March Madness and Inspired Prompt Blog: Think Winners

By Jennifer Hallmark

March Madness. The Division I men’s basketball tournament is considered one of the premier events in sports. The 68-team single-elimination tournament holds 67 games in 19 days, a jam-packed end to the season that aptly earned the nickname March Madness.

Here at Inspired Prompt, we’re having our own tournament of sorts. But without the basketball and cheerleaders and buzzer-beating wins. Throughout March, you’ll hear from many of the writers how they wrote their books, why, and a lot more interesting information. No competition here, though. All of our authors are winners. 🙂

You might be too!

The best part is the tournament trophies—er—prizes. Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, you’ll have a chance to win books and other fun things. And for March only, we’ll even let you win twice.

Stop by and visit.

Leave a comment.

Let us know how you’re doing and how we’re doing on the blog. We’d love to see you!

Maybe you’ll even find a basketball…

Click to tweet: #MarchMadness  Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday in March, you’ll have a chance to win books and other things at Inspired Prompt blog. #winners

Giving a Heartbeat to Your Characters

By Tammy J. Trail

Have you ever heard the expression, “he/she is such a character?” That means whomever they are talking about is a person worthy of remembrance for their larger than life personality. Most often that person has a great sense of humor. I tend to remember folks that make me laugh, don’t you?

In fiction writing, the characters in your manuscript are helping you tell the story. You want your readers to become so enamored they can’t put your book down as they experience a life through that of your characters. This focus on creating a cast of players in your story is called “characterization.” It goes beyond eye, and hair color, age or gender. Although those features are important, it doesn’t really make your reader care about the hero or heroine.

Doing a profile is helpful in developing your character’s personality traits. Consider how your heroine reacts emotionally as you plot your story. How does she react to disappointment, anger, or sadness? Does she eat ice cream when she is stressed? Or perhaps she breaks out in hives when under pressure? These are the types of traits that make our characters more human and not just paper people.

One of the traits I gave my hero is rocking back and forth on the balls of his feet when he becomes impatient. He is a military man, and you could just see this as a normal behavior for someone who is an officer in the Army. Looking at your characters through the lens of a camera, as if they were in a movie helps to incorporate mannerisms; such as biting one lip when caught in a lie. Or the wringing of hands to show worry.

Consider likes and dislikes, incorporate them into your story. Do they have a loving family, or do they come from a dysfunctional background? Do they get along well with others? Do they have hobbies? Do they have a gift of music, sports or crafting? If you think about it our preferences make us who we are whether we want them to or not.

Another great tool of characterization is giving your hero/heroine a goal. What motivates them to reach this goal? How will they grow personally if they meet the goal, or how will they react if they don’t reach it? Our characters need to meet expectations, either imposed by someone else, or from within.

When writing Christian fiction your characters my go through a spiritual growth. My heroine lost someone she loved and became angry at God. If God is all knowing why didn’t He stop her fiance from being impressed into the British Navy and leaving her to become an old maid by societies standards? Though her fiance did not die, she lost him to a force larger than they could defeat.

Elaine’s journey is finding that God was always with her and knew better what she needed in life. Isn’t that true for all of us?

Two sources that helped me with my characterization:

Goal, Motivation and Conflict, by Debra Dixon.

The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expressions, by Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi

 

Writing Prompt: Describe your perfect day with your favorite character from a book.

Click to Tweet: In fiction writing, the characters in your manuscript are helping you tell the story. 

3 Questions Wednesday with Kristen Hogrefe

Author Kristen Hogrefe

Welcome back to 3 Questions Wednesday, Kristen Hogrefe! This is an exciting and very busy week for Kristen, as her third book in The Rogues Trilogy released yesterday! Congratulations, Kristen.

Let’s see how she answers our three questions—

Who is your favorite author?

Kristen: Limiting myself to just one is nearly impossible, because I enjoy so many genres, but I consider Elisabeth Elliot one of my spiritual mentors. Her books, including Keep a Quiet Heart and Let Me Be a Woman, are ones I re-read.

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

Kristen: One day, I hope I’ll have the ability to research and write either a non-fiction or fictionalized account of my Uncle Billy’s story. I never met him, because he died in Colombia as a child, but through his childlike witness to the people group my missionary grandparents were reaching, many came to know Christ. My mom tells me that on his grave, a church was built. I think there’s a powerful story to tell, but I don’t know if I can do it justice. One day, I hope to be brave enough to try.

If you could spend time with a character from your book whom would it be? And what would you do during that day?

Kristen: I actually did have the opportunity to spend a full two weeks with a “character” from my book! At the very end of the story while Portia heals in Orvieto, she stays with an Italian woman named Maria who teaches her about Italian culture and serves as her guide. My real-life Italian friend and colleague Maria Constantine traveled with me to Italy so I could research the settings in The Reactionary. We spent several days in a lovely Air B&B in Orvieto. There, she taught me some Italian phrases and ultimately gifted me with a deep appreciation and love for Italy as we explored the city and surrounding areas. You can read more about some of our adventures on my blog at KristenHogrefe.com.


