Novel Rocket

Wednesday, April 23, 2014


By Yvonne Lehman

Ann Tatlock is the author of 10 novels and eight children's books (three available, five soon to be released). Her works have received numerous awards, including the Midwest Book Award and the Silver Angel Award from Excellence in Media. Her newest release, Sweet Mercy, is a finalist for the 2014 Christy Award in the historical category. Her novel, Promises to Keep, is currently being made into a motion picture by Big Film Factory. You can read more about her work at 

Cynthia Cope Rasemas is co-founder of Purple Toad Publishing, along with her artist-husband Joe Rasemas. You can find Purple Toad on Facebook at


Once upon a time, in a faraway land called Hockessin, Delaware, two teen-aged girls went to high school together and became fast friends. Cynthia wanted to become a writer and became a nurse. Ann wanted to become a nurse and became a writer.

Decades passed and they mostly fell out of touch until one day Cynthia wrote to Ann to tell her the news. She and her husband Joe were starting their own publishing house and were calling it Purple Toad Publishing. Their goal was to produce high-quality non-fiction books for children.

“And,” Cynthia added, “we want you to write for us!”

“But,” Ann responded, “I only write made-up stories--and those for adults.”

“No problem,” Cynthia said blithely. “We’d like you to start with a book on Medieval England.”

“But,” Ann protested once more, “everything I know about Medieval England I learned from watching Monty Python and the Holy Grail.”

“Wonderful!” Cynthia exclaimed. “You’re hired!”

So, given a deadline, Ann went to the library and checked out all the books she could find on Medieval England and scoured the internet for all the websites she could find on Medieval England and for a full month she read and scribbled notes and wrote and rewrote and put her head down on her desk in despair and cried, “This book is no good!”

Nevertheless, she persisted and finished the book and sent it off to Cynthia with no small trepidation, as not only did she want to please her old friend, but Cynthia’s mother, Mrs. Cope, had been Ann’s high school English teacher and Ann was still of the mindset that she wanted to get a good grade.

After hitting Send, Ann sweated it out for several days until she saw Cynthia’s name once again in her Inbox. She breathlessly opened the email to find these wonderful and welcome words: “I love it! Beautiful! Very visual!” And Cynthia even went on to include a myriad of comments from her mother, Mrs. Cope, that in Ann’s mind translated into an A+.

After that, there was much singing and rejoicing in the house of Ann. She went on to accept more assignments from Cynthia, and she found herself in a veritable Wonderland of Learning as she wrote about everything from dogs to opossums, from Heart Castle to Mary Queen of Scots to Ancient China. Good golly, she thought to herself, this gig of writing non-fiction children’s books is pretty fun!

And so, while they are still waiting for the ultimate happily-ever-after, these two friends from the faraway land of Hockessin are enjoying their work and marveling at the circumstances that brought them back together as writer and publisher, something they never would have imagined some decades ago. But then, sometimes truth is stranger—and even more wonderful—than fiction.

The moral of the story is: Don’t be afraid to try a new and different kind of writing. You might discover you like it!

That's Me in History

Imagine living in the days of castles and knights, lords and ladies, minstrels and troubadours! Medieval life was full of the stuff of legends, but at the same time, the people of the Middle Ages often endured plagues, famine, war, and other hardships. Even during times of peace and prosperity, their days were long and their work was hard. Let's travel back in time to Medieval England where ten-year-old William will show us what daily life was like in a fourteenth-century English city. This Core Curriculum aligned, library bound book is by award winning author Ann Tatlock.

Yvonne Lehman is author of 50 novels and director of Blue Ridge“Autumn in the Mountains” Novelist Retreat – Ridgecrest NC Conference Center. 

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

To My Fellow Solopreneurs

by Alton Gansky

Alton Gansky is a full time writer, director of BRMCWC, founder of Gansky Communications and host of Writer's Talk. He is the award winning author of over 40 books. Prior to turning to full time writing, he was the senior pastor to three Southern Baptist churches. In addition to his writing, he speaks to writers groups and church organizations.

