Sometimes a year is too much for one Christmas letter to contain–so it is with this year, but I’ll give it a try. Susan found out she’s pregnant with baby #4! That’s probably the lead. We found out over the summer in between one of our many trips. Susan came up with the tummy name Lilo, because her due date is in April. After she explained to the children that Lilo of Lilo & Stitch is the little girl and not the alien, they immediately jumped on board with the name.
Also this year: my second book, Rogue the Durum, was accepted for publication back in March and hit bookstores in November. To help promote it, I asked my publisher to place my first book on sale. Book one hit record numbers in September, October, and November, making the top 100 in the Australia kindle store and the top 20 in Canada! Thanks to the run in the charts, HarperCollins asked to print the mass market version through one of their imprints. I considered their offer for most of a millisecond before asking where to sign.
I can tell all this literary ambition has been rubbing off on the kids. The other day, I overheard Bonnie pitching a new children’s book to Charlie. It features two ducklings who are adopted by a goose. The title: Duck, Duck, Goose. The conflict: The daddy goose doesn’t actually want the ducklings. I am trying not to take this as an attack on my own parenting. Charlie too is working things out, but his interests seem to be more in the realm of comedy. Every morning he experiments, crossing back and forth over an imaginary line that separates two kinds of routines: those that make his sisters furiously annoyed and those that make them giggle so hard cereal comes out their noses. He’s developing a terrific sense of comedic timing. I just wish it didn’t involve so many pratfalls.
Speaking of falls, Susan’s prediction came true: Margot is the first Miller child to require stitches. She tumbled down the playhouse stairs during the first snow of the year and earned a trip to the Emergency Room. A few hours later, she was all cleaned up, stitched up, and scaling the side of the hospital bed in search of her next big injury. All the hospital staff working that night fell in love with Margot–who danced and sang “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” minutes after receiving her last stitch–and they showed their love by lavishing her with praise and Paw Patrol stickers.
Academically, everyone is doing well. Bonnie and Charlie are both in school full-time at St. Dominic, which means they get to see their mama every morning and every afternoon and whenever they have library or computer class. We are all impossibly blessed. Margot is still doing well at daycare. She assures me she is doing all her calculus homework and will make the Dean’s list this semester. She also may be a compulsive liar. We’re hoping she grows out of that before it leads to a life of crime.
Thanks to my literary life and our desire to visit all 50 capitals, this year has been chock-full of travel. In March we visited OKC, Baton Rouge, Jackson, and Little Rock. When my first book came out, I reached out to my old high school, New Orleans Center for Creative Arts (NOCCA), and they invited me to give a talk and sign books for the students. Then over the summer, we traveled to ten cities in Kansas as I offered mystery writing workshops at Kansas libraries. Finally, we just spent a long weekend in Overland Park so that I could present at a writing conference sponsored by Johnson County Public Library.
Out of everything, I think Susan’s favorite part of our adventures was Lemuria, a cozy bookstore in Jackson, Mississippi. The kids, on the other hand, enjoyed the food most, constantly bringing up the crawfish we had in New Orleans. Now whenever they hear we’re having shrimp for dinner, one of them will ask if it’s the kind they can take apart. For me, I think I most enjoyed my panel at the Johnson County writing conference. As I answered participant-questions about rejection and critique, I recounted bits and pieces of my early writing days: those writing workshops at NOCCA, my student worker days at The Southern Review, and my own struggles to find what works in my writing. Today, when I write something, I know it will find a home somewhere. How remarkable is that?
It has truly been a momentous year and 2023 looks like it will hold more of the same. Even though our travel plans will be placed on temporary hold, I know Lilo (or whatever we’ll actually name baby #4) will bring us plenty of adventures at home. Wishing you a merry Christmas and an adventurous new year!The MiwwersSteven, Susan, Bonnie, Charlie, Margot and “Lilo”