Today on the blog, I’m privileged to have Rachael N. Miller make an appearance! Rachael is a dear friend of mine. She wrote Silent Stories, a book following her personal journey through miscarriage that means a lot to me, and she’s also starting to dabble in fiction again. Hope you enjoy!
*Content Warning: Miscarriage
Hi, Rachael! Thanks so much for joining us!
When did you first discover your love of writing?
R: I always enjoyed creative writing projects in school. Whenever I got to create stories or write poems my artsy side really got to come out.
The first time I actually got “serious” with writing was when I was around 12-13 years old. My friend and I wrote fanfiction for our favorite series at the time, Redwall (featuring our own original characters of course.) 😉 Around that time I was also writing my own little “novels” jumping on any story idea that I could think of, but none of them really got anywhere. It wasn’t until a few years later when another homeschool friend suggested the One Year Adventure Novel (OYAN) writing curriculum that one of my projects actually got finished… and the rest is history.
When did you first publish? Did you enjoy your self-publishing experience?
R: I first published my own little adventure novel when I was 18 for my senior project in high school. The Black Robin of Ferryn was the result of the OYAN writing curriculum and I had spent 3 years of editing it before finally self-publishing through a couple different companies. There’s nothing like publishing your first book; even knowing that your work will hopefully grow and become better as time moves on; seeing your work in print for the first time is amazing to say the least.
Something I did realize with self-publishing is that it is a lot of WORK. The benefit of having a traditional publisher is that they do all the work for you for a cut in the profits. I think beginning writers should definitely try self-publishing out just so they can see the vast extent of work that goes into it as well as develop a sense of pride in their accomplishments. With self-publishing you have to do all the marketing yourself and to really get your work “out there” you need to be quick to seize opportunities. The hard part is that daily life often gets in the way so it can be difficult to maintain.
How did your self-publishing experience compare to when you went through a small traditional publisher for Silent Stories?
R: I don’t see the micro-publishing house I went through as a “traditional publisher” so much as a business helper/consultant. They were able to do all the work I did myself for my first book in less time and get the new book in printable condition. With Black Robin I had a hand in every step of the process, even designing the cover and formatting it to fit just right into print. With Dot’s House, I made the overall decisions on how things would look, but the micro-publisher did all the “dirty work” for me. It was definitely helpful, but unfortunately they weren’t able to give me the marketing that I desired for Silent Stories; so I am on my own again. They are definitely a good choice for authors who want to get into publishing, but don’t have a lot of time to commit to it because of other obligations.
I’ve already read your book (and loved it, since it’s so personal to me!) but can you tell us what it’s about and how it correlates to your journey?
R: Silent Stories: Sharing Hope, Love, and Loss after Miscarriage was my personal reflections on something that impacted me so deeply, but also my way of bringing awareness to a really common issue that isn’t really talked about. After my miscarriage, I felt so alone and had to really dig to find comforting resources and articles with people’s stories of how they felt just like I did after losing a baby. I was shocked to find out how common miscarriage really is, because before having one I would never hear about it. There are some books out there on this topic, but not a lot I could find that dealt with miscarriage specifically. Writing Silent Stories was my way of giving voice to how I felt along with the other women I interviewed. Even the name is a reflection on how so many women have stories and dreams that they keep to themselves because miscarriage is kind of a “taboo” subject. It was and is the resource I hope to give to other people who may be struggling after a loss that I couldn’t give myself, as well as a way to validate women and couple’s who are grieving.
Do you plan on writing more non-fiction, or are you hoping to delve back into fiction in the near future?
R: Both actually! I have both fiction and non-fiction ideas that I would love to explore eventually. I’ve had it in mind to write a non-fiction about my fears about sharing my faith, evangelism, and self-worth growing up as an evangelical in the United States. It would be kind of a reflection on what the church in America has gotten right and wrong in their approach to evangelism and the lies that I believed as I struggled with pressures and unfair expectations that I put on myself.
Currently my 2 WIPs (work in progresses) are both fiction. I still love working with the YA audience, but genre is something I’ve played with a lot recently.
Are you working on anything right now? If so, would you mind telling us about it?
R: I am working on two WIPs right now! (Why did I do this to myself?) I am working on a book idea I’ve had for a little while seen from the “mentor’s” perspective instead of the hero’s perspective. The mentor has such a different view on the events of the “hero’s journey” and I thought it would be neat to see it from his/her perspective for a change. I am also co-writing a mystery novel with my mom set in the roaring twenties—not sure when we will finish it, but I would like to get it out in 2020 as a nod to the new “twenties” decade.
What inspires you to write?
R: Gotta ask me those hard questions, don’t ya? 😉 I guess I have always been a deep thinker, but writing has been the best way for me to communicate what I’m thinking clearly and cohesively. I have also always loved making stories. Imaginative play was something that I enjoyed as a child—creating my own worlds and characters. Writing is almost another way of doing that that is more accessible (and appropriate?) now that I am an adult.
Who are some authors that inspire you to become a better writer?
R: I love writers that write creative descriptions or beautiful prose. I also love strong characters. N.D. Wilson is my current favorite for all of these categories and I also admire authors like Ann Voscamp, Frank Peretti, Agatha Christie, and L.M. Montgomery.
What is the hardest part about writing for you?
R: Would I even be a creative writer if I didn’t say editing? 😉 Though this is not technically hard, outlining and planning before diving right in is sometimes pretty hard to force myself to do. I know it’s necessary that a good story needs good structure and thought behind it, but sometimes I just get so impatient to start writing the FUN stuff already!
Do you have a favorite snack or drink you enjoy while writing?
R: Tea (in any form: traditional, herbal, matcha, chai, etc.) or a coffee latte is always fun to have around. Coffee shops are one of my favorite atmospheres to write in because of the chill vibe.
What is some advice you can give aspiring authors out there that you wish you had known when you began your writing and publishing journey?
R: -Finishing a story is HARD. You need to write often and diligently—even when you fall “out of love” with your initial story idea. Don’t wait for yourself to feel like writing to write, but don’t let yourself burn out either.
-“Make it real before you make it good.” It’s not going to be perfect the first time, or even the 100th time. There will ALWAYS be things you could have changed. And it’s okay to get it out there with flaws in it.
-Structure is a must. Stories aren’t just a bunch of exciting scenes hashed together, they need a purpose and a sense of direction for people to follow them and keep reading.
-Don’t make your hero/heroine black out all the time. “Blacking out”, “It all went dark”, or “losing consciousness” isn’t healthy for your characters or your story quality. It’s kind of a cheap escape out of describing horrible circumstances that would be more interesting if the hero had to face it head on. 😉
Whether with Silent Stories or with any other books you publish in the future, what do you want readers to take away from your work?
R: I think all authors hope that their books are impactful and unforgettable. I hope that people are able to enjoy the scenes, characters, or themes that I explore and see my heart behind why I do what I do. If it is fiction, I hope my “play” allows people to immerse themselves in the world and fall in love with the characters so that they are sad when it is over; and if it is non-fiction, I hope my readers can glean some truth, find some comfort, and learn something new.
Rachael N. Miller is a young creative currently adventuring in Colorado. She lives in a “hobbit hole” basement apartment, and is married to a tall, green-eyed elf. She likes to play around with different ideas and genres for her books, but YA fiction has been a favorite pursuit. She spends most of her time serving people at Chick-fil-A, but on her days off she loves writing at coffee shops, frequenting her local farmers market, thrifting, or watching her favorite shows at home.