Packing for the Publication Road

by Kristy Cambron, @KCambronAuthor

Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.—Philippians 1:6 (NIV)

“Realistically, what can we stand to lose?”

I stared down at four small carry-on bags that wouldn’t zip closed. My husband responded with: “Well, let’s start again and see.”

We were packing for a nine-day research trip overseas and since we’d be road-tripping across Ireland, our luggage would likely never find us if it was lost in transit. So, we opted to carry-on for two adults and two kids… That meant we had to pack light—and right—for the journey ahead.

But we didn’t step into the fray unprepared. We took the journey seriously, investing in the right research ahead of time. I found Pinterest travel hacks—’How to pack for Ireland’ posts were pure gold.  I researched the weather in places we planned to stop—Do I really need that bulky sweater when a rain jacket will pull double-duty? And you’d better believe I tucked a ball cap in my carry-on for those hat-and-go days when we wanted to explore in the rain.

If you’re new to this transition from the aspiring road to a published one (or if you’ve been here for a while), you still need to pack the essentials. So get your carry-on ready… we’re about to tuck in(5)must-haves for those heading out on the publication road:

  1. GOOGLE IS YOUR FRIEND— I’m asked the “How do I get published?” question more than any other. It may be obvious for aspiring authors, but it’s certainly not the only one. There are many to consider before you take your first step out: Am I called to fiction or nonfiction? What genre? Traditional or indie publishing? What about working with an agent? Who’s my dream publishing house? What do they publish?There’s a massive travel trunk full of questions. With your future cheerleading section (spouse, family, friends…) and God, you’ll have to wade through them all.Have questions? Then research everything you can to make sure you get on the right road for you.
  2. CRAFT IS A VERB—Before a writer can master the ins and outs of story craft, they must first fall in love with storytelling. That’s reading. Writing every day. Attending conferences and signing up for workshops. So much of what we do isn’t glamorous—instead of being whisked around on a book tour, authors are more often hashing it out on the laptop at 3am, working our way through a second pot of coffee while wearing a messy bun and the same yoga pants for the third time that week. Why? Because it’s work. Hard work. And if you develop an authentic love for storytelling before you’re published, you’ll have an anchor to fight through those writing deadlines AND to rejoice if you do get a book tour after.
  3. COMMUNITY: Remember that cheerleading section we mentioned? Share your dreams with them. Family, pastors, and mentors will encourage you. Fellow authors will share knowledge and experience. Critique groups will rejoice with you when the news is noteworthy… and lift you up if rejections come. Invest wisely and often to surround yourself with a community of Jesus-chasers who will defend your dream—this group will help carry the load as you walk the road.
  4. SOUL-CARE: The author life is an amazing calling, but remember that a vocation cannot define who we are. The road to publication is paved by what Jesus did for us… not what we do for Him. Find times of intentional soul rest along the way. Celebrate the milestones. And know that timing is everything; God’s plan is bigger and better than we could ever imagine.
  5. IN THE WORD: This is the answer I always give to “How do I get published” question. It begins and ends (and stays in step) with Christ from start to finish. He gets us to the right road, brings our support community together, and cultivates the storyteller’s heart beating in our chest. Fix your eyes on Him and fuse your heart to the Word, then start walking.

I look back on our family research trip and smile because we actually did it!

We emptied the carry-ons of one life for another. We sacrificed. Scaled down to the essentials. Organized and packed again. And we prepared for the journey… until the bags finally zipped closed and we were on our way down the right dream-chasing road.

What about you? If you only had a carry-on, what essentials would you take on the start of a publication journey?

The Lost Castle

Broken-down walls and crumbled stones seemed to possess a secret language all their own. What stories would they tell, if she finally listened?

Ellie Carver arrives at her grandmother’s bedside expecting to find her silently slipping away. Instead, the beloved old woman begins speaking. Of a secret past and castle ruins forgotten by time. Of a hidden chapel that served as a rendezvous for the French resistance in World War II. Of lost love and deep regret . . .

