Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Phyllis Zimbler Miller - An Author Interview in the HBS Author's Spotlight

Today our blog puts the Spotlight on Author Phyllis Z. Miller. She writes YA, Mystery & Thrillers plus she is a Book Publishing Marketing expert. Phyllis also writes nonfiction books, including ebooks to help authors market online.

Author Genre: Nonfiction, Literature & Fiction, Mystery & Thrillers

Website: Phyllis Zimbler Miller
Author's Blog: Phyllis Zimbler Miller
Twitter: @ZimblerMiller
E-Mail: pzmiller@gmail.com
Goodreads: Check Out Goodreads
Facebook: Check Out Facebook

Author Description:

(See her non-fiction books by Phyllis Z. Miller on Amazon at www.amazon.com/author/phylliszmiller and her YA fiction book PINKY SWEAR by P. Z. Miller on Amazon at www.amazon.com/author/pzmiller).

Phyllis Zimbler Miller was raised in Elgin, Illinois, and majored in journalism at Michigan State University, where she met her future husband, Army ROTC cadet Mitchell R. Miller, on the State News editorial staff.

In May of 1970 Mitch went on active duty at Ft. Knox, Kentucky, and Phyllis tagged along with him. Her women's friendship novel MRS. LIEUTENANT is inspired by the nine weeks they spent at Ft. Knox.

From September 1970 to May 1972 Phyllis and Mitch were stationed in Munich, Germany, where Mitch served with the 18th Military Intelligence Battalion.

Phyllis eventually got a security clearance and worked as a civilian with the 66th MI Group. Her romantic suspense spy thriller CIA FALL GUY is partially based on knowledge she learned on this job (reports she typed went to the Munich office of the CIA).

After Mitch's military service, while living in Philadelphia, Phyllis was an editor and reporter for the Jewish Exponent before earning an M.B.A. at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. Her Wharton experience is the starting point for her Los Angeles-based cozy mystery CAST THE FIRST STONE.

(Two short stories in TWO BIRDS WITH ONE STONE feature Rebecca Stone, the same protagonist as in CAST THE FIRST STONE. Both books include kosher recipes from Phyllis' 1992 Jewish holiday book SEASONS FOR CELEBRATION written with Rabbi Karen L. Fox.)

Phyllis and Mitch moved to Los Angeles in 1980, and Phyllis held positions at TigerAir and Max Factor. She then worked as a marketing consultant while their two daughters were young, and she was the founding president of the Los Angeles Chapter of Sisters in Crime.

In 2008 Phyllis co-founded an online marketing company at the same time she self-published her novel MRS. LIEUTENANT, which was selected as a 2008 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award semifinalist. Phyllis dove into the world of blogging, social media, and online book marketing.

Phyllis and Mitch have maintained an interest in military intelligence, and Mitch is a member of the Association of Former Intelligence Officers and the U.S. Naval Institute while Phyllis is a member of the Military Writers Society of America. Together Phyllis and Mitch wrote the military thriller LT. COMMANDER MOLLIE SANDERS.

Phyllis frequently blogs about PTSD to help spread information about this. Her short story SOLOMON'S JUSTICE was inspired by her visit to the Los Angeles County Veterans Court.

Phyllis is experimenting with writing a novel entirely on the site Wattpad. You can read for free the chapters of THE MOTHER SIEGE: A DYSTOPIAN THRILLER by clicking the dropdown table of contents at http://budurl.com/Msintro

Phyllis and Mitch now live in Beverly Hills, where Mitch has been a tax lawyer for many years and Phyllis is busy working with online marketing clients as well as writing more books and blogging about author topics at www.PhyllisZimblerMiller.com

SPOTLIGHT Questions and Answers with the Author

First things first. Let’s start with what’s next. Do you have another book on the horizon? Will it be in the world of Mystery, another YA novel or a Publishing Industry How to book? Can you tell us the timeline for its release and give us a little tease?

Besides the fiction project on Wattpad -- THE MOTHER SIEGE: A DYSTOPIAN THRILLER -- and my new nonfiction project on Wattpad -- TALES OF AN AMERICAN OCCUPYING GERMANY: A COLD WAR MEMOIR -- I am finishing the short screwball romantic comedy novel HOT POTATO written with my husband. It's an homage to the movie "Bringing Up Baby" although based on an actual fact that inspired the story. And I do hope I'll have it on Kindle by the beginning of November. I also have a couple of early drafts of more outings for Rebecca Stone that I hope to get to in the next few months.

For a limited time get a free Kindle copy of PINKY SWEAR, a short story, at: http://www.phylliszimblermiller.com/keep-in-touch/

You have a good following on twitter. Since you started before the social media buzz, what impact has social media relationships had on your writing and business success?

I've been on Twitter for over five years and I love it as a source for sharing information. I do think it has helped get out info about my books, but for me the most important aspect is the online friendships that have resulted.

