November – Write that novel!

They keep you up at night or wake you early in the morning. They are the characters that are swirling and dancing in all writers. They want out of our brains and onto the paper or screen. It’s time to let them out! Send them on their story journey. Let your characters flow into the story you weave. It’s National Novel Writing Month, your designated month for unabashed writing.

November is the month, and the challenge is on by NaNoWrIMO.ORG to write 50,000 words in November. This equates to a strong and very rough draft of your novel. It’s your jump start to get your story out of your head.

How can this be done? In simplest terms, 1,667 words per day. Just sit down and let them flow. All the excuses are out the window according to a post by NY Book Editors. I need a plan. I need an outline. What about my plot chart? For those of you who are planners, this may be hard. I count myself among you. But when I wrote the first draft of my book during Nano-WriMO a few years ago, it was the most freeing feeling to just sit down everyday and write. My story lines and characters took me in many directions I could have never planned. I ended the month and the draft with 55,152 words and a giant YIPPEE!

To make this fun and a way to connect with others doing the same thing, check out the NANOWriMO website and log in. There are resources and community forums by region of the country, and around the world, that let you know you’re not alone in this challenge. Check around your local community for other writers taking the challenge. Some writer groups hold writing events to help encourage one another. These events include just time to write among other writers, word games to stimulate wordsmithing, and other fun writing exercises for getting those novels drafted.

Move the Halloween candy wrappers aside, and welcome November with a challenge that could be the first step in your next (or first) published book.

I’m in, are you?

7 Tips for accepting the challenge:

  1. If you hit writer’s block, stop and get a glass of water. Drink it. Sit down and write a scene with one of your other characters.
  2. Phone a trusted writing friend if you find yourself slowing down and talk about your story. A fifteen-minute conversation may spur some new ideas.
  3. Even if you are writing a scene and you know there are flaws, keep writing. Something good will come of it in the next draft.
  4. Carve the time anywhere – lunch, carpool, a few minutes before bed.
  5. Mid-month slow-down? Look how far you’ve come! Connect with other writers and keep going.
  6. Feel like you are getting behind in your word count? Keep going. On the off chance you don’t end up with 50,000 words, you will be so much further along.
  7. Remember, no editing, just writing.

Let’s connect:
Facebook and Twitter: @KHRWriter
Instagram: KHRichardson5

3 Questions Wednesday with Sandra Byrd

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

First question:
Who is your favorite author?
Sandra: I love reading in many different genres, eras, and places, but if I had to choose one favorite, it would be Laura Ingalls Wilder.

Although I’d read many books before I read her series, her books were the ones that truly made me want to write books, to bring people and stories to life for others while discovering them for myself. Her characters quickened on the page, her story pacing was perfect, and her descriptions – especially her food descriptions! – allowed me to feel like I was right there with her.

I read them to my kids, too, and we ground wheat with a coffee grinder, and I put a penny and an orange in their Christmas stockings, just like Laura had received. Later, when I read about the difficulties, she faced in getting published and how much help she needed from excellent editors, I resonated with her even more.

With the first royalty monies I received, I purchased the hardback version of the whole Little House Series, first editions with Gareth Williams illustrations.  I placed them on my bookshelf with my tattered childhood paper copies, side-by-side.

A classic and a favorite that never grows old.  Next question…You’ve been chosen to write a biography about your favorite historical person. Who would that be?

Sandra: Luckily for me, I have already written about some of my favorite historical characters in my Ladies in Waiting Series: Anne Boleyn,  Katheryn Parr, and Queen Elizabeth I. It was a wonderful privilege in that I knew them so well at the outset of the series, but also great fun as I delved even more deeply in Tudor England, the Reformation, and the lives of powerful, but historically silent, women.

One of the more intimidating tasks for me was to write dialogue in the voice of Queen Elizabeth I, who was a powerful, no-nonsense woman. I hoped I was saying through her what she would say for herself!

One of the more pleasant tasks was showing their softer, more vulnerable sides, thought the eyes of their close friends, real-life ladies in waiting. I would love to introduce you to these historical favorites, too: Sandra Byrd’s Ladies in Waiting Series

I’m always amazed when the dialogue in historical novels is so authentic. That can’t be easy. Last question: If you could spend time with a character from your book whom would it be? And what would you do during that day?

