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Julie Miller!


 September Book Giveaway!
Entry Deadline September 24th


Journey to Morning by Scott E. Miller


Congratulations to Allison Sloan of South Carolina! She won my August Book GiveAway Contest, and will receive a copy of my RITA finalist book, BAD GIRL. Like many of you, she knew that Max Krolikowski was moving into Rosie March’s basement apartment in KANSAS CITY SECRETS.

This month I’m giving away a very special prize! A copy of my husband’s newest YA book, JOURNEY TO MORNING. I’ll award a print or digital copy—winner’s choice. This is a Young Adult historical fiction novel, based on the real Nebraska blizzard of 1888.

To enter,
read the excerpt from Scott E. Miller’s release, JOURNEY TO MORNING. Answer the easy question at the end. Then email me your answer, along with your contact information. My dog, Maggie, will put her nose to work and select a winner from among all the correct entries. Deadline to enter is September 24th.








Rules for Julie's Contests

  • One entry per person.
  • By entering, entrants grant permission for their name to be posted on the Julie Miller web site at and in Julie's newsletter.
  • Winners will be chosen by random drawing from among all entries.
  • The odds of winning depend upon the number of participants.
  • Void where prohibited.


April 2016

RT Book Lovers Convention--Las Vegas


Julie in New York City at the 2015 RWA National Conference

Julie Miller RITA Finalist

Julie Miller at 2015 RWA Literacy Signing


Intrigue Authors Julie Miller and Delores Fossen at Harlequin Party, NYC 2015

The awesome sign made by Julie's roommates at the RWA 2015 Conference in NYC. Yes, I'm a RITA finalist!

Julie at the RWA Literacy Booksigning


Julie with fellow USA TODAY Bestselling Author Delores Fossen at the Harlequin VIP Party.

Author Julie Miller at Broadway production of WICKED

Author Julie Miller RITA Finalist

Author Julie Miller ready for 2015 RWA RITA Awards

Julie at the Broadway production of WICKED

Yes, I'm a RITA finalist!

Julie ready to attend the RITA Awards Ceremony




Julie Miller at the PRW 20th Anniversary

Julie's local writing group, the Prairieland Romance Writers, celebrates 20 years of excellence in romance fiction at an anniversary Open House in Grand Island, NE
Prairieland Romance Writers celebrates 20 years of excellence in romance fiction!


Author Julie Miller

Authors Scott and Julie Miller

Kearney, NE Booksigning, The Sequel Bookshop
Julie Miller, and Scott & Julie Miller



Journey to Morning by Scott E. Miller


Copyright  ©2015 by Scott E. Miller

Permission to reproduce text granted by Ladytech, Inc.


All Jake had to worry about on that unseasonably warm January day was remembering his homework, meeting up with friends and avoiding the school bully. Little did he know that in just a few short hours, he’d be struggling to survive a violent winter storm. Based on a true event, JOURNEY TO MORNING by Nebraska native Scott E. Miller chronicles the life and death challenges that Nebraska pioneers faced on that fateful day in 1888. (Young Adult historical fiction)


     "Jacob Randall Wheaten, you get back here this instant!"

     The use of my full name brought me to an immediate stop. I'd almost made it out of the yard before the raised voice interrupted my escape.

     I knew what I'd be facing before I even turned around and was already preparing my case for one more plea, although in the back of my mind, I knew it wouldn't do any good.

     Reluctantly, I swung back toward the direction of the voice and saw her standing in the doorway, one hand on her hip, the other holding a blanket-lined denim jacket.

     "But Mom--," I started to say.

     "Don't you 'but Mom' me!” came the reply. "I told you to put on your jacket." 

     "But it's warm out," I protested. “I’ll burn up.”

     "I don't care. It's still January and you know as well as I do that it could get cold by the time school's out. Now I'll have no more argument. Put it on."

     Although it was a gray, overcast day, it was unseasonably warm for this time of year, and I had argued with Mom all through breakfast that my long-sleeve wool shirt and overalls would be enough. I didn't need my jacket. I opened my mouth to issue another protest, but she would have none of it.

     "Jacob," she said, cutting me off. "If you don't come and get this jacket right now, your father will hear about it."

     Now I knew that Dad was out in the fields and I could easily be long gone by the time she retrieved him. But I also knew that my victory over the coat would be short-lived, as I would have to come home after school and deal with the consequences of my disobedience.