Have you created a book trailer for any of your books to promote them online? Do you recommend to authors to create trailers to market their books?

I did have a book trailer created for MRS. LIEUTENANT, but the trailer is out of date now as the novel now has a new cover. And I recently had a 14-second trailer made for CIA FALL GUY. But I have to say in my personal opinion that book trailers do not necessarily sell books. If an author's marketing budget is limited, I would not recommend spending that budget on a trailer.

You have written several short stories. Can you tell us if they had an impact on the sales of your novels? Are your shorty’s created to give readers a sample of your work?

I do not think the short stories I have written have had any impact on the sales of my novel. I did not write these to give readers a sample of my work -- I use Amazon's KDP Select for that. I wrote SOLOMON'S JUSTICE because of my long-standing interest in helping to spread information to veterans about PTSD. And I wrote PINKY SWEAR because I was interested in exploring one of the four POV characters from MRS. LIEUTENANT as a teen. That said, I do hope that readers who enjoyed CAST THE FIRST STONE will read the two Rebecca Stone short stories in TWO BIRDS WITH ONE STONE.

Besides the Sisters in Crime, what other writer support groups do you belong too? Do they help with the writing, marketing and the publishing process?

Years ago I was in a private writers group and we all contributed to helping each other improve our writing. I also took many writing courses at UCLA Extension plus I bought and read lots of Writers Digest books. (One of the hardest things for me to master was POV character -- only being inside of the head of that character and no one else in a specific scene.) Nowadays I learn a great deal about writing, marketing and publishing from other people on social media sites.

Between your book writing, blogging, marketing, consulting business, family and all the other things that can get in your way, how do you manage your time? Do you have a set schedule or do your sort of play it by ear?

I don't have a set schedule so it is a constant juggling act to work on everything that interests me. I do a lot of writing away from the computer -- mentally in the shower, etc. where scenes or blog posts come to me that I later write.

What has been your experience in giving your books away free? Have you been involved in any other type of giveaways and how did that work out? What was your main goal in doing this? Did you run into any obstacles?

I have done several giveaways on Goodreads and I'm not sure whether these made any difference on that site. But depending on how successful a particular free giveaway is via KDP Select, afterwards I usually see somewhat of an uptick in sales. And because I have several books on Kindle, I included the links to the other books in each ebook. Thus by giving away books I hope to encourage sales of other of my books.

You publish under several names and genres. Does changing hats create any problems? Any tricks you can share with us? Which genre did you enjoy writing the most? Does moving from one to the other give you some breathing room? Doing more than one project at a time create any problems?

First, let me clear up something. I am actually only publishing under my own name, Phyllis Zimbler Miller. But I recently separated my Amazon Author Central accounts into three variations of my name in order to separate the genres in which I write. I realized that, for example, when readers of my fiction came to www.amazon.com/author/phylliszimblermiller to see other of my fiction books that might interest them, they were as likely to see my nonfiction books first and thus think I had no other fiction books. Now all my nonfiction books are under Phyllis Z. Miller and my YA story, which is a placeholder for some children's picture books I am considering, writing, is P. Z. Miller.

In terms of going back and forth between projects, I don't have any issues. I started out in my adult life as a print journalist, and that training to write on deadline and to switch to new projects quickly has come in very handy. I most enjoy writing fiction books and informative blog posts. I have also written screenplays, some with my husband and some solo, and that is a challenge because there are no POV characters and no internal monologues. In fact, I still have problems writing good screenplay subtext, which means information not conveyed by "on the nose" dialogue.

You have a great blog. You do a great job keeping readers informed, marketing your books and providing useful information to other writers. What is your primary goal? And where in the world do you find the time to create great novels, take care of the social media and maintain your blog?

I have always loved to tell people what to do -- by which I mean share helpful information. So blogging is a natural for me. But I admit that I am doing less blogging than I did five years ago as I expand the number of book writing projects that I am doing. And much of my author blogging is sharing with others the information I have learned for myself. Plus I am very disciplined and do not lose track of time on social media. I think this ability goes back to my journalism training -- blocking out everything but the task at hand.

Now to the good part. How can readers get involved in the PTSD problem? Tell us briefly how your short story, SOLOMON'S JUSTICE, (see book blurb below) is connected with this important problem?

My dream project is to have SOLOMON'S JUSTICE become a series TV drama. (I have written the pilot script for this.) I believe that fiction often has the power to spread information more effectively than public service announcements, documentaries, etc. People become connected to their favorite TV drama characters, and the problems of fictional people can help spread awareness of real issues.

