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.

3 Questions Wednesday with Jennifer Slattery

Welcome to 3 Questions Wednesday! Today Inspired Prompt welcomes romance author, Jennifer Slattery! Thanks for taking the time to join us.

First question:
Who is your favorite author?

Jennifer: Um, whomever I’m reading at the time? I love Lysa Terkeurst and Max Lucado. Love Inspired suspense author Jodie Bailey is brilliant. Shannon Taylor Vannatter’s sweet cowboy romances are pretty great too. I love the sense of family Jennifer Hallmark presents in her southern fiction. Then there’s Francine Rivers and Deborah Raney and … So many books, so little time!

I agree, there are so many great authors with outstanding books for us to read! Next question…
If you could write about anyone or anything fiction/nonfiction who or what would you write about?

Jennifer: Grace and the freedom of living in it. But more than just write on it, I would so love to find ways to help others really grasp the depth, reality, healing, and transformation available through His grace. He’s given us so much through His death and resurrection and longs to teach us, in ever-deepening degrees, how to experience the filled to overflowing life He promised, and we experience that life through grace.

You are so right, believers have abundant freedom in the grace of Christ, as writers, sometimes we feel so limited by our words to share this good news. Keep using your talent for Christ, and His spirit will come through.  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?

Jennifer: I think I’d spend an afternoon with Mrs. Tappin, Hometown Healing’s hero’s grandmother. (That felt like a mouthful. Whew!) First, she’s adorable. Second, she can cook and bake. Third, she always sees the best in others and helps call out that best. And fourth, did I mention she can bake? She was a constant source of love and support for Paige, my heroine. As to what we’d spend the day doing—baking and eating, followed by more eating. We might even invent a recipe or two (which she does in the book).

Ok, now I’m hungry and ready to read Hometown Healing. Thanks for stopping by.

Click to tweet: Grace and the freedom of living in it. But more than just write on it, I would so love to find ways to help others really grasp the depth, reality, healing, and transformation available through His grace.

Jennifer Stattery is offering to give away a book! Comment on this post that you would like to be included in the drawing and any other comment. We will draw a name on Wednesday, October 9th.


Hometown Healing:
She’s home again, but not for long…
Unless this cowboy recaptures her heart


Returning home with a baby in tow, Paige Cordell’s determined her stay is only temporary. But to earn enough money to leave, she needs a job—and her only option is working at her first love’s dinner theater. With attraction once again unfurling between her and Jed Gilbertson, can the man who once broke her heart convince her to stay for good?

Hometown Healing is available on Amazon, click here to purchase.


Jennifer Slattery is a writer and international speaker who has addressed women’s groups, church groups, Bible studies, and other writers across the nation. She maintains a devotional blog found at Jennifer Slattery Lives Out Loud and on Crosswalk. She has a passion for helping women discover, embrace, and live out who they are in Christ. As the founder of Wholly Love Ministries, she and her team partner with churches to facilitate events designed to help women rest in their true worth and live with maximum impact. Connect with her on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. When not writing, reading, or editing, Jennifer loves going on mall dates with her adult daughter and coffee dates with her hilariously fun husband. Contact her HERE to book her for your next women’s event.

Black Bean Bonanza

by Rhonda Dragomir

Hubby will be home in 30 minutes, and 30 minutes after that, we will rush to mid-week service at church. Hmmm—what’s for dinner?

I’m a planner, not a pantser—for my novel writing, that is. For meals? I’m the take-out queen. Since quitting my job to write full-time, those last-minute forays out for dinner are cost prohibitive. Whether I like it or not, I need to think about dinner in the mornings instead of 5:05 p.m.

One ally in my meal-prep war is my trusty Crock-Pot®. It was a wedding gift, and it didn’t quit working when I set it on the stove and accidentally turned on the wrong burner. It works just as well on three feet instead of four. I’ve been married 41 years and my husband still likes to tell that story!

I’m fond of dump-and-go recipes, but I also don’t want to turn into a stereotypical overweight writer who can’t squeeze through a doorway without using Crisco. I’ve created a delicious, healthy, quick recipe that helps the bottom line. Literally.

Black beans are a fountain of good health. High in protein and low in fat, they also have loads of fiber. This dish is vegan friendly, gluten-free, filling, and versatile.

