Novel Rocket

Monday, October 12, 2015

5 Speaking Tips

post by Michelle Griep
If this hasn't happened to you yet, it will.
When I signed up to be a writer, there were certain things I expected to be part of the job . . .

- a pajama/fuzzy slipper dress code
- Hollywood producers knocking at my door to beg for the rights to my story
- the paparazzi shadowing my every move
- a mailbox full of adoring fan letters

Okay, so those might've been pie-in-the-sky type of expectations -- except for the jammies. Reality is writing isn't all that glamorous, unless your slippers happen to have sequins on the toes. But the real ugly truth about writerly expectations is that there are some that weren't even on my radar screen.

Like speaking to a group.


I know. I hear you. "Wait a cotton pickin' minute! I'm a writer, not a speaker. That means I'm an introvert at heart. Standing in front of a group not only makes me break out in hives, it gives me the sweats, the stutters and the . . . well, let's just say I need a clear shot to the restroom."

Even so, Bucko, when you're a writer, you will be asked to speak in front of groups. How are you going to manage without curling into the fetal position? 

Never fear. Have I got a handy dandy checklist for you . . .

Know what you're going to say.
The more familiar you are with what you're going to say, the less uncomfortable you will feel once you start talking. And the beauty of this is that you can do it alone in front of a mirror. Or if that creeps you out, just do it alone. Whatever, it's key that you practice what you're going to say so that if fear does strike when eyeballs are zeroed in on you, at least your mouth can keep going even if your heart stops.

Know who your audience is.
Is this a group of newbie writers you're speaking to or the Ladies Aid Auxiliary? It makes a difference. Find out what the group you're speaking to is interested in and tailor what you'll talk about to those interests.

Slow down.
Whatever your normal speaking speed is, slow it down two notches. Pretend you're talking to preschoolers if you need to. This not only helps you annunciate clearly, it keeps the audience from leaning forward and cocking their heads all crooked to figure out what in the world you're saying.

Do a giveaway.
This one is kind of a given. Who doesn't love to win a prize? And if you hold off on announcing the winner until the end of your speech, a lot less people will wander out of the room because they won't want to miss out on their chance to snatch up some loot.

This one sounds like a stupid no-brainer but honestly, you'd be surprised at how many speakers are so nervous they forget to smile. An audience is much more likely to enjoy what you're saying if you don't look like you're scolding them.

Incorporate these five easy things and your next speaking gig will be a success. Not promising, though, that you still won't need extra duty deodorant. It's never comfortable standing alone in front of a crowd, but here's the bonus . . . there just might be a Hollywood producer in the audience and a paparazzi waiting for you outside.

Like what you read? There’s more. WRITER OFF THE LEASH: GROWING IN THE WRITING CRAFT is a kick in the pants for anyone who wants to write but is stymied by fear, doubt, or simply doesn’t know how to take their writing to the next level.

Michelle Griep’s been writing since she first discovered blank wall space and Crayolas. Follow her adventures and find out about upcoming new releases at her blog, Writer Off the Leash, or stop by her website. You can also find her at the usual haunts of FacebookTwitter, or Pinterest.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

A Perfect Complement

by Cynthia Ruchti

"Look how the clouds make a perfect complement to the scene," our host said on our tour of Oregon's beauty. 

Hours earlier, we stood on the shore of Trillium Lake, near Mt. Hood, as clouds rolled in. Soon, we we dodging raindrops to get back into the vehicle that took us to lower elevations, toward our host's home. After the rain spent itself, the clouds thinned again and split apart so we could see edges of light outlining the clouds. With sunset approaching, the outline turned from bright-white to orange to crimson against pockets of blue.

Rather than praise the return of blue or the brilliant color palette of light, our host said, "Look how the clouds complement the scene."

His words made it to my ever-present notebook within seconds. What a great perspective! Too often we see clouds as barriers to the real view. What if instead they are enhancements? The perfect foil, perfect backdrop, for spikes of light, creating something to reflect, ensuring the viewer notices the contrasts?

Rather than resent their presence, wouldn't we then see clouds as a vital part of the picture?

What if the latest rejection is actually brush strokes on canvas to provide a foil for an upcoming acceptance? What if a disappointment is the base for an outline of riotous light? What if having to rewrite the whole second half of your novel because of a sticking point you discovered two sentences from the end produces a more compelling story than the cloudless original?

This is what we saw when we got to Mt. Hood: 

As we toured the grounds and the lodge, we waited for the shroud to lift. We walked to another spot for a different angle. Still encased in clouds. A peak of sun seemed on its way, if we gave it a few more minutes. But the majestic mountain refused to let its face be seen no matter how long we waited or how much we wanted to see the top of the mountain.

