We have a winner!

vonaOur Christmas Memory contest has now ended and we have a winner! Congratulations, Vona Elkins Bankston. You’ve won the Amazon gift card. Enjoy her bio and favorite Christmas memory…

Vona B. Elkins Bankston lives in Moulton, Alabama. She is a mother of 3 adult children, 7 grandchildren, and 3 great grandchildren. She is active in the women’s ministry in her church, sings in the choir and is also a soloist. She loves Auburn football, hiking, singing, reading and spending time with friends and family.

She writes skits, life experience articles, and devotionals. For the past 5 years she has been writing interactive Bible studies and Bible dramas for CHRIST TO THE WORLD MINISTRIES which broadcasts on radio and internet in 26 countries.

Vona’s journey in life has led her to the mountain top and down into the valley. She says: You can’t live forever on the mountain top, there is no fertilizer there. It’s down in the valley with real people, with real problems that you find nourishment that enables you to grow deep into the soil of God’s love.


Christmas came to us once a year. My Dad was like a little boy at Christmas. He often let Santa come a day early because he couldn’t wait another day to see the look of joy and excitement on our faces.

Today it seems our youngsters have Christmas all year long and when December 25 rolls around there is not much to buy which they don’t already have. I feel this has robbed them of the thrill of anticipation felt by an earlier generation.

I was born into a family of four siblings. We didn’t have a lot of earthly treasures growing up but the heavenly treasure of the love of Jesus Christ bound us together in a special way.
One of our favorite things to do together was sing around the old family organ. We carried this tradition with us when we married and had families of our own. Though separated by miles we maintained that tradition whenever we had a chance to get together with our parents and siblings.

It was Christmas Eve 1996.My husband and I had been blessed with three children and seven grandchildren. They were all at our house which had become a tradition for us.
The children were excited as they played together but the only joy we adults felt came from their laughter as they played together. My husband had terminal cancer. We tried not to let our fear and sadness show on our faces for we felt this might be his last Christmas with us. I wondered if we would ever be able to sing at Christmas again.

Suddenly there was a loud knock on the door. Everyone got quiet. When I went to the door I found my brother’s family standing there, two van loads of singers. The family harmony was heavenly as they sang the songs for us that we could not sing for ourselves. I don’t believe the angels and the heavenly host sounded any better on the night Christ was born.

Isn’t this what Christmas is really about? Standing together as earthly families and God’s family . . . standing together as the shepherds did on Christmas night . . . beholding the star, beholding the Savior of the world lying in a manger . . . then going into the world to share the good news shared by the angels,

“Fear not: for behold I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this night in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. “

On the Eve of 2013

HNY-funky2013 will be upon us in a few short hours, and so begins our new blog. There’s still a little construction work, so don that hard hat. Watch your step as you cross the steel beams of information, great articles, and timely advice. The Writing Prompts Crew is a mixture of writers in the genre of fantasy, romance, women’s fiction, science fiction, thrillers, and inspirational. So be sure and check out our new articles on Tuesdays and Fridays and of course, our monthly contest.

The monthly contest for the ever popular Amazon gift card changes from random drawings to short story contests, and for the first time, a new followers contest coming in the spring. January’s topic of interest is Everything Bible and should provide plenty of building material for all your writing needs.

Topics this year include motorcycles, soccer, heroes, villains, and pets. What more could one want? So ready your tool of choice, whether it’s a computer in the coffee shop, or journal and pencil on the back porch, and begin to write. After you are properly inspired by a writing prompt, thought, or idea…

All Things New at Writing Prompts & Thoughts & Ideas…Oh My!

596px-1895_Dictionary_-_CastleTo keep with the theme of historical words, I have chosen the word “newfangled.” According to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary, the word originated in the fifteenth century, which surprised me. Middle English, from newefangel, it means to take, seize.

The two modern definitions in Merriam-Webster are attracted to novelty, and of the newest style and kind. Wiktionary says modern, unfamiliar, or different.

Why did I chose newfangled? Several reasons, actually.
Writing Prompts & Thoughts & Ideas…Oh My! stands in the midst of several newfangled additions. First, we are moving to a new blog site. We wanted a more flexible site that will appeal to more writers so it’s a complete reconstruction.

Also we’re adding a new blogger, John Brewer to the mix. A major in physics and engineering, John brings a whole new perspective on varied subjects. Here’s a sneak peek…

Born into a Navy family, John has lived all over the United States. Though montesa_alteredvibrance_squaretrained as a physicist his deepest passions are writing, spirituality, and how technology is intruding upon traditional definitions of humanity.
These conflicts thread through John’s novels, which straddle the fence between thriller and science fiction.

On January 1st, 2013, all this newness will be revealed. So we’re asking you to spread the word to all your writer friends and make sure and bookmark the new site on January 1st. Be ready to transition to https://writingpromptsthoughtsideas.wordpress.com/ whenever you can. A “follow” would be nice 🙂

Newfangled. All this change has not come easy for me, but without change, growth is not really possible. And who doesn’t want to grow? Hope 2012 found you blessed and looking forward to 2013…

Isaiah 54:2-3 “Enlarge the place of your tent, and let them stretch out the curtains of your dwellings; do not spare; lengthen your cords, and strengthen your stakes. For you shall expand to the right and to the left, and your descendants will inherit the nations, and make the desolate cities inhabited.”

