Screen Shot 2015-06-10 at 7.37.31 PMJonathan William Miller was born in Owenton, Kentucky, on July 7, 1968, and has lived most of his life in Central Kentucky. He is the youngest of three sons of a Baptist minister father and a schoolteacher mother. He attended public schools in Nicholasville and graduated from the University of Kentucky, majoring in journalism. After college, he worked at various newspapers as a reporter, sportswriter and website developer and producer in Texas, Arkansas and Kentucky. In the mid-1990s he began writing serious fiction.

Time to chat with Jonathan!

What is your latest book?

On Your Own, short stories and vignettes about people who feel alone and disconnected from the world.


What are the greatest challenges in writing short stories?

Making sure the reader knows where the story is going early on and making it interesting enough for them to want to go along for the ride.

How often do your characters surprise you by doing or saying something totally unexpected?

Let me answer this by saying I love when characters pop up out of God knows where and start talking. There are no living models for these people. They just appear and I’m really just a vessel for their performance. This is very rare for me. I have a couple of those characters in On Your Own that I’m still wondering where they came from and feel very fortunate that they dropped in for a visit.

Were you “born to write” or did you discover your passion for writing later in life?

I would probably be classified as a late bloomer. I didn’t write much when I was young because I didn’t read much. Reading was a chore, especially when the outdoors beckoned. I had older brothers and we played whatever sport was in season. The act of reading meant sacrificing play time and that was not going to happen. At night I was too tired from play to read. My mom challenged me when I was, I think, 10 or 11, to read Where the Red Fern Grows. She wanted to see if I could read a book from start to finish. After a few pages I was hooked. I loved the boy’s friendship with his dogs and the hunting scenes. The ending touched me in a way that embarrassed me but it made me acknowledge that the writer had done something significant enough to produce an emotional response. That was the first time I thought of writing as a noble act. I wrote a few stories for school assignments as a kid but didn’t start writing serious fiction until after college. You are a writer when you write for yourself and for no pay.

Having our work out there to be judged by strangers is often daunting for writers. Do you have any tips on handling a negative review?

I feel as though I have tough skin and thin skin. I want everyone to enjoy my work but I also know that that is impossible. I would strongly urge all writers to edit their work vigorously until they can’t improve it anymore. If you re-read it and it produces the emotion you are seeking, then that’s all you can ask of yourself. There will be an audience for your work. Those who do not like your style or your subject are simply walking out of your theatre. Hopefully their seat will be occupied by another who enjoys the show.

Are you an early bird writer or night owl?

I like to wake in the morning thinking about the story I’m working on. I picture the character at the beginning of the story, and I walk around with him or her and go through the conflicts and I look for details that might be missing from the manuscript. Then I will prop myself up and take the story off the nightstand and get to work on it. I’ve tried working at different times of the day and it just doesn’t seem to produce the same magic that the morning does.

What have you done to market your novel and what did you find the most effective? The least effective?

Rather than having a book signing at a book store, I decided to throw a book launch event and invited friends and work colleagues. We will have beer and wine, appetizers and live music. It’s not going to be expensive either. We got the hall for free, friends offered to help with the food. And I have lots of musician friends who offered to play the event at no charge. We’re asking each friend to bring a book-loving friend who I don’t know. I have heard about nightmare book signings where very few people show up and books go unsold. I wanted this to be a fun night, a night of celebration. There will be a sign-up sheet for my newsletter, T-shirts with the book’s cover on the front for sale, and, of course, my paperback with the option to have it signed.

How did you choose the genre you write in? Or did it choose you?

This is an interesting question that I would like to address a little bit differently. There seems to be a lot of tension with traditionally published writers vs. indies, and genre writers vs. literary fiction writers. I would like all writers to take a step back and not be so quick to be judgmental or get their feelings hurt. Whatever genre your natural talent pulls you to, that’s where you belong. If you wish to write in multiple genres, then your talent is guiding you to do that. Writers should not feel they are in competition with other writers. Your only threat is not performing up to your ability. There’s enough audience for all of us. Even if you don’t have a large audience, you still accomplished what you set out to do. So keep at it.

