The Inspiration of Story

During this month, we are sharing how an author has inspired us. But instead of writing about how one has inspired me as a writer, I thought I would write about how they have inspired me as a reader.

The Exercise of Our Faith

I would like to begin with a quote from Eugene Peterson.


Parables aren't illustrations that make things easier; they make things harder by requiring the exercise of our imagination, which if we aren't careful, becomes the exercise of our faith


Peterson begins, “Jesus was a master at subversion…. Parables sound absolutely ordinary: casual stories about soil and seed, meals and coins and sheep, bandits and victims, farmer and merchants. And they’re wholly secular: of his forty or so parables recorded in the Gospels, only one has its setting in church, and only a couple mention the name of God. As people heard Jesus tell these stories, they saw at once that they weren’t about God, so there was nothing in them threatening their own sovereignty. They relaxed their defenses. They walked away perplexed, wondering what they meant, the stories lodged in their imagination. And then, like a time bomb, they would explode in their unprotected hearts. An abyss opened up at their very feet. He was talking about God; they had been invaded.

“Jesus continually threw odd stories down alongside ordinary lives and walked away without explanation or altar call. …But the parable didn’t do the work—it put the listener’s imagination to work. Parables aren’t illustrations that make things easier; they make things harder by requiring the exercise of our imagination, which if we aren’t careful, becomes the exercise of our faith.”

Story is a Powerful Thing

And there you have an outline for the perfect story. Fiction stories are parables. Stories ask the reader a “what if.” As a reader, we get caught up in a world not our own. We relax while experiencing this new private world. Unconsciously, we begin living the story and suddenly realize a hidden truth about ourselves we would have never recognized otherwise.


Story is a powerful thing.In the midst of recounting our stories, the veil of obscurity falls away, and we see clearly what we've hidden from ourselves.(1)


Inspiring Through Story

For example, Francine Rivers’ Redeeming Love opened my heart to the realization that I was lovable even though I felt the exact opposite. Through that word of truth, I began to thirst for a much-needed restorative healing balm to my shattered heart. That hunger led me to open up to the only One who could supply it.

The O’Malley Series by Dee Henderson taught me that life doesn’t always go as planned and my prayers are not always answered the way I think they should be answered because only God knows what is best for His children. My job is to trust and obey Him. His plans are higher than mine.

Jill Austen, author of Master Potter and Master Potter and the Mountain of Fire inspired me to research pottery. When Austen’s character Beloved meets Master Potter, she accepts His invitation to the Potter’s house. Austen explains the process of making clay vessels while sharing spiritual truths.



I don’t remember everything about these authors’ books. But the one thing I do recall is the characters and the character arcs in the story. Because I became that character. Each one of these authors inspired me to seek for that which my heart longed for: make a difference in this life through my relationship with Christ. Isn’t that the reason we write? To make a difference? To inspire change?

Writing Prompt: Do you recall an author that has made a difference in your life? What changes did you make after reading their book? Take a moment to reflect on that change. Now make a list of how you can inspire those around you.

Click to Tweet: How an Author Inspired Me. “Parables aren’t illustrations that make things easier; they make things harder by requiring the exercise of our imagination, which if we aren’t careful, becomes the exercise of our faith.”


3 Questions Wednesday ~ Davalynn Spencer

Good morning, dear reader. Welcome to another 3QW. Today, we have Davalynn Spencer with us. She is an ECPA and Publisher’s Weekly bestselling author and winner of the Will Rogers Gold Medallion for Inspirational Western Fiction. I love a good western. How ’bout you?

davalynn-spencer-media-4 small

Welcome, Davalynn! Can you describe yourself in three words?

Compulsively writing worshipper

I like that. I believe writing is a form of worship to our Master Storyteller. Great answer. Now . . .

Someone offers you a fully-paid writing research trip to any place you desire to go. Where would it be and why?

I would follow the Rocky Mountain’s spine into Montana where my husband and I rodeoed for several years. The only problem with researching in Montana is that I might not return.


Montana is a beautiful place. Quiet and open. Perfect for writing. 🙂 Last question . . .

If someone made a movie of your life, what would be the theme song?

This song suits me right down to the ground – “Someday Soon” sung by Judy Collins. After I met my cowboy, I started singing it too.

I remember that one! Judy Collins sings about a cowboy and the rodeo.

