Meet Jennifer Uhlarik–Managing and Acquisitions Editor for Trailblazer Western Fiction

By Jennifer Hallmark

April is all about editors on Inspired Prompt blog. So I’m more than happy to introduce Jennifer Uhlarik, managing and acquisitions editor for Trailblazer Western Fiction, the newest imprint of Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas.

Trailblazer Western Fiction seeks to recapture the glory days of the Western, but with an updated feel that will ignite the hearts and minds of a whole new generation of readers. Trailblazer offers stories that combine the action, adventure, mystery, and romance of the American West, all wrapped up in the rugged men and brave women who left the comfort of life back east to discover and settle untamed lands in the West. Whether historical or contemporary, our westerns tell the stories of those who braved rugged terrain and insurmountable obstacles to make a life in the beauty and vastness of the western frontier.

Welcome, Jennifer! What a great name you have 🙂

You are the managing and acquisitions editor for Trailblazer Western fiction. What drew you to this particular job?

The job really fell in my lap. I’ve been in the writing industry as an author for years, and while I’ve had some successes selling western romance stories, I have other titles, either fully written or in the works, that are more western/less romance. Those have been a much harder sell. So as I was talking with author extraordinaire Eva Marie Everson about the difficulty in selling the more traditional western titles I have, she dropped the idea of opening a western line.

I was already working for Eva in her Southern Fiction line as an editor, so after hearing her out, I thought about it, prayed about it, and a very short time later, I felt like this was the direction God was leading me in. So Eva and I approached Eddie Jones at Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas about opening Trailblazer Western Fiction, and Eddie quickly said yes. And, “poof!” I was the managing editor of Trailblazer Western Fiction. LOL

When you first entered the writing world, did you want to become an editor?

Nnnnoooooo! In fact, years after entering the writing world…when Eva first approached me about working for her as an editor in her Southern Fiction line, it was such an overwhelming idea that I was paralyzed with self-doubt for several days. Tears were shed, friends and family had to give me pep talks, and only after a lot of thought and prayer did I know this was a direction I was supposed to go in.

What are some pros and cons of being an editor?

I think the pros far outweigh any cons. As an editor, I get to read and acquire some amazing fiction, which is always a plus. Another part I love is that I can now help other authors realize their dreams of publication. After years of struggling to find my path to publication, it’s fantastic to know I’m in a place to help others along the way. And it’s also exciting to be able to help other authors hone their stories into that bright, shiny gem that readers will love!

Cons? Well, for one, I can’t take every story. I wish I could, even just to encourage the author. But Trailblazer is small, so there’s no way I could take every story that came across my desk. And…Life is busier when I’m working with an author toward publication of their book. But in those busy times, I refocus on the pros and move right on past these minor cons!

What percentage of your authors are debut authors?

At this moment, fifty percent. However, I don’t have a set formula for how many debut authors vs. established ones I’ll take. It really depends on the story for me. Tell a great story with even a middling amount of skill, and I’ll give it serious consideration.

What submission advice do you have for aspiring authors?

Two things. First, Trailblazer is a niche market, so it’s important that you know the genre. Read western books, get a feel for the genre, and then craft a story that fits.

And second, be sure to study the guidelines and develop a proposal with all the elements listed on our submission page.

As a bonus piece of advice, keep in mind that Trailblazer (and all of the Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas lines) are moving to a Christian worldview, but not overtly Christian style of storytelling for 2020 and beyond. We are still looking for clean reads, so no gratuitous violence, language, etc. But there doesn’t have to be an overt Christian theme or spiritual arc to the story either.

What stories are you and Trailblazer interested in for future publications?

I am open to new and interesting ideas. I love the classic westerns like Louis L’Amour used to write, but I’d also love to find some contemporary westerns, westerns told in a more complex way, or westerns paired with other genres. You can read more of our vision and desires at https://lpcbooks.com/trailblazer-western-fiction-submissions/

Thanks so much for sharing, Jennifer!


