Novel Rocket

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Dear Abby ~ by Tamela Hancock Murray

Borrowed with permission from Steve Laube's Agency blog

In my current stage of life, I find it freeing not to feel compelled to share my opinion about every topic and to defend that opinion to the verbal death. I don’t feel the urge to prove my rightness through verbal sparring. Joy, indeed!

In everyday life, a friend may ask any number of questions. “What do you think of this dress?” means you should say, “Wow! You look great!”

“What do you think of my new boyfriend?” is meant to elicit, “He’s wonderful!”

“Do you like this paper I wrote?” means, “Yes!”

In other words, few friends really seek your advice on anything. They just want you to confirm they made the right decision about everything, and everything they say and do is perfect. They seek affirmation.
But there is one arena where I’m paid for my opinion, and that is as a literary agent. I take this responsibility seriously, because I understand the risks.

With writers, I’m the first to wave pom-poms and jump up and down and say, “You rock!” I love to encourage people, especially when they’ve worked long and hard to achieve goals.

But writers pay literary agents a commission for our opinions. These opinions can change the trajectory of their careers, especially in light of the current publishing climate.

No agent gets it right every time. We let good opportunities slip by, and take other projects that end up being time wasters for everyone.

But here’s what we as agents do: we keep up with the latest in publishing, ranging from which editors are moving to what houses (and there are many, many job transitions at any given time), to what type of books editors are seeking, and on and on.

You may say, “Well, Christian publishing houses are always going to be looking for good Christian books.” True. But the nuances and shifts are often, many, and varied. And consider the change involving e-books, indie publishing, mergers, and lines shutting down. As agents, we learn everything we can so we can give our clients advice based on education and knowledge, not emotion and fuzzy math.

My clients know I tailor my advice to each person. I work with writers to achieve their personal goals so they can enjoy their careers while being successful.

So while giving advice is always risky, we strive to give our clients the best advice we can. Good guidance, talent, and hard work are the keys to success.

Your turn:

What part of publishing gives you the most anxiety?

What is the best advice you’ve ever been given in regard to publishing? 

Tamela Hancock Murray has been an agent for over 12 years. A bestselling, award-winning author of twenty novels, novellas, and nonfiction books, Tamela brings the perspective of a working writer to her role as a literary agent. As an agent she represents many top authors and continues to develop new talent. She earned her BA with honors in Journalism from Lynchburg College in Virginia. Today she enjoys living in Northern Virginia with her family. She can often be found reading books on her Kindle.

Tuesday, March 03, 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

Yes, winter continues. Not much more to say about that, but here's some interesting news and tidbits to read with a delicious hot beverage. 

Have a great month, friends!

Monday, March 02, 2015

Be Careful Out There - Cyber Security Tips for Authors

Ronie Kendig is an award-winning, bestselling author who grew up an Army brat. After twenty-plus years of marriage, she and her hunky hero husband have a full life with four children, a Maltese Menace, and a retired military working dog in Northern Virginia. She can be found at, on Facebook (, Twitter (@roniekendig), Goodreads (, and Pinterest (!

"Trust and betrayal are the themes of Christy Award–winning Kendig’s (Wolfsbane) fast-paced military suspense novel." -RT Book Reviews

 * * * 
This month, it's my extreme pleasure to share the blogosphere with a woman who is amazingly talented and a beautiful person, inside and out! Kellie Coates Gilbert is a force to be reckoned with--so please welcome her and her sage advice about cyber security! 

As safety-conscious consumers, we’re cautioned to use a hot pad while removing a pan from the stove, to never blow our hair dry while sitting in a bathtub filled with water, or to mix ammonia with bleach before tackling a cleaning project.

These are common sense safety measures meant to protect us, and our wellbeing. Yet, I find myself frequently cringing when I see novelists interacting on social media without employing similar protections.

A very popular young author recently uploaded photos of herself on Facebook. She was dressed in a low cut blouse and tight skirt cut high above the knees, which incited comments from men who obviously are of the sordid sort. While we could spend time discussing her motives, the more important issue here is her obvious belief that this activity was not as dangerous as wearing the same outfit while walking down a dark street lined with shady individuals. Apparently, she thinks the internet is a barrier that keeps her safe.


All of us have likely done something less egregious on social media, but still unsafe. This motivated me to poll a bunch of author friends and I compiled a list for all of us to consider:

