Novel Rocket

Tuesday, May 05, 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 May edition of Industry News. I hope you’re enjoying the beauty and fragrance of springtime. I already spent my first afternoon working in my outdoor office AKA my patio. 

Stuff's happening, so let's get to the news:

Have a great month friends. Write on!

Monday, May 04, 2015

Designing a Killer Cover

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 their 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 (!

Ronie's upcoming release, Falcon, received 4.5 stars from RT Book Reviews: Kendig blows away fans...Falcon is a must-read! 

* * * * * 

As an author, one of my favorite parts of the publication process is seeing my cover for the first time. And it's a new thrill with each cover! You've no doubt seen interviews with cover models (in fact, I did one here with the models for Hawk and Falcon right here on NovelRocket!). I've also seen other authors like Becky Wade post the entire process through pictures, showing makeup, costume, the photo shoot, and the final cover.

Anyone who has seen the covers for my Quiet Professionals series no doubt is drooling over the men who posed as the heroes of the series, Watterboy,  Hawk, and Falcon. The drool is amplified when readers learn all the models are the real deal--they've been there, done that. They are real military veterans.

It's been amazing to watch cover designer extraordinaire, Kirk DouPonce (who is up for a Hugo Award!!) of DogEared Design take these humble veterans, photograph them, then take those photos with blue screens to transform them into amazing covers!! I really hope Kirk can do the covers for every book I write, because he has nailed every one so far!

So, I asked Kirk if he'd let me interview him...but he said he had something better--a time-lapsed video of him creating Falcon! Watch as Kirk transforms Purple Heart Recipient Gabriel Martinez from a Marine into Special Forces hero, Salvatore "Falcon" Russo, from the third book in the series, Falcon.


* * * * * 

"Kendig blows fans away...Falcon is a must read!" - RT Book Reviews! 


Special Forces operator Salvatore “Falcon” Russo vowed to never again speak to or trust Lieutenant Cassandra Walker after a tragedy four years ago. But as Raptor closes in on the cyber terrorists responsible for killing two of their own, Sal must put his life—and the lives of his teammates—in her hands. Despite his anger, Cassie is ill-prepared for his resistance and the fallout when she must protect the one asset who can end the attacks. As allies become enemies and hostiles become unlikely partners, Raptor fights for its very existence.

Sunday, May 03, 2015

The Garden of Birth

Since I'm away to see my play read as part of the Budding Playwrights Festival in Rosebud Alberta this weekend, I am pleased to host guest blogger, Murray Pura today, with an excerpt from his devotional book, Rooted - Reflections on the Gardens in Scripture. Enjoy and be blessed. :) Marcia Lee Laycock

Rooted by Murray Pura

“The Lord God planted a garden in Eden, away to the east.” Gen.2:8

Rain slashed and wind cut and ocean waves thumped against the rocks and sand and stones. The night was cold and without stars, without moon, without light of any kind. Two men and a woman walked back and forth across a stretch of grass that sloped to the sea, hunched against the sting of the storm. A flashlight beam jumped up and down and illuminated shining grass and swinging trees. The wind seemed to grab the beam and hurl it from one side of the strip of land to the other. Out over the dark water was the chop of waves against boats and the snap of rigging against aluminum spars and the creak of cables pulling hard at their moorings. And farther out still the grunt and groan of a foghorn.

“You say it’s two acres?” asked one of the men to the other. Water streamed down his glasses.

The man with the flashlight nodded. “From the highway right down to the cove.”

“What about water?” asked the woman.

"You’ll have to sink a well. But all the wells along this shore have sweet water. That’s not a problem.”

“The cove seems pretty sheltered even with this storm going on,” said the man with the glasses looking out towards the ocean.

“Yeah, it would take a hurricane to really give you trouble tucked away in here.”

“We’ll take it then.”

“You’ll take it?”

The woman smiled and nodded, her hood and face wet with rain. “You bet we’ll take it.”

The man with the flashlight shook his head. “You walk around the property on the dirtiest night of the year, you can’t see the hand in front of your face - why, it’s like buying the place sight unseen.”

They laughed - and began to walk up the grassy slope towards their cars as the wind and rain continued to pound on their heads and backs.

“You have a bunch of people waiting to see this property in the morning, am I right?” asked the man with the glasses.

“I sure do.”

“We had to beat them to the punch.”

“Well, you did that. Nobody else wanted to come out until after the storm had blown through. I’ll have to call them all and tell them they can save themselves a trip.”

“I guess you will.”

The two men stopped by the cars and shook hands in the dark.

Once the storm had passed, the sun shone again and the sea glittered white and blue at the foot of the property like a net of gems. Over a period of weeks and months a well was drilled, a dock built and moored securely in the cove, a house erected and filled with furniture. But what the man and his wife had looked forward to most came in May – the opportunity to split open the grass and plant a garden.

