Monday, May 7, 2012

Author Splash with Mark Miller

Hello fans! Hope you're enjoying the Blast From the Past Series on the JLB Creatives Blog. Things have been so much fun around here as we're gearing up to make some major changes. In the future you'll begin to see these major upgrades! We can't wait, and hope you'll enjoy them as much as we are having pulling it all together!

This week I'm chiming in "live" while I catch my breath from all of the renovating going on
 ;-) We're going to do an Author Splash!

In my travels around doing book signings, meet n' greets, and so much more, I've had the pleasure to meet so many wonderful and amazing authors. When you're working hard, networking online, it's a true treat to connect with fellow authors from around the world. But there's nothing like connecting with an author who lives only but a few miles from you - one that you didn't even know was local! 

Because we write within the same genre, there's talk about future plans of getting together to give Central Florida a taste of the talent that lies within its boundaries.

This is an exciting post - so get ready...I want to introduce you to my latest fellow "local" author, Mark Miller.

Author Mark Miller 
Introduction Video

Take it away Mark...

I used to have hair. I keep it cut short these days. I figure if it works for Bruce Willis, then it will work for me.
Somehow, it’s coming up on my twentieth high school reunion. Somehow, I’ve been married almost a decade and a half. Somehow, I have four children. It has all gone by at blazing speed. I’m not forty yet, so I figure I still have some pretty good writing years ahead of me.
I grew up, like a good child of the eighties, in Kansas City, Kansas. Technically, I was born in the first half of the seventies, but spent my teen years in the eighties. I remember watching Star Wars on the big screen, with the original special effects. I still say A New Hope is the best of all of them.
I have a great baby brother. I managed to pick up another wonderful brother and sister along the way through my father’s second marriage. I enjoyed my child and teen years. We did some amazing family things, like running a video store during the VHS boom and operating a public, Olympic-size swimming pool.
Spending more than a few years in the video store fostered my love of movies and TV. I have seen countless classics and more than a few duds. I joke that I have about 100 movies on my Top 10 list. There are so many greats and so many that influenced my writing. From the Rankin/Bass Hobbit to Excalibur to Krull, my love of fantasy grew.
I also took time to read. Narnia and Prydain are among my favorite series. Other works, like Shakespeare, Grimm and even Heinlein shaped my reading universe.
Somewhere along the way, I got older. I’m not going to admit to growing up or maturing. That probably won’t happen. My wife still introduces me as her fifth child.
I met Traci under the most improbable of circumstances. We literally lived in two different worlds. I was in Wyandotte County, Kansas and she was in Independence, Missouri. It might as well have been LA and NY. Meant to Be, the first story in the One series, gives all the details. After that, I can only say my life has gotten better. I became a husband to an amazing, strong and compassionate woman. I became father to four brilliant, beautiful children. Then I became an author. The best thing about Traci is not only is she my inspiration, but also she is my toughest critic. Nothing goes to my publisher without passing under her sharp eye. She will read this before it gets posted. 
I can reflect on the past and see that I have had a pretty good life so far. I proposed to my wife in the rose garden under the fireworks at Disney World’s Magic Kingdom. We honeymooned in Paris, of course visiting Disneyland there too. We moved to Florida to be closer to Mickey and pals. Disney, like Star Wars, is a big influence on me. Thankfully, my wife shares the same excitement for Disney parks and movies. We have future plans of visiting the parks in Hong Kong and Japan.
I say I’ve had a good life, but it’s not only about going to Walt Disney World. We’ve been to the Grand Canyon, Mount Rushmore, Carlsbad Caverns, Las Vegas, and so many more places. Like the cliché, it’s not the destination, but the journey. I have been to these places and done these things with my family. I tell people we are a crowd wherever we go. But we are the best crowd I’ve ever been in.
That’s what it comes to: the love of family. Everything I do is for them. In my life and in my writing, I want to show them the best of what they can be. I give them positive role models that have to overcome difficult tasks and make hard choices. I want them to be strong and independent. That’s what I’m about. That’s what my writing is about.

Mark's upcoming appearances:

Excerpt from Secret Queen:
Author Mark Miller

Chapter 11

Meet Karl Lumpkin

Olena knew the red bird wanted to be followed. Still, it did not slow down as Ovara and Kez pushed their way through the crowded market. Ovara slammed into a lion-headed man.
“Watch where you’re going, child,” he growled.
“Sorry,” she said without looking back.
Finally, they made it out onto the smooth sand street. The ibis circled once, and then headed down one of the long avenues. The bird stayed far enough ahead that Ovara had to constantly run not to lose sight of it.
Ovara wanted to give up the chase. Olena urged her to continue. She thought, “Have faith.”
“That’s it,” boomed Ogustus’ voice inside her head and in the bronze room.
Olena opened her eyes and broke her connection with Ovara. After the bright southern sun, Olena could barely see in the lonely darkness. She waited a moment for her eyes to adjust.
“Did you say something?” Olena asked the unmoving statue of Ogustus.
He did not respond. Still, Olena believed he said “That’s it” when she told Ovara to have faith. She wondered if this had something to do with the ring’s rules.
Since Ogustus did not answer, Olena concentrated on Ovara again. When she made her connection, the bright day almost blinded her. It did not help that the ibis swooped down a side alley. The narrow twists and turns made Olena feel sick and disoriented.
Thankfully, Ovara stopped and Olena could get her bearings. Then Olena realized why they had stopped.
In front of them, three children, all younger than Olena, scrounged through garbage. They seemed to be searching for food. They wore torn clothes and smelled like they had not bathed for many weeks.
Olena felt bad for the children, but she could feel Ovara’s heart breaking. Then anger replaced the despair. Ovara reached into her pouch and gave the young ones the last of their own food. Olena understood Ovara would rather let herself starve than see that happen to another child. This made Olena think that maybe Ovara put on her tough attitude to keep from getting hurt.
Now, Olena took a chance to see where they were. When she broke the connection, she lost track of their progress. Trying to figure it out, Olena knew that she could not find her way back to the marketplace from here on her own. Ahead, she could see the scarlet ibis perched on a window ledge, waiting. Then behind her, she thought she glimpsed two figures following them. They looked like jackals.
She waited, but nothing happened. Olena thought she must have imagined the two jackal-headed men watching them. No one came down the alley. Again, she guessed, her anxiety over her magic caused her to see people that were not really there like back at the Palace by the Sea. She decided not to volunteer this to Ovara.
Ovara finished with the kids. “Now where, bird?” she asked the ibis.
The ibis continued through the maze of side streets. It moved slower at each turn, apparently trying to decide which way to go. At the end of a particularly skinny alley, the scarlet ibis disappeared behind a canvas curtain that served as the door to a well hidden house.
Ovara rushed in after the bird without knocking or asking if anyone was home. Olena could not see the bird anywhere in the cluttered room. Amidst an assortment of vibrantly colored pillows and cushions, she saw a variety of gadgets. Some looked broken, some unfinished, some completely unusual. They were made of everything from wood and metal to a polished cow skull.
Nowhere could Olena find the scarlet ibis, except for a crude painting on one wall. It had red wings and a long curved beak, but one leg was longer than the other. Olena thought maybe a young child drew this because the drawing was not very good. Then she noticed a single red feather drifting down in front of the wall. She wondered if the real bird turned into this drawing.
Ogustus’ voice interrupted her thoughts. “Or maybe this drawing turned into the bird?”
Olena’s mind snapped to the bronze room. Ogustus sat waiting for her with a broad smile across his face. This time, he did not hide in his statue form.
“I think you have discovered it, liddel lady,” he said.
“What did I discover?” asked Olena. “The next rule?”
He leaned forward as if he wanted to tell her a secret. “What made you follow the bird?”
“I don’t know,” shrugged Olena. “It seemed like the right thing to do.”
“And now, what has happened to birdie?”
She looked around the room, hoping Ogustus would give her a hint. He did not and Omarika did not help either.
“I think,” Olena clicked her teeth with her tongue, “I believe it turned into the painting.”
“Back where it came from, eh?” Ogustus lumbered down from his seat. He moved very close, so much that Olena felt like she needed to step back. “You have faith then?”
She thought about this for a moment. To her, that word had a deeper meaning and she did not think she fully understood it. Her father used to talk about faith, especially at times when the fish were scarce or the storms were bad. He said to have faith and everything would be alright. Olena believed him and she believed in other things she could not prove. That seemed good enough for her.
“Yes,” she answered. “I have faith.”
“Then you have learned the second rule,” said Ogustus.
He bumped her with his protruding stomach. Olena thought she would crash into the mirror. Instead, she splashed through it like falling on her back into the ocean.
 For a moment, Olena could not breathe. Then she stood in the middle of the cluttered room with the ibis painting on the wall. The Bronze Ring slipped off her thumb and clinked on the stone floor.
“You’re back!” exclaimed Kez.
Olena could not feel her connection with Ovara. She could feel the hot air and a slight hunger pang.
“I’m back,” cheered Olena. Kez jumped up into her arms for a big hug. Then she quickly scooped up the ring and carefully dropped it into her pocket. She did not want anybody else to get tricked into it.
“Oh, hello,” said a boy’s voice.
Olena turned around to see a tall skinny boy standing in the doorway. His untanned skin looked odd compared to all of the dark skinned people Olena had seen in this land. She guessed he must be about sixteen years old. His glasses made him look older and smarter, but his messy hair made him look younger.
“Weren’t you a different person a moment ago?” he asked.
Kez spoke up, “Trust me. They are very different.”
“In either case, I’m still me. Karl Lumpkin,” said the boy.
He stuck out a hand in greeting. Olena took it and curtsied as Cinderella taught her.
“Pleased to meet you. I’m Olena.”
“And what are you doing here? Wait, let me guess, you’re travelling in disguise?” Karl seemed to be trying hard to guess. “No, that’s not it.”
Olena giggled and then finished her introductions, “These are my friends Sylvan and Kez.”
Karl approached Kez. He tripped over his own feet and crashed into a table. He acted like nothing happened, saying, “Fantastic, a quzzak.”
“You know my kind?” asked Kez, looking somewhat pleased.
“Not yet,” said Karl.
What a strange response, thought Olena. Karl seemed very unusual.
“What does that mean?” she asked.
The older boy looked down at her from his foot and a half taller height. He said, “I expect you will know what it means before I do, even if it takes a hundred years.”
“You are strange,” laughed Olena.
“Quite,” agreed Kez.
“It’s okay,” said Karl, adjusting his glasses. “I get that a lot because I’ve done all this before. The only thing I can tell you is it doesn’t end well for me.”