I’m a fan of magazines and I enjoy reading them on my iPad. Not long ago, I was looking for some new periodical to flip through when one caught my attention: Solopreneur Magazine. The name caught my attention more than the content and for good reason: I am one.

Solopreneur is a new buzzword. Your spell checker won’t recognize it. Here’s a definition: A solopreneur is an entrepreneur who works alone. That is, an entrepreneur who does everything by his or herself. Some entrepreneurs build a team; the solopreneur sails the ocean alone. What better term to use for the contemporary writer? These days, we are more than writers. We are speakers, promoters, marketers, pitchmen, and more.

We writers are a solitary bunch. While we like hanging out with others of our ilk, we get cranky when anything interrupts our writing—no matter how much we long to be interrupted. Yes, that’s contradictory. It is also true.

Writer’s learn to work alone. Sure there are others in the writer’s universe that help: agents, editors, marketing folk, but for the most part we work alone.

Are we really alone? Or do those voices in our head count as a social network? Writers are a rare breed: they can be alone in a crowd, or conjure a crowd in their mind when they sit alone. I used to spend a lot of time in Starbucks. There were people everywhere but you couldn’t prove it by me. If the place got too noisy, I slipped on a  pair of headphones and everyone went away.

This is a rare mental advantage and the reason why many people can’t be writers. Several times I’ve been told by those who learn I’m an author, “I couldn’t do that. I’d get bored setting at a computer all day.” I try to explain that it is only my body that’s in front of the computer, my imagination can be anywhere.

As a novelist I’ve traveled to Antarctica, Africa, several European cities, and deep below the ocean. I’ve even journeyed into low Earth orbit. I have lived through tsunamis, hurricanes, military conflicts, murder attempts, and a long list of other adventures. As a writer of book length nonfiction I have journeyed to the past, walked with biblical figures, had coffee with the most influential shapers of the church, and I did it all solo.

Okay, back on topic:

I used to think that a writer wrote and other people took care of everything else. Aside from doing radio interviews and book signings, the author did little else but write and cash big checks. Reality is different. Things have changed. The twenty-first century writer (especially in the CBA) must now write, create a platform, take a major role in marketing, drum up speaking engagements, answer reader e-mail, create web-sites, manage their agent, manage their business, and a dozen other things. Only the extremely successful can afford to hire people to do this for them. The rest of us must learn new skills to make the most of our hard fought writing.

It is not my intent to discuss why this has hurt publishing (although I could easily be persuaded to do so). Most of the pitfalls associated with the let-the-writer-do-it-thinking are obvious, especially to those of us who have been doing it for many years. It is my intent to say that we writers are solopreneurs whether we like it or not. We are called upon to understand Facebook, Google+, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, blogging, and a dozen more social outreach tools. We are not only book builders but platform builders too.

For some of us, working alone is not only acceptable but preferred. The solopreneur moniker seems tailor-made for the contemporary writer. Veteran writers have already embraced the lifestyle even if they’ve not heard the term before. New authors may be stunned to find out what’s expected of them.

So, I am a writer of books, a teacher of writing, a public speaker, a podcaster, editor, blogger, and a self-marketer. And, like many of you, I do it solo. Solopreneurship can be frustrating or it can be an adventure. One thing is certain: it ain’t boring.

Monday, April 21, 2014

The Reality of an Author’s Legacy – What We Will Leave Behind

Ramona Richards
Pam Meyers here with my monthly post. This month, I'm honored to have guest poster, Ramona Richards, Senior Acquisitions Editor-Fiction at Abingdon Publishing, share a behind-the-scenes look at a new release from Abingdon , Scarlett Says by Julie L. Cannon.


The Reality of an Author’s Legacy – What 
We Will Leave Behind
By Ramona Richards

Julie L. Cannon
Julie L. Cannon cared, deeply, about many things. Her family. Her God. Her art. In fact, she cared so much for God and the depth of her faith that she refused to take them out of her art. This cost Julie far more than many people realized, as she turned from releasing best-selling books with mainstream publishers to books written from her heart for the Christian market.

