How Chariots of Fire is Still Making a Difference in my Life

By Jennifer Hallmark

track-214179__180Winner of four Academy Awards including Best Picture, Chariots of Fire released the year after I graduated from high school (yes, I am that old). I couldn’t wait to see the movie. My future husband, Danny, and I bought tickets to a late night showing and he fell asleep before it ended. He was working long hours on the job and farm at the time and it really wasn’t his kind of movie. But it was all I thought it would be and more.

The story line: Two young British sprinters try out for the 1924 Olympics. Eric Liddell and Harold Abrahams both run for the Cambridge University Athletics Club. Harold fights against prejudice because of his Jewish heritage and his own inner torment, believing any loss is a failure.

Eric, a Scottish missionary, runs to please God. Leading up to the Olympics, Eric is supposed to run the 100-meter race but refuses because the qualifying heat is scheduled on a Sunday. Harold, who has lost to Eric in the 100-meter race the year before, qualifies and wins in record time. Eric has a slot in the 400 meter given to him by a nobleman and wins his race in record time.

I’ve always loved true-life stories and this one is no different. As a young woman, readying myself to enter college and later marriage, the tenacity of Eric Liddell working through obstacle after obstacle on the way to his dream lodged in my heart.

It’s good that it remained there. When I started writing seriously in 2006, I would watch the movie over and over to remind me to persevere. Pursuing traditional publication is a slow process involving perfecting of the craft, building of an online presence or platform, and a constant flow of acceptance mingled with rejection. It truly seems to be “three steps forward, two steps back.”

Like Eric, God has strengthened me to meet each obstacle I’ve faced. With His help, I’ve either overcome the obstacle or realized maybe I wasn’t on the path God prepared for me to follow.

As I ready for another writing conference and wait to hear from a publisher regarding one of my novels, I believe I’ll watch the greatest movie of all time, Chariots of Fire, IMHO, one more time.

As part of the Writing Prompts Crew, I hope you’ve enjoyed our month of movies. Don’t miss next month as we tackle the topic of Modern Literature. What’s new in publishing, genre, and other writing-related topics? Find out here.

Complete the prompt for an extra entry in our quarterly drawings! Submit your completed writing prompt via Comments.

Writing Prompt: Write a story from these four prompts: racing flats (shoes), Italy, a gondola, and a basket of

3 Questions Wednesday With Patricia Carroll

Author Patricia Carroll

Author Patricia Carroll

Karen Jurgens: Today we welcome author and my personal friend, Patricia (Patty) Carroll, to 3 Questions Wednesday.

Hello, Patty. So glad you could join us today!

Why do you like to write books set in the Old American West?

Patty:     I have always loved westerns. I grew up with them. I think the idea of a wild, free country sets my imagination free. Oh, and the horses. I’ve always been a horse lover, and westerns have horses.

Karen: Westerns are great, I agree. Love those horses, especially galloping over the plains.


Why do you think Mail Order Bride stories are so popular?

Patty:   Because so many of the mail order bride stories revolve around a town or family, I believe readers enjoy reading about community. In America, I would say one of the things lacking in our land of plenty is a sense of community. So I believe the readers enjoy reading about towns or families where the people know one another and what’s more care for one another.

Karen: That does seem to have an eternal appeal, especially in these days. Tell me more about your style of writing.

How do you write ~ Seat-of-the-pants or plotter?

Patty:     I write by the seat-of-my-pants. I enjoy letting the story reveal itself to me, letting the characters surprise me, and the excitement of wondering what will happen next. I read somewhere that SOTP writers would quit the story if they ever did an outline, and I think they’re right. So much of the joy is in seeing how this story is going to unfold. I’d be bored if I knew it all before sitting down to write the first sentence.

Karen: Having the characters reveal the story as you go sounds like great fun! Everyday must be full of suspense for you as a writer. Thanks for visiting, Patty.

You can find Patricia Carroll’s books on Amazon:

Patricia PacJac Carroll


Blog :

~Please sign up for her Newsletter and get updates about her new releases: PacJac News

 ***Now for her newest release***

Nettie’s Love is available for preorder, and will release on August 6, 2015.

Patricia Carroll 2The newest is the first in a series set in Texas. Nettie’s Love is about a 40-year-old spinster in Minnesota. She’s known only life on the farm and now that her father has died, everything is sold out from under her and she’s to live with her brothers and their families.

In 1867, many states reserved virtually no protection for women. They couldn’t own land. Sad but true. Texas and California were different because of their Spanish heritage. But for Nettie, she had nothing but the promise of more back-breaking work.

