Baby Boomer Jude Urbanski Launches New Career

has written nearly all her life in some fashion, but only with retirement a few
years ago, has she been able to indulge her passion. Since then, Jude has
produced a non-fiction book (in both print and eBook format), magazine and
newspaper articles, and two inspirational romance novels in eBook format. She
has been a columnist for four years with Maximum
magazine and currently has her third novel with a publisher for review.
Jude, you’ve published a
co-authored non-fiction book, short stories and articles. How long did it take
you to get a full-length fiction contract?
2005, I scoured long and hard for a publisher of the true story my daughter and
I had written about our family’s journey through her traumatic brain injury.
The way I hooked that publisher surprised, to say the least. I had called
because they had left the submission guidelines off their web site. One thing
lead to another and the publisher asked for a proposal! The book was published
in 2006.
I began
to write fiction after that first book, but did not receive a contract until
January, 2011. A lot of rejections filled that time. It was a time of honing my
craft, taking classes, going to conferences. And rewriting. And rewriting.
Was there a specific ‘what if’
moment to spark this story?
The Chronicles of Chanute
focuses on spinning tragedy into triumph, which is an evergreen and universal
phenomenon, I believe. The stories start in the post-Vietnam era, which will
always remain in my memory for several reasons. The other ‘what if’ moment
relates to the fact my mother wrote sweet, love stories in the 1930s with this
same setting (that ‘center of the universe’ in Tennessee where we both were
born). So it was fun to take off from this vantage point, too.
Do you have a full or part time
day job? If so, how do you balance your writing time with family and work?
Ane, I’m
“retired” but nearly as busy as when I worked, just don’t get paid!  One would think it would be a cinch
compared to young motherhood and, while it isn’t as all-consuming, a balancing
act is still required. I volunteer at church, in the community, still do an
occasional day of paid work, and have a huge family, including a good husband,
to love and cherish. All of which takes considerable time.
I write
usually in the mornings and whenever Conrad, my husband, is gone! Sometimes I
just quit and run those ‘errands’ with him.
Did anything unusual or funny
happen while researching or writing this book?
Not so
much unusual or funny, but I sure enjoyed visiting the setting in Tennessee and
meeting and befriending folks. I even lapsed into southern dialect at times! On
one visit, we tried to reach “Bald Rock” (a mountain in the story), but became so
concerned about our car getting stuck we abandoned the adventure.
Are you a plotter, a pantster,
or somewhere in between?
started out as a plotter and an outliner. I don’t have the oomph or daring to
be a pure pantster, so accept I am somewhere in between. My characters
sometimes take over and give me word
upon word, which is pure joy for a writer. Once in a while, I must place them
back on the page where they belong and let them know I am the author.
Have you discovered some secret
that has helped your process for writing?
Ane, would that I had! I’d certainly share, but my notion is this is different
for each of us. The music I play, the little rubber frog (FROG=forever relying
on God) I keep close by, the candle I burn and the pin-covered baseball hat I
wear all help, but none are magic.
said, relationships with other writers help tremendously in our solitary world.
What are your thoughts on
critique partners? 
best writing tools in our toolbox. The partnerships take time to develop, but
are worth the effort. I’ve also found it best to critique with writers of like
Do you ever pound your computer over
writer’s block? If so, how did you overcome it?
figuratively! I let things ‘stew’ and do something else for a while. Or use
someone for a brainstorming session.
What’s the most difficult part
of writing for you?
I’d say
creating conflict takes me the most time to thoroughly develop. I’m a pacifist
kind of gal (hangover from the 60s maybe) and I have a hard time taking my
beautiful characters through hardship. I also write women’s fiction, combined
with inspirational romance, where the journey traveled becomes a slower-moving conflict.
What’s your strength in writing?
contests entries, I’ve been told ‘voice’ and character development are
strengths. I feel that honing our craft is an ongoing process and all areas can
always be strengthened.
Did this book give you any
problems? If not, how did you avoid them?
first two novels have been eBooks, but will be in print next year. Marketing
has been more challenging than with a print book. Not everyone, especially
older readers, is on board with an electronic reader or even a computer. It has
taken more creativity, but has also been fun to be part of the cutting edge of
electronic publishing. Through Kindlegraph, eBooks can also be autographed.
Where do you write: In a cave, a
coffeehouse, or a cozy attic nook?
In a
condo! We have a great room and this is where I write. At one end of our big,
dining table. I have an extra book table to my side, holding my most important
items. Everyone knows all the action happens in a great room and sometimes that
is distracting. The magical feature though is I look out patio doors at a
beautiful and secluded yard where woodland creatures, flowers, and tall cedars
speak to me.
When I
really need a break or want to exercise, I take the nearby ‘river walk’ for a
time of regrouping.
What’s the best writing advice
you’ve heard?
We not
only write, we must rewrite.
Do you have any parting words of
because you want to and know being published doesn’t necessarily validate you
as a writer. Know it takes discipline and perseverance to accomplish goals.
 Nurtured in Purple, Book Two in The Chronicles of Chanute Crossing, continues the now-married love story of Seth Orbin and Kate Davidson of Joy Restored, Book One, but nemesis’ Willard Wittenberg and Elizabeth Koger come center stage still pursuing personal vendettas against Seth and Kate. 

