A Fond Farewell

By Fay Lamb

The Inspired Prompt page has been a way to reach out to authors and to writers. I applaud those who brainstormed the idea, started it, invited me to join, and kept it going.

Lately, I have been looking back over my long journey as a writer, and I have at times been highly encouraged and determined. At others, I have been discouraged as I run into walls. Inspired Prompt and the friendships I have made have always been a light in the darkness. I was surprised when I first learned that we would no longer be blogging, but I soon understood, that a page is not what brought us together. Our like minds and our love for God drew us like magnets to one another. When the blog is gone, it does not mean that the Crew will be missing in action. Far from it. We will be cheering from the paths of the different journeys we will take, and those journeys will never be too far from one another. Nor will it take us far from our readers. In fact, in some cases, I am sure that God means for us to draw closer to our friends who made this blog so popular.

In our current world crisis, God actually took me from another project in which I thrived. I had to find a new direction for me. Then I received the word that Inspired Prompt would end, and I was saddened. So many things are changing. Did this have to change, too? As I pondered that question, I realized that God’s answer is “yes.” Change is hard, but pushing back against God’s direction in our lives is so much more difficult.

My prayer for each of the members who wrote for the blog and for those who read it, is that in this time where we are all enduring change, that we all look to God, ask Him where He is working, stand where He is, and do the job that He has for us. I pray that the paths of each of the Crew members and each of our readers will continually cross, because God has been awesome to bring us together. As brothers and sisters in Christ, we are called to encourage one another.

God bless you, our wonderful readers. Thank you, friends—readers and writers alike—for your encouragement. Thank you, Crew, for the opportunities.

What’s New With You?

By Fay Lamb

That’s the question we’re answering for our readers. I’m not sure if it is my sense of humor—or lack thereof—but it struck me as a funny question for me to answer at this time. After all, I think that nearly eighty percent of us would provide the same answer: “At home. Trying to keep from boredom in the least and madness at the most.”

As an author, I’d usually say that I have plenty to keep me busy, but at this time, I’m in a holding pattern after feeling the Lord telling me to back away. Then Windows murdered my computer with their updates. The poor thing was healthy and happy one moment and dead the next. In light of the coronavirus, I am thankful that it was the computer and not me.

I do have two books in the works, each at different stages of completion. The first is the second novel in my Mullet Harbor Christmas series. It is yet to be titled, but it shares the romance of my tiptoeing heroine, Abigail Brewster, and the Cajun sheriff she loves, Eli Arneaux. The other book is also the second in a series. This one is my Serenity Key series, and it is entitled, Luke’s Journey. Luke has sailed off to an exotic Caribbean location thinking his ex-wife, Blanchie is pursuing a romance with his best friend. While Luke writes home—he’s a writer and he loves paper correspondence—he creates great changes in his church, in his family, in his own life. God is working while Luke—and I—are placed in that holding pattern I mentioned.

Despite my attempt at humor, about the coronavirus, I am taking it seriously. During this time, the most important “chore” God has given me is to be in His word and to pray, to draw closer to Him, trusting Him for the outcome and asking Him for the faith to meet whatever happens. I’m praying. I know others are praying. God is not turning a deaf ear to us. He is at work even while we are forced to slow down. I believe our Father is calling His beloved to kneel before His throne and sit at His feet, seeking His comfort and His mercy.

May God comfort and bless each of you during this time.