Day after day their spades and picks cut apart the earth. Their mattocks and machinery turned the soil. They sweat and toiled and grunted and grinned. Halfway down the long slope of grass they planted a large vegetable plot. A strawberry patch was put there too. Near the plot they placed fruit trees. A grapevine. Raspberry canes. Dirt jammed under their fingernails and streaked black across their foreheads. Closer to the house they marked out flower gardens with orange, pink and purple petals. Roses. Herbs. They changed the land. They altered the colors of the earth. And they thought it was good, very good. So did many others.

When you change your world some things are diminished, some things are added. There was less grass on their property, though still plenty to go around, less white and red clover, less wide-open space. But the bees were in heaven, a heaven that had not existed for them before. Hummingbirds showed up, playing the air like a Stradivarius. Butterflies with pale blue wings arrived and rested on the highest daisies. Deer ate the lettuce, crows ate the corn. Robins came for worms. Blackbirds for berries. Chipmunks raided the feeding stations set up for sparrows and cardinals and nuthatches. Flies arrived also. But close on their wings came dragonflies of metallic green and emerald. Snakes without venom slid between flower stalks. Visitors made tea from fresh spearmint leaves. The gardens gave both humans and the creatures about them much pleasure. The gardens fed their bodies. Even with the hard work of weeding, the gardens offered a new happiness.

This was the garden of my wife’s parents, Richard and Goldie, a garden built by the sea. Before their arrival, the waters of the Atlantic, for the most part, splashed against an untouched shoreline of earth and stone. For hundreds of years, thousands of years, the grass had not been turned. The soil had rested from generation to generation. The property looked perfect just the way it was— emerald field sloping down to rock and sand beach, trees tall, jade leaves, salt waters flashing as if the stars had fallen. But Richard and Goldie felt something was missing. Gardens. So they began to create them.

Not all gardens may be fenced. But all gardens have definite boundaries. There are edges to them, just as there are edges between sea and sky and land and ocean. They are separate from the world around them even though they haven’t gone anywhere. A garden stands out. As lovely as the land around them might be, we notice gardens immediately: beauty within beauty.

It is in us to do what Richard and Goldie did. To plant. Create. Not only gardens of the ground, but gardens of the mind, of the spirit, gardens of music and gardens of words and gardens of worship. In all of these gardens I think, we are trying to find Eden again. Eden is an old memory we cannot recall except by glimpses of what our hands and imaginations do pretty much out of thin air, surprising us. “I never knew you had it in you,” someone tells us while admiring our handiwork. Neither did we.

The paint of Eden is in the violets and orchids we plant and admire. The music of Eden is in the melodies of the guitarist and the pianist and the cellist. The drama of Eden is in some of our finest plays and films. The sweetness we create. The symmetry. The prayers. The paradise. Something deep inside each one of us wants the first garden again. Something in us wants to re-create the world from scratch.

Murray Pura was born and raised in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. His first work of fiction was published in Teen Power when he was 16. Canadian publications include the novels Mizzly Fitch, Zo, and The White Birds of Morning as well as the short story collections Mister Good Morning and The Poets of Windhover Marsh. In the United States two books of popular theology have been published by Zondervan while several works of fiction have been released by major publishing houses. Titles include: London Dawn, Beneath the Dover Sky, The Wings of Morning and The Name of the Hawk. A Baptist pastor for 28 years, Murray currently makes his home in southwestern Alberta. Visit Murray's Website

Saturday, May 02, 2015

The Post Indie Gold Rush

It seems that I’ve always arrived about ten minutes late to every major event. Throw a party, I’ll show up after the awesome conga line. Get into a trout feeding frenzy on a river, I’ll be there right about the time the fish settle in for their nap, tummies quite full.

So it is no surprise to hear that, about the time I publish my first YA novel on Amazon, the grand announcement comes from every blog, podcast, and writer’s conference podium:

The Gold Rush Is Over!

Thanks for comin’. Last one out get the lights won’t ya?

Not only is the Gold Rush over, but those in the know are relieved to inform us that the e-book fad is coming to a close as well. Readers are returning in droves to paper books, tired of the convenience and low cost of instantly downloading any one of a billion titles onto their Kindles.

For those of you who read this early on this Saturday morning before catching that first caffeinated wave of inspiration and coherence, I speak with tongue in cheek (which is impossible, by the way, go ahead and try).

Not so much the gold rush. Yes, that is indeed over. And good riddance. Know what happens when a gold rush ends? The get-rich-quick creek panners get hungry and go back to their regular jobs. Those left behind are the ones willing to dig deep, work hard, and settle in for long-term, slow growth.

Yeah, just like traditionally published writers when Amazon was a river full of toothy fish and snakes the size of…really big snakes (hey, it’s early here, too). The moral of the story? There ain’t no shortcuts.

Twenty years ago, just before I began this here quest to like Hemingway, except without the booze and sudden departure, you’d walk into a writer’s conference and hear that nothing was selling. Publishers aren’t signing new writers. Agents hate you. Blah. Blah. And blah.

Walk into a conference today, you’ll all of the above plus: indies aren’t selling.  Amazon keeps changing the rules. Agents hate you. Blah, etc.

