Hidden in a List by Marlene Houk

writing picture Marlene HoukGood morning, dear reader! Thank you for joining us on this lovely Saturday. We have Marlene Houk with us this morning. Marlene is talking about the writing process and her new book, Hidden in a List

Marlene, tell us a little about yourself.

Marlene: I’m a woman of faith, wife, mother, grandmother and many other roles. My career was in accounting and I’m now semi-retired with writing and consulting vying for my time. Sid, my husband, and I have enjoyed and stumbled through bringing up two grown and flown children, but my daughter is close and serves as my personal guru of technology, encouragement, and critique in this writing journey. 😊 I enjoy snowtubing, soapmaking and visiting Ireland.

What do you love most about the writing process?

Marlene: I heard someone say at a writers’ conference, “I dance with words.” God gifted us with the ability to waltz to the rhythm of words and gave us language. He even called his beloved Son, the Word. The Bible fascinates me with its structure, patterns, and implications. And God, the Master Storyteller’s methods work because he created us to respond to Jesus. I love to copy those same methods in my writing.

How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

Marlene:  Too many. One unpublished book and about eight half-finished books wait patiently for me.

If you could give advice to your younger writing self, what would it be?

Marlene:  Two pieces of advice rise to the top.

  1. Learn from the Master Writer: the Lord. His ways are best, and he created us to have the same emotions, needs, and pleasures as the rest of humanity. These ways help us to understand the Bible. Capitalize on that and learn his methods which are stories, questions, the senses, word pictures, figures of speech, patterns, etc.
  2. Write. Because I’m a backslidden perfectionist, training myself to write rather than waiting for the perfect moment and inspiration is difficult.

What are common traps for aspiring writers?

Marlene:  In the big picture sense, the traps are the same as elsewhere in life. Our strengths (For example, I strive for excellence but drift into perfectionism.) are our weaknesses. When the Bible says, “the wisdom of the prudent is to know his way,” (Proverbs 14:8), it means writing too. If we know our strengths, then we know our weaknesses. When we see our personalities mirrored in many others’ reactions to us, then we know our way. And to excel at our careers supports our writing.

We have the same foibles everyone falls in to. For example:

  • I somehow think that writing is a luxury, and, like a nap, put it off until I deserve it. But writing is an accountability for the gifts and the truths that we discover. They should be a light set on a hill rather than under a bushel. (Matthew 5:15)
  • The craft of writing takes time, and I want to purchase the book and consider it done.
  • And, like most people, my creations are my babies, not to be critiqued.

The traps are the same as experienced writers.

What does literary success look like to you?

Marlene: Literary success would fulfill my desires when people receive my work and grow spiritually from it.

Future projects or WIP you can talk about?

Marlene:  My current WIP is a Bible study whose working title is Divine Drama: transforming patterns in the lives of Bible women. It won first place for Bible study at the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference (BRMCWC). Based on easily-observed patterns in their stories, we can absorb divine truth that changes how we view life.

When this one is published, there are about 7 others in various stages of completion that follow this pattern. And there’s an infinite number of other possibilities when studying women of the Bible.

Thank you for joining us today, Marlene!


writing picture Marlene Houk

Marlene Houk writes a series of Bible studies that connect ancient women to us, conveying messages of hope, faith, and warning. She has recently published a short-read on Amazon Kindle called, Hidden in a List: secrets from Bible women

Marlene is passionate about finding the Master Director’s heart prints in the women he has positioned in his Word. And she loves to ask unusual questions such as, “What one word did Eve omit in her conversation with the devil?”

She writes for the Blue Ridge Christian News and contributes to the Short & Sweet Series published by Grace Publishing, compiled by Susan King. She also encourages women through her teaching and speaking ministry. Her Bible study, Backstage Pass to Emotion Commotion, won first place at the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference.

  Marlene is a graduate of Covington Theological Seminary with a degree in Ministry and Gardner-Webb University with a degree in Business Administration. Learn more about the fascinating world of Bible women at www.MarleneHouk.com.

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Maglenes_Hidden in a ListDo you have a plan when life kicks you to the curb in its daily grind and when disaster strikes? Imagine relying on simple, doable, Scripture-based steps to realign your emotions with God’s Word. In this short read, you can:

  • Unlock proven secrets to control reactions and instead act from a God-given perspective.
  • Triumph in the knowledge of Jesus Christ as he overcomes fears and failures.
  • Delight for a lifetime in using these secrets and sharing them with others.
  • Conquer insecurities by following the women of the Bible.
  • Boldly increase your faith and hope as a daily part of life.

Which Editor Will You Choose?

I will admit right up front that hiring an editor intimidates me to no end. I just don’t know where to begin. There is so much advice and so many suggestions out there in the writing world that it’s hard for me to decipher which direction I should go.

