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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Introducing Debut Author Linda Rondeau

Award-winning author, LINDA RONDEAU, writes for the reader who enjoys a little bit of everything. Her stories of redemption and God’s mercies include romance, suspense, the ethereal, and a little bit of history into the mix, always served with a slice of humor. Walk with her unforgettable characters as they journey paths not unlike our own. After a long career in human services, mother of three and wife of one very patient man, Linda now resides in Florida where she is active in her church and community.

Writing is a journey. How did your journey to publication begin?

I have always been attracted to story, and my parents struggled with my overactive imagination. Over the years, I was taught to channel my thought life into more preferred behaviors but the writer in me could never truly be silenced. I wrote as a hobby for pleasure and for my local churches, never believing that perhaps I could write professionally some day. However, some day came. On June 21, 2000 God called me from the hubbub of life. "Will you write for Me?" I answered, "Yes." The road has been bumpy, thorny and full of bruises as I studied the craft and managed to publish on a smaller scale, even obtaining an agent. Finally, eleven years to the date (June 21, 2011,) I received the call from my agent notifying me of my first book contract offer.

Reflecting back, what do you see as most significant to your publication journey?

I think God had to settle two things in my life before taking my writing to a more public level. First, I needed to learn that my writing was only a part of the call and actually a privilege that He bestowed upon me. I had to learn that God is more interested in my being than my doing. His perfect will for me was not that I produce a lot of books, but that I walk with Him daily. Secondly, as to the craft, I needed to learn that story is king. Because I’m a former English teacher, I love the sounds of words and the challenge of turning a phrase. But this does not make a story no matter how cleverly words are strung together. I needed to get me out of my stories and focus on the elements that make a story come alive.

What’s your biggest challenge in balancing writing time with your other responsibilities?

I am retired so that is a blessing for my writing, although I have managed a few part time jobs since I left my field of human services. Still, I have a husband and family. These are my life, the writing merely a sideline. The challenge comes in remembering that all important principle. Jesus said, “The poor you will always have with you.” There will always be another story yearning to be told, but my family will not always be with me or I with them. I treasure those moments when I can be with children and grandchildren.

How do your faith and spiritual life play into the picture and affect your storytelling?

A friend who does not profess Christianity told me that who you are will subconsciously roar through what you write. I need to guard against making writing an idol, yet, at the same time, I worship when I write. I ask God to show me where He wants my stories to go. Sometimes, that direction is vastly different than my initial conception

What do you think makes your style of storytelling unique?

I worked in human services for nearly thirty years. I think that gives me a perspective into people, family dynamics, fears, needs, and overcoming obstacles. My stories are character driven rather than plot driven. Also, I have spent over thirty years in Community Theater as an actor, director, and producer. These experiences have shaped the way I develop characters in my stories. On stage, I become the character in thought and deed. In writing, the process is much the same. Although, sometimes I need to remember that I’m not Jonathan Gladstone when I go to a store!

Finish this sentence. The best piece of advice I can give to a new author is-

Be patient. Give yourself time to develop your voice and style. Too often new writers are in a hurry to get published. It’s like eating green bananas. Give yourself some time in the sun before you rush to get an agent or self-publish.

Cubby Hole, corner of the couch, or office, where do you write?

Like my manuscripts, my office is still a work in progress. I moved into this house in October but am waiting to be rejoined with my husband who remains in the North Country until he retires in June. I still have possessions in Malone, New York waiting to be moved to Florida. At that time, the office will be a shared work space and I have no clue what it will look like until he gets here. The photo is my temporary set up.

What writing tool (Flip Dictionary, workshop, index cards) have you found to enrich your writing?

All the above. I keep computer files on ideas and visit those from time to time. I keep hard files of ideas, too. I refer back to my writing helps books to refresh myself on basic writing techniques. I read a minimum of 50 pages a day and am trying to read even more. I’m a slow reader. I also keep stuffed animals in my office. They “talk’ to me and give me ideas. When I actually hear them talk, then I know I need to get out more.

What’s next for you?

My agent is pitching older manuscripts and my newest one, a contemporary novel about a small town talk show host who broadcasts a show for parents but whose personal home life is in shambles. While saucy and funny, the novel does have serious elements.

Any parting words?

