an interview with the one and only Rob Bell on his book Where’d You Park Your Spaceship

an interview with the one and only Rob Bell on his book Where’d You Park Your Spaceship

Earlier this year I had the honor of setting up this Rob Bell book interview for his novel Where’d You Park Your Spaceship?  If you can handle my eyes TWICE THEIR SIZE because of my glasses, then you’re good to go, and, hey, this interview isn’t about me anyway! (And I’m a little exuberant at times so please have a lil’ mercy. I mean, I am interviewing one of my favorite people on this planet.)

My review on his book? Rob Bell takes you into another world— or more correctly, worlds, with creative, unconventional, and tender storytelling that moves you and leaves you wondering about the next book in the series. Loved it.

Synopsis from his website below:

Heen Gru-Bares has been SERIES 5 for most of his adult life, traveling from planet to planet collecting data and filing reports for the CHAIRS who run the universe.

And then he lands on the planet Firdus for his next assignment and he meets Borns and Lan Zing and Ziga Mey and Dill Tudd and something unsettling begins to stir within him, something unnerving and profoundly disruptive. Out of all the planets he’s been to over the decades he’s been doing this job, what is it about this one particular planet Firdus that so subversively affects him like it does?

And then Noon Yeah shows up and he learns that she’s a SIGN 7,
sent to Firdus to do a GRAINING because he failed to execute
the task at hand-it’s more than he can bear as what he thought
was his life begins to unravel around him…

Will Heen make it through this devastating turbulence?
What will happen to Dill Tudd?
And is all of this a setup, one of the symptoms of a larger malaise that will continue to spread through the entire universe unless someone does something to stop it?

It’s a galactic saga of struggle and survival.
It’s an interplanetary tale of love, loss, and bread.
It’s BOOK ONE of the WHERE’D YOU PARK YOUR SPACESHIP? Series.

Buy now: Amazon • Apple Books • Kobo • Audiobook

Download the first 100 pages for free
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Where’d You Park Your Spaceship? A Rob Bell book interview

Rob Bell

 

not a ball of flames…

more like fiery creativity!

rob bell book interview<br />
where'd you park your spaceship

Now let’s hear what Rob has to say on these two topics!

MY QUESTION:

In your book, there are reasons to be unhappy with how THE CHAIRS arrange things on the planets, yet they improved the education system, and, from an economic standpoint, they do “floor to ceiling checks” to make sure everyone has what they need, so it’s evident that THE CHAIRS do some things right. What are your thoughts on this?

MY QUESTION:

In your book, an event called “The Brownball” takes place when Earth is no longer inhabitable, and the fortunate inhabitants escape to other planets. Specifically, in the future, one teacher in the book says Earth was destroyed because of the plow. On your podcast, (The Robcast), you’ve had Jeff Tkach on as a guest a couple of times from Rodale Institute, and they specialize in organic farming and caring for the soil. Can you talk to us a little bit about the work Rodale Institute is doing to help us take care of Earth?

Netflix film Kiss the Ground

Rodale Institute

robbell.com 

check out his website to get the latest on his Where’d You Park Your Spaceship merch store, artwork, and Spaceship Sessions.

You can download the first 100 pages above.

Say buh bye! (I said podcast but meant to say for the listeners.)

to check out more from the blog and website, go to renecollier.com!

using iterations in your novel

using iterations in your novel

In my last post I talked about symbolism and realized afterward this closely relates to using iterations in your writing. This concept is taken from Stuart Horwitz’s work, and, specifically, Book Architecture. I’ve taken a couple of workshops at conferences from Stuart, and I can’t mention symbolism without mentioning his work, too, because, for me, they tie in.

To explain it simply, the first thing we do is determine our SERIES in our book. And from SERIES we then create ITERATIONS.

Stuart says, “…each SERIES has a type: it may be a person, object, place, relationship, or phrase… that repeats and varies. Each time a SERIES appears, we call those examples or occurrences ITERATIONS.”

Okay, that’s the groundwork.

