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Jackie Lee Miles: The Inspiration for Cold Rock River (& a giveaway!)...

July 29, 2010
Today, we lucky ducks have author Jackie Lee Miles stopping by to share her inspiration for Cold Rock River, first published in 2008 in hardcover, and now available from Sourcebooks in trade paperback.

About the Author
Jackie Lee Miles lives in Georgia with her husband, where she is a featured speaker at book clubs, schools, and writer’s workshops. Her debut novel Roseflower Creek was Cumberland House Publishing’s lead book when it debuted in hardcover, and it is now available in trade paperback. When not writing, Ms. Miles tours with the Dixie Darlin’s, four nationally published book-writing belles. Her next novel, All That’s True, will be published by Sourcebooks Landmark in early 2011. For more information, please visit

Without further ado, presenting Ms. Miles:
The Inspiration for Cold Rock River

Cold Rock River was inspired by an incident in my own life. Like Adie’s sister Annie, my baby sister Vick choked on a jellybean when she was twenty months old. It was the week following Easter and we three older girls had our little baskets squirreled away. Our mother insisted we weren’t to drag them around the house, but she was gone for the evening and our daddy let us roam about, baskets in hand, to our hearts’ content. I don’t recall that any of us actually gave Vicki a jelly bean. More likely she picked on up off the floor. I do remember I panicked when I saw her put one in her mouth, and I tried to grab her. She started giggling and running as fast as her little legs would allow. The next thing I knew, she was choking and her face was blue. She survived, but as I grew older I was very much aware of how our lives would have changed had she not. One evening, lying in bed, something made me think of it; how fifty years had passed and yet the memory of that night was still as raw as fresh-skinned knees. I closed my eyes, ready to drift off, when I “heard” the opening line of what became Cold Rock River. I got up to write it down, so I wouldn’t forget a single word. I was still at it the next morning. I had forty, maybe fifty pages. I realized then that this young, beautiful, delightful creature, who I chose to call Adie, might have something to tell me worth hearing. And if I was quiet and listened closely, maybe her ghosts would help me purge mine.

The novel is the parallel journey of two women born a century a part. In 1963 rural Georgia, with the Vietnam War cranking up, pregnant seventeen-year-old Adie Jenkins is introduced to the diary of pregnant seventeen-year-old Tempe Jordan, a slave girl, circa 1863, with the Civil War well under way. Adie is haunted by the death of her baby sister Annie. Tempe is grieving the sale of her three children sired by her white master. What’s buried in the diary could destroy Adie’s life.

Initially, Cold Rock River was to be the story of Adie Jenkins, seventeen and pregnant and unmarried during the early 1960’s. I know today if you’re in her condition, they throw you a shower. During the 1960’s the Vietnam War was a major factor in our daily lives, so it naturally came to play a role in the book. As Adie’s story began I decided she would do some chicken farming to feed them when it became apparent Buck wasn’t going to be one she could count on. I went to the library to research Georgia chicken farming and stumbled onto the Slave Narratives. The complete collection—-which contains more than two thousand first-person accounts—-is housed at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC. They were commissioned by President Roosevelt during the depression years, in order to record the journey of those freed slaves still alive. Writers were sent across the nation to search for them. Their accounts are as fascinating as they are poignant. Over the years, there’s been a good deal of controversy as to their accuracy, based on the fact that some of the freed slaves were fearful or perhaps suspicious of the government—-brings to mind “forty acres and a mule”—-and hesitant to speak candidly regarding the treatment they may or may not have received at the hands of their sometimes still powerful former masters. The collective consensus is that somewhere amidst the vast amount of material lies the truth. After months of reading, reviewing, and re-examining all of the narratives I could locate, Tempe’s portion of Cold Rock River emerged. Her story, based on what I found, is remarkable. Everything that Tempe experiences was lifted from the lives of actual people who wore the chains and bore the scars of slavery. I won’t ever forget her; nor am I able to forget those I ‘met” through the narratives, who bravely shared their life stories so that Tempe could tell me hers. Since Tempe’s story begins as the Civil War was well under way, it seemed to be a good parallel to the Vietnam War of Adie’s journey.