     Dad was a gentle soul. He whistled when he worked, enjoyed telling jokes, and laughed often, as evidenced by the lines around his twinkling gray eyes. However, I also knew that he had little tolerance for disobedience, and if I didn't do as Mom asked, he and I would end up having one of our private little "conversations" out in the barn. That's what he called them anyway. Although, truth be told, very little talking usually took place. Well, at least on my part.

     In all my twelve years I only had a couple of those conversations, and I definitely knew that I never wanted to have another. Resigned to my fate, I sullenly inched toward Mom and the jacket that she held.

     Her dark blue eyes showed annoyance. Mom was a tall, thin woman. She wore her long blond hair tied in a braid that ran down the center of her back. She rarely raised her voice, and when she became angry, her tone generally lowered as she gave me what I called her "Mom look.” A look that said a line had been crossed and that any further misbehavior would not be tolerated.

What confused me now was that she wasn't wearing that Mom look. Her face was unreadable, making it difficult to gauge just how much trouble I was truly in.

     As I reluctantly took the jacket from her, she crossed her arms and watched while I half-heartedly slipped it on. In a little show of defiance, I left it unbuttoned, and she seemed to accept this bit of unspoken compromise.

     "Don't forget your lunch and school books," she said, as she turned and entered the house.

     I sighed. In my haste to get away unseen, I had forgotten my school things. Following her back inside, it dawned on me that if I had somehow managed to get away, and made it all the way to school without being stopped, I would have had no lunch. Plus, one of Mom's punishments for disobedience was to be sent to bed without supper. Meaning I would go all day without eating.

     Miss Sutter, our teacher, normally a kind person, wouldn't have been very forgiving if I'd showed up at school without my books. So, along with whatever punishment I would have received from Dad for disobeying Mom, I would have gotten extra work from Miss Sutter for not having my books.

     Starving all day long would have made it three consequences for the one act of trying to sneak out of the house without my jacket. Maybe my little act of rebellion wasn't worth the price?

     I spied my lunch pail and books sitting right where I had left them by my place at the table. My little brother, Tommy, was still there eating his breakfast while Mom cleared away the dishes. I couldn't help but smile as he turned and grinned at me with a mouth full of biscuit.

     But it was more than the biscuit between his two missing front teeth that made me grin back. He was sitting there wearing his own jacket, even though it was quite warm in the house. And as much as I didn't want to wear mine, it was hard to get him out of his. But then, my jacket hadn't been a Christmas present.

     I remembered him squealing with delight upon opening the package and discovering the wool jacket, with its thick lining and bright shiny buttons. Forgetting all other presents, he quickly scrambled into it and wore it the remainder of the day, not even taking it off when it was time for bed.

     After several days, Mom finally succeeded in getting him to take it off when he went to sleep, but he still wore it whenever he could. I didn't have the heart to tell him that when spring came, Mom would wrap it in newspaper and store it away in the cedar chest for the next year.

     "Are you ready, Buddy?" I asked, as I picked up my books and pail.

     Nodding, he jumped off the chair and grabbed his own lunch pail from Mom who was holding it out for him. Being in first grade, he didn't have any books.

     "You have a good day at school," she said, brushing aside a lock of his straw-colored hair and kissing him on the forehead.

     Giggling, he raced past me out the door.

     "Jake, make sure you watch out for him," she said, as she kissed me, too.

     "Yes, Mom," I said, a little exasperated. Every morning she told me the same thing, as if I couldn’t remember what she had said from one day to the next. Besides, the school wasn‘t that far away. Just what kind of trouble did she think we could get into between here and there?   

     Walking outside, I found Tommy playing with our dog Champ, a large, six-year-old German shepherd. We'd gotten him as a puppy from a neighbor the same year Tommy was born. Champ might have been the family dog, but he and Tommy had a special bond, probably because they’d grown up together.         

     "Come on, big guy," I said to Tommy.

     "Bye, Momma," said Tommy, waving at her.

     "See you later," she replied, waving back. After a quick glance up to the sky, she wrapped her arms around herself and went back into the house.

     The walk to school wasn't long, only a mile down the road. We were lucky. A lot of the other kids we went to school with lived much farther away. Freddy Newsom, for example, lived eight miles away. However, he usually rode his horse Daisy, which got him to school at about the same time we did.

