Interview with Woman's Fiction Author Phyllis Zimbler Miller

Phyllis Zimbler Miller is a former Mrs. Lieutenant and lives with her husband in Los Angeles. The co-author of the Jewish holiday book “Seasons for Celebration,” she has written a success guide for teens. She welcomes messages and visitors at her website at www.mrslieutenant.com or her blog at www.mrslieutenant.blogspot.com.

Welcome to The Writer's Life, Phyllis. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how long you’ve been writing?

I’ve been writing since I was a kid. I won second place in the poetry contest at YWCA overnight camp in elementary school, and as a teen I spent one entire summer writing a novel about kids living in the White House.

Can you please tell us about your book and why you wrote it?

MRS. LIEUTENANT: A SHARON GOLD NOVEL is based on my experiences as a new army officer’s wife in the spring of 1970 during the Vietnam War. I wanted to preserve a specific period of women’s social history in the United States as well as a specific period of the U.S. Army in terms of race and religious prejudices. I wrote the book as a novel rather than as non-fiction to allow for a more dramatic structure as well as to protect identities.

What kind of research was involved in writing “MRS. LIEUTENANT”?

I have all my original documents from the first nine weeks I was a new officer’s wife –- the nine weeks my husband attended Armor Officers Basic at Ft. Knox, Kentucky. I also researched news events of that time period.

How much input did you have into the design of your book cover?

Because I went with a print-on-demand publisher -- total input. I wanted the cover to be face shots representing the four women protagonists and that’s what I got. I even substituted different photos for some of the ones first chosen by the designer.

Has it been a bumpy ride to becoming a published author or has it been pretty well smooth sailing?

I could wallpaper an entire house with my rejection slips over the years. But I kept learning more about good writing and then rewriting and rewriting this novel.

For this particular book, how long did it take from the time you signed the contract to its release?

There was no contract for this book. But my Jewish holiday book SEASONS FOR CELEBRATION -- published in 1992 by Perigee and co-authored with Rabbi Karen L. Fox -- was written in six months and came out less than six months later. And now that the rights have reverted to us, Karen and I have just released the second edition of SEASONS FOR CELEBRATION.

Do you have an agent and, if so, would you mind sharing who he/is is? If not, have you ever had an agent or do you even feel it’s necessary to have one?

I had an agent years ago (she’s no longer an agent) who didn’t sell my mystery novels but brought me the Jewish holiday book project. At this point in my life I was tired of spending my time trying to get an agent so that the agent could try to get a publisher for my work. I felt confident that there was an audience for this novel even though agents and publishers didn’t seem to “get” the story. And when MRS. LIEUTENANT was named a semi-finalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award and I was already midway through the print-on-demand process, I did feel somewhat vindicated.

Do you plan subsequent books?

I’m working on the sequel now –- MRS. LIEUTENANT IN EUROPE –- about living in Germany as part of an occupation force during the Cold War. And I have plans for a third book in the series.

Are you a morning writer or a night writer?

I’m a “when I can grab the time” writer. If I had my druthers, that would be morning.

If money was no object, what would be the first thing you would invest in to promote your book?

My entire focus for this book is internet marketing. I’m doing a virtual book tour now through www.pumpupyourbookpromtion.com, and I’m hoping that this will expose my book to lots of book readers. I can’t really know for sure until the tour is over, but I think this is the best investment because a virtual book tour allows an author to get “up close and personal” with readers.

How important do you think self-promotion is and in what ways have you been promoting your book offline and online?

Self-promotion is the name of the game. Unless you’re a major writer, and I mean major, a book publisher does very little promotion for an author. I no longer believe in book signings as Karen and I did for SEASONS OF CELEBRATION. As a marketing professional, I believe in maximizing exposure by bringing the promotion of a book to where people can just click and buy the book –- and that’s the internet.

Any final words of wisdom for those of us who would like to be published?

In deciding whether to go the “find an agent and then find a publisher” route or go the “print-on-demand” (self-publishing) route, you have to decide how much your time is worth. How much time can you devote to “finding”? But you do have to be sure that you’ve written and rewritten your book and gotten advice on your writing so that, in following either route, you’re putting out the best book you can possibly write.

Thank you for coming, Phyllis! Would you like to tell my readers where they can find you on the web and how everyone can buy your book?

MRS. LIEUTENANT is on Amazon, and the best way to buy it is go to my website at www.mrslieutenant.com and click through to the Amazon page. The website also has the first four chapters of the novel along with some of the original 1970 army documents I used for research.

ATTENTION: This book spotlight is being brought to you by Pump Up Your Book Promotion. As a special promotion for Phyllis' book, Mrs. Lieutenant, Pump Up Your Book Promotion is giving away a FREE virtual book tour or $25 Amazon gift certificate to one lucky person who comments on any of our authors' tour stops during June. Leave a comment below to have a chance to win one of these prizes! For more stops on Phyllis' blog trail, visit www.virtualbooktours.wordpress.com.

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