Seth again faces potential loss of wife and child with Kate’s life-threatening pregnancy complication, while Willard maneuvers to ruin Seth’s business. Willard and Elizabeth, once lovers, engage and marry, but her flame for Seth has never died. Married life proves ragged. Late-blooming love comes to Ninville Cornelius and Margie Craig and new characters of Ruby Moody, alcoholic wife of a deceased Vietnam vet, and her small son Bobo are introduced. 

Can Seth and Kate, modeling God’s grace and forgiveness, bring hope and light to Willard and Elizabeth and Ruby and Bobo, all so needy of God’s redeeming love?

Are You My Mentor? by James L. Rubart

Have you connected with a mentor? A person a little farther down the publishing road who offers you knowledge, wisdom, support, or introductions to agents and/or editors?

One of the biggest surprises to me when I first jumped into the pub world was how willing established authors were to help. Many gave me an injection of hope, industry insight, and encouragement. A few turned into full fledged mentors who stayed in touch and offered any help they could.

And I continue to find authors who are ahead of me, reaching back to pull me on. And I love offering my hand to those a few steps behind.

Turns Out We’re Divinely Designed to Help Each Other

I was talking to my youngest son, Micah about authors helping me and vice versa. He said, “It doesn’t surprise me. We’re wired that way, Dad. I watched this video clip on WIMP.COM of two-year-olds that instinctively help people without any prodding. It’s born into us to care—even though sometimes the world can drain it out of us. (Here’s the link if you want to check it out:

Uh, Jim, I’ve Been Trying to Get a Mentor For Years

My guess is some of you are saying exactly that right now. You’re wondering if the above is true, why you haven’t found that mentor. I wish I had a solution but I don’t. If I had to offer an answer I’d probably encourage you not to try so hard.

For me, being the mentor or mentoree has come naturally. I didn’t try to get my mentors, and frankly, the people I’m mentoring didn’t try to get me. It just happened. There was a connection and I wanted to help them. Or, they wanted to help me.

It’s Always, Always, Always About Relationship

Have you heard the saying, “Most people are human lie detectors?” I believe there’s validity to that sentiment. Along the same lines, I think potential mentors can tell if they’re being played. In other words are you approaching your potential mentor with respect and even thinking about what you can offer? Or it just about what you can get out of them? If that’s the reason plan on continue searching.

I’ve had the what-are-you-going-to-do-for-me kind of aspiring author approach me and I can spot it light years away. And I can also spot the author that is humble, engaging, and grateful. I’ll take the latter every time.

In The End

They want to help you. They’re wired to help you. But a mentor/mentee relationship isn’t all about you. It’s a mutual exchange of friendship, encouragement, and help.

Your turn. If you had or currently have a mentor, how did the relationship develop? What tips would you offer someone looking for a mentor? If you are a mentor, why that person? What drew you to them? Or what turns you off?

James L. Rubart is a best-selling, award winning author. Publishers Weekly says this about his latest release, SOUL’S GATE: “Readers with high blood pressure or heart conditions be warned: this is a seriously heart-thumping and satisfying read that goes to the edge, jumps off, and “builds wings on the way down.”

He lives with his amazing wife and two sons in the Pacific Northwest and loves to dirt bike, hike, golf, takes photos, and still thinks he’s young enough to water ski like a madman. More at

Conference Debriefing: Easing Back into the Real World

Conference is over. You met with like-minded people, heard amazing speakers, and spoke with an editor or to, but you’re back home and easing into the real world. Normal life must continue despite all the emotions and excitement you’ve just experience, so how do you handle it all?


You’re body and mind has just been through an ordeal. Maybe conference was a fabulous experience for you, maybe  it was a disappointment. No matter what category you fall into, your body needs to rest and your mind and emotions need to recover. So sleep in if you can, cancel some activities. Have an extra cup of coffee. Order take out for your family. Don’t feel the need to unpack your suitcase and put everything back in it’s place. Even if you have to jump back into your work routine, you can still slow down someway. Find what works for you and don’t feel guilty about it!