Sandra: I love all of my heroines, but I’d spend it with Lexi, my character, who is an extraordinary cook and baker, who is also finding her path in life. Why? Oh, the food. We’d cook and bake all day. If you want to take a peek at some of the things we’d likely make together, please check out the photos of recipes from the series, here: Recipe Photos from the French Twist Series. Then you can pop over here to buy the books and cook with us! French Twist Series, by Sandra Byrd

I love trying recipes from the books I read! Thanks for stopping by.

Click to tweet: One of the more intimidating tasks for me was to write dialogue in the voice of Queen Elizabeth I, who was a powerful, no-nonsense woman. I hoped I was saying through her what she would say for herself!


About Sandra Byrd

Bestselling author Sandra Byrd continues to earn both industry acclaim and high praise from readers everywhere. The author of more than fifty books, her work has received many awards, nominations, and accolades including the Historical Novel Society’s Editor’s Choice award, two Christy Awards nominations, Two Library Journal Best Book selections, and inclusion on Booklist’s Top Ten Inspirational Books of the Year list. As an editor and an in-demand writing coach, Sandra is passionate about helping writers develop their talents and has mentored hundreds of writers at all stages of their writing careers.

You can find more information and social media links on her website.

Farewell to October

A brooding calm in all the air,
A dreamy quiet everywhere…
A golden glow to light the day
That fades in purple mists away—
This soothing calm, this presence bright,
October’s sweet and mellow light.
~Phebe A. Holder, “A Song of October,”
in The Queries Magazine, October 1890 – courtesy of Quote Garden

And so October is on the wane. This final, eventful week will pass in a rush of activity for most of us. November is upon us and Ho! Oh no! Just a few more weeks to prepare for the holidays.

What a month we’ve had here at Inspired Prompt. I hope you’ve enjoyed our posts and added a few books to your TBR pile. Jennifer’s resources post should have you well supplied with the best in writing help. I have a few of those on my desk, ready to help in a moment of need.

As we leave fair October behind and gird ourselves for that which lies ahead, let us hear from you. If you’re a follower of our blog, what has helped you this year? What would you like to see more of in the future? Please leave us a comment and let us know, because you are the reason we’re here.

The goal of the Inspired Prompt blog is to educate and inform writers, with an emphasis on new and Indie writers. We provide clear, basic information in four areas: how-to, marketing, encouragement, and our “signature” prompts, thoughts, and ideas. We hope to inspire writers/authors to reach for and attain their personal best.

Inspiration. Encouragement. Education. Those are what we strive to present to you, our readers, to share what we’ve gleaned and learned along our own “write road.” Some of you are about to launch into the NaNoWriMo season. If so, I salute you. It’s a great challenge for a writer. And I would like to issue some challenges of my own:

  1. Focus on the positive.
  2. Write with abandon.
  3. Nourish the joy of writing.

November’s coming, and with it, a brand new theme. Join me here on Friday to find out what’s coming up in November besides NaNo, pumpkin pie, and turkey. Together, we’ll learn more about this wonderful calling—the path of the writer.

Click-to-Tweet: Inspiration. Encouragement. Education … are what we strive to present to our readers, to share what we’ve gleaned and learned along our own “write road.” #amwriting #inspiration

Writing Prompt: Begin a story using the photo below as inspiration. Remember to answer the questions: who, what, when, where…

Image by Matthew Morse from Pixabay

The Price of Putting Things Off

By Chris Manion

Three aspects of the writing craft furthered my career and cost me something. I put them off initially because I didn’t want to pay for them. It costs you nothing but a few minutes to consider what I learned.

1.     Conference Jolts
Before I was a writer, I was a direct sales independent contractor. I knew the isolation of working alone in a giant industry. My experience as a home-based businesswoman paralleled many obstacles writers face: procrastination, doubts, fear of failure, discouragement, and questionable self-image.

Eight months into that career that generated a six figure income, I attended my first business conference. After saving money to pay for it and lining up babysitters, I ventured into a crowd of 300 people who did the same at-home work. The experience invigorated me. Reading can’t provide the myriad of human experiences and observances our senses collect at conferences. We store this knowledge in our minds like rain in barrels for when our ink dries up and computer screens act like deserts.
Part of your identity as a writer comes from your tribe. Conferences are one of the best and easiest places to find yours. As blueberry plants need a mate to pollinate, so writers need partners and a tribe to flourish.