Fay Lamb is an author, an editor, and a teacher. She also loves to teach workshops for fiction writers.
Fay has contracted four series with her publisher, Write Integrity Press. Amazing Grace is a four-novel series, which includes Stalking Willow, Better than Revenge, Everybody’s Broken, and Frozen Notes all set in Western North Carolina.
Her The Ties that Bind romantic series, set in Fay’s own backyard of Central Florida, includes Charisse, Libby, and Hope, and comes to a surprising and satisfying conclusion with Delilah.
This author keeps busy. She also has two other series in the works. Her first novel in the Serenity Key series is the epic, Storms in Serenity. The other series is Mullet Harbor, a series of Christmas romances set in the Florida Everglades. Christmas Under Wraps is now available.
Fay has an adventurous spirit, which has also taken her into the arena of non-fiction with The Art of Characterization: How to Use the Elements of Storytelling to Connect Readers to an Unforgettable Cast.
Fay loves to meet readers, and you can find her on her personal Facebook page, her Facebook Author page, and at The Tactical Editoron Facebook and onGoodreads. She’s also active on Twitter. Fay also invites you to visit her website and sign up for her newsletter.


Storms in Serenity

A hurricane is heading straight for Serenity Key, Florida, but the town is already dealing with another storm brewing on the island, and it has nothing to do with the atmospheric pressure.

David New has a secret he’s guarded for thirty years, and it has caused a spiritual storm fiercer than a cyclone, pulling the lid off of David’s tightly contained indiscretions. When the daughter he has never met is reported missing, apparently the victim of a hideous crime, and the lives of others he loves begin to unravel, David learns that the sins he thought so personal aren’t so private after all. The consequences are wreaking havoc in ways he never dreamed possible.

As the physical and spiritual tempests collide over Serenity, God is the only one who can calm the storm, but David it isn’t sure he can survive until God decides to intervene.

Writing the Classic Love Story

By Fay Lamb

When an author tells me that they do not write romance, I laugh. Why? Because it’s exactly what I used to say. Then I realized that every story has a thread of romance. Humans, after all, crave love.

Then there are those authors who want to write a romance. Yet, they shun the classic romance formula. However, a new author writing romance without formula will struggle to publish, or if self-published will struggle to gain readership. The reason? Formula works. Look at that romantic movie channel. Readers like the formula. If not, that channel would not be so popular.

My first three novels in The Ties that Bind series are classic formula romances, one more than the others. If you are an artist who loves to color outside the lines, people will not “get” your work until you have used brilliant colors within the lines a few times.

Here are those lines that create the outer boundaries of the picture:

  • Girl meets boy
  • Girl and boy are drawn to each other
  • Conflict, either internal or external or both, keeps boy and girl apart
  • Girl and boy have an “almost” moment
  • Conflict rears its ugly head and tears them apart in a way that seems impossible for them to overcome
  • Girl and boy overcome to live happily ever after

Written out in bland terms, the formula seems pretty boring, but that’s why we write. We take the mundane and make it extraordinary. The way we color within those lines set for us is our creativity shining forth.

My most formulaic work is entitled, Libby. Here’s what is inside the lines:

  • Girl meets boy: In the story, Libby has spied her hero, Evan, in a coffee shop on several occasions. She doesn’t know his name, but attracted to him, she begins to watch for him, but she thinks no one has noticed. Her two goofy, but astute friends, Charisse and Gideon have noticed. They begin to hatch a matchmaking scheme that goes wrong at every turn. Gideon shows up one morning at the coffee shop, talks to Evan, and introduces Evan to Libby.
  • Conflict: Libby has self-esteem issues that resulted from no small incident in her life. She can’t believe that someone like Evan would ever be interested in her. Evan? He handled his traumatic past differently, and the result was rage. As he falls in love with Libby, he fears he must protect her from himself.
  • Girl and boy have an almost moment and conflict tears them apart: Evan does take Libby on a date of much importance. Libby and Evan enjoy the day. Then before they leave, Evan excuses himself. Libby misreads Evan’s actions, and she is devastated. Evan, in doing something wonderful for Libby, finds that his greatest fear has come true. He has hurt Libby.
  • Girl and boy overcome to live happily ever after: I’m not giving the story away, but let’s just say that Gideon and Charisse Tabor are the funniest and slyest matchmakers I’ve ever known.