This month we are looking at editing possibilities and how they will benefit us and our readers in their writing journey. There are different types of editors, who specialize in different areas of the creation process. Let’s look at a few.

A DEVELOPMENTAL EDITOR: Helps a writer with structure and content of a manuscript. This editor looks at the pacing, plot, characterization, and setting of your manuscript. They will also assist you in finding a vision for your story.

A COPY EDITOR: Much like a proofreader, they check spelling and grammar. They also check jargon, terminology, semantics, and formatting. Any factual data in text is also checked for accuracy as there could be a potential legal issue which is then brought to the publisher’s attention for correction.

A LINE EDITOR: This editor looks at voice in your manuscript and focuses on the quality and strength of your story. A line editor will look for sentences that don’t flow well, or cliches in your work. Also, they will look for repetition of sentences, and at each of your words and how they are used to help you tell the best story, so your readers understand it.

A PROOFREADER: Reads copy and transcripts for spelling and grammar errors. They work for publishers, newspapers, and other places that rely on perfect grammar printing. Proofreading is also the final stage to ensure a manuscript or article is well written and has a logical structure. They really do make sure that those editors mentioned above have done their jobs, and your story is ready for print.

AN ACQUISITIONS EDITOR: This editor is part of a publishing team to acquire manuscripts for publication. They work in book publishing companies, literary agencies, universities, and professional institutes. They evaluate manuscripts for their commercial potential, and approach authors when a publisher is interested in their work. They build relationships between authors, agents, and publishing houses. Part of their job may also include collaborating with marketing teams.

What if you’re not quite ready for the editing stage of your book? Focus on making it the best product you can before an editor gets into the picture. Working with your critique partners or a trusted friend who believes in you helps a great deal. Microsoft has a feature in it that will speak each word of print in your manuscript, so listen carefully. You might find areas of your story that just don’t flow well, or don’t sound as smooth when it’s read back to you. You can pause the feature and correct it as you go. Self editing can be bewildering, and stressful. Doing your very best before hiring an editor can be a teachable experience, and may save you headaches in the long run. Remember, an editor is there to help you create the best product you can.

Writing prompt:  Tell me a funny editing story.

Click to Tweet: This month we are looking at editing possibilities and how they will benefit us and our readers in their writing journey. #amwriting #editors #editing

3 Questions Wednesday with Sheila Ingle

Sheila Ingle Headshots (8 of 52)Welcome to another edition of 3 Questions Wednesday, and welcome Sheila IngleSheila is a multi-published author that likes to write about the bravery of Patriot women. Lets get started!

First question:

Who is your favorite author?

Sheila:  This is a most difficult questions, because I have so many favorite authors. From age twelve until now, I have been a voracious reader. Every two weeks, mother would take us to the library that summer. I would come home with fifteen books, the library’s limit, every two weeks. Now used book stores and mark downs on Amazon are my favorite shopping places!

On the Anvil was the first book of Max Lucado’s that I read. As the mother of a teenage boy, I felt like I was stuck on an anvil, and the title grabbed me. Lucado’s writings are like that. If it isn’t the title, it’s a story that pierces your heart. And sometimes, it is just one sentence in one chapter. His books have their own shelf on one of my bookcases. I have shared his children’s books, You Are Special, The Crippled Lamb, and Because I Love You in Sunday School classes and ladies Bible studies. This is the third year I have used his daily devotional guided, God is with you Every Day, during my quiet time. Hearing him speak in person two years ago was delightful; his folksy, humorous, and kind voice gave credence to the godly and thoughtful author I had been reading. His honesty about his own mistakes makes me admire him.  He is a storyteller, and this narrative style grips both my mind and heart, as well as his heart for individuals. His writing encourages and challenges me.

A couple of years ago, I was introduced to author, Charles Martin. Another talented storyteller and Christian fiction writer. Hard to put down his novels. And admit to staying up way too late to finish one. His characters and plots pull me into the book. Trouble has a critical edge in the plot, and not all the books end up with “they lived happily ever after.” But the struggles are real and poignant and thought-provoking. The details in his research are impeccable, and the settings are genuine. His books are love stories with authentic problems; there are unimaginable twists and turns. Each one has brought me to tears. I haven’t read his latest book, What If It’s True. In this one, he uses his imagination to pierce Jesus’ ministry on earth, as well as Jesus’knock to the author’s life. Yes, it is the next one on my table.