Writing prompt: Bubba stared at Elise, pointing at the object on the front porch of the dilapidated farmhouse. “Where’d ya get that newfangled…”

Favorite Christmas Memories

Since it’s Christmas we thought we’d share some of our favorite memories. 
Each year I find something special to hold near to my heart. I remember one time when I was little. I had to be younger than six, but I recall thinking Santa wasn’t real. I’m not sure how I had come to think this, but my parents took me out for our yearly ride in search of Santa and just as we pulled back up to the house I heard him. I really heard him. I looked and looked but didn’t see him.
For many years we always had some sort of Christmas with that special Santa of mine. Grandpa passed away back in ’99 (if I recall correctly), but I’ll never forget the Christmas memories with him.
This year will be extra special. Our family has had a long, hard year, but God has been faithful and He has brought restoration, and continues to do so, into our home. We will have our own little miracle and we will all be together this Christmas and I can’t wait to kiss and hug each one of my children when they walk through the door. 
Christmas 2005

This was the last Christmas spent with my Dad (center of photo). I’m so thankful for our family tradition of celebrating Christmas Eve together. Our lives are enriched as the generations gather, share favorite foods and sweet memories. When all the grandchildren open their gifts, it’s a little like a Griswold Christmas! Wrapping paper flies through the air and little ones dive bomb the Christmas tree, looking for more gifts. The aftermath resembles the path of an E4 tornado. We never mind cleaning up the mess. Because sometimes, just being together is the greatest gift of all.

You can read more about Betty’s favorite Christmas memory on my http://www.bettythomasonowens.com

Gift-20One fond Christmas memory occurred during our first year of marriage. My husband, Danny, and his sister, Kay, had gone shopping for last minute items while I stayed at his mother’s house, helping her cook for Christmas Eve.

I glanced up when I heard the front door open and in came Kay followed by Danny. He must have been carrying ten to twelve wrapped presents, shirt box size. It was all he could do to carry the unwieldy stack inside. And they were all for me!

Most of my clothes growing up were sewn by my mother and I was overwhelmed as I opened box after box of pants, sweaters, and shirts, all in matched sets. I don’t know if it was as much about the presents as having an empty place inside me filled, one I didn’t realize was there.

God is still working through other people to bless me and fill other empty places. And I daily look for other people who need a blessing in their life…

May I Have a Word?

Portrait of Jane Austen, via Wikipedia Commons

What thought processes are set in motion by a simple polite question? “May I have a word?” or “May I speak with you?” or “We need to talk.” Can you tell the difference?

I’m a big fan of Austen. But her prose is a little like Shakespeare’s. It takes time to get comfortable with it. Consider this passage, taken from Pride and Prejudice, Chapter Thirty-Six:

The extravagance and general profligacy which he scrupled not to lay to Mr. Wickham’s charge exceedingly shocked her; the more so as she could bring no proof of its injustice.

At first reading, it may be a difficult passage to understand. You must translate it into modern, American English. But how polite a statement it sounds. While profligate used as an adjective means: recklessly extravagant or wasteful in the use of resources; the noun form means: licentious, dissolute.

Synonyms for the noun profligacy: extravagance, excess, squandering, waste, recklessness, wastefulness, lavishness, prodigality, improvidence, immorality, depravity, debauchery, abandon, corruption, promiscuity, laxity, dissipation, degeneracy, licentiousness, wantonness, libertinism, dissoluteness, unrestraint.

About halfway through the list of synonyms, you start to get the picture. The guy’s a reprobate. And since I now know the book so well, I understand Wickham’s character very well. Austen’s “…he scrupled not to lay to Mr. Wickham’s charge,” tells us Mr. Darcy withheld some information and Elizabeth reads between the lines and sees far more. The truth dawns on her, and she is embarrassed over her misunderstanding.

The word “scrupled” means he hesitated because of the impropriety of the truth. He held back because he was a gentleman, and she was a lady. In more modern times, he probably would not hesitate to tell her everything. She would see it on the news or read it on Facebook or Twitter–he may as well be the one to tell her of it.

So do you begin to get an understanding of what Elizabeth thought of Mr. Darcy in this passage? He was much too polite to bring the true charge against Mr. Wickham, because of its extremely immoral nature. The man Wickham was a depraved drunk who chased after skirts. But in proper society, a true gentleman (Darcy) never laid such a charge on another man in the presence of a lady.

What a great burden is placed on us as writers to convey to our reader exactly what we want to say in a way that is clear to the modern reader, yet maintains the purity of the era we’re writing about. How do we start? By reading books written in the era and translating them to modern. Then you can begin to piece together a work that sounds like the past, but can be easily understood. Never “dumb down” your writing, but make it clear and concise, with your reader in mind.