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.

Writing Prompts and Novels

By Jennifer Hallmark

In May 2012, three ladies, Betty Thomason Owens, Christina Rich, and myself,  joined together to start a blog.

This one.

Over almost seven years, the blog has evolved and changed for the better. But we’ve always kept one aspect the same: writing prompts. I believe for many writers, prompts can lead to a great story.

My debut novel, Jessie’s Hope, began life as a short story written from three prompts:

  • Faded coveralls
  • Dusty baseball cap
  • Wedding dress designer

I wrote the original short story on November 13, 2008 and it contained only 756 words. When I shared it with others, it evoked strong emotion. Friends wanted to know what happened next. So I turned it first into a novella, then a novel. Eva Marie Everson, the acquisitions and managing editor at Firefly Southern Fiction, an imprint of Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas, showed interest at a writer’s conference. I sold Firefly the book in October of 2017 and on June 15th, Jessie’s Hope will release.

All from three writing prompts.

Here’s the back cover blurb:

Years ago, an accident robbed Jessie Smith’s mobility. It also stole her mom and alienated her from her father. When Jessie’s high school sweetheart Matt Jansen proposes, her parents’ absence intensifies her worry that she cannot hold on to those she loves.

With a wedding fast approaching, Jessie’s grandfather Homer Smith, has a goal to find the perfect dress for “his Jessie,” one that would allow her to forget, even if for a moment, the boundaries of her wheelchair. But financial setbacks and unexpected sabotage hinder his plans.

Determined to heal from her past, Jessie initiates a search for her father. Can a sliver of hope lead to everlasting love when additional obstacles–including a spurned woman and unpredictable weather–highjack Jessie’s dream wedding?

I love all my characters and the story. I hope you will too. Since I can’t give away a copy of the book during March Madness, I’ll offer a $10 Amazon gift card to one person who leaves a comment. Then, if you’d like, you can purchase some of the books my fellow bloggers are offering this month. 🙂

Click to tweet: Make sure to check out the Inspired Prompt every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday in March and win some great books and other prizes. #MarchMadness #giveaway

And on June 15th, take a moment to shop online for my book. I’ll share the links as soon as I receive them.

Thank you from the Inspired Prompt crew for all your encouragement and support!

Jennifer Hallmark writes Southern fiction and fantasy, an interesting combination that keep the creative juices flowing. She’s published 200+ internet articles and interviews, short stories in several magazines, and has co-authored three book compilations.

When she isn’t babysitting her six grandkids or gardening, you can find her at her desk writing fiction or working on one of her two blogs. Or even watching American Ninja Warrior.


3 Questions Wednesday with Eva Marie Everson

Happy Wednesday! I’m excited to introduce Eva Marie Everson, bestselling, multiple-award-winning author of both fiction and nonfiction.  Good morning, Eva.

Eva Marie by Mary Denman Photography 2


Can you describe yourself in three words? 

Hard-working, Loyal, Seeking.

Sounds like an author to me. Next question…

Someone offers you a fully-paid writing research trip to any place you desire to go. Where would it be and why?

Ireland (to trace my Irish roots) … with a side trip to Scotland (to trace my Scottish roots and to see the places I wrote about in The Final Race).

Ireland and Scotland, a trip of a lifetime! Here’s your last question, Eva. I can’t wait to hear your answer. 🙂


If someone made a movie of your life, what would be the theme song?

That’s Life, by Frank Sinatra 🙂

A perfect description of life! Love it. Eva, thank you so much for taking time from your busy schedule to join us on Inspired Prompt.


Readers, Eva is offering a print copy of The Final Race to one commenter. U.S. addresses only


Click to Tweet: Bestselling, multiple-award-winning author Eva Marie Everson is with us today. @InspiredPrompt #interview #giveaway

978-1-4964-1994-1On July 19, 1924, Eric Liddell was on top of the world.
He was the most famous Briton at the time, having just won the gold in the Olympic 400-meter race. The story of that race—and the one he didn’t run—was told in the popular movie classic Chariots of Fire.

But what most of us don’t know is what became of Eric Liddell in the years after the credits rolled. As the storm clouds of World War II rolled in, Eric had already made decisions in his life that gave him the resilience to stand tall while others fell into despair. His strength of character led him to choose an uncertain future in China during World War II in order to continue helping the Chinese. He lived purposefully even as his world crumbled and he experienced the horror and deprivations of a Japanese internment camp.

Eric’s story is a story of hope in the face of uncertainty, resilience in the face of unspeakable odds, and inspiring vision of what life means, even when the final hour comes.

The first race you run isn’t your most important one. It’s the final race that matters most.