Thank you for letting me be a part of Novel Rocket. As an added bit of information, I am the owner and founder of Pentalk, a support community for writers of all genres, both CBA and general market. You can find our pages on Facebook and our blog, Pentalk Community on the Internet or link from my website. For more information email

The Other Side of Darkness

These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them. I will lead the blind by ways they have not known. along unfamilar paths I wil guide them. Isaiah 42:16

After setting out on a forced vacation, and literally running into a moose, Manhattan Assistant D.A. Samantha Knowles finds it’s not so bad beng stranded in the quirky but intriguing Adirondack town of Haven. But when her three-year prosecution against convicted killer, Harlan Styles begins to unravel, she’s thrust into a whirlwind of haunting memories, fear and danger. Suddenly, Haven isn’t so safe after all.

With not future in Haven and no way to escape the small town, teacher Zack Bordeaux fears he’s doomed to a life of mediocrity. Haunted by the deaths of his wife and son, landscape artist Jonathan Gladstone feels bound to an estate he both loves and loathes. But when Zack and Jonathan meet Samantha, their lives take on a different course.

Three lives interwined, tied together by dangerous circumstance and the faint echoes of an elusive hope. To make it through, each must find their way to the LIght that’s found only on the other side of darkness.

None of Them Had it Easy. None.

Are you a fan of Biography? Here are a few of the profiles I’ve taken a gander at in the past two months:

• John Travolta
• The Rolling Stones
• Jamie Lee Curtis
• Eminem
• Jodie Foster
• Chelsea Handler
• Anthony Hopkins
• Jennifer Lopez
• Kelly Clarkson
And wait! Yes, I watched more!

It’s fascinating to see where these celebs came from, what got them there and what they had to go through to get there. If I may be frank, even though I’m really Jim, I was surprised.

I had this idea that most stars walked into their gifting/destiny with a few minor pebbles in the road, not a street where bombs had gone off and were still exploding.

ALL of the stories revealed serious setbacks before these stars achieved fame and fortune. All. (And they continued to have challenges.)

A repeating mantra when outsiders describe these people are statements like:

“They were so incredibly determined.”

“They worked harder than anyone else.”

“They knew what they wanted, fixed their eyes on it and refused to give up.”

“No one came to see them at first, but they didn’t care. They just kept at it.”

I suppose I could have made this post much shorter and simply said, “Hey, it’s tough on everyone who wants to reach a dream, you’re not alone.” But I think knowing others have been on and are on this path helps.

It comes down to this: You have to believe in yourself. When no one else does. There is no other choice.

There is no other road.

James L. Rubart is the best-selling author of ROOMS, BOOK OF DAYS, and THE CHAIR. During the day he runs Barefoot Marketing which helps businesses and authors make more coin of the realm. In his free time he dirt bikes, hikes, golfs, takes photos, and occasionally does sleight of hand. No, he doesn’t sleep much. He lives with his amazing wife and teenage sons in the Pacific Northwest and still thinks he’s young enough to water ski like a madman. More at

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Why We Should NOT Label Christian Fiction

Anyone who thinks the debate about Christian Fiction -- what it is and what it should be -- is getting old, should check out literary agent Rachelle Gardner's recent post, Should We Label Christian Fiction? (At this posting, the comments are at 193.) What makes that discussion so informative (and potentially helpful) is the broad swath of readers and writers Rachelle's site attracts.

By the fourth comment, one reader, Colin, asked the obvious question
"...what is 'Christian' literature in the first place?"
That's the real issue and what makes Rachelle's question so squishy.
The problem with labeling / not labeling Christian fiction is that we can't exactly agree about what Christian fiction is, or should be.

So while some define (and defend) G-rated, religiously explicit, redemptive, hope-filled stories marketed to conservative Christians, others gravitate to (and defend) more subtle, ambiguous, edgy, non-preachy stories aimed at a less conservative, broader readership. Which is why we Christians have had a notoriously difficult time in labeling some of our own books. Just ask any group of Christian readers if the works of Flannery O'Connor are "Christian fiction." J.R.R. Tolkien called The Lord of the Rings "a fundamentally religious and Catholic work" (see Dr. Ralph Wood's wonderful essay Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings: A Christian Classic Revisited). But nowadays, LotR is rarely considered Christian fiction. Even the Chronicles of Narnia are up for debate. Point is, these books, while being written by believers and containing biblical worldviews and biblical imagery, do not fall neatly into the 'Christian fiction' label.

I think this is a good thing.

It's also one reason we should be very cautious about throwing around the label "Christian fiction."

