Get a Free Ebook

Five Inspirational Truths for Authors

Try our Video Classes

Downloadable in-depth learning, with pdf slides

Find out more about My Book Therapy

We want to help you up your writing game. If you are stuck, or just want a boost, please check us out!

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Casting Call: At Love's Bidding by Regina Jennings

Every author dreams of seeing their work portrayed on the big screen, or even the small screen. When the time comes I want to be as helpful as possible, so here are my suggestions for the cast of the blockbuster production of At Love’s Bidding.

Natalie Portman as Miranda Wimplegate
Miranda is a beautiful woman, but she prefers to stay behind the scenes. She is most comfortable surrounded by the majestic works of art in her Boston auction house. When she travels to the wilds of the Ozark Mountains with her ailing grandfather, she’s forced to speak for herself and deal with an impossible situation. 

Scott Eastwood as Wyatt Ballentine
Wyatt Ballentine is the manager of the local livestock auction in Pine Gap, Missouri. Feeling like an outsider in his own town, he works tirelessly to prove himself. His older brother Isaac takes delight in antagonizing him and when the auction is bought by some stuffy Bostonians, Wyatt fears that his dreams to run his own business are coming to an end.
And here’s another picture of Wyatt, because, Wy-not?

Sean Connery as Grandfather Wimplegate
Grandfather is a dignified gentleman who embodies kindness and intelligence, but Grandfather is losing his edge. Lately he’s made some unexplainable mistakes that have put Miranda and her parents in jeopardy. Sir Connery would be able to handle this role with grace and dignity.

Johnny Lee Miller as Isaac Ballentine 
Wyatt’s older brother is a poet at heart. Isaac makes a great first impression and uses his considerable charm to oppose baby brother at every turn. When the lovely Miss Wimplegate and her grandfather come to town, Isaac gleefully welcomes them knowing that they are the last people Wyatt will want around.

Elle Fanning as Betsy Huckabee
Betsy Huckabee is a twelve-year-old terror. Part angel, part wolverine, Betsy is everywhere, gets into everything and spies on everyone. Miranda can’t make a move without Betsy reporting it to Wyatt.

William Moseley as Josiah Huckabee
Betsy’s big brother Josiah has a reputation as a prankster. He’s finding it hard to stop fooling around and be responsible, but if he wants to catch Katie Ellen Watson’s eye, that’s just what he’s gotta do.

Matt Smith as Cousin Cornelius
Miranda’s Cousin Cornelius is a doctor. He’s a phrenologist to be more exact, and that means that he can read your character and intelligence by measuring the shape of your skull. Cornelius has done an examination of Miranda and assures her that she does not have the capacity for courage. If Wyatt ever meets him, he’ll want to put a few new lumps on the doctor’s noggin.

John Mortlock of Cambridge and Abington Hall as the Painting of Monsieur LeBlanc
This is the painting that starts it all. This is the painting that sends Miranda and Grandfather on an adventure, but Wyatt’s life will be forever changed as well. Although technically an inanimate object, Monsieur LeBlanc has a lot to say about his journey. He was one of my favorite characters to write.
What do you think of the casting? Is there someone else you’d rather see in a movie version of At Love’s Bidding?

To see more inspiration for the cast and the setting of At Love’s Bidding, visit my pinterest page:

Monday, December 28, 2015

The Ghost Box Named One of PW's Self-Publishing Stars of 2015

I'm thrilled to announce that the first book in my new paranoir series, The Ghost Box, was named one of Publishers Weekly's Self-Publishing Stars of 2015. You can read the starred review from PW HERE.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

White as Snow Man

By Cynthia Ruchti

Here in the northwoods, we were one day away from having a brown Christmas. A cold rain fell, hard enough to pound the roof of the church in which we were celebrating the first of three Christmas Eve services. The first was on the night before Christmas Eve.

We left the church with hearts full--the songs and truths of the Christmas story enveloping us in a palpable warmth.

