skies over Korea.

When the author arrived in Korea at the end of 1990, the country was still reeling from hosting the successful 1988 Olympics. It was an exciting time to be here; one could feel the energy and sense that the nation was poised to become a major player on the world stage. People have often talked about this “Miracle of the Han” when Korea’s economy started to take off in the 70s, but by the time Miller arrived here, it was no longer a miracle; instead it had become a celebration.

The Korea that Miller knew back in December 1990 was different and removed from the Korea of today. In the time that he has been here, he has seen a lot of changes and became witness to many historical events, which have affected not only the peninsula and the region, but also the world.

There are many stories to be told and shared; these are some of them.

Waking Up in the Land of the Morning Calm is now available through the publisher Lulu.

Waking Up in the Land of the Morning Calm — Number One this Hour

You know how Andy Warhol once said that we would all be famous for fifteen minutes?

Well, I think I had a couple of those minutes today when my latest book, Waking Up in the Land of the Morning Calm shot up the charts on Amazon’s Hot New Releases’ list to Number One.

It was nice because it was exactly 21 years ago today that I arrived in Korea.

War Remains Wins Top Honors

Last weekend, Saturday, October 2, War Remains won top honors at the annual Military Writers Society of America conference which was held in Pittsburgh, PA.

War Remains won Gold in the Fiction: Literary category and Silver in the Korean War Book Award category.

It is an honor for me to have won in two categories, but what really makes both of these awards sweet is to be recognized by a national organization comprised of military writers and veterans.

I have devoted the past two years of my life to writing and promoting my novel and to be honored like this is overwhelming.

More and more people are realizing just how good a book War Remains is.

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