Jennifer Uhlarik discovered the western genre as a pre-teen when she swiped the only “horse” book she found on her older brother’s bookshelf. A new love was born. Across the next ten years, she devoured Louis L’Amour westerns and fell in love with the genre. In college at the University of Tampa, she began penning her own story of the Old West. Armed  with a B.A. in writing, she has finaled and won in numerous writing competitions, and been on the ECPA best-seller list numerous times.

In addition to writing, she has held jobs as a private business owner, a schoolteacher, a marketing director, and her favorite—a full-time homemaker. Jennifer is active in American Christian Fiction Writers and lifetime member of the Florida Writers Association. She lives near Tampa, Florida, with her husband, college-aged son, and four fur children.

You can find Jennifer at her website, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.


Sand Creek Serenade

Dr. Sadie Hoppner is no stranger to adversity. She’s fought to be taken seriously since childhood, when her father began training her in the healing arts. Finding acceptance and respect proves especially difficult at Fort Lyon, where she’s come to practice medicine under her brother’s watchful eye.

Cheyenne brave Five Kills wouldn’t knowingly jeopardize the peace treaty recently negotiated between his people and the Army. But a chance encounter with the female doctor ignites memories of his upbringing among the whites. Too intrigued to stay away, tension erupts with the soldiers, and Five Kills is injured.

As he recuperates under the tender care of the pretty healer, an unlikely bond forms. However, their fledgling love is put to the test when each realizes that a much greater danger awaits—a danger they are wholly unable to stop, and one which neither may survive.

Purchase link

3 Questions Wednesday with Jennifer Slattery

Welcome to another edition of 3 Questions Wednesday, with our returning guest, Jennifer Slattery. Jennifer is a writer and international speaker who’s addressed women’s groups, church groups, Bible studies, and other writers across the nation and authored six contemporary novels. Lets get started!

First question:

Who is your favorite author?

Jennifer: Oh, this is such a tough question! What genre? For Bible studies, Priscilla Shirer. That girl is amazing! For nonfiction … Probably Lysa Terkeurst. For fiction … I’m pretty eclectic, but maybe Nicholas Sparks? As far as special author friends, Jen Hallmark is a treasure I hold dear!

Great books by all those authors. And I’m sure “our” Jennifer appreciates your kind words.  Now here’s a fun question—

 If you could write about anyone or anything fiction/nonfiction who or what would you write about? 

Jennifer:  I’m not a historical writer, but I’ve always thought it’d be intriguing to get into Timothy’s (the young pastor of the church in ancient Ephesus) head. He lived and served during such a tough time, and yet he stood faithful and immovable.

He would be a wonderful character in a story. And what a challenge to write about his relationship with Paul. 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?

Jennifer: I’m fairly certain Faith and I would become great friends. She likes coffee, bike riding, art … Though she might get annoyed at my complete lack of talent. Haha! I also get a kick out the old lady that lives in the parish house. She’s feisty, quirky, and hilarious!

If Paige and I got a chance to hang out, I’d want to go hiking and pick her brain regarding the Austin art culture and how she got into stained glass window restoration. If I got to spend time with the little old lady that lives on the church’s property, I’d probably want to bake. I have a feeling she’d create some rather interesting, though perhaps not edible, concoctions.

Baking and cookies sound yummy to me.  Thanks, Jennifer, for visiting us on 3 Questions Wednesday, and allowing our readers to know you better.

Click to Tweet: Author Jennifer Slattery answers our 3 Questions and you could win a copy of her latest release, Restoring Her Faith . @InspiredPrompt   #amreading #giveaway

Readers, Jennifer will give a print copy of her book Restoring Her Faith (US winner only) to one lucky winner. Don’t forget to comment below to be entered.


Restoring Her Faith

She left belief behind…Yet this family could change her mind.

With two boys to raise, a fledgling contracting business to run and a family ranch to keep afloat, widower Drake Owens finds his hands aren’t just full they’re overflowing. When Faith Nichols is hired to help him renovate the church, he’s drawn to the beautiful artist, but he can’t fall for a woman who isn’t a believer. Can love restore her faith and his heart?

Buy it at Amazon.


Jennifer Slattery is a writer and international speaker who’s addressed women’s groups, church groups, Bible studies, and other writers across the nation. She’s the author of six contemporary novels and maintains a devotional blog found at Jennifer Slattery Lives Out Loud.

