Time to Write with Shirley & Harriet

Shirley Crowder, how do you fit writing into your daily schedule?

With all my work, ministry, family, and other responsibilities it can be difficult to carve out time for writing—even though I don’t require a lot of sleep!

I find making a schedule helpful in safeguarding my writing time and I must be disciplined to guard that time.

I schedule early mornings before work and after midnight for writing. Devotional writing works well in these time slots, whether for a blog, newspaper article, or devotional for a book.

I block out four hours of each Friday (when I’m off from my job), sometimes morning and sometimes afternoon, to focus on devotionals for books.

I turn off the TV and the sound on my phone, sit at my desk, and start writing. I keep a sticky note handy to jot down things that come to mind that are not related to my writing.

All my writing deadlines go on my calendar, including my study and research, time to put it aside (a few days for a blog, article, or single devotional; and a couple of weeks for a book manuscript), time for someone else to read the manuscript, and time to do final edits/rewrites.

Admittedly, sometimes it is difficult to carve out time when I need to be at the hospital with a friend, or doing laundry, or any one of a gazillion other things that come along.

Please understand that all of this is the way things SHOULD work!

If my schedule gets interrupted for any reason, I reschedule that time as soon as possible.

I have to remind myself that my time is not my own—it is God’s! It is extremely important that I seek the Lord’s guidance in scheduling my writing time. [Click to Tweet]

Harriet Michael, what’s your secret?

I work three days a week as a substitute middle or high school teacher at a nearby Christian school. This school has block scheduling, so they have only four classes a day with each class an hour and a half long. One of these four blocks for each teacher is a planning period. As a sub, I have no planning to do, nor do I have to grade tests or papers. So, how do I fill this hour and a half three days a week?

You guessed it, I write.

With the school’s permission, I bring my computer with me and use the planning periods to get some writing done. It works out great for me. I can’t leave the school anyway, so I am stuck in a classroom with nothing else to do for ninety minutes. I might as well take advantage of the time.

I am blessed to have this carved-out scheduled time every week and I realize it is a unique situation. But the point remains—set aside some specific time every week to write. Make it part of your routine. I actually find I get more done in the school year when I am working than I do in the summer when I am off. There are so many distractions pulling at me when I am home. Being forced to sit in a chair, with nothing else to do but write works well for me.

At a writers’ conference once I heard an instructor, whose name I cannot remember, tease that what writers need to do sounds like a dirty word. He called it BICFOK, which he said stands for “butt in chair, fingers on keys”. That truly is the key to getting some much-needed writing accomplished. Just sit down and do it!


Shirley Crowder was born in Nigeria, West Africa, where her parents served as missionaries, Shirley is passionate about disciple-making, which is manifested through a myriad of ministry opportunities that include biblical counseling, teaching Bible studies, speaking at conferences, writing, and serving on the national advisory team for The Addiction Connection.

She is a biblical counselor and is commissioned by and serves on the national Advisory Team for The Addiction Connection. Her articles, devotions have appeared in “Paper Pulpit” in The Gadsden Times’ Faith section and Seek magazine—a David C. Cook publication. She has also written articles for Life Bible Study and Woman’s Missionary Union. Six published books were contributed to, authored, or co-authored by Shirley. Four contracted devotional books are due out over the next two years.

Shirley has spiritual children and grandchildren serving the Lord in various ways throughout the world.


Harriet E. Michael is a multi-published author and freelance writer. She has authored five books, with two more coming out this year. Over 200 articles, devotions, and stories penned by her have appeared in various publications by Focus on the Family, Lifeway, David C. Cook, Standard Publishing, Chicken Soup for the Soul, The Upper Room, Judson Press, and more. Harriet has been married for nearly forty years. She is the proud mother of four grown children and “Lala” to two adorable grandchildren.


Click to Tweet: The key to getting some much-needed writing accomplished: just sit down and do it! – Harriet Michael via @InspiredPrompt #amwriting #time

Writing Prompt: Map out a quick, doable writing schedule for tomorrow. Then post it where you will see it. If it worked for you, try it the next day, too. Make changes if necessary. Keep at it until you’ve found a system that works for you. Don’t give up! Even five minutes between daily tasks can add word count to your work-in-progress.

