University of Wisconsin Oshkosh alumna Pat Zietlow Miller’s journey to becoming a children’s book author wasn’t written overnight.
“I received more than 120 rejection letters from editors and it took four years before I sold my first book,” Miller said.
While studying journalism at UW Oshkosh, Miller’s goal was to become a newspaper reporter. She worked part-time at the Oshkosh Northwestern. At 19 years old, she wrote a draft of her first book using a typewriter but never pursued publishing her story.
“Later, at 39 years old, I decided that I was going to try to do this,” Miller said. “I had a computer and internet this time so it was a little easier. When my kids were in bed I would focus on writing.”
Miller has always liked picture books and the challenge that comes with writing them.
“Picture books are a totally different thing, I had never done them before,” Miller said. “I did a lot of research and read hundreds of picture books. I studied how they were structured, how they worked and what made the good books good.”
During the day, Miller works in communications for American Family Insurance in Madison, and by night she writes her books. With a busy schedule, she has learned how to balance her days.
“There are a lot of things you kind of have to give up,” Miller said. “I pretty much stopped watching TV, but now I can watch a little bit. There is always time around the edges, you just have to find it.”
Writing books that affect people of all ages can be difficult, but Miller explains how she does it.
“What makes a book good is that it has a universal emotion that you can relate to whether you are an adult or a child,” Miller said. “It’s something where you can read it, and go, ‘oh yeah, I’ve been there.’”
Miller always is working on something new. Some of the books Miller has written are very special to her, including Sophie’s Squash and The Quickest Kid in Clarksville.
“Sophie’s Squash is based on a memory from my daughter’s childhood,” Miller said. “My daughter fell in love with a butternut squash and carried it around.”
Miller has a number of picture books coming out in 2018 and 2019, including, Wide-Awake Bear, Be Kind, Brave, Remarkable You and My Brother, The Duck.