Your first pitch usually takes place at a conference. If it’s anything like your first kiss, it probably won’t be your best. Mine was rushed and full of awkwardness. A pitch is like asking for a date. You experience rejection, false hopes, letdowns, and delight. The respect and help you receive at pitching sessions, especially at Christian writers’ conferences, is something you deserve.

2.     Consistent communication
Before becoming an award-winning author, I was a business writer. A business writer with a team that grew from five to over five thousand. My role as a leader relied on consistent communications through monthly newsletters: one for my leadership team, another for my entire organization. These newsletters had a self-imposed deadline and a purpose: to connect my team and me.

At first, I was inconsistent in writing or sending them. When team members didn’t feel acknowledged, they didn’t feel connected. When they didn’t feel connected, their sales were inconsistent. The result? My income dropped and they missed their goals. Lesson learned: consistent communication and acknowledgement matter.

When we forget the lessons we learn, they show up. Again. After retiring and publishing my first book, little work got submitted. The problem? I needed a consistent writing habit, a new tribe and new inspiration.

After meeting with local critique groups, a dilemma arose. I was a Christian writer. Local writing groups gave meaningful feedback but didn’t provide the spiritual support I craved. I Googled Christian writers’ groups and discovered Word Weavers. With the closest group six hours away, I formed a new chapter.

Writers who opened and closed meetings with prayers inspired me. Understanding nods at scriptural references encouraged me. Chapter meetings simulated writing deadlines and editor critiques. I found my tribe and my purpose.

This group helped me grow exponentially as a writer. I encourage you to join writing guilds, societies, and organizations. Get your work before others. It is scary but essential.
Tips to get started:
·       Google writers critique groups in your community. Try one out.
·       Pitch a column idea to your local paper – something you’re passionate about.
·       Sign up for guest posts or articles or contests.
·       Find an accountability partner who loves you and shows up.

3.     Editing: How, when and with whom?
When: An electrician worked in our front yard recently when the heat index rocketed to 118°. He met our suggestions to finish the work another day with stubborn refusals. His recessed eyes, reddened face, and sluggish movements pointed toward symptoms of heatstroke.

Writers can be just as stubborn about letting go of cherished chapters or being edited at all. Unedited writing risks rejection. Before submitting your work, invest in an editor, beta-readers, and critique groups.
With whom: Without my developmental editor’s counsel, I probably wouldn’t enjoy multiple awards on my first book. I didn’t know enough about story arc to realize I had written past the ending. She did. I didn’t know there are three kinds of editors—line, copy, developmental—who improve writers’ works. Now you do, too.
How: Editors’ comments on manuscripts teach us how to improve our writing. Before investing in an editor, a critique group or writing partner may introduce you to editing rules you never knew existed. Read classic writing craft books like The Elements of Style by Strunk and more current works like Proofreading Secrets of Best-Selling Authors by Kathy Ide. See more book recommendations here.

Invest time and money into editing. Don’t put it off. Discover how each person finds something others missed, how publishers hate adverbs, and how a few tweaks in your work make the difference between acceptance and rejection.

“We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master,” wrote Hemingway. I love to learn. While some apply Stephen King’s advice “kill your darlings,” I’m learning to surrender my adverbs. Editing is the heart of writing just as chiseling is the heart of sculpting. Editing is well worth paying for.

In summary, attend a conference; join a critique group and invest in an editor to improve your work.


Click-to-Tweet: Three aspects of the writing craft furthered my career and cost me something. I put them off initially because I didn’t want to pay for them. It costs you nothing but a few minutes to consider what I learned.

Take action prompt: Write for five minutes about what you are putting off in your writing. What price are you paying for this behavior? Or write a personal ad seeking a match between you and your ideal writing group.

Chris Manion is a honors graduate of the University of Dayton. She is an inspirational speaker and award-winning catechist from the Archdiocese of Chicago. Chris lives with her husband of over forty years near Destin, Florida where she kayaks, plays the cello, and photographs the beauty of the Emerald Coast.

She is the author of the book God’s Patient Pursuit of My Soul.

