After years of hard work and determination, Karen Miller is not only the author of a best-seller, but an accomplished woman who has broken barriers to get where she is today.
Growing up on the streets of Harlem, Miller dropped out of school at 13. With no success in getting a job, she resorted to crimes, like shoplifting. At 22, she joined the Navy, promptly turning her life around. At 29, she moved to Philadelphia and enrolled at Temple University. She graduated magna cum laude four years later with a bachelor’s degree in journalism.
With writing as her first love and a story to share, Miller worked on her first book, “Satin Doll.” Largely autobiographical, it is a story of a young girl who lived on the streets of Harlem and attempted to fend for herself and her niece. It continues into her adult life and her ability to separate her past from her present.
“People are shocked when they find out you are living a life in two separate worlds,” Miller said. She soon realized that writing a novel is the easier part. With constant rejections, Miller decided to self-publish her novel. She printed an initial run of 3,000 books and sold them out of her living room.
“It was either my couch or the books. The couch went out onto the porch, where it was stolen,” Miller said. In less that three weeks, the first batch of books were sold. In addition, offers started rolling in. Publishers that previously snubbed the book attended an auction, where she finally chose Simon and Schuester.
With the success of her first book at hand and six years at the Philadelphia Inquirer under her belt, Miller has left the newspaper to write full-time. She also brings her expertise to the classroom, teaching a journalism class at Temple.
“I get a chance to do things with students that I wish my teachers had done for me,” she said.
Miller is awaiting the publication of her second book, “I’m Telling,” in February 2002 by Simon and Schuester.