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Friday, October 28, 2016

Don't Be a Scaredy-Cat Writer

by Edie Melson @EdieMelson

The season of spooks is upon us, but that doesn’t mean we can give in to the fears we face as writers. We must face our writing fears and keep moving.

The other day I was talking to a friend of mine and this person confided that she was afraid she didn’t have what it takes to be a writer. “I’m just not good enough to get a book published, and I don’t know if I ever will be.”

“Welcome to the club,” I told her.

My answer wasn’t what she expected. She had forgotten something we had heard together at a conference many years ago. We’d been listening to an established author talk about his own fear and inadequacies. He told the audience that every time he sits down to write a new book, the fears resurface and he’s certain he no longer has what it takes to make it in publishing.

Hearing him confess his own fears gave me hope. Beyond that, it brought home an important fact. Being published—no matter if it’s a single book or a hundred—won’t necessarily make the fear disappear.

So what’s a writer to do?

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Blog-Flinging——Should Authors Use Their Platform To Preach?

aaronamat / 123RF Stock Photo
By Peter Leavell

Disciples of political and doctrinal ideals are lobbing blogs at each other in attempt to articulate their position. I’m not really a blog-flinger myself—but I’d love my own work hurled at people. There’s a problem though.

I’m not a political advisor. Or an opinion piece writer. I don’t chat with the political pundits weekly, nor do I dig through the volumes of work daily that necessitate a semi-informed position.

I have to face facts. I write novels.

I’m an entertainer. An entertainer of the highest quality, but still, an entertainer.

At Novel Rocker, we’re all entertainers.

For some odd reason, people listen to entertainers.

Do you know what it takes for me to be comfortable sharing my opinion? I’m going to share my opinion about how a person should offer their opinion.

A few years ago, I wrote myself a letter, and I’m sharing the highlights with you.

Dear Peter,

—You get angry at Hollywood actors who mumble their opinion and their quote is heralded as high thought. You’re as much an entertainer as actors. Don’t be a hypocrite. Learn your subject before you offer opinions.

—Offend as few as possible. Your platform wasn't built on offense. The goal is to obtain fans, not alienate them. Yes, truth sometimes divides. But remember Winston Churchill said “Tact is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip.”

—If you’re not having fun, they’re not having fun. You’re an entertainer, Peter, and people pay money for your work.

—Peter, airing your thoughts might make you feel better that you’re doing your part for what’s right, but ramifications for the position might not be best for the future.

—Apologize for being wrong yesterday but be right today.

—Put forward ideas that have ramifications not for one presidency or immediate policies, but for generations into the future. The founding fathers of the United States had classical educations in Roman, Greek, and modern European traditions, and you cannot offer opinions unless you’ve studied in a similar vein. All that is said should ring with the truth of eternity.

—Make sure you are good friends with one enemy of every position you hold.

—There are two political parties, but several movements. Champion the movements, and you’ll outlast any party.

— Remain forever positive.

—Chose battles with utmost care. Remember? This has happened many times—regret strikes a few seconds after a comment is delivered.

—Peter, most of all, remember—you’re a Christian. They’ll know you by your love. Finding it hard to love, and instead want to fling blogs to fix people? Then Peter, are you sure you’re a Christian?


Peter Leavell
Peter Leavell, a 2007 graduate of Boise State University with a degree in history, was the 2011 winner of Christian Writers Guild's Operation First Novel contest, and 2013 Christian Retailing's Best award for First-Time Author. Peter and his family live in Boise, Idaho. Learn more about Peter's books, research, and family adventures at

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Stupid Moments

alanpoulson / 123RF Stock Photo
by Yvonne Lehman

By Sharon Blackstock Dobbs

It was you.
You who didn’t feed the cat,
Or lock up all the doors
You who left the garbage the dog scattered on the floor.
You who left the milk to sour in the kitchen sink.
It was you.