     It took about thirty minutes for Tommy and me to walk to school, depending on how many times we stopped along the way to throw rocks, or explore some interesting insect, or some such thing. However, this being January, insects were scarce, so we'd get to school with time to spare. I didn’t mind because it gave me an opportunity to meet up with my friends before Miss Sutter rang the bell.

     The other advantage of living close to school, and the one I liked the best, was that we didn't have to get up quite as early as some of the other kids.

     “Here, Champ!” I heard Tommy call.

     I smiled. He didn’t really need to call the dog. Champ always stayed close and didn‘t get too far out of our sight.

     Since Tommy had started school in the fall, Champ had walked with us. At first, I thought it was just so he could spend more time with us, which I'm sure was part of it. But recently, I'd begun to think that somewhere in the back of his doggy mind, he felt it was his duty to see that we made it to school safely. He was protecting us. From what though, I didn't know. Perhaps a marauding rabbit or killer ground squirrel? But once we were safely at school, and his job was complete, he would turn and trot back home.

     What was even more surprising however, was that Champ always seemed to somehow know when school was out. We'd find him patiently waiting for us at the end of each day. I don’t know how he knew that school was out, but he was always there, waiting.

     As we continued along the dusty road toward school, Tommy and Champ played the "chase me" game. Tommy would run ahead, while Champ chased him. Then Tommy would turn around and chase Champ. It was a game they played almost every morning, and they never seemed to tire of it. Sometimes, like today, I would be pulled into the game as well.

     “Come on, Jake!” shouted Tommy.

     My little brother’s infectious laughter was irresistible, and I decided to join them.

     After a few minutes of chasing and being chased, I was sweating. Trickles of perspiration ran down my back, making my shirt stick to me. Tearing off my jacket, I slung it over my shoulder.

     As I watched Tommy and Champ race each other back and forth along the road, I thought more about Mom forcing me to wear my jacket. I mean, after all, I wasn’t a baby. I could make decisions for myself.

     Glancing toward the sky, I noticed a soft glow as the morning sun tried to break through the gray blanket of clouds. A cool breeze rattled the dried up stocks of last year’s harvest. I just knew it was too warm for a jacket. Mom didn’t need to treat me as if I was Tommy’s age.

     I kicked a small rock lying in the road to emphasize my mood, and watched as it sailed off and disappeared into a patch of brown, scraggly prairie grass.

     I was still sulking when we followed a curve in the road and the school came into view. It was a white, one-room building with two large windows on each side, a double front door, and a single door in the back northwest corner.

     Behind the building were an outhouse and a small stable. Actually, the stable was really no more than a large shed: two stalls on one side, pegs along the back wall for tack, and two bays, one filled with hay, the other with wood for the school stove.

     There were eighteen students, grades one through eight. Miss Sutter had been our teacher since I had started and I liked her. She was a good teacher--strict, but fair. What I particularly liked about her was that she didn’t just teach the basics: reading, writing, and arithmetic. She also taught science, my favorite subject, as well as music, astronomy, and drama, which most of us boys hated. But I liked how she challenged us to explore and investigate, and to think more deeply about things.

     I was a little worried, however, because there was a rumor going around that she might be getting married in the summer and would leave us next year.

     It was no secret that she was being courted by a young man from Clearwater, a town about fifteen miles west in Antelope County. I hoped it wasn't true. But if it was, maybe she'd wait another two years until I graduated eighth grade?

     Arriving at school, I let those troublesome thoughts disappear. Getting closer, I could see that a number of students had already arrived.

     Some were playing a game of tag. A few were taking turns on the tree swing. But most were just standing around in small groups, talking.

     Tommy ran on ahead, with Champ close behind, and was already engaged in the game of tag by the time I caught up to him. Standing by the back corner of the building were three boys, and I immediately recognized one of them as Bobby Thompson, my best friend.

     Bobby and I had been friends since he had moved into the area four years prior. His family owned a farm by the South Fork Elkhorn River, a few miles north. We’d spent many hours at his place fishing, swimming, and looking for frogs and tadpoles. We’d even built a fort in one of the old maple trees that grew along the riverbank.

     Sometimes I'd take Tommy with me, and the three of us would spend hours out at the river's edge, frequently coming home dirty, wet, and sunburned.

