Every Five Days: A Poetic Journey to Bread

By Kristy Horine

Sourdough. 

It’s been the bread of choice in my family for three generations. From Papaw, to Momma, to me. My “Secret Life” as a bread maker has waxed and waned over the years. I’ve received jars of starter, killed jars of starter, and baked hundreds of loaves of bread. Most bread I gave away. Sourdough to neighbors. Sourdough to strangers. Sourdough to bake sales for various ministries. Sourdough as communion bread. 

Over time, I’ve learned the process — feeding, waiting, kneading, waiting, baking, eating and waiting some more — is blessed with measures of faith, hope and love. The three that remain.  To honor the Lord who gave us His own body as bread, a poem:

Every fifth morning, I pull the pickle jar from the fridge.
(It used to live with Cathy Thompson,
The jar did.
She filled it with things that bubbled and soured.
Then, she gave it to me.)
I put the pickle jar on the counter.

Every fifth morning, into my two-cup glass measureFood for starters

I add:
One cup of perfect-warm water,
three, one-fourth cups sugar,
Three tablespoons potato flakes.
(The flakes look like snow.)
I stir and waterfall the warm, sweet, snow into the pickle jar.

Then,
I wait.

Every fifth night, I fetch my mixing bowl
From under the counter.
(Momma gave me a set of three at Christmas-time
One year)
I add:A measure of flour

One fourth cup sugar,
One half cup oil,
One tablespoon salt,
One cup swirled-up starter,
One and a half cups perfect-warm water
Six cups bread flour.
I stir. Turn out. Knead.

Then,
I wait.

Every sixth morning, I grease and flour my pans.
Punch down dough, turn out onto flour-dusted counter,
Twist in two places to make lumps of three.
I press and spread and roll the dough
With my fingers, floured white.
Dough pressed flat

I tuck the dough into pans, pull waxed paper covers up to their chins.

Then, I wait.

Every sixth evening, I turn the knob to start the
WHOOSH!
Of gas in my oven.
Thirty minutes in, a glance for golden brown, a thump on
Top for doneness.Sliced bread
I eat the heels
(straight away)
for they are my favorite parts:
Slathered with sweet cream salted butter,
Only half allowed to melt,
For the waiting has seemed so long.

WRITING PROMPT: You are a master baker, paid to produce the most exquisite morsels ever to be eaten. You have received an order for two plain loaves of bread to be delivered to a remote hillside. The client is willing to pay seventeen times what the bread is worth, as long as you deliver it in person at exactly three o’clock. Write about the conversation you have with the client upon delivery.


Click to Tweet: Every Five Days: A Poetic Journey to Bread via @inspiredprompt and @kristyhorine – sometimes the waiting seems long but the end product slathered with butter, totally worth it.

Audiobooks: Do You Hear What I Hear?

By Kristy Horine

Multi-published Kentucky author, Hallee Bridgeman, looked at audio books for several years before she seriously pursued them. Her first audiobook was published in early 2018, after she had 19 books already in print. Hallee agreed to answer a few questions about her audiobook process.

Q:  How did you know where to begin with audiobooks?

A: I researched through different author social media groups, asked questions, and read articles.

Q:  How did you find your voice artist?

A: I have a unique situation in that my voice artist is a good friend. He has been a voice artist for years, owns a radio station, and was looking at getting into audiobook production about the same time I was looking into getting my books done. I was intentionally seeking out a male artist, so he was my first choice.

Q: Did you have to do all the editing and production yourself or does another company handle that?

A: The voice artist is in charge of all editing and production. I listen to the first draft of recordings while reading along. As I encounter things read wrong, inflections wrong, voices wrong, I provide a detailed list per chapter. The fixing of problems is called “pickups” – when the artist implements all of the pickups, I listen to it all again and make sure the changes were correct.

Q: How much creative input did you have in the process?

A: It’s my book. The artist should want to record it in a way that I envision it in my mind. If he cannot then he isn’t the right voice for me.

Q: Were there any surprises along the way? (Positive or negative)

A: I was surprised at how much my writing has improved after listening to the way the audiobook sounds. I’m way more conscious of overused words and dialogue tags, etc.

Q: If you could do it all over again, would you and why?

A: I definitely would – and I would do it sooner. Right now, it takes hours and hours to produce one book. He is keeping up with my current production, but there are several books written before that he hasn’t had a chance to get to record yet.