You shrug your shoulders, raise your brows and say, “It wasn’t me.”
I know that look of innocence when you are in denial.
Finding all your hiding spots is a monumental trial.
Why can’t you leave well enough alone and let it be?

Now, where have you put my glasses? My keys, where are they?
I search high and bending low I fall down on my knees,
My glasses slip onto my nose to the jingling of the keys.
Oh, well…

Maybe it was me.

* * *

Yvonne here.

Like that first entry in the Stupid Moments book, sometimes we have to admit we may have acted… well, less intelligently than we would have liked.

But… the instant Adam and Eve bit into forbidden fruit, stupid moments became a fact of life.

Such experiences can range from laughable to lamentable, humbling to humiliating. Whether they result from brilliant ideas (that weren’t), careless actions, or unanticipated circumstance, the uncomfortable aftermath often remains fresh in our minds throughout our lives.

In this sixth book in the Moments series, 48 authors share 62 stories illustrating that no matter what brings these moments into our lives, it’s what we learn from them that matters.

Sometimes we learn something important about ourselves. Other times we learn not to take things too seriously.

Ultimately, these moments serve to remind us we’re only human, and we always need the grace and redemptive power of Christ in our lives.

Other books in this series are Divine Moments, Christmas Moments, Spoken Moments, Precious Precocious Moments, More Christmas Moments, and Additional Christmas Moments. Loving Moments is scheduled for early 2017. I am now receiving submissions for:

  • Coola-nary Moments – stories of culinary mishaps, extraordinary cooking stories, and recipes
  • Romantic Moments – love stories, dating, falling in love, marriage, weddings, bridesmaids, lost love, etc. etc.
  • Questionable Moments – based on authors’ response to questions asked by God/Jesus in the Bible, or implied, such as: “Where are you?” “Where are you going?” “Do you love me?” “Do you believe?” etc.
  • Christmas Moments Book #4 – for 2017
These stories in the series of Divine Moments books are written by multi-published and first-time-published authors who generously share their experiences without compensation, but with the joy of knowing all the royalties go to Samaritan’s Purse. Since 1970, that organization has helped victims of war, poverty, natural disasters, disease, and famine with the purpose of sharing God’s love through his son, Jesus Christ.

If you would like to share an experience, contact me at

Submission opportunity for writers with @YvonneLehman on @NovelRocket (Click to Tweet)

Those writing Stupid Moments articles are: Gloria Anderson, Joye Atkinson, Karen Nolan Bell, Mason K. Brown, Roger E. Bruner, Elsie H. Brunk, Janet Campbell, Rebecca Carpenter, Joann M. Claypoole, Sharon Blackstock Dobbs, Susan Shelton Dollyhigh, Dorothy Floyd, Theresa Jenner Garrido, Tommy Scott Gilmore III, Diana Beamis Good, Nick Harrison, Sandra Merville Hart, Helen L. Hoover, Lillian Humphries, Terri Kelly, Alice Klies, Barbara Latta, David A. Lehman, Yvonne Lehman, Lynn Lilja, Diana Leagh Matthews, Andrea Merrell, Maggie Micoff, Marybeth Mitcham, Vicki H. Moss, Shelley Pierce, Deborah M. Presnell, Colleen L.Reece, Toni Armstrong Sample, Gloria Spears, Cindy Sproles, Nate Stevens, Fran Lee Strickland, Barb Suiter, Ann Tatlock, Leigh Ann Thomas, Donna Collins Tinsley, AudreyTyler, Jan Westmark, Kathy Whirity, Dr. Rhett H. Wilson Sr., Debra DuPree Williams, Jean Wilund

Yvonne Lehman is an award-winning, best-selling author of more than 3,000,000 books in print, who founded and directed the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference for 25 years, is now director of the Blue Ridge “Autumn in the Mountains” Novelist Retreat. She mentors for the Christian Writers Guild. She earned a Master’s Degree in English from Western Carolina University and has taught English and Creative Writing on the college level. Her latest releases include eight ebooks for Barbour’s Truly Yours line and a Harlequin/Heartsong series set in Savannah GA: The Caretaker’s Son, Lessons in Love, Seeking Mr. Perfect, (released in March, August, & November 2013). Her 50th novel is Hearts that Survive – A Novel of the TITANIC

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

How the WRITING ZONE is a Lot Like the TWILIGHT ZONE

by Edie Melson @EdieMelson

There is a fifth dimension beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man's fears and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area which we call THE WRITING ZONE.