In my last post I used bunnies as an example of symbolism in my novel Miserably Happy. If you haven’t read the post, it’s a quick read and can be found here.

The use of the bunnies represents the state of Livy and Anthony’s relationship.

The series is called “Will Livy and Anthony’s Relationship Survive?”

The iterations within this series are:

INNOCENCE:  In the beginning of Livy and Anthony’s relationship, there is harmony when they’re up at the park (symbolism of bunnies running to and fro on the footpath).

WHERE AM I: Troubles in Livy and Anthony’s relationship show up in various scenes (symbolism of rabbits showing up in different scenes as pests instead of cute creatures, including eating two saplings two different times).

LEMME OUT: Livy finally cuts the cord with Anthony when she grows tired enough of his withholding emotionally in the relationship (symbolism of rodents now kept away from her newly planted sapling, after she stakes chicken wire around the sapling).

To demonstrate the use of iterations as clearly as possible, Stuart uses the example Corduroy, a children’s book about a bear, from the first chapter in Book Architecture.

The Basics of Series in the Short Story Corduroy

In Book Architecture, Stuart breaks Corduroy into three different series and says,”When we start trying to find our series, all we have to remember is repetition and variation. What do we find repeated?”

The first series is the I’VE ALWAYS WANTED series.

This series asks the question, “What has Corduroy always wanted?”

Setting up a grid is easy. See the image below.

Stuart tells us, “The repetition and variation of a narrative element creates meaning in our novel.”

Something worth mentioning, too, is that one of the series in your book will be the central plot but not the entire book. The series in Corduroy most closely related to the plot of the book is the quest of the missing button.

The second series is the MISSING BUTTON series.

This series asks the question, “Will Corduroy find the missing button?”

And remember, in each series, something needs to change within each iteration.

The third series is the MONEY series.

This series asks the question, “What does it mean to be responsible?”

There are only two iterations, but as long as there are two, something changes. The repetitions let us know what we’re talking about while the variations give us direction: things are getting better or worse…

We can combine these three series together, and it will look like this:

Basically, by applying this method we can write our entire book. It really helped organize my thoughts and scenes for Miserably Happy, and hopefully this will help you, too. In the book Stuart uses other books as examples, too, and it’s a great resource overall.

On the Book Architecture website, the grid posted below is a resource you can download. Wowza! Don’t let it intimidate you! This is an entire novel placed into series/iterations on a grid!

using symbolism in writing

using symbolism in writing

Using symbolism in writing creates deeper meaning in stories and helps form a special inside connection between reader and writer. The dictionary from Oxford Languages says, “Symbolism is an artistic and poetic movement or style using symbolic images and indirect suggestion to express mystical ideas, emotions, and states of mind. It originated in late 19th century France and Belgium, with important figures including Mallarmé, Maeterlinck, Verlaine, Rimbaud, and Redon.” Symbolism takes the use of an action or object to represent an idea or quality.

There are different types of symbolism, and, for the sake of this post, we’ll talk about my favorite—metaphors. According to Indeed.com, “A metaphor refers to one thing by directly mentioning another. It essentially compares two dissimilar things while showing that they have something in common. Therefore, while a metaphor can provide clarity, it can also show the similarities between the two things or ideas despite their obvious dissimilarities.”

One example of using symbolism in writing is when we read “life is a rollercoaster.” This metaphor uses a rollercoaster to indicate the highs and lows of life.

Personally, I really like the use of symbolism. It can help evoke a certain mood in the story. Spoiler Alert: I used symbolism quite a bit in my novel, Miserably Happy, and if you plan to read the novel, just a heads up, in this post I use an example of one of the objects I used for symbolism in the novel. And that would be…

rabbits! (hey, it even works with Easter this month!)

Cute lil things, aren’t they? In fact, let’s call ’em lil bunnies. Even cuter. And in the beginning of the novel, Livy Miser, the main character thinks they’re cute, too. In fact, the guy she leaves her marriage for, Anthony, texts her pictures of bunnies often, since they run around his mother’s yard.