She finds an ad in the paper for a sheriff wanting a mail order bride in her forties. He’s 45, and the town is retiring him. Reed Andrews doesn’t like the idea of retiring, but has little choice. To make it tolerable, he sent off an ad for a mail order bride, holding little hope of a woman wanting to come to Bluebonnet, Texas.

There is sweet romance, a mystery, and wild west adventure as Nettie and Reed fall in love and set up Misfit Ranch in Bluebonnet, Texas, where in later books, Reed will help misfits find themselves and Nettie will find them brides.

Here is an excerpt of the first chapter:

Minnesota, 1867

Nettie Wellesley picked up a handful of the dark, rich soil and let it fall through her fingers to her father’s casket. He’d loved the land. More than her mother, her brothers, or her. Arnold Wellesley had been a farmer first. Now, he was gone and in the soil that he’d loved so dearly.

The spring wind blew against her face as she gazed at her brothers and their families. She was alone. She always had been. The only girl. Even her mother sided with the boys. It was as if at birth, Nettie, formally Annette, Wellesley was born to serve.

A worker bee. She did the dishes. Milked the cows. Collected eggs. Helped make dinner. Harvested the crops. Yes, the boys worked hard, too. It was a farm. All of them worked sunup to sundown. Nettie shoved aside the nagging sense of duty to milk the cows, reminding herself the barn was now empty.

The brothers had seen to it that as soon as Pa was in the ground, the farm changed hands. They’d arranged to sell everything out from under her sleeping father. Stroke, the doctor had said. After slumbering for a week, he’d slipped into the next world and the farm into the hands of strangers.

She accepted the pastor’s condolences and well-meaning words from neighbors who couldn’t even look her in the eye. Seems they had all profited on the demise of her farm. Her brothers had their own places. She, the only daughter and her father’s caretaker, was left with nothing and nowhere to go.

David rested his big hand on her shoulder. “Nettie, we, Jack, Bill, and I, decided you would come and live with me first.”

She stared into the image of her father in his younger years. David, the first-born. The dutiful son. With nothing of her own but the few clothes in her satchel, she nodded. They had decided. No one had seen fit to ask. Nor had any of the funds from the sale made it into her hands.

David shrugged uncomfortably. “It’s the way of the law, of family. We promised Pa to take care of you.”

She de-petaled a rose and threw the stem to the ground. “Of course. When do we go?”

He stared back to his family. Or more specifically to Annie, his wife. She stood with arms folded and lips set in a stern line on her already unfriendly face.

David turned back to face Nettie. “When you’re ready, we have a room for you. Off to the side.”

Wooden. It’s how she felt. As if she were already in her coffin and unable to stretch, breathe, or live. He wanted her to accept her fate graciously. Truth was, after taking care of an invalid mother for ten years, the farm, and then her father, she was just, God forgive her, plum out of grace.


Patricia PacJac Carroll loves to write. The PacJac comes from her initials and her husband’s. She is blessed beyond her imagination and lives in Texas with her wonderful husband, son, and their ornery lovable Papillion, Jacs.


Star Wars is the Greatest Movie Ever

By Betty Boyd 


I have always been a science fiction fan, from Star Trek to the movies from the 1950’s to include “The Red Planet”. The most remarkable movie was a little known movie from 1977 entitled “Star Wars”. Most critics thought that it would not be very profitable, well these critics were wrong.

I remember going and paying a $1.00 in 1977 to see Star Wars-the original in the franchise. I was so enthralled by the special effects. (Even by today’s standards, these special effects have stood the test of time). I loved all the characters who were on the side of good; I did not like Darth Vader (evil).

My most favorite characters were R2-D2 and C-3PO. It was great to see how robots could communicate, be taken apart, put back together, and exhibit real human charactertics. Future robots should take note and learn how to be human from R2-D2 and C-3PO.

Another interesting character is Yoda and who taught Luke Skywalker all about the “Force”. The Force is the really the most interesting part of the movie. I have always been intrigued by the concept of what the “Force” really means. Is it some form of supernatural power, or reading of minds, or nothing at all.

I think the “Force” is how we see ourselves, and the belief we have in ourselves. Having trust in ourselves, trust in our Lord and knowing we can accomplish anything through the power of God.

Film critics Ebert and Roeper stated that Star Wars is “the greatest adventure series of all time”. There have been subsequent sequels and prequels in the Star Wars franchise. In December 2015, the latest installment is the “Force Awakens”. I will be looking forward to this movie, because I believe it embodies some of the best attributes of the 1977 movie.