Okay, I confess. I borrowed the intro from a television cult classic. But truthfully, have you ever read a better explanation of what it means to be a writer?

Today I’m offering some tips to help you find your way to the writing zone.

1. Be Willing to Call Yourself a Writer: Yes, this one is controversial. There are many who argue that we must do much more than just call ourselves a writer to become a writer. I would only say this, I believe that calling yourself a writer is the first step on becoming a writer. Without that step, it’s hard to move forward.

2. Spend time Writing: This may seem like a no-brainer, but spending time talking about writing—as opposed to actually writing is fairly common. Don’t be one of those who only dream, be ready to walk through to The Writing Zone by spending time writing.

3. Invest Financially in Your Writing: Take classes, attend conferences, buy books, join organizations. Do your homework first, but be ready to put your money where your pen is. Here’s a series of posts I wrote about Dollars & Sense for Writers.

4. Develop the Art of Patience & Enjoy the Journey: Finding success in publishing rarely happens overnight. Realize that you’re in it for the long hall and do the next thing. Relax and enjoy the journey, but keep moving forward.

5. Make Writing a Priority: In the beginning, it’s hard for some friends and family to understand the commitment it takes to become a writer. Beginning writers don’t often get paid for writing and it’s easy to assume it’s a hobby. For some writing is a hobby, and that’s fine. But if you’re serious, then act like it. If you don’t take writing seriously, then no one else will.

6. Realize that Failure is an Option—a Good One: We often learn more when we fail. If we never experience failure, it’s a sign that we’ve never tried anything difficult.

7. Talent is a Very Small Part of the Equation: Talent won’t take you far. Diligence and perseverance are where you find the strength for The Writing Zone.

8. Don’t Try to Go It Alone: While writing is a mainly solitary pursuit, we still need others to help us. We need to be a part of a writing community so we can give and receive encouragement and get perspective on what we write.

9. Don’t Kill Your Creativity with Negative Self-Talk: We all do it. But talking down to ourselves will have a negative impact.

10. Comparison is a Death Trap for Writes: It’s easy to look at others and think we’re gaining perspective. The truth is, we aren’t. Everyone’s writing journey looks different. This isn’t a one-size-fits-all endeavor.

11. Keep the Faith: There is a reason you started on this journey. Write it down and put it where you can see it. I believe God made me as a person who processes life through words. If I tried to give up writing, I truly think I’d die.

These are the things that have helped me find my way to The Writing Zone. What would you add to the list? Be sure to leave your thoughts in the comments section below.


Monday, October 24, 2016

The Adventures of Writing

The life of a writer can be pretty exciting. Yes, I really believe that. As writers we often say we have a solitary life, because many of us are introverts, and our lives outside our writing world are often limited to social media, or visiting with the characters in our books. So how can a writer’s life be exciting?

Everyday is a new adventure. The adventure is up to you. Maybe you write romantic suspense and your character is on a cross-country trip—can you say research/road trip? J I recently attended the ACFW conference in Nashville and visited with an author who traveled to all the places he included in his books. He has travelled all over the world for no other reason except he is a writer.

Maybe traveling isn’t an option for you, but that’s okay. You can still travel vicariously through online research.

The fork in the road leads to all kinds of possibilities. You get to decide what your characters do next. Will you make life miserable for them, or will you show a little grace and allow a moment of relief? The world traveler I referred to above stated he likes to make his characters experience a lot of pain. So much so that he is often brought to tears as he writes. I don’t know about you, but I’ve been in tears as well when I’ve been writing. Talk about living an emotional rollercoaster—definitely not boring.

