3 Questions Wednesday with Candace West

Welcome to 3 Questions Wednesday! Today Inspired Prompt welcomes author, Candace West! Thanks for taking the time to join us.

First question:
Who is your favorite author?

Candace: I can never decide between Janette Oke and Lucy Maud Montgomery. Their stories inspired me to write my own. Lucy Maud Montgomery’s characters and descriptions are rich with detail, carrying me to that place and time. Janette Oke weaves the Gospel message throughout her engaging stories. I’ve never been disappointed with one of her books! Her words always inspire hope!

Reading a good story of hope and inspiration makes it hard to put down!  Next question…
If you could write about anyone or anything fiction/nonfiction who or what would you write about?

Candace:  The first person who comes to mind is General Thomas (Stonewall) Jackson. Civil War history fascinates me, especially the struggles of conscience on both sides. I love the journey of General Jackson’s personal faith. I would dive into a project highlighting his beliefs and his walk with God.

Sounds like you may have a new historical story idea brewing.  Last question: If you could spend time with a character from your book or another book whom would it be? And what would you do during that day?

Candace:  As strange as it sounds, I would spend the day with Earl Steen. After his conversion, of course! Why would I want to spend the day with this prodigal? There’s quite a bit of depth to him. As I worked on the sequel Valley of Shadows, Earl revealed more about his personality than I dreamed. I would love to spend the day listening to him play classical pieces on his violin and talking to him about his family history.

Sounds interesting. Thanks for stopping by.

Click to tweet: Lucy Maud Montgomery’s characters and descriptions are rich with detail, carrying me to that place and time. Janette Oke weaves the Gospel message throughout her engaging stories. I’ve never been disappointed with one of her books! Her words always inspire hope!

Connect with Candace:

Facebook: www.facebook.com/inspirationalnovel
Online: www.candaceweststoryteller.com
Twitter: www.twitter.com/candacewest111
Instagram: www.instagram.com/candace.west.posey.10

Lane Steen blurb:

How can Lane let go of the past when she is forced to confront it?

Kidnapped by her father at two years old, Lane Steen never imagines she is living a lie until a new schoolteacher, Edith Wallace, comes to Valley Creek. Yet Edith is more than a schoolteacher. She is part of the past—a past hidden in a mysterious dream that has haunted Lane since childhood.

At sixteen, Lane yearns to escape from her embittered father’s hatred that engulfs her home. The schoolhouse is Lane’s only escape. Carefully, Edith works to earn Lane’s friendship, but love and trust doesn’t come easy for a heart plagued by hate. But then the truth shatters Lane’s world.

The truth sends Lane on a turbulent search into the past. Leaving Valley Creek behind, Lane reunites with a family she cannot remember—a family that surpasses her wildest dreams.

Despite her newfound joy, her hatred for her father only deepens. Although she desires to experience the faith of her family, Lane can’t cast away one thing she holds closely: the hatred that helped her survive.

Digging into her father’s unbelievable past, she confronts the story behind her father’s ruin. Will she always be bound by hate?

Yet something even stronger binds her. Something stronger than her family, something stronger than her will. She is bound to Valley Creek, the place of her stormy childhood, the place of the man she loves, but more importantly, the place of God’s calling. Ironically, she finds love, purpose, grace, and forgiveness in a place she’d sought all her life to escape.

Purchase on Amazon: Kindle or paperback.

Meet Candace West:

Candace West was born in the Mississippi delta to a young minister and his wife. She grew up in small-town Arkansas and is a graduate of the University of Arkansas at Monticello. When she was twelve years old, she wrote her first story, “Following Prairie River.” Since then, she has dreamed of writing Christian fiction. Over the years, she has published short stories as well as poems in various magazines. Since her teenage years, she has written many church plays. In 2018, she published her first novel Lane Steen, book one of the Valley Creek Redemption series. By weaving entertaining, page-turning stories, Candace hopes to share the Gospel and encourage her readers. She currently lives in her beloved Arkansas with her husband Aaron and their son Matthew along with two dogs and three cats.

Valley of Shadows, book two of the Valley Creek Redemption series, is scheduled for release in March 2020.


The Importance of Sharpening Your Grammar and Punctuation Skills

By Fay Lamb

True story: I once had a favorite New York Times Bestselling author. I met her once at a book signing in which I traveled 600 miles to see her. Yes, I was a fan. Then one day, she responded to a comment I made on Facebook about the importance of editing well.

In very clear diva-style she said that her publisher paid people to edit her books. Her job was only to write the story. The editors would clean it up. My first thought was, “Aren’t you fortunate to be so beloved that you’ve gotten to the point where editors clamor to clean up your mess.” My second thought was “I’d hate to be your editor.”

Then she switched tracks in her career to an entirely new genre based upon a new interest. She’d gotten involved in a sport and had written two books involving it. However, her New York publishers weren’t interested in taking the risk. She found a small publisher in the South where her new interest is enjoyed by millions of people. This never-heard-of publisher jumped at the opportunity to publish a book by this well-known author. And publish they did.