Do you have a question for Shirley, or Harriet? Please feel free to ask in the comments section. We’re here to help.

Time to Write

Welcome to January, 2019 at Inspired Prompt. I’m Betty Thomason Owens, one of the blog’s founders, and I’m so glad you’re here. We’re starting the year with a topic all writers need, whether you’re just starting out or multi-published. In our busy, busy world, how do we make time to write?

Finding time in a compromised world can seem almost impossible. I’ve learned to grab time where I can, be it five minutes, fifteen, or five hours. Grab it and make the most of it. That may mean keeping a notebook and pen handy. I use a note app on my phone. That way, I can even dictate a scene for my work in progress while walking. The best ideas pop into my mind in the midst of my daily exercise.

Plan ahead: It’s a simple idea, but many times our schedules and plans get preempted by…well…life. If you have a family, you’re all too familiar with interruptions. Some moms get up early or stay up late for a few minutes of writing time. I’ve always been an early riser. I’m an empty nester now, but I still have a couple of part-time jobs, household chores, and a husband to factor in. Those things are like the bread of a sandwich. Writing time is the filling. Sometimes it’s thick and juicy. Other times, it’s thin and kind of tasteless. But it’s always there.

It’s there because I create it. I make space and time for the things I care about. I care about finishing what I’ve started. The show must go on.

January is a time of new beginnings. Inspired Prompt’s contributors are all going to chime in as the month goes forward. We’ll be sharing ideas, encouraging thoughts, and a few helpful hints. We’ll share what works for us, doesn’t work for us, and maybe a funny story or two. We’ll dig deep, ask questions, and I hope you will, too.

Help us get to the heart of this timely question: How do you find time to write?

[Click to Tweet] January is a time of new beginnings. Inspired Prompt’s contributors will share ideas, encouraging thoughts, and a few helpful hints to help writers find Time to Write. #NewYear #amwriting

About the author: My friends say I’m creative, loyal, thoughtful and funny. I’m a storyteller. A word-weaver, writing stories that touch the heart. If I was an artist working with oils, I’d want to paint scenes so real, you’d think you were looking at a photograph. They’d include minute details that grab your attention and pull you into the picture. My characters could be your next-door neighbors. They’re open and friendly. They include you in their conversations. My themes include the grace of God, forgiveness, restoration, and redemption, but most of all, love. For years, my tagline has been Love is the Legacy. That’s my desire, to leave a legacy of love. Betty Thomason Owens

I find a lot of my answers in scripture. We can pattern our daily lives after the teachings we find there. Apply a simple principle of living to your writing life. Take what you’re given and live in it.

My counsel for you is simple and straightforward: Just go ahead with what you’ve been given. You received Christ Jesus, the Master; now live him. You’re deeply rooted in him. You’re well constructed upon him. You know your way around the faith. Now do what you’ve been taught. School’s out; quit studying the subject and start living it!–Colossians 2:6-7 MSG

3 Questions Wednesday with Cynthia Herron

CH-7888 copyHappy Wednesday! Today the Inspired Prompt welcomes author, Cynthia Herron. We’re so happy you could join us. First question:

Who is your favorite author?

Cynthia:  Oh, my goodness! Such a hard question. While I have many, many favorite books and authors, I’d have to say two of my favorite authors are Debbie Macomber and Jan Karon. Their themes and stories resonate with me. I love the smooth flow of their writing style. I also connect with the small-town aspect and the characters who live in those towns. While each author’s voice is unique, the overriding message in both authors’ work is love and perseverance. Also, the spiritual thread is subtle, not preachy. At the end of their stories, I’m uplifted rather than depressed.

Of course, too, Francine Rivers’ books have always challenged me and expanded my thinking. While she writes in a different vein, she forces me beyond my comfort zone, and I admire that in an author.

Good choices.  Next question…

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

Cynthia:  One day I’d love to incorporate more diversity in my work. I hope to introduce characters and issues that the inspirational fiction market has yet to embrace. While we’re seeing some progress in this area, there’s still room for expansion.