Each piece that unlocks the story seems to unlock part of Ellie too—where she came from and who she is becoming. But her grandmother is quickly disappearing into the shadows of Alzheimer’s and Ellie must act fast if she wants to uncover the truth of her family’s history. Drawn by the mystery surrounding The Sleeping Beauty—a forgotten castle so named for Charles Perrault’s beloved fairy tale—Ellie embarks on a journey to France’s Loire Valley in hopes that she can unearth its secrets before time silences them forever.

Bridging the past to present in three time-periods—the French Revolution, World War II, and present day—The Lost Castle is a story of loves won and lost, of battles waged in the hearts of men, and an enchanted castle that stood witness to it all, inspiring a legacy of faith through the generations.

Kristy Cambron has a background in art and design, but she fancies life as a vintage-inspired storyteller. She is the author of The Ringmaster’s Wife, named toPublishers Weekly Spring 2016 Religion & Spirituality TOP 10. Her novels have been named to Library Journal Reviews’ Best Books and RT Reviewers’ Choice Awards Best lists, and received 2015& 2017 INSPY Award nominations. The Lost Castle (HarperCollins Christian Publishing, 2018) is her fifth novel. Her first Bible studies, The Verse Mapping Series, will release in 2018.

Kristy holds a degree in Art History from Indiana University and has 15 years of experience in education and leadership development for a Fortune-100 Corporation. Kristy lives in Indiana with her husband and three sons, where she can probably be bribed with a coconut mocha latte and a good read. You can connect with Kristy in her WRITING DESKNewsletter at: Facebook: Kristy Cambron | Twitter: @KCambronAuthor  | Instagram: kristycambron Pinterest: KCambronAuthor

Path to Publication

by Dani Pettrey, @DaniPettrey

The path to publication was a long one for me. Seven years from the thought of ‘maybe I’ll write a book’ to the actual contract. I have friends for whom it has been much longer and some for whom it’s been far shorter. I hate those friends. Just joking…sort of 😉

The truth is, everyone’s publishing path is going to be different because we are all different and God’s timing is perfect. For me, that timing was seven years. For others, it is three or ten years.

God’s timing is perfect. He knows you and the life he has created for you, the agent He’s created for you and the editor He’s created for you. For me, I was busy homeschooling my girls while learning the craft and practicing. I got published the year my oldest graduated from high school and my youngest was halfway through. It was a perfect time because while I couldn’t see it, God knew how much time was going to be involved once I signed my first contract, and I couldn’t have done that when my girls were younger. Many can. I couldn’t. Because…

God made each of us unique. Which means that each of us not only writes at a different pace but also learns at a different pace. For some writers, they may knock out a best seller with their first manuscript, while others struggle and wade through manuscript after manuscript. But, here’s the thing, you don’t have to stay stagnant while waiting for the time God has in store for you. He created you with a gift and He wants you to use that gift for His glory, and for you to be a light on a hill. He wants you to shine. Below are three ways to honor God and grow as a writer while awaiting that contract.

  1. Spend time in prayer. Share your publishing hopes and dreams with God and let this be a journey you take together. I recommend a time of prayer each day before you write and keep a writing/prayer journal where you record your thoughts about your writing, how you’re feeling each day, how God met you during that time, and how your conference experiences go. It’s great to look back over previous journals and see the fabulous journey He’s brought you on. 
  2. Get to know people. Attend writing conference, local writing chapters, and spend time networking. It’s great to get to know the agents and editors you might be working with some day ahead of time. It’s great to make connections. If you’re an introvert and the thought of the above terrifies you, join ACFW (which you should do either way), and get involved in an online chapter and on the main email loop. You’d be amazed how much you can soak in there, and who you can meet. For example, I reached out to Colleen Coble via the main loop after she had posted something I wanted to know more about and she was gracious enough to take the time to email off-loop back and forth with me. I ended up getting to know her years before I was published. There are tons of authors on the loop offering their time and wisdom. Take advantage of it. 
  3. Write. I know, this should be obvious, but you’d be surprised. A lot of aspiring authors spend a lot of time attending conferences and workshops, which I greatly encourage, but they don’t practice the habit of regular, consistent writing. Develop that habit now and it will make life so much easier once you are published. In addition, you learn and hone the craft of writing by…surprise, writing. You can’t grow as a writer, even a published one if you don’t write regularly. Make it a habit and watch your writing soar. 

