Friday, July 9, 2010

Guest Blogger, Jackie Lee Miles

It’s my pleasure to welcome author Jackie Lee Miles as the special guest blogger here at Thoughts in Progress on her tour of blogdom.

I’m especially pleased to open the blog up to Jackie as she is a Georgia girl so I’m happy to extend a warm welcome to a “home state” author. As we Southerners say, “She lives just down the road from me” when in reality it’s about a two to three hour drive.

Jackie is the author of ROSEFLOWER CREEK and COLD ROCK RIVER. She stops by today to answer some questions for me about her writing and ROSEFLOWER CREEK. Be sure to check at the end of the post for a giveaway.

First, could you give us a brief summary of ROSEFLOWER CREEK for those not familiar with it?

Roseflower Creek follows the short life and death of ten-year-old Lori Jean, a sensitive dreamer of a child who longs for a normal family life. After a fire she discovers a secret surrounding her step-father and pays the ultimate price.

What lead you to write this ROSEFLOWER CREEK?

It was inspired by an actual death penalty case in Athens, Georgia. A ten-year-old boy lost his life at the hands of his mother and step-father when he stole five dollars in the lunch room. When I read of his sad life my heart went out to him. I remember thinking, you poor little boy. It must have hurt so bad (physically, spiritually, and mentally). A little voice in my head called out to me: Yes, it did, and the morning I died, it rained.

I went to my computer and wrote the first fifty pages of Roseflower Creek without stopping. The article was such an inspiration.

What inspired you to write it from the child's point of view?

I thought telling the story from the grave in the protagonist’s own

words would be the most effective way to get the story to the heart of the reader. Lori Jean was so real to me, I hung on her every word. She said things like: My real daddy left when I was five on a day so hot they was giving out free fans.

Later when her mother decides to marry Ray, a no-good alcoholic who treats her badly, she says: I couldn’t understand my mama’s way of thinking. Ray was a terrible boyfriend. What made her think he’d be any better a husband?

Her wisdom astounded me.

What were the pros and cons of writing from the child's point of view?

The easy part was listening to Lori Jean as she spewed out her story. She was so deeply imbedded in my heart this part wasn't hard to do.

The really hard part was trying to keep the story an adult book without losing Lori Jean's voice. There's a fine line between Young Adult books and a main stream book when you're writing in the voice of a child. The Lovely Bones is a good example as is Peace Like a River and A Glass Castle

Most readers (and writers) are interested as to an author's process of writing. Do you have a system for writing or a schedule you keep when writing?

First of all I try to write every day but Sunday, not always an easy task. Life tends to get in the way. But I work hard to stay on schedule. I’m a firm believer that keeping ones fingers on the keyboard is the perfect way to ward off writer’s block.

Initially, when I begin a book, I listen to the voice of my character and what they have to tell me. Usually these characters are inspired by an incident in my own life or something that I’ve read, as in Roseflower Creek. In my second novel Cold Rock River, the story came from the time my baby sister choked on a jelly bean. She survived, but fifty years later when I was trying to go to sleep, I recalled the memory and it was fresh as newly skinned knees. I got up and wrote the opening line:

I was five-years-old that spring Annie choked on a jelly bean. She was twenty months old; she wasn’t supposed to have any. Mama made that quite clear. Sadly I wasn’t a child that minded well, so I gave her one anyway. I figured she should taste how good they were. I figured wrong.

Once the protagonist is firmly planted in my mind I keep writing until they have nothing else at the moment to say. That’s when I sit

down and start outlining the story, where it’s going, the story points that will get it there and what the best possible ending might be. Often times as I’m writing I don’t end up following the initial outline, but it does give me some type of structure to follow, and if I move outside the lines, I’m not concerned. Characters do have a habit of running away with the story and I usually follow them wherever they’re going.

Toward the end, I take another look at the story arc and see if I’ve fulfilled the promise I made to the reader when they picked up the book. Will it take them to a spot where they’re happy with the story? If I am extremely pleased, I have confidence that my reader will be, too. If I’m not, I go back and fix whatever it is that I feel is missing.

Then I start the process all over again with a new book and a new premise.

What is the best advice you've received that has helped you in your writing?

Read, read, read and write, write, write. That’s the best advice I’ve received and the best advice I can give.

What is next for you? Do you have any books in the works?

I have a new book debuting in January that I expound upon in the next question. In the interim I am working on Summer Ridge, my latest. In this novel, twelve-year-old Mary Alice Munford struggles with the knowledge her mother plans to marry her father, a man who abandoned them before she was born.

Anything we haven't touched on you'd like to share with the readers?

I hope they’ll check out my latest novel that debuts January, 2011. It’s titled ALL THAT’S TRUE. Sourcebooks calls it “an authentic coming-of-age tale with a terrific takeaway.”