The clouds got in the way? In some respects. But in another way of thinking, they added an air of mystery. I had no trouble believing the rest of the mountain was there. Thousands, perhaps millions of others had seen it. Many had captured its image by camera or artist's canvas. It likeness had been sculpted in bronze and stone. Our host told stories of his ski and hiking adventures and helped us imagine how much more of the mountain lay beyond the clouds.

We didn't walk away disappointed, as we might have. The clouds formed a complement to the scene and forced our imaginations and faith to take over.

Novelist, caregiver, parent, teacher, striver, what circumstance clouds are forcing your imagination and faith to take over these days?

Where's Jesus in this?

Mark 9:7 CEB records one of many times in the biblical account when God demonstrated how a cloud can FORM and enhance the scene, not hide it. "Then a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice spoke from the cloud, "This is My Son, whom I dearly love. Listen to him!"

What if that same message came from the depths of the cloud in your view? Isn't it?

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Author Newsletters ~ love 'em or hate 'em?

On an author loop I'm in, I saw someone say they didn't have the skill or the time to do a newsletter.

Huh? A writer who can't do a newsletter but has the skill to write a book? A book is way harder than a newsletter.

They went on to say they could do email. Well, isn't a newsletter like a fancier email? With photos?

What do you mean by "not quite?"

Okay, then what does go into a newsletter?

Well duh, news. About you, the author. What you're doing, what's coming up, what's going down. Isn't that what you'd want to know from your favorite authors?

I checked out the newsletters I receive from some of my author friends. Some are monthly and some are quarterly. I'm thinking quarterly for mine.

Since my books have some humor in them, I'll try to add a little something in the way of a funny story. Food always plays a prominent role in my books, so a recipe should be there. 

And "the boys" ~ our two English mastiffs, who receive a lot more comments on Facebook than I ever do. They have to be there if I want anyone to read it.

I don't have a green thumb, like Deborah Raney, so no one wants to see pictures of my garden. However, I saw a clever blog Kate Lloyd did where she included lots of photos from a nursery. 

What I'm saying here is that I think people like photos better than an author nattering about themselves. Unless you're a Pulitzer Prize-winner. Then you can natter.

I can mention speaking engagements, book signing events, and book club appearances. Especially for those who are near me. But there needs to be (I think) information about where they can get my books, find my website, and follow me on Social Media, too. 

And to me, the cardinal rule is: Keep it short and sweet.

Those are my ideas. Do you have any you can add? I'd love to hear them. 

While a floppy straw hat is her favorite, novelist Ane Mulligan has worn several including legislative affairs director (that's a fancy name for a lobbyist), drama director, playwright, humor columnist, and novelist. She firmly believes coffee and chocolate are two of the four major food groups. Ane writes her Southern-fried fiction in Sugar Hill, GA, where she resides with her artist husband, her chef son, and two dogs of Biblical proportion. You can find Ane on her Southern-fried Fiction website, Google+, Facebook, Goodreads, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Friday, October 09, 2015

Thoughts for the Journey from Bill Myers

As an author and film producer, Bill Myers’s work has won over 70 national and international awards including the C.S. Lewis Honor Award. His books and videos, which include Eli and McGee and Me, have sold 8 million copies. His most recent book, The Jesus Experience - Journey Deeper into the Heart of God, explores how he went from a burned-out evangelical to someone head-over-heels in love with his Creator.


As a closet Eeyore, praise does not come naturally for me. But over the years I’ve developed it as a habit . . . singing, humming, quietly thanking God throughout the day. Why? Because it focuses me on the real Truth of who He is, and not the transient truth of situations. But what if I don’t feel like praising Him, doesn’t that make me a hypocrite? Not at all. It doesn’t matter what my uninformed mind thinks or my fickle emotions feel, God’s sovereignty and love are the real truth.

I enjoyed reading in the Psalms where David tells his troubled soul to sit down, be quiet and worship. But in James, when Christians were tortured and murdered, the head of the church in Jerusalem had the gall to write: “Consider it pure joy when you encounter various trials.” I used to think, “What? Are you kidding me? As my children

are being dipped in tar and set on fire for not worshipping Caesar, I’m supposed to consider it ‘pure joy?’”

Then, there was Paul, the “All things work together for the good if you love the Lord” guy of Romans 8:28. Not only did he write that, but he wrote in 1 Thessalonians 5:13-16: “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” I’m sorry? The will of Christ Jesus for me is to “give thanks in all circumstances?” Seriously? What type of live-in-an-ivory-tower person would write that? But it only takes a stroll through 2 Corinthians 11:24-33 to realize Paul’s ivory tower consisted of being imprisoned, flogged with 39 lashes four times, beaten with rods three times, shipwrecked three times, lost at sea, stoned and left for dead, robbed and on and on, and on some more.

