New Smyrna Beach memories brought back in new e-book series
• "Stuck in sleepy New Smyrna Beach one last summer, Raine socks away her camp pay checks, worries about her druggy brother, and ignores trouble: Cal Koomer. She's a plane ticket away from teaching orphans in Africa, and not even Cal's surfer six-pack and the chinks she spies in his rebel armor will der...
By Suzy Kridner
"Stuck in sleepy New Smyrna Beach one last summer, Raine socks away her camp pay checks, worries about her druggy brother, and ignores trouble: Cal Koomer. She's a plane ticket away from teaching orphans in Africa, and not even Cal's surfer six-pack and the chinks she spies in his rebel armor will derail her ..."
From "Kicking Eternity" by Ann Lee Miller
NEW SMYRNA BEACH - Author Ann Lee (Fetterman) Miller led a nomadic life before settling with her family in New Smyrna Beach for her last two years of high school.
She grew up in Miami, lived on a sailboat in Coconut Grove, later moving to Stuart and New Smyrna Beach where she graduated from high school in 1976.
That life gave her plenty of fodder for her first novel, "Kicking Eternity," released earlier this month on Amazon.com, BarnesandNobel.com and Smashwords.com. A free download for computer, Kindle, Nook and other devices is available on Smashwords.
In offering the free downloads, Ms. Miller said, "I wanted to give back to the New Smyrna Beach community." "Kicking Eternity," is the first of a four-novel series set in New Smyrna Beach.
"It's a coming of age romance with the characters just out of college," said Ms. Miller during a recent phone interview from her home in Phoenix.
The book is labeled a romance, but "it isn't too steamy," Ms. Miller said. "There's no sex in my books but they sure waste a lot of time thinking about it."
Ms. Miller's parents divorced when she was 13 and she moved with her mother, Jeanette, and step-father, Ralph Behrens, to Stuart, where they ran the El Patio restaurant.
The family then relocated to New Smyrna Beach where he owned Behrens' Book Store, 511 Canal Street, and Ms. Miller spent hours dusting the bookshelves.
She said she always had a love of books.
"I was the kid with the flashlight under the covers reading," she said. "I went to the library when my parents' marriage was in meltdown. It was quiet and peaceful there and I read."
She credits her high school creative writing and journalism teachers, Linda Reader and Jan Spurgeon, with spurring her to major in journalism at Florida Southern College in Lakeland, and graduate from Ashland University in Ohio where she received a creative writing degree in 1980.
Ms. Miller is married to a minister, Jim Miller, and with raising four children, she took a hiatus from her writing career.
Now her children are ages 21, 23, 25 and 28, so she has been able to write full time for the last 10 years.
When she finished "Kicking Eternity," it won the 2009 First Place Long Contemporary Award in the Romance Writers of America Faith, Hope and Love Contest.
She didn't release it to the public until this month, when she was well on the way with her next three books, "The Art of My Life," "Arva's God" and "Tattered Innocence." They are coming out during the next year.
Ms. Miller said she still keeps in touch with friends in the New Smyrna Beach area.
On her last visit here several years ago, Ms. Miller and her friend Jackie Herold Jessup and her husband Chuck of Edgewater helped reacquaint the author with her former stomping grounds.
"Since we're still in town, Ann would call and say 'I need details for certain scenes.' Some things she remembered weren't there anymore or have moved," Ms. Jessup said.
Ms. Miller said she is very conscientious about the accuracy of her books.
She said she did a lot of research to make sure her novels were realistic.
She even asked Mr. Jessup to send her floor diagrams of a certain building to make sure it was correct in the second book in the series, "The Art of My Life."
"We're here to be her eyes," Ms. Jessup said. "She wants to be accurate."
Ms. Miller said she'd like to return to New Smyrna Beach this summer or fall, visit friends and perhaps give a talk about her books at the library.
"New Smyrna Beach is really home," said Ms. Miller. "I just made really good friends there. It was a safe place and they really welcomed me."
"The place where you're happy is home," she said.
Readers post reviews of 'Kicking Eternity'
Reviews of "Kicking Eternity" by Ann Lee Miller posted on Amazon.com have been very favorable.
Reviewer "Jutzie" says on Amazon: "Ann brings these characters to life. They are imperfect. A few think that drugs will help while others look for human comforters. One is just enabling another. As they hang onto their pasts or look into their futures ... you will be pulled along into their lives ... It does have romance in it but so much more. Looking forward to her books coming out later this year."
Reviewer "Ohioaloette" says, "Ann Lee Miller did a fantastic job of drawing the reader into the life of her characters. This book was hard to put down from the first chapter. I can't wait to read more from Ann Lee Miller!"
Another review posted by Larry R. Baker: "Although not my usual genre, I enjoyed reading this book by Ann Lee Miller. It was a great trip back to young adulthood and the struggles surrounding that time in life. And who do you trust?"
"Kicking Eternity" (Kindle Edition) by Ann Lee Miller, 218 pages, is available through www.amazon.com, www.BarnesandNoble.com and www.smashwords.com.
The author is offering free online copies of her first book through Smashwords. To download a free e-copy for computer, Kindle, Nook or other devices, go to http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/161225.
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