I hope that people reading the short story of SOLOMON'S JUSTICE -- or people reading this interview -- who have connections to TV producers might share the information at www.SolomonsJustice.com and I can be reached in Los Angeles at the above email address. It is important to note that PTSD does not only affect military personnel. I am also interested in spreading information about non-combat trauma PTSD, which I deal with in my cozy mystery CAST THE FIRST STONE. Everyone should know the symptoms of PTSD so that they can be aware if they have friends or family exhibiting these symptoms and who need help. Check out the information at my site www.insupportofourtroops.com/ptsd-info

Author's Book List
Solomon's Justice - A PTSD Short Story
Helping Veterans Suffering From Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Although this short story is fiction and meant to be entertaining, it is based on research and true anecdotes concerning veterans suffering from PTSD. It is the author's hope that readers will enjoy the story as well as be encouraged to understand and support veterans and others suffering from PTSD.

Order the Book From: Amazon

Cast the First Stone - A Rebecca Stone Mystery
Cozy mystery CAST THE FIRST STONE introduces Los Angeles business reporter Rebecca Stone:

When asked to investigate the murder of a Wharton professor spending the summer term at UCLA, Rebecca Stone must also grapple with partnering with her former fiancé who broke off their engagement to pursue a career on Wall Street.

Recipes from the Jewish holiday book SEASONS FOR CELEBRATION by Rabbi Karen L. Fox and Phyllis Zimbler Miller (available on Amazon) are included in this cozy mystery.See the followup outing for amateur sleuth Rebecca Stone in TWO BIRDS WITH ONE STONE: REBECCA STONE MYSTERY SHORT STORIES at amzn.to/UWeFsa

Order the Book From: Amazon

Top Tips for How to Publish Your Book in the Age of Kindle - Action Steps You Can Do Immediately Whether You Are Unpublished or Already Published
This very short ebook will give you the important information to help you make a decision and then to implement and market your ebook.

Table of Contents:


Order the Book From: Amazon

Top Tips for How to Market on the Internet With Pictures - Action Steps You Can Do Immediately Whether You Are an Expert or a Novice
Praise for TOP TIPS FOR HOW TO MARKET ON THE INTERNET WITH PICTURES:"In her second Top Tips guide, Phyllis Zimbler Miller has managed to create a fascinating narrative explaining how to make the most of photographs--a basic but often ignored or misused marketing tool…I've bought $25 and $30 books that don't have as many practical, actionable ideas and examples as are included here--for a fraction of the cost. Just one idea can make a big difference to the image you project online to prospects and followers!"--Roger C. Parker, author and coach

Want to know:

How to have your picture show up next to a blog comment?

How to use Pinterest to market your products or services?

The dimensions for creating cover images for Facebook Pages and Google Plus?

And other uses for pictures on the Internet that help promote your brand, book or business?

Get this short book now, read it once, and then start implementing the recommendations.

Chapters in the book are:


Order the Book From: Amazon

Top Tips for How to Market Your Book on Amazon and Facebook - Action Steps You Can Do Immediately Whether You Are Traditionally Published or Self-Published
Praise for TOP TIPS FOR HOW TO MARKET YOUR BOOK ON AMAZON AND FACEBOOK:"I really appreciated that the ebook was short -- no unnecessary fillers here. Just plenty of instruction. Short. Accurate. Perfect."--Dianne Greenlay, author of "Quintspinner -- A Pirate's Quest"

"Phyllis Zimbler Miller didn't miss a trick in explaining how to succeed on Amazon and Facebook."--Debra L. Chapoton, author of "Edge of Escape"

"I have several books already on Amazon and learned several things that I immediately put into practice. For that, I think the book is a steal and well worth the money."--Michael Martel, author of "Get Er Done: The Green Beret Guide to Productivity"

Do you know how to market your book on Amazon and Facebook? Whether you are traditionally published or self-published, you can benefit from these free opportunities to market your book.

This short book TOP TIPS FOR HOW TO MARKET YOUR BOOK ON AMAZON AND FACEBOOK is a how-to to quickly and correctly start using Amazon and Facebook as part of your book marketing efforts.

Here are the major Amazon and Facebook book marketing components:







Get TOP TIPS FOR HOW TO MARKET YOUR BOOK ON AMAZON AND FACEBOOK right now, read it once to learn how to market your book on Amazon and Facebook, then turn on your computer and follow along with the book marketing tips to rev up your online book marketing today!

Order the Book From: Amazon

CIA Fall Guy - A Spy Thriller
It is 1997 and the Cold War is over. Or can events that took place 25 years before then suddenly come to the fore?

