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Thursday, January 31, 2013

Do you believe?

I have failed many times. Still do. 

In fact, I may be in the middle of one of the biggest failures of my life. And what am I facing? A lack of belief that I can succeed. What I’m doing I believe (today anyway) is what God has called me to do. But it doesn’t appear to be working. 

I can’t help thinking about the scene from The Empire Strikes Back (1980) when Yoda is teaching Luke how to use the Force and suggests he use it to raise the X-wing out of the bog where it has crashed. Luke sighs and says he’ll, “give it a try.” 

To which Yoda says: “No. Try not. Do … or do not. There is no try.” 

 So Luke makes the attempt—and he fails, sinking the ship even further into the swamp. As he wanders off to sulk in his failure (you ever do that?), he accuses Yoda of asking the impossible. 

Then Yoda uses the Force himself to raise the ship. As Luke looks at the resurrected X-wing, he says to Yoda in amazement: “I don’t … I don’t believe it.” 

Yoda replies: “That is why you fail.” 

Why we fail

Is this ever you? Or is it just me? 

Why do we so often not believe in our ability to succeed, but subscribe strongly to the likelihood of our failure? Certainly it has something to do with the “tapes” that play in our minds, as author Lena Nelson Dooley says (see "Comparisons Equal Discouragement," ACFW Journal, Winter 2012). 

But where do those tapes come from? They come, Dooley suggests, from our past failures, from things we’ve said about ourselves, and from things other people have said about us. But where do those comments come from? 

Jesus tells us in The Gospel of John. In Chapter 8, he is debating with the Pharisees about Who He is and trying to get them to see the truth. But they refuse. Finally, he says to them:
Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe me! (John 8:43-45, NIV)
Because of our fallen nature, we are more prone to listen to the words of our enemy than the words of our Savior—Who will always speak truth. It has been so since the Garden of Eden.

Do you feel you’re failing at what God has called you to do? Who are you listening to? Who am I listening to? 

Who should we be listening to?

Michael Ehret loves to play with words and as editor of the ACFW Journal, he is enjoying his playground. He also plays with words as a freelance editor at, where he often takes a writer Into The Edit, pulling back the veil on the editing process. He has edited several nonfiction books, played with words as a corporate communicator, and reported for The Indianapolis Star.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Story We Bring to the Story

Steve Laube, a literary agent and president of The Steve Laube Agency, has been in the book industry for over 31 years, first as a bookstore manager where he was awarded the National Store of the Year by CBA. He then spent over a decade with Bethany House Publishers and was named the Editor of the Year in 2002. He later became an agent and has represented over 700 new books and was named Agent of the Year by ACFW. His office is in Phoenix, Arizona. (
With all the discussion about the craft of fiction and the need to write a great story there is one thing missing in the equation. The one thing that is the secret to great fiction. And it is the one thing the writer cannot control.
That one thing is the story the reader brings with them to their reading experience. As a reader I have the life I have lived, the people I’ve met, the books I’ve read, and the places I’ve been that I bring with me into the world your novel has created. This makes the reading of every story unique. No two people can read the same story the same way. This is why one person’s favorite book is another’s thrift store giveaway.
In the new memoir The End of Your Life Book Club author Will Schwable writes about the books he read with his Mom during the last years of her life. In his introduction he wrote something profound:
We all have a lot more to read than we can read and a lot more to do than we can do. Still, one of the things I learned from Mom is this: Reading isn’t the opposite of doing; it’s the opposite of dying. I will never be able to read my mother’s favorite books without thinking of her—and when I pass them on and recommend them, I’ll know that some of what made her goes with them; that some of my mother will live on in those readers, readers who may be inspired to love the way she loved and do their own version of what she did in the world.
This is the secret to the greatest novels of all time. They were written in such a way that my story, the essence of who I am, merged with that story and it became something new. Something unique. Something inexplicable. A new story. And then became a part of who I am…and a part what I bring to the next story I read.
That’s the story I want to read. Can you write it? I can’t wait to read it.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Paradoxical Commandments for Writers

You’re probably familiar with the Paradoxical Commandments, often attributed to Mother Teresa. (See below*.)

As I pondered what to talk about in today’s Novel Rocket post, my wife suggested I think of Paradoxical Commandments that would apply to writers.

So while realizing I won’t come close to the brilliance of the original, I submit for your perusal a few commands I need to keep in mind on this journey called publishing.