With rain pelting the windshield on the twenty-minute ride home, we watched the outside temperature drop. Lights on the dash told us the temp had dropped two degrees within the space of two miles.

Then another two degrees a few miles down the road. The splats against the windshield looked different. Wider. Splotchy. My husband and I were there, watching, the moment the rain turned to snow. Maybe it was the wonder of the story of a Creator God who sent His Son to rescue us, but the conversion from rain to snow and the symbolism of snow's biblical connection to our redemption--"Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow" (Isaiah 1:18)--but as the snow fell, it created a holy scene.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

10 Ways to Make Your Writing Career Explode in 2016

By DiAnn Mills @DiAnnMills

Evaluating successes and challenges in 2015 for our writing careers means

taking an honest look at how we progressed. Reaching goals doesn’t happen overnight and never happens without thought and prayer. We all experienced victories and moments of defeat: moments when we laughed and times when we cried; days when we love our calling and nights when we wanted to quit. What’s important to each one of us is the learning process.

The following are 10 ways I am excited about my writing career in 2016. Perhaps you can find yourself grabbing a pen and paper to create your own list.

  1. Research one writer conference that turns my craft challenges into strengths. Register and attend!
  2. Write a more compelling story with incredible characters who live on
    in the minds and hearts of my readers unlike anything I’ve written in the past.
  3. Open my eyes to sales numbers. No matter what they are, they can grow. What can I do differently to ensure the numbers rise?
  4. Teach serious writers at a conference where I haven’t taught before.
  5. Evaluate my methods of marketing and promotion. Am I reaching current readers and drawing more into my fold? Am I adhering to my budget? Do I need to add or delete from my list of where I currently advertise?
  6. Provide interesting, worthwhile, and humorous information to my blog while remaining transparent.
  7. Create book proposals that stretch me as a writer and a lover of story.
  8. Delete the word “mediocre” and “midlist” from my personal dictionary.
  9. Speak to an audience that forces me to delve deep into myself in a way that helps others.
  10. Thank God for every victory and every challenge as a blessing. God doesn’t waste anything. Our paths have a purpose.
Now it’s your turn. Share with us one way your writing career will explode in 2016. If we all work as a team and encourage each other, how can we fail? 

DiAnn Mills is a bestselling author who believes her readers should expect an adventure. She combines unforgettable characters with unpredictable plots to create action-packed, suspense-filled novels.

Her titles have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists; won two Christy Awards; and been finalists for the RITA, Daphne Du Maurier, Inspirational Readers’ Choice, and Carol award contests. Library Journal presented her with a Best Books 2014: Genre Fiction award in the Christian Fiction category for Firewall.

DiAnn is a founding board member of the American Christian Fiction Writers; a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association; International Thriller Writers, and the Faith, Hope, and Love chapter of Romance Writers of America. She is co-director of The Author Roadmap with social media specialist Edie Melson where she continues her passion of helping other writers be successful. She speaks to various groups and teaches writing workshops around the country.

DiAnn has been termed a coffee snob and roasts her own coffee beans. She’s an avid reader, loves to cook, and believes her grandchildren are the smartest kids in the universe. She and her husband live in sunny Houston, Texas.

DiAnn is very active online and would love to connect with readers on any of the social media platforms listed at

Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas!

Dear friends,

This is the 10th time we've written Merry Christmas here on Novel Rocket. 

To our readers: thank you for years of faithful following.

To our columnists: thank you for your time and talent. You're what makes Novel Rocket good with your advice on the craft, the business, and the life of writing.

Have a Merry Christmas and may God richly bless your New Year!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Merry Christmas, You Filthy Animal

Perugino's Nativity
Public Domain
 Truth is stranger than fiction. 

Let’s look at the Nativity story.

Israel? The Jews were religious. A single God was different from Rome. Rome had many gods. 
Rome controlled Israel in a vice.

Our story has two Israelis who fall in love and decide to marry. Joseph and Mary. Maybe there’s no love, just convenience, but they decide to marry anyway. Either way, the story is interesting.

