Jeffrey Miller

A Writer's Life

Tag: Oglesby (page 2 of 8)

This Book Review Rocks!

icecreamCover2There are book reviews and then there are book reviews!

This latest one left at Amazon for Ice Cream Headache, definitely rocks!

Jeffrey Miller is an instinctive navigator of the human heart. His ability to draw universal thoughts and emotions from commonplace characters in simple settings is reminiscent of Stephen King in Hearts in Atlantis.

In the novella, The Ice Cream Headache, the locale is a small town in rural America and the time is 1968. And while it is true that the troubling Vietnam War, combined with widespread civil dissent, enshrouds the drama which Mr. Miller slowly unfolds, the time and place could just have easily been a gloomy castle in medieval Denmark or a 19th Century whaling ship off the coast of New England. The Vietnam War as viewed from the homefront is, nevertheless, the flashpoint for the story and lends to it a certain texture, poignancy and intensity it might otherwise not have had. Under the low-lying dark cloud of war, the finely-crafted characters act out their personal dramas within a milieu of sadness, regret, guilt, envy, greed, cowardice, bitterness, prejudice, lust and small-minded cruelty. But there is also in equal measure all-consuming love, courage, loyalty, kindness, mercy, gentleness and the enduring strength of the human spirit. The well-developed characters, in Mr. Miller’s skillful hands, never trip over the central story drawn in lines which intersect at various points, many of which are only suggested and, therefore, sustain a tale suffused with psychological suspense until the end.

This is a book which is highly readable any time and anywhere, just as its events—both chronological and psychological—could have happened anytime and anywhere. The book’s powerful emotional content makes it one which can just as easily be read at one sitting or savored over time. Either way it is highly enjoyable.

Wow.

Where are you going to take us this time, Mr. Miller?

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You know, I had such a wonderful time writing Ice Cream Headache that I thought I would head on back to the Oglesby in the 1960s and see what else was back there to write about. My book in progress was originally a flash fiction piece I wrote back in 2010 while I was writing War Remains. A week ago, I read it again and went, “Hmm….”

This story is very near and dear to me, much the same way that Ice Cream Headache was.

If you enjoyed Ice Cream Headache, you’re going to like this one. I promise.

Have I ever let you down before?

Why I Write: Back to the basics

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It started with Invaders from Mars and Other Tales of Youthful Angst, followed by Ice Cream Headache, When a Hard Rain Falls (due out later this year) and now for my latest book in progress, Going Long, I am traveling once again back in time, back to the 1960s and back to Oglesby and the Illinois Valley.

This time, with Going Long, I am going back to my roots, though. Back to what got me interested in writing in the first place, but more importantly, back to the kind of books I liked to read as a child. Back to the kind of books I would order from Scholastic Book Services when I was a student at Washington Grade School and then wait anxiously for those books to arrive.

One of the first stories I wrote was a sports story about a young boy who is “drafted” by his favorite Little League team. Although this modest heartwarming attempt was more wishful thinking on my part because I really wanted to play Little League baseball and get to wear a real baseball uniform than a story per se (I never got around to finishing it as far as I remember) it was the kind of story that a young boy would probably want to read.

And that is where I am going with Going Long. It’s one of those stories that all writers feel they have to write for themselves and in my case, a story I want to write for my sons. What I have always wanted from the first time I picked up a pen and started to write was to write the kind of stories that I would like to read. Now I would like to write some stories that my sons would like to read.

But it’s all about telling a story and being a good storyteller. At the end of the day, that’s what matters most.

That is why I write.

You can’t go home again; or can you?

icecreamCover2Why did you write Ice Cream Headache?

That’s what someone asked me today who bought my book.

Because I wanted to go back home, back home to the memories which I have nurtured and cherished all these years. Memories like an old friend you’ve not seen for a long time but remember exactly everything the last time you met.

When was the last time you went home?

The Wheels of Fate

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In the split second that it took for him to decide to go after the man running down the alley, the wheels of fate turned against the both of them. He remembered yelling for the man to stop; the next thing he knew, he was kneeling down over the man trying to stop the bleeding.

Oh my God, what have I done?

What happened to Earl that summer night? Why did the wheels of fate turn against him and change his life forever?