What else have you written?

I’ve written a novel, a screenplay and poetry. I’m not entirely comfortable in any of those forms. I feel the short story is my natural habitat. I wrote the novel just to see if I could do it, but I think critics would say it’s really just a long short story. I like the quirky challenge of the short story, whereas, the novel seems too big and bulky for my arms to get around.

Is it important for you to know the ending of a book before you write it? The title?

I’ve written stories both ways, where I knew the ending and when I didn’t. I prefer not knowing the ending. It seems to be more interesting to me if I let the characters and the situations sort themselves out during the process. Of course, during editing, the early version is almost wiped out completely. I’m more of a re-writer than a writer.

The title should come naturally out of the story. If it doesn’t, then you’re probably not thinking clearly.

Are you a fast typist? Does your typing speed (or lack of it) affect your writing?

I compose all of my fiction in longhand. I feel I can hear the characters’ voices better. Pencil on paper is a soothing sound. The tap, tap, tap of a computer keyboard I find to be a major distraction. And, plus, my fingers and hands get tired and my posture suffers. I can write longer (and better) with pencil and paper.

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Do you have any advice to a new author if they asked you whether to pursue the traditional route to publishing or to start out as an independent writer?

If it’s important for the writer to be published traditionally, by all means, pursue that route. But if the door is slammed in their face (as it was for me) I would urge that they self-publish. You have to do all of the leg work when you’re an indie, but the reward is so great. There are hurdles upon hurdles to jump to self-publish, but you gain confidence and wisdom after each hurdle is cleared.

How would you define your style of writing?

Simple and precise. At least that’s what I’m aiming for: simplicity and precision. I want the reader to feel as though they’re walking through the story and can see and feel everything that’s going on. I don’t want to attempt acrobatic feats with words or use flowery language or show off an education I don’t possess. I want the reader inside the story to feel like they’re seeing the action and not listening to a story being told to them. The perfect world would be for the reader to be so lost in the story that if they were to see my face on the back of the book they would say, “What is he doing here?”

Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, how do you get around it?

I don’t think I’ve ever suffered from writer’s block. That may be because I don’t write every day. I write when I can avoid it no longer. This may sound sacrilegious to professional writers who force themselves to write every day. This does not work for me. I write when I feel I must.

I do suffer from story block from time to time. There will be a character or a situation or dialogue or an ending that I’m not happy with and it will bother me until I work it out.

Where do you live now? If you had to move to another city/state/country, where might that be?

Lexington, Ky. Hawaii would be nice for a while. I think I would like to live in Europe for a while and bum around there some, but my wife would probably get sick of it before I would.

What might we be surprised to know about you?

I’m a frustratingly good golfer. My wife says I’m good enough to spend too much time and money on it, but not good enough to actually make money at it.

What music soothes your soul?

Whenever I’m upset, disappointed, hurt I turn to Pink Floyd’s best years: Dark Side of the Moon, Wish You Were Here, Animals and The Wall. The Beatles and Led Zeppelin are also favorites. I feel as though John Lennon and I would have been very good friends.

What simple pleasure makes you smile?

Watching movies from the 1930s-1950s. The old black and white movies where they film what cities looked like and the way people dressed in the old days really touches the historian in me.










Judy Probus, her husband, Bill, and extended family reside in Kentucky, “the Unbridled state” – a perfect place and state of mind for a writer of fantasy/ adventure. Judy possesses a B.S. and Masters in Education, experience in the performing arts and teaching, and has volunteered countless hours in the local school system. Her favorite hobbies include reading, listening to music, watching sports and movies, gardening, traveling, and learning new things about Earth and beyond.

Hello Lisette. Thank you for inviting me to your chateau. I hope something I contribute will be of help to someone on his or her journey down the writing road.

You’re welcome, Judy! Delighted to have you here. Let’s chat.

ImagiNation Unveiled: The Hidden Realm and its supplement contain eighteen character descriptions and additional sketches. That’s quite an undertaking. Where did you get the inspiration and motivation for this book?

I answer that question best in the video embedded in my e-book, which you can also find here.