Click to Tweet: How an author inspired me. 3QW with author Davalynn Spencer @InspiredPrompt #interview #giveaway

Readers, leave a comment for a chance to win an e-copy of An Unexpected Redemption.

An Unexpected Redemption

He doesn’t need her sass. She doesn’t need his approval. But they both need a second chance.

An Unexpected Redemption logo.smallAbandoned by her faithless husband for the Dakota gold fields, rancher’s daughter Elizabeth Beaumont returns to her hometown determined to prove she’s not the impetuous girl she once was. Armed with a new skill and old determination, she’s intent on making it on her own. Discovering that the new sheriff lives downstairs in the same boarding house wouldn’t be nearly so frustrating if he’d stay out of her affairs, quit calling her Betsy, and stop making her wonder if she could love again.

Garrett Wilson exchanged his deputy’s badge for a drover’s bedroll after his first attempt at law enforcement cost an innocent bystander his life. Now Wilson’s back wearing a star in a Front Range cow town, hunting an arsonist and falling for a woman who wants to know the secret behind his deepest scar. He can run again from his painful past, or he can stay and fight for the town that needs him and the woman who’s worked under his skin and into his heart.

davalynn-spencer-media-4 smallWife and mother of professional rodeo bullfighters, Davalynn Spencer writes heart-tugging, cowboy romance set along the Front Range of Colorado’s Rocky Mountains. She is an ECPA and Publisher’s Weekly bestselling author and winner of the Will Rogers Gold Medallion for Inspirational Western Fiction. An award-winning rodeo journalist and former crime-beat reporter, Davalynn makes her home in Colorado where she caters to Blue the Cowdog and mouse detectors Annie and Oakley. Connect with her at


3 Questions Wednesday with Fay Lamb

Good morning! Welcome to another edition of 3 Questions Wednesday. This morning we’re talking with our very own Fay Lamb.

Fay Lamb 2018 GalleryGood morning, Fay. Can you describe yourself in three words?

Down-right crazy (is it one or two words if you hyphenate?) Just in case, Down-right certifiably crazy.

LOL. I love your sense of humor, Fay. Next question . . .

Someone offers you a fully-paid writing research trip to any place you desire to go. Where would it be and why?

Without a second thought it would be to Teahupoo, Tahiti. I have a story that has been living in my brain for many years since I read James A. Michener’s The Drifters about a group of teens who were facing the troubles of their times: the Vietnam War, the sexual revolution, drugs, etc. My story involves professional surfing and five individuals who are ten years past their glory. Each have gone his or her own way, and one of the friends has allegedly perished in the surf. The survivors of their wild lifestyle are coming together to support a momentous occasion. The place where they will reunite is Teahupoo at the Billabong Pro, and there are lots of surprises and a mysterious stranger afoot. Just to give you a hint of the storyline, the title is Resurrection.

ocean waveI plan to write this story in a way that it will attract a very unreached people group in our society: surfers, and I will be donating books and all of my proceeds to Christian Surfers International.

If someone’s going to pay my way, they need to hurry because the Billabong Pro is August 10 through August 21, 2018 and as of the time of this interview, the countdown was: 114 days, 8 hours, 9 minutes, and 36 seconds from starting.

Hehe. Reader, if you want to see some amazing footage on Teahupo’o click the link. Last question . . .

If someone made a movie of your life, what would be the theme song?

So many crazy things happen in my life, and people sometimes believe I make them up. So, my obvious song has to be That’s My Story, and I’m Stickin’ to It by Jimmy Buffett.

Sounds like a plan, Fay! Thanks for joining us for 3 Questions Wednesday.

Click to Tweet: How an author inspired me. So many crazy things happen in my life, and people sometimes believe I make them up. 3QW with Fay Lamb @InspiredPrompt #interview

Fay Lamb 2018 GalleryFay Lamb is an author, an acquisition editor, and a freelance editor. She also loves to teach workshops for fiction writers.

The last novel, Frozen Notes, in her Amazing Grace romantic suspense series released in September. The series also includes Stalking Willow, Better than Revenge, and Everybody’s Broken.

Fay’s popular The Ties that Bind romantic series includes Charisse, Libby, and Hope. Readers are anxiously awaiting the fourth novel in the series, Delilah, which will be released in mid-2018.

Her adventurous spirit has also taken her into the realm of non-fiction with The Art of Characterization: How to Use the Elements of Storytelling to Connect Readers to an Unforgettable Cast.