  • Editors, agents, and other writers can sometimes be unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered. Forgive them anyway. 
  • If you tell others about your stories because you can’t keep your belief in them inside, people will call you self-absorbed and self-serving. Keep telling the world about your stories anyway. 
  • Your closest friends and own family might say your desire to write is a dream of fools. Keep dreaming anyway.
  • If you share your writing secrets and mind-bending plot ideas with other writers, some people will steal them. Share them anyway. 
  • The story you spend years creating, others will mock with scathing reviews, and tactless critiques. Create your story anyway.
  • If you find sales success and are given awards for your writing, some may be jealous.  Celebrate your success anyway.
  • The networking connection you make, or pivotal career advice you give, to an aspiring writer might be forgotten and unappreciated by them. Make the connection and give the advice anyway. 
  • Pouring every ounce within you into that manuscript might not be enough to get you a contract and you'll be left broken and discouraged. Keep giving everything to your manuscripts anyway. 
  • In the final analysis, your writing career is between you and God.  So write for Him and let all else rest slip away. He is more than capable of handling the anyways. 

James L. Rubart is the best-selling, award winning author of four novels. Publishers Weekly says this about his latest: ““Readers with high blood pressure or heart conditions be warned: [Soul’s Gate] is a seriously heart-thumping and satisfying read that goes to the edge, jumps off, and “builds wings on the way down.” During the day he runs Barefoot Marketing which helps authors make more coin of the realm. He lives with his amazing wife and two sons in the Pacific Northwest and loves to dirt bike, hike, golf, take photos, and still thinks he’s young enough to water ski like a madman. More at

* The verses below reportedly were written on the wall of Mother Teresa's home for children in Calcutta, India, and are widely attributed to her. 

Some sources say the words were written on the wall in Mother Teresa's own room.  In any case, their association with Mother Teresa and the Missionaries of Charity has made them popular worldwide. There is evidence they are based on a composition originally by Kent Keith, but much of the second half has been re-written in a more spiritual way. 

  • People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered.  Forgive them anyway.
  • If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives.  Be kind anyway.
  • If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies.  Succeed anyway.
  • If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you.  Be honest and sincere anyway.
  • What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight.  Create anyway.
  • If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous.  Be happy anyway.
  • The good you do today, will often be forgotten.  Do good anyway.
  • Give the best you have, and it will never be enough.  Give your best anyway.
  • In the final analysis, it is between you and God.  It was never between you and them anyway. 

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Are Unrealistic Expectations Killing Your Writing Career?

I published my first ebook, Winterland, as an experiment. That was a year ago October. Recently, I received my third quarter royalty check from Smashwords for Winterland and was pleasantly surprised.

It takes a lot to surprise me. Which, I think, is good for a writer.

Anyway, I have made significantly less money from Winterland than I have from my two trad published novels. However, the money I've made from The Resurrection (2011) and The Telling (2012), has all come by way of advance. I have yet to see a royalty check (authors must earn back their advances before they can receive royalties). Hopefully, that will change in 2013. I don't know. Either way, I'll keep plodding forward in my writing. With or without fat, rewarding, regular, career-affirming royalty checks.

Several months ago, my literary agent Rachelle Gardner posted a rather motivational article entitled There Is No Time for Despair. She begins by listing a host of things writers can despair about, things like

  • Many authors who have published numerous books are finding their advances going down, not up.
  • With self-published books now plentiful, there are more books than ever before for readers to choose from.
  • A book’s potential sales are highly unpredictable.
  • Many authors’ books don’t live up to the publisher’s sales expectations, meaning the publisher might not want to renew their contract.

It may be a coincidence, but I personally know at least a half dozen authors who've recently been dropped by publishers because they didn't "live up to the publisher’s sales expectations." It's one of those hard, but commonplace realities of the writing biz. And it always produces at least a twinge of despair.

But one of Rachelle's points particularly hit home:

  • The publishing journey often doesn’t live up to an author’s expectations.

I'm a pessimist at heart. Frankly, my pessimism has saved me many times. It’s been said, “A pessimist is never disappointed.” Which could explain why I rarely get down or disappointed about my writing career. You see,

  • despite the slog
  • despite some bad reviews
  • despite not being re-contracted by my first publisher
  • despite not being a marketing expert
  • despite having to do the bulk of my own marketing
  • despite not cracking the royalty threshold on my published novels
  • despite having to keep my full-time job, write whenever I possibly can (which usually means 4 AM and lunchbreak), and feeling constantly crunched for time

despite all these difficulties -- I rarely despair, get moody, or vow to bail on writing.