Here, I will share that it was at 10,000 feet plus, during a trip to New York that I decided to write an adventure fantasy novel. One problem was that I wasn’t a published author in the traditional sense. I’ve long been a reader and a fan of J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S Lewis, J.K Rowling, and Rick Riordan. Anna Sewell’s Black Beauty was the first story to capture my young imagination. As an adult, I like to delve into history books and anything by National Geographic. But, until I began writing my most recent book, I’d only written a few children’s short stories and they lie undisturbed in a drawer. So, my decision to write a novel was probably a simple lack of oxygen to the brain at high altitude, right?! No, I think it was more than that.

You see, as a second-grader, I witnessed NASA and the rest of America send a man to the moon. The synergy was unforgettable and the impact impressionable. At the same time, I attended public school at a time when music and drama departments flourished. Both of my parents worked hard, sometimes multiple jobs, to provide me with the means to participate in curricular programs during and after school in an attempt to unlock my proclivity for shyness. They accomplished that and much more.

Somewhere between rehearsals, marching band competitions, orchestra pit performances, and stage curtain calls, I came in contact with dedicated teachers who taught me more than how to play a few instruments, twirl a baton, and dance. They taught me teamwork, sweat, sacrifice, community pride, and persistence. They also ingrained a rock solid belief in the power of the imagination and appreciation for the arts in me that endures to this day. I believe those extracurricular programs made me a more focused student on all levels. But, more than that, the friendships I encountered and the struggles I endured in those art programs equipped me with things you don’t learn while studying English, history, or math. They equipped me for life. Sometimes, I wonder if there might be a correlation between fading art programs, plummeting scholastic scores, and general student apathy in today’s world.

My children are adults now, but my passion for the arts remains and at 10,000 feet plus, I heard the call to create stronger than ever before. Through ImagiNation Unveiled: The Hidden Realm, I hope to spark the members of our young generation’s imaginations. They are whizzes at modern technology and I suspect there is no limit to the discoveries they can make and the places they can take us – but that’s only possibly if they have the confidence and willingness to explore their imaginations.

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They say one must lead by example, so rather than just spout words from the past, I decided to climb my own mountain by learning to write. I hope my journey and the stories crafted along the way can inspire others. One is never too old to learn something new and there’s no time like the present to embark on an adventure.

I began writing ideas on the back of grocery receipts. I quickly graduated to notebooks, then a laptop, which I promptly typed the letters off of while burning the midnight oil. People who read my story while it was being developed encouraged me to continue pushing forward. Writers on Twitter wished me well. Down the writing road, I met Matt Langan, writer, editor, entrepreneur, and technological wizard, who liked the story and supports my efforts to produce an exciting quality series. The project gained momentum and awesome folks including @ElicabeDesign (cover), @harkinsart (sketch artist), @BeyondGraphics, and my local Minuteman Press branch joined the venture.

What motivates you?

Several things. Positive comments and heartfelt messages from readers have touched me on a personal level that is hard to describe. Achieving my goal to write a novel was one thing; hearing how the story touched someone else’s life is… well, I’m sure you can imagine. Five-star reviews on Amazon are encouraging. Recently, I received fantastic literary reviews from, the #1 Harry Potter fan site, and, which fueled the fires to write the second book of the series. I have a two-year-old grandson and a six-year-old granddaughter who love dragons. And so, I write.

Some authors, like me, always write scenes in order. But I know some people write scenes out of order. How about you?

I like to write scenes in order. However, if I think the story will benefit, I will back up and replace an existing scene with a new one.

Some writers edit excessively as they write; others wait until a novel is finished to do the bulk of the editing. How about you?

I like to take one step forward and two back. When I write a new chapter, I like to re-read the previous two chapters and make sure everything fits together. This seems to save time in the long run and I find it to be an effective way to stay focused and even stumble across new ideas.

Have you ever written characters that you truly despise?

Yes, I had to tap into my dark side to create Vahdeema, an evil sorceress, and Stonedish II, her accomplice. It was great fun and an awesome way to vent normal, everyday frustrations.

Do you dread writing a synopsis for your novel as much as most writers do? Do you think writing a synopsis is inherently evil? Why?