I’d love to write about average, everyday “mom and pop” characters adjusting to twenty-first century realities—in other words, those themes deemed too “racy” to address, yet realities that exist within today’s “church.”

Handled with Christlike compassion within a spiritual framework, I believe these stories would resonate with readers.

In fact, I think these stories would be groundbreaking.

What a great idea! Last question:

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?

Cynthia:  Ida Mae Hoscutt, a beloved character from Her Hope Discovered, book one in my Welcome to Ruby series, is the colorful, down-home friend I’d love to have in real life. Full of wit and witticisms (kind of like me), Ida Mae is the owner of the Come and Get It, a small-town diner in fictional Ruby, Missouri. She’s charming and down-to-earth with a big heart and an even bigger attitude.

If I were to spend the day with Ida Mae, I suppose we’d kick off the morning with the diner special and a strong, black cup of coffee. We’d gab for a good hour or two, and then maybe we’d venture across town to her little abode where we’d have a chick-flick marathon, munch popcorn and slug back some hot apple cider.

At some point, I’m quite certain we’d bake a cherry pie and indulge in a slice still warm from the oven. Maybe later we’d expend some calories and take a hike along the Ozark foothills. It would be the perfect day—sunny and warm, filled with giggles, hugs, and memory-making, Paradise.cherry-pie-1241372_1280

Sounds like a wonderful day. Thanks so much for dropping by!

Click to tweet: Author Cynthia Herron talks about writing and a giveaway. #Writer #amwriting #Cynthia Herron #starbucks

Cynthia is giving away a $15 Starbucks gift.  Leave a comment below to be entered in the drawing!


Her Hope Discovered

HerHopeDiscoveredIs the sure thing worth risking for the possibility of maybe?

Charla Winthrop, a savvy business woman seeking a permanent lifestyle change in small-town Ruby, learns that things aren’t always what they appear when she takes up residence in a house steeped in charm and a hint of mystery.
Rumor has it that Sam Packard the town carpenter is her go-to guy for home remodeling, but can Charla convince him to help her—with no strings attached, of course?

Alone far too long, Sam’s prayed that God would send him a wife and a mother for his daughters. However, the new Ruby resident is hardly what he imagined. A new place to call “home,” the possibility of what might be, and the answer to someone’s prayers unite this unlikely pair with the help of the town’s residents.

Nestled in the Ozarks’ hills and hollows is Ruby, Missouri, a quaint, cozy town where “neighbor” is merely another word for “friend.” Ruby will charm and delight as will her quirky, lovable characters who will steal your heart, but hand it right back—with whipped cream and a cherry on top. Savor your new friends’ sorrows and successes in the community where offbeat is perfect and mishaps and mayhem never tasted so good.


Cynthia Herron CH-7888 copy

Cynthia writes Heartfelt, Homespun Fiction from the beautiful Ozark Mountains. A hopeless romantic at heart, she enjoys penning stories about ordinary people facing extraordinary circumstances. Her Hope Discovered, her début novel and the first in a three-book series, released December 2018 with Mountain Brook Ink. 

“Cindy” has a degree in psychology and a background in social work. She is a member of ACFW, ACFW MozArks, and RWA. 

She is a 2017 ACFW Genesis Finalist, a 2016 ACFW Genesis (Double) Finalist, and a 2015 ACFW First Impressions Winner. Her short story Words from the Heart appears in The Story Anthology (Karen Kingsbury/Family Fiction) via Salem Publications, 2014. Her work is represented by WordServe Literary.

Besides writing, Cindy enjoys spending time with family and friends. She has a fondness for gingerbread men, miniature teapots, and all things apple. She also adores a great cup of coffee and she never met a sticky note she didn’t like.

Cindy loves to connect with friends at her online home. She also hangs out on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram.

For love, fun, and encouragement ~

Sign up for Cindy’s monthly e-NEWSLETTERS

 

Inspired Prompt Thanks You!

