Outdoor writer tests the waters of self-publishing with “Klasburg, North Dakota,” his first fictional book
Non-fiction, mainly, stories about hunting, fishing, trapping, gathering and even gardening.
When it comes to the outdoors, you name it and Miller probably did.
At last count Miller says he had 47 articles printed in publications such as the Cass County Reporter in Casselton where he writes a monthly column called “Musings from Cottonwood Bend,” as well as Fur, Fish and Game, Midwest magazines. Game and Fish and Bowhunter. , among others.
Now Miller, who lives along the Sheyenne River near Kindred with her significant other, Melanie, and four children – Naomi, Maia, Ivy, and Carter – has dipped her feet in the waters of fiction with “Klasburg, Dakota. North: Stories collected from the Middle of Nowhere. ”
The self-published book, available through Amazon and its digital platform Kindle, contains 14 stories and retails for $ 9.99 paperback and $ 3.99 digital.
“I kind of wanted to challenge myself a little bit to see if I could do some fiction,” said Miller, 38. “It’s different (from non-fiction) because there is usually a kind of spark and imagination” that is needed to write fiction.
Director of the Cass County Soil Conservation District in Fargo, Miller says he submitted his first fictional stories to literary magazines, but none of them took a bite.
Still, Miller says, he continued to hook up.
“I would sit down if I didn’t have other tasks and maybe write a story or two, then before you knew it I started having four, five or six,” he said. -he declares.
Miller decided to base his stories on a fictional town in Southeast North Dakota. Like Stephen King’s Castle Rock and Garrison Keillor’s Lake Wobegon, Miller has Klasburg.
“I thought it would be fun to do that since there’s nothing like it in North Dakota,” he said. “Almost every story has some sort of – I don’t mean autobiographical, because that’s the wrong word – but some sort of basis in reality.”
Sharing the outdoor lifestyle, both with readers and his children, is a priority for Jeffrey Miller, freelance outdoor writer and author of “Klasburg, North Dakota: Stories Collected in the Middle of Nowhere.” (Contribution / Jeffrey Miller)
Miller says he thought about trying to find a publisher for his book, but instead decided to go for self-publishing, as it didn’t require him to buy hundreds of books that might not. not sell.
“I knew it wouldn’t be a book that sold thousands of copies,” he said. Publishing the book through Amazon’s self-publishing platform was easy, he said.
“They actually have models, so you go out there and download a model,” Miller said. “I copied and pasted (the stories) into the template, and it really was that easy.”
Miller first ordered an edit copy, which his significant other, Melanie, also read.
“We found some mistakes and made a few small adjustments and then re-downloaded it which was even easier,” he said.
For the cover, they scoured the countryside and took several photos until they found one that they felt matched the title and tone of the book.
“Some images contained too much black or too much light,” Miller said. “Honestly, once I got it all written down, it took me maybe three hours to download it and whatever I wanted.”
While many stories have outdoor themes – “The Trespasser” is about a teenage boy named Kyle Johnsrud who befriends an old trapper named Hanson after being caught entering the lands of the old man. man trying to set traps – others tackle such compelling topics as infidelity, death and divorce.
Every small town has its dark side and Klasburg is no different.
In “The Trespasser,” Hanson teaches his young protégé the ins and outs of trapping, and the couple later reappear in the book in a story called “In the Dark Water,” which continues the theme of trapping.
“I love that (Kyle Johnsrud) isn’t just sitting around playing video games, he’s trying to learn something, but then realizes that trapping is something you don’t can’t just have fun, ”said Miller, himself an avid trapper. . “You have to learn how to do it effectively and efficiently. I like this interaction.
Hanson and the boy are characters Miller says he will definitely revisit.
“Some of the other stories are kind of unique – the story is told,” he said.
The ending of “Alder Lake,” the first story in the book, came to him in a dream, Miller says. Without giving too much away, it’s not a happy ending.
“I woke up and thought, ‘This will be the end’ of the book,” Miller said. “Then I had to work back and figure out how to get there.”
Miller says he started writing the stories for “Klasburg, North Dakota” in the summer of 2020. Then the fall and hunting seasons came along, and he was writing magazine and newspaper articles in winter.
So this continued until his mate, Melanie, asked Miller last spring if he was planning on finishing the book. She had read the early stories and wanted to see more, Miller recalls. Melanie also took care of the editing tasks.
“It was more about motivation,” Miller said. “I had half of the stories done in a year and I finished the rest in about three weeks. “
To date, sales of the book have been going “pretty well,” with sales of paperbacks far exceeding sales of Kindle, Miller says. Ferguson Books & More stores in Bismarck, Grand Forks and West Fargo will also carry the book, he says.
“I’m not going to buy a new car, that’s for sure,” Miller said of book sales, “but it’s been going well. Looks like it’s at the point now where friends of friends have it. buy.
“The good thing is that once a magazine comes out it’s gone – next month’s issue comes out and it’s something new,” Miller said. “A book, at least, is going to be out there for a while.”
What: “Klasburg, North Dakota: Stories Collected in the Middle of Nowhere.”
Author: Jeffrey Miller.
Price: $ 9.99 pocket; Kindle $ 3.99.