It follows the life of thirteen-year-old Andrea St. James (Andi for short), who discovers in the summer of 1991 during the first Desert Storm War, that her father is having an affair with her best friend’s sexy new step-mother. With equal joy and equal sorrow, the book celebrates Andi’s coming of age where she uncovers the allusive nature of truth and the devastating consequences of deception.

Here’s the opening:

My life was close to being perfect until my brother Alex got killed. Then my mother started drinking and my father started having sex with Donna, my best friend’s stepmother. She not even thirty years old. Me and Bridget—that’s my best friend—we saw them through the window of the pool house and nearly stopped breathing. You would not believe the moaning. For a life that was moving along really well, right now everything sucks.

Look for it in January 2011 and pick up a copy! All great best,
Jackie Lee Miles

Jackie, thanks so much for stopping by today and guest blogging. Your writing process sounds intriguing. I like that you write until the characters stop talking.

For a little background on Jackie. As I said, she and her husband live in Georgia where she is a featured speaker at book clubs, schools, and writer’s workshops. The author of three novels, Roseflower Creek was Jackie’s first, published to critical acclaim. When not writing, she tours with the Dixie Darlin’s, four nationally published book-writing belles. Her next novel, All That’s True, will be published by Sourcebooks Landmark in early 2011. For more information, please visit her at

Now for the giveaway, thanks to Jackie and Danielle at Sourcebooks I have two copies of ROSEFLOWER CREEK to giveaway to two lucky visitors commenting on her post between today and 8 p.m. on Saturday, July 17. The giveaway is open to residents of the U.S. and Canada only (sorry). Be sure to include your e-mail address with your comments if it isn’t included in your profile.

If you are an author, what are your thoughts on writing from the POV of a child? If you are a reader, do you enjoy books that are told from the child’s point of view?


  1. Another great interview. The plots of her two books really pull at the heart. I will definitely check them out. Thanks.

  2. That sounds like a powerful story.

  3. I had no idea you live in Georgia! I'm just a little north of you in South Carolina.

    Another great interview! I'm excited about the book now.

  4. This is a new to me author and I thank you so much for bringing her to my attention. Love the covers of the books and the stories sound like ones that I would enjoy very much. My heart is always touched when the book is told from the child's point of view - so poignant.

    I love stopping by here and seeing who you've got to share with us! Keep up the good work!

  5. Jackie, thanks so much for guest blogging here today. It's fun having a Georgia author stopping by.

    Hi all, thanks so much for stopping by and for the kind words. Hope everyone has a great day. I'm off to work shortly so it's be late when I check back in.

  6. I like reading first person POV's, whether from a child or an adult. I think it would be difficult to write from a child's POV because as an adult, we've lost that innocence of discovery and wonder.

    And what a sad inspiration for a story! It's sad what some people lose their life over.

    meredithfl at gmail dot com

  7. Sounds like an intriguing book. I generally prefer to write 3rd pov, but I enjoy reading both 1st and 3rd.

  8. Thanks for featuring this wonderful novel. A book told from a child's viewpoint is interesting and unique. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

  9. Mason, thanks for introducing me to Jackie.

    I think it's very interesting that you write adult books from the POV of a child. Do you ever feel that your protagonist sounds or reacts too grown-up?

    I understand about the character speaking to you. A few years back while on a fellowship at the Vermont Studio Center, I started writing from a child's POV for a book I was working on and she kept going and going. She turned out to be a stronger character than the adult I had been writing. I think it was because she had so much to say.

    (Hi from another Georgia girl. I don't live there anymore, but was born there.)

    Straight From Hel

  10. This interview was fascinating and the book written from this point of view is compelling. rojosho(at)hotmail(dot)com

  11. It sounds like you've done a beautiful job writing from a child's POV, Jackie. I *haven't* written from that perspective, but I love the idea. I have 2 kids at home now, but thinking like them is sometimes tricky. It would be a tough POV to master.

    I'm (sorta) a Georgia cracker myself. Born at Ft. Benning and lived briefly in Macon.

  12. Thank you for an interesting post. I love the sound of the books, and will add them to my BTB list.(Books To Buy).

  13. Wonderful interview. Jackie, you've done an amazing job of capturing the narrators' young voices. I'm especially intrigued by ROSEFLOWER CREEK but don't know if I could read it without my heart breaking.

  14. This is an excellent interview, Mason.

    Jackie, Roseflower Creek sounds like a book I'd love to read. Lori Jean's voice pulled me in right away. Writing from the POV of a child sounds difficult, but if you have the child's voice in your head, and she won't let go until you tell her story, what choice do you have?

  15. WOW... just the book cover gets your attention!

  16. Roseflower Creek sounds wonderful! Great post. :)


I'd love to hear your thoughts on today's post. Thanks for dropping by.