     Bobby liked those times when I brought Tommy. He was the only boy in his family. His older sister, Becky, was in the eighth grade, and his younger sister, Lily, was in fourth.

     When they were younger, his sisters would sometimes join us on our grand adventures, coming home just as messy as we were. But as they’d gotten older, particularly Becky, catching frogs and digging for worms held less interest for them. Although once in a while Lily did still join us, depending on the adventure that day.

     Like me, Bobby also enjoyed school. He liked literature and science, and was particularly good at arithmetic. I frequently use his expertise to help me because it is my worst subject.

     Bobby once told me, in secret, that he actually enjoyed some of the plays that Miss Sutter presented in class. He didn’t want anyone else to know, however, because he was afraid that the other students would tease him.

     He found the idea of pretending to be different person fascinating. And even though I thought he was crazy about liking plays, I'd never told his secret.

     He was standing with two other boys from our grade. “My pa whittled it for me,” I heard him say as I ran up to join them.

     “Hey, Bob,” I said.

     “Hey, Jake, look!” he said, holding out the item that he'd been showing the others. “Look what Pa made me.”

     Taking it from him, I saw that it was a slingshot so new that it still had the smell of the pine wood it was made from. The handle wasn’t yet worn smooth and dirtied by frequent use. I turned it over in my hand, studying it closely.   

     “It's sure a beaut!” I exclaimed, handing it back to Bobby.

     Although our birthdays were only a month apart, Bobby was about a foot taller than I was, and he was dark haired and husky. He could have easily passed as one of the older students.

     “Can I try it?” asked Bill Foster, a thin, redheaded boy whose face was loaded with freckles, and whose eyes were enviously staring at the slingshot.   

     “Come on, let’s try it before school starts,” said Steven Johnson, the other boy.

     Bobby looked around. “Let’s go over there.” He pointed to a small stand of pine trees on a tiny rise behind the school. “No one’s over there. Pa told me that I had to be careful to not shoot it where anyone might get hurt.”

     Once the four of us reached the hill, Bobby began to pick up pinecones off the ground.

     "What are you doing?" asked Bill.

     "You'll see," he replied.

     We watched as he collected an armful of cones and then set them up on a fallen tree several yards away.

     “Those are the targets,” he said, pointing to the pinecones as he walked back to us.

     “Can I go first?” asked Bill.

     “Sure,” said Bobby. “Here. I collected these on the way to school this morning.”

     I watched him pull a handful of stones from his pocket. They were about the size of a robin’s egg and almost perfectly round.

     “It took some time to find just the right size and shape,” he said, handing one of the stones to Bill. “Now hold the Y part out straight with your left hand, and pull the sling back with your right. Then aim toward the target.”

     “I know what I’m doing,” said Bill. “I’ve shot these before.”

     Bobby glanced at me and grinned. Bill was a good kid and a good friend, but no matter what we were doing, he always said that he knew how to do it and that he'd done it before. Of course, we knew that he sometimes made things up, but we usually just played along.

     I watched as Bill held out the wood fork part of the sling, then slowly pulled the pouch holding the stone back toward his face. Closing his left eye, he aimed at a pinecone target, then released the pouch. We all followed the stone as it soared through the air, sailed over the targets, and struck a tree several feet beyond them, startling a bird that went screeching into the sky.    

     “Nuts,” said Bill.

     “That's not bad,” said Bobby. “You got some good distance. Just need to work on control.”

     Steve tried it next. He knocked one of the pinecones off the log after the stone struck the ground and bounced up to hit it.

     It was my turn. Steve handed me the slingshot and Bobby gave me a stone. Setting the stone in the pouch I aimed the Y part of the shot on the middle target.

     Holding the pouch with my first two fingers and thumb, I slowly pulled it back. The tension from the sling made my hand shake, and I struggled to control the wavering. Finally, feeling that I was perfectly lined up with one of the targets, I pulled the sling back just a bit farther and prepared to release it, confident in my aim.

     Suddenly the slingshot was wrenched from hand. I released the pouch and sent the stone off at a crazy angle. It completely missed the targets and soared past the trees.

     “The babies have a new toy,” came a voice dripping with sarcasm.

Question: What is the name of Jacob and Tommy’s dog?




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