In the comment thread at Rachelle's, Jessica Kent wrote:
"Why aren’t Christian writers writing novels that laymen readers can get in to? Isn’t that the whole point? To write a book with themes of faith, love, and sacrifice that anyone can access and be changed by? You wouldn’t dismiss Tale of Two Cities or Les Miserables as 'just another Christian fiction book.'"
Jessica is stating our dilemma: When we define Christian fiction in narrow terms, we narrow our audience. This may be good marketing, but it's somewhat antithetical to our mission. The last I checked, Christianity is about broadening its message, going into "all the world," reaching "laymen," spinning tales "that anyone can access." Sure, there's a place for preaching to the choir. Problem is when the choir is our ONLY audience. By targeting only Christian readers, we unnecessarily limit the boundaries of our own house, shrink our base, and fail to "impregnate" a second generation of "believing readers."

And our stories become decidedly... predictable. Which is why comments like the one below are wholly to be expected. From Adam:

"I generally avoid labeled Christian lit because I have little interest in reading a book that waters down its characters to appeal to folks who are horrified by contextually-realistic sex, violence or profanity (I also avoid authors who trade in those arenas). To me that creates a plastic surreality, a dystopian Disney landscape that all too often makes the plot wooden and untenable.

But the ultimate reason I avoid Christian book stores and most novels that are specifically labeled 'Christian' is that I have no interest in reading a 300+ page Chick tract ...Most people understand exactly what they mean when they say Christ-lit: essentially, clean dialogue and chaste relationships wrapped in a 300 page gospel tract. "

Before you dismiss Adam's opinion, pause to consider that he is representative of a vast number of readers who have come to scorn Christian fiction. Our knee-jerk reaction is to chalk this up anti-Christian bigotry. And it may well be. But isn't it possible that Adam is one of those "laymen" we should be reaching? Isn't it also possible that his opinion about Christian fiction is spot-on? "[A] plastic surreality, a dystopian Disney landscape [containing] clean dialogue and chaste relationships wrapped in a 300 page gospel tract."

Which brings me to my point:
The problem I have in labeling Christian fiction is that the moment we slap a label on our books we are conceding a stereotype.

  • If Christian fiction IS easily definable, then let's label it.
  • If Christian fiction IS "a 300 page gospel tract," then let's label it.
  • If Christian fiction IS G-rated, family-friendly fare, then let's label it.
  • If Christian fiction IS NOT something "that anyone can access," then let's label it.
  • If Christian fiction IS ONLY FOR CHRISTIANS, then let's label it.

But if we concede that good Christian lit can reach outside religious circles, carry a biblical worldview without being preachy, and be enjoyed by "laymen," then we should fight to keep our stories and authors from being burdened by a label that has, frankly, become dead weight.

Mike is a monthly contributor to Novel Rocket. He is represented by the rockin' Rachelle Gardner of Books & Such Literary. Mike's debut novel, "The Resurrection," is in stores now and his novella, "Winterland," is available in e-book formats. Mike's sophomore novel The Telling releases May 2012. You can visit his website at

You Are What You Say (and Do)

Today's gues devotion is by Loree Lough, from: Be Still…and Let Your Nail Polish Dry © 2008 Summerside Press

You Are What You Say (and Do)

And as ye would that men should do to you, Do ye also to them likewise.  Luke 6:31 (NIV)

You’ve heard it said that reputation is what others think you are, but character is WHO you are. Two of my favorite quotes come to mind when mulling over that one.
The first is the one my grandfather quoted when one of us grabbed a cookie before dinner, crossed the street without looking both ways, or snooped in his attic without permission…and stretched the truth when he caught us red-handed at any of those things.
“Your thoughts,” he’d say, pointing at each of us in turn, “become words. Words become actions. Actions become character. And character is everything.”
I don’t imagine any of his little cookie thieves knew what in the world he was talking about…until we grew older and spent some serious time in the real world. Then the hazy meaning of the adage became clearer, and we began to understand that it’s synonymous with my other favorite, The Golden Rule.
“Do unto others as you’d have them do unto you” has long been the center point for morality, ethics, religion, and politics. It’s the worldwide litmus test for fairness and decency. And Matthew and Luke weren’t the only Bible scholars who believed in the concept. Quite the contrary! Mark, John, James, Paul, and Jonah cited it, and similar passages can be found in Proverbs, Leviticus, Deuteronomy, and others as well.
More than twenty world religions have adopted some version of its intent and meaning as doctrine. Confucius touted it as a moral truth, and in 1963, President Kennedy reminded citizens of its intent in an anti-segregation speech. “The heart of the question,” he said, “is whether we are going to treat our fellow Americans the way we want to be treated.” To apply it, we must first try to identify with our brothers and sisters and, as my American Indian ancestors would have said, be willing to walk a mile in their moccasins.
I try to remember these famous sage-isms when a driver cuts me off in traffic, people at the grocery store dump whole cartloads of merchandise on the conveyor belt in the 15 Items or Less line, or someone says something to hurt my feelings. Instead of an in-kind knee-jerk reaction, I recite Luke 6:31, and Grandpa’s maxim, too.
Because I hope that by living The Golden Rule, my reputation as a woman of Christian character will precede me…and follow me…everywhere.