And a lot of this comes down to "author expectations."

I keep mine very low.

Please, don't mistake my low expectations for mediocrity, a concession to poor sales, disregard for conventional wisdom, low self-esteem, or a defeatist attitude. In a way, it's a survival skill. I've seen too many authors crash and burn because they had unrealistic expectations.

  • They expected to be agented and contracted.
  • They expected all their friends to be thrilled and intrigued by their writing pursuits (instead of looking at them cross-eyed).
  • They expected to sell books.
  • They expected to make some money. Maybe, a lot of money.
  • They expected to generate buzz.
  • They expected to get good reviews.
  • They expected to get a lot of good reviews.
  • They expected to gain a reading audience, a lively base of fans who can't wait for anything they write.

Is it any wonder they succumb to despair?

Of course, I can rightly be charged with being a pessimist and having too low of expectations. You're right. The thing is, I'm just trying to keep expectations in their place.

  • I have low expectations for what I CAN'T control.
  • I have high expectations for what I CAN control.

That's a huge distinction. Which is why Rachelle closes her post with these words:

You need to refuse to spend time worrying about things over which you have no control (the publishing industry at large, for instance) and focus on what you CAN influence.

Writers don't have control of a lot of things. And if you tie your expectations to things you can't control, despair is inevitable.

  • Expecting everyone will love your stuff.
  • Expecting to sell more books than you do.
  • Expecting that people will automatically respond to every marketing effort.
  • Expecting mostly good reviews of your novels.
  • Expecting a writing career to be easy.
  • Expecting to find your niche and sail off into the sunset.

Listen, these are the kinds of unrealistic expectations that can kill a writing career. At the least, they will drain you of the joy, imagination, camaraderie and appreciation for the business and the craft that is so desperately needed to keep plugging away.

Call them low expectations if you want. But these are the things I have control over and build my expectations around:

  • I expect to improve as a writer.
  • I expect not everyone will "get" me.
  • I expect to have to work hard to make a name for myself.
  • I expect to have to motivate myself.
  • I expect to have to learn more about the industry and stay on top of trends.
  • I expect to expand my circle of writing friends.
  • I expect to have disappointments and letdowns.
  • I expect to have to change direction, eat crow, and stay flexible.
  • I expect to make mistakes along the way.
  • I expect my writing career to not go as planned.

Yeah. I'm a glass-is-half-empty kind of guy. I purposely keep my expectations low. This doesn't mean I don't expect a lot from myself. It means I don't expect a lot from anyone else BUT me.

* * *

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

Saturday, January 26, 2013


The first time I wrote a novel I wandered around for seventeen chapters, having no idea where I was going, before I fizzled and gave in to writers’ block for six months. I finally had to take the book all the way back to chapter four and rewrite it all.

Even so, that book never worked. There was no pay-off. The ending fell flat.

Why? Because I didn’t know the end from the beginning, so I couldn’t foreshadow the end. I couldn’t build reader anticipation. I couldn’t hint early on that there was only one way to solve the character’s dilemma.

This is not to say that seat-of-the-pantsers can’t write books with stellar endings that wrap things up in a satisfying way. They can. As long as they go back to their beginnings and do a lot of revising to add in the foreshadowing.

This is a necessary step.

And yet, so many writers seem to want to skip this.

When you skip the foreshadowing, it shows in the big things—the surprise ending works as well as pudding coming from the kitchen faucet. Sure it’s funny and unexpected, but it doesn’t really work. You turned the faucet on because you wanted water, not pudding. For an ending to work, a surprise ending or any other kind of ending, the reader has to be properly prepared. He has to say, “Of course. Why didn’t I see that? It was there all along. This is exactly the way the story went and this is exactly where it was supposed to end up.”

Leaving out the foreshadowing shows in smaller ways, too. Little actions that characters take that we don’t expect,  jar us. So do things about the world that surprise us—they have a purple sun? I’m halfway through the book and I’m just now learning this?

You can’t introduce a completely new element into the middle of book. Let’s say you’ve decided that the main character needs a ladder so he can climb into a window. He’s outside a warehouse in the middle of the night. If he’s never been to that warehouse before, you might let him stumble upon the ladder left behind by the painter. But if he was casing the warehouse out that morning and you didn’t have painters there with ladders, you cannot have the ladder there later that night and have the character think, “Oh yeah. One of the painters I saw here earlier left a ladder behind.”

