A Fond Farewell: Inspired Prompt Crew to Our Writer and Reader Friends

By Jennifer Hallmark

April 27, 2012. I had been journaling, blogging, kind of for six years, and had about a dozen dedicated readers. What was I doing wrong?  I really put the matter to prayer. God whispered to my heart that I needed to use the blog to give back instead of sharing my thoughts and I immediately thought of the #WritingCommunity that had given me so much. I talked to two ladies in my ACFW critique group and Betty Thomason Owens and Christina Rich helped me start a blog by writers for writers. Cool name, huh? 🙂

We didn’t have a clue what we were doing. Well, I didn’t anyway.

But over the last eight years, our blog grew. We changed format, the name, and our website creation tool but one thing remained the same: A blog by writers for writers.

It’s time.

I’ve known for a while but I’d shake the thought off and keep going. My innermost being, everything, is invested in what I do, including this blog. It’s just the way I operate. When the time comes for a shift, I struggle, fight, and search for a way to combat change.

Then, I remember that to move forward, I often have to embrace change. Go with the flow. Climb the next mountain. Follow the light. Let go and let God. (Betty, these clichés are for you.)

It’s time.

The Inspired Prompt has had a wonderful run and much success in numbers, especially in the last two years. The most important thing, though?

You. Each person who is or has been a Crew member. My hat is off to you. You are amazing people and writers who graced our blog with your words. Each week, I read your posts and am blessed. Christina, you helped me so much with the tech stuff in the beginning. Betty, we are BFF’s always. ❤

You. Our readers. Wow. I’ve made so many friends through this site. Readers, writers, reviewers, publishers, editors, agents, to name a few. I’ve enjoyed the interviews, the guest blog posts, and most of all, the comments. You would open up and share a little from your life and it made my day. All the Crew’s day.

I would start to name you but I would miss too many of you wonderful people. I pray each of you is blessed:

  • In the city and in the country.
  • In your body, your family, and everything you call yours.
  • In your work.
  • In your coming and your going.
  • In the presence of your enemies.

And that God will open the treasures of heaven over your life.

Our last post will be on May 29th but we will leave the blog intact for the rest of the year so you can read and enjoy any articles you may have missed. We hope they help on your journey, whether you’re a writer or not.

Thank you again for your kindness. It will never be forgotten.

What’s New With You?

By Jennifer Hallmark

This month, The Inspired Prompt Crew is sharing where we are in life. And I’ll let you know below where I am. But I’m also interested in what’s new with you, our reader. I know that many of you are writers also and I’d love to know (in the comment section) where you are on this wonderful, wacky writing journey.

I have several works in progress. My agent is actively shopping the sequel to Jessie’s Hope, tentatively titled, Angeline’s Dream. I have entered my fantasy book, Journey of Grace: Realm of Ecclesia, in a contest. But it still needs work…

I’m about 28,000 words into a stand-alone Southern fiction novel which takes place in 1978. So it’s a historical of sorts. I’m still blogging, marketing Jessie’s Hope, and have signed up for classes to further my writing education. Also hoping to go to a writer’s retreat in October. 🙂

Enough about me. Please let me know how you’re doing below. I’d love to hear from you all…


Jennifer Hallmark writes Southern fiction and her website, Alabama-Inspired Fiction, and the group blog, Inspired Prompt, she co-founded, focus on her books, love of the South, and helping writers. She’s published 200+ internet articles/interviews and short stories in several magazines.

Jessie’s Hope, her first novel published by Firefly Southern Fiction, is a Selah Award nominee for First Novel. She is represented by Cyle Young of the Hartline Literary Agency. Jennifer sends out a monthly newsletter, which you can subscribe to here. You can visit her on FacebookFacebook author page, Twitter, and Pinterest.


Jessie’s Hope

Can a sliver of hope lead to everlasting love?

Years ago, an accident robbed Jessie Smith’s mobility. It also stole her mother and alienated her from her father. When Jessie’s high school sweetheart Matt Jansen proposes, her parents’ absence intensifies her worry that she cannot hold on to those she loves.