The point is, these guys knew a secret. It took me a while to learn it, but it really is true: God’s will for me is to give thanks in all circumstances (regardless whether I understand them or feel them). It may take several minutes, but when I live in that obedience, my spirit opens up to experience God’s greater love for me. And when I experience that greater love, I can’t help but overflow with His peace and love Him back.

Thursday, October 08, 2015

Are You Frustrated?

by Nicole Petrino-Salter


Writing is a joy and a privilege and can be a marvelously fulfilling experience, but it can be the opposite of those things just as easily.

Many of us have loved to write from as far back as we can remember. Words have been woven into our lives from the beginning and never completely disappeared. They might have had to be resurrected from a temporary death, but they came alive at some point and managed to create stories, essays, or however we morphed into using them in an organized form.

But then . . . sometimes frustration enters the fray. Words refuse to assert themselves. Life takes over and demands attention. Put-offs, delays, regression, motivation lags, dramatic interference. Innumerable things to waylay writing. Do you wonder if it's worth it? Will you ever make a difference with your efforts?  

If you had to name your frustration(s), what would you say?

As believers, we recognize there is a reason for all things. Purpose lurks behind every mishap and setback. Is that understanding enough for us to regain confidence that writing will bloom again, resume its passion, ignite our desires to create?

What are your frustrations? 

Nicole Petrino-Salter writes love stories with a passion. You can find her here most days: Nicole Petrino-Salter 

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Resolved: To Finish That Book!

 by Linore Rose Burkard

       I sometimes move from Point A to Point B in ways my kids don't appreciate or agree with. Bear with me, and I'll show what this has to do with writing and procrastination. 

         We were discussing the preoccupation with zombies  ("The Walking Dead," Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, The Night of the Living Dead franchise, and so on). While this may seem silly to Christians, I told my kids the obsession with zombie-ism is actually a deep-down acknowledgment in the heart of man that
1: We are made to live forever; and  2. We really ARE zombies--dead men walking--apart from regeneration in Christ.
 The fascination with zombie-ism is an attempt to deny the REAL facets of an afterlife such as hell and darkness and separation from a holy God. So in a way, zombie-ism is reasonable--It feels reasonable, that is, because the heart knows it is dead, but persisting in existence. Zombie-ism is  popular because it acknowledges "an" afterlife while denying judgment and the real afterlife. 
          "No, mom, that's not it," my daughter insisted. "It's just--for fun. People like to be scared and zombies are scary."
         I agreed that they're scary--"The moreso because they're real! Dead men walking all around us, heading to hell."
         We agreed to disagree. I switched topics. "You know why people love super-heroes?" She waited, wondering where I was heading.  
         "Because the super-hero is god-like, all powerful, does good and saves the day--but without judgment. There's no super-hero worth his salt who will condemn you for being gay, pro-choice, or anti-God. In fact, they won't condemn you for doing anything that is contrary to scripture but SOCIALLY acceptable. They'll stop the bad guy who's a thief, because theft is not socially or politically correct. But try and find Superman when a clerk doesn't issue a marriage license to a gay couple and he's nowhere to be found."  
          My daughter shook her head at me.  "You don't get it, Mom. Super-heroes are just--fun!"
          "Of course they are! God without rules!" 
          Now, what has this got to do with writers and writing?
          Nothing. Not directly. But I'll take you from Point A to Point B on a writing topic, and I'm just as sure the points connect here as I was about zombies and super-heroes. It has to do with why writers waste time. (Actually, it pertains to anyone who meanders their time and energies into anything that isn't part of their God-given calling.) I'm not talking about having multiple interests and hobbies as evil. I'm talking about avoiding the real thing you are called to do and filling it with other stuff. When you do that, you are putting off your holy calling. It is procrastination at its worst.  As an expert at the art, I can say with conviction that:  
     Procrastination, in these cases, is a denial of mortality.
            (I can hear my daughter: "No, Mom, that isn't it!") But it is. It is other things as well, (fear, reluctance, laziness, perhaps) but it is also a denial of mortality. Why? Because when I procrastinate,  it's like saying,  "I have time. I'll get to it. Later. I will, I know it." 
       How do I know? I DON'T. I just like to believe I do. I don't want to acknowledge that time is precious, that I have none, really, to waste.
        Procrastination denies that we are a like a flower--blooming today, gone tomorrow. In reality, all we ever know for certain is that we have now.
         Johnathan Edwards, that incredibly effective 19th century preacher, wrote this:
                    "Resolved, never to do anything which I would be afraid to do if it were the last hour of my life." 
Edwards was acutely aware that we'll give account of how we spend our currency of time, and that it is terribly, terribly, finite.
      It is a high and lofty attainment, perhaps, to live as Edwards did. To resolve to never fritter away the hours we are given in anything less than our holy "assignments."  (This doesn't mean we work ourselves to death. Rest is also a God-given assignment!)
          But it is something to strive for.  When I procrastinate as a writer, I deny the reality of my mortality. But since death is real, and coming, let us "press on to the high calling" given us in Christ. Let us not do anything we'd be afraid to do if it were the last hour of our lives.
         Has God called you to write a particular something? A book, perhaps? Say with me: "Resolved: To finish that book!" 
         You may need to resolve to do something else according to your calling. Talk to a child. Reconcile with a relative. Whatever it is, let me encourage you to do it. At least, to begin. To work towards it. Today!