Most recipes begin by soaking dried beans, but canned beans are more convenient. Another boon is that canned beans cooked slowly have lower amounts of the undigestible sugars that turn you into a rootin’ tootin’ clown of the solo rodeo.

Here’s my recipe:

  • 4 cans black beans, drained (I like Member’s Mark Organic Black Beans from Sam’s Club, only $10 for a package of 8 cans.)
  • 2 teaspoons dried minced garlic (Leave this out if you like kissin’.)
  • 1 medium sweet onion (Dice and pitch; no need to sauté. I hate fancy French cooking lingo.)
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro (Say “cilantro” out loud ten times as you chop—it’s relaxing.)

Throw all the ingredients in the crock pot, cook for 6-8 hours on low, and they’re ready. I’m OCD enough that I don’t like bean juice contaminating my other food, so I drain them first. If you find they are too dry, you may leave the liquids from one or two cans.

Do you want to spruce up your beans? Try these add-ins:

  • ½ pound taco-seasoned ground beef
  • 2 tablespoons jalapenos or diced bell peppers
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin

You may serve the beans as a main dish because they have so much protein, or you may use them as a side dish for other meals. They are delicious tucked in a burrito, added to a taco salad, or mixed with rice in a traditional African or Caribbean recipe. When serving, try these beautiful garnishes:

  • A dollop of sour cream (Say dollop out loud as you add it, just because it’s a fun word.)
  • Fresh chopped cilantro (Can one have too much cilantro? No, I say—NEVER!)
  • Chopped green onion
  • Shredded cheese, any flavor
  • Crumbled feta cheese
  • A spoonful of salsa (Just a spoonful of salsa makes the black beans go down, come on, sing along!)
  • Your favorite red hot sauce (Add as much as you dare.)

My final advice? Even if your family does not eat these all in one meal, they freeze well for later consumption (To clarify, I’m using the word to connote eating, not tuberculosis—I write historical romance).

If I am to be completely honest, when my pantser genes kick in, I’ve made these on the stove top at the last minute. The onion is still crunchy, but variety makes life interesting.

Whether you are a pantser or a plotter, I wish you healthy eating and happy writing!

Writing prompt:  How many “b” words can you slip into one sentence with the words “black beans”? Share your sentence in the comments.

Click-to-Tweet: Author Rhonda Dragomir is fond of “dump and go” recipes, so her Black Bean Bonanza #crockpot meal is perfect for writers. Just don’t forget to plug it in. #cooking #amwriting


Rhonda Dragomir and her family live in Kentucky horse country, in the idyllic small town of Wilmore. A graduate of Asbury University with a degree in Social Work, she is a committed pastor’s wife and Bible teacher. Rhonda is also an award-winning writer, with published works in Chicken Soup for the Soul anthologies and Spark magazine. She also wrote an opinion column in her local newspaper for four years, in which some views garnered national attention.

Rhonda and her husband formed The Dragomir Group to offer websites, typesetting, and design services to writers. She also writes a blog, Find the Pony, building a platform for a career in traditional publishing. Her newsletter Writers LifeHacks, shares tips and insights to encourage other writers and simplify the writing process. Rhonda has won many writing awards, including being named the 2019 Writer of the Year by Serious Writer, Inc.

Media

Websites:             www.rhondadragomir.com (Author site)

www.dragomirgroup.com (Writers’ services)

Blogs:              www.findthepony.blog (personal inspiration)

www.writerslifehacks.com (tips for writers)

Facebook: www.facebook.com/Rhonda.Dragomir.Author

Instagram: www.instagram.com/RhondaDragomir

Twitter:   https://twitter.com/RhondaDragomir

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/RhondaDragomirAuthor/

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC6rst96IuXBwt7oy3unLU8g

LinkedIn:            www.linkedin.com/in/rhonda-dragomir

Trapped by Lillian Duncan

Good morning, readers. Welcome to another Saturday interview. This morning, our guest is Lillian Duncan.

Hello, Lillian. Tell us a little about yourself.

I’m very happily married and living in a small town in Ohio. I retired from my “day job” as a speech pathologist in 2012 after being diagnosed with bilateral brain tumors. It’s been a difficult journey but God has been with me through it all.