After Livy and Anthony move in together, when things are rosy between them, they’re at the park and bunnies run to and fro across the footpath. But as dynamics in their relationship grow progressively worse, bunnies chew up her sapling in the backyard.

So she replaces it with a new sapling, and, as Anthony breadcrumbs her and reveals he’s a taker not a giver, rabbits once again take her freshly planted replacement sapling and eat it up, too. Yeah, turns out this guy is bad news for her since his version of love is selfish and insensitive.

On Christmas Eve, her car won’t start, she opens the hood, and a rabbit jumps out, revealing not one, not two, but three chewed up cables! Not only does this create expense, she’s also left without a car on a holiday, since Anthony is out of town. Thank god for Uber. Well, actually, thank god for friends, too, because her best friend, Jess, picks her up.

Now Livy sees the creatures as rodents, and the third and final time she plants a sapling in her backyard, she stakes chicken wire around it, to keep it safe from those rodents, and this coincides with the last time she gives Anthony the chance to break her heart.

This article is simple yet helpful when explaining how using symbolism in writing can be effective. (Click on the headline or link below to access it.) The writer breaks down universal symbols by category, the two main categories being color and object, and then goes on to tell us symbolism is usually found in the most important scenes through reoccurring imagery.

The article provides downloadable tools to help plan the use of symbols throughout the book and gives examples of symbol overuse.

When I wrote Miserably Happy, I listed my symbols and wrote out how the symbols appeared throughout the book within the progression of the story. Hence, the example of the rabbits above: first, the bunnies hop to and fro on a sunny day, then the rabbits eat and kill two of her saplings, then she stakes chicken wire around the third sapling, to keep the rodents out. So, the animal didn’t change, but the main character’s feelings and actions toward the animal did change, demonstrating her strength in the end to guard herself from the same bullshit dished out from her ex-lover.

Check out the article! It’s a quick read.

And Miserably Happy is available at the end of April! If you’d like to download the first 50 pages, pop your email into the box below and open it in your inbox. I’ll send you an additional email as a heads up when the book is available.

the self-publishing process – create a full wrap book cover in Canva

the self-publishing process – create a full wrap book cover in Canva

For several weeks, I took a break from querying and focused on the self-publishing idea. I purchased a blueprint on how to have a sucessful self-publishing launch (which includes setting up book reviews first and foremost, yikes). Not for the faint of heart… but it can be fun and liberating! I purchased the blueprint from Cara Stein, so I’ll keep you updated on results. No, I don’t get paid for resources mentioned here, it’s just personal experience.

I enjoy working in Canva, so I decided to mock up a cover. I purchased an image through Adobe stock, brought the image in and worked on it. Or you can hire out, of course. I’ve worked in marketing (which isn’t the same as design, I know), but I have a good feel for design, so I gave it a try. I’m happy with the end product. Here is the full wrap:

 

Today’s resource is  Vania Margene Rheault, who provides step by step instructions on how to create a full wrap book cover in Canva. 

After creating the cover, I researched KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) and brought my manuscript into Vellum, which is available for Mac only.

If you don’t own a Mac, I hear a software program, Atticus, is available for all computers. But for the sake of this post, I will talk about Vellum.

I brought in my manuscript and immediately loved it. It was so cool to see the words in Kindle format. I started at the beginning of the manuscript and tweaked formatting so it looks good on a Kindle, and it’s easy. They provide the visuals for you, there isn’t any second guessing. If you have a Mac and want to try it out, it’s free until you generate files. Formats are available within Vellum for Kindle, Apple books, Kobo, Google Play, and Nook, but, like I said, it all works on a Mac.

 If you’re interested in creating a full wrap book cover for both print and ebooks, check out today’s resource below!

I love this author’s website, the look and feel, the layout, and step by step directions. She goes into the kind of detail we need in her full wrap instructions post, to ensure dimensions and formatting are correct.

If you’re interested in creating a cover, check out the post and give it a go. You can start with the free version of Canva. I pay $12.95 monthly for Canva Pro, and this paid version includes a background remover, which I find worth the price.

