For her first book, Jen A. Miller did not have to look too far for inspiration. “The Jersey Shore: Atlantic City to Cape May” is filled with tips on dining, lodging, recreation, and shopping right in the Belmar native’s backyard.
Miller, 27, is a freelance writer on topics ranging from literature to health and fitness for magazines like Men’s Health, Allure, and Woman’s Day. She also writes frequently about the Garden State for publications such as New Jersey Monthly, the New York Times, and the Philadelphia Inquirer.
It was wintertime when Miller landed her book contract with Countryman Press, so most of her initial research was conducted in the warmth of the library as she dug up information from shore guides published as far back as 1960. Using her journalistic skills, Miller chatted with locals, signed up for shore town news alerts, and began hoarding any brochures she could get her hands on.
Still, she says, “The best way to research was to park my car and just start walking.” The seasons changed and the project began to heat up, but so did south Jersey. “I really don’t like hot weather and humidity,” she admits. “So it was a very long summer.”
Miller’s shore guide—part of Countryman’s Great Destinations series—runs 320 pages and includes information on the history and culture of the coastline, and Miller’s “Best Bets” for things to do.
Miller found her calling as a writer while studying marine biology in college in Florida. She fell in love with her job at the student newspaper, eventually winning a writing award from the Society of Professional Journalists. Her writing career got off to a fast start when at 23 she was named editor-in-chief of SJ Magazine, a South Jersey regional publication. But Miller was itching to try her hand at freelance writing fulltime. “I figured, if I don’t try this now, there will never be a better time,” she explains. “I had no mortgage, no kids, no significant other…so I just did it.”
Now Miller has plenty of outlets for her stories and a few more book concepts in the works with her agent, but as far as her plans for the immediate future, she says, “I’m trying to take a vacation!”