This kind of thing never works. The reader says, “Huh? What painters? I didn’t see any painters.”

Even if your character has never been to the warehouse before, we’ll believe a painter left behind a ladder much more readily if several chapters earlier, you established that a certain painting company had an employee who often left tools behind at sites.

This is what you want to do for your reader: You want to make him believe the story you’re telling is true. It really happened. You’re not just making it up as you go along.

But what if your fly by the seat of your pants? What if you are just making it up as you go along? Now you need a ladder so you decide that earlier in the day painters left a ladder there. Now you need a dog bite so you mention that the character has a dog, even though we’ve didn’t see the dog the last eight times we were in the house. Now you need an evil doctor so suddenly the character becomes clumsy and breaks a leg.

That’s fine as long as you go back later and add in the foreshadowing. Put the painters in well before you need the ladder, show the dog the first time we enter the apartment, and have the character trip five times before he finally breaks his leg. .

Books that are made up of a series of convenient coincidences aren’t satisfying. They feel false. We can’t get into the dream. We can’t get lost in the story world and feel like we’re visiting a real place and reading about real people.

So whether you’re a plotter and planner or a seat-of-the-pantser, take the time to foreshadow. Your readers will thank you.

photo credit: alberto.quaglia via photopin cc
Sally Apokedak
Sally Apokedak is an associate agent with the Leslie H. Stobbe Literary Agency. She's in the process of building a dynamite list of authors. She is also active in the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Do I Need to be in a Writers Group or have a Critique Partner?

Only if you want your writing to improve! 

Writing for publication is an endeavor built on forging relationships. And those relationships can ultimately determine your success or failure in the writing industry. Here’s a list of those relationships.
  • Between you and other writers.
  • Between you and the reader.
  • Between the reader and the subject or characters.
  • Between you and the editor.
  • Between you and your agent.

I listed the relationship between writers first, because surprisingly, it’s often the most vital in your writing life. 

The actual act of putting words on paper is a solitary act and because of that it’s easy to lose perspective. Writing in a vacuum can give us a false sense of whether or not we’re effective in our endeavor. We either wind up thinking we’re a genius or sink into the depths of despair because we can’t string two coherent sentences together. Rarely is either perspective accurate.

We need others in our profession to give us feedback, keep us grounded and provide encouragement. You may be tempted, like I was at first, to insert friends and family into this role. Unless they’re also writers this dynamic just doesn’t work. They’ll unwittingly encourage you when you need a swift kick in the pants and administer the kick in the pants when you need encouragement.

That’s where a writers group, critique group or critique partner will help. But you have to be careful—some critique and writers groups can be toxic. I’ve visited some groups where the purpose appears to be to build up the one delivering the critique by tearing down the hapless author. You want to avoid these groups at all cost.

Here’s a list of what to look for in a group or a partner:
  • An encouraging atmosphere –not all sweetness and light—nobody improves on false compliments. But I’ve almost never found a manuscript that didn’t have some redeeming quality.
  • A mutually beneficial relationship. You should both bring something valuable if it’s a partnership—you may excel at writing dialogue and your partner is a whiz at description.
  • A hunger to improve. If it’s a group there should be a movement toward growth in the majority of members. Even if you’re all beginners, if you’re all reading writing books and attending classes you’ll be able to grow and learn together.
  • A timekeeper. If someone’s not willing to keep track of the time not everyone will get a chance to be critiqued. It’s a dirty job, but someone’s got to do it! 

Now you know what to look for, where do you find these people?
  • In this day and time, a lot of information about others looking for a critique group or partner can be found online, from groups you may already be a part of.
  • Local bookstores often have lists of writing groups that meet in the area.
  • Libraries usually have this information as well.
  • Writing conferences and workshops are a good place to meet like-minded individuals. I met my critique partner at the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers conference—and we live less than two miles apart. 

Once you’ve found someone you think might work, propose a short trial period. I recommend a three to six month trial. Then take some time to evaluate how the relationship is working. This takes the pressure off if it’s not a good fit.

So now here’s your chance—what experiences have you had with writing groups and partnerships?