Olena’s imagination raced. She believed the ibis led her to this house. If Karl Lumpkin lives here, then she was supposed to meet him. This must be Taweret’s gift. The boy seemed to be talking gibberish, but Olena wondered if maybe he could predict the future. He acted like he knew about things that had not happened yet. Olena could not think of a way to test if he was telling the truth.
Then Karl said, “Now, Your Majesty, do you have the ring?”
In surprise, Olena almost said “Yes.” She started to think she did not need to test him. Even if he recognized her as a Queen, she could not guess how he knew about the Bronze Ring.
“You can trust me,” Karl reassured her. “I told myself you’d be coming.”
Another weird saying, thought Olena. Karl Lumpkin both amused her and made her nervous. Something about him also made her trust him. Olena decided, on faith, to tell him everything.
She started with Banookanook and wanted to tell how she became queen. Karl already knew that, so she skipped to more recent events and showed him the ring.
“May I?” he asked, reaching for the small bronze crescent in her open hand.
Olena offered the ring to him and Karl took it over to his work bench. He examined it with his tools while Olena explored the rest of his one room house.
On another table, she found a book that appeared to be about the many obelisks around the city and across the Southern Valley. Olena could not read the foreign writing, but she thought the pictures looked interesting. One showed the sun’s rays reaching down from the sky to become the obelisks. Another page showed beams of light shooting out of the obelisks toward what seemed to be an attacking army.
“Can you feel their vibration,” Karl asked without turning to see what she was doing.
Olena felt guilty for digging through his things. She did not understand what he asked her.
Karl turned toward her. “The obelisks. When someone with your power gets close enough, you should be able to feel the vibrations from their energy,” he said.
“Oh, yes.” Olena remembered the warm feeling she got. She also remembered that no one else seemed to notice it.
“I haven’t quite got them figured out yet, but give me time and I will know their purpose,” Karl said. “Now, tell me more about this ring and how it changes your appearance.”
Olena told Karl about the Inhabitants. She explained that she could still see what happened outside when she was inside the ring. At least, that is how she thought of it. Olena imagined it was more likely that the bronze room existed inside the ring instead of somewhere far away.
She had a hard time concentrating because she wanted to play with all of the things that appeared to be toys in Karl’s house. His inventions and devices seemed to be very fun, although she could not determine a purpose for any one of them. If they worked, Olena guessed they would make a lot of movement and noise.
One particular piece caught her attention. It had a circular base about as wide as her hand. She counted ten pieces of metal sticking up from the edges that looked like tiny sails from a pirate ship.
“What does this do?” asked Olena.
The answer disappointed her. “But it must do something. It looks like fun.”
“That is my problem. None of my creations ever work. I pride myself to be an inventor and alchemist. However, I am not successful with either. In fact, I am regularly and regrettably laughed out of the marketplace and have never been allowed in to see Queen Isis,” explained Karl.
Olena felt bad for him. Karl seemed too nice. She wanted him to be successful even though she did not know him. She wished she could do something. With no better thought, she absently spun the circular invention.
“I’m doomed to be a failure,” said Karl.
The device kept spinning after Olena took her hand away. She thought it appeared to be spinning faster. On their own, the sails shifted from pointing up to laying flat. The spinning object reminded Olena of her flying mayflower. The sails kept spinning like those giant petals. Then like her mayflower, Karl’s creation lifted off the table.
“Doomed until now,” Karl corrected himself. “What did you do?”
“Nothing. I only touched it. I’m sorry.” Olena thought she might have done something wrong.
“Quick, touch something else,” exclaimed Karl.
Olena moved about the room, putting her hands on every contraption she could see. Her excitement built with Karl’s and he kept getting more and more excited. Soon flying, singing, crawling, ringing inventions filled the room. Instead of being angry, Karl must be thrilled to see his work come alive, she thought.
“Do you know what this means?” asked Karl. He put his hands on Olena’s shoulders to hold her still, and then he picked her up in a great hug. “We work!”
“You mean, they work.” Olena tried to correct him as he swung her about in his arms.
Karl gently set her down on a big cushion. He knelt to match her height. “No, I meant we work. You and I together work. My best ideas were nothing without your magic.”
This sentence knocked the breath out of Olena. She did not realize she had been using her magic. For too long she had been trying too hard. Now without thinking, it had happened.
“We work!” shouted Olena. And the relief of her magic working almost made her cry.
She wanted to user her magic on something else. Olena knocked a large cushion out of her way to find something else. The sight behind it terrified her.
She stared into the face of a Rockhorn. The giant stone monsters almost destroyed Castle Empyrean and she did not even notice one buried under some pillows in the corner of Karl’s small house.
Olena only had a moment to see the club and spike that served as its hands before Kez yelled, “Run!”
Olena did not quite make it to the door when Karl stopped her. He said, “You’re not going anywhere.”
Olena did not think he was bad, but maybe she was wrong. In the short time she had known him, she did not believe Karl would hurt her.
He said, “Wait, it’s not alive.”
Olena turned back to get another look at the Rockhorn. She stared in shock.
It had not moved. She suspected a real Rockhorn would have attacked her by now.
“I bought this off a guy who fought in that battle. He and some friends dragged it all the way back here as a trophy. When his wife saw it in her living room, she did not allow him to keep it. I’ve been trying for a year, but haven’t been able to reanimate it,” explained Karl.
The carved face stared back at her in a menacing way. She felt bad for thinking Karl had been trying to trap her, but even a lifeless Rockhorn still scared Olena. She studied its face. The small spikes circling its head looked like a sort of crown. It also had deep grooves all over its body inlayed with gold. If Olena did not know these things were evil, she could easily mistake the Rockhorn for a royal treasure. The stone legs, as wide as her body, looked uncomfortably folded beneath it. Olena wondered what would happen if she touched it.
“Do it,” said Karl.
She thought for a moment that Karl could read her mind. Then Olena decided he was as curious as her. However, she thought not touching the monster would be the better choice. She did not want a Rockhorn rampaging through Hierakonpolis.
Karl moved closer and tripped again. He toppled to his hands and knees. Olena could not believe how clumsy he was. This time, though, he tripped over Sylvan, who had been left to dodge the wildly moving toys on the floor. Luckily for him, many of them were already dying down.
“Sorry about that, little fellow,” apologized Karl. He made himself comfortable on the ground.
While sitting on the floor, Karl picked up Sylvan. He adjusted his glasses and then his eyes got wide.
Karl said, “I have an idea.”