Find out by downloading a copy of Ice Cream Headache today and traveling back to 1968 to find out happens to Earl. What is his dark, disturbing secret?

Lou’s Super Market — Oglesby, Illinois

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I only mentioned it briefly in Ice Cream Headache, but Lou’s Super Market has a special place in the novella.

I understand that Oglesby has been without a supermarket for fifteen years and that it will soon have a new one, a County Market. That’s great for Oglesby but for all of us who grew up in Oglesby,  Lou’s Super Market will always have a special place in our hearts.

On the shelves at Hy-Vee

Books at Hy-Vee“Hey Honey, I’m going to the store. Do you need anything?”

“Pick up a gallon of milk, a carton of eggs, and a loaf of bread and let’s see, oh yes, a copy of Ice Cream Headache.

 

Now On Sale at Peru’s HyVee

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I like what HyVee does: allowing local authors to sell one’s bo0ks at their stores. And now, people can buy Ice Cream Headache and War Remains, A Korean War Novel at the HyVee store in Peru, Illinois.

A few of my friends back in the Illinois Valley, including my best friend, Chris Vasquez, told me I should do this and that’s exactly what I have done. I sent a box of books to another friend, Billie Cassin, and she is going to be my go-between with HyVee. From this week, my books will be available at the Peru store.

Pretty cool, huh? It’s great that people, will browsing the books at HyVee will come across mine and perhaps buy it. Thanks to Anna Takahashi’s great cover design, Kris Wilke’s photograph and the blurb from the Boston Literary Magazine, people will most certainly notice it.

I might not be able to go home, but my books can.

Today HyVee. Tomorrow the world.

Ice Cream Headache: Looking Good!

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Whether you read it on your Kindle, Nook, iPad, iPhone, Android, Galaxy Tab…Ice Cream Headache looks good in any format on any tablet or phone.

The only way to find out is to try it out for size on the device or gadget which has made your life easier.

Kindle

Nook

Apple

Kobo

I have it on my iPad and it looks WAY cool!

Ice Cream Headache: My Journey Back to 1968

icecreamCover2I’m a student and a teacher of history and when it comes to writing both become quite evident in what I write.

My first novel, War Remains, A Korean War Novel took me back to the opening months of the Korean War, the breakout from the Pusan Perimeter, Kunu-ri, and the battle at Hoengseong. My interest in the Korean War was in part due to my coverage of Korean War commemorative events in Korea between 2000-2003 for the Korea Times, which also included meeting many veterans.

Although Waking Up in the Land of the Morning Calm is about my twenty-plus years living and working in Korea, the book is also a personal history of Korea and the changes which have occurred on the peninsula since I came to Korea in 1990. Besides the essays and articles about the Korean War, there is a special section about Panmunjom, including the article I wrote in 2001 about the 25th anniversary of the Panmunjom Ax Murder Incident.

There’s also a lot of history evident in Invaders from Mars and Other Tales of Youthful Angst. Though most of the essays are about growing up in Oglesby, Illinois, a town of 4,200 back in the 1960s and 1970s, there are a number of historical references, including, but not limited to, the Vietnam War, the Apollo space program, and 1960s television. Many of the essays in this collection started out as blog posts which I later revised and expanded. I tell people that if you like Bill Bryson or Dave Barry, you’ll like this collection.

And that brings me to Ice Cream Headache when I travel back in time again, this time back to 1968. I’ve always been fascinated with this year. A lot has to do with my own sort of prepubescent coming of age when I first really became aware of the world around me. Although Johnny Fitzpatrick is the only one directly affected by the historical backdrop, everyone has their own stake in the historical backdrop of the novella.

In many ways the history that ended up in Ice Cream Headache is also me waxing nostalgic about the Illinois Valley. (For those of you not familiar with the Illinois Valley, it is a geographical area approximately 90 miles southwest of Chicago with three main towns located along the Illinois River: LaSalle, Peru, and Oglesby; to the east there’s Utica and Ottawa and to the west Spring Valley.) It’s been over six years since I last was home; the history I remember and write about is also my way of maintaining an umbilical cord to “home.”

Reading Ice Cream Headache, Invaders from Mars and Other Tales of Youthful Angst, and War Remains, is reading me: who I am and where I’ve come from.

Come along for the ride.

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