Romance sells. Big.

Here’s a twist. Mary gets pregnant without a man involved. Other stories are similar, like the god Dionysus. But here’s a difference—Joseph and Mary are poor. Not in the public eye. No special powers. Only a promise from visions that their child is the Messiah, the one who will bring salvation to man.

I’m telling you, truth is stranger than fiction.

A carpenter? Did Joseph work with wood, an oh-so-rare commodity only the rich could afford to purchase and shape? Or did he work with stone, a more readily available material for carpenters?

Our tale is difficult. There are so many prerequisites for this Child written in scrolls of old. Tribe of Judah, born in Bethlehem, descendant of King David. Details, man. Details!

No inn available, since Joseph is too poor to bribe the innkeeper, so the Child is born in a cave surrounded by foul creatures. Is this an oversight in the story? Too much fiction? I mean, we’re the authors here and looking for believability. We want word to get out about the Messiah. We want our protagonist to look good. Compelling.

Here’s hope! Angels proclaim the Child’s majesty.

Argh! They sang to illiterate shepherds. The sheep probably had a better idea what was going on.

This story is getting out of hand!

The angels sang mighty pretty, though.
Adoration of the Shepherds
Public Domain

The sheep enjoyed the music. And maybe the shepherds understood. Maybe. No one in Israel likes shepherds. Not even the sheep. At least the shepherds went to see what was going on and somehow they were convinced the Child was God.

That’s an interesting twist. Shepherds spreading the news. No one likes shepherds, especially ones claiming a messiah has been born. Stop drinking, shepherds.

Wise men see a star and follow the bright light in the sky.

Name a few odd things people follow. Televangelists pointing to eternal life. Politicians convincing they have answers. The sign to the beach. The sign to the bathroom.

Wise men carried enough gifts so Joseph could actually afford wood. Or maybe a home. At least a bed, surely.

The story needs violence. The king panics because the shepherds start rumors. A messiah. And the wise men make him nervous that his rule is in jeopardy. A messiah. The king kills babies. Lots of babies, in hopes of killing our child.

But stories about killing babies doesn’t sell books. And there's not a lot of Renaissance paintings depicting the deed.

Who makes this stuff up? Who would end this story with Jesus growing into a man and dying for the sins of mankind instead of throwing off the shackles of Rome’s tyranny? Why not end with Joseph and Mary kissing with the promise of a happily ever after? We can all live with a little tyranny in a story, as long as the couple kiss.

Some stories are too important to add believable fiction. A Savior born to a poor and wretched couple on the edge of divorce, a Savior who comes to wash clean the sins of adulterers and murderers and the proud and the beggars. Born filthy to save the filthy. That’s a good story. A true story.

Merry Christmas, you filthy animal. Blessings.

Peter Leavell, a 2007 graduate of Boise State University with a degree in history, was the 2011 winner of Christian Writers Guild's Operation First Novel contest, and 2013 Christian Retailing's Best award for First-Time Author. Peter and his family live in Boise, Idaho. For entertainment, he reads historical books, where he finds ideas for new novels. Whenever he has a chance, he takes his wife and two homeschooled children on crazy but fun research trips. Learn more about Peter's books, research, and family adventures at

Wednesday, December 23, 2015


by Yvonne Lehman

Two more delightful books have been released in the Moments series. Previous ones are Divine Moments, Christmas Moments, and Spoken Moments. These are being widely acclaimed as memorable and life changing. First of the recent is Precious, Precocious Moments. In this book from 45 authors run the gamut of emotions including laughter, love, loss, acceptance, forgiveness, grief, longing, despair, joy, thankfulness, and courage. 

Their stories tell of adults teaching children, children teaching adults and, best of all, the awareness that God does indeed know and care, and if we seek him we find him because he is waiting for us with open arms, ready to show us the beauty in life…often, through a child.

Thanks and gratitude to the contributors, who receive no payment, and all royalties go to Samaritan’s Purse, which provides spiritual and physical aid to hurting people around the world.