Where can you find Mark on the web?

Blog - -or- - personal page, I am accepting friend requests - official fan page of The Empyrical Tales - a collection of spiritual, faith-inspired stories by Award-Winning and Best-Selling authors - The "Small World Global Protection Agency" is an educational and entertaining series for young readers - "Sons of the King" is a Christian-influenced sci-fi/fantasy co-written by my 9 yr old daughter
Twitter - @AuthorMark - Kindlegraph is a website where authors can email autographs to their Kindle readers - book trailers, readings and vlogs
I am also on Goodreads, Red Room, Florida Writers Association and many more!


  1. Now THIS is what I call a splash, Janet. And Mark, it's great getting to learn all about you and your books. I especially enjoyed the photos accompanying this feature.

    Great job, Janet! Splash on...and on...

    Hugs - Betty Dravis

    1. Hello lovely Betty! Thanks so much for stopping by and leaving a comment. It was really cool to find an author who I connected with right here in my home town! He's doing really cool stuff - and I'm looking forward to having the chance to hopefully be a part of the meet n' greets Mark is putting together for us along with a few other authors. What fun!!! Huggers and vanilla to you! ~Janet~

  2. Thanks, Betty! I am humbled by the wonderful post Janet put together.

  3. Hey, precious, Thanks for having two of my books on your Shelfari shelf, but don't forget to add SIX-PACK OF BLOOD and my TOONIES INVADE SILICON VALLEY. Nothing like being pushy, is there. :-)

    Love you, Janet, and this is an awesome site, just like all your sites.

    Hugs - Betty Dravis

    1. Pushy is good - some times I even need a "shove" to make sure I remember the important stuff! I'll head over and add them both right now ;-) Thanks for the heads-up Betty! Love ya ta bits <3


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JLB Creatives Editor Dar Bagby (L) and JLB Creatives CEO Janet Beasley (R)