Change and A Fresh Start

By Jennifer Hallmark

I hope you had a Merry Christmas, my friends, and are looking forward to a Happy New Year, a fresh start in 2018. We’ve so enjoyed spending time with you in 2017 as we talked about writing, life, family, and everything else. The last five years have been a blessing to me and each member of our Crew.

Next year, our blog will see new and exciting changes. We’ll be more focused with a specific audience in mind. And we’ll have a new name. The Crew is hard at work in order to get everything ready in time for the new year. Want to know more? Then don’t miss our January 1st post for all the details.

I love the last week of the year. For me, it’s a chance to take a breath, put away Christmas decorations, and finish 2017 strong. Here are steps you can take to help move from Christmas into the New Year that I found in Jack Hayford’s book Come and Behold Him...

  • Fast and pray- seek God. Remember. Renew.
  • Read a meaningful (to you) book of the Bible.
  • Redecorate the house for the New Year. It is very important to start the New Year fresh and alive!
  • Send thank you notes and letters.
  • Summarize and organize-write a list of things that you were not able to accomplish in 2017- check off any that are not important and set a few goals for 2018.

These small steps help me focus on what lies ahead. Thank you again for spending time at our blog and we hope to see you often in the future.

Remember: Don’t miss January 1st

Click to tweet:  The last week of the year is a chance to take a breath, put away Christmas decorations, and finish 2017 strong. Here are steps you can take to help move from Christmas into the #NewYear #2018

3 Questions Wednesday with Sara L. Foust

Happy Wednesday! Sara Foust is filling our last interview of the year and we are excited to introduce her debut novel, Callum’s Compass. Her novel won second place in Deep River Books’ 2017 Writer’s Contest…

So, without further ado, Sara, here’s your first question:

What inspires you?

Sara:  My faith. My family. Nature.

A good trio to pull inspiration from. 🙂

You’re a new addition to the crayon box. What color would you be and why?

Sara:  Evergreen. It reminds me of the greenery on the mountains of East TN. And it is steady, a strong color. I hope I am strong too.

A great choice! Just the name evokes a strong foundation lasting into eternity. Last question: 

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Sara:   I went through a lot of careers. I think the first was a veterinarian. But by second grade, I wanted to be an author. I drifted from being an author as I grew because it seemed so impossibly hard and scary. I am very thankful that God has allowed me to return to my truest passion.

That’s wonderful! God knows the desires of our heart. Thanks so much for dropping by, Sara.

Click to tweet:  Check out Sara L. Foust and her debut novel, Callum’s Compass. @InspiredPrompt #Tennessee #fiction

Sara is graciously offering a giveaway of her book, Callum’s Compass. E-book or paperback. (Paperback available only to residents within the U.S.) Make sure to leave a comment to be entered to win…

Callum’s Compass

 KAT WILLIAMS’S brother died in a gruesome accident in the mountains of East Tennessee. She blames herself.

RYAN JENKINS’S fiancée was murdered. He couldn’t protect her.

With the death of her brother, Kat believes she is unworthy of love from anyone—even God. When a good friend elicits a promise that she will stop living in the past and then leaves her clues to a real-life treasure hunt, Kat embarks on an adventure chock-full of danger. To find the treasure, Kat will have to survive wild animals—and even wilder men. Can she rely on Ryan, the handsome wildlife officer assigned to protect her . . . without falling in love?

Ryan swore off love when his fiancée was murdered, but feelings long-buried rise to the surface around Kat. He volunteers to help with her treasure hunt, vowing to keep her safe. Together they venture deep into caves and tunnels . . . and even deeper into the depths of their unplumbed hearts.

Sara L. Foust writes Inspirational Romantic Suspense from a mini-farm in East Tennessee, where she lives with her husband and their five homeschooled children. She earned her Bachelor’s degree from the University of Tennessee and is a member of ACFW and Tennessee Mountain Writers. Callum’s Compass won second place in Deep River Books’ 2017 Writer’s Contest.

Sara also has a story, “Leap of Faith,” in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Step Outside Your Comfort Zone. Gain access to a FREE digital scrapbook detailing some real-life places from Callum’s Compass by signing up for her newsletter:

Christmas in Our Hearts

by Betty Owens

The wonderful thing about Christmas is…it’s the only one. (Adapted from the Tigger song).

Yes, there’s only one Christmas, and it comes once a year. I hear some of you shouting, “hallelujah!”

For many of us, the hectic Christmas season can be overwhelming, especially lately, when it seems to last the entire final quarter of the year. However, it’s still a magical, joyous time.

