Reading and Exercise

Hope y’all have a Merry Christmas full of love, joy, peace, and hope!

(And of course, reading) 🙂

Click to tweet: Reading and exercise. Can the two go together? It depends on how you look at it.  #amreading #Christmas

Writing Prompt:

Take the photo below and write a flash fiction story (under 1000 words) of what comes to mind.

The Importance of the Craft of Writing

By Jennifer Hallmark

Hi! This month, the Inspired Prompt Crew will be sharing articles about different aspects of the craft of writing.

Why?

Because knowing craft is imperative if you want to sell your book. If you don’t believe me, read a sample of ten self-published books on Amazon with less-than-stellar covers. Go ahead. I’ll wait.

Oh, good. You’re back. See what I mean? I do understand that not all books with bad covers are badly written but if you don’t take the time or spend money on the appearance, how much time and money did you put into learning about sentence structure, self-editing, and typos?

You need both art and craft in a book. We want to hear your voice, your art, your creativity. But if you don’t have craft or structure, the real you is lost amidst errors, awkward wording, and bad grammar.

I see you cover your face and wail. “What can I do to learn more about craft?”

(((Hugs))) Don’t fret. Our Crew is here to help with articles on revision and editing, honing the craft, sharpening your skills, even great resources in books, blogs, and podcasts to make your journey a little easier.

There. Now, don’t you feel better? I’ll kick off the month by recommending one of my favorite books on the craft of writing.

Drum roll, please…

Writing the Breakout Novel: Insider Advice for Taking Your Fiction to the Next Level

by Donald Maass

In fact, I recommend any of his books. Here’s his Amazon page. 

Enjoy the month and let us know in the comments any questions or concerns you may have. We love to be helpful!

Click to tweet: The Importance of the Craft of Writing. @InspiredPrompt Crew can help with articles on #revision, editing, honing the craft, sharpening your skills, even great resources in books, blogs, and podcasts to make your journey a little easier. #authorslife

Writing Prompt: Determine to read one book this month on the craft of writing. Then read another. Study, read, learn, and practice. Repeat.

The Instant Pot: A Writer’s Best Friend

By Jennifer Hallmark

Have you ever had one of those days? You kept snoozing the clock, and couldn’t get going. After almost being late, the day dragged along and then the drive home crawled with backed up traffic. You arrived home ready to unwind with a good movie and popcorn but you haven’t cooked supper. What’s quick to fix?

Now pretend you’re an at-home writer. You’re at the house all day. No traffic. You can stay in your pajamas if you like. You get up, check emails as you eat your cereal, and then work on that manuscript, three blog posts, and an upgrade on your website. You glance at the clock and gasp. It’s time for supper.

No matter if you work at home or somewhere else, we’d like an easy recipe at the end of the day that tastes good and is simple to make. Sometimes, I use my trusty crockpot but my new best friend is an Instant Pot. It cooks fast and seals in the juices for great flavor no matter what you cook.

And recipes? I have several for days like this but my favorite is Jennifer’s Beef Stew. How can stew be fast? You cook it in the Instant Pot. I love the way it tenders the meat and is super quick. Try it for yourself. I’d love to know what you think. To make it even easier to prepare, buy already sliced carrots and celery and frozen diced onions. 😊

Jennifer’s Beef Stew (Instant Pot)

2 lbs. beef stew meat

1 cup sliced carrots

3-4 cups diced potatoes (not too small)

3 stalks of celery, sliced

1 small onion, diced

32 oz. beef broth

1 packet of beef stew mix

salt and pepper to taste

Olive oil

Pour a small amount of olive oil in the bottom of your Instant Pot, add meat and onions and saute for 9 minutes, stirring until meat is pretty brown. Stir in the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Cook on high pressure for 22 minutes. Let steam release naturally for 10 minutes, then bleed off steam completely. Stir again and it’s ready to serve.

And there you have it. Easy and delicious. Do you have a go-to recipe? Share it below in the comments. I’d love to add it to my cookbook. 😊

Click to tweet: Want an easy and delicious meal prepared in a short time? Jennifer’s Beef Stew in an Instant Pot on @InspiredPrompt. #recipes #recipeideas

Writing Prompt: Write a short story from the photo below…

Are You a Writer Trying to Break into Publication? One Word of Advice

By Jennifer Hallmark

Know that writing is hard work.

I see your puzzled look. That’s my advice?

Yes.

Writing is hard work. To be a successful writer, you need to be patient, persevering, and have a strong work ethic. Why? Some days you’ll grow tired of waiting. Tired of keeping on. Tired of the endless work.

Successful writers don’t only write. They study the craft, practice, try different ways to get published, study, then write some more. And let’s not even talk about marketing. Click to tweet: The job of writer is an endless journey you never arrive at. The journey is the destination.

If you truly want to be a writer, be prepared to do certain things over and over again.