The original Star Wars movie is fun, exciting, and is true edge-of your seat entertainment.

“May the force be with you.”

“Complete the prompt below for an extra entry in our quarterly drawings! Submit your completed writing prompt via comments.”

Do you believe in the concept of the Force?

First and Goal: What Football Taught Me About Never Giving Up By Jake Byrne and Holly Michael

IMG_1177Today, we welcome authors, Jake Byrne and his mom, Holly Michaelon the blog to showcase their latest release, First and Goal: What Football Taught Me About Never Giving Up.

Hello, Jake and Holly! So glad you could join us. First question:

Have you always wanted to be an author?

Jake: Writing a book had been in the back of my mind for a couple of years. As a type 1 diabetic, it took a lot of trial and error to manage the disease and compete in sports. I wanted to share my experiences to encourage others to never give up despite diabetes or other obstacles.

Holly: Of my three kids, I never imagined Jake would be the one who would follow the same path as me. I’m thrilled. My answer is also, yes, I also carried that thought in the back of my mind from my childhood. I loved reading and writing ever since my mom picked me and a Dr. Seuss book up and sat down. My writing career began as soon as I could form words to letters and scribble poems for my parents and siblings. The day I found out I was pregnant with Jake, I started writing letters to him in a hard-bound journal. I gave it to him when he left home to play football for the University of Wisconsin.

I love a mother-son writing team. 🙂

What do you love the most about writing, and what do you like the least?

Jake: The most? The finished project! Seriously, the process was fun, too. I enjoyed combining the anecdotes and stories with Bible verses and football terms. The least? Typing on a keyboard. Not my favorite thing. Thankfully, as a team effort, with my mom as the ghostwriter, we completed the project by deadline.

Holly: And I love to type! Just love how my fingers can fly over those letters when the words flow into my mind, or in this case from Jake’s mind. We were an excellent team on this project. I also love the editing process. What do I like least? I certainly don’t dislike any part of writing. But, for fiction writing, I dread the empty page before I begin a new chapter. I do love writing fiction, but as one who writes both fiction and nonfiction, I think nonfiction is easier for me.

An empty page is a scary thing.

How did you come up with the idea for this devotional?

Jake: During football season with the San Diego Chargers, my mom called and the topic of writing a devotional IMG_7155using football terms came up in the conversation. It sounded like a perfect way to get across a message of encouragement to never give up on dreams no matter what mountains have to be moved.

Holly: Yes, he was all in. And with the help of God, Jake moved a lot of mountains to go as far as the NFL with football. And I was super excited after that phone call with Jake. I was only a couple of days away from going to a Christian Writer’s Conference when we talked about the idea. We put our minds together and came up with a one-sheet that I presented to Kim Moore with Harvest House Publishers. Kim let me know right away that she loved it.  And within a short time we were offered a contract.

God works in wonderful ways! 

Do you blog? How often?

Jake: I just started my blog and am not as active as I should be, but am working on it. I’m also working for a Marketing firm as well as trying to get my foundation, Type Won, started. The foundation’s goal is to help support kids with Type 1 diabetes to stay active and healthy. And, I also recently got married. My wife Emma has been a real blessing and helper through all of this, someone who shares my dreams and goals.

Holly: I love Emma. She’s amazing and an answer to prayers for a perfect wife for my son. Jake’s always got big goals and he’s been working hard trying to fit the blogging in with everything else, including busy days surrounding the release of First and Goal. I also blog on my own blog at about faith and family. A lot of Jake’s journey into the NFL was chronicled on that blog. I am also part of a blogging team on a couple of other blogs, including this one!

And we love having you here. ❤ Last question:

What fun fact would you like your readers to know about you?

Jake: I fear clowns and miniature ponies.

Holly: I can understand the clowns. I fear them, too. The miniature ponies…well, maybe Jake fears the ponies because he’s bigger than them and if he rode them he might kill them. Lol. Now he owns a Great Dane dog that’s bigger than a miniature pony. My fun fact: Ever since I was a teenager, whenever I drive alone at night I fear running into a row of aliens standing on the road, holding hands to block my way and abduct me. Ok, Jake, maybe the shetland pony fear isn’t so weird.

Clowns, ponies, and aliens. Sounds like a book in the works to me.

Thanks so much for dropping by, Jake and Holly. If you’d like to win a signed copy of First and Goal – What Football Taught Me About Never Giving Up, please leave a comment and you’ll be entered to win.

First and Goal: What Football Taught Me About Never Giving Up51bkshxQaxL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_

Jake Byrne dreamed of playing professional football. He had the size, the talent, the drive…but at age 14, he found out he also had type 1 diabetes.