For instance, long before Nashville became a hit show, helping to turn the city into one of America’s “it” places to be, there was Twang, Julie L. Cannon’s delicious love song to the city. It’s a book I’m extremely proud to have edited. I’m also honored to have played a small part in its creation—in 2011, I squired Julie and her husband, Tom, around the city. I got her into the Bluebird Café so she could describe it accurately, fed her and Tom barbecue, and walked with them through some of the city’s landmarks. We toured the Opry House, and I requested that she include the effects of Nashville’s May 2010 flood in the book.

We had a blast, and I was astonished at how much energy she had, how far she and Tom could walk in a single evening, exploring Nashville’s downtown streets. And I still have the umbrella she left in my car when she and Tom headed back to Georgia.

Accuracy was important to Julie, whether she was writing about the heart of a singer or a young woman on the brink of changing her life. This was the topic of her second book for Abingdon, Scarlett Says. We talked about the nature of a woman trapped behind her computer screen and the steps it would take for her to emerge, finding hope for love and new opportunities. Julie’s research into social anxiety issues wound deep, and her heart broke at some of the anguish she found. She wanted that on the page.

On August 31, 2012, she delivered the first draft of the book, just short of her September 1 deadline and ready for my review. I glanced through it, then sent it to an editor for more thoughts and feedback. Julie ALWAYS “overwrote” the first draft, knowing she’d revise it. The manuscript was 20,000 words too long and revealed more about the main character, Joan, than needed to be on the page. But we knew it would all work out.

Then, on October 9, 2012, I got a frantic e-mail from one of Julie’s friends with a horrid rumor that turned out to be far too real. Julie was gone. The traumatic brain injury she’d suffered years before had taken its toll, and she’d died from a seizure.

I cried, off and on, for more than three days. She had been one of our authors, yes, but she was also a friend. When the grief settled, however, I had a problem on my hands—a manuscript that was too long to publish and would take more than editing. It needed a complete revision.

The easiest answer would have been to cancel the book, and that possibility was on the table from the beginning. No one had Julie’s voice; she wasn’t around to coach a coauthor. But I asked the editor, Jamie Chavez, not only to complete her task but to be as tough as she could. Because SHE would have to be the coach, detailing what worked and what didn’t. And she did an incredible job.

But now what? After much debate, we decided that I would do the rewrite. It took time I didn’t have, to be honest, but I knew exactly how much of Julie’s heart and soul went into Scarlett Says. This would be her final book, her legacy book, and I wanted it to shine. I carefully set aside my own writer’s voice and did my best to step into hers as I trimmed away paragraphs, rerouted subplots, and polished passages.

Sandra Bishop, Julie’s agent and friend, approved the manuscript, and I sent it off to the typesetter. Then my production editor, Susan Cornell, turned her eagle eyes on it, and we sat in her office for hours, reading sections and double-checking everything we could. SEVEN proofs later (we usually do a max of three), Scarlett Says was off to the printer.

Losing Julie is still a painful thorn in my soul, and I’ve had many folks ask me why we went through this, when canceling the book would have been simpler. I only have one answer.

It’s because of who Julie was. A writer—who put her heart, mind, and soul into everything she wrote. A Christian—who put aside worldly success to focus on faith and God. A friend—who listened and cared and prayed.

No one knows how well Scarlett Says will sell; there’s no author to interview, no champion hitting the streets with media and the gatekeepers. And while publishing is a business, it’s not always ABOUT business.

This time publishing was about the legacy of a woman who loved deeply and changed more lives than she realized. And I hope her last words live forever. 

Pam again:  Ramona has graciously offered two copies of Scarlet Says to give away. If you'd like to have your name dropped in the hat, make a comment answering either of these two questions. Have you ever faced a writing challenge like Ramona faced? Or... what would you like left behind as your legacy?

Leave a comment with your answer by Friday, April 25, 2014, to win a copy of Scarlett Says!

Scarlett O’Hara has an answer for 
everything . . . right?

