Interview with Robin Leigh Miller: 'Black Smoke'

Robin Leigh Miller knows a little about finding romance in odd places. A retired dirt track racecar driver, she found love and adventure on the track. After three months of dating a fellow driver, he proposed and seven months later, they married. Now Robin gets her adrenaline rush from creating spunky, determined kick ass women that don’t let anything get in their way. Mix in her passion for the paranormal, action and adventure and you have some unique thrilling stories. Enter a world where anything can happen and hold on tight. It’s a bumpy ride but worth the trip as you watch her characters plow through what life throws at them and come out the other side more powerful and of course in love.

We interviewed Robin to find out about her writing life and her newest book, Black Smoke.

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

Robin Leigh Miller: Thank you for having me. At the risk of repeating myself in my bio, I’m a retired dirt track driver. I spent six years racing a stock car, a micro sprint, dune buggy and even a late model at our local dirt track in central Pennsylvania. I love adrenaline, it makes me feel alive. I met my husband on the track, we used to race against each other, got married and six years later had our first son. Number one son is now getting ready to run his first season in a stock car. Three years later I had another son and three years after that I gave birth to a daughter. What was I thinking? Girls are much harder to raise than boys. Seriously, she’s the best and will keep me on my toes for the rest of my life. Now we make a living building race engines for other drivers. Yes, I get down and dirty, or greasy rather. I can tear down an engine, machine most of the parts and even put most of it back together again. Life has changed for me since those days of ripping around the track. I took up reading and became addicted to paranormal, action and adventure romance novels. Four years ago I sat down and decided to try my hand at writing. A few blundered stories later, some heavy duty research, studying about constructing a story and Black Smoke came together and here I am.

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

Robin Leigh Miller: Black Smoke is about Samantha Wells, a young woman who watched her parent’s brutal murder. She too would have been killed if not for the help of a soft, quiet and calm voice she heard inside her head, the voice of her spirit guide. Adopted by her uncle, Sam grew up in the military world and quickly learned she had skills that could help those touched by the dredge of humanity. With the help of her spirit guide, Sam dons a black mask and the handle Black Smoke and completes missions others have failed to complete.

Mark Lowe, a.k.a. Kong, and his team are called in to assist Sam on a mission in Afghanistan. Mark is uneasy with the way Sam operates. She carries too many secrets, knows things she shouldn’t know. Most of all, he doesn’t like how she’s managed to work her way into his heart and soul. When the mission completes, Mark retreats to safer ground leaving Sam alone and emotionally devastated. Unwilling to listen to her uncle, Sam does what she does best, delves head first into a hell only Mark can pull her from.

Black Smoke was a product of my many years of reading about psychics, life after death and spirits. I’m a big believer that just because you can’t explain it doesn’t mean it isn’t real. Mix my interest of the paranormal in with my fierce patriotism and need for action and Samantha Wells and her team were born. I love reading fiction. I read for entertainment mostly and one day decided to give it a try. I wrote what I knew about, spirits, patriotism and romance. Now I get my adrenaline fix from writing action stories.


What kind of research was involved in writing Black Smoke?

Robin Leigh Miller: Like I said, I’d spent many years reading about spirits so I had a working knowledge of how I wanted that spirit to be a part of the story. As for the rest, when I needed to know something I turned to the internet, who doesn’t these days right? I’m not a big television watcher, but I do like shows about weapons, military weapons especially. It’s funny; my husband will turn on a show and ask if I need to watch it for ideas. He’s cute that way. History channel is where I discovered my weaponry knowledge for Black Smoke. The rest I pulled out of my twisted mind.


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

Robin Leigh Miller: I have to say it wasn’t easy at first. All those rejections can bring a person down and cause self doubt. My rejections mainly centered around publishers not needing my type of story at that particular time. So, I hit the smaller presses. Cerridwen Press liked what I wrote and signed me. It’s been clear skies and smooth sailing ever since. It’s nice to know there are publishers out there looking for something new and fresh.