Fay’s third series contracted with Write Integrity Press is entitled Serenity Key, and the first novel, Storms in Serenity, released in March, 2018.

Fay loves to meet readers, and you can find her on her personal Facebook page, her Facebook Author page, and at The Tactical Editor on Facebook and on Goodreads. She’s also active on Twitter. Then there are her blogs: On the Ledge, Inner Source, and the Tactical Editor.


The Most Important Book Marketing Secret

by Karen Sargent

When I signed my first publishing contract, I was elated…and petrified. My forever dream of seeing my name on a book cover was coming true!

What could be more exciting for a wanna-be author? The answer is easy. Nothing!

And what could be more terrifying? That answer is easy, too. What if no one buys my book? After all, why would they? I’m an invisible, no-name, insignificant author.

Then, two weeks after I signed my contract, I accidentally discovered the most important book marketing secret. I’m going to share it with you, but before I do, I must ask a few questions.

Let’s pretend your new book releases tomorrow. Who will buy it? Think of five people who will—without a doubt—pay money to read your book. Write down their names, or at least say their names aloud. This is important, so take a few seconds. I’ll wait…

(Don’t read on until you have your list!)

Now that you’ve identified your five people, let’s see who they are.

Is your mom on the list? How about your dad? Cross them off.

Did Grandma and Grandpa make the list? An aunt or an uncle? Cross them off, too.

How about your brother or sister or son or daughter or cousin? Yep. They have to go. In fact, let’s remove anyone related to you.

Mark off your best friend, your neighbor, and your co-worker. Delete anyone in your church or your writing group or your community.

Is anyone left? Do they know you by first name? Then take them off the list, too.

And now your list is blank. But don’t worry. We’re getting to the good stuff.

Why are you certain those five people will purchase your new release? What is the common denominator?

Those people care about you. They have a connection with you, and they’d be happy to buy your book—even if it’s a bad book.

So here’s the important secret. Book marketing is not about selling books. It’s about building relationship. Remember the famous line from the movie Field of Dreams? “If you build it, they will come.” If you build a relationship with readers, book sales will come. It’s a 100% guaranteed book marketing strategy. Here’s how I know.

When it was time to query agents, my online presence was lacking. I felt unqualified to start an author website or a writing blog. But, I had two decades of mom experience, and the target audience for my book included moms, so I started a mom blog instead.

By the time I signed my book contract, I’d been blogging for three months and had about 100 followers (who had no idea I had written a book). I couldn’t wait to share my news, so I made a video and posted it to my blog. (If you want to see a dork announce her book news—click here.)

My blog followers went CRAZY! By the next day, the video had 1,500 views, my blog followers tripled, and I couldn’t keep up with Facebook friend requests.

What if I hadn’t started that mom blog three months prior to my contract offer? Who would have cared that a publisher wanted my book? (My mom, my husband, my best friend…) Instead, my publishing journey was crowded with friends who couldn’t wait for Waiting for Butterflies.

There’s more. I revealed my book cover the same day my book was available for pre-order on Amazon, and guess what? More CRAZY. That day is still my second highest book sale day. Once the book released, Facebook friends posted pictures with their copy of Butterflies, along with their reactions once they finished reading, and I hadn’t even asked them to! With each post, I watched Amazon sales increase.

Relationship. If you build it, sales will come. So how do you build it?

Obviously, my mom blog was a serendipitous beginning (thanks to my severe case of imposter syndrome) that turned out to be a smart accident. If you’re thinking about starting a writing blog or a book review blog, is there a different approach that would target your audience more directly?

Blogging isn’t the only way to build relationship. I cherish the friends I’ve made by interacting on others’ websites, in Facebook groups, and on book launch teams. So if you’re in the habit of stalking those communities, introduce yourself. We’ve been waiting for you!

If building relationship is the most important secret about book marketing, here’s the most important secret about building relationship. You must be genuine. If you have an ulterior motive, it will show.

A rewarding relationship with readers is built just like every other meaningful relationship you have: Give more than is expected. Give without expecting anything in return. When relationship comes first, book sales follow.

Click to Tweet: “Give without expecting anything in return. When relationship comes first, book sales follow.” ~ Karen Sargent @Inspired Prompt #writetip #marketing

Writing Prompt: Bree didn’t hear him walk up behind her, but she knew he was there.

