STEPHEN M. MILLER was born in Oakland, Maryland on August 3, 1952. He was the first of six children--four boys, two girls--born to Clyde and Virginia Miller. Their sixth child, a boy, lived just a few hours. So Steve grew up in a family of five kids and both parents. At age 12, when his Grandpap died, Granny moved in with Steve's family. She's was Virginia's mom.
Steve's parents grew up two miles apart in coal country near Tunnelton, West Virginia, a deer hunter's long walk south of Morgantown.
After Steve came along, Clyde went looking for a job that didn't involve dragging a pick into a dark hole. He moved the family to Akron, Ohio where he became a tool and die maker, crafting steel parts for machinery.
His tax withholding statement for 1963 shows a salary of $5,990.51. By that time, all five kids were on board, the youngest age three.
Virginia didn't work outside the home until all the kids were in school. Then she took a part-time job as a sales clerk at JC Penney--as much for the clothing discount as for the slight salary.
Steve, at age 15, started working part-time after school at a Sohio service station, pumping gas, changing oil, and fixing flat tires. (Sohio stood for Standard Oil of Ohio.) It was a job he kept into his college years, until the owner died. The salary, which started at 75 cents an hour, paid for his first car. An extreme vehicle. Extremely used. Ford Galaxy, dingy green. The first time he drove it, he didn't know how to work the manual choke. A kid on a bicycle passed him.
NEWS JOURNALISM AT KENT STATE UNIVERSITY
In college, Steve knocked out his general courses at the nearby University of Akron. Then he transferred to Kent State University, where he got a bachelor's degree in news journalism. For those wondering where he was in 1970 when the Ohio National Guard came to Kent State to quell the Vietnam War protests and ended up killing four students in the parking lot outside the School of Journalism, Steve was a senior in high school.
His mother enrolled at Kent State the same year he did. She got a degree in elementary education, launching her career as a public school teacher. Don't ask Steve who finished college with a higher grade-point average.
Steve commuted to college; he couldn't afford to live on campus. He drove the 45 minutes each day to Kent, Ohio. After the owner of the Sohio service station died, Steve found a full-time summer job working in a factory. He ran heated molds that pressed uncured rubber into auto parts. Then he dug out the parts with a brass pick. He sweat through his clothes in the first 10 minutes, and through his boots by 30. At shift's end, his crust of body salt sculpted him into Lot's wife's brother.
WORKING AT THE NEWSPAPER
When Steve landed a summer internship his senior year, working as a news reporter for the Coshocton Tribune in central Ohio, life was looking up. He lived in a rented trailer and listened to his mouse traps snapping at night. Which wasn't as tough as listening to the girl next door match her oscillating voice to a record player with an rpm that couldn't decide which r to pm. But Steve was out of the rubber factory. And into an air-conditioned office.
After graduation, he took a job as a news reporter with the Alliance Review. He worked there a year and a half, covering general news and editing the religion section and the business section. Small paper. Pleasant town.
It was during those months that he decided the Christian publishing world needed a little help from writers and editors who had taken journalism 101.
He moved to Kansas City in 1976 to attend Nazarene Theological Seminary. The seminary offered no programs for Christian journalists. The options were: preacher, Christian education minister, or missionary. Steve wanted none of the above. All he wanted was an education in the Bible and theology. He took the two-year Christian education program, and concentrated his electives in biblical literature and theology.
He worked at Nazarene Church Headquarters as a magazine, book, and curriculum editor for about a dozen years, receiving the top editing award from the Evangelical Press Association. It was the award of excellence for the magazine he edited, Illustrated Bible Life.
That same year, in 1994, Steve resigned from Nazarene Headquarters to begin a fulltime career in freelance writing. By then, he was already writing part-time for Reader's Digest Books, helping them with Who's Who in the Bible--the first in a series of four Bible-related books he helped them write.
As a fulltime freelance writer, Steve covered a wide range of topics for secular and religious publishing companies. From international travel to family matters to health for the Mayo Clinic, helping Mayo write 10 books. All the while, he wrote articles and books about the Bible. This was the writing he most enjoyed, and knew best. It became his niche.
His first bestselling book was How to Get Into the Bible, published without the help of an agent. The lousy deal he let himself get talked into convinced him that good agents are worth the 15 percent they charge.
Steve teamed up with Robert V. Huber, a former Reader's Digest editor, to write The Bible: A History, for Lion Publishing of England. The book won the non-fiction book of the year award in 2004 from England's Christian broadcasting media.
Steve's next award-winner, which turned out to be a bestseller as well, was Who's Who and Where's Where in the Bible, for Barbour Publishing. It won the 2006 non-fiction book of the year award from Christian retailers. It also spent most of the year on the Christian bestseller list.
This book, illustrated with color pictures and written in a magazine style laced in humor, convinced Barbour Publishing there was a market for easy-reading Bible reference books.
Since then, Steve has written about half a dozen color-illustrated Bible reference books for Barbour, and recently signed a contract to write three more.
Barbour Publishing is headquartered in Ohio, which Steve says is ironic. He moved to Kansas City to get an education and find work. And having settled there and raised a family, most of his work now goes back to where he came from.
Steve married Linda Annalisa Burnes in 1979. Linda is a registered nurse and a nursing educator at Children's Mercy Hospital in the Kansas City suburbs. Steve and Linda have two grown children. Rebecca Annalisa Miller also works as a nurse at Children's Mercy Hospital. Bradley Marcelles Miller recently graduated with a bachelor's degree in business marketing at the University of Kansas. He co-owns a business that specializes in online advertizing: Sheppix.