Edie Melson is a freelance writer and editor with years of experience in the publishing industry. She’s a prolific writer, and has a popular writing blog, The Write Conversation. She’s the co-director of the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference, as well as a popular faculty member at numerous others. She’s also the social media columnist for Southern Writers Magazine and social media coach for My Book Therapy. Connect with her through Twitter andFacebook.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

I Will Persist Until I Succeed

 "By perseverance the snail reached the ark."
~ Charles Spurgeon ~

As a writer, I know if I don't persevere I will never succeed. Rejections can destroy even the best of writers. Yet perseverance didn't come naturally to me like the snail gunning for Noah's ark. He knew if he didn't keep going, he would never reach his destination. Maybe he even sensed the impending flood. The summer I learned to persevere I was 21, and I had no idea what I was getting myself into.

It was my best paying, yet toughest summer job ever. Not only was it physically challenging, but emotionally draining as well. There were days I didn't think I could survive the summer. Days when I didn't want to survive the summer. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. If you ever sold anything door to door, you know what I'm talking about.

Maybe you've heard of the SouthWestern Co. Maybe you've had a college kid knock on your door. Maybe you've bought the books. I remember my first few hours in a new city, before I knocked on a single door. There were four of us girls assigned to Everett, Washington, a city we've never been to. We had some money in our pockets, a car, and hearts full of fear and excitement.

For some reason, I was dropped off to look at an apartment while the other girls went who knows where. I remember the neighborhood wasn't the nicest and neither was the apartment. This was before cell phones and the sun was setting. I didn't have a way to contact my friends, and didn't know if they could find their way back. As I walked through the dingy apartment, I broke down and wept. For about five minutes. Then I dried my eyes and got down to business.

I don't really remember what that business was, but I survived that first summer practically homeless, jumping from hotel to rented room every week or so, and getting out early every morning to knock on doors and sell books.

Despite the grueling hours (sun up til sun down and beyond, six days a week,) and the isolation (out for hours on end, knocking on doors by myself without a car,) and countless closed doors and rejections, it was an experience I wouldn't trade for the anything. In fact, it was so grueling and challenging, I went back for a second summer.

Day after day as I knocked on doors, the one thing I remembered was I wouldn't sell anything if I didn't persevere. It was drilled into our heads at sales school that we needed to knock on 30 doors just to sell one set of books. That's 29 rejections!

I don't know about you, but I don't like rejection. But I persevered and continued to knock on those doors, welcoming the "no's" because I knew each rejection brought me closer to that "yes."

I won many awards in my two summers and took home thousands of dollars at the end of each summer, but it wasn't because I was a great salesman. In fact, I hated sales! But I persevered and did what I was told to do. I knocked on one more door because behind one of those doors was a sale. It was up to me to find which one.

There were times I would get a door slammed in my face and cry all the way to the next house saying "I will persist until I succeed, and when I succeed I will over achieve. Only then will I rest, because I know I have done my best."

There were countless days I'd break down emotionally, and ask God "why I was putting myself through this torture?" and cry my eyes out. But after I was emptied of all emotion, I would get up again and do what I knew to do.

Knock on one more door.

What an incredible life lesson I learned in those two summers! And how that summer has mirrored my writing journey these last seven years.

Having gone through that, I know I can do anything as long as I persevere. Even my writing goals are not out of reach. No matter how many rejections I receive, I just need to keep persisting and learning and doing what I know to do. With each rejection, I learn and grow and get better. I don't know how many publishing houses I have to knock on before I sell my next novel, but even if I surpass 30, I will persist until I succeed!

How about you? Are you willing to do what it takes and knock on one more door until you succeed!

Gina Conroy is founder of Writer...Interrupted and is still learning how to balance a career with raising a family. Represented by Chip MacGregor, she writes fun, quirky mysteries full of depth. Her first book Cherry Blossom Capers, released from Barbour Publishing in January 2012, and Digging Up Death is available now.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Debut Novelist Jo Huddleston Gets Trapped in Her Computer

Jo Huddleston is a multi-published author of books, articles, and short stories. Her debut novel, That Summer, released in December 2012, as the first book in The Caney Creek Series. Book 2 in the series is scheduled for release in April 2013 and book 3 is scheduled for release in September 2013.

NR: Be sure to leave Jo a comment and be entered in a drawing for an autographed copy of her debut novel. Continental U.S. residents only, please. Winner will be announced on NR's Facebook page.

Jo, you've published a number of co-authored non-fiction books, short stories and articles. How long did it take you to get a full-length fiction contract?

