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Home > Author > Carol A Miller

Carol A Miller

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Member Since: Jan, 2006

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  Carol A Miller's Success Story

In My Own Words Carol A. Miller©2006

I didn’t even think about publishing a book! But it’s never too late to discover a new passion in life. We had it all…a happy marriage, a thriving business, an eighteen-year partnership that was only getting better through the years. Our full-service interior design firm established in 1979 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, was extremely successful. We had only begun to enjoy the best of times. We completed thousands of commercial and residential projects, regionally and nationally, to include Fortune 500 companies. It was a satisfying and viable career. The best part was that my husband and I were able to work together in harmony 24/7. Quite a rare occurrence in itself.

We were working towards our retirement to Gainesville. He was a staunch University of Florida fan and graduate and thought about lecturing at the college. I was planning to open an antique shop and perhaps write short stories. We settled in Orlando in 1992 as an interim move. Business was booming in Central Florida. Our repeat clients became the bread and butter of our business. New projects poured into the office on a daily basis.

That fall Larry became sick suddenly with a terrible illness. Horrified that no treatment in the world could prevent the spread of the disease, he died five short months later. He was only forty-six years old. In one fast swoop, I lost my best friend, lover and partner. Along with this great loss, I had to complete the on-going projects, and then formally close a lucrative business. It devastated me to sell that old clapboard colonial we resurrected and loved so well. Next I had to sift through, dispose of and pack up the lifetime that we had built together, to move to a planned, but unfamiliar location—alone.

I was bereft. Since we co-founded the corporation, we agreed to close it. I didn’t want another partner. He was irreplaceable, and it simply wouldn’t be the same. I couldn’t even think about returning to the business we had built together. My daughter, Tara, concerned about my well-being, encouraged me to work through my grief by writing it all down. I sat at the newly purchased computer— tentatively at first. Spending countless hours rambling on about my vast experiences in life, from the time I was a little girl growing up in Middletown, New Jersey, to Larry’s death. I realized that there might be a story to tell. I forced myself to get up each morning to peck at the foreign keyboard.

Working through a myriad of mistakes, one time I completely delete the entire text, and start all over again. Since I am not a quitter, and I always finish what I start, I plowed along. But then my father passed away only fifteen months after my husband. How bizarre is that? I lost the second most important man in my life. The grieving started all over again. My parents were married for fifty years that year. Now that I must take care of my aging, grief-stricken mother, the book is put on hold again. After settling mom into an apartment close by, I resume the tedious task of trying to refocus, lamenting the unfortunate set of circumstances, trying to assuage the pain.

I meet a publisher/author in Orlando. His reviewer critiques what I have written thus far. She suggests that I rewrite the story in the first person and provides some helpful advice. With this input I rewrite the entire story incorporating her suggestions. This takes months. I remember the day I finish the last chapter. Excitedly I pop open a bottle of Moet and Chandon champagne to celebrate, and with great gusto and pure satisfaction, this labor through grief is now completed. All the time, effort and hard work produce a finished manuscript of love. But, now what do I do?

The birth of my first story, The Master of Plans has become a reality. The saga parallels my life—an adventure and journey through failure and success. I know that Larry would have been so proud of me. I feverishly enter all the contests. Painstakingly query traditional publishers and agents. Rejection! Rejection! Rejection! Well, you can’t take criticism too seriously. Regardless of unfavorable or distasteful opinions writing has become a catharsis!

I attend a seminar presented by a successful woman, a local author, who encourages me to self-publish. The on-line publishing company she used did provide an attractive, finished product. Internet publishing companies provide a relatively easy way to see your book in print. If you thoroughly understand the process, the cost is quite reasonable. Sounds like a plan!

When I read the statistics that only two percent of manuscripts submitted to traditional publishers are accepted each year, I decide to go the print on demand route. I do this not fully understanding the traditional publishing business, its alternatives or offerings: subsidy, vanity, short run, off-set, digital, blah, blah, blah. Then I am horrified to find out that there were 150,000+ books published that year alone. Further disappointed that retail bookstores, newspapers, some organizations, agents and traditional publishers frown upon self-published authors. They do not even acknowledge the POD existence—won’t even print a press release. Disheartened by the unsatisfactory working relationship and the lack of communication or promotion by the publisher, I have no intentions to use the services again. They are not author-friendly. Don’t promote your book.

I join various organizations, spend countless hours researching on the computer, and I continue to enter every contest I find. In the interim I write the next story— not really knowing if I can pull off a substantive sequel. I chronicle the experiences in my life since Larry’s death. The novel focuses on the many life-style changes that I’ve had to make, especially handling, what I now refer to as— the widow’s lament. Expounding on the main characters in the first novel, The Master of Plans Part II continues to follow the precarious, winding path. It’s a difficult journey, a real-life adventure on the rocky road to acceptance and forgiveness. Although I have no idea how this love story might end—maybe it doesn’t have an end? I remain hopeful, enthusiastic and determined. I continue to write and to plan.

I don’t know about you, but when I read a story—any story, I look for something that I can relate to. Seek to learn something new or to visit a place where I have never been before. I hate reading books that require a Webster’s dictionary referral after every word or having to decipher and unwind the Byzantine prose of problematic sentences. I favor an easy read, fast-paced novel. I prefer happy endings but realize that not every story ends that way.

I so enjoy expressing myself in the written word, that I’ve recently made an executive decision. Although writing has truly helped me through my grief, I aspire for much more than that. I want writing to provide an income. But…would it be—could it be— possible? The blueprint of life is, after all, a plan. Deciphering how you fit into that plan, or don’t fit into that plan is another long story.

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