The main steps for creating a cover include:

1. Have a formatted manuscript

2. Go to kdp to calculate book features and dimensions to create the template

3. Download the template onto your computer

4. Upload the template into Canva

5. Follow Vania’s step by step instructions in Canva

These are the main steps, don’t let it intimidate you. When you click on the link to Vania’s website, her instructions are clear and simple.

Happy creating!

 

query letter revisions- overcoming insecurities

query letter revisions- overcoming insecurities

I finished my debut novel this past summer, and now I’m looking for an agent. Using QueryTracker, I’ve sent out a total of ten query letters to date, and I’ve majorly revised the letter four times since beginning the process a couple of months ago. Unless I have another specific spark of inspiration, or an agent gives me feedback on what I can change for better success, I’ve decided this is my best, final version.

Revising the query letter as we continue to query agents is part of the process. I decided I’m done revising now, however, because I’ve done the best I can to relay the story, and whatever doubts I have in finding an agent come from my protagonist. She’s a stay at home wife and mother in a midlife crisis, and I’ve attended enough writing conferences to know this is a character the publishing world (in general) thinks it has seen enough of… but I don’t think the publishing world has given her enough credit for the amount of readers who can relate with her… instead, the publishing world tells us to write unique protagonists with fresh twists.

I’m all for something fresh! But there’s something to be said about a protagonist finding her way out of the everyday rubble into everyday twists of happiness. My protagonist finds her fresh life by doing serious redesign work on herself… and leaves her marriage for a younger man but circles back to her ex-husband to rebuild their relationship, as the new people they’ve become. Not the most popular story for those who have divorced, I know. But Livy, the protagonist, has her own path, and for her that path leads her to go forward with her ex-husband.

Interesting how the essence of my novel’s storyline made its way into the process of sending out query letters. What I mean is, Livy, the protagonist, fights through insecurities to become her best version. Well, I’m finding that while I reach out to agents with this query letter, I’m fighting through insecurities of my own, to revise my letter and put my work out there.

Obviously, Livy is a character worth my time, otherwise I wouldn’t have spent years finishing her story. So I shouldn’t discount that, and I’m not. I’ll give it my best shot, to find an agent with this novel, and if it doesn’t happen, I’ll self publish and promote it while writing my second novel.  

One look at this website and you’ll see this guy knows the business. Take some time to review his steps for writing a query letter, along with his invaluable examples to keep us on track! Click here then scroll down.

(There’s also fabulous advice on query letter construction in a separate post, where Kelley Lindberg gives us pointers on the Hook, Book, and Cook strategy.)

Now that we’ve read Nathan Bransford’s info and implemented it as best we can, if we continue to receive rejection letters, which is usually the norm, keep reading to get good advice on keeping ourselves strong and resilient while querying!

Click through to this author’s blog for details under each tip given below.

These are her main bits of advice on taking care of our mental healt while querying:

1. prepare your heart for rejections

2. take mental health breaks

3. analyze your manuscript with a critical eye

4. celebrate wins, no matter how small

5. explore all the available options

6. decide when it’s time to shelve your manuscript

7. don’t give up

Click here to read her good advice for each tip.

And remember – we do this because we love it, because we need to!

Surrey International Writers Conference 2023 (Canada)

Surrey International Writers Conference 2023 (Canada)

Fall is here and it’s time again for the 31st annual Surrey International Writers’ Conference! Two days of master classes on Wednesday, October 18th & Thursday, October 19th, followed by three conference days on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, the 20th-22nd.

Depending on the workshop, it will be recorded, virtual, or in person, and the registration fees are completely reasonable. SiWC 2023 registration is still open, but pre-conference registration closes Oct 11th at noon Pacific time!

Though I haven’t attended this conference, I do have writer friends who have, and they got a lot out of it. While looking over the workshops offered this year, I was impressed by the variety of valuable topics. Check them out at the link below!

SiWC

 

Click here to be taken directly to the conference schedule.