Contributors are: Carolyn Barnum, Robin Bayne, Shirley G. Brosius, Elsie H. Brunk, Rob Buck, Mirjam Budarz, Joann Claypoole, Autumn Conley, Tracy Crump, Greg Dodd, Susan Dollyhigh, Susan Engebrecht, Sandra Fischer, Virginia Foreman, Connie Gatlin, Janice Green, Lydia Harris, Judith Hensley, Karen Hessen, Julie Hilton, Helen Hoover, Thomas Kienzle, Ann Knowles, Christina Krost, David Lehman, Yvonne Lehman, Veronica Asay, Emily Marett, Diana Matthews, Beverly McKinney, Vicki Moss, Diana Owens, Carole Anne Pearson, Debbie Presnell, Joey Rudder, Jessica Satterfield, Karen Sawyer, Kevin Spencer, Ann Tatlock, Kevin Thompson, Carol Weeks, Cindy Wilson, Steve Wilson, Jean Wilund, and Felicity Younts.

Today I received this comment, “It’s after midnight and I just got my hands on a copy of More Christmas Moments and can’t stop reading it. I love everything about this book from the cover to the content. So special!”

More special are those who contribute just to share their stories, expecting nothing in return. Well… not expecting, but knowing we just can’t give without God blessing us mightily. What a privilege to touch the hearts and lives of others. 

1. Little Foxes, Yvonne Lehman, 2. The Christmas Truce, Dan Balow, 3. Trashing the Christ Child, Sandra Discher, 4. Santa and the Meaning of Christmas, Diana Leagh Matthews, 5. A Fresh New Christmas, Elsie H. Brunk, 6. At Birth, Charlotte Adelsperger, 7. Falling in Love, Linda Landreth Phelps (as told to her by Fran Fahn), 8. A Husband’s Devotion, Rebecca Carpenter, 9. I Heard Him on the Roof, Carole A. Bell, 10. Mustard Seeds and Cheap Perfume, Bernadean J. Gates, 11. Christmas Legacy, Debbie Presnell, 12. Unexpected Guests for Christmas, Geneva Cobb Iijima, 13. An M&M Christmas, Theresa Jenner Garrido, 14. The Sparkling Bow of Joy, Janet Perez Eckles, 15. When the Most Wonderful Time of the Year Isn’t, Julie Arduini, 6. The Light, Larry C. Hoover, 17. Picture Perfect Christmas, Barbara Latta, 18. Year-Round Celebration, Nate Stevens, 19. A Flash of Red, Dee Dee Parker, 20. Poor Baby Jesus, Susan Dollyhigh, 21. Christmas Presence, Annmarie B. Tait, 22. Plug-ins, Carlitta Cole-Kelly, 23. The Story, Sondra Kraak, 24. Christmas Potpourri, Joann Claypoole, 25. An Unexpected Christmas Gift, Joyce Heiser, 26. Gwen’s Silent Night, Susan Simpson, 27. The Christmas Tree Brooch, Joni Vance, 28. What a Gift!, Dianna Derringer, 29. Christmas Came, Charlotte Adelsperger, 30. Counting Southern Treasures through the First Noel, Vicki H. Moss
31. A Pure and Simple King, Ann Tatlock, 32. Plan a Silent Night, Lydia E. Harris, 33. Provision in a Time of Need, Marybeth Mitcham, 34. Sunshine for Christmas, Lisa Braxton, 35. Christmas Caper, Karen R. Hessen, 36. Healing of a Christmas Memory, Cathy Baker, 37. Jesus in a Barn, Kimberly Rae, 38. Favored by his Death, Cindy Sproles, 39. Steeped in Christmas Tradition, Victoria Hicks, 40. Make Peach with the Past, Sheryl M. Baker, 41. My Favorite Gift, Carol Graham, 42. The Warmth of Christmas, Autumn J. Conley, 43. The Last Doll, Dianne Matthews, 44. The Birth that Saves, Emme Gannon, 45. Finding Baby Jesus, Marybeth Mitcham, 46. Are You There, Lord?, Ann Greenleaf Wirtz, 47. Ghost of Christmas Past, Simon Wilson, 48. Seeking Christmas, Edie Melson, 49. Come Dance with Me, Dr. Rhett Wilson, 50. Am I Good Enough?, Andrea Merrell, 51. Suzy Snowflake and the Blue Christmas Turned White, Vicki H. Moss, 52. From My Heart to Theirs, Esther M. Bailey, 53. You Are Christmas, Joann Claypoole,
54. Setting Goals, Yvonne Lehman