Kristen Hogrefe is an award-winning author and life-long learner. Her books include The Rogues trilogy and Wings of the Dawn trilogy, and she also enjoys speaking events that allow her to connect with students, readers, and other writers. A Florida girl at heart, she says yes to most adventures involving sunshine. Connect with her online at KristenHogrefe.com.

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The Reactionary

The Reactionary by Kristen Hogrefe

Three friends. One broken world. One chance to make it right.

Gath survived the satellite explosions, only to encounter one of Felix’s plague initiatives. Somehow, he must recover, re-unify what’s left of their leadership team—and help them find a reason to hope.

Luther devises a diplomatic distraction to buy Portia time for her international mission and him an opportunity to rescue his scientist-father, tricked into operating Felix’s labs. Will he lose them both anyway?

Portia resents that Darius lied about their father, and defying her brother now might secure a much-needed overseas ally. But liberty for all could cost her future with the man she loves and any chance of reuniting her fractured family.

BUY LINK [AMAZON]

3 Questions Wednesday with Erin R. Howard

Welcome to 3 Questions Wednesday!

This week’s guest is developmental editor and fantasy author, Erin R. Howard.  Welcome to the Inspired Prompt blog!

First question—Who is your favorite author?

Erin: This is a hard question! I love to read, so there are many authors that I enjoy. Since I am a fantasy author, I will say that my favorite is Ted Dekker. I love the way that he creates his story worlds. You feel as though you are right there experiencing it with the character.

He does write fascinating stories.  Now, second question

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

Erin:  I write urban fantasy, which has fantasy elements but is set in our current world and I love blending these two worlds together. Right now, I have another series in the planning stages that will be related to my current series. After that, I would love to write a dystopian book or a fairy tale retelling.

All of those genres are popular. 🙂 That brings us to question number three—

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?

Erin:  I’ve always been fascinated with angels, and when I was creating my character Matthias, I not only wanted to show him as a warrior, but also show him as kind, patient, and a fierce protector. But as the story unfolded, I found there’s so much more to him than meets the eye. I won’t give away all of my secrets, {you’ll have to read the story to find out!}, but Matthias is not only a warrior and protector but someone that you need by your side.

Sounds like someone we all would like to know. Thank you so much for stopping by!

Click to Tweet: 3 Questions Wednesday’s guest is urban fantasy author, Erin R. Howard.  Learn more about her and her book, The Soul Searcher, and leave a comment for a chance to win a Kindle book via @InspiredPrompt. #Fantasy #amreading

Don’t forget to leave a comment for your chance to win a Kindle version of The Soul Searcher.


 The Soul Searcher

Elnora’s parents gave her one rule:

Stay hidden away at all costs.

Elnora Scott is used to her survival depending on the decisions of others. Locked away in her safe house, it is easy to follow her parents’ dying wishes until an angel, demon, and seer show up on her doorstep. Now, waking up in a dirty cell, she wishes she would have gone with them when she had the chance, because the very ones who unknowingly ushered the kidnapper to her location may be the only ones who can save her.

When Thea learns that Elnora may be in danger, she doesn’t hesitate to go find her. Thea thought stepping through the portal would be her greatest obstacle, but it only reveals a more sinister threat.

Buy your copy here.


 

Erin R. Howard is a developmental editor, fantasy author of The Kalila Chronicles, and has earned a Bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing/English from Southern New Hampshire University. When she’s not writing, Erin enjoys spending time with her family, fueling her craft addictions, and teaching writing workshops. Erin is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and the KenTen Writers Group. She resides in Western Kentucky with her husband and three children.

You can find Erin at her website, on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. She also has a blog and newsletter.

Show versus Tell

Hi everyone! Patty Smith Hall here, and today, we’re going to tackle one of the major building blocks of effective writing—Show vs Tell.

If you’ve been to a writing conference, had a critique partner or read books on craft, you’ve probably heard the phrase, ‘show, don’t tell.’ For those of you ‘newbies,’ let me explain.

First off, let’s look at the definition of these words;

The meaning of the word ‘tell’ is ‘communicating information, facts or news to someone in spoken or written words. Other words to describe it are informed, notify, apprise and advise.

newspaper-943004_192028129When I think of telling, I think of a newspaper article. For an article to be informative, it has to answer five questions—who, what, where, when and why. Most (with the exception of editorials) are very basic with little to no description. They’re looking at the situation from ten thousand feet above so they can’t give much detail or expression.

My first draft is a lot like that. I’m trying to get the story down, learning the who, what, where, when, why. During this time, I use words like angrily, solemnly, joyfully, hesitantly or phrases like she or he thought. While its okay to do this, it doesn’t draw your reader into the story or make them feel for your characters. It might look something like this:

‘Maggie stared pensively out the window as she took another sip of coffee.

That’s okay, but it doesn’t give readers a hint of why Maggie feels pensive. It doesn’t even reveal the setting. As a reader, would you finish a book like that or would you read on?

Now let’s look at the word ‘show.’ The definition of ‘show’ is ‘be, allow or cause to be visible; to display a quality, emotion or characteristic; a display or spectacle; a play or stage performance.