I do love reading anything by Max Lucado, but I haven’t stumbled across Charles Martin yet.  I will have to look him up 🙂 Now here’s a fun question—

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

Sheila:  I am curious about the strength that makes ordinary people do extraordinary things. In writing about three South Carolina Revolutionary War heroines, I looked for an answer to that conundrum. To put it simply, I believe they did the hard things because that was the next thing. Threatened with a reaping hook around her neck, Martha Bratton refused to tell the Tories where her husband was. Elizabeth Jackson walked into the office of the commander of the Camden prison to demand her two sons be released. Perhaps their hearts overruled their common sense, but they could do nothing else.

riseupSo I’m looking for another woman that stood strong in the face of hard times. I have read about a Huguenot woman who fled France with her two brothers and landed penniless in Carolina. Not being familiar with the plight of the Huguenots in a country that was ruled by Catholics, what I have read is fascinating. There was no safety for almost 100 years, and flight became the only option. This is a new branch of our Carolina history that I want to know about, because I believe in knowing and sharing the stories of those who lived out their beliefs. Religious conviction is not to be tampered with. Look at what happened after Martin Luther lit a fire by nailing his complaints against the Catholic church? She might be my next heroine.

I love these ideas! 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?

Sheila:  Victorian England was not a place for a strong woman like Jane Eyre. As the narrator and protagonist of this book, I applauded her forte. Though as an orphan, she was taught compliance and inferiority by her aunt and cousins, even abused by the household. But Jane had gumption and believed in herself; she knew there was a place and family for her. She could have become Rochester’s mistress, but she wasn’t willing to compromise what she knew was right.

I would like for us to talk over tea and biscuits about this struggle. I have lots of questions. She could have taken the easy way out. Why did she rescue Rochester from the fire? She is described as plain; has this bothered her? Why does she go back to check on Rochester, rather than going on to India? Are the moors depressing? Has she ever wanted more say in her life? What about fighting back against her aunt? How did she keep on keeping on from childhood to adulthood against so many odds? What did she mean when she said, “It is a pity that doing one’s best does not always answer.”

After the questions, perhaps she will want to know about my independent life in the 21st century. Perhaps we could compare her life as a governess and mine as a teacher. I wonder if we have read some of the same books? Knowing I would think her flowing gowns would be beautiful, I wonder what she would think of my clothes. (I do wear long skirts.) My hair is short, and hers is probably long and pinned up.

All this sounds like a time of girl-talk. Maybe we would take a walk, and I might borrow one of her bonnets and parasols. As Jane said once, “I would always rather be happy than dignified.”

This sounds like a happy afternoon to me….

Yes it sure does..   Thanks, Sheila, for visiting us on 3 Questions Wednesday, and allowing our readers to know you better.

Click to Tweet: Author Sheila Ingle answers our 3 Questions and you could win a copy of her latest release, Tales of a Cosmic Possum. @InspiredPrompt   #Interview #giveaway

Readers, Sheila will mail one copy of of her book Tales of a Cosmic Possum to one lucky winner. Don’t forget to comment below to be entered.


9781620206126Tales of a Cosmic Possum: From the Appalachia Mountains to the Cotton Mills

Eight short stories of women who worked in the cotton mills in upstate South Carolina share the legacy of three generations of one Appalachian family.

Sheila Ingle’s husband John was brought up in Ingle Holler in Union, South Carolina, with eight other Ingle families. They worked together in the mills, shared their gardens, attended church, and enjoyed the playing and singing of the songs from the Grand Ole Opry. When five of the brothers went off to war, those who couldn’t fight took care of their families. The Ingles stuck together, just like they were taught in the Appalachian hills of Erwin, Tennessee.

Love of God, love of family, and love of country were modelled in each home. In fact, one year Make Ingle put his sons and grandsons together to build Hillside Baptist Church. Adults kept up with the newspapers and the radios; world happenings were important. Any type of sickness brought a barrage of soup and cornbread, because children still had to eat.

On those twenty acres, the children played in the creek, cowboys and Indians, and hide-and-seek. They built their own wagons and sleds to race down the hill on the dry, hickory leaves. All the boys learned to shoot a .22 caliber, and John’s mother Lois could light a match with her shots. Living in Ingle Holler was home, where each one was accepted.


Sheila Ingle Headshots (8 of 52)

Sheila C. Ingle

A graduate of Converse College with both bachelor’s and master’s degrees, Sheila Ingle is a lifelong resident of S.C.

Her published books, Courageous Kate, Fearless Martha, Brave Elizabeth, and Walking with Eliza focus on the bravery of Patriot women living in Revolutionary War South Carolina. Tales of a Cosmic Possum, not only shares Ingle family history, but also South Carolina and cotton mill history.

Serving on the board for eight years of Children’s Security Blanket (a 501c3 organization that serves families that have children with cancer), she is the Board Chairman. She is also a member of Chapter D PEO, where she served as vice president and chaplain; Circle 555(a local women’s giving group), where she has served on the grant committee; and a board member of Spartanburg County Historical Association, serving on the Walnut Grove Committee.

Married for thirty-eight years to John Ingle, they have one son Scott. Besides being avid readers, the South Carolina beaches are their favorite spots for vacations.