Christmas is one of those seasons that’s new every year–no matter how many traditions you carry over from previous years, there’s always something that’s new and precious.I tend to associate memories with sounds and aromas. Sounds, like the bells of a nearby church tolling seasonal tunes, send me back to my childhood home in San Diego, near the mission at Balboa. Aromas, like molasses cookies baking in the oven, mixed with the fresh scent of pine from the Christmas tree remind me of home. With the visual of old-fashioned Christmas bulbs reflected off shiny glass ornaments—I can almost hear the crackle of excitement in the air, as memories come rushing in.

I didn’t grow up in an overly religious home, so I didn’t always associate Christmas with church services and worship. But, we sang the beautiful carols and hymns I came to love and cherish. It Came Upon a Midnight Clear, Angels We Have Heard on High, O Come All Ye Faithful, are a few of my favorites.

As a young teen, after I accepted a friend’s invitation to join her church’s Christmas choir, I was hooked. Something began to change in my heart, making room for the Savior, and the story of His birth.

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.~John 1:14 NIV

Christmas took on a new and special meaning, so much deeper and more satisfying than the beloved fairy tale story of St. Nicholas. [Click to tweet]

We’ve had some wonderful posts this December, as our crew members have shared their hearts and warmed ours with beautiful moments, and priceless memories. Taken as a whole, these messages combine to relate the true meaning behind Christmas, and confirm our beliefs in the One born on that first Christmas Eve. I’ve linked them here, if you’d like to re-read them.

December: It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

Micki Clark’s Christmas Traditions

A Glimpse of Christ

It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas; The Reason for the Season

‘Twas the Night before Christmas

What Christmas Means to Me

Now, it’s your turn. What’s your all-time favorite Christmas memory or tradition? What sets your heart aglow as the day approaches? We welcome you to join the conversation. You’re the reason we write, and we love to hear from you.

From our homes to yours, may you have a wonderful, blessed holiday season!

The Writing Prompts Crew

3 Questions Wednesday with Suzy Parish

Welcome to 3 Questions Wednesday!

Suzy Parish discovered her love of books as a child in Richmond, Virginia when she took refuge from the summer heat in the local Bookmobile. She believes in the power of literacy to improve the lives of individuals and stewards a Little Free Library in a local park. Way to go, Suzy! So, with that in mind, let’s see how she answers our 3 questions.

Question: What inspires you?

Suzy:  Reading stories of hope and triumph over life’s trials. That inspired the tagline “Hope blooms in unexpected places.” True heroes inspire the heroes in my fiction.

Hope and heroes just go together somehow 🙂

Just for fun–You’re a new addition to the crayon box. What color would you be and why?

Suzy:  Forest Green. It’s been my favorite color since I was a little girl. I love nature, and the color green reminds me of life and resurrection.

Good choice. Green is definitely a color of life and rebirth.

Final Question–As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Suzy: I was full of questions as a child. That untamed curiosity led me to investigate a wide range of professions, including a veterinarian, Bible translator, writer, and artist. I believe that character trait helped me become a better researcher. But I never really had a single occupation in mind. If asked, I would have said all of them.

Curiosity is a must in a writer. Thank you, Suzy,  for visiting 3 Questions Wednesday.

Readers, here’s more about Suzy and her books–

Suzy Parish is an author at Pelican Book Group. Suzy wrote as a Community Columnist for the Huntsville Times. She is currently a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW).

Her novel, Flowers from Afghanistan was a semi-finalist in the Genesis contest for 2013. Suzy discovered her love of books as a child in Richmond, Virginia when she took refuge from the summer heat in the local Bookmobile. She believes in the power of literacy to improve the lives of individuals and stewards a Little Free Library in a local park. Suzy currently resides in Huntsville, Alabama with her husband, Chet. Her tennis-ball addicted dog Charlie keeps her life filled with daily mayhem.

Suzy’s debut novel, Flowers from Afghanistan will be released in 2018.

Click to Tweet: Find out how author Suzy Parish answered our 3 Questions! #military #fiction

 Flowers From Afghanistan

Weighed down by guilt following the death of his two-year-old son, Mac McCann accepts a year-long position training police officers in Afghanistan. Leaving his wife Sophie to grieve alone, he hopes the life-or-death distractions of his self-imposed exile will build a wall between him and his pain.

As camaraderie builds between Mac and the men on base—including a local barber and his precocious little boy—Mac’s heart becomes invested in stories beyond his own tragedy and he learns he is not the only one running from loss. But when the hour of attack arrives, will he be able to see past his guilt to believe there’s still something—and someone—worth living for?

With touching details based on true events, Flowers from Afghanistan is a redemptive journey of healing, a chronicle of hope in crisis, and a testament to the faithfulness of God through it all. Save