Novel Rocket

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Spoken Moments

Spoken Moments

Just in time for a presentation at the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference last week, SPOKEN MOMENTS came off the presses. Twenty-two authors stood on stage to receive their one-free-copy. That was a happy bunch of writers, feeling blessed to have contributed their articles, received no payment, and donated all royalties to Samaritan’s Purse.

This is a book about the power of words. Here you will find stories from authors who share moments when words—from the Bible, the Holy Spirit, family, friends, acquaintances, business associates, and even strangers—impacted their lives. The stories are a testimony that words can hurt yet they can heal.

You will laugh, cry, nod your head in agreement, and shake your head in wonder at their examples of how God uses aptly spoken words to shape our lives and remind us of the saving grace of Jesus.

I am a novelist who never thought I would be working in non-fiction other than perhaps an occasional article or devotion. But, three years ago several of us were in the lobby after classes at the Blue Ridge writers conference. Cindy Sproles told about God showing up in an unexpected, miraculous ways. Then I told how God showed up in the Ladies Room at the Presbyterian Church. Others joined in. I said those stories should be in a book. Terri Kalfas, editor at Grace Publishing, overheard the talk about such divine experiences and called me two months later to say she was interested.
That led to my call-out for articles and last year at Blue Ridge I made a presentation of one-free-book to 23 of the 37 authors of DIVINE MOMENTS.

CHRISTMAS MOMENTS followed that one and SPOKEN MOMENTS is the third in the series. PRECIOUS MOMENTS (of/with/about children) is with the publisher and CHRISTMAS MOMENTS BOOK #2 will soon follow.

I’m now acquiring for STUPID MOMENTS, which may be embarrassing, humiliating, funny, serious, or have a faith meaning such as having lived apart from the Lord, or held onto unforgiveness too long, etc. These may be a short vignette or an article from about 500 to 3000 words, attached to an email, Times New Roman, 12 point type. Perhaps YOU have a story!

Authors of SPOKEN MOMENTS are: Sheryl Baker, Dan Balow, Joann Claypoole, Maresa DePuy, Susan Dollyhigh, Dr. Edna Ellison, Beth Ann Farley, Diana Flegal, Janice Garey, Tommy Gilmore, Dianna Good, Kelly Goshorn, Judy Haney, Lydia Harris, Sandra Hart, Dr. Dennis Hensley, John Kincaid, Alice Klies, Marcia Laycock, Kellie Lehman, Yvonne Lehman, Diana Matthews, Vicki Moss, Tamela Hancock Murray, Kimberly Pickens, Diane Pitts, Debbie Presnell, Colleen Reece, Toni Sample, Sherry Schumann, Mary Scro, Gloria Spears, Cindy Sproles, Nate Stevens, Fran Strickland, Ann Tatlock, Audrey Tyler, Gene Weatherly, Jan Westmark, Cindy Wilson, Dr. Rhett Wilson Sr., and Lora Zill.

YVONNE LEHMAN is author of 55 novels, founded and directed the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference for 25 years, and is now director of the Blue Ridge “Autumn in the Mountains” Novelist Retreat. She has joined Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas as Acquisitions and Managing Editor of Candlelight Romance and Guiding Light Women’s Fiction. She earned a Master’s Degree in English from Western Carolina University and has taught English and Creative Writing on the college level. Recent releases are a novella, The Reluctant Schoolmarm in Reluctant Brides and Name that Tune in A Gentleman’s Kiss (Barbour). Her 50th novel is Hearts that Survive – A Novel of the TITANIC (Abingdon), which she signs periodically at the Titanic Museum in Pigeon Forge TN. Her non-fiction compilations are Divine Moments, Christmas Moments, and Spoken Moments  (Grace Publishing). To be released in 2014 are Precious Moments and Christmas Moments Book #2. Yvonne blogs at and Novel Rocket Blog.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

A Talking Dinosaur!

by Alton Gansky
Years ago, I received an e-newsletter from Shelf AwarenessShelf Awareness is about the book business and it contains news of interest to those of us who love books and publishing. This time it contained a blurb from a bookstore owner that got me thinking. Here’s the piece:

“He's Holding a Book in His Hand, and He's Shaking”
“About 20 years ago, I had an old guy come in here. He'd been living out here for many years and said he was looking for a book he'd had when he was a kid, so I sent him back to where the boys' books are. Anyhow, about 15 minutes later, he's holding a book in his hand, and he's shaking. He not only found the book, he found his name in it, when he was 9 years old. Can you believe that? He found his own copy, right on the shelf. The guy was actually crying. He was 80 years old or something, and tears were rolling down his cheeks.” (Bob Weinstein, owner of the Book Baron, Anaheim, Calif., in a wistful Los Angeles Times piece about his bookshop's imminent closing.)

Do you have a book from your childhood like that? As a child I read a great deal. I loved books. Mrs. Wells, my third-grade teacher held a reading contest. I was determined to read more books than anyone in class. She wrote our names on small, handmade paper rocket ships and my rocket would climb higher with each book I read.

Sigh, I came in second to Judy Reynolds. (The big cheater.)

Anyway, one of my favorite pastimes was finding a quiet place in the house and delving into a book. One of those still holds a special place in my heart. I remember how good I felt at the end of that read. The kind of feeling demonstrated by pulling the book to my chest and holding it like the treasure it was.

THE SHY STEGASAURUS OF CRICKET CREEK written by Evelyn Sibley Lampman and illustrated by Hubert Buel was written in 1955…long before my reading days. It would be a decade before I got around to it. Odd that a children’s book written a half-century ago should still be lodged in the gray matter between my ears. But who can turn a way from a story featuring brother/sister twins and a talking stegosaurus that lives on their ranch? Not me. I mean—a talking stegosaurus. It’s a fun yet sad story.

Evelyn Sibley Lampman, wife to a reporter, touched my life and stoked the coals of my imagination. The only place a talking stegosaurus can live is between the covers of a book. Evelyn—I feel comfortable calling anyone who leaves their fingerprints all over my brain by their first name—died in 1980. Pity. I’d like to thank her for the adventure.

What about you? Do you have a book from your childhood that won’t go away?

Alton Gansky is the author of over 40 books. He is also the director of the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Novelists Need to Show AND Tell

Writers love to talk about how fallible “the writing rules” are. The rules are made to be broken, we say. And proceed to do so. However, this rule — “show v. tell” — is one that often gets the brunt of our wrath. But why? 

For my part, I have benefited from the rules and think many of them get a bum rap. Of course, the rules of writing are more guidelines than they are formulas. Which is the problem: Novice writers often seek formulas to publication. Sadly, there is no formula to “showing versus telling.” 

I like how James Scott Bell puts it in his piece “Exception to the Rule,” 

Sometimes a writer tells as a shortcut, to move quickly to the meaty part of the story or scene. Showing is essentially about making scenes vivid. If you try to do it constantly, the parts that are supposed to stand out won’t, and your readers will get exhausted. 

Which means there needs to be a balance between showing and telling; it’s not an either / or situation. A story that was all “telling” would be shorter, less visceral and less emotionally engaging. A story that was all “showing” would be incredibly long and overwrought, possibly meandering. 

Thus, telling is a great way to move a story forward, to compact longer sections of thought or passages of time

He got in the truck and drove back to town, all the while thinking about Janie. 

This gets the protag where he needs to be in one swift sentence. However, perhaps this ride is more significant to our hero (and reader). If so, it would be better shown. Which means it might read better like this: 

The scent of Janie’s perfume lingered in the truck. He wrung the steering wheel as he drove, wishing he could hear her little laugh again and see the sparkle in her sea green eyes. 