Still, Jake was determined to reach his goal. And God was determined to guide and empower him all along the way.

Jake’s journey to the NFL is the backdrop for this collection of inspiring devotions based on nearly a hundred football terms. Jake takes you to the weight room, practice field, and even across the goal line. You’ll feel as if you’re lined up next to him, facing a very large defender you’re about to take down. He also includes Scripture and then ties up each story in a way that feels real and encouraging. You’ll discover…

  • what to do when God calls an audible in your life
  • how to respond when God puts you on special teams
  • why prayer is never an incomplete pass

These quick daily readings will help you press through your own difficulties and experience God’s dream for you.

Jake Byrne grew up in Rogers, Arkansas. A type 1 diabetic since the age of fourteen, he has since been proactive combating the disease and mentoring diabetic youth. He played football for the University of Wisconsin as a tight end, and went on to compete in the NFL. Originally an undrafted free agent who signed with the New Orleans Saints in 2012, he has also been a Houston Texan, Kansas City Chief, and San Diego Charger. He and his wife, Emma, live in Dallas. Jake blogs at Page (Type Won):

Twitter: @sugarfreejb82

Instagram: Jakebyrne81


Holly Michael has enjoyed a writing career as a journalist, features writer, and a regular ghostwriter for Guideposts magazine before authoring novels and nonfiction books. Married to Anglican Bishop, Leo Michael, Holly has three grown children and lives in Kansas City. She blogs at

Contact her at or on Facebook @  or Twitter: @HollyMichael

In First and Goal – What Football Taught Me About Never Giving Up, Holly Michael joins her NFL player son, Jake Byrne, in this football-themed devotional published by Harvest House, due for release in August 2015.

When the Wind Stirred the Soul




I don’t remember when I first saw Gone with the Wind. I’m sure I was at least a teenager. Upon my first introduction to Scarlett O’Hara, I really wanted to smack her. She was a rule-breaking, boyfriend-stealing, mean-spirited brat. She was also beautiful, had a wardrobe to die for, and lived on a gorgeous plantation with men literally falling at her feet. OK, so I was a little jealous too.

I also believe Scarlett O’Hara is one of the most misunderstood characters of all time. Having watched the movie several times, and read the book, I believe Scarlett was a very strong willed person who dared to take control of her own life. She fought the asphyxiation of society and clawed her way out for oxygen.

Remember the scene at Twelve Oaks when Scarlett threw a knickknack at the wall and it shattered over Rhett Butler’s head? I think that is the first honest emotion we see from her, and when Rhett first became intrigued by her.gone-with-the-wind

Margaret Mitchell began writing her epic tale in 1926 after she was injured in an accident that took years to heal. Encouraged to finish by a publishing friend, she took more time to research for historical accuracy. It was published in 1936 and won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1937.

Producer David O. Selznick purchased the movie rights for $50,000 in 1936. Filmed in California, the famous scene at the Twelve Oaks picnic was filmed at Busch Gardens. The lack of extras to play the dead and wounded Confederate soldiers toward the end of the war forced Selznick to use 1000 dummies to show the epic suffering. The burning of Atlanta was filmed on a movie set in California, not Georgia.

Gone with the Wind 2During the premiere in Atlanta, the Governor of Georgia declared a state holiday, and organized three days of parades and parties. One sad fact I found was that even though Hattie McDonald, who played Mammy won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress, she was not allowed to sit with the other nominees at the GWTW table, but was segregated to the back with a friend, and her agent.

For me, Gone with the Wind is an example of that good ole’ “pull yourself up by your bootstrap” mentality. Scarlett did what she felt she had to do to survive. Even if that meant beguiling her sister’s beau to marry her in order to keep a roof over everyone’s head, or seducing Rhett Butler for the money to save her precious Tara.

It takes a strong will and courage to go up against scrutiny. Yes, some of her decisions did hurt others, and I think she did feel bad about it.. But her determination also provided a home and sustenance for others in need.Gone with the Wind 3

In the end, she grew up and realized that Ashley was just a dreamer, not her savior. Rhett understood her, and that was a lot more than anyone else had ever tried to do. Melody loved her unconditionally, even with all the bad choices she made. On the surface, Scarlett did seem like a self-centered brat. Inwardly, I believe she loved very deeply, so much so that she was willing to do the unthinkable for those she loved.

Writing Prompt: Margaret Mitchell purposely wrote Gone with the Wind without a definite ending. How would you have ended the story?