The End of an Era

Yes, my friends, we’re at the end of an era. Or at least, the end of a

We started the Launch Pad Contest as an experiment in 2010, back when this blog was called Novel Journey. We had no idea how it would work, or even if we’d have any entrants. But you never know until you try, right?

So we fiddled around with it, tweaking the format here and there. Changes included adding a Nonfiction category in 2013 (and removing it the following year) as well as adding an entry fee. That enabled us to present the Grand Prize winner with that oh-so-fun blown glass rocket trophy. 

The contest was well received for the first few years, and it kept us judges quite busy at times. But when the number of entries dwindled in 2014, it seemed time to re-evaluate. As a result, we’re not conducting the contest this year. 
If you’ve been polishing up a manuscript in anticipation of entering, we apologize! But it ain’t over till it’s over, and we may not be done with it yet. Depending on the feedback that comes in (combined with other factors), we may start it up again in the future. However, we will not be taking entries in 2015.

Speaking of feedback, I’m keeping the email account open (NovelRocketContest at gmail doc com), so feel free to get in touch with me about your thoughts and suggestions for the future.

I’d like to thank all who have helped keep the contest going for the past five years by entering their

stories, which provided me with the opportunity to meet some new writers – also thanks to those on the Novel Rocket team who helped judge the entries, which enabled me to get to know them a little better, too.

All in all, it’s been fun. So let’s not think of this as Goodbye, but rather, See ya around!

Yvonne Anderson writes fiction that takes you out of this world.
Book a flight through the Gateway to Gannah for some serious sci-fi adventure!

Launch Pad Contest — We Have a Winner!

December is a big month. My birthday, my husband’s birthday, my youngest granddaughter’s birthday, Christmas and all that such a mega-event involves, year-end accounting matters, etc. Did I mention that my birthday is in December too?

Another exciting thing that happens in December: we here on Novel Rocket announce the Grand Prize Winner of our year-long LAUNCH PAD Contest: Boosting You Out of the Slush Pile.

To refresh your memories, here’s how it works. We conducted six mini-contests throughout the year, choosing a winner from each of the six major novel genres (Suspense/Crime/Mystery/Thriller — General Fiction — Middle Grade/Young Adult — Historical Fiction — Contemporary Romance — Speculative Fiction). The winner of each of these genre divisions moved into the Grand Prize round.

The Grand Prize Winner receives a one-of-a-kind blown glass rocket trophy similar to the one pictured, which will be inscribed with the winner’s name. (The one shown on the left was the award we gave our 2012 winner. If you look closely, you can see the inscription.) Moreover, members of the Novel Rocket staff will work to match up the winner with an agent or other publishing professional to help further his or her writing career.

One thing that sets the 2014 winner apart from previous Grand Prize entries is the fact that this one is self-published. We’ve had quite a number of self-published entries in the past; that’s not new, and it’s in accordance with the rules. Seldom, however, have we received one that’s so skillfully written, and never have we received one that so impressed every judge who read it.

That’s why we’re excited to announce the 2014 Grand Prize Winner of our LAUNCH PAD Contest: Boosting You Out of the Slush Pile. Please join us in giving a hearty congratulations to

for her truly remarkable Contemporary Fiction entry, Kept.

Novel Rocket will be in touch with Sally directly to arrange for delivery of her prize. 
In the meantime, if you’d like to read more of this novel (we published the first chapter here), you can hop over to Amazon and purchase the whole book in either print or e-book version. (It might make a nice gift for the readers on your list. Or… for someone you know with a birthday this month…)
When she’s not overseeing the Launch Pad Contest, Yvonne Anderson writes fiction that takes you out of this world.  
Choose your itinerary from among these exciting voyages: Book #1, The Story in the Stars (ACFW Carol Award Finalist, 2012); Book #2, Words in the Wind; Book #3, Ransom in the Rock; Book #4, The Last Toqeph.

December 8 is The Day of Decision

The 2014 edition of Novel Rocket’s Launch Pad Contest:
Launching You Out of the Slush Pile is nearing a close. The Final Round judges
are reviewing the finalists, and their decision will be announced on December
These are the final five entries –
Suspense/Crime/Mystery/Thriller: Fatal  Assignment by Loretta Eidson  
General Fiction: Kept by Sally Bradley
Middle Grade/Young Adult: Mardan’s Mark by Kathrese McKee 
Speculative Fiction: My Soul to Keep by Melissa Solis

Make sure to come back on December 8 to find out who will take home this year’s crystal rocket trophy!
            Yvonne Anderson writes fiction that takes you out of this world. The Last Toqeph
            the final five-star flight through the  Gateway to Gannah,  is boarding now.  Make 
            sure to book your seat! 

A Spec Fic Win

It doesn’t seem possible we’ve come this far, but here we are announcing the winner of the Speculative Fiction category of this year’s Launch Pad Contest. The last category of the year!

Though a couple of the entries were good enough that the judges had to discuss which should be the winner, they did decide on one that satisfied everyone. 

One judge said, “I immediately bonded with the heroine, her relationship with her father, and her plight. Her survival in a horrific tragedy was real. How does one deal with the supernatural? How does it impact a character’s life?” The other judge agreed that the protagonist was easy to relate to and also was impressed with the writer’s skill as a storyteller.