   Linore Rose Burkard is a great procrastinator. But somehow she manages to write historical romance, and, as L.R. Burkard, YA Suspense. When not writing, Linore is a homeschooling mom, wanna-be homesteader, and (in case you haven't noticed) an endless re-writer of her bio. 
          Newest Fiction: PULSE
What if everything you depend upon--transportation, grocery shopping, the internet, cell phones--came to a sudden, crashing halt?
Three teenagers and their families must survive when America's worst nightmare occurs; the failure of the electric grid due to an electromagnetic pulse...(Read More..).
                              ....Has the world collapsed forever?
                                Who will survive when technology fails? 

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Industry News

Megan DiMaria is Novel Rocket’s industry news columnist. An author and speaker, she enjoys cheering on writers and loves to encourage others as they journey through life’s demands and delights. Megan is the author of two women’s fiction novels, Searching for Spice and Out of Her Hands

Welcome to the October edition of Novel Rocket’s industry news. Is it just me, or has this year flown by? Anyway, there's still plenty of 2015 left and goals to be conquered. Onward, friends!

  • Sales of print books rose in 2015. For more info . . . 
  • The LYRA Contest (to promote excellence in independent fiction by recognizing outstanding independently published eBooks) is open. For more details . . . 
  • The Christian Book Awards are now open to submissions. For more info . . . 
  • Deckle Edge, South Carolina’s newest Literary Festival, to launch early next year. For more info . . . 
  • Audiobook publisher Blackstone to expand into print with the launch of Blackstone Publishing. For more info . . .
  • Random House launches The Smitten Word, an email newsletter all about romance books, authors, and romance news. For more info . . . 
  • Remember Oyster, the Netflix of books? Well they’ve announced they’re closing in 2016. For more info. . . 
  • A viewpoint from the NY Times: “E-Book Sales Slip, and Print Is Far From Dead.” For more info . . . 
  • And another opinion: “No, e-book sales are not falling, despite what publishers say.” For more info . . .  
  • And a third opinion: “From Books to Ebooks and Back: The Future of Literary Consumption Is Unwritten.” For more info . . . 
  • I’d like a cabernet sauvignon, please: Harlequin is now in the wine business. For more info . . . 
  • Author and founding editor of the religion department at Publishers Weekly, Phyllis Tickle, dies. For more info . . . 
  • American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) celebrates Christian fiction at annual conference and announce Carol Award and Genesis winners. For more info. . . 
  • Barbour Publishing partners with Teal Press in the U.K. For more info . . . 
  • New digital publishing venture, Serial Box, aims to be the HBO for readers (with serialized genre fiction). For more info . . . 
  • Another e-book price-fixing case against Apple? For more info . . . 
  • Startup Juggernaut to pursue mobile phone publishing. For more info . . .  
  • The Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance is feeling positive “going into the holiday season.” For more info . . . 
  • Authors Guild survey reveals that most authors’ earnings fall below the poverty line. For more info . . .  
  • So I guess we should readjust expectations when it comes to being a successful writer. For more info. . . 
  • The 2015 PEN Literary Awards announced. For more info . . .  
  • Not exactly news, but good info: ten tech tools for writers. For more info . . . 
  • Also, here’s 16 Facebook groups for writers you don’t want to miss. 
  • Pelican Book Group to launch new imprint, Crossover Books, with stories that appeal to non-Christians but intrinsically convey Christian principles. Info soon to come here.
  • 2015 National Book Awards Longlist revealed. For more info . . . 
  • The Pew Research Center’s survey reveals libraries are still important to communities. For more info . . . 
  • Good news, bookstore sales rose in July. For more info . . . 
  • And independent booksellers also did well. For more info . . . 
  • “Might consumers see e-book refunds from Apple in time for the holidays?” For more info . . . 
  • Family Christian Stores seek to repair relationships with vendors. For more info . . . 
  • Financial figures paint a grim picture for Barnes & Noble, but they’re still hopeful. For more info . . .  
Have a great month, friends. Write on!