I understand the huge volume of stories created in our modern world necessitates a way to relate the essence of a story in an abbreviated form. I also understand the stress such a task generates for the author. I think the trouble with a synopsis is that they might not appropriately communicate the quality or the excitement of the story they describe. They can be cold, calculated, hyped up general outlines of the story at worst. To appreciate the true spirit of the story, I think one benefit from reading several excerpts or a few chapters from the book. My website offers six free chapters of reading and a few pages of free character descriptions from the supplement.

Maybe the following exaggerations will help demonstrate my point:

I wonder how Michelangelo would have reacted if someone asked him to reduce his masterpiece on the ceiling of the Sistine chapel to a stamp-sized sample? Along the same vein, I wonder if a written description of any classic overture can accurately explain how the audible crescendos and fortes of the musical piece makes listeners feel?

I think a dedicated author weaves together words with the same diligence and care a seamstress exhibits when they hand-weave a complex quilt. The author knows his or her book is best understood and enjoyed in its entirety – or at least in excess of a handful of paragraphs.

Are you an early bird writer or night owl? And do you have any must haves like coffee, chocolates, wine, music or something else?

I am an early bird and a night owl! I keep my iPad and my notebook and pen on my nightstand, ready to jot down any new ideas that pop into my head as I awake or before I go to sleep. No matter how hard I try to manipulate my writing time into regular hours during the day, my creative muse works on her own clock. So, I am willing to write anywhere and at anytime. Typing in the passenger seat is a lot easier on roads without potholes.

My writing must haves are my beats, books, unsalted popcorn, and the occasional bits of chocolate. Most mornings, I crank on the tunes and start with a workout to jumpstart the brain. Often, I listen to music to inspire my mood or the character I’m developing. In general I like the energy that movie soundtracks generate. I did listen to a lot of country music while writing because my protagonist is from Alabama.

A lot of authors are frustrated by readers who don’t understand how important reviews are. What would you say to a reader who doesn’t think his or her review matters?

In the competitive world of writing, I’ve learned that reviews are paramount. We live in a social media driven society. People constantly check their electronic devices and count on other peoples’ reviews. Reviews are the go-to shortcut for readers to find their way through all of the available lists of books.

Before e-books, people bought published books from their bookstore, which was in indirect way of communicating that the book was worth their attention. Now, with the prevalence of self-published e-books, quality varies substantially. Reviews allow readers to gauge if a book is worth their time and money. Positive reviews drive sales, it’s a fact and one that should not be taken for granted if you’re an author.

I think some people find the process of writing a review uncomfortable and time consuming. But, anyone who thinks book reviews don’t matter needs to be brought up to speed. A reader’s review is the author’s lifeline to the rest of the world. Their future in the realm of writing depends on each and every review, especially indie writers who have limited means of promotion. Besides, positive or negative, reviews help the writer grow.

Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, how do you get around it?

Writer’s block is the dreaded twilight zone between the speed bump and the dead end. It can last minutes, hours, days, or longer. Yes, I’ve gone a few rounds with the invisible monster that threatens to suck the life out of my creative muse like one of Harry Potter’s Death Eaters. Panic is the first reaction, but that only makes things worse. Then self-doubt sets in and grinds down on the writer’s confidence. It’s not pretty.

My solution? Many writers stare at the empty page on their computers, hoping to force the stubborn block away. Through trial and error, I’ve found that method generates tension and tightens the block. Instead, I’ve discovered that I work best when my mind is relaxed. A quiet stroll, a hard workout, a drive through the country, or taking a break to do something fun usually unlocks my mind. In fact, I’m often surprised at the great ideas I get when I least expect it. Many times I’ve rushed out of the shower or pulled off the road to jot a new idea down. That’s the fun of creating fantasy. It can and does happen anywhere.

Do you miss spending time with your characters when you finish writing them?

I didn’t think I would, but I do. After spending so much time with them and being immersed in their day-to-day drama, they sort of became a second family. Putting the last period at the end of the last sentence of the first book in my series felt wonderful and sad at the same time. It was like saying goodbye to a close friend after a long visit. That’s what’s great about writing a series. It prolongs the goodbyes.