Thank you, Hallee, for sharing your wisdom and experience with us! 

In addition to this interview with Hallee, there are multiple resources on audiobooks available to writers. As stewards of the words God has given us, it is wise to find out more about this growing field.

According to author and speaker, Amy Collins, almost 28 percent of the budgets in the top libraries across the US is dedicated to audiobooks. In this video,  Amy takes the time to speak with Richard Rieman, award-winning narrator and director of Audiobook Revolution.

Richard outlines the audiobook process that picks up after the manuscript is complete. This includes:

  • Recording (self-narrated by author or narrated by a professional)
  • Editing (making changes to inflection, pronunciation, etc)
  • Mastering (putting all the cleaned up audio files together into one cohesive form)
  • Uploading files to an audiobook platform.

Richard advises that authors understand the audiobook process takes time. The average narration rate, he says, is 9,300 words per hour. This means that a 90,000 word book can take upwards of ten hours just to record. The entire process could take ninety days or more.

But Hallee and Richard would probably both agree that audiobooks are the wave of the future. It’s a sentiment that podcaster and author, Thomas Umstattd, Jr, repeats in this audiopost  from the Christian Publishing Show. Thomas takes listeners on a history of the oral tradition, the popularity and forecast for both podcasts and audiobooks, and encourages writers to begin the audio process now.

As a writer, are you are headed in the traditional direction of publishing, going indie with self-publishing, or braving the auditory waters of audiobook publishing? If so, we at Inspired Prompt invite you to look back over May’s posts. Visit as often as you’d like, or need. We pray your stay has been an inspiring one.

Click to Tweet: Multi-published Kentucky author, Hallee Bridgeman, looked at audio books for several years before she seriously pursued them. Find out what Hallee and others have learned about #audiobooks: Do You Hear What I Hear via @InspiredPrompt

No More Apples

My heart dropped and I bit my lip to keep from crying. On the page, in black and white, was all the evidence I needed. Never mind what positive and encouraging things folks had said in the past. Never mind that scripture assures me I was wonderfully and beautifully made.

That one negative comment blazed across my vision in a big red X. Who said that?

Oh, she did.

Her post garnered more likes than my post.

Her picture was perfect.

Her wit sharper.

Her humor funnier.

Her advice bolder, holier, and wiser.

Her story had a better plot, cooler characters, stronger verbs, and a more satisfying ending; and, it was just a tale of her niece’s recital. I don’t even have a niece. How am I supposed to compete against that?

I heard that oh-so-familiar voice slither into my ear … Who do you think you are?

As I cowered at the keyboard, another voice – steady and strong and sure – said, “Kristy, you are my redeemed, my inheritance.”

That’s the voice I leaned into, buried my head in His chest, took a few ragged breaths, scooped faith and perfect love and grace into every available pocket, and then turned back to face the screen before me.

For a brief span of time, I had been pinned down in the battlefield of comparison. Poison darts of self-defeat, an advancing army of past failures, the rocket-bright glare of a thousand blank pages I could never hope to fill on my own, and then the near-fatal wound from Miss Perfect. I faltered when I lost my line of sight on His plan and His purpose for my writing, and my life.

The distraction of comparison is a very similar tactic to the one Satan used in the garden, isn’t it? The slithery voice asks, “Is what God gave you really enough?”

I had a choice on that battlefield: walk away in defeat or, pick up my focus, dust it off, and keep on marching. The march, however, involves risk.

If we, as Christian writers, are to heed the call to write AND to complete the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20), we must risk vulnerability on many different fronts: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, etc.; both on our personal pages, and on our author sites. Rest assured, we will receive responses from ‘out there’ (others) and ‘in here’ (our own heads).

Take comfort, dear writers, for here are some practical steps to safeguard our tender innards against a wound on the Comparison Battlefield.