For fans of the romantic suspense spy stories by Helen MacInnes and Dorothy Gilman --"CIA Fall Guy brought me into an experience laced with history & contemporary intrigue. Believable characters that I want to meet again! A great weekend escape."--Karen Fox

"Take mild mannered Beth Parsons, add a couple of CIA agents and double agents and a few Germans for good measure, and what you get is a fast paced thriller of intrigue and mystery."--Jeffrey Miller, author of "War Remains"

"This is a short mystery thriller with a sprinkling of humor and dashes of romance that will seduce any fan of fiction."--Margaret McMillion, author of "Personal Baggage"

When Beth Parsons is summoned to CIA headquarters for the bogus purpose of identifying someone from her past, she realizes she must find out what is really going on. Forced to partner with the man who may have been responsible for her husband's death, she has to unmask the real traitors or end up as the fall guy.

After the CIA driver who brought her to D.C. is shot and killed, Beth escapes her CIA "babysitter" and sets off to discover why she is suddenly once again in the world of spies and double agents.

Her quest takes her to Europe and then back to the U.S., and pairs her with a mysterious man who may or may not be on her side.

If you like espionage stories and tales of intrigue -- especially ones with a dash of romantic suspense, CIA FALL GUY is for you!

Order the Book From: Amazon

Lt. Commander Mollie Sanders - A Military Thriller
Praise for LT. COMMANDER MOLLIE SANDERS -- (a lieutenant commander in the U.S. Navy is equivalent to a major in the U.S.Army):

"This book is certainly full of action, a page turner, most entertaining and a quick read."--Joan A. Adamak

"While much of the story line about the lead character, Lt. Cdr. Sanders, stretches reality a little, it's fun reading. One of my favorite authors, James Patterson, stretches reality as well. As an X-Air Craft Carrier based veteran, I found the story fast moving and entertaining."--Brad Nelson

"Lt. Commander Mollie Sanders is a great read. She embodies the traits of Ziva of NCIS fame. A strong woman operating in a man's world. I can't wait for another book extolling the exploits of Mollie Sanders."--William G. Knapp

For those who love sea adventures (including submarines) and technothrillers:

Lt. Commander Mollie Sanders is a U.S. Navy officer who has striven to be the best even if it earns her enemies. A graduate of the Naval Academy, she is an electronic weapons officer tasked with coming up with new weapon designs.

When she gets assigned to an aircraft carrier as a Navy fighter pilot's backseater, a missile attack on her plane leads to a mission to try to save the port of Los Angeles from a suspected terrorist attack.

She must channel her overwhelming competitive drive in order to work as a team with other Navy personnel and the Coast Guards to find a needle in a haystack.

From there a twist in the mission takes her to Alaska, where the anti-missile defense site may have been compromised.

Next she bulldozes her way into being the first female assigned to a sub smaller than a boomer. She wants to be the one to test the new defensive weapons system she designed as the sub undertakes a reconnaissance mission to the hotly contested South China Sea.

She is unaware that her past is about to catch up to her present in a bizarre situation she could never have foreseen.

This U.S. Navy submarine sea adventure is a fast-paced thriller.

(Military note: Just as in the U.S. Army a lieutenant colonel is addressed as "Colonel," in the U.S. Navy a lieutenant commander is addressed as "Commander.")

Order the Book From: Amazon

Mrs. Lieutenant - A Women's Friendship Novel
This 2008 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award semifinalist is a story of unexpected women's friendship.

"Miller captures the freshness and naiveté of those women, all transplanted to an environment that forced them to deal with new challenges."--Dr. Cathy Goodwin, Top 500 Amazon Reviewer

"I loved MRS. LIEUTENANT. Reading it brought back for me, a military wife, memories of the Vietnam War era, when so many of our young men were in uniform due to the draft, and memories of what it was like being in the sub-culture of the military as a new Army wife." --Mary Raynor

"This book should be required reading for every contemporary military spouse, the families of our servicemen and women, and civilians who want to understand the lifestyle of our men and women in uniform. The military isn't just a job or career, it is a WAY OF LIFE that can't be fully understood by those who haven't lived it. Phyllis Zimbler Miller's MRS. LIEUTENANT makes it clear--this is a life she understands at the deepest level." --Bonnie Bartel Latino, co-author of "Your Gift to Me"

"Phyllis Zimbler Miller's MRS. LIEUTENANT is one of those stellar reads that keep you engaged from the first word to the last, and how long or how short the book is doesn't concern you at all. Keep a box of tissues handy, because you'll need it; I certainly did, and more than once." --George Polley, author of "Grandfather & the Raven"

When newly married Sharon Gold suddenly finds herself in the unfamiliar culture of the U.S. Army during the unpopular Vietnam War, she realizes she must quickly adapt to this alien world. If she does not learn to "fit in," the consequences could have a severe impact on her husband.

The women's friendship she unexpectedly experiences turns out to be her lifesaver.

Order the Book From: Amazon

Author Recommended by: HBSystems Publications
Publisher of ebooks, writing industry blogger and the sponsor of the following blogs:
HBS eBook Author’s Corner
HBS Mystery Reader’s Circle

Check out the index of other Spotlight authors. Spotlight Index.

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