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

Robin Leigh Miller: Three months and let me tell you I was shocked. It seemed like the world was spinning out of control at that point. Between edits, cover art and setting up a web site I had a hard time keeping up. Me, having a web site, it still makes me chuckle. I started out just seeing if I could do this and then slam, I’m up to my eyeballs in chats, emails and reviews. I love it!


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?

Robin Leigh Miller: I don’t have an agent. I tried to get one but once again it was the not looking for this genre at the moment routine. I think if you’re looking to be published by the big houses, the names everyone is familiar with, you need an agent in your corner or else your manuscript is floating in a sea of others and you don’t really have much of a chance. I’d love to have an agent, so if any are out there looking to sign a new, fresh voice with a scary mind, I’m available.


Do you plan subsequent books?

Robin Leigh Miller: I actually have seven titles published. Black Smoke is my only print book. The others are released in ebook. Boomer’s Fall and Ricochets Rogue are the sequels to Black Smoke. Then I have thrillers titled Running Blind, Force of Nature and Soulless. I released a short story in February titled Country Loving, a thriller as well. I donated Country Loving to raise money for the American Heart Association through All Romance eBooks. My current WIP is about the military. Guess you’ve figured out I’m kind of a groupie when it comes to military. Seriously, I hold our serving men and women, along with vets, in the highest regard. My undying gratitude to them and their families.


Can you describe your most favorite place to write?

Robin Leigh Miller: Most people work at a nice desk all organized. Me, I sit in my overstuffed recliner in my living room with my feet tucked up under me, an annoyingly loud timer to remind me that people need to eat, and my dog at my feet. She’s a German shepherd and occasionally sends me jolting from my chair when a car goes by that sounds funny. I live in the country, so cars don’t go by all that much but if a big truck rolls down the road she thinks she needs to warn it away. My notes are piled beside my chair in an organized chaos that only I seem to understand. I used to have a room where I sat at a desk but number one son needed a bedroom of his own so I sacrificed. What us moms won’t do.


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

Robin Leigh Miller: Billboards, lots and lots of billboards with my book cover ten stories high right in everyone’s face. I’d also advertise on television during Idol or any of those reality shows that make me nauseous. I’d even buy advertising space in shoe stores, right between all the gorgeous heals and stylish summer sandals. That’s where my target audience is, right?


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

Robin Leigh Miller: Self-promotion is key. You have to take charge of getting your name and book out there or it won’t happen. Most publishers don’t do much promotion so you absolutely have to do it yourself. I hit review sites on the internet, work the networking sites and even bought a local newspaper add. Word of mouth is good, if you know a lot of people. Business cards, bookmarks, pamphlets, contests, anything you can do to bring people to your site and get your name and book out there is helpful. Choosing a good promotional company that has connections is great. I’m using Pump Up Your Book and they have opened doors that I never even knew existed.


What’s the most common reason you believe new writers give up their dream of becoming published and did you almost give up?

Robin Leigh Miller: I’d say the number one reason is rejection. If you want to be in the publishing industry you have to be able to take rejection. Brush it off, learn from criticism and keep forging on. Nothing worth while comes easily. If the big houses are turning you down, maybe you can find support in the smaller presses. Work your way up, stepping stones. I haven’t wanted to give up yet. I’m sure I’ll hit some very large hurdles through my journey but I’d like to think I’m the type of person that will scrap, claw and climb my way over those hurdles.


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

Robin Leigh Miller: If writing is your passion then keep writing. If you think you’re lacking something then find a writers course, attend a seminar, research do anything you have to do but don’t give up your dream. It’s your dream and no one can take it away from you.


Thank you for your interview, Robin. I wish you much success!

Robin Leigh Miller: Thank you so very much for your time and for helping me promote Black Smoke. I wish everyone excitement in their lives, romance in their hearts and a little paranormal mixed in to keep things interesting.


You can visit Robin's website at www.robinleighmiller.com or her blog at www.robinleighmiller.blogspot.com. Connect with her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/robin.l.miller1?ref=profile or visit her at Author's Den at www.authorsden.com/robinleighmiller.
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