How would you define your style of writing?

Eclectic. I blend realism with fantasy, southern tradition with futuristic invention, nature with technology. Many locations in the book are inspired by real places I’ve visited while others are complete fabrications.

How much research was involved in writing your book? How did you go about it?

A lot of research went into writing the book. I studied online articles, books, and brochures about various locations and endangered species. I read National Geographic articles and recorded notebooks full of what I learned through my own experiences and travels. I studied pictures and additional information about some of the most interesting places on Earth and in space.

One particular interesting technique that I used to help me write the football game in the book was listening to a radio announcer call a football game while I was traveling from Alabama to Kentucky. I’ve attended many football games in my area, but listening to the radio really forced me to focus and visualize the game in my own mind. I think listening to the game on the radio strengthened my understanding of the game. I also picked up a few colorful football phrases.








An avid reader of science fiction and fantasy all his life, Michael Radcliffe published his first book The Guardian’s Apprentice in 2010. He lives in rural Kentucky with his family and their six feline companions. His writing is supervised by Idris, a temperamental dragon sculpture that sits in a place of honor next to his computer.

Time to chat with Michael!

What is your latest book?

My current work in process is tentatively titled Touch of Darkness, and takes place after the events in Rise of the Shadow. I had actually intended to end the Beyond the Veil series with the third book, but one of the main characters kept hanging about in my imagination. When I mentioned this to my friend and fellow writer, Maria Savva, she encouraged me to write the story. She also enlisted the aid of my dragon, Idris, which was decidedly not fair!

Without giving too much away, Touch of Darkness explores the story of a main character from Rise of the Shadow. At the end of Shadow, this character is on the run, having murdered two innocent people while possessed by an evil spirit. In Darkness, he struggles with the realization of what he did, and he will face a choice of redemption or temptation.

What else have you written?

Oddly enough, I thought I would only ever write one book, but the story kept evolving and the characters just won’t leave me alone!

To date I have written three books:

The Guardian’s Apprentice


Bloodstone – The Guardian’s Curse


Rise of the Shadow


And seven short stories:

Tears for Hesh


Scale of a Dragon

Inner Daemon

Legend of the Pumpkin King

Frostbite – The Dragon that Saved Christmas

The Amaranthine Flask

All of them except for Legend of the Pumpkin King are set in the same world and contribute to the overall series. I like to use short stories as a way to further develop the background of characters from the novels. I must admit, I enjoy writing short stories as I like the challenge of developing and telling a complete story in just one or two thousand words.

What part of writing a novel do you enjoy the most? The least?

I absolutely love the world-building aspect of fantasy, where you can create a completely new setting populated with everything your imagination can conjure up. I also enjoy developing the backgrounds of my characters. For example, after writing The Guardian’s Apprentice, I went back and wrote the short story, Forsaken, which tells the story of Nisha, one of the supporting characters. Forsaken gives the reader insight about how she became the person she was in TGA, and it let me explore her character.

There are actually two things I strongly dislike about writing. The first and most frightful is writing a synopsis or a query letter. I hate, hate, HATE writing either one of those dreadful things. I would much rather face down a dragon than be forced to write a synopsis or a query letter. The second thing I dislike is editing, simply because it NEVER ends! Even today, I can go back and read my first book, which I published in 2010, and I will invariably find a typo that I missed, or a section I would word differently.

Some authors, like me, always write scenes in order. But I know some people write scenes out of order. How about you?

I will confess to being an oddball on this question. In Bloodstone – The Guardian’s Curse, I actually wrote the last two chapters first, then went back and wrote the rest. In book three, Rise of the Shadow, I wrote about five chapters, skipped ahead and wrote two middle chapters, then filled in the gaps and wrote the end. In contrast, with The Guardian’s Apprentice I wrote the story straight through, from beginning to end. I think my process depends largely on how the story is flowing in my mind – sometimes I’ll have a sudden insight and think “Oh, this would be the perfect way to end…” so I will write that particular scene or chapter while it is fresh.

Some writers edit excessively as they write; others wait until a novel is finished to do the bulk of the editing. How about you?