Social media. I know many authors consider social media a necessary evil, but it doesn’t have to be. Think about your interests. Perhaps you enjoy pictures, then try Instagram or Pinterest. Or maybe you don’t have a lot of time, but your publisher wants you to market—Twitter keeps things short and sweet. Plus you get to choose who you follow, so you get to see the kind of things you want to see. Maybe you like to interact with readers, friends and family, but you don’t have the time meet in person, then Facebook could be a great tool. Facebook groups are an easy way to interact with readers and keep up with family and friends. But user beware many people find Facebook to be an addicting.

Sense of satisfaction. If you create writing goals and meet them then you will receive instant gratification. There is nothing like the feeling of accomplishing ones goals. The greatest sense of satisfaction I get is when a reader enjoys one of my books and tells me. Those moments bring out the kid in me, and I’ve been known to do a little happy dance.

Let’s make the most out of our writing lives today and enjoy the process a little more than we did yesterday.


Can the mystery of Christmas unite two hurting hearts?

Bailey Calderwood gives all she has to her job as an interior design assistant, but her best isn’t good enough for her demanding, bed-ridden boss. For some unexplained reason Mona has turned against her. At least not everyone is out to get her. A mysterious admirer is sending her cards and flowers. Could it be her boss’s son who’s recently returned home in time for the holidays?

Stephen Belafonte rushes home from France to be with his mother after her stroke, and is surprised by the rift between his mom and Bailey, her assistant. When his mom demands he fire Bailey, he’s torn between respecting his mother’s wishes and doing what’s best for the family business. Can Stephen find a way to heal the rift in his family as well his own heart, or will he be forced to let Bailey go? 

Kimberly Rose Johnson married her college sweetheart and lives in the Pacific Northwest. From a young child Kimberly has been an avid reader. That love of reading fostered a creative mind and led to her passion for writing.

She especially loves romance and writes contemporary romance that warms the heart and feeds the soul.

Kimberly holds a degree in Behavioral Science from Northwest University in Kirkland, Washington. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers.

Connect with Kimberly through
Twitter: @kimberlyrosejoh
Kimberly's Newsletter:


Sunday, October 23, 2016

Finding Time to Write

by Susan May Warren
Listen, I know you’re all swamped with working, running a household and writing. You probably don’t even have time to read this blog.  But in the chance you do, I thought I’d give you a few tips that help me juggle my life as MBT Head Coach, being a sports mom and writing.  
  1. Establish a set time every day, or every other day to write and keep this time sacred.  Block it out on your calendar.  If you only write “when you can,” then there will always be things that will get in the way…from walking the dog to making chocolate chip cookies…  Set a time, and keep that appointment with yourself, telling yourself you are investing in your dreams. 
  2. Keep a writing Journal and every day log what you have done, and your goals for the next day.  You will access different sides of your brain as you are writing than you do when you are working, and instead of always keeping both sides active, if you write down where you were and where you want to go each day, you can let your creative side “rest” while you are at work, knowing you can pick right back up when you return to your writing enclave.
  3. Keep a notepad handy for those sudden ideas. I use Evernote – I have it on every device, so all I have to is grab it and add my thought to it. Your subconscious is always at work,  and I guarantee that you will be right in the middle of a meeting, or an email, or even lunch, and suddenly you will hear/see/dream up your next scene.  Quick – grab your notebook before you lose your though and write down just enough words to trigger the memory again, later.  Then, you won’t have lost it, but will have put it into its appropriate place to be pulled out during your writing time. [And…if you don’t want to use Evernote, use your writing Journal.  Sometimes, I turn it upside down and write from the back to the front to keep my revision, creative notes in the same notebook as my daily writing journal.  Then I only have to keep track of one journal!]
  4. Rest and Recreate!  When you are trying to write, it’s very important to escape from your story to exercise, or hang out with friends, read a good book, watch football, go to church. Even take a drive, turn on music and let your brain relax.  The well of ideas will run dry if you don’t replenish, so make sure you schedule in time for these.  BALANCE is the key here.  Yes, you’ll need to sacrifice, but you’ll find that if you sacrifice too much, you’ll run dry.  [or lose your mind!]
It’s not easy to hold down a full schedule of LIFE activities and write, but if you carve out specific time, set goals, make notes to capture your creativity and stay well-balanced in the other areas of life, you will find that the writing will spill out of you, and that sooner than later, you will have a finished novel!  (or 2 or 3!)