Gone with the Wind’s Scarlett O’Hara isn’t perfect, but as far as 30-year-old literature lover Joan Meeler is concerned, Scarlett’s outspoken passion, strength, and 17-inch waist make up for her other shortcomings. In fact, Joan has grown quite fond of writing her advice blog in Scarlett’s devil-may-care tone. It gives her a voice and confidence she otherwise couldn’t muster. Never mind that her writing muse is a fictional character.

What would Scarlett say, for example, about Charles, one of Joan’s first and most devoted blog readers, who suddenly has Joan dreaming (and worrying) of a life—and love—outside of make-believe? Joan digs into her heroine’s mind, searching for something to calm her rising insecurities but discovers that Scarlett is surprisingly mute on the topic. Abandoned by her sole source of security, can Joan look elsewhere—even to God—to uncover the inner confidence she so desperately needs?

A native of Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, author Pamela S. Meyers lives in suburban Chicago, an hour's drive away from her hometown which she visits often to dig into its historical legacy. Her novels include Thyme for Love, and Love Will Find a Way,  contemporary romantic mysteries and her 1933 historical romance, Love Finds You in Lake Geneva,Wisconsin, released in April, 2013. She is currently working on a new historical romance set in her beloved Lake Geneva area. She can often be found speaking at events around southeastern Wisconsin or nosing in microfilms and historical records about Wisconsin and other Midwestern spots for new story ideas.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

A Good Cleaning

By Marcia Lee Laycock

It’s that time of year again – time for spring cleaning. We’ve been doing a lot of it lately, and not just in our own home. We’re helping missionary friends get their home ready to be put on the rental market. It’s a big job and when we saw the condition of the house after the last tenants moved out, we despaired of getting it done quickly. But when several people showed up for a work bee, we were thrilled. They came with rags and mops, rubber gloves and sponges, shovels and rakes, and they set about giving the place a good cleaning.

There was a team assigned to the garage, one inside the house and one outside. Before long the whole area was a hive of activity. I was working with the crew inside so didn’t see what was happening outside until it was almost time to leave. I was stunned when I saw the transformation. When we arrived the yard had been matted with old leaves and grasses, a web of winter mould laying on top. The flower beds were quite ugly, with dead growth carpeting the soil, smothering anything that might have been trying to grow. 

Several men had gone to work with rakes and shovels and the result was obvious. I was surprised to even see some green shoots coming up in the lawn. Then a friend pointed out the bright green shoots in the garden – crocuses, tulips and irises were pushing through. 

As I bent to examine them it made me think of the work God does in our lives. We sometimes must look as dreary and dead as that yard looked, layered with the leavings of old sin and covered with the webs of guilt that threaten to smother us. But God is in the business of giving us all a good cleaning.

How thankful we should be that Jesus has cleared all the rubbish away, just as surely as those rakes and shovels cleaned that yard. He did it by his death, the death we will celebrate in only a few short days. It seems odd to say those two words in the same sentence – death and celebrate. His is the only death I know of that is celebrated, by the people who say they love Him. We celebrate it because His death means our release, His suffering means our freedom and His mercy means we will have life everlasting. That’s why we call it Good Friday. 

And that’s why we celebrate not just his death but his resurrection, in this spring season called Easter. It’s a time when we rejoice in knowing our redeemer lives because it means we have access to that same life – resurrection life.

As Jesus said to his friend, Mary, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25,26). 

Mary said yes. Have you? 

As writers of faith this is essential. We cannot produce the fruit of resurrection in our lives and through our work, unless we believe and hold onto the One who was raised. When we stand on Easter Sunday morning and shout, in confidence and boldness of faith, “He is risen!” may it resound in our hearts with joy and absolute truth.

Marcia Lee Laycock writes from central Alberta Canada where she is a pastor's wife and mother of three adult daughters. She was the winner of The Best New Canadian Christian Author Award for her novel, One Smooth Stone. Her second novel, A Tumbled Stone was recently short listed in the contemporary fiction category of The Word Awards. Marcia also has two devotional books in print. Her work has been endorsed by Sigmund Brouwer, Janette Oke, Phil Callaway and Mark Buchanan. Abundant Rain, an ebook devotional for writers can be downloaded here. Visit Marcia’s Website