Monday, April 23, 2012

Interview: Phyllis Zimbler Miller - MRS. LIEUTENANT

MRS. LIEUTENANT: A Saga to Publication and Beyond
The following is the author's own story of her writing and her journey to publication of MRS. LIEUTENANT. An incredibly interesting read!

My novel MRS. LIEUTENANT is based on my experiences as a new Mrs. Lieutenant in the spring of 1970 right after the Kent State shootings.  

I met my husband on the editorial staff of Michigan State University’s daily newspaper when he was already in Army ROTC (Reserve Officers Training Corps).  A few months after we were married we arrived at Ft. Knox, Kentucky, in May 1970.  There we found ourselves in an alien culture both because we were Jewish and because we were unaccustomed to the military life.

What ensued in the nine weeks that my husband attended Armor Officers Basic at Ft. Knox was an eye-opening experience that I felt should be preserved for its slice of women’s history.  Years later two women producers also thought so, and they optioned the story and asked me to write a book.

By the time I wrote a novel (to protect people’s identities) the producers had moved on.  And then I spent years and years rewriting the novel.  Finally, when POD (print on demand) publication eliminated the need for hundreds of books in my garage, I self-published the novel.

And although it had been turned down by agents and publishes as no longer being relevant, the novel was named a semifinalist in the 2008 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award competition.  (This honor led me down the rabbit hole into the world of social media, where I have stayed ever since.)  

Kindle had only arrived in November of 2007, but I did have the novel converted into the Kindle format in April of 2008.  Of course, at that time not many people were buying ebooks.  

Recently I had the book re-converted into Kindle (more up-to-date software) as well as the format for the Nook, iPad, etc. and uploaded onto Smashwords.  (I used Chris O’Byrne of for the format conversions and uploading.)

I was already on Amazon as the co-author of the 1992 Jewish holiday book SEASONS FOR CELEBRATION, written with Rabbi Karen L. Fox.  Even though that book was published by a traditional publisher, Karen and I had to do the marketing for the book.  Thus I was not concerned that I would have to do the marketing for a self-published book.

I joined several social media sites, started the LinkedIn Book Marketing group (which today is thriving – see, and reached out to the national headquarters of the Jewish sorority I belonged to at MSU – Alpha Epsilon Phi.  (The sorority magazine then featured me in an article.)

The one market I really wanted to reach – the military one – I could not reach because the book is not returnable and thus could not be sold in the U.S. Army’s PX system.

Also, when I first self-published, BookSurge (now part of CreateSpace) insisted on a price too high for a paperback.  Recently I have been able to lower that price.  I decided on the ebook price of $2.99 after much reading about different ebook price points.  

The novel MRS. LIEUTENANT focuses on four women – a Northern Jew (based on only some aspects of myself), a Southern Baptist, a Puerto Rican and an African-American.  The four women must learn to overcome their prejudices against each other in order to adapt to their new roles.

The novel has received many positive reviews on Amazon, and I am always particularly pleased when a military wife tells me how much she liked the story.

I am part-way through a sequel – MRS. LIEUTENANT IN EUROPE – about when my husband and I were stationed in Munich, Germany, only 25 years after the end of World War II.  Currently I am considering changing from a novel to a memoir in order to better tell the story of what it was like to be Jewish in Munich at that time and stationed with an occupying force.

I have all my original documents from that time, including a copy of the letter I typed to the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam sending a donation from the few Jews associated with the U.S. military in Munich.  (The reason for the donation is because, at that time, the Anne Frank House was in such short supply of funds that it risked being closed down.)  


Ever since my novel was published, I have been very active online supporting our troops in general as well as Jews who serve in the U.S. military (see  

The novel’s website is (created by my younger daughter and Miller Mosaic LLC business partner Yael K. Miller).  This site has links to Amazon, etc. where the novel and the ebook formats are sold. 

My overall author website is and my author Facebook Page is

I can be followed on Twitter at and on Pinterest at

Books by Ted William Gross

If you wish to purchase the books at Smashwords click here.

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