Today’s Prayer:  Jesus, Lord and Savior, continue to teach me the true meaning of turning the other cheek. Let the life I lead prove to the world that a Christian’s heart becomes caring and forgiving through the strength found in Your Word.

With 81 books (3,000,000+ in circulation), Loree Lough’s novels consistently earn 4- and 5-star reviews, such as From Ashes to Honor, a 9/11 story (First Responders series) and Love Finds You in Folly Beach, South Carolina. She splits her time between her Baltimore home and a cabin in the Alleghenies…where coffee enables her to correctly identify “critter tracks.” Visit her website at

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Why do Adults Read YA Books?

More and more adults are reading and enjoying YA books. What's the big appeal?

Mike Duran asked about this here on Novel Rocket a year ago. He revisited the topic on his Facebook page recently. The answers he's getting haven't changed much in the past year and they are still somewhat unsatisfactory to me. I've read a couple of dozen articles on the topic and polled my YA-reading adult friends. The top three answers are as follows. Adults read YA because these books:
  1. are not going to have graphic sex and/or foul language in the romance novels.
  2. are shorter, less complicated, and easier to read.
  3. are about the struggle between good and evil with big themes that are easily understood.

I'm baffled by these answers, because: 
  1. Graphic sex in YA books has been around a long time. Forever, by Judy Blume was first published in 1975. 
  2. Many YA novels are not shorter and easier to read than adult novels. The Harry Potter books, Jonathan Stroud's Bartimaues series, and The Book Thief, to name a few, are longer and more sophisticated than many adult novels. 
  3. It's not true that YA books are about big struggles between good and evil, either. An awful lot of them are vapid stories about shallow girls fighting and having sex. 

YA books are not all the same. YA is not a genre. Merriam Webster defines genre as: a category of artistic, musical, or literary composition characterized by a particular style, form, or content, but YA fiction comes in many different styles, forms, and types of content.

Spend some time browsing. You'll find mystery, romance, steam punk, historical novels, literary novels, and contemporary YA books. There are coming of age stories, action/adventure novels, issue books, thrillers, horror novels, dystopians and, oh yeah, fantasies.

If we look at particular genres, instead of looking at YA as a whole, we might come up with different answers to the question at hand.

I suspect that many fantasy lovers read YA books, because the spec-fic kiddie pool is huge and some of the best fantasies ever produced are splashing around there.  

Adult shelves are full of good whodunits, though, so I doubt that many mystery readers are looking for YA books on the minuscule mystery shelf in the children's section.

Romance? I don't know. There are clean romances and raunchy romances on shelves in both the adult and the YA sections. Maybe some women prefer YA over adult romances because in YA novels readers are more likely to find stories about first love (you can't write about first love these days with an adult heroine and have anyone believe it), and there is something attractive about first love--love that still believes in a soul mate, love that sill believes in happily-ever-after.

Dystopian is enjoying huge crossover appeal. I think this is the one genre about which it can be said that YA books are more simplistic than their adult counterparts. Teen dystopians are fast-paced, mostly written in first-person and often in the present tense. They are about action, not about characterization, and most don't offer deep, thoughtful commentary on the state of the world. They are full of cartoonish government bullies and kick-ass heroines. I think adult dystopians are deeper and require more thought.

But while all these genres offer different things, I also think there is one thing that almost all YA books do have in common, regardless of genre: hope.

YA books are aimed at teens, and teens are asking the big questions. Why am I here? Where am I going? How can I do something significant? Teens get involved in causes. They protest wars and picket abortion clinics and speak out against bullying. They are moved by songs about suffering and loss. They are idealistic. Seeing inequality and poverty in the world, they look for ways to fight those things. Teens still hope to find the love of their lives and they still think they can succeed at anything if they only believe.  

YA books don't all have happy endings, but most leave us with hope. (There are exceptions. Go scan the titles on the one and two-star reviews of Mockingjay if you want to see how betrayed many YA readers felt when the Hunger Games series ended without hope.)  I think adults might like YA novels because they end with hope. In a society where many have come to realize that we aren't in control and life is painful and people die and stocks lose value, adult readers might be looking for books that end in hope

Hope springs eternal in the human breast, not just in the teen's breast, after all.