She has a passion for helping women discover, embrace, and live out who they are in Christ. As the founder of Wholly Loved Ministries, she and her team partner with churches to facilitate events designed to help women rest in their true worth and live with maxium impact. When not writing, reading, or editing, Jennifer loves going on mall dates with her adult daughter and coffee dates with her hilariously fun husband.

Do You Need Help Editing Fiction? Try These Books

By Jennifer Hallmark

Writers love to write. They enjoy plotting and planning. I like to daydream about my stories for a long time before I put pen to paper.

But a lot of fiction writers don’t care for the editing stage. I find the more I learn about editing, the easier it becomes and the more I enjoy it. So I thought I’d share three books that have helped me and a little about each.

Click to tweet: Need Help Editing Fiction? Books that help. @InspiredPrompt #editing #amwriting

  1. Self-Editing For Fiction Writers: How to Edit Yourself into Print. By Renni Browne and Dave King.  In this completely revised and updated second edition, Renni Browne and Dave King teach you, the writer, how to apply the editing techniques they have developed to your own work. Chapters on dialogue, exposition, point of view, interior monologue, and other techniques take you through the same processes an expert editor would go through to perfect your manuscript. Each point is illustrated with examples, many drawn from the hundreds of books Browne and King have edited.
  2.  Revision and Self-Editing for Publication: Techniques for Transforming Your First Draft into a Novel That Sells. By James Scott Bell. Jim’s book is designed to eliminate the intimidation factor that comes with revision and self-editing. You’ve finally gotten a manuscript completed. Time for a drink. But put on the brakes! Now it’s time to start all over again at page one and start the revision process. Most writers dread this stage. Thankfully, Jim’s book will give them techniques to use during the initial writing phase that will minimize the amount of revision that’s required, as well as guidelines for editing what remains and positioning the work for the best possible odds of a sale. New sections devoted to selling the work once it’s finished. Downloadable worksheets and checklists that make keeping track of and executing revision goals easy and productive.
  3. Troubleshooting Your Novel: Essential Techniques for Identifying and Solving Manuscript Problems. By Steven James. In this hand-on, easy-to-use guide, award-winning author Steven James provides helpful techniques and checklists, timesaving tricks of the trade, and hundreds of questions for manuscript analysis and revision. You’ll learn how to:

    • ADJUST elements of story progression, from causality, tension, and setbacks to plot twists, climaxes, and endings.
    • DEVELOP authentic, riveting characters by exploring their attitudes, desires, beliefs, and more.
    • LEARN narrative techniques for elements such as dialogue, flashbacks, suspense, voice, subtext, and flow.
    • ENSURE reader engagement by aligning with their expectations, fulfilling promises, and instilling trust.
    • CHECK issues with context and continuity.

    You owe your book more than just a polish and a proofread. Strengthen your story, prepare it for the marketplace, and make it the best it can be with Troubleshooting Your Novel.

    Three books that can make a difference in whether your book gets a second look by an editor or publisher.  Take time to edit, edit, edit. It’s a decision you won’t regret…

February and March Winners on Inspired Prompt

  1. Hello, all! Thank you for stopping by and commenting on our posts in February and March.  We love your visits. And in March, we decided to let our readers win twice.  Maybe even three times. So, would you like to know if you’re a winner?

February

  • Lynne Tagawa has gifted Caryl Kane a copy of Shenandoah Road. Congratulations!
  • Amanda Hardin has won a Kindle copy of Erin R. Howard’s urban fantasy book, The Soul Searcher.

