Here’s where I try to answer some of the questions I most commonly receive. Got one that’s not on the list? Email me!
- What kind of books do you write?
Now that is a broad question! I have to admit I am never quite sure how to answer that one. I like to write books that are fundamentally positive and inspiring, as opposed to the negative, depressing storylines you sometimes find in books and especially movies. For instance, any science fiction I write is going to look to the future with hope for the potential waiting there. I do not subscribe to the view that humanity is a scourge that must be eliminated from the earth. I like to see the good guys win–although you can safely bet they will go through the wringer on their way to winning! As for other possible metrics for kind of books…
Genre? I write in several genres–more all the time. Right now, I have stories out in Epic Fantasy, Romantic Suspense, and Science Fiction. I’m sure I’ll continue to write in those genres, and who knows what new ones I’ll add later…
Length? All over the map, I’m afraid…My first fiction sale was Bad Water, a fantasy flash fiction piece that’s available free on my website. I’ve two novellas out–longer than a short story, but shorter than a novel. My romantic suspense tends to be normal novel lengths. And then there’s my Ravanmark series–which is what they used to call “doorstopper fantasy”, for reasons you can probably guess. 🙂 At the end of the day, I would love for the kind of books I write to be the kind you like to read.
- Is Sandra Miller your real name?
Yes. Although I have to admit it’s by marriage; my maiden name was George. But is it a pen name? No, it’s really me.
- Where do you get your ideas?
I wish I had a good answer for this. I think the truth is that I get my ideas from all over the place–things I’ve seen on television, or read about in research, will often converge with concepts I’m kicking around, or even conversations I might overhear. Any or all of these might be the spark for a story. I have a whole process for taking sparks to ideas that can be used–detailed in the writer’s side of my website. I have a notebook full of ideas I’d like to write someday, sorted my genre.
- Are your books suitable for children?
I’m going to say no here. I do know some people who have let teenagers of various ages read my work, but it is not written with children in mind. The Alexis Brooks series has some fairly graphic violence, and some sex. The Ravanmark Saga has violence, and sexual situations. The Crystal Cave doesn’t have anything like that, but it does have graphic portrayals of bodies that have been dea awhile, and reanimated dead. The Enemy in the Mirror has two college students living together who are not married. My kids have read my stuff. But the best thing to do when you’re in doubt is read the book yourself and decide, because nobody knows your kids like you do.
- Why can’t I borrow your book through KDP Select for Amazon Prime members?
As much as I would love to offer the option, I can’t in good conscience grant Amazon the exclusivity they demand. I have readers with Kindles. I also have readers with Nooks, with Sony eReaders, with iPads and Android tablets, and many others. I know what it’s like as a reader to want a book and not be able to find it. I won’t put any of my readers through that by making my work unavailable in the format they read. But I am sorry the borrow option is not available to you–as soon as Amazon offers the program without requiring exclusivity, I’ll be onboard!
- Are your books available for Kindle, Nook, (insert other eReader here)?
My books are available in every possible format I can put them in! You can find paperbacks at Amazon, or BN.com, among others. Ebooks are available through the Kindle store, the Nook store, the Sony eReader store, Kobo, Diesel, and many others. (The exception is for new releases–they can take time to work through all of those channels) If you can’t locate the book you want in the format you need, it’s probably available at Smashwords.com. And when all else fails, don’t be afraid to contact me! If it’s out there, I can guide you to it.
- Why don’t you use pen names?
This is a good question. The received wisdom these days is that a writer should use a different pen name for every genre, at least. Some advocate a different pen name even if the genre is the same, if the works have different tones. Many people have been quite successful using this advice. Of course we are all aware of the ubiquitous Nora Roberts/JD Robb example. For her, it was a great decision and it’s working well.
My own decision is to put everything I write under my own name. The only way I could see using a pen name is if I decide to release something that is so awful I don’t want to be associated with it 🙂 I admit, my decision was based on my experiences as a reader, not as a writer. Most writers advising the use of pen names worry that they will confuse readers if they release something very different from what they have written before.
As a reader, I have to admit I never had that problem. I don’t buy books without reading the back cover copy–if the new book is something that wouldn’t interest me, I wouldn’t buy it. But, I have been frustrated to find out years, sometimes decades, later that a favorite writer has a pen name, and a whole big backlist that I would have been reading, had I known it was the same writer. I also have found some gems that I never would have read if they had been released under a different pen name. In high school, my favorite writer was Louis L’Amour. Of course I devoured his westerns, but my very favorite book he ever wrote was The Haunted Mesa, which had western elements, but was not primarily western. If he had used a pen name, I never would have found that book. Or when Stephen Donaldson made the jump from fantasy to sci-fi–how could I have followed, if he had used a different name? When I find a writer whose work I enjoy, I want to easily find *all* of that writer’s work, not just the portion that happened to be released under that name. Most of the readers I know feel similarly. So I made the against-the-grain decision to use my name on everything I write–not because I want to confuse readers, but because I want to facilitate readers finding my work. I figure you guys are savvy enough to tell a fantasy from a thriller, and not likely to confuse the two. 🙂