Both. I edit as I write, and will often stop and re-read several chapters to make sure the story flows properly. Once I am finished, I read, re-read, and re-re-read, editing each time. With my last two books, I also sought beta-readers, which I found to be incredibly helpful.

How important is the choosing of character names to you? Have you ever decided on a name and then changed it because it wasn’t right for the character?

Names, in my opinion, are almost as important as the plot. Sometimes I struggle with names, sometimes they just come to me in a flash of inspiration (sadly, struggling is much more common than those rare flashes…). I will also admit to keeping a file of names and words I have come across that I consider to be odd or just plain cool – that file has come in very handy when trying to name a character. I think the toughest time was in my first book, The Guardian’s Apprentice, when I renamed one of the characters three times before I found the right one.

Do you have any advice for first-time authors?

Write. Write a LOT. The more you write, the better you will become. I would also strongly urge a new writer to join a critique group such as This allows you to interact with others, critiquing their work and having yours critiqued in return. You also need to keep an open mind about criticism. Use criticism, no matter how hard it may be to hear, to make your work better. Also, before you publish something, make certain it is polished and as error-free as possible! No matter how much you hated Freshman English in college, grammar counts, and nothing turns a reader off quicker than poor grammar.

Finally, join a writers group such as where you can network and share experiences with other writers.

Please, tell us about your experiences with social media. What are your favorite and least-favorite parts of it?

I have used Facebook and Twitter since 2010, and I am also on Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Klout. I am particularly fond of Twitter, as it keeps me connected to my Indie friends. Social media has been a wonderful tool for authors to connect with readers and other authors, and I shudder to think where we would be without it. Social media has allowed me to connect with so many wonderful people. Ironically some of my best friends are those I have never actually met in person!

That being said, I have frequently found myself sucked into a time warp thanks to social media. I will log into Facebook or Twitter, glance at the clock, and an hour has vanished – one that could have otherwise been spent writing! (for the record, I am NOT addicted to CandyCrush – I can stop any time I want…)

Do you allow others to read your work in progress, or do you keep it a secret until you’ve finished your first draft? Can you elaborate?

I am very fortunate in that my sister is a writer as well. She writes paranormal romances under the pen name Maeve Greyson, and we have on occasion each sought the opinion of the other, even though we inhabit different genres.

I especially like to seek the opinions of other writers if I am exploring new territory. For example in my current work in process, Touch of Darkness, a critical part of the story is the romance that blossoms between the two main characters. While there has been a little bit of romance in previous stories, it has never been so central to the theme. I was very concerned about setting the right tone, so I asked my friend, Maria Savva, if she would mind reading a sample. She was kind enough to read the first few chapters and give me her opinion, which reassured me I was on the right track. That type of feedback is invaluable when writing, in my opinion.

Do you have complete control over your characters or do they ever control you?

Sadly, they have complete control. When I am writing, I can almost hear the characters and their dialogue in my head (yes, I know I just admitted to hearing voices…). So far in each book I have written, the story has taken a twist, when the characters did something I did not expect. I certainly never thought I would write a fourth book, but one of the characters kept rattling about in my imagination and simply would not leave me alone until I told his story!

What music soothes your soul?

The music of Enya always helps me relax. Especially when I am writing, her music helps transport me to another world. I also enjoy listening to classical music while I write, preferably Vivaldi, Mozart, or Beethoven.

If you are a TV watcher, would you share the names of your favorite shows with us?

As I spend the majority of my time at work reading banking regulations, conducting audits, and answering legal questions, I prefer to watch comedies – to drag me back from the depths of seriousness. My favorites include Mike & Molly and The Big Bang Theory. I will confess however, I do love a good mystery. I particularly enjoy Midsomer Murders and Agatha Christie’s Poirot performed by British actor David Suchet.

What simple pleasure makes you smile?

Sipping coffee on a Saturday morning, while sitting in the porch swing with my wife. A very close second is sitting in front of a warm fire in December, when everything is decorated for Christmas.

What are three things you think we can all do to make the world a better place?

Live simply, love deeply, and laugh often.



The Guardian’s Apprentice