Lately, I’ve been reviewing my copy of The Seven Laws of Teaching by John Milton Gregory. It’s a classic, published in 1884. and still being reprinted. It’s also, I think, a valuable tool for writers. In his chapter, “The Law of the Learner,” Gregory writes this: 

Knowledge cannot be passed like a material substance from one mind to another, for thoughts are not objects which may be held or handled. Ideas can be communicated only by inducing in the receiving mind processes corresponding to those by which these ideas were first conceived. Ideas must be rethought, experiences must be re-experienced. (emphasis mine) 

So the teacher much address the mind and the senses; he must stimulate in his listeners, not just a mental process, but an experience. It’s not enough to tell the learner what to feel, he must make him actually feel it. Which leads Gregory to summarize: 

The mind attends to that which makes a powerful appeal to the senses. 

I think that this writing rule — show v. tell — is directly related to Gregory’s concept. So here’s my idea: 

  • Telling appeals to the mind. 
  • Showing appeals to the sense. 

And appealing to the reader’s senses more actively engages her in the story. 

Beginning writers tend to over-tell. Why? Because telling is a lot easier than showing; it involves less emotional machinations, less investment. Telling does not demand I really dig into my character’s psyche and put myself in his skin. I can simply say, 
He was mad. 

And that suffices. All this to say, Show v. tell is an important writing rule, one that beginners and pros must respect. It’s not enough to just spout about the rules being made to be broken. A story needs both showing and telling. Which makes me wonder if a better interpretation of the rule is “Thou shalt know when to show and when to tell.” 

* * *

Mike Duran is a monthly contributor to Novel Rocket, and is represented by the rockin' Rachelle Gardner of Books & Such Literary. Mike's novels include The Ghost Box, The TellingThe Resurrection, an ebook novella, Winterland, and his newly released short story anthology Subterranea. You can visit his website at, or follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

Sunday, May 24, 2015


by Cynthia Ruchti

An unknown author said, "The love of money may be the root of all evil, but greed is the fertilizer."

A godly person is a generous person, the Bible tells us. A God-honoring person is motivated to give, not motivated by greed.

"Generous persons will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed," Proverbs 11:25 Common English Bible.

Truth. Truth. Truth. But how does that realization affect us as novelists?

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Things Your Mother Told You about Writing by DiAnn Mills

Things Your Mother Told You about Writing
By DiAnn Mills

Our mothers are notorious for passing out advice about life. Sometimes their guidelines are appreciated and sometimes not so much. The older we grow, the smarter our mothers become. Quotes from mothers play an inspiring role in the lives of writers.

“My mother had a great deal of trouble with me, but I think she enjoyed it.” Mark Twain

How much of Mark Twain was in Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn? Did he attempt to take a raft down the Mississippi? Escape from painting a fence? Fall in love with a pretty little girl named Becky?
Mark Twain? He got into trouble?
“I got to grow up with a mother who taught me to believe in me.”
Antonio Villaraigosa

Mothers desire their children to become a productive member of society. When they believe in us and our aspirations, we become superheroes—at least in their eyes. Thanks, Mom!
Thanks, Mom, for believing in me.

“Mothers are all slightly insane."
J.D. Salinger

That’s probably 90% spot-on for mothers of writers. Where else would we inherit the genes that lead to creativity?  We look at life a little skewed, and then we’re thrilled with the words to describe it. Sprinkle sensory perception onto the page with strong nouns and verbs, and the writer has penned a crazy adventure.

“That strong mother doesn't tell her cub, Son, stay weak so the wolves can get you. She says, Toughen up, this is reality we are living in.”
Lauryn Hill

A wise mother provides guidance for her children to accept the hard knocks of life, like rejections, bad reviews, low advances, and publishing house changes. Toughen up! Hey Mom, no wolf is going to eat me!

“My mother taught me about the power of inspiration and courage, and she did it with a strength and a passion that I wish could be bottled.”
Carly Fiorina

Every writer needs a cheerleader, and who does it best but a mother? Writers need self-confidence to stand up under the pressures of an often hectic writing scheduled. When a writer slips in the confidence arena, her work suffers until she snatches courage and gains her momentum. Go Mom!

“My mother used to spank me for lying. Now I get paid for it. “
DiAnn Mills

Yep, this is mine, and it’s true. Of course she purchased a new bookcase and challenged me to fill it up. And I have. My stories aren’t driven by filling up Mom’s shelves, but it does offer a good chuckle.