THANKS to each of these for GIVING


Yvonne Lehman is an award-winning, best-selling author of more than 3,000,000 books in print, who founded and directed the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference for 25 years, is now director of the Blue Ridge “Autumn in the Mountains” Novelist Retreat. She mentors for the Christian Writers Guild. She earned a Master’s Degree in English from Western Carolina University and has taught English and Creative Writing on the college level. Her latest releases include eight ebooks for Barbour’s Truly Yours line and a Harlequin/Heartsong series set in Savannah GA: The Caretaker’s Son, Lessons in Love, Seeking Mr. Perfect, (released in March, August, & November 2013). Her 50th novel is Hearts that Survive – A Novel of the TITANIC

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Do You Write for Yourself?

by Alton Gansky

Have you ever written for yourself? We are programmed to keep the reader in mind, to produce something that reaches the largest audience. That makes good business sense, but does it make artistic sense? In the Christian publishing world, we are “other focused.” We want to touch the hearts of others. Understandable. It’s even commendable. I make no complaint about that but I still must ask, Would you write something just for yourself? Something that satisfies your mind and soul? Something that is unlikely to draw a huge readership?

I’ve been at work on a nonfiction project that is unlikely to take the world by storm. (I know this blog is about novels, but bear with me.) Sometime ago, I wrote 30 Events That Shaped the Church for Baker Books (I love working with those people). The book and its predecessor 60 People Who Shaped the Church we designed for the casual reader, not history buffs, and I was asked to use as much fiction technique as possible to make the reading easier. For the 30 Events book I wrote a chapter on the Scopes “Monkey” Trial and fell in love with the topic. During my research I discovered that history has treated William Jennings Bryan, three-time candidate for president of the United States and former Secretary of State under Woodrow Wilson, badly and most unfairly. Bryan had been part of the prosecution team. Add to that, the tragedy of his death five days after the trial ended endeared the sixty-five-year-old to my heart. There was another tragedy: Scopes lawyers, Clarence Darrow being the most prominent, out maneuvered the prosecution in a way that meant Bryan could not address the jury with closing remarks. It was the primary reason Bryan was there.

Bryan was one of the country’s great orators and he was denied the opportunity to use his skill in the case. It was the only speech he had written that he could not deliver. Instead, in the five days of life he had left he arranged for the speech to be published. Since that time, Bryan’s reputation has taken a beating from those who know nothing of the trial or the man.

My project? I’m republishing that speech with comments to help twenty-first century readers understand the thinking of 1925 southern America and the first major clash between evolutionists and anti-evolutionists. I have been spending hours dissecting, analyzing and reflecting on the unspoken speech, adding comments so readers will see the full picture.

I can see you stifling yawns. That’s my point. I doubt there are many people who want to cozy up to such a book, yet, I’m writing it anyway. Why? First, I could be wrong (it’s happened several times) and there might be more people interested than I imagine. Second, it feeds my soul. I’m loving everything about the work. Perhaps it’s because I might do a little something to bolster an important man’s image and portray him in a proper, and truthful light (no he wasn’t perfect).

All of that to say, I have moments when I wonder if I’m misusing my time working on something that may only bring meaning to me and a handful of others. Maybe I am, but I don’t care. Sometimes it is more important to try and make a difference than make a profit.

Alton Gansky is the author of around 45 books, fiction and nonfiction. This is not his first strange idea.