With a wedding fast approaching, Jessie’s grandfather Homer has a goal to find the perfect dress for “his Jessie,” one that would allow her to forget, even if for a moment, the boundaries of her wheelchair. But financial setbacks and unexpected sabotage hinder his plans.

Determined to heal from her past, Jessie initiates a search for her father. Can a sliver of hope lead to everlasting love when additional obstacles—including a spurned woman and unpredictable weather—highjack Jessie’s dream wedding?

I Didn’t Write for a Month…And Lived!

By Jennifer Hallmark

I am a writer. My job in life is to pen words and share them with my world: family, friends, social media, and the Internet. My mission statement is “to write with God and bring hope and encouragement through my words, both written and spoken, to everyone I meet, both online and in-person.”

And on top of that,  I just found out that my debut novel, Jessie’s Hope, finaled in the Selah Awards. Did I actually have the audacity to take time off?

Yes.

In taking a month’s sabbatical, my mission statement would be somewhat placed on hold. I found not writing extremely hard. After all, my life had been wrapped up in this chosen profession since 2006 when I attended my first local writing class. Fourteen long years of studying, writing, being critiqued, more writing, more studying, and attending meetings, conferences, and retreats. I’ve read over twenty-five books on the craft, listened to numerous podcasts, and taken tons of classes: in-person and online.

Factor in writing a few hundred blog posts, interviews, guest posts, three full novels and a couple of half novels and you can see I haven’t been idle when it comes to this writer’s life.

And that was part of the problem.

At first, I loved all of it. My hobby proved to be fun and for five years, I enjoyed penning words as a pastime. Then, I wanted more. Maybe a published author and, gasp, being paid money for something I’d written. Was that too much to ask?

My writing went to the next level starting with me attending the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writer’s Conference with lots of other writers. And work. My hobby became a job, second to being a mom and housewife and chicken farmer. 48,000 baby chickens raised every six weeks to be exact. Life was full but enjoyable.

My children grew up and moved out and before you could say empty nest, I had six grandchildren. Then my stepdad passed away and Mom moved nearby. As I think back, I really didn’t enjoy the grown children stage the way I would if I had it to do over. Parents, my word of advice: Enjoy the empty nest while you can.

In 2011, we sold our chicken houses and I started writing full-time.  And babysitting. And helping Mom as the only sibling in the state. Then a good friend became a widow and another good friend died. Life suddenly started to drain the life from me. Add in a few health issues of my own and I was totally being set up to fall apart. The plates I’d kept spinning for so long began to fall, one at a time, until I stood amidst broken glass, mourning so much change and so many losses.

So, I wrote faster. With longer hours to try and purge my soul of the pain that was piling up on me. I thought I could put these sorrowful thoughts on paper and they’d magically disappear. But they didn’t. I reluctantly contacted a therapist because I knew I was on the verge of a breakdown but didn’t know how to stop it. My first assignment? Read the book, Boundaries, by Henry Cloud and John Townsend.

Life-changing. The book and my therapist began to show me what I’d done wrong. No boundaries. No self-care. An aging body and more people who needed me. So I made changes. I started going to the gym, then changed my diet. See my article on my new way to eat.

From January of 2019 until today, I’d lost twenty-seven pounds and kept it off, then added strength training. I felt so much better physically. But setting boundaries was still hard for me. I’m one of those people who found it hard to say no but I’m learning. Self-care became more of a way of life and everyone around me is benefiting from it.

My only problem? I was still totally and completely mentally burnt out. You can’t keep it all going, seven days a week like I had for too long of a time. I had spent less and less time with real people and more time in my office and I became emotionally burnt out too. We were created for relationship and hiding doesn’t heal anything.

I made a major decision. Eight months after I’d released my first novel and with my agent shopping my second novel, I would take a month off.

February would be a time of renewal which also happens to be my word for the year. No writing fiction, articles, and no social media. More family time. Did you miss me on Facebook or Twitter? Probably not but somehow I’d gotten in my head that I was indispensable to the online world. And guess what I learned?

Social media went on without me. My book sales did drop a little without me marketing but not as much as I feared. And the rest and peace I received were well worth it.