Here’s what all my writerbuds know: successful writers bust their glutes in the same chair day in and day out. They don’t give up until…never. Because even a “successful” writer doesn’t realize it, because by golly she can do better! It’s just how driven people behave. We never reach our goal because we keep moving the goal. If Dante added a tenth circle of hell, it would be full of writers and very slow laptops (and no Novel Rocket).

I almost started a blog titled “5 steps to Indie success!” or some other such nonsense. I have no steps to offer. I’m sorry, life often works in a more circuitous fashion. Here’s all I have for any writer’s success:

Write every day.
Don’t stop.
Marketing work on Saturdays after coffee.
Rinse. Repeat.

I’m sorry to be the Jacob Marley on your Saturday morning, having no comfort to offer. Jacob was a sourpuss and so am I. No rah-rah fluff from this guy.

But you don’t need more fluff. You’re all grown up. You know what you want. And you have no patience for the creek panners who upload their NaNo novel to KDP on December 1st and print their official Author business cards.

You’re ready to dig deep. Break some nails. Drink cold coffee.

Join me, my friends, in the tenth circle. We got this. Eventually.

Ron Estrada is the author of Now I Knew You, the first novel of his Cherry Hill Young Adult series. He also writes a regular column in the print magazine Women2Women Michigan entitled Don't Tell My Wife I Wrote This.

He's a regular blogger at Inspire a Fire and My Book Therapy.

You can learn more about his writing at or email him at

Friday, May 01, 2015

Struggling to Find Your Social Media Groove? It Could be an All or Nothing Mindset

by Edie Melson @EdieMelson

I’ve been teaching writers how to use social media to grow an online platform for years. I’ve developed this blog, spent years teaching at conferences, as well as consulting with groups and ministries. 

Unfortunately, the one thing I see over and over again, is excited people who try to take everything I teach and apply it in a crazy-short amount of time. 

In every class I teach, I warn against spending more than 30 minutes a day building an online platform, but I can’t seem to combat the rush of enthusiasm that infects some.

Then, these excited, energized folks become the victims of the destructive cycle of all or nothing social media. Today, I’d like to expand on this concept and explain what can happen if you find yourself caught in the whirlpool of this mindset. I’ll also offer some ways to help you regain your equilibrium.

Beware the Trap of Too MUCH Social Media
This cycle usually begins when someone is trying to become comfortable with a new platform or way of approaching social media. They’ll spend hours on end, over the course of a few days, or for the hardier souls, the course of a few weeks. At first, the results multiply and that taste of victory spurs them to more intense work.

But true platform building with social media cannot be rushed.

Just like a builder must wait for a poured foundation to cure, social media interactions must be allowed room to breathe. Here are just a few reasons it takes time to gain traction:
  • When we follow someone, it takes time for them to find that we followed them and follow us back.
  • Not everyone is online at the same time. So a concentrated burst of updates within a few hours will net us fewer views than a few updates over the course of twenty-four hours.
  • Everyone manages social media differently. I check my followers 2 – 3 times a week. That’s when I decide who to follow back and interact with on a deeper level.

Beyond the downside of the above-mentioned issues, there’s also the very real issue of burn-out. After that first heady rush of platform building victory, there’s very little movement on the momentum front and frustration begins to take over.

I see the mindset of:
I invested all this time, and only have this to show for it.

Truthfully, if this poor soul had invested the same amount of time over several days and/or weeks, the growth would have been phenomenal.

So how do we stop the cycle?
1. Set a time limit—and stick to it!
2. Set goals—reasonable goals.
3. Take on a single platform at a time. Get started and established before tackling another.
4. Use a scheduling program like Hootsuite or Buffer, to multiple your exposure and limit the time you spend.

One of the gems those successful with social media learn early one is that the when is almost always more important than the how much.

But isn’t there ANYTHING to do with all that excitement?
Yes, actually there is. But be very careful not to spend too much time on even the tasks I’m about to mention. Burnout is still a very real side affect of even these jobs.

Things We Can Spend Time On
1. Composing your bio/about me section of each platform. These section is a key place others use to gage whether they want to interact with you. I simply cannot stress the importance of getting this right.

2. Check your consistency. Beyond getting it right, you also want your bio to be consistent from platform to platform. This can be tricky because the word count of your bio is different on each network. So you have to play around with it a bit.

3. Generating a good cover image for all your networks. Here’s a link to my Twitter homepage. You can see my cover image is my upcoming book. I use the same cover for all my networks.

4. Choosing a consistent avatar image for all your networks. My image isn’t exactly the same for every single network, but it’s very recognizable, even in the thumbnail size. That’s critical so people can connect with you in different places. They may discover you on Facebook, but they prefer to interact with people on Twitter, so they’ll search for you there. If you can’t be found, you’ve just lost a lot of potential interaction.

5. Research. Take a look at people who are where you want to be on a given platform. Study the way they interact. Don’t try to reinvent the wheel. Instead learn from those who are where you want to be.

Bottom Line
The biggest thing to remember is that when it comes to building a platform—just like anything else in life—you get what you put into it. There are no free rides or short cuts to building a solid online presence.

Now it’s your turn. Have you been bitten by the all or nothing cycle? How do you combat the temptation to spend too much time on social media?

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.