There are other events in the story that amp up the plot and flow with the formula. For instance, there is an antagonist who separates the couple. There are funny moments and tearful ones. Those come about firmly within the formula and prove that though we are coloring within the lines, the colors we choose produce something unique for the reader. Yes, even in formula you can immerse the reader into a story that provides the depth that a movie on that romance channel never tries to reach.

Prompt: Write a classic romance. Have fun, but don’t dismiss formula until you’ve colored within the lines a few times.


Click-to-Tweet: When an author tells me that they do not write romance, I laugh. Why? Because it’s exactly what I used to say. Then I realized that every story has a thread of romance. Humans, after all, crave love.


Fay Lamb Bio

Fay Lamb is an author, an editor, and a teacher. She also loves to teach workshops for fiction writers.

Fay has contracted four series with her publisher, Write Integrity Press. Amazing Grace is a four-novel series, which includes Stalking Willow, Better than Revenge, Everybody’s Broken, and Frozen Notes all set in Western North Carolina.

Her The Ties that Bind romantic series, set in Fay’s own backyard of Central Florida, includes Charisse, Libby, and Hope, and comes to a surprising and satisfying conclusion with Delilah.

This author keeps busy. She also has two other series in the works. Her first novel in the Serenity Key series is the epic, Storms in Serenity. The other series is Mullet Harbor, a series of Christmas romances set in the Florida Everglades. Christmas Under Wraps is now available.

Fay has an adventurous spirit, which has also taken her into the arena of non-fiction with The Art of Characterization: How to Use the Elements of Storytelling to Connect Readers to an Unforgettable Cast.

Fay loves to meet readers, and you can find her on her personal Facebook page, her Facebook Author page, and at The Tactical Editor on Facebook and on Goodreads. She’s also active on Twitter. Fay also invites you to visit her website and sign up for her newsletter.

 

The Importance of Sharpening Your Grammar and Punctuation Skills

By Fay Lamb

True story: I once had a favorite New York Times Bestselling author. I met her once at a book signing in which I traveled 600 miles to see her. Yes, I was a fan. Then one day, she responded to a comment I made on Facebook about the importance of editing well.

In very clear diva-style she said that her publisher paid people to edit her books. Her job was only to write the story. The editors would clean it up. My first thought was, “Aren’t you fortunate to be so beloved that you’ve gotten to the point where editors clamor to clean up your mess.” My second thought was “I’d hate to be your editor.”

Then she switched tracks in her career to an entirely new genre based upon a new interest. She’d gotten involved in a sport and had written two books involving it. However, her New York publishers weren’t interested in taking the risk. She found a small publisher in the South where her new interest is enjoyed by millions of people. This never-heard-of publisher jumped at the opportunity to publish a book by this well-known author. And publish they did.

I read the book.

I suppose this particular publisher assumed the author had a command of punctuation and grammar.

They assumed incorrectly, and if she read the galley, she proved that very well.

Oh, she could tell a story, but she could not spell or place a comma or determine where a sentence ended. And forget those misplaced modifiers or the split infinitives.

In the world of best sellers where this author came from, I’m sure that the editors were paid well to do what they did for her. I can attest. They did a fine job.

Editors who work for small publishers also work hard at bringing out the best manuscript possible, but I’m here as both a writer and an editor to tell you that mistakes happen. It is impossible to catch every mistake that will be made in a manuscript. Oh, I try. Believe me. I try. This is the best reason I can tell you for learning the basics of your craft. Those basics are spelling, punctuation, and grammar.

As a writer, it helps that I do know my stuff. I probably forget half of what I know in the process, but I do know it. When an editor has made a mistake, I can state with specificity why it is a mistake. On the other hand, when the editor calls me on a mistake, I am also able to understand what I’ve done incorrectly.

As an editor, it helps for me to be able to explain to an author why a comma should not go after a conjunction that starts a sentence or why I would use a comma in that instance on occasion. I can also explain to an author why some sentences can start with a conjunction and others should not.

Do you know the answer?

If not, you might want to learn the basics before you become a New York Bestseller and someone takes that privilege away from you.