I went back to work on March 2nd with more wisdom I hope, planning a four-day workweek for now. I have a planner to help me stay on track and am penciling in “me” time, a lot more than I ever have before. And it’s okay.

Everyone has to work with who they are and what their situations are in life. I tried to pretend it all didn’t bother me and failed miserably. But God, my family, friends, and writing buddies didn’t turn their backs on me. My blogging friends at Inspired Prompt kept the blog running. My family gave me some space and though the needs were still there with the grandchildren and Mom, I learned to say no or wait or soon. Not always yes, this minute.

Does anyone out there relate to this at all? Maybe you could share a comment below and tell me how you handle it all. I’m always thankful for suggestions as I journey on this new part of life…

Click to tweet: I Didn’t Write for a Month…And Lived! #amwriting The emotional highs and lows of writing. #WritingCommunity

Gaudy Night: A Different Kind of Love Story

By Jennifer Hallmark

For any of you that know me at all, it’s no secret that the “Golden Age of Detective Fiction” is one of my favorite genres to read. I think it has something to do with my dad and I watching PBS together on a little black and white television, timeless stories about Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot, and Lord Peter Wimsey.

But what does that have to do with our month of love stories? For crying out loud,  it’s Valentine’s Day. The perfect time for an epic romance. I understand. And for a book to be extra-special to me, there has to be an element of romance. I need the hero and heroine to feel the spark between them, for them to agree and disagree, fight and love. Add to that, the main characters working together to solve a mystery and it can’t get any better.

Gaudy Night by Dorothy Sayers combines all of the above and more. Our hero, slash crime solver, Lord Peter Wimsey, loves Harriet Vane, a woman he saved from being falsely accused of the murder of her lover. Harriet is sick of all men and won’t even pretend to love Lord Peter. But he never gives up pursuing her. (I love that!)

In this tenth book by Dorothy Sayers, the third to involve Miss Vane, Harriet goes back to her old Alma Mater, Shrewsbury All-Female college as part of a journey of self-discovery. She raises all the questions: Who am I? Why have I struggled? What do I really want to do in my career? Who do I love?

Harriet’s bravery to attempt this inner journey while trying to solve a mystery at the college creates a wonderful story. Peter’s ability to let Harriet find her own way without his help is masterfully written and makes me enjoy his character even more.

To me, what makes this novel work is the chemistry between Harriet and Peter. They both are learning about themselves and each other and the world they live in that is moving toward World War II. Dorothy Sayers dives deeply into their inner thoughts and makes it all so real I feel like I know them. That’s great writing.

And the perfect ending with all the ooh’s and aah’s, the romance, the kiss. I’ve read the book countless times, sometimes just skipping around to my favorite parts. It might just be time to read it again.

If you have time, read all of Sayer’s books starting with Whose Body? and you’ll find the experience of reading Gaudy Night even richer.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Click to tweet: Gaudy Night by Dorothy Sayers. Mystery or romance or both? @InspiredPrompt #amwritingromance #ValentinesDay

Do you like mystery and romance combined better than romance alone? I’d love for you to share a favorite mystery/romance with our readers. 

Love Stories and Why They Work

By Jennifer Hallmark

Who doesn’t have a favorite love story? I mean a book or movie that can be brought out on any given day to cause a happy sigh of contentment, one that can be viewed or read over and over?

Our culture loves romance and great stories and happy endings. What makes a good romance work and how can we as writers tap into this mystery? During February, we’ll look at many books that the Crew at Inspired Prompt enjoy and discuss them. Books like Jane Eyre, Lorna Doone, and Gaudy Night.

What? You’ve never heard of Gaudy Night?  Author Dorothy Sayers combines romance, mystery, and a journey of self-discovery, three great storylines to me. So, don’t miss my personal post on Valentine’s Day. It could be a new favorite for you.

Enjoy the discussion this month and please stop by and leave a comment. We want to know what books you like and also the kind of story you are currently writing. We hope to share ideas in crafting your work-in-progress that could one day become a classic love story…

Click to tweet: Our culture loves romance and great stories and happy endings. How can writers tap into the mystery of a classic love story? #WritingCommunity #amwriting

To kick off the month, share your favorite love story, book or movie, in the comments below…