So what about you? Do you read or write YA? What genres? Do you need a happy ending? Do you prefer stories that end with hope?


 is represented by Reclaim ManagementHer short works have been published in various magazines, including Highlights for ChildrenShe blogs about young adult novels at You can read a sample of The Button Girlone of her YA manuscripts, here if you like 

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Inexpensive Research Travels by Henry Biernacki

Henry Biernacki has traveled to more than 120 countries and continues to travel as a pilot for Virgin American Airlines. A four-sport letterman in high school and a two-sport letterman in college, Biernacki holds a Bachelor of Arts in romance languages and international affairs. He lived in France, Germany, Taiwan, the West Indies and Mexico before settling in his current home in San Jose, California.“Global Henry” (Traveler to over 120 plus countries)

You are not eating local unless flies are eating with you! It was a grass hut fully equipped with generous mosquitoes, willing to suck the life out of any exhausted traveler. The room was unfurnished with nonexistent grand necessities, except the broken lamp in the corner, sitting on the floor next to an empty toilet roll left by the last traveler who probably gazed out the small window all night at the one big palm tree, leading to the beach on Penang Island. The ceiling was the ceiling for the entire guesthouse with only a piece of green synthetic material separating each room, a convenient way to hear people snoring. The curtains were old lungis.1 Ideally, by traveling away from the luxurious comforts of common basics, a traveler realizes the process is the destination and continuously redefining the destination is what feeds the journal when writing a story and ultimately pulls off inexpensive research trips. Most importantly, while traveling do not fall back on the pseudo comfort of money.

Airline tickets are set, that fee expected, and no way to dismiss that. Beyond the ticket, the rest of the journey is up to the traveler on how much is spent each day. When traveling without the reassurances of home, you immediately slash costs, while being on the road. Are you willing to stay in a guesthouse like this or even sleep on the streets to grab a story? This is the sort of traveling where you are going to question several times, “Why for the love of God do I travel?” Hotels, restaurants, cafes, and taxis know people will pay for the closeness, even for the slightest recollection of home. However, from those tension-free-easy-to-map-out-experiences you never draw an image, with words, that inevitably make you hunger to write and the reader is certainly never going to feel what you are attempting to create.

Extend yourself and learn by taking public transit anywhere you go, ask everyone questions, get lost in the confusion of a new city, and ultimately most of your day is consumed without spending money, but modestly gathering experiences. That is the reason why we travel: to grasp hold of the newness in a nation where people are going to offer you to sit, visit, and finally may request you to meet their entire family. The only important part of any trip to a destination is the entire process of going through a country.

Carry more books than clothes, which is admirable, since you are going to be in need of words, describing a situation, then you can sell the books to the guesthouse. Travel with things you do not mind getting stolen. Assume anything you have will be stolen. You are going to be distracted, lost, and trying to find your way around a capital. You are going to be asking a lot of questions and touts 2 can sense who is lost. Travel with a medium size rucksack. You will not be tempted to buy anything. Be sure to take a few Ziploc bags to keep your things dry.

Many people arrive at a destination to research their topic when research is in the travel itself. Tourists have a destination. That is why there is always somewhere to go for a tourist always paying for something else. A traveler knows that the somewhere does not matter and somewhere can catch up anytime, knowing a story is being cultivated.

The test of ones character is not doing something, an action, which you know you can perform; but rather having the sureness of undertaking something of which you are wholly naïve and still making it all work in your favor.

The flies circling dinner and the seedy mosquito-infested rooms reveal a classy charmed guesthouse. Do not mind the bloodstained synthetic walls marked by once living bloated mosquitoes. Blood skillfully runs down the walls as if an artist stayed in the room to paint his masterpiece only to leave it half completed with his blood smeared. Just before the light goes out, make sure you give one good smack to kill the last bloated mosquito buzzing around your head. You did save money.

When words make sense, time is in the hands of humans.

1 Bright colored cloth worn around the waists, as a piece of clothing, by men in the Indian Subcontinent and Southeast Asia.

2 Touts are local people who solicit business for hotels, bars, or markets, receiving a payment for the tourists who come to purchase items.

The winners of Tricia Goyer's book are

KC Frantzen and Henry McLaughlin.

Playing With Words

A child “can develop fully by means of experience in his environment. We call such experiences ‘work’. Such experiences are not play… . It is work he must do in order to grow up.” – Maria Montessori, Italian physician and educator

“Play is a child’s work.” – Jean Piaget, Swiss early childhood theorist

I had to write a new bio for myself recently to promote the upcoming
ACFW Journal magazine. As I struggled to make the bio more than just a recapping of my activities in the world of publishing—yawn—I fell upon describing what I do as “playing with words.”