Thanks so much for this time together. It was an honor being on Novel Rocket. I’ve read this blog since it was called Novel Journey when Gina first started it, and it’s been a great inspiration to me. I hope my advice and tips have been helpful to you. But, alas, it’s back to deadline land for me. I’m finishing up the last book in my Chesapeake Valor series, and wrapping up all those final threads can be tricky. Hope you’ll enjoy the series if you haven’t gotten a chance to check it out. Blind Spot launches in just a few months.

I wish you all the very best. Please ask any questions you have and I’ll do my best to answer.




Path to Publication by Dani Pettrey (Click to Tweet)

3 ways to honor God and grow as a writer while awaiting that contract.~ Dani Pettrey (Click to Tweet)

Everyone’s publishing path is going to be different~ Dani Pettrey (Click to Tweet)

FBI agent Declan Grey and crisis counselor Tanner Shaw must race against the clock to stop an imminent terrorist threat that could cost thousands of lives—including theirs.

Called “a new author to watch” by Library Journal after her debut novel, Dani Pettrey has written bestselling romantic suspense that fans have fallen in love with. Each novel layers page-turning suspense with pulse-pounding romance, creating stories that Dee Henderson called “incredibly compelling adventures” and Publishers Weekly praised for their “wicked pace, snappy dialogue, and likable characters.”

Dani’s adventure-focused Alaskan Courage series climbed the CBA bestseller lists, with Submerged staying in the top twenty for five consecutive months. The five-book series also won multiple awards, including the Daphne du Maurier award, two HOLT Medallions, a Christy Award nomination, two National Readers’ Choice Awards, the Gail Wilson Award of Excellence, and Christian Retailing’s Best Award. She turns her attention to crime and law enforcement in her home state of Maryland in her new Chesapeake Courage series, starting with Cold Shot, which Library Journal described as “a harrowing and thrilling ride.”

From her early years eagerly awaiting the conclusion to a Nancy Drew book, to paging through Agatha Christy novels or on the edge of her seat in adventure movies later in life, Dani has always enjoyed mystery and suspense. She considers herself blessed to be able to write the kind of stories she loves—full of plot twists and peril, love and longing for hope and redemption. Her greatest joy as an author is sharing the stories God lays on her heart. She researches murder and mayhem from her home in Maryland, where she lives with her husband, their two daughters, a son-in-law, and two adorable grandsons. For more information about her novels, visit

Help! I’ve Fallen Out of Love With My Story!

by Lisa Jordan, @lisajordan

As I wrote out my synopsis, I came to a heart-sinking realization—I wasn’t in love with my story anymore. When I brainstormed the initial story, I was so excited and on fire to dive into character development and plotting. And yes, I still like certain elements of my work-in-progress, but the crux of the story left me feeling a bit…meh. If I didn’t love it, how could I champion it to my agent, my editor, or most of all, my readers? So I asked a group of writing friends for some advice. I’ve compiled their responses to help other writers who may be struggling with story love as I have been. 