Karen Sargent is an award-winning author whose debut novel, WAITING FOR BUTTERFLIES, is the 2017 IAN Book of the Year. She writes “stories that stir the soul” with characters whose imperfect faith collides with real-life conflicts. A romantic element is woven within. She also blogs at The MOM Journey, where moms aren’t perfect and that’s perfectly okay. Her writing has been featured in Guidepost’s Angels on Earth magazine and online at Writer’s Digest and Southern Writers Magazine Suite T. She is the volunteer coordinator for WFWA and a member of ACFW, the Missouri Writers’ Guild, and the SEMO Writers’ Guild. When she’s not writing, Karen teaches high school and college English and resides in the beautiful Arcadia Valley with her husband and two daughters. Visit her at

Longing for her family after her sudden death, Maggie becomes a lingering spirit and returns home where she helplessly witnesses her family’s downward spiral in the aftermath of her passing. Her husband is haunted by past mistakes and struggles to redeem himself. Her teenage daughter silently drowns in her own guilt, secretly believing she caused her mother’s death. Only her five-year-old, full of innocence, can sense her presence. Although limited by their grief and lack of faith, Maggie is determined to keep a sacred promise and save her family before her second chance runs out. A tender portrait of a mother whose love reaches beyond possible, Waiting for Butterflies will embrace your heart and not let go.







3 Questions Wednesday with Janie Winsell

HeadshotGood morning! Today, Janie Winsell is answering our three questions. Janie is the author of A Wife’s Devotion. I can’t wait for you to see the cover.

Good morning, Janie. Can you describe yourself in three words?

That’s hard. Boiling myself down to three words for a writer is like asking us not to use any adjectives in our writing. Okay, maybe not that dramatic, but you get the picture. Okay, here goes . . . Determined, passionate, and caring.

I like your humor, Janie. I also like your three-word description. Great job. Next question . . .

Someone offers you a fully-paid writing research trip to any place you desire to go. Where would it be and why?

To quote Dr. Seuss, “Oh, The Places You’ll Go!”  I have a fascination with Greece. The gorgeous waters and beautiful architecture have captivated my heart and soul. I’ve always wanted to visit Europe to see the different cultures there. I’ve heard that life isn’t quite so rushed across the waters as it is here. I also think that I could get a lot of writing done from my balcony as I watch the serenity of the ocean. I want to write a Romance book set in Greece, but there’s only so much you can do with your computer and imagination. If I could walk the streets and talk to the people, I could really get a feel for this amazing country and do them justice in a story.

I agree. There is nothing like walking the streets and talking to the people to get a feel for the land. Final quesiton . . .

If someone made a movie of your life, what would be the theme song?

Seeing that I majored in music for my undergraduate degree, I can think of a hundred different songs from different genres that might capture my past or present, or perhaps my future, but I think there’s only one that really tells my story. “Redeemed” by Big Daddy Weave.

I adore “Redeemed.” Reader’s click on the link to listen.

Thank you so much for having me on your blog. I’ve had a great time.

Janie, thank you for sharing your time and yourself with us today on Inspired Prompt. It was a pleasure talking with you.

Click to Tweet: “I also think that I could get a lot of writing done from my balcony as I watch the serenity of the ocean.” 3QW with Janie Winsell @InspiredPrompt #interview #giveaway

Readers: Janie is giving away an e-book. Leave a comment for a chance to win A Wife’s Devotion.

A Wife’s Devotion

AWDSergeant Alex Davis wakes up from a coma with another man’s name on his medical chart.

Six years ago, an IED explosion took the lives of his platoon, his leg, and left him a vegetable­­–– or so the doctors thought.  Now fighting to regain his health and what’s left of his life, all Alex can focus on is returning to the wife and daughter he left behind. There’s only one problem.

Real Estate agent Izzy Williams has a new life. She remarried and moved her and her daughter Elizabeth across town.  But just as things are settling down, two officers show up at her door uttering one sentence that turns her world upside down.

“Sergeant Alex Davis is alive.”

Will Alex be able to win his family back?

With her whole world on the line, Izzy must decide if her devotion lies with her new husband or her first love.

HeadshotJanie Winsell is a Christian author who lives in Alabama. She writes Contemporary Women’s fiction, Romance, and Romantic Suspense. She received her Master’s Degree in Creative Writing at Full Sail University. She is a member of ACFW and active in the critique main loop. She writes about real Christians who, like the world, are not perfect, but through God’s love and discipline, they learn the lessons needed to grow in their relationship with their Heavenly Father as well as with each other.