No, this is not a new thought, nor is it original to me. But it is attractive, is it not?

Since coming to work for the Christian Writers Guild just over a year ago, I have frequently felt that what I get to do is closer to play than to work. But, as Montessori and Piaget suggest, even play is a vital learning tool. I know I am learning more about writing and editing as I work.

So, let’s play together—and see what we can learn. I’m going to provide the beginning of a story and I want you to carry it forward. A couple rules, because every playground has them:
  1. Write no more than two paragraphs or 2-3 lines of dialogue.
  2. Do not lead those who will follow you into an abyss of extreme silliness—only mild silliness allowed.
  3. You can make more than one comment, but you have to let another commenter carry the story forward before you contribute again.
  4. No editing.

Ready? Go! And thanks to CWG mentor Christy Scannell for the seed to this story, which I played with and expanded:

If Everett Sloan has to preach one more sermon, he’s going to hit someone—probably Bertha McVie, his “EGR” (Extra Grace Required) board chair, who just plopped her overstuffed self into the metal folding chair across the table from him. The metal protested louder than Everett, but he meant it more.

“Pastor Sloan,” the ooze in her voice made him hate his own name. “Some of the ladies from the auxiliary—” no doubt she meant herself—“have been wondering something.”

OK, play!

"Let's Play" image (c) Jennifer Marr,

Michael Ehret loves to play with words and as editor for the ACFW Journal, he is enjoying his new playground. As anyone who has watched children play knows, play is how humans learn. By planning each issue of ACFW Journal and editing its articles, Michael is constantly learning. He also plays with words as the editor-in-chief of the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild and as a contributor to the blogsite, He has edited several nonfiction books, played with words as a corporate communicator, and was a reporter for The Indianapolis Star.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

When Listening to Others' Advice, Don't Forget the Fun

Tricia Goyer is an acclaimed and prolific writer, publishing hundreds of articles in national magazines including Thriving Family and MomSense while authoring more than thirty-one fiction and nonfiction books combined. Among those are 3:16 Teen Edition with Max Lucado and the American Christian Fiction Writers’ Book of the Year Award winners Night Song and Dawn of a Thousand Nights. She has also written books on marriage and parenting and contributed notes to the Women of Faith Study Bible. Tricia hosts a weekly radio program Living Inspired and lives with her husband and children in Arkansas. You can find out more about Tricia at or

NR: Tricia will give away 2 books, so leave a comment to be entered in the drawing. Continental U.S. only, please.

When Listening to Others' Advice, Don't Forget the Fun

Often when people find out you want to be a novelist they give you the following advice:

Don't quit your day job.
Don't be disappointed by rejection, because it will happen.
Prepare for a long journey to publication.
Expect hurdles along the way.

Good advice, except that if you focus on all the warnings you're going to lose part of the fun of the process.

And why do you want to follow this dream if you aren't going to have any fun?

I remember going to my second Mt. Hermon Writer's Conference in 1995. I'd submitted a novel I'd JUST started working on and I had a big worry. What IF more than one publisher wanted it? How would I choose!! Oh my!

I laugh now because I was such a newbie. I had nothing publishable to offer, and I didn't realize that...but writing to me was fun. In the last 17 years I still have the same joy. Yes, writing is work but everyday I want to pinch myself. I really get to write books for people from around the world to read??? How cool is that!

So, as for that advice. Let's turn it on it's head.

Don't quit your day job. Of course you can't quit your full-time work (with full-time pay) and expect that you can support yourself with your writing income right off the bat.

But…treat your writing as if you will be doing it as a career for the next 20, 30, 40 years. Focus on what you enjoy doing the most—historical, contemporary, young adult, sci-fi. Don't let others tell you what you should write. Write what a book you'd love to read, and make a 5-year plan of where you want to go. Give yourself performance reviews and bonuses for a job well done. Build relationships with others in the business.

Don't be disappointed by rejection, because it will happen. Yes, rejection will happen but don't feel you have to shrug it off right away. Give yourself time to pout. Rejection hurts because writing matters.

I remember the day after my first novel went to committee and I received a “no.” I fed my children cereal for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and I spent the whole day moping on the couch. I used a whole box of Kleenex on my tears, but you know what? The next day I got up, squared my shoulders and got back to work. That novel never did get published...but the next proposal that went to committee got a “yes.” And you can bet I celebrated then!