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February and March Winners on Inspired Prompt

  1. Hello, all! Thank you for stopping by and commenting on our posts in February and March.  We love your visits. And in March, we decided to let our readers win twice.  Maybe even three times. So, would you like to know if you’re a winner?

February

  • Lynne Tagawa has gifted Caryl Kane a copy of Shenandoah Road. Congratulations!
  • Amanda Hardin has won a Kindle copy of Erin R. Howard’s urban fantasy book, The Soul Searcher.

March

  • Caryl Kane has won a copy of Truth Be Told, gifted from Crew member, Bonita Y. McCoy. Woo hoo!
  • Julie Arduini will gift either a print or Kindle copy of You’re Amazing to Caryl Kane.  Congratulations!
  • Another Crew member, Gail Johnson, has given Karen Sargent a print copy of Treasures of Hope: Discovering the Beautiful Truth Beneath My Painful Past. Yay, Karen!
  • Crew member, Jennifer Hallmark is blessing Karen Sargent with a $10 Amazon gift card. Congrats!
  • Allison Wells is gifting Caryl Kane with a Kindle copy of War Torn Heart. Nice!
  • The winner of Prayer: It’s Not About You and the study guide on prayer by Harriet Michael and Shirley Crowder goes to Debbie Klausing. 🙂
  • Betty Thomason Owens is giving Karen Sargent  a print copy of Rebecca’s Legacy. Yay!
  • Merry has won a copy of Rarity Mountain from Sarah L. Foust. Hooray!
  • The Erie Canal Brides Collection featuring Rose Allen McCauley has been won by Caryl Kane.
  • Fay Lamb is offering her collection of The Ties That Bind Series to Linda Jackson. Way to go, Linda!
  • Amanda Hardin has won a copy of Solitary Man by Eric Landfried. Yay!

Thanks again for dropping by! Our readers are the greatest…

Pros and Cons of Self-Editing

by: Shirley Crowder

Long before I began writing for anything other than my journal or notes for teaching Bible studies, I was helping friends by editing their writing. I enjoy helping people fine-tune their writing so that their ideas come across clearly to the readers of their work.

Once I began writing for others to read, I realized the importance of having someone else edit my writing. Following, I’ll share my perceptions of some pros and cons of self-editing. In my experience, each aspect I’ve considered can be a pro and a con.

PROS of Self-Editing

1.   You wrote the story and know what you want it to say.
This is your story to tell in your own words, using your own expressions. Sometimes an editor wants you to change your words.

2.   You can polish your ideas as you go.
As you write you can rewrite and correct spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors.

3.   You can save money.
Self-editing will cost your time but there will be no out-of-pocket money spent.

4.   You can use a good software program to help you check spelling, grammar, and punctuation.
There are many good editing programs, some are included with programs like Microsoft Word (which I use) and some are add-on programs that will help you with spelling, grammar, and punctuation. Some programs allow you to choose by which style manual (APA, Chicago, etc.) they will make recommendations.

CONS of Self-Editing

1.   You wrote the story (manuscript) and know what you want it to say.
Since you wrote the story and know precisely what you want it to say, you may well overlook mistakes in the manuscript because you are so familiar with the content that your eyes will read what you know you meant it to say, not what you actually wrote.

2.   You can polish your ideas as you go.
Editing and polishing as you go can often lead to your getting bogged down trying to figure out how to rewrite that one idea that is pertinent to the story. Self-editing as you go will not only slow down your process of getting your story committed to paper (or computer), it may well interrupt the flow of creative ideas as you make a conscious effort to focus on just one aspect of your story.

3.   You can save money.
Your goal is to have your manuscript consistent, easy to read, and have no glaring errors or inconsistencies, so, whatever monies you expend hiring an editor will help make your manuscript ready for publication.

4.   You can use a good software program to help you check spelling, grammar, and punctuation.
These software programs can be helpful, but you cannot always just take their suggestions. Sometimes they suggest a comma where one is not needed, or a spelling that is not the correct word you want to use.

I suggest you self-edit and hire an editor. Once your manuscript is completed, set it aside for several weeks and then go back through the manuscript to self-edit. Then I recommend you find a good editor to go through your manuscript and check for spelling, grammar, punctuation issues as well as inconsistencies. Even though it may be difficult for us to hear, it is very helpful to receive an honest critique of the manuscript.

Writing Prompt challenge – How would you edit the following? (Put your answer in the comments.)
One of the customs in Nigeria and many other parts of the world when a loved one dies is for mourners often paid professional mourners to be at the home of the deceased to wail and cry loudly and continually.

Click to Tweet: I suggest you self-edit and hire an editor. Even though it may be difficult for us to hear, it is very helpful to receive an honest critique of the manuscript. #amwriting #writerslife #editor