Susan May Warren is owner of Novel Rocket and the founder of Novel.Academy. A Christy and RITA award-winning author of over fifty novels with Tyndale, Barbour, Steeple HillSummerside Press and Revell publishers, she's an eight-time Christy award finalist, a three-time RITA Finalist, and a multi-winner of the Inspirational Readers Choice award and the ACFW Carol. A popular writing teacher at conferences around the nation, she's also the author of the popular writing method, The Story Equation. A full listing of her titles, reviews and awards can be found at: Contact her at:

Saturday, October 22, 2016

The Cold Hard/Ugly Truth about Novel Writing

By DiAnn Mills @DiAnnMills

Tweet this: The Cold Hard/Ugly Truth about Novel Writing 

Writers are survivors. If in doubt, take a look at what it takes to reach publication. It’s a little scary, but if you have courage, take a look at what’s needed. 

Writing Ain’t Easy.

If every person on the planet was destined to be a writer, then everyone would be churning out one bestseller after another. How boring! How average!

So what do we writers need to survive the front lines?

  1. Training. Every writer has a learning curve, time to explore the craft and apply technique to a manuscript. *The training never ends.
  2. Thirst. How badly does a writer want to create worthwhile nonfiction or fiction projects? *Our thirst or passion for writing must be forefront or we fail.
  3. Time. For those who claim they don’t have time to write, perhaps they don’t have the guts to carve out extra minutes and hours to pursue their goals. A writer’s time is spent in training, writing, re-writing, branding through marketing and promotion, and social media. *We all have time. It’s our choice on how we use it.
  4. Touchy comments. Family and friends often don’t understand our dream of reaching others through the written word. We have a message, and our habits and commitments can meet ridicule and teasing. *Ignore the naysayers. No one needs them.
  5. Turndown. Until our writing meets a publisher’s guidelines, we writers will face rejection. To reach our goals, we may sometimes need to take additional workshops and classes, hire a professional editor, or do a complete rewrite. *A turndown today can mean a contract tomorrow.
  6. Trust. The Bible says that if God is for us, who can be against us? Trust in the One who purposed you to write. *Believe in yourself and the God who gave you the gift.
Now that you’ve worked past all those ugly facts and you’re still determined to be a writer, then welcome to the eccentric, bizarre, and entertaining world of writing.

What obstacles have you had to overcome as you strive toward your publication goals?

DiAnn Mills is a bestselling author who believes her readers should expect
an adventure. She combines unforgettable characters with unpredictable plots to create action-packed, suspense-filled novels.

Her titles have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists; won two Christy Awards; and been finalists for the RITA, Daphne Du Maurier, Inspirational Readers’ Choice, and Carol award contests. Library Journal presented her with a Best Books 2014: Genre Fiction award in the Christian Fiction category for Firewall.

DiAnn is a founding board member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, Sisters in Crime, and International Thriller Writers. She is co-director of The Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference and The Author Roadmap with social media specialist Edie Melson where she continues her passion of helping other writers be successful. She speaks to various groups and teaches writing workshops around the country.

DiAnn has been termed a coffee snob and roasts her own coffee beans. She’s an avid reader, loves to cook, and believes her grandchildren are the smartest kids in the universe. She and her husband live in sunny Houston, Texas.

DiAnn is very active online and would love to connect with readers on any of the social media platforms listed at