Prepare for a long journey to publication. The truth is that it takes an average of ten years for someone to start writing fiction until they have a novel accepted and published. For me it was eight years—pretty close! How did I not get discouraged and give up? Instead of focusing my getting a novel published, I worked on other things. I wrote articles. I did some word-for-hire projects. I even wrote study notes for a Bible. This wasn't the “publishing” I was dreaming of, but I learned some good skills along the way. I also build some great relationships that continue today!

Expect hurdles along the way. There are always bumps in the road. Problems we don't expect. Family situations that keep us away from the computer. Health problems that throw us for a loop. But on every journey there are unexpected surprises. Along the way to having your novel published you'll meet amazing people. You'll discover things about yourself you never knew. You'll grow closer to God as you lean on Him. The hurdles will come, but so will the triumphs and joys. Look forward to these, too.

(And finally, above all, do take at least a few minutes to worry IF more than one publisher wants to buy your work. It could happen...and it's a fun way to brighten your day!)

Chasing Mona Lisa

One enigmatic smile. Two passionate protectors. And a relentlessly ticking clock.

August 1944. Paris is on the cusp of liberation. As the soldiers of the Third Reich flee the Allied advance, they ravage the country and steal countless pieces of irreplaceable art. In fact, Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring will stop at nothing to claim the most valuable one of all--the Mona Lisa--as a postwar bargaining chip.

But the woman with the mysterious smile has some very determined protectors. Can Swiss OSS agents Gabi Mueller and Eric Hofstadler rescue Leonardo da Vinci's masterpiece before it falls into German hands?

With nonstop action and intrigue, Chasing Mona Lisa is sure to get your adrenaline pumping as you join the chase to save the most famous painting in the world. From war-ravaged Paris to a posh Swiss chateau, the race is on--and the runners are playing for keeps.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Open Hand Theory
After years of attending writers conferences, I was shocked to have an editor of a large publishing house ask to meet with me. She had my manuscript in hand and had offered up some editorial suggestions to make the manuscript stronger. Before I agreed to take a look, I felt it my duty to divulge the fact that I was likely going to be going with another publishing house.

She blinked at me a few times, then got to work explaining why she thought the changes she suggested would make the book better. At the end of the conversation, I told her that the other publisher was interested in buying the book on a partial, something she wasn’t willing to do. She then went on to say, “Gina, it doesn’t matter if we’re the ones who publish you, we just want to see you published. You’ve done so much for other writers over the years that we’re all rooting for your success.”

That’s the law of reciprocity at work, or as we prefer to call it, the open hand theory.

"One of the most potent of the weapons of influence around us is the rule for reciprocation. The rule says that we should try to repay, in kind, what another person has provided us." Robert B. Cialdini, author of The Psychology of Persuasion (William Morrow, 2006)

You can read books like How to Win Friends and Influence People (Dale Carnegie), The above mentioned, Psychology of Persuasion, The Tap (Frank McKinney), and others, but I think it comes down to a pretty simple concept: By keeping an open hand, you’re allowing blessings to flow both in and out.

We’ve all read the story of the monkey trap. Folklore suggests that if you put a tasty treat inside a container with a hole just big enough for the money to slide its hand into, but not big enough for it to get it out once his fist is clenched, the monkey will allow itself to be killed or captured before he will let go of the treat. We writers can be a lot like monkeys.

So often we have ideas, talents or resources that would benefit others, but our natural inclination seems to be hiding these away for ourselves. Great phrases, marketing ideas, you name it. Our selfish self whispers, “Don’t share that, it’s valuable information. Do you want everyone doing it? It will lose its originality, it’s value.”

Christians, Jews and other faiths adhere to the principle of tithing. The Bible says in Malachi 3:10 Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple. If you do," says the LORD of Heaven's Armies, "I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won't have enough room to take it in! Try it! Put me to the test!” New Living Translation

When you don’t tighten your fist around the prize, you leave it open for others to take, and for others to give. If you want to be a successful author, heck, a successful anything, you’re going to need some help from others. In return, you’re going to need to help others. 

Gina Holmes is the President and founder of Novel Rocket and the bestselling and award-winning author of Crossing Oceans and Dry as Rain. She holds degrees in science and nursing and currently resides with her husband and children in southern Virginia. To learn more about her, visit

From the bestselling author of Crossing Oceans comes a powerfully moving story that tests the limits of love’s forgiveness. Like many marriages, Eric and Kyra Yoshida’s has fallen apart slowly, one lost dream and misunderstanding at a time, until the ultimate betrayal finally pushes them beyond reconciliation. Just when it looks like forgive and forget is no longer an option, a car accident gives Eric the second chance of a lifetime. A concussion causes his wife to forget details of her life, including the chasm between them. No one knows when—or if—Kyra’s memory will return, but Eric seizes the opportunity to win back the woman he’s never stopped loving.