You’ve met hundreds of people, collected just as many business cards, had more conversations with more people than you can count, how do you keep them all straight in your head? At conference, if I had a memorable meeting with someone I had just met, I tried to jot something significant about them on the back of their business card. Unfortunately, I didn’t do this as often as I should of, so now I will sort through my cards and camera photos and try to write down what I can remember about each person. Thankfully, most business cards have photos, and since I’m a visual learner I often see where I met that person and recall some of the conversation. So take sometime today to try and remember the conversations you had before they totally slip your mind.


Ever year conference is different for me, but every year it’s memorable. I want to remember the good and the bad so I can learn and grown. I want to remember those God moments, the new people I met and conversations I had. And the best way for me to do that is to journal or blog about them while it’s fresh in my mind. Somethings are meant to be shared, other things are meant for just me, but in order to remember them with the passion and emotion of the moment, I need to write about them now. Take some time this week to do that!


I always plan on sending thank you notes to the editors and teachers who’ve impacted me during conference. While my intentions are good, I don’t always follow through. This week I’m making it a priority to send off an email or written note to people who played a part in my conference whether or not they requested my manuscript. This business is about making connections, not just making sales. One of my best editor meetings was with someone who didn’t request my book, but I left satisfied. I want that editor to know what a meaningful conversation we had.

In your note, try to include something about you or your conversation to jog their memory. After all, they met with hundreds of people and while they might not remember your specific meeting, being thanked and appreciated will make an imprint on them. Just remember to be sincere and not gimmicky.

Whether coming home from conference is a let down or relief, life does go on and everyone must get back to the routine of life. But if you  take time for conference debriefing and ease back into the real world, your body and mind will be prepared for the normal demands of life.

Let’s Talk: How do you debrief from conference? 

Gina Conroy, a.k.a. “the other Gina,” is a monthly contributor to Novel Rocket. She’s the founder of Writer…Interrupted and is still learning how to balance a career with raising a family. She is represented by Chip MacGregor of MacGregor Literary, and her first novella, Buried Deception, in the Cherry Blossom Capers Collection, released from Barbour Publishing in January 2012 with her second novel Digging Up Death releasing in November.   

8 Ways Authors Turn Off Potential Readers

I recently stopped following two authors on Twitter because almost
every post was about their own books. They may have been good writers.
But I’ll never know. They were too busy publicly flogging their own
product for me to care. It got me thinking about other ways that writers
turn off potential readers.

* * *
Recommending your own books.
You know, someone asks for recommendations for a certain genre, a
thread starts, and an author pops in to say, “May I recommend MY novel.”
Um, no you may not!
Gimmick giveaways.
Giving away your books can be a good thing. But there’s a point at which
it smacks of desperation. “Once I reach 5K FB Friends I’ll be giving
away a Kindle Fire, a case of Red Bull, and a lifetime subscription to
my newsletter!” Or gaining giveaway “points” by having someone do any
combination of things to promote you:  “Just leave a comment here,
re-post to your Facebook page, re-Tweet, and mention me on your own blog
for your best chance to win!” ding! ding! ding! Not interested.

Listing your book in your list of favorites and/or must-reads.
Even if your book is number 10 out of 10 on your list, don’t do it. Let
someone else praise you. Besides, this tactic makes me feel as if the
list was posted just to get your book in it!
Complaining about another author’s success to push your own product. “It’s sad that he / she could sell _______ thousand copies of that junk, while MY book — which is just as good — gets buried.” What’s sad is that you think disparaging another author earns you points with readers.
Turning every conversation back to your novels.
“Yeah, the economy sucks, mountain gorillas are near extinction, and
global unrest threatens millions of lives. Coincidentally, I addressed
these issues in my last novel. Here’s the link!”
Make me Like you before we’re Friends.
I’m fine with you asking me to Like your page. But asking me to Like
you BEFORE we’re Friends just seems backwards. If we become Friends, I
may discover I like you enough to actually Like your page. Unless you’re
already famous, multi-published, I know you, and I already like your
stuff, I probably won’t Like you. Whew!
Ulterior-Friending: When
an author Follows / Friends you with the intention that you Friend them
back so that they can send an automated reply to thank you for
following them back on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, or whatever,
followed by an endless stream of updates about their novels. Listen, if
your request for my Follow / Friendship is a veiled attempt to jam your
books down my throat, please don’t ask.
Cheesy, Unprofessional website:
If you actually get me to your web home, at least make it look like you
got your sh*t together. An author who can’t invest enough time and
money to at least make their home page look decent, can’t be trusted to
make their novels any better.
* * *

Okay, there’s eight. Any you’d like to add to the list?

Mike Duran writes supernatural thrillers. He 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, and an ebook novella, Winterland.  You can visit his website at