Jeffrey Miller

A Writer's Life

Category: When A Hard Rain Falls

An Awesome Review of When A Hard Rain Falls


A rave review of When A Hard Rain Falls:

This wasn’t quite what I expected from the blurb on the front advertising it as a “fast-paced gripping ride” – to describe it in such a way is to do it something of an injustice; When A Hard Rain Falls is much more than that.

The pace of the novel begins quite slowly, giving the reader plenty of time to get to know the character’s two protagonists: Keith, the struggling, divorced father of two who finds himself in a situation this will be all-too-familiar to those who have done no wrong except make a few bad choices; and Nicky, a young man fresh out of prison, rough and happy that way.

Miller does a fantastic job of making these characters fully-developed and relatable. It would be easy for the young ex-con and the single father to be clichés or caricatures, the type seen often on any number of police-related TV shows. Instead, we are given full backgrounds on the two men; what happened to them and how they ended up where they are now. There is a fascinating contrast between the two in that Keith is a good man but questions the choices he has made and makes, while Nicky is cruel and remorseless but never doubts what he does.

The exposition of these two is what makes the climax of the novel, when they finally meet, so interesting. However, they do not meet until the very end of the story, so it would be wrong to expect a story of constant conflict. Instead, Miller slowly builds up the suspense as the two men move closer and closer to the moment they will meet. The reader knows it is going to happen and as each action brings them nearer, the suspense builds until it bursts, much like the banks of the canal in the final scenes.

The storm which causes this is described in wonderful detail, bursting into the story as unexpectedly as it would be to the characters and having a huge influence on what happens. The story ends with some nice intrigue as well, leaving the reader to wonder what will happen to Keith, his sons and everyone else.

All in all, this is an excellently written thriller, full of suspense and bursts of action that never fail to draw you in and keep you entertained. Beneath that, though, is a deeper story of family love, attempted redemption and the tale of how a man can easy fall through the system into deeper darkness. Just don’t expect an episode of 24 with non-stop action; this is more akin to the quality of a show like The Wire, but all the better for being a book!

Thanks, Steve Justice! You just persuaded me to buy my own book!

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.

An Excerpt from When a Hard Rain Falls

JM_WAHRF_eBook_final“Halfway across the canal, he lost his footing and fell in. The water, which was cold and filled with debris, came up to his chest. He knew that in some parts of the canal, the water was over ten feet deep, but much higher now as it continued to rise and swell. He was a good swimmer, learning how to swim in the Illinois River and Fox River as a boy, where he had to fight strong currents. This time though, he was fighting more than the strong current and the rushing waters; he was fighting for survival—his and his sons.”

Now available on Amazon.

Testors Model Paint

The cool thing about the writing is not just the story, but the little details, the verbal brushstrokes you add to the story that sometimes are from your past; in this case, a little “Testors model paint” that I have one of the characters talking about.

It’s just a small detail in the story, but one that adds a bit of “color” if you can excuse the pun.

Remember Testors? I haven’t thought about this paint brand name in years, but there it was right there in my memory bank to use today.

Growing up in the 60s/70s I tried to make a lot of Revell and Aurora model airplanes, cars, and battleships. My models never looked like the ones on the box. Either I used way too much glue or my paint job was horrendous.

But, I’ll let Bill Bryson explain it in The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid (2006)

Making models was reputed to be hugely enjoyable… But when you got the kit home and opened the box the contents turned out to be of a uniform leaden gray or olive green, consisting of perhaps sixty thousand tiny parts, some no larger than a proton, all attached in some organic, inseparable way to plastic stalks like swizzle sticks. The tubes of glue by contrast were the size of large pastry tubes. No matter how gently you depressed them they would blurp out a pint or so of a clear viscous goo whose one instinct was to attach itself to some foreign object—a human finger, the living-room drapes, the fur of a passing animal—and become an infinitely long string. Any attempt to break the string resulted in the creation of more strings. Within moments you would be attached to hundreds of sagging strands, all connected to something that had nothing to do with model airplanes or World War II. The only thing the glue wouldn’t stick to, interestingly, was a piece of plastic model; then it just became a slippery lubricant that allowed any two pieces of model to glide endlessly over each other, never drying. The upshot was that after about forty minutes of intensive but troubled endeavor you and your immediate surroundings were covered in a glistening spiderweb of glue at the heart of which was a gray fuselage with one wing on upside down and a pilot accidentally but irremediably attached by his flying cap to the cockpit ceiling. Happily by this point you were so high on the glue that you didn’t give a shit about the pilot, the model, or anything else.

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