[NEW, November 12, 2015: The awesome folks at Pen Parentis interviewed me about being a writer and a parent. If you want to read how I roll, have at thee.]

(The latest soapbox entry, “Adventures in Genre Fiction,” appears below all this introductory stuff; click here if you don’t feel like scrolling.)

This may come as a dreadful shock, but would you believe that there are several Jack Millers on the Internet? I know, it near staggered me when I found out—my daughter had to run and fetch the smelling salts while I swooned on a chaise longue, perilously close to death. Luckily, a medical man was dispatched forthwith, and months of intensive therapy and the bracing salt air eventually restored my fragile health.


My point is that if you’re here looking for a Jack Miller, you are in luck, as you have most definitely found one. Congratulations! Check off that item on your scavenger hunt card.

However, if you’re looking for a particular Jack Miller, your odds are rather less favorable, I’m afraid. I regret to admit that I am neither the racing driver, nor the dead English footballer, nor the former CEO of the Quill Corporation. Neither am I the U.S. Navy warship, nor the pharmacist who used to fill my prescriptions in Kendall Square.


But if you’re looking for a Jack Miller who writes poems and sometimes stories, you may be on the right track (though there are other poets named Jack Miller, just to keep things interesting). If you’re still not sure, there’s more information on the page signified by [a magnifying mirror] which may give you some clues. A list of publications is over in [a small dead tree], and several published poems and a few stories may be found in [a lyre, I suppose]. If none of these solves the mystery of whether I happen to be The Right Jack Miller for You™, you could always just write me and ask over at [an electric envelope]. Or just pass the time sifting through old twaddle in [a rickety soapbox], the freshest installment of which appears IMMEDIATELY BELOW.

Welcome. I hope you’re not too disappointed.

Adventures in Genre Fiction

It’s been a while. Life intrudes; you know how it is. If you’re a parent and a writer, you especially know how it is. That’s why Pen Parentis exists, and the world is richer for it. They are dedicated to helping authors keep writing once parenthood turns their worlds inside out.

After I read at the Literal Latté 20th anniversary party in 2014, a very nice woman came up to me and told me she liked my poem; she was (and still is) M. M. Devoe, the founder and executive director of Pen Parentis. She told me that her group had a monthly salon held in a swanky Wall Street hotel, and asked me to read at it. Given that I’d just driven four hours from Boston to read a single three-minute poem in New York before driving four hours right back again, I said I was absolutely interested.

Months passed, as they do, and eventually we firmed up a plan for me to read at the first salon of the post-summer season, which was to take place this past September. What I didn’t know until I checked the web site over the summer to get the exact date was that I was slated to read alongside Ed Lin and Tim O’Mara, two accomplished mystery authors with at least three detective novels apiece.

And the posted theme for the evening was Crime Fiction.


Eventually I figured that I wound up on the slate for Crime Fiction night because the poem I’d read at the Literal Latté event was “Five-Course Noir,” a poem with criminal elements, but calling it crime fiction was a stretch. I considered emailing Pen Parentis and letting them know that, well, I’m not a crime writer.

But then I started digging through all my poems, just to see if I could scrape together a list that would be at least vaguely on-topic. “Tryst” is about adultery; “The French Have a Word for It” is about theft. “Veninum Lupinum” is about poisoning, “Force Majeure” has overtones of rape, and “HC SVNT DRACONES” is about arson. “Confession” is about unspeakable crimes.

I have many, many more unpublished poems about murder, fraud, terrorism, suicide... plenty more than would fit into a reading slot at the salon.

So maybe I’m a crime writer after all.

Still, what I had was crime poetry, not crime fiction. So after putting together a batch of crime poetry, I dusted off a long-unfinished mystery novel I’ve been putting off for donkeys’ years, and wrote a draft of a particular scene I’d been carrying around in my head for over a decade but never written down. I brought that, too, and let the organizers and audience decide whether I should read poetry or a raw attempt at crime fiction.

Since nobody cares about poetry (you know this to be true), crime fiction won the night. I read my piece about a car at 3 AM crammed full of four adults, a baby, and a severed head, and it went over well. With luck, this will be the beginning of a big push to get the book written. It helps that at the salon, Tim O’Mara revealed that his first book took him twenty years to finish, while I’m only pushing thirteen so far.

(Earlier entries appear in [a rickety soapbox].)