  • Pray – Pray for protection. Take up the shield of faith (Ephesians 6:16) so that you may believe that He who began a good work in you will also bring that work to completion (Philippians 1:6) Pray to do nothing but that good work (Ephesians 4:29) so that no matter what social media channel you are on, you will be found to walk worthy of His calling (Ephesians 4:1).
  • Decide your intention before you even open an app. Do you intend to encourage others? Do you intend to make an announcement/post? Do you intend to pick a fight, rumble out your rant, and sound off about the latest social stumble? Don’t make God sorry He gave you this word gift. Read Genesis 6:5-8 and determine to find favor in God’s eyes.
  • Set a timer for each social media channel. Then, obey the clanging alarm when your time is up.
  • Report to your Commanding Officer after every tour. Confess your faults, your fears, and your faith. Give praise where praise is due. Seek direction for your next assignment, or simply get some R&R. A weary soldier is as bad as a foe.
  • Find a comrade in arms. The NLT gives us a great picture of how and why to incorporate this principle from Ecclesiastes 4:12: “A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.”

Click to Tweet: If we, as Christian writers, are to heed the call to write AND to complete the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20), we must risk vulnerability on many different fronts…

Marketing: A Faithful Beginning

Laura Lake, a marketing consultant with The Balance, defines marketing as “the process of teaching consumers why they should choose your product or service over your competitors.”

To begin an effective marketing campaign based on this definition, we must start assigning terms. Who What How Marketing GraphicWe do this by asking a lot of questions.

  1. Who is my consumer?
    • Believe it or not, the more narrow your vision of consumer, the more effectively you can serve them and tell them (via marketing) how to get what you have.
    • Take a minute and write a character sketch of the person who reads/receives your work.
  2. What is my product?
    • Again, narrow your focus and be specific. Trust the Lord to guide you in this process
    • Instead of saying, “I write good things” try this: “I write inspiring novellas where Christian middle school girls are the heroines in tough situations.” Or, this:  “I write about how mature women can form multi-generational Bible studies based on Titus 2.”
    • Now, have a pile of mission-minded novellas/poems/short stories/articles/books/blog posts available for your consumers.
  3. Why should my audience choose my product over my competitors?
    • As Christ-following writers, our competitors are not other Christ-following writers. We have a unity in the Spirit. Never forget that. Our true competitors are the “other” voices in the world.
    • Your readers should choose your stories because they answer a question, solve a problem, or meet a need in a way that reflects Christ. Your readers should choose your stories because they tell the Truth. Yes, Jesus is the Truth. Yes, He is that compelling.

Click to Tweet: “Your readers should choose your stories because they answer a question, solve a problem, or meet a need in a way that reflects Christ.”–Kristy Horine @InspiredPrompt

Once you clearly identify the answers to these three questions in a succinct way, you are ready to move on to the process of marketing.

Megaphone marketing graphicIf you have an unlimited budget, hire a marketing firm and let them do the work for you.

If, however, your budget is a tad modest, then take a lesson from this humble beginning:

In February 1973, eight women met for two hours in Wheat Ridge, Colorado. They pooled their money to pay for qualified childcare, they ate, they did something creative and they had a short devotion. They called themselves the Mothers of Preschoolers and continued to meet together based on the premise that “mothering matters”. Decades later, MOPS still ministers to thousands of women both in the US and abroad. They started small and grew according to their abilities, learning to meet needs and overcome challenges along the way. Most of all, they weren’t afraid to share this new community treasure with others.

A wise process to follow, and one that models the story of the faithful servant in Matthew 25: 14-30.

The Faithful Process:

  • Begin with what you have been given. (The who, the what and the why from above)
  • Work according to your abilities. Is it better to begin with five customers and make sure they are completely happy, or with 500 and let a few slip through the cracks?
  • Trust that good things are shared and encourage that sharing with those you trust.
  • Give praise where praise is due.

Marketing feature image graphic

One more nugget …

Let’s say that you have a fantastic book. The structure is perfect, the characters are classic, the Truth is clear and powerful. You started your marketing push by giving five readers one book each and you asked them to write an honest review. From those reviews, a hundred people read your book and ordered ten copies each. But they never received their books because of a computer glitch. They sent you an email, but you were so busy you couldn’t take the time to follow up on the problem.

Bad news somehow travels faster than good news, so make sure the entire customer experience receives that faithful servant treatment. [Click to Tweet]


Writing Prompt: Sally is a 30-something educator who has planned a special journaling class after school for at-risk kids. She has identified the kids, advertised well, and secured sponsors for the event. The entire community is awaiting the results of this crazy venture; they want to see her fail. As if the social pressure isn’t enough, a snowstorm is scheduled to blow through. Write Sally out of trouble and throw in a transformed student by the end of your story.