My novel, That Summer, began percolating in my mind in the late 1990s. From 2001-2008 I had health problems that prevented me from writing, by hand or computer. After that I put my story on paper and began to try to get an agent to help me get the book published. As you know, agents rarely take a chance on a first-time novelist. On my own I began to query the smaller publishers on the ACFW recognized list. I received my contract in September 2012.

Was there a specific 'what if' moment to spark this story?

That Summer is set in the Southern Appalachians of East Tennessee where I and my ancestors were raised. I’ve listened to their stories. My novel is fiction but hearing about my ancestors’ lives helped me with the setting. When I thought about writing a novel, my thoughts went to what if I told the story of where they were brought up.

Do you have a full or part time day job? If so, how do you balance your writing time with family and work?

I don’t have a full or part time day job. My children are out on their own and my husband supports my writing and the eccentric habits of a writer.

Did anything unusual or funny happen while researching or writing this book?

My book is a Southern historical novel and moves from 1928-1950s. Once I got into the 1950s I didn’t need to do much research because I had lived through that era. The funny thing is that my editor questioned something I had written about in the 1950s, not believing it could have been a reality.

Do you consider yourself a visual writer? If so, what visuals do you use?

A visual writer? Hmmm. Perhaps I am. If so, all the visuals are in my mind and my remembrances.

Are you a plotter, a pantster, or somewhere in between?

I’m totally a panster. I don’t put anything on paper in the way of an outline or a sketch of my story. My stories and characters start in my mind and simmer there for a good while. When I begin writing the story, I know my basic plots and characters. I don’t always know the ending or how I’ll get there but I know the places I want my characters to go between the beginning and end. The characters always come up with ways to get to the ending. They really do, they take over their scenes, and push the story forward.

Where do you write: In a cave, a coffeehouse, or a cozy attic nook?

I write at a desk, which I’ve used since high school, in the corner of a spare bedroom.

Have you discovered some secret that has helped your process for writing?

No, I haven’t discovered a secret to process my writing. At some future time my panster methods may fail me and I might have to look for a secret.

What are your thoughts on critique partners?

I’ve never been in a critique group. A writer-friend and I have bounced things off one another by email. Getting another’s viewpoint of my work is helpful. I’ve entered contests and get comments there that also help me to see my story from an outsider’s view.  

Do you ever pound your computer over writer's block? If so, how did you overcome it? 

Thankfully, I’ve never had writer’s block. I do, however, get frustrated with my computer when it does what I tell it to do and it’s not at all close to what I wanted. Sometimes I get somewhere in my computer I don’t want to be and because I don’t know how I got there I can’t get out. Then is when I’ve thought of throwing my computer out of the nearby window. Haven’t yet.

Novelists sometimes dig themselves into a hole with implausible plots, flat characters or a host of other problems. What's the most difficult part of writing for you?

POV. I never see POV changes in a scene when writing my first draft. Only when I go through the first draft do I sometimes detect them. Sometimes I never detect them unless an editor points them out to me. Big as life right there in front of me and I didn’t see them.

What's your strength in writing? 

In That Summer, Caney Creek is a setting but just as much a character in the story as any supporting character. So this time around I suppose my strength was having setting as a supporting character.

Did this book give you any problems? If not, how did you avoid them?

Of course. All writing gives problems until we work them out to what they’re supposed to be. As I said above POV is a big problem for me and that “rule” Show Don’t Tell gets in my way when I get into description. I just try to stay alert when going through that lousy first draft.

What’s the best writing advice you’ve heard?

Don’t quit if you feel equipped by God to do this crazy thing called writing. 

Do you have any parting words of advice?

If you’re writing for publication, build up those patience muscles because you’re going to need them.

Thank you, Ane, for having me as your guest on Novel Rocket. I’ve enjoyed sharing time with you and your readers. They can visit with me at

That Summer
A Southern historical novel

The Great Depression brings devastation to
The Southern Appalachians but love’s triangle survives.

To escape his poppa’s physical abuse and their dirt-poor farm life, Jim flees to an imagined prosperous city life where he can make his own choices, ignoring God patiently knocking on his heart’s door. Settled in town, Jim strays from God and the way of faith his momma taught him. 

He meets a girl and loses his heart … and meets another girl and loses his willpower. Jim wrestles with social and moral dilemmas as he makes a choice beside Caney Creek that will alter the lives of five people.