Hello, friends of Inspired Prompt! It’s hard to believe that 2018 has almost come to an end. Wasn’t it just January?

We want to take a moment and thank you for being there for us. Your comments, thoughts, shares, and visits mean the world to our Crew. Our purpose and the work put in by Betty, Gail, Shirley, Tammy, Fay, Christina, Harriet, Carlton, Bonita, Karen, Cammi, Kristy, myself, and all our guest bloggers is to help YOU be all you can be when it comes to writing.

We truly want to make a difference in our part of the world. 2019 is going to be our best year yet. We will explore such topics as:

  1. Time to Write.
  2. Basics of fiction writing.
  3. Publishing in 2019.
  4. Other ways to break into publication.
  5. Releasing a book.

And so much more! Join us for our Monday and Friday posts on the topic of the month and our fun Wednesday and Saturday interviews. We’ll also be adding articles to our pages:

  • “How To” of Writing
  • Inspired Marketing
  • Creativity Tool Box
  • Choose Happy

Maybe you’d like to be interviewed or be a guest blogger. If so, go to our guest guidelines page to learn more.  We’d love to showcase your book, blog, or yourself. 🙂

We’ll see you soon!

Happy New Year from Betty, Jennifer and the entire Inspired Prompt Crew!

 

Young Adult Fiction’s Universal Appeal

by Kristen Hogrefe

There’s something irresistible about a young adult on a mission, whether it be saving the world, conquering a coming-of-age crisis, or embarking on a journey of discovery. As I’ve transitioned from the young adult to adult age bracket, my interest in this genre has only increased, and I don’t think I’m alone. Why? There are a few trademarks qualities of the young adult fiction genre that contribute to its universal appeal.

#1: We all love an underdog.

Have you ever read a young adult novel where the teenage hero or heroine is on top of the world? Even if page one opens with that scenario, you can expect that moment to get snatched away, and the character to spend the rest of the story fighting to restore or reclaim what’s rightfully his.

In Nadine Brandes’s Fawkes, the story opens on the eve of Thomas’s color ceremony where he will finally receive a mask from his father and earn his honor. However, his father is a no-show, and Thomas plummets to destitution on a quest to find his father and find out why he didn’t come. You better believe I’m cheering for Thomas and want to see him succeed.

#2: We all experience setbacks and “square-one” scenarios.

Let’s be honest. Teenagers aren’t the only ones with life crises. Adults encounter career, relational, or homelife obstacles that often blindside us. Perhaps a relationship falls apart or the boss pushes a white slip our way. Those young adult insecurities resurface with fury when we find ourselves facing the unknown all over again.

Young adult fiction is full of unknown. In my novel The Reactionary releasing in February, my heroine Portia doesn’t know if an international ally will help the Brotherhood’s tenuous government fight off attacks from a global dictator or stab them in the back. But like the other relationships in her life, she must make herself vulnerable and attempt an alliance, because love and liberty are worth the risk.

#3: We all enjoy imaginary road trips.

Young adult fiction has a corner on the speculative fiction market. Speculative fiction is a fancy term for a story that asks “what if?” What if society were two hundred years in the future? What if dragons existed? What if Narnia were real?

The beauty of imaginary road trips is that they can teach us something about real life. In Emily Golus’s Escape to Vindor, her heroine Megan becomes trapped in the imaginary world she created as a personal escape from the real world. As a result, she must learn to confront her very real fears if she’s going to save Vindor and be able to return to her regular life.

#4: We all want a good story.

The bottom line is that well-written young adult fiction offers compelling storylines that make us care about the characters and often reveal truth about our own lives.

When people ask me why I write for young adults, I tell them that I write for young adults and the young at heart. I’m including myself in that second category. Regardless of life stage, this genre offers a universality that resonates with all ages.

Click to Tweet: Young adult fiction isn’t just for young adults. Learn why adults enjoy this genre as well in a guest blog by Kristen Hogrefe, author and teacher.

Writing Prompt/Story Starter: A road is just a road, isn’t it? Until it becomes…


Kristen Hogrefe

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

Kristen Hogrefe Amazon Author Page