From Imagination To Publication

Monday, November 30, 2015

Monday Morning Sneak Peek - AND THEN I SMILED by Dean K Miller

Did a weekend of reading leave you wanting more? 
Sneaking peeks of your newest novel from under
your desk at work? 

For the eternal is your 
Monday Morning Sneak Peek!


AND THEN I SMILED by Dean K Miller

And Then I Smiled: Reflections of a Life Not Yet Complete finds grace in life’s simplest moments. Through poems, essays and stories, readers journey from beaches, mountain streams and city parks to destinations in realms we seldom visit, both inside and outside the physical world. Seemingly average moments of life create the backdrop for Miller’s keen observations and his thought provoking and personal essays touch on various facets of life, family, nature and the energy that surrounds us.


I rediscovered my writing journey and followed its path. It led to a friend for guidance and advice. She works at a faith-based publishing company and has authored several books and articles. We first met over a decade ago.
We had an initial meeting to discuss my writing. After a few follow-up emails, I was set free like a small bird taking flight into an unknown world. However, after many months on my own, I felt it was time to return to the nest and learn again.
With her typical grace, she found an hour to offer direction to a fledging writer. We chatted about our lives, our kids, work . . . just catching up. Gradually our discussion turned to writing, both hers and mine. I enjoyed listening as she described her triumphs, as well as her struggles. She explained where she finds inspiration and what gets in her way. She, too, has other writers she turns to for help when she gets stuck. The circle was complete as I returned for help with my work.
As I explained my current project, she listened as if I might be the next Pulitzer Prize-winning author. My questions became her quest to find the best answers. She volunteered to do some research for me, even though I knew her spare time was limited. We discussed my first piece more fully and she graciously offered to proof read and edit the first draft, as well as providing feedback about any possibility of publishing the final copy.
As we talked she mentioned the exposure she feels when she puts her thoughts to paper, as if she is giving away a piece of her heart. She spoke of the risk and vulnerability that writing produces, and explained how this risk can become its own prison, preventing her from sharing her words, and herself. When I gave her the flash drive that contained my first manuscript, she said I was giving her a piece of my heart.
That was particularly true, given the content of that first draft. However, I no longer fear sharing my heart. I have learned that if you are afraid to share your heart, you become afraid to love and afraid to live. This I will not do.
Instead, I choose to expose my heart to reap the rewards in the smile of a stranger who may read my words and become a friend.

Moments of a Journey

I’ve journeyed through life, noticing and forgetting, teaching and learning, breathing in and out. I am not lost; so, I cannot be found. A chapter in a just-finished book is titled “Chambered Nautilus.” Two days after reading that chapter, I drove past a tree stump carved into an ocean scene, the curved and segmented form of a large, chambered nautilus shell most prominent street side. For me, tranquility always involves water, and often my thoughts return to the ocean.
Tonight’s heavy rain will soon change into snow. Already I miss its random beat on my bedroom window. Soon the river will flow wildly, as snowmelt and spring run-off churn through the Big Thompson Canyon. Until the river calms, Leaky Boat Lake is my fishing haven and I return to catching largemouth bass. When I am alone on that small lake, the water seeping through a pin-hole in the boat’s bow, I am taken back to when I fished with my youngest daughter in that same leaky boat. She held each fish she caught by its lower lip while I captured the memory on camera. Releasing the fish, she’d laugh when it would flip its tail, splashing cold water on her face. Further back in my memory, I sit with my brother and his son in their boat on a river in Washington.

I watch the interaction of father and son, noticing only subtle differences compared to mine with my three daughters. Our parents taught us well. Still deeper in my memory, I am racing upriver with my father as he deftly guides the wooden craft around logs and gravel bars. We stop to fish, and more often than not, find success. He is a master at the art of fishing and I wonder if I’ll ever possess that much knowledge about anything. Beyond that recollection a younger me, wading with my brothers while we fished the small, icy cold rivers fed by the snow fields of Mt. Hood in Oregon. We knew a freedom without bounds—a freedom like one that allows a rock to skip endlessly across a pond.
This evening’s moisture began its journey in the Gulf of Mexico. It gave birth to the clouds over the mountains and now cleanses the air, the land, and my thoughts. Should not the rain have the taste of salt, since it was brought from the sea? In the sea and along its shores, I have journeyed far: Hawaii, Oregon, California, Mexico, Florida, New Jersey, Canada, Washington, St. Thomas, St. Lucia. The water was always salty, sometimes calm, sometimes violent, yet always calling to my soul. Riding its waves I have experienced joy as unbinding as is possible, and faced my fears over and over again. Now the river and a small pond hold my humanity in loving care. Their waters will someday reach the sea; in their journey, they will transport a piece of me.
I am alive, and so my passage on this planet is not complete. My wistful memories typed out on keyboard and computer brings “back to now” the moments gone before. They are happening with each step I take.
In an email a friend asked of my memories after sharing one of his own. This is what I’ll send to him: “I am lying in the sun amidst a field of green and gold, dreaming of the ocean, knowing I am home . . . and I am smiling.”

~ A Second Day of Gray ~

A second day of gray.
More rain; more solitude.
My senses are soaking up
what the droplets offer
nearly as fast as the thirsty ground.

Standing outside in the deluge
it’s another chance to look within.
Now the rain; a steady beat on my face–
A welcome respite
a chance to learn, to wash away the fear.
To join the flowers of spring
planting our roots deep
in the softened soil.

That is where we find our strength
the flowers and I;
to express ourselves on the next sunny day,
with confidence, beauty and grace.
Welcoming all who seek
what they think we may hide.
Only to find we truly are
what we appear—
And so much more.