I read the book.

I suppose this particular publisher assumed the author had a command of punctuation and grammar.

They assumed incorrectly, and if she read the galley, she proved that very well.

Oh, she could tell a story, but she could not spell or place a comma or determine where a sentence ended. And forget those misplaced modifiers or the split infinitives.

In the world of best sellers where this author came from, I’m sure that the editors were paid well to do what they did for her. I can attest. They did a fine job.

Editors who work for small publishers also work hard at bringing out the best manuscript possible, but I’m here as both a writer and an editor to tell you that mistakes happen. It is impossible to catch every mistake that will be made in a manuscript. Oh, I try. Believe me. I try. This is the best reason I can tell you for learning the basics of your craft. Those basics are spelling, punctuation, and grammar.

As a writer, it helps that I do know my stuff. I probably forget half of what I know in the process, but I do know it. When an editor has made a mistake, I can state with specificity why it is a mistake. On the other hand, when the editor calls me on a mistake, I am also able to understand what I’ve done incorrectly.

As an editor, it helps for me to be able to explain to an author why a comma should not go after a conjunction that starts a sentence or why I would use a comma in that instance on occasion. I can also explain to an author why some sentences can start with a conjunction and others should not.

Do you know the answer?

If not, you might want to learn the basics before you become a New York Bestseller and someone takes that privilege away from you.

Click to tweet: The Importance of Sharpening Your Grammar and Punctuation Skills by Fay Lamb.  Learn the basics. #self-edit #amwriting

Writing Prompt: Cecilia couldn’t believe her eyes. On the front page of their town’s daily newspaper…

5 Tips to Hone Your Craft

This month we’re sharing our ideas on how to become better writers. In this post, I’m sharing what’s helped me to hone my craft. Let’s get started.


Practice makes perfect. Just like musicians learn a piece of music by practicing every day, a writer learns by writing. The more you write the more writing becomes second nature. If you’re not writing every day, you’re missing out on opportunities to hone your craft.

Joining a Critique Group

I can’t say enough about this tip. Nothing can teach you more than critiquing another’s work. When I’m reading a manuscript—or a book—I listen to the cadence of words in a sentence. I notice what works and what doesn’t. If you’re not in a critique group, make it a priority to join one today!


Whether you post every day or once a week, blogging connects you with an amazing group of people who will teach you even more about the craft. You will learn the art of networking as you follow and meet new people. Blogging also adds accountability to your writing schedule. And who knows, you just might meet that fantastic critique partner!

Conferences/Online Classes/Websites

The last weekend in September, I attended the ACFW At-Home conference. The classes included downloadable lessons, PDFs, and PowerPoint® presentation along with a Facebook Group where the attendees could meet and ask questions. It was fun and informative.

Another way to hone your craft is online classes. I’ve taken several classes on writing and self-care this year and enjoyed each one. I like the convenience and the affordability of online classes. Some were free while others required a small fee.

Finally, websites are a great way to hone your craft. Find one you like—like this blog—and follow. A search for writing on your favorite social media app will list several sites to follow. I’m sure you will find one you like. Here’s a link to get you started.


Need advice on editing your story? How about publishing? You can find a how-to book on most subjects in your local library or your favorite bookstore app. While you’re there, don’t forget the fiction section. The more you read, the more you learn!

And there you have it. 5 tips to hone your craft. So, don’t waste anymore time. Your story is waiting!

Click to Tweet: If you’re not #writing every day, you’re missing out on opportunities to hone your craft. by @GailJohnson87 via @InspiredPrompt

Writing Prompt: Plan to search the web and social media for blogs on writing. Make a list of sites and books that would help you hone your craft. Then put that plan into action.

3 Questions Wednesday with Sheri Poe-Pape

Welcome to 3 Questions Wednesday! Today Inspired Prompt welcomes Sheri Poe-Pape! Thanks for taking the time to join us.

First question:
Who is your favorite author?

Sheri: Hans Christian Anderson, because a lot of his stories are my favorites.  My favorite from him is The Snow Queen.

Good choice for a favorite in author and story! Next question…
 If you could write about anyone or anything fiction/nonfiction who or what would you write about?

Sheri:  I would write a new book about the band, The Monkees. I loved their hit, Daydream Believer.

A fun band from the early 1970s. Their tunes were catchy! Who didn’t love Davy Jones?  Last question:
If you could spend time with a character from your book or another book whom would it be? And what would you do during that day?

Sheri: I would like to spend it with the character Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz, just following her through her adventures in Oz.

Yes, she did go on quite the adventure; one that taught all of us a little something. Thanks so much for dropping by!

Click to tweet: I would like to spend a day with a character from a book it would be Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz, just following her through her adventures in Oz.

Sheri Poe-Pape is offering to give away a book! Comment on this post that you would like to be included in the drawing and any other comment. We will draw a name on Sunday, October 13th.