Mothers are an asset to writers. They take up for us at family reunions when well-meaning relatives ask why we don’t have a day job. They read our stories and tell everyone about our incredible talent. They pass our books among their friends and offer bookmarks. But most of all, mothers love us and that’s the best news of all.

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; the 2015 president of the Romance Writers of America’s Faith, Hope, & Love chapter; a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, and International Thriller Writers. She speaks to various groups and teaches writing workshops around the country. 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

Friday, May 22, 2015

Follow Your Dreams, Get Writing and Turn Those Excuses Upside Down

by Edie Melson @EdieMelson

Turn your writing excuses upside down.
We writers are our own worst enemy. We can come up with more reasons to avoid writing and following our dreams than anyone else. I talk to so many people who claim to want to write. And those same people are the most vocal about why they can’t follow their dreams.

The more we talk about why we can’t—the more we guarantee our own failure.

Today I’m listing the top excuses I hear and turning them upside down.

Excuses for NOT Following Our Dreams—Turned into Reasons TO Follow Our Dreams
1. I’m waiting for inspiration not to strike. Successful writers pound out words whether they feel like it or not. Yes, sometimes what we write stinks. But it’s impossible to edit a blank page.

2. There’s no time like the present. It’s time to quit putting off the work you know you have to do. So sit down at the keyboard and write.

Success takes work.
3. It’s tough to succeed in the current climate so I’m going to have to work twice as hard. Personally, I think it’s the best time ever to be a writer. But there’s no doubt this is a difficult career path. That doesn’t mean we give up before we start, though. It means we double our effort.

4. My family needs me to live up to my potential. It may seem that taking time away from family gatherings/responsibilities/events (what ever you call them) is neglect. In truth, we owe our families the example of living up to our potential. It’s time to quit using our families as excuses and instead be an inspiration to them.

I can't afford to put off writing another minute.
5. I can’t afford to put off writing another minute. It does take a monetary investment to grow in this industry. We need to attend conferences, join writers groups and professional associations. But it doesn’t have to be an overwhelming burden.

6. I might not succeed unless I take a chance. The only guaranteed way to fail is to quit. We each have our own unique path to writing success. Embrace the journey and keep going.

7. I’m too old to wait any longer. No matter what Bible character you look at, God NEVER judged anyone as too old. If God doesn’t think we’re too old, we shouldn’t either. With age comes wisdom. Be wise and get moving.

Give up that defeated attitude.
8. I’ll never get published if I continue to have a defeated attitude. There are more ways and more opportunities than ever for publication. The industry hasn’t shrunk, it’s grown. Continue to hone your craft and publication will happen.

9. It’s not worth the effort to sit around and whine. Yes, it takes work to grow as a writer. Anything worth doing takes effort. The only time that effort is wasted is when we spend it whining.

10. I’m afraid I’ll regret not giving my dream a chance. My biggest fear is that at the end of my life—whenever that comes—is that I won’t have taken chances and followed God. I don’t want to be someone who wishes I’d gone ahead and given writing a full chance.

These are the excuses that I’ve chose to turn upside down. What would you add to the list? Be sure to leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

Edie Melson is the author of numerous books, as well as a freelance writer and editor. Her blog, The Write Conversation, reaches thousands each month. She’s the co-director of the Blue Ridge Mountains ChristianWriters Conference and the Social Media Mentor at My Book Therapy. She’s also the Military Family Blogger at Guideposts. Com, Social Media Director for SouthernWriters Magazine and the Senior Editor for Connect with her on Twitter and Facebook. Don't miss her new book from Worthy Inspired, coming in May WHILE MY SOLDIER SERVES.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

A Visit to a Friend's Home Births a Novel

Jo Huddleston is a multi-published author of books, articles, and short stories. Her debut novels in the Caney Creek Series and her latest book, Wait for Me are sweet Southern romances. She is a member of ACFW, the Literary Hall of Fame at Lincoln Memorial University (TN), and holds a M.Ed. degree from Mississippi State University. Jo lives in the U.S. Southeast with her husband, near their two grown children and four grandchildren. Find Jo on her website, her blog, Facebook, and Goodreads.