Click to tweet: The Importance of Sharpening Your Grammar and Punctuation Skills by Fay Lamb.  Learn the basics. #self-edit #amwriting

Writing Prompt: Cecilia couldn’t believe her eyes. On the front page of their town’s daily newspaper…

The Importance of Return on Investment (ROI) for Writers

‎By Fay Lamb

I’m about to give you some cold, hard truth. Rick Castle is a fictional character. The number of authors who support themselves on royalties, let alone live in a condo in the middle of New York City or any other high-priced locale, are few and far between.

Oh, they do exist. I can name three of them without giving much thought to it.

However, in today’s world where, let’s face it, the market is saturated with people who believe they can write and readers who have been taken too many times, it is so much harder to support oneself on writing alone.

This is why every dollar invested in a writer’s career should be scrutinized. This careful examination of a writer’s budget should begin before the first word is written. For example, as a new author, how valuable is coaching to your career? When the first draft is written or the second or the third, what would be the reasonable cost of an edit? Then, glory hallelujah, a contract is written or a writer is skilled enough in the elements of their craft to publish a book. That’s when the cost of marketing must be considered. Make no mistake about it: even traditionally published authors must shell out payment for marketing. Facebook and Twitter are definitely not going to get the job done.

The mistake that most writers make is paying heavy fees on the front end without considering the return on investment they are likely to receive. They seek an editor or a coach, and they may find good ones, or they might find predators—individuals who have no idea what must go into a novel or a book of non-fiction to make it publishable. As an acquisition editor, a freelance editor, and an occasional writing coach, I have read many submissions in which I’ve commented that a freelance edit would benefit a writer only to learn that the work has already been edited, and I use that term loosely. Then I shudder at the price the person has paid for the edit or the coaching, knowing that the writer is likely never to recoup the money spent.

A key to hiring an editor is to ask for and review their resume. Ask them for author references and for titles that they’ve edited. Follow up on these references and ask the authors if they feel as if they received a good return for their investment. Then read what the editor has edited. Is it the type of editing you require?

Also, spell out for the editor what you require. A good fiction editor understands the elements that go into each genre of fiction. They’ll look for plot holes, for areas of inconsistency, and places where the elements are not strong. An editor of non-fiction understands the framework that publishers desire and will work to put the manuscript into that format.

Oh, and anyone who knows the industry is aware of the importance of return on investment. They will not charge you the same going rate they would charge a J.K. Rowling, or a James Patterson or a John Grisham. See, I told you I could name three authors who can live the Rick Castle lifestyle.

While those three authors have names that sell, you and I most likely do not. So, our only remedy is to get out there into the marketplace and make our names familiar. I’ve already said that Facebook and Twitter are not going to get the job done. We’re marketing to our own people group—mostly authors, and Facebook and Twitter are saturated. The return on investment is good, if you want nothing for nothing or a little for something. There are ways to make them work, but a savvy author needs to reach outside his or her comfort zone, to find traditional ads and marketing that costs them something. In the same way that they carefully examine the cost of an editor or a coach, they should ask questions of other authors who have tried different types of marketing. Authors are usually very kind to tell each other what works and doesn’t work. Authors should price various size ads on websites or in magazines or any venue they plan to work in and research the traffic for those venues.

Click to tweet: Return on Investment or ROI. A savvy author need to reach outside his or her comfort zone. Why? #amediting #IndieAuthors

Another suggestion to lower the individual cost for advertisement is to work in groups, either with authors who write the same genre for a publisher or who self-publish in the same genre. A caution, though: be sure that that the authors promoting with you write to the same standard whether it be social, morals, or in talent.

Start slow. You’ll have to pull from your own pocket at first. Always reinvest your earnings, seeking for a return on investment and eventually striving to put the money you invested back into your own pocket.

Writing Prompt: Jane stared at the returned manuscript proposal in front of her. The story is good. But have you thought about having it edited? The problem was…