We’re happy to announce that the last category winner of our contest this year is My Soul to Keep by Melissa Solis of Spring, Texas. She, along with the year’s previous category winners, will move into the final round. A separate panel of judges will choose our Grand Prize winner from among those entries. That prize will include a custom made blown glass rocket trophy similar to the one shown above (the one in the picture was 2012’s trophy), as well as a custom made match-up with an agent or acquisitions editor.

We’ll announce the Grand Prize winner in December. Meanwhile, please enjoy the winning Speculative Fiction entry…

My Soul to Keep
Melissa Solis

Hot tears streaming down my cool face awakens me. I sweep them away with my fingers and slowly make my way out of bed. It’s early morning, and the birds are already serenading the dawn. Still half-asleep, I trudge to my bathroom and wash my tear-stained face. Every night for seven years, I’ve had the same nightmare. If only it were a dream. If only I could forget that it ever happened. I close my

eyes, and try to force the memory of the stranger’s face, but nothing comes. He is only a mist, a shadow here, a blur there.

I turn on the shower and allow the warm steam to envelop me and melt my headache away. Most of my mornings start on this somber note. What I wouldn’t give just once to wake up all sunshine and butterflies. Heck, I’d even settle for misty and moths.

My dream always begins with the same crystal clarity. It’s the first day of my summer vacation. I am ten years old and leaving my home in San Diego for Dallas to spend the summer with my mother, as I always did after their divorce. I often dreaded the trip for weeks leading up to it, and that year was no different. It wasn’t that I didn’t love my mother but I had grown accustomed to our estranged relationship. The dream always starts with my leaving my bedroom that morning.

~ I cling to my crystal doorknob for a moment before pulling it shut. I listen as the waves outside break methodically along the shoreline. I inhale the scent of maple syrup, bacon mixed with the salty sea air, for the last time. This dulcet scent is the smell of home, and I want to savor it for just one second longer.

“Brennen,” my dad yells from the car while honking out the obnoxious melody of “Shave and a Haircut.” The man lives to embarrass me. What can I say?

Coming, Dad—keep your panties on!” I sling my leather bag over my shoulder and pull my long

blond mane out from under the strap. I stomp out of the front door, slamming it good and hard to announce my frustration to the neighborhood, namely my dad. I’ll miss this house and the beach so much this summer. My dad stands by the car smirking at me. As I glare at him, I think to myself how much I will miss him more than anything. He is a large, well-built machine of a man. At over six feet tall, he towers next to the small V.W. bug. His surfer’s tan and his balding head give him a distinguished yet approachable look.

“What?” he yells playfully while grinning, helpless against my temper. I pause at the open car door and take a mental snapshot of my beach — our beach — before I slump down in the car.

“This sucks you know.” I cross my arms and throw on a serious scowl.

“Aw, you want some cheese with that whine?” he quips yet another one of his outdated, overused clichés. I retaliate with an eye roll. Good-byes weren’t something either of us did well. I would think I’d be used to it by now, but in ten years, it hasn’t gotten any easier.

We arrive at the gate, and my dad kneels down beside me as I kiss the top of his bare head.

“Bye, old man!”

He wraps his gigantic arms around me into a bear hug that could crush a hippo. He is leaving next week for a classified three-month Navy Special Forces operation. As always, I am worried about him. I know his job is dangerous—deadly even—but he always makes light of it for my sake.

“I’m gonna miss you, baby girl.”

“Can’t breathe, need air,” I squeak out. He sighs and kisses my cheek.

“Fine, later daughter-o-mine,” he says with a dubious Irish accent.

“Love you.” I squirm out of his tactical hold.

“Love you too.”

I board the plane as if walking the plank, one desultory step at a time. I’m guided to my seat by one cheerful young blond-haired, blue-eyed attendant, the epitome of a Cali girl if I’ve ever met one.

“Can I get you anything, Ms. Hale?” Her voice is sincere and syrupy, just shy of nauseating.

“No, I’m fine. Thank you,” I reply in my own sweet tone. I plop into my window seat and pass the time by people watching. A woman with a young baby boy sits in front of me. I can tell she is worried about how he’ll do. Trust me: we’re all worried about how he’ll do. Two elderly ladies are sit in my row; they introduce themselves as May and Evelyn. They chat about visiting their great-grandchildren. I get the impression they’re sisters. Both wear the same teased football helmet coif my grandmother does. Lots of men in slacks and ties, each looking as if he did this all too frequently.

A group of high school boys come down the aisle. They could fill up the whole rear section—a soccer team perhaps? They’re rowdy and obnoxiously brazen, whistling catcalls to the attendants like middle-aged construction workers. Their chaperone is a rail-thin speck of a woman, who looks like she would blow over if the wind rose above stagnant. Her feeble attempt to quiet the brats has loosened her already frazzled bun. An equally chubby couple takes a seat in my row. I gather from their conversation that she’s afraid to fly and her husband points me out.

“See, even that little girl isn’t afraid. There is nothing to worry about, honey.” He gives me a wink. I feel obliged to help in some way. She did look like she was sweating bullets after all.

“Yes, ma’am—I fly this way every summer and that old pilot keeps getting better at it every time,” I manage to say with a straight face. She titters and flags down the first attendant she sees and orders a rum and coke. I get cozy in my seat and pull out the book my dad gave me to read, The Eyes of the Dragon by Stephen King. It captures my attention right away.

Click here to continue reading.

When not overseeing the Launch Pad Contest, Yvonne Anderson writes fiction that takes you out of this world. The fourth and final title in her Gateway to Gannah sci-fi series takes off later this month. You won’t want to miss it!