What sparked the story for this novel?
When I wrote my latest novel, Wait for Me, I had been to a real coal mining community one time. One memorable time. I went home from college with a friend for a weekend. Her home was in the coal mining region in southern West Virginia.

We had arrived at my friend’s home after dark and I did not see any part of the coal community until the next day. My friend took me to the company store. When we left the store and stood on the wide porch, I saw the tipple. An imposing structure towering above all else around it.

The memory of that tipple burrowed deep within my mind. When I began writing for publication, I wanted to write a book about a coal camp and its tipple. I write sweet Southern romances with settings I know. My first published fiction series, the Caney Creek Series, was set in the southern Appalachians of East Tennessee. I decided to release that memory of a coal tipple and set my second fiction series in the coal-mining region of West Virginia.

Share a bit of your journey to publication. Was it short or long?
My journey to publication was interrupted. I had traditionally published three nonfiction titles and over 200 articles and short stories in more than fifty well-known periodicals. I had begun to mull over a novel idea but then I experienced a health issue that prevented me from writing with pen and paper or on a keyboard.

For seven years my body wouldn’t do what my brain told it to do. But I recovered somewhat and could get back to the keyboard. During those seven years I had a lot of time to meditate. A relative marvels that I’ve never questioned “God, why me?” I have not become bitter because of the health issue. I think God just gave me time to understand a lot of things when I was inactive.

I’m a more peaceful, patient, and faithful me. The writing journey is never-ending. How could I not write? What writing ability I have comes from God and I must be the best steward of that gift that I can be.

What would you do if you didn't write?
I’d have more time to read!

What makes you struggle as an author? How do you handle it?
Marketing causes me to struggle a bit. Writing is not a struggle. As for the marketing, I just buckle down and do it. I don’t stress over it and I know how much I can do and what I cannot comfortably do.

Where do you write: In a cave, a coffeehouse, or a cozy nook?
In a corner of a bedroom I have a desk that’s anchored by a laptop, printer, lamp, and ordered stacks of paper. I used this desk while in high school.

Do you prefer the creating or editing aspect of writing? Why?
I prefer the creating aspect of writing. I’m a pantster writer—I plot only in my head. When I write, my story is a stream of creativity that I want nothing to slow or stop. I see my characters say and do things that surprise me and I smile. Writing is a joy. The editing aspect of writing is more like work.

Do you consider yourself a visual writer? If so, what visuals do you use?
Visuals in my mind, from my personal experience or research, not physical visuals I need to see.

What are your top 3 recommendations for a new writer?
1.   Ask God to help you write before your fingers touch the keyboard each day.
2.   Be teachable.
3.   If writing for publication, be patient.

Then what 3 things would recommend not doing?
1.   You can benefit from reading other authors in your genre, but don’t try to copy them. Use your own unique voice to write your story.
2.   Heed the rules of the writing craft. But don’t get so hamstrung by the rules that your creativity suffers.
3.   Don’t try to write for the trends that may appear to be popular. By the time you would finish your manuscript, that trend may have vanished.

What's next for you?
Book 2 in the West Virginia Mountains Series. I don’t have a title yet—I usually get my titles from a scene or chapter in the book as I write.

Can Julie, an only child raised with privilege and groomed for high society, and Robby, a coal miner’s son, escape the binds of their socioeconomic backgrounds? Set in a coal mining community in West Virginia in the 1950s, can their love survive their cultural boundaries?

This is a tragically beautiful love story of a simple yet deep love between two soul mates, Robby and Julie. The American South’s rigid caste system and her mother demand that Julie chooses to marry an ambitious young man from a prominent and suitable family. Julie counters her mother’s stringent social rules with deception and secrets in order to keep Robby in her life. Can the couple break the shackles of polite society and spend their lives together? Will Julie’s mother ever accept Robby?