I like that last description. Here in the south, we don’t go to a movie. For us, it’s a show which is a fitting description. In a movie, you’re able to see the actor’s expressions, get a feel for the motivations behind their actions.

movie-918655_1920When I start editing my rough draft, I picture each scene as though it were a movie. I slow it down so that I can catch all the nuances of my character’s expressions and how they respond to each plot twist. Writing my story this way brings my readers deeper into the story world and gives my characters more layers which makes the reader care about them.

So how does this look? Let’s take pensive Maddie.

Maddie stared pensively out of the window as she took another sip of her coffee.

But if we look at this as we would a movie scene, this is what we might see:

She missed her mountains.

Maddie stared out the big picture window, drawn to the outline of the Davis Mountains silhouetted against the morning sky. She took another sip of Sally’s coffee, her latest bout of homesickness drowning out the hustle and bustle of the café.

Did the second paragraph draw you into the story? Did you feel for Maddie? That’s what showing rather than telling does. That doesn’t mean you never can use telling. If you want to show the passage of time, telling is a good way of doing that—you’re moving the story forward without going into details that aren’t important to the story. One example for my books is from my first one, Hearts in Flight. My heroine was a pilot who flew test flights during WWII. Only I never wrote about her actually flying a plane! Why? Because it was a romance, her flying wouldn’t have moved the story along.

Here’s a simple way to think of it: Say your husband or wife tells you ‘I’m going to be a better mate.’ That’s all well and good, but wouldn’t showing you with their actions their intentions be even better?

I hope I’ve helped you understand show vs tell a little bit more. Some good articles on the subject are:

Show, Don’t Tell; A Simple Guide for Writers by Jerry Jenkins

Showing Vs Telling in Your Writing by Writer’s Digest

Show Vs Tell by R. Michael Burns

Show Vs Tell: Examples by Camy Tang

Click to Tweet: When I start editing my rough draft, I picture each scene as though it were a movie. #writetip #amwriting @InspiredPrompt @pattywrites

Writing Prompt: Read a page of your WIP. Did you find problems with telling? How can you show the scene?

The Southern Belle Brides Collection

51jkgnu-g-l._sy346_Love as Sweet as Southern Iced Tea

Welcome to the Old South where hospitality is king and charm is queen. Can lasting love been found here amidst chaotic life challenges?

The Belle of the Congaree by Lauralee Bliss
Columbia, South Carolina—1866
Mason Bassinger reluctantly travels to post-war South Carolina seeking lands his carpetbagger brother can buy. Elisa Anderson barely survives after her family’s plantation was destroyed. She welcomes visits by the handsome and wealthy Mason who makes the cottage by the Congaree feel like a home. But when Mason’s true purpose is revealed, will her heart be broken by betrayal?

Thoroughbreds by Ramona Cecil
Lexington, Kentucky—1918
A family tragedy reunites Ella Jamison with her childhood tormentor, igniting surprisingly different sparks. Clay Garrett questions why God would allow him to fall in love with the one woman least likely to return his affections. But when love blooms against all odds, old secrets threaten to destroy it and, in the process, tear an entire family apart.

The Marmalade Belle by Dianne Christner
Ocala, Florida—1893
A decade-old note draws Maribelle Sinclair into the arms of Jackson, her childhood hero, but the Cavalry dragoon’s soul appears dark and dangerous as the Florida everglades. Virgil, on the other hand, is sweet as mama’s orange marmalade and optimistically forthright. If hearts are windows, like the glass-bottomed boats on nearby Silver River, Maribelle can trust hers to make the right choice.

Debt of Love by Lynn Coleman
Palatka, Florida—1868
Adeline Edwards, a Southern Belle with strong calloused hands from tending cattle, no longer attends balls. Banker, Phineas George Hamilton III, arrives at the plantation to recover the bank’s debt and discovers strong-willed Adeline doubts the bank’s claim. Can they figure out the debt, or will they find balance in love?

Hometown Bride by Patty Smith Hall
Marietta, Georgia—1870
Jilly Chastain never lied, but when her mother fabricates a marriage with her childhood sweetheart, Grayson Hancock, Jilly goes along with it, never expecting Grayson to show up, ready to make their make-believe marriage real.

Miss Beaumont’s Companion by Grace Hitchcock
Baton Rouge, Louisiana—1892
When lady’s companion Aria St. Angelo is coerced into posing as her political employer’s absent daughter for the evening at the Louisiana Governor’s masquerade ball, she wasn’t planning on falling for Byron Roderick, the most eligible bachelor in the capitol.

Above All These Things by Connie Stevens
East central Georgia—1855
Pre-conceived opinions and stubborn pride builds walls of resentment between Annulet Granville, the belle of Thornwalk Manor, and a visiting stranger. Annulet’s parents urge her to find a husband, but she labels Peyton Stafford the enemy. So what is she to do with Christ’s command to love her enemies?

pattyhallA multi-published author with Love Inspired Historical and Barbour, Patty lives in North Georgia with her husband of 35 years, Danny; two gorgeous daughters, her son-in-love and a grandboy who has her wrapped around his tiny finger. When she’s not writing on her back porch, she’s spending time with her family or working in her garden.