I’m so sorry to hear that, Lillian. We will be praying for you, dear friend. Now . . .

What do you love most about the writing process?

All of it! Really, I’m not exaggerating. I love the creativity that happens during the first draft. I love working on my craft as I edit and polish the story during the second, third, and however many drafts it takes to get it ready for my publisher. Then I love seeing how my editor makes it even better. I’m not going to say I never disagree with my editor about some of her changes, but it’s not as often as you’d think.

You are an inspiration, Lillian! Next question . . .

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

More than I can count! The first five years I just wrote because it was fun. I didn’t even think about trying seriously to get published for a long time.

I learned a lot from that time of just writing for myself that has helped me in so many ways in my writing career. I developed trust in my process for writing. I discovered that I didn’t just have one story inside me.

Trust is the key.

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

To connect more with other writers through writing conferences and critique groups. Relationships make a huge difference for writers.

I agree! Moving on . . .

What are common traps for aspiring writers?

I think one of the big ones is to try to speed the publishing process along before you’re ready to be published. It’s so easy to publish your own work now but that doesn’t necessarily mean you should—until you’re ready.

Knowing the difference is key. Final question . . .

What does literary success look like to you?

I think writers are notoriously insecure. We never quite believe that we’re “good enough” to be considered a good writer. Having said that, I’ve been blessed in so many ways in my writing career. One of my books (Puzzle House) was in the final three for the Carol Award in 2018. It didn’t win but it was edifying to be a finalist.

Sure, I’d love to sell more books, make more money, become a household name, have my books made into movies. Who wouldn’t love all that? But the truth is I’m just thrilled that I can still write books (after my brain tumors) and that people are entertained by them.

I’m rejoicing with you!

Future Projects or WIP you can talk about?

I’ll be part of my publisher’s Christmas Extravaganza this year. Each year, she releases books with a Christmas theme in a variety of genres just in time for the holidays. My book is All I Want for Christmas is Johnny Rocker Dead! It’s a fun story that features a rock and roll star who someone is trying to kill. It’s Maddie’s job to make sure that doesn’t happen.

I’ll also be releasing another suspense book some time next year—Jane Doe as well as the third book in my Puzzle House trilogy—Suffer The Little Children.

Wow! It sounds like I spend all my time writing, but I don’t. At least I don’t think I do. I guess when you’re doing what you love, time doesn’t matter.

Congratulations on the Christmas Extravaganza! Lillian, thank you for joining us.

Click to Tweet: “I guess when you’re doing what you love, time doesn’t matter.” ~ Lillian Duncan #interview #authorlife @InspiredPrompt

Giveaway: Two is always better than one, especially when it comes to giveaways. So, to celebrate the release of TRAPPED, Lillian is having two different giveaways! One lucky winner will receive a $25 Amazon Gift Card as well as a choice of one of her books (e-book only).  Click Here to enter.  https://promosimple.com/ps/e958/trapped-celebration-tour-giveaway

Five lucky winners will win their choice of one of her books (e-book only). To enter, go to www.lillian-duncan.com and leave a comment under the TRAPPED Giveaway Post.


Angelina Matthews has everything—rich, famous and beautiful—until the day she’s kidnapped and trapped in a basement with a madman, wearing only a T-shirt. The dirt is his—the blood is hers. Tormented and tortured, she cries out to God.

Help comes in the form of Nate Goodman.

When their paths cross months later, Nate discovers Angelina is still trapped—not in a basement but in the memories she can’t escape. Nate knows all about being trapped—and getting un-trapped.

As an ex-Chicago cop he’s had his own demons to wrestle, but his faith helped him to move forward. He reaches out to Angelina whose paranoid delusions have her trapped still.

But are they delusions?


Lillian Duncan… turning faith into fiction.

Lillian is a multi-published author who lives in the middle of Ohio Amish country with her husband and a menagerie of pets. After more than 30 years working as a speech pathologist for children, she believes in the power of words to transform lives, especially God’s Word.

Her goal is to write stories that entertain but also demonstrate God’s love for all of us. To learn more about her, visit www.lillian-duncan.com. I also have a devotional blog at www.PowerUpWithGod.com.

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…