March

  • Caryl Kane has won a copy of Truth Be Told, gifted from Crew member, Bonita Y. McCoy. Woo hoo!
  • Julie Arduini will gift either a print or Kindle copy of You’re Amazing to Caryl Kane.  Congratulations!
  • Another Crew member, Gail Johnson, has given Karen Sargent a print copy of Treasures of Hope: Discovering the Beautiful Truth Beneath My Painful Past. Yay, Karen!
  • Crew member, Jennifer Hallmark is blessing Karen Sargent with a $10 Amazon gift card. Congrats!
  • Allison Wells is gifting Caryl Kane with a Kindle copy of War Torn Heart. Nice!
  • The winner of Prayer: It’s Not About You and the study guide on prayer by Harriet Michael and Shirley Crowder goes to Debbie Klausing. 🙂
  • Betty Thomason Owens is giving Karen Sargent  a print copy of Rebecca’s Legacy. Yay!
  • Merry has won a copy of Rarity Mountain from Sarah L. Foust. Hooray!
  • The Erie Canal Brides Collection featuring Rose Allen McCauley has been won by Caryl Kane.
  • Fay Lamb is offering her collection of The Ties That Bind Series to Linda Jackson. Way to go, Linda!
  • Amanda Hardin has won a copy of Solitary Man by Eric Landfried. Yay!

Thanks again for dropping by! Our readers are the greatest…

Choosing a Freelance Editor

By Fay Lamb

Hiring a freelance editor may be one of the most important decisions you make in your career, but there are precautions you should take in order to find the editor most suited to your needs.

First, I want to say that the most effective use of a freelance editor is not to rewrite or to revise an author’s work but to catch the mistakes that might have been made or the areas that might have missed because the author is too close to the work.

Now, with regard to the qualifications of an editor, I do not believe that an editor needs to have a degree, but I do believe that they need to have studied the craft of writing and have the ability to show forth a knowledge of the specific area in which they are being requested to offer an edit.

Editors who claim to be able to edit everything should be viewed skeptically. For instance, if I were writing a college thesis on a highly specialized field, I would search for an editor familiar with that field of research, not an editor who would simply look for comma placement or spelling. In fact, I’d be worried that the spelling would be a problem for someone unfamiliar with the subject.

Let’s bring it down to our scope, though. In fiction, there are genres, and each genre requires specific techniques. Thrillers are fast paced, barely leaving time for the reader to breathe while romantic suspense will speed up and slow down depending upon the type of suspense being portrayed. Romance, well, it lingers, but it is often formulaic, and an editor will need to know the formula. Historical fiction is another beast altogether, and nothing can be taken for granted, even word choice. I know, historical fiction is not my expertise.

Overall, though, fiction has elements such as plot, conflict, suspense, proper use of dialogue, showing and not telling, deep point of view, and characterization. An editor who is unaware of this canvas upon which an author creates can do little to help the author should the brush stroke be imperfect.

There’s also non-fiction. In fact, this editor will only edit non-fiction if the author is requesting proofreading and nothing more. Why? I do not have the expertise in this format either, and my lack of knowledge will harm an author.

Another important thing to know when it comes to hiring a freelance editor is the going rate, and many authors will be surprised at what it will cost because most freelance editors don’t care about the author’s return on investment. They’re rightfully concerned with their return on investment. Thus my reason for stating why an editor should not be used to revise or rewrite.

Before agreeing to a contract with a freelance editor, an author should ask for a free chapter edit. This will be of benefit not only to the author but to the editor. As a freelance editor, I often use those free edits to determine if the author is ready for publication. If not, I will refuse the edit and will offer suggestions on how they might improve their writing. If I find that the author has a command of the story, I am then able to determine the length of the manuscript and offer my estimate, which is always the highest fee I will charge, and sometimes if the edits take less effort, I charge less.

This leads me to the most important advice that I can give to an author seeking a freelance editor: never agree to an open-ended hourly contract. An editor who has given you a chapter edit may estimate high in case the story falls apart somewhere along the line, but agree up front to the total cost and to the terms of payment. If an editor is unwilling to provide the cost up front, run away.

Again, it is important to note, in order to utilize the freelance editor’s time and the money you pay most effectively, send the editor your cleanest manuscript. Utilize an editor’s expertise to find the mistakes you missed and not to clean up the mistakes you didn’t want to remedy.

Click to tweet: Choosing a Freelance Editor by Fay Lamb. “Editors who claim to be able to edit everything should be viewed skeptically.” #editing #amwriting

Writing Prompt: In leiu of a prompt, tell us whether you use a critique group, a critique partner, or hire a freelance editor? Why?