Ann Lee Miller earned a BA in creative writing from Ashland (Ohio) University and writes full-time in Phoenix, Arizona, but left her heart in Florida, where she grew up on a sailboat. She loves speaking to young adults and guest lectures on writing at several Arizona colleges. Over 100,000 copies of her debut novel, Kicking Eternity, have been downloaded from Amazon. She blogs memoir at AnnLeeMiller.com. Here is the second half or her memoir article about growing up on a sailboat.
Dad didn’t just admire flower child freedom. He quit his job managing Shenandoah Pool to build our forty-foot yawl in the back yard. Then, the no-job lifestyle stuck. Mom’s nursing and Dad’s playing the market—his huge graphs spread across the fore cabin while he plotted his stocks—paid marina rent, Catholic school tuition, and kept us in bathing suits and zinc oxide. I don’t think he gave a flip that his BS in business from the University of Miami moldered while he boat and child-minded, bagged a Euell Gibbons life.
We slid into the mouth of the waterway, and I dropped the mainsail.
Dad yanked on the lawnmower cord to our ten-horse, secondhand, Johnson outboard, swore, yanked, swore.
My fingers clenched around the bowsprit as we coasted into the narrow inlet.
Mom sat at the helm, my brother smashed up against her side.
Finally, the motor coughed to life, and Dad muscled it down the stern into the water.
Ten minutes later we puttered into a virgin cove, surrounded on four sides by land and pines.
Dad killed the motor, and we glided into the perfect center.
We dropped anchors fore and aft and stowed sail to our transistor radio blaring the weather.
Hurricane Laurie hooked southeast and headed for Mexico.
That night, in my bunk in the after cabin, I lie awake listening to the strange sounds of the cove.
Dad wasn’t a hippie. Our car was a ten-year-old Plymouth Valiant he’d painted tan—with a paint brush—over the original white. But a picture from half a life ago lapped against my ear from the other side of the hull. I’d been five, and my parents quit their jobs, packed us up, and drove out west to pan for gold—in a Volkswagen van.
I shouldn’t have been surprised several years later when Dad grew out his hair like Willie Nelson or that he never again worked a “real job.”
Dad protected me from skin cancer, unhealthy eating, and a sedentary lifestyle. He gave me books, boats and the ability to write for twelve years without a paycheck. I have Dad to thank that I rebelled into conservatism and God. Conservatism may be expendable, but God I’ll keep.
JIM: Here’s the blurb for her latest novel.
Growing up on a boat made it easy for me to set the stage for the Christian romance Tattered Innocence, a tale of passions indulged, denied, and ultimately forgiven.
On the verge of bagging the two things he wants most—a sailing charter business and marrying old money—Jake Murray’s fiancée/sole crew member dumps him. Salvation comes in the form of dyslexic, basketball toting Rachel Martin, the only one to apply for the first mate position he slapped on craigslist.
On a dead run from an affair with a married man, Rachel’s salvation is shoving ocean between her and temptation.
Rapid fire dialogue and romantic tension sail Jake’s biker-chick of a boat through hurricanes, real and figurative. A cast of wannabe sailors, Rachel’s ex, Jake’s, a baby—go along for the ride.
The many-layered story weaves together disparate strands into a seamless cord. Mother and daughter look eerily alike—down to their lusts. Their symbiotic bond, forged in the blood of childbirth on the kitchen floor and cemented by their secrets, must be cracked open. A son must go home. Sin must be expunged.
Tattered Innocence is for anyone who’s ever woken up sealed in a fifty-gallon drum of their guilt.
You can view her book Tattered Innocence on Amazon by clicking