Drop by and visit her Facebook Author’s Page to learn more about her writing and professional endeavors. Or, connect with her online at:

3 Questions Wednesday with JPC Allen

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

First question:
Who is your favorite author?

JPC: That depends on which of my favorites genres I want to read. If I’m in the mood for humor, I pick up books by P.G. Wodehouse and Patrick F. McManus. If I want a mystery, I’m overwhelmed by great authors, but some I’ve come to rely on to always deliver a rewarding story are Rex Stout, Melville Davisson Post, and G.K. Chesterton.

You are right. Reading a mix of genres is a lot of fun!  Next question…
If you could write about anyone or anything fiction/nonfiction who or what would you write about?

JPC: Well, getting to write a Christmas mystery for an anthology last holiday season was a dream come true. I don’t know why Christmas and mysteries work so well together. Some of my favorites whodunits are set during Christmas, so to be able to write one with a theme of mercy and forgiveness was a fantastic opportunity.

Another dream of mine is write a great adventure set in the present. I think a lot of people believe that with advances in technology, we can’t set out into the unknown and test ourselves. Most new action movies or books are science fiction or fantasy. I want to write a story to prove adventures are still possible today.

I like your perspective, there are still many adventures to be had.  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?

JPC: This depends on whether I’m working or on vacation. If I’m working, I’d like to hang out with the teen detective Rae Riley from my Christmas mystery, “A Rose from the Ashes”. I’d follow her around to get story ideas. Maybe we would go to the Hocking Hills because she lives in rural Ohio and is an amateur photographer.

But if I was on vacation, I have two choices. I’d either contact AAA and book the next available seat on a time machine to visit Victorian London and solve a mystery with Sherlock Homes and Dr. Watson. Or I’d check Airbnb to see which hobbits are renting their underground homes and putter around the Shire for a few weeks.

Either way sounds like a great way to spend a day. Thanks for stopping by.

Click to tweet: Another dream of mine is write a great adventure set in the present. I think a lot of people believe that with advances in technology, we can’t set out into the unknown and test ourselves. Most new action movies or books are science fiction or fantasy. I want to write a story to prove adventures are still possible today.

Comment by Sunday, Oct. 27 for a chance at a free autographed copy of Christmas fiction off the beaten path.

Connect with Candace:

Facebook: www.facebook.com/JPCAllenWrites
Online: www.JPCAllenwrites.com
Goodreads: JPC Allen Writes
Instagram: www.instagram.com/JPCAllenWrites


Christmas fiction off the beaten path

Not your Granny’s Christmas stories … Step off the beaten path and enjoy six stories that look beyond the expected, the traditional, the tried-and-true.

Inspired by the song, “Mary Did You Know?” – a mother’s memories of events leading up to and following that one holy night. MARY DID YOU KNOW? By Patricia Meredith

A young woman seeking her own identity searches for the man who tried to kill her and her mother on Christmas Eve twenty years before. A ROSE FROM THE ASHES. By JPC Allen

Princess, tower, sorceress, dragon, brave knight, clever peasant – combine these ingredients into a Christmas-time story that isn’t quite what you’d expect. RETURN TO CALLIDORA. By Laurie Lucking

Anticipating tough financial times, the decision not to buy or exchanged presents leads to some painful and surprising revelations for a hardworking man and his family. NOT THIS YEAR. By Sandra Merville Hart

Years ago, a gunman and a store full of hostages learned some important lessons about faith and pain and what really matters in life – and the echoes from that day continued to the present. THOSE WHO STAYED. By Ronnell Kay Gibson

A community of refugees, a brutal winter, a doorway to another world – a touch of magic creating holiday joy for others leads to a Christmas wish fulfilled. CRYSTAL CHRISTMAS. By Michelle L. Levigne

Purchase on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, 24Symbols, Kobo

 


Meet JPC Allen:

JPC Allen started her writing career in second grade with an homage to Scooby Doo. She’s been tracking down mysteries ever since. A former children’s librarian, she is a member of ACFW and has written mystery short stories for Mt. Zion Ridge Press. Online, she offers writing tips and prompts to beginning writers. She also leads writing workshops for tweens, teens, and adults, encouraging them to discover the adventure of writing. A lifelong Buckeye, she has deep roots in the Mountain State.

Join the adventure on her blog, Facebook, Instagram, or Goodreads.