Monday, January 23, 2012

In the Virginia Area and Looking for a Good, Inexpensive Writers Conference?

UPDATE: ThIs event is SOLD OUT.

Roanoke Regional Writers Conference V:
a Strong Lineup

January 27-28, 2012
The fifth edition of the Roanoke Regional Writers Conference at Hollins University, scheduled January 27-28, features what founding director Dan Smith calls "probably our strongest and most varied lineup." Roanoke Regional Writers Conference

Two dozen classes, taught by over 25 professionals, a round-table discussion, a Friday evening reception with two speakers and Saturday lunch are all included in the $60 tuition. The conference will feature a number of successful authors, journalists, designers, marketers and academics, as well as an accountant and a lawyer to help students with the practical end of their profession. This year, for the first time, science fiction will be featured with two classes taught by Mike Allen and Rod Belcher. Allen and Belcher have found considerable success in the genre and each has a day job to supplement the passion. Allen is a newspaper reporter and Belcher owns Cosmic Castle, a gaming store.

For the second straight year, the conference will have talks by literary agents, this year a married couple from New York, Nat Sobel and Judith Weber. The Jackson Center for Creative Writing at Hollins is sponsoring the appearance of Sobel Weber Associates.

Among those teaching who have new books are Belcher, Mollie Cox Bryan (a cookbook writer whose first mystery novel is due out in February), Doug Cumming, Cathryn Hankla, Gina Holmes, Roland Lazenby, Jim Minnick and Matthew Vollmer. Dan Smith and Darrell Laurent have new novels in the final phases of completion.
Contact Dan Smith at (540) 556-8510 or e-mail

Sunday, January 22, 2012

All That and Toilet Paper?

Today's guest devotion is by Diann Hunt, from: Delight Yourself in the Lord…Even on Bad Hair Days © 2011 Summerside Press

All That and Toilet Paper?

Then he climbed into the boat with them, and the wind died down. They were completely amazed, for they had not understood about the loaves; their hearts were hardened.  Mark 6:51-52

Like many newlyweds, when we were first married, we struggled financially. Six months into wedded bliss, we found ourselves needing groceries. Being young and full of faith, we decided we would tell no one…but God.
Several days into this, as our stomachs growled and the food cabinet grew bare, I got a call from a friend wanting to know if I would go shopping with her. The last thing I wanted to do was go shopping. We barely had enough to put a meal together; shoes were the last thing on my mind. Yet, not wanting to spoil her enthusiasm and not wanting to let on that there was a problem, I quickly agreed.
Once I hung up the phone, I asked God for strength and grace to go shopping with my friend, and for help to keep our need from her. We wanted to rely totally upon God for this need.
So I got dressed and ready to go. My spirits perked as I thought about spending some time with my friend and enjoying our day.
When she showed up at the front door, she had a paper sack filled with groceries in her hands. I opened the door and she walked inside, heading straight for my table. She plunked the groceries on the table and turned to me. “I know this seems crazy, but during my quiet time this morning, the Lord told me you needed this.” Then she marched back to her car and brought in several more bags of groceries—right down to paper towels and toilet paper!
God had thought of everything.
I’ll never forget that day. We hadn’t told a soul of our need. We were careful to not let on to anyone that we had a need. I don’t know if we were putting God to the test or just plain trusting, but He came through for us. The thing that I hadn’t expected was how surprised we were. We say we trust Him, so why is it when He comes through for us we are surprised?
God met our need that day—and every day since then.
Do you have a need? Have you given it over to Him? God uses His people to reach out to others. It doesn’t hurt to share your need—unless He tells you to do otherwise. But no matter how you handle it, He is there for you. Trust Him. He’s a BIG God.              

Today’s Prayer:  Father, thank You that You are so much bigger than any need we have. Thank You for understanding our fears and for the strength You provide in times of challenge. Help us also to be an extension of Your hands to others in need.    

Diann Hunt admits to seeing the world from a slightly different angle than most, and she will do just about anything (within reason) for chocolate. Since 2001, Diann has 20+ books, including Love Letters in the Sand. Diann has won the American Christian Fiction Writer's prestigious Book of the Year award in her genre. Diann and her real-life hero-husband make their home in Indiana. Visit her website at