  1. Never reveal your address. You do not know who is following you and this just isn’t smart. I’m a former legal investigator. With a small amount of information, I can find out a lot. And so can unsafe people. 
  2. Never reveal when you're not home. This is difficult given many of us list our event schedules on our websites. But at the very least, we might not want to let followers think there is no one else at home in our absence. 
  3. This one is important to me. Do not identify your family members’ names. Just say Hubby, Son, or Mother. An author friend reported a reader fan actually showed up at her husband’s workplace with a book and asked him to get the novel signed for her. This alone suggests that reader was a bit off in her thinking. 
  4.  CHILDREN . . . this one is especially critical. Yes, there are predators on the internet and on social media. Please proceed with extreme caution before posting photos or using names. To do otherwise is just not smart. I love talking about my grandbabies on social media . . . and my readers love when I share about them. BUT, I’m extremely careful. I never post a photo with features that might show where we are. If I do identify a place, it is after we’ve returned home. I call them Peanut and Gumdrop. And I’ve cautioned all my family and personal friends to do the same. I have a lot of strangers accessing my social media and you can’t be too careful when it comes to our little ones. 
  5. Don’t accept requests and give just anyone access to your social media. When I get a request, I almost always delete it if it’s a man. Since I write women’s fiction, unless the guy has some connection to the publishing industry, he isn’t in my audience base and has no business interacting with me on Facebook. I always open the profile and ABOUT ME sections and do an internet search for the place where they say they work. You would be stunned to know a lot of “people” are not who they say. Anyone can put up a profile with some photo grabbed off the internet. What happened at SONY recently should sober all of us. BE CAREFUL! (I understand this is time intensive, but worth it) 
  6. Listen to this next one carefully as well: ANYTHING YOU PUT IN WRITING CAN BE ACCESSED—even those “private” message chats. Never push send on anything that might compromise your safety. I spent years working as a legal professional. In litigation, everything you write in emails and messaging, even texting, will be collected and reviewed. Let me paint an example. You write an email to your agent ranting about that publisher who isn’t doing enough marketing. Later, your agent gets in a lawsuit and all the emails on his server are subject to the discovery order. Guess what? Someone is now going to read that. Listen to me here . . . some conversations are just better made in person or on the phone. Rule of thumb: if you write it, it’s subject to be read. 
  7. If you feel uncomfortable in your gut about someone—unfriend them. 
  8.  In the event you suffer any activity that crossing the boundaries, i.e. cyber stalking, threats, people showing up at events repeatedly and you feel unsafe . . . REPORT IT! Tell your publisher, your agent and in some cases, tell the authorities. Do not talk yourself out of it and try to convince yourself you are being a drama queen. 
  9.  Consider a post office box for all your mail deliveries. 
  10.  Do not put your physical address on your newsletters, even if the vendor requires one. My publisher allows me to use their address. 
 In closing, let’s remember that line made famous in the television show Hill Street Blues:
 “Be careful out there!”

 What are some safety measures you employ when on social media? Tell us in the comments.

About Kellie:
Kellie Coates Gilbert spent nearly twenty-five years working in courtrooms and behind the scenes of some of the largest and most well-known cases in America.  Kellie was one of the lead paralegals in the Jack-in-the-Box litigation, where uncooked hamburger resulted in the deaths of several toddlers and made many more critically ill, which is now the subplot of her recently released WHERE RIVERS PART from Baker Publishing/Revell.  Her books not only explore the heart issues that matter most to women, but often allow readers an inside peek into her former legal world.

Find Kellie around the internet:

Sunday, March 01, 2015

What’s in Your Fridge?

By Marcia Lee Laycock
I stood staring into our fridge with one thought in mind. My brother-in-law was coming to visit. He has a bit of a reputation for being a little OCD when it comes to fridges. And mine was in dire need of cleaning out. I sighed and started, putting jars and containers that were still good on one counter while pulling the garbage can closer for those things that had been there too long. Like the bowl of left-over spaghetti, the jar of mayo long past its due date and the spicy pickled beans only my husband will eat that were sprouting a growth of light grey fuzz. The garbage can was close to capacity by the time I was finished. I sighed again. I hate throwing food away. If only food wouldn’t spoil, I thought.
A verse in the Bible came to mind - “Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you.” (John 6:27).

I thought of this verse in light of my writing life. What is the food that spoils? Money, fame, even the very paper my words are written on. All of it is fleeting and of little or no significance. 

What is the food that endures? Lives changed, people drawn into the kingdom of God, people moved to live according to His purposes.

We are flooded with information from those who would push us to work for the former instead of the latter. I get those messages pouring into my email inbox and on social media sites. Buy this course and you’ll never have to work at that drudge job again. Spend this money now and be earning six figures a week in no time. Buy this strategy and watch the money flow in.

But Jesus invites us to work for the food He will give us – food that will give us the purpose, the enthusiasm, the motivation to do His will in the world. 

I wonder what His messages would be? Oh right, He’s already sent them. Messages like: “I am the vine, you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing” John 15:5).
And then there’s this one: “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away” (Mark 13:31).

Good words to keep us focused on what is worth our time, our energy, our passion. Good words to help us focus on our true purpose on this earth.

Then we will be able to say, with Paul – “Although I am less that the least of all the Lord’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the boundless riches of Christ” (Ephesians 3:8).

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. The sequel, A Tumbled Stone was also short listed in The Word Awards. Marcia also has two devotional books in print and has contributed to several anthologies. Her work has been endorsed by Sigmund Brouwer, Janette Oke, Phil Callaway and Mark Buchanan.

Abundant Rain, an ebook devotional ebook for writers can be downloaded here.

Her most recent release is the first book in a fantasy series, The Ambassadors

Visit Marcia’s Website