You won’t want to miss this story of an Olympian who chose the better way.

Eva Marie Everson

Eva Marie Everson is the bestselling, multiple-award-winning author of both fiction and nonfiction. She served as the contributing author for The Final Race: The Story of Eric Liddell, her most recent work. Eva Marie is the president of Word Weavers International, the director of Florida Christian Writers Conference, and the managing editor of Firefly Southern Fiction. She is a popular speaker at conferences and churches and, in her rare spare moments, enjoys walking, hiking, reading, and knitting. A wife, a mother, and a grandmother, she is owned by one very spoiled dog. FMI:


God Bless Us Every One by Eva Marie Everson

headshot (1)Today we welcome multi-award winning, best-selling author, Eva Marie Everson, to discuss her latest release, God Bless Us Every One.

Hello, Eva! How long have you been writing?

Eva: As soon as I learned how to spell, I started putting stories together. I wrote for my hometown newspaper as a ten-year-old. I started writing “novels” at 13. So … a long, long time. But professionally, I decided in 1997 that it was time to stop talking about it and do it. I knew a door would open… and it did.

Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre?

Eva:  I know Southern … I am Southern. After writing several novels, some with more of a slant toward the South, I knew that was where I needed to be.

What are some of the references you used while researching your book?

Eva: Depends. God Bless Us Every One required a lot of reading about Charles Dickens. Things I didn’t know! I spent time at the library, online, etc. And I watched several movies based on his books, looking for clues as to what I learned about him. 

What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

Eva:  I decided to set this book in Testament, NC, which I created for The Road to Testament. So I got to “go back” and resurrect some of the old characters I’d loved so much in a town based on my beloved “Rutherfordton, NC” … ahhhh…. The other things is that this book deals with forgiving and trusting someone who has hurt you to the core. We all have that in our lives, don’t we? I think it will strike a chord in a lot of readers.

What do your plans for future projects include?

Eva:  I have a book releasing next April, The One True Love of Alice-Ann. I’m beyond excited about it. It’s set in WWII, Stateside (so many WWII books are set in Europe or the Pacific … ) and … honestly! I slipped into this story while writing it and never wanted to come out. I dreamed it at night, wrote it during the day, and talked about it to everyone in between. Truly, my heart of hearts is in that book.

Thanks for taking time to drop by, Eva!

God Bless Us Every One

GodBlessUsEOCharlene Dixon–called Charlie by family and friends–is devastated at the recent loss of her job. For the last five years, the twenty-seven-year-old has blossomed as the activities director of an exclusive all-girls school. But when a misunderstanding with the headmistress leads to a pink slip right before the holidays, Charlie packs up her dreams and returns to her grandmother, Sis, who raised Charlie as her own in the mountains of North Carolina.
When Charlie arrives–broken and confused–Sis immediately puts her granddaughter to work behind the scenes of the local school’s Christmas play, A Christmas Carol. Charlie prickles at working with Dustin Kennedy, the drama teacher and her old crush from schooldays, but is even more put out at that the choice of the Dickens’ classic for the holiday performance. When she discovers her estranged father’s involvement her world turns on its head once more. But when Sis and Dustin encourage her to take a deeper look at the story behind A Christmas Carol, Charlie learns about trust, faith, and forgiveness and the needs of people in their own community.

headshot (1)Eva Marie Everson is a multi-award winning, best-selling author of both fiction and fiction. She is the president of Word Weavers International, the director of Florida Christian Writers Conference, and the managing editor of Firefly Southern Fiction. She enjoys working with new authors through her company, Pen In Hand, Inc. She is married, has three children, and the world’s greatest grandchildren. She can be found at

Book Winners in August

autumn-922378_1920Summer is winding down and autumn is right around the corner. We have six new winners in August.

Who won?

Mary L. Hamilton’s YA novel, See No Evil, has been won by Caryl. Woo hoo!

Maria I. Morgan’s Bible Study, Outrageously Fruitful, goes to Jaclyn! Congratulations!

David Mike’s memoir, Dishonor, is gifted to Second Iron. Yay!

Alice J. Wisler’s historical fiction, Under the Silk Hibiscus, has been won by Lisa Worthey Smith. You go!

Betty Thomason Owen’s historical fiction, Carlotta’s Legacy, goes to Crystal A. Murray.  Awesome…

Eva Marie Everson’s Christmas novella, God Bless Us Everyone , has found a home with bb4Him .:)

A big THANK YOU to all our faithful readers for taking the time to stop by and comment.  It’s such a simple way to win. Just leave a comment on a Wednesday or Saturday post and you’re entered to win that specific book or gift card.

Disappointed you didn’t win? Next month we’ll give away more books. See you then...