  • Make a list. Go back to the basics of your story development. If you still have your brainstorming notes, review them to see what created that initial spark of excitement. Did someone else’s feedback change the trajectory of your idea, causing you to change your story vision to match someone else’s? Take time to list what you like and dislike about your characters, plot, setting, and dialogue. Perhaps that will enable you to see what has caused your story excitement to fade.
  • Evaluate your story arc & character development. Have you taken the time to get to know your characters? My Book Therapy teaches how to get to know your characters by using the story equation—character development based on a character’s dark past moment. If you’ve gotten to know your characters, but you’re still struggling, perhaps you’ve made them too perfect or too flawed. Go back to their dark past moment stories and see how you can make them more likable or three-dimensional. If your characters are strong, then consider your plot. Do your characters have strong external intertwining goals driven by their internal needs? If you’re anything like me, be careful of parallel plotting—hero and heroine’s external goals that don’t compete or intertwine with each other. Their goals need to be interwoven in order for their stories to intersect and for their story arcs to be fulfilled.
  • Talk it out. Once you’ve thought through the basics and made your list, phone a friend or craft partner. Talking it out with other writers offers many benefits—they aren’t as emotionally invested in your story as you are, they may offer something you haven’t considered, and they can see the plot holes better since they are viewing the story with fresh eyes and ears. 
  • Talk with your editor. If you’re published and struggling with your story, contact your editor and ask for some chat time to help figure out the right story to fit within your publishing house’s guidelines. This is particularly important if you’re on deadline and the dates are flying off the calendar faster than you’d like. Your editor knows the pulse of the publishing house’s readership so she will be able to give keen insight into what works and what doesn’t.
  • Fight the fear. Every writer, published or unpublished, who submits work deals with rejection from agents, editors, and readers. Sometimes we allow that fear of rejection to become a stumbling block for our creativity. By fighting the fear with a spirit of courage, you’re empowering yourself to gain the confidence in your abilities when you do submit your best work. As my agent reminds me—if you’re told no, then you move forward and submit something new. 
  • Take time to recharge. If you’re not under contract or meeting a deadline, take a writing break to recharge your creative juices. When writers struggle with the stress of deadlines, often back-to-back, they drain their wells of creativity, inhibiting their abilities to craft strong stories. Even if you’re on a deadline, force yourself to walk away from your computer and do something fun to relax. Spending quality time with family and friends lifts your spirits and enables you to reframe your thought process so you can return to your story with a calmer, clearer vision. 
  • Spread your wings. If you’ve done everything you can, and you still aren’t feeling your story, maybe it’s time for a change. Have you considering shelving and starting with something fresh? Do you feel you’re being hindered by a publishing house’s specific guidelines? Or maybe you’re feeling caged into a particular genre? Perhaps it’s time to spread your wings and explore new publishing opportunities. If you’re struggling with the non-fiction realm, consider writing a piece of fiction. If you’re displeased with a particular publisher, study other houses’ releases and see if your writing may be a better fit with one of them. Tired of stressing over publishing deadlines or long waits between releases, consider indie publishing. Yes, even with indie publishing, you have deadlines, but you have more control over release dates that may fit better with your lifestyle and schedule. 

Writing for publication isn’t easy. It takes a lot of patience and fortitude in order to build a career. Even though you’re the only person to write your stories, you don’t need to struggle in silence. Reach out to other writers. You’ll find you’re not alone. And you’ll be able to gain the necessary insight to fall back in love with your characters and story. After all, if you don’t love your story, you can’t expect your readers will, either. 


Help! I’ve Fallen Out of Love With My Story! by Lisa Jordan (Click to Tweet)

7 Ways to Reignite the Spark of Your Story~ Lisa Jordan (Click to Tweet)

If you don’t love your story, you can’t expect your readers will~ Lisa Jordan (Click to Tweet)

Heart, home, and faith have always been important to Lisa Jordan, so writing stories with those elements come naturally. She is an award-winning author for Love Inspired, writing contemporary Christian romances that promise hope and happily ever after. Represented by Rachelle Gardner of Books & Such Literary Management, Lisa also serves on the My Book Therapy leadership team. Happily married to her own real-life hero for almost thirty years, Lisa and her husband have two grown sons. When she isn’t writing, Lisa enjoys family time, kayaking, good books, crafting with friends and binging on Netflix. Learn more about her at