Cassie’s Marvelous Music Lessons
In this delightful story, Cassie is welcomed to a new home filled with music, but when Mrs. Applebaum doesn’t seem to understand what Cassie is saying, or how talented she is, the happy little dog becomes an unhappy little dog. Fortunately, with a good ear and a kind heart, Mrs. Applebaum finds the perfect solution to Cassie’s problem, proving once again that music is the universal language.

Cassie Pup Takes the Cake??
Cassie has a new home, and a new owner with a bakery, who quickly signs her up for a cupcake bake-off with national cupcake champion, Cordelia Cat. Sparks fly from the beginning between the two, along with crazy fun and unexpected endings. Who do you think will win?

Sheri’s books are available on her website, www.SheriPoe-Pape.com, and Amazon.

Though Sheri Poe-Pape has written many internet articles about people in the arts and in history, “Cassie’s Marvelous Music Lessons” and “Cassie Pup Takes the Cake??” are the author’s first two children’s books. She has also been Director/Educator of the Pape Conservatory of Music for the past thirty-nine years. Each day, she warms up on the piano, and for fifteen of those years, a small dog has been her constant companion.

In recent years, little Cassie has stood on the right side of the keyboard and brushed the author’s hands off the piano keys and helped also to be a ‘baker’s helper’ – habits that inspired these stories! The author is a graduate of Northern Illinois University where she studied music, English and creative writing.  She lives with her family in Northern Illinois, where she continues to write and to teach music-alongside Cassie.

Write, Revise, Submit

It’s a phone call no writer wants to receive.

“Um, we got your story.”

Now, let me say up front that if your editor personally calls you and begins the conversation with “Um”, there is a pretty good chance you need to start praying.

A few years back, this is exactly the call I received.  My editor, Kim, rang me on my cell.

“Um, we got your story.”

She hesitated.

“It’s just not, you know, there.”

Instead of anger or resentment, I felt a little bubble of relief burst inside me.  I knew it wasn’t there, and yet I had turned the article in. What kind freelance writer does that? A tired writer.

You see, here is the normal process:

  • Writer: Find story, pitch it.
  • Editor: Catch.
  • Writer: Interview, write, revise, submit.
  • Editor: Accept, publish.

I did all those things except when I got to the write and revise, I went at them in a half-hearted attempt. I was too close to the subject. I had done too much research. I had way too many interviews. By the time I sat down to write and revise, I had let the research snuff out the passion I had pitched the story with in the first place.

And I left no energy to revise.

edit one

Thank the Lord for editors in both the fiction world and the nonfiction world. Instead of killing the story, she asked me to re-write. All of it. In a day.

I have never, in all my years of writing, been asked to completely re-write an article until that moment, but that moment made me a stronger, better writer.

Yes, the research is important. Yes, the writing is important. But the rewriting absolutely cannot be overlooked.  Here are some tips to help with the writing and revision process:

  1. Do the work on the front end. Make a question list even if the questions seem obvious. Write in big, bold letters: I want to know/write ___ because ___.  For fiction writers, invest your time in writing what the industry calls a back cover blurb. This is usually three to four paragraphs and is basically a synopsis of the work. Once the writing is done, re-read the blurb. See which one needs to change.
  2. Focus, focus, focus. Too much information is often better than not enough information, but there are times when too much information is just too much. Remember your Who, What, When, Where, Why and How for magazines or journalism pieces. Remember to stay in the scope of the pitch or the assignment.
  3. Schedule time for the piece to rest. If you are working on novel length fiction, maybe you can finish chapter forty on Monday and go back to revise chapter one on Tuesday because there has been so much time between the two. If you are working on a nonfiction piece for a magazine, leave at least twenty-four hours between first draft and edit draft.
  4. Read your work out loud. Me? I head to the chicken coop. Even if my ladies think I’m stupid, they can do nothing more than cluck and peck at my shoe laces when I read through a draft.
  5. Get a second set of eyes on the piece. The eyes should not belong to your mother or your children. There is just something about those connections that do not jive with good editing. You’d have better luck at honesty with my chickens.
  6. Be open to those occasions when your editor will ask for clarification, or a complete re-write. In non-fiction, the work is often objective. In fiction, know the limits of your willingness in terms of what you feel comfortable adding or subtracting to make a piece work for a perceived audience. How far will you go to please those beyond the Lord? Some compromises are just not worth it.
  7. Write a thank you note – especially to the person, or people, who advised a rewrite. It is hard to tell someone their work doesn’t, well, work. It’s even harder to hear it. Having a teachable spirit goes a long way in the world of writing and beyond.
  8. When in doubt, pray. Wait. Listen.

Above all, remember that a rewrite doesn’t kill you, but the lack of one just might.

Click-to-Tweet: Be open to those occasions when your editor will ask for clarification, or a complete re-write. Write, Revise, Submit from @kristyhorine via @InspiredPrompt #amwriting #editing

Writing Prompt: Compose a quick sentence or short paragraph using this photo as inspiration.