The setting of the story required a great deal of research and this novel was a labor of love that lasted five years. Most of the research was in relation to the Civil War and the way of life for the slaves in order to present Tempe’s portion of the story. Since I grew up in the fifties and sixties portraying Adie’s part was not as difficult as I had lived those years.

I hope you’ll pick up a copy!
I really enjoyed reading Cold Rock River, and here's your opportunity to check it out for yourself. Thanks to Sourcebooks, I have two copies for you. The deets:
  • Giveaway is open to US and Canada residents only
  • To enter, comment and tell me why you want this book!
  • Do it before 6:00pm CST August 11th!


traveler said...

Thanks for this wonderful giveaway. which interests me greatly. the story and the era. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

skkorman said...

Sounds like a great read—please enter me to win!

skkorman AT bellsouth DOT net

Melissa said...

I don't know where I first heard about this book but it has been on my to read list since 2007! I must have added it before it was even published.

Thanks for the giveaway!

shhhimreading at hotmail dot com

Pamela Keener said...

Thanks for introducing me to a new to me book & author. I really like the premise of following two different stories in different war eras.
Love & Hugs,

Marjorie/cenya2 said...

I like the historic storyline of this novel and would like to read a book by this author.

cenya2 at hotmail dot com

holdenj said...

Thanks for the intro to this author and book. Jackie's personal story about how this book came about is very emotional, I'd love to win and read it! Thanks!

Martha Lawson said...

I want to read this book because I want to find out what was in Tempe's diary. This sounds like an incredible book!! Iwill be putting it on the to buy list.

I follow on gfc

mlawson17 at hotmail dot com

nfmgirl said...

This one is going on my Wish List! I love stories about slavery and the strength of the human spirit. Please count me in. Thank you!

nfmgirl AT gmail DOT com

Colleen Turner said...

I have seen this book everywhere and it sounds so good. I love historical fiction and love this area, so am really looking forward to this book. Please include me in your giveaway.

Sandee61 said...

I've wanted to read this book ever since I heard about it. Please enter me in the giveaway. Thank you!



Benita said...

I love reading about this era in history. Thanks for the possibility.


Anonymous said...

i actually just finished roseflower creek and loved everything about it...the dialect, setting etc

Becky said...

I would love the chance to read this book. It sounds fascinating.

Thank you!

dbkagrayson2002 at gmail dot com

Ruthie said...

This book sounds like something I would really enjoy. Please enter me, thanks.

ossmcalc said...

I am a high school math teacher at an at-risk, Title 1 high school. It is sad to say that teenage pregnancies are alive and well in our school. I have felt like I was on a first name basis in the maternity ward at the local hospital. Every girl's story is different. It is amazing how many of these girls suddenly become the strong women that I knew they were. I would love to read this book so that I can read the stories about the lives of these two young girls.

Thank you,


~The Book Pixie said...

I want to read this because it is about a 17 year old girl living in Georgia and I am also 17 and living in Georgia. Plus I love the time period and the story itself sounds really good.

Thanks for the contest.


rubynreba said...

I'd like to read this because it sounds interesting how the two had a lot in common 100 years apart.

Margie said...

The idea of parallel stories a century apart sounds intriguing to me. I always enjoy family dramas. Thanks for the giveaway.
mtakala1 AT yahoo DOT com

Chantel said...

I'd love to be entered, I like reading books that take place in the South.

cwilliams127 at gmail dot com

Carol M said...

I've always liked stories that are about the Civil War.
mittens0831 at aol dot com

Dawn M. said...

I just think it sounds like a fascinating story that I'd love to read. Count me in, please!

Thanks! :0)
librarygrinch at gmail dot com

Anita Yancey said...

I want this book, because I think it sounds like it would be a very interesting read. Please enter me. Thanks!


Steve Capell said...

The synopsis of this book is intriguing and one that I would like to read. Thank you so much for hosting this giveaway.


Anonymous said...

Great giveaway and review. Please enter me in this contest.


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