  1. Write. Articles, blog posts, short stories, novellas, or novels. Pick your poison and practice, practice, practice.
  2. Rewrite. Once you’ve written whatever it is you needed to write, the rewrites begin. Read the article, story, or novel out loud and find ways to make it better.
  3. Practice humility. When you finally break into publication, you’ll be edited. Given advice. Some you won’t like. So, you better learn to be humble now or your journey will be short-lived.
  4. Push past the pain, tiredness, or boredom. You’ll deal with all three of these at different times and sometimes at the same time. Just like any other career, you have to do the job when you don’t want to. As I’m typing away on my laptop, I’m a week away from the release of my debut novel, Jessie’s Hope. I did not want to write this article today. It won’t post until July 15th. But I have a block of time to write now and I know it’s better to get it done. Who knows what the future will bring?

Let’s say this out loud and together: Writing is hard work. But I am in this for the long haul. Writing is what I want to do. I seek publication. So, I plan to work and write and submit and study and learn until my time comes.

For I am a writer.

Writing Prompt: Your assignment is to tell one person this week, who doesn’t already know, that you are a writer. Get over it now. Then write some more.

Writer journaling in a book

Four Tips on Landing and Working with a Traditional Publisher

By Jennifer Hallmark

I stared at the typed manuscript on my desk. It represented over a year of work. Traditional publishing or Indie publishing? Or vanity press? Though I was a newbie, I needed to make a decision. I knew very little about the publishing business. No, scratch that. I knew nothing at all.

I’d been writing my first novel and loving every minute of it. It sang, it soared, it was perfect. (Yes, I can hear you laughing from here)

A person from a vanity press approached me and offered to publish my wonderful 100,000 word work in progress which had no genre, no edits, and no formatting whatsoever. I’d been praying ever since I started writing for God to show me what to do. I was clueless and not ignorant of that fact.

So, when this opportunity presented itself, I went back to prayer. The only words that seemed to resonate inside of me were “Follow the traditional road.” I was a bit sad at the time. I mean, look at what the world was missing by me not putting my novel out there.

*Shaking head.*

What did I know about traditional publishing? Nada. I began to study all the types of publishing, taking online courses, reading writing craft books, and attending writing workshops, groups, and conferences. It didn’t take me long to figure out what a mistake I’d almost made. I kept following the traditional road the best I could and here I am, thirteen years later, about to release my debut, traditionally published novel.

Click to tweet: Four tips on landing and working with a traditional publisher. #publishing #amwriting @Inspiredprompt

If the traditional road is one you’d like to follow, don’t despair. It shouldn’t take you as long as it did me. Let me share four tips that will make a difference in your journey:

  1. Know the publisher. When I first started, I just sent my novels to publisher’s names I liked and gave little thought to what they wanted. I did get some helpful criticism back from several publishers but nothing else. When I finished my novel, Jessie’s Hope, I diligently studied the publisher I had set my sights on, Firefly Southern Fiction. I studied their guidelines until I could say them in my sleep. And I read several books by Firefly.
  2. Get your manuscript edited. Whether you hire a freelance editor, join a critique group, or find a critique partner, get another set of eyes on your work. I ran Jessie’s Hope through a critique group first, then had an editor friend give it a once over. I wanted it to be as polished as I could make it.
  3. Meet said editor or publisher. One way you can meet them is online. You can visit their site, read all their blog posts, and comment until they recognize you. I found out that the Firefly editor, Eva Marie Everson, was going to be at a conference near me and I made plans to go. I made an appointment to meet with her and also took all of her classes. I needed to learn what she was looking for in a more personal way.
  4. Submit your work. Finally, at the conference, I showed her a bit of my work and also explained the trouble I was experiencing in learning deep POV. She ripped my first pages to shreds as she taught me first-hand about deep POV both in our meeting and during class. She asked for a longer submission to be sent to her email and two months later told me the story intrigued her. But I had to first take a chance and submit or I would have never known it had potential.

After the good news, I started snoopy dancing. But then she had one of her beta readers read the full manuscript and tell me all the problems it had. I worked hard over the next two years and resubmitted it in 2017. She accepted the manuscript and on June 17, my dream of being a traditionally published author will come true.

Eleven and a half years after I made the decision to follow this road. I’m sure glad I didn’t know in the beginning how long it would take or I’d have probably given up.

Now which road should you take? Indie publishing has come a long way since I started writing. I believe God understood my lack of patience and desire to see my work in print and the fact that I would regret publishing too soon. He pointed to the traditional road and for me, it was the right one.

I suggest you prayerfully look into both ways of getting your work into print. (I purposely left out the third way. Don’t use a vanity press.) Do some research into both methods. Use my four tips with a publishing house that you feel a connection to and see what happens. You never know until you take that step.

In leiu of a writing prompt:

Question time. Ask me a question in the comments and I’ll try to answer it or find an answer for you.