Time to Write with Fay & Jennifer

Finding time to write is our topic of conversation this month and today’s guests are author Fay Lamb, and author and Inspired Prompt co-founder, Jennifer Hallmark.

Fay Lamb

The art of time management has always been a plague for me because I always have five or six balls in the air, and sitting down for an extended period of time has never been my style—except when writing. Yet I still struggle with consistent word count. On occasion, I have been able to pound out my word count for about two days in a row.

Many writers preach that the only way to get the job done is to firmly place the derriere on a chair, hands on a computer or holding a pen, and pounding out an exact number of words per day. Hemingway did it. He even managed to stop daily at a place he found exciting, the act giving him something to look forward to each day. As a seat of the pants author, I want to find out what’s going to happen. No stopping for me. Robert Benson pens exactly 600 words per day. No more. No less. I write more than 600 words in a Facebook post in ten minutes. Too easy.

Nothing in life is more enjoyable to me than writing. My mind takes a vacation into its own little world, and I’d love to declare that I write 1,500 words every single day. Even though the goal is clearly a pipe dream, I still hold to the illusion that I need to get those words accomplished, because it creates an urgent need for me to get busy, especially as the days without a word count rack up. When I finally sit down, derriere firmly placed in chair, hands on keyboard, I churn out at least 1,500 words, but most days, the count is a 6,000 to 10,000 word vacation.


Fay Lamb is the only daughter of a rebel genius father and a hard-working, tow-the-line mom. She is not only a fifth-generation Floridian, she has lived her life in Titusville, where her grandmother was born in 1899.
Since an early age, storytelling has been Fay’s greatest desire. She seeks to create memorable characters that touch her readers’ heart. She says of her writing, “If I can’t laugh or cry at the words written on the pages of my manuscript, the story is not ready for the reader.” Fay writes in various genres, including romance, romantic suspense, and contemporary fiction.


Jennifer Hallmark

Finding time to write? Wow. You’ve come to the wrong person. Well, maybe not. I can dial in my analytical side at any time it seems and make time to produce articles, blog posts, anything concerning the business/non-fiction side of writing.

Fiction is more of a struggle. When I’m working out of the creative side, I need focus. Peace. No distractions. Time which, around my home, is hard to find during this season of my life.

I’ve learned two things that help when I just can’t find the time:

  • Write away from home. I never thought I could write at a coffee shop or at a bookstore but low and behold, with home being a bit chaotic, I can. I seem to be able to dial out strangers and crowd noises better than the familiar sounds at my house.
  • I turn to handwriting. I often use the notebook by my bed to write out a scene or even a thought that might go in a book. Sometimes I’m riding in the car, at the doctor’s office, or even at church when inspiration strikes and I find a sticky note and jot it down. Writing like this always translates into time well-spent.

Find out what works for you. Guard your writing time well even if you don’t have deadlines and one day you probably will. 😊


Jennifer Hallmark  

I love writing, reading, and learning. 🙂

But I am so much more: Wife, Mother, Mamaw, friend and family to many,  cookie baker, LOTR marathon watcher, greeting card sender, church bulletin maker, day trip with Hubby and friends taker, snowman and Golden Age of Detective book collector.

Welcome to my world!


[Click to Tweet] “Hemingway…even managed to stop daily at a place he found exciting, the act giving him something to look forward to each day.”–Fay Lamb @FayLamb via @InspiredPrompt #amwriting #AskAuthor #Schedule

FUN Writing Prompt! Schedule five minutes by setting an alarm on your phone (or other timing device). Write everything that pops into your mind until the alarm stops you. GO! (Have Fun!) Extra: If you wrote something especially funny or interesting, share it in the comments. We love hearing from our readers.

Genre Month: What Makes Romance Suspenseful?

By Fay Lamb

There are elements that go into every great romantic suspense:

An Introduction of a Likeable Hero and Heroine

A romantic suspense is first and foremost a romance. So, the same rule applies when in comes to the introduction of a hero and heroine. While most rules can be broken by those who are intimate with them, generally the reader must meet the hero and heroine by the end of the first chapter or no later than the second. If possible, the couple should also meet within that time frame. These main characters must be likeable. Otherwise, forget the villain. Your readers will want to kill them for you.

Bolster the hero and heroine with personalities that will make the reader want the couple together. In Frozen Notes, the hero and heroine are in vastly different places, but they are both facing traumatic events: one a murder-suicide that leaves the character shocked and filled with grief. The other is an accidental overdose that makes the character want to live. The hero and heroine know each other. In fact, the hero’s long-ago actions caused both horrific events. Because both are facing an uphill battle that started with the demise of their relationship, the reader’s want these two together.

A Conflict Fueled Plot Driven by a Troublesome Villain (or Two)

Conflict is the fuel that drives a story forward. Without fuel, the story won’t even sputter and die. In a romantic suspense, this fuel is often what drives the couple’s separation, keeping them apart.

The conflict in the main plot of a suspense novel must be the villain (person or thing) that will bring danger to the hero and heroine. The villain’s actions may be toward only one member of the dynamic duo, but at some point in the plot, the villain must be a threat to both the hero and heroine. The conflict he or she brings to the story must build as the story moves forward.

In Frozen Notes, there is more than one villain, but all want what the heroine has hid from everyone. Yet, the heroine has only one of the items sought—the item that can hurt someone she loves. The hero has been entrusted with information that can bring all the villains down. The chapters build with the reader being made privy to new information—new twists in the story—with each scene building on the conflict.

 

 Pacing: the Right Speed in the Right Scene

I’m often asked the difference between a thriller and suspense. The difference is the pacing. Generally, a thriller moves quickly. The author uses short, clipped sentences or other techniques to develop a sense of urgency to the scenes, which amp up to a fast pace with a lot of action. The action might build to a point where the reader is clinging to the seat waiting to see what’s going to happen next. The key to this type of writing is to keep the characters in motion, fighting against conflict.

A writer of suspense, though, must develop the skill that allows them to recognize when to slow the pace of the story in order to draw out the tension of a scene.

In Frozen Notes both techniques are used. In a scene where a shot rings out and a bullet hits the outside of the heroine’s home in close proximity to her head, you can be assured that time of the essence. The action moves quickly. Later, though, when a villain is holding the hero captive and he sees a way to get the gun out of the villain’s hands, the action is slowed. Each movement scrutinized, drawing out the scene for the reader. That’s the Alfred Hitchcock style of suspense, and when done correctly it works on the page just as it does on the screen. A student of romantic suspense will study these scenes to make sure that the pacing used is just right.

Oh, and no writer ever wants to hurry the romantic kiss. The key is to turn the slow pace of the suspenseful moment into one the reader wants to see occur rather than one the reader wants the character to avoid.

And last, we have our …

Happy-Ever After Ending

Spoiler alert: in Frozen Notes the hero and heroine have a happy-ever-after ending. I don’t mind telling you that because while the sweet kiss, lover’s embrace, or a poignant moment is nice, it usually comes at the end of the story. The heart of a romantic suspense—the part that an author wants the reader to remember—is the journey that got them to that moment.

So, find that lovable hero and heroine, put them into conflict with a villain or two, and amp up or draw out the suspense to take the reader on an adventure they will never forget. Give the hero and heroine a happy ending, and let the villain get what he or she deserves.

Click to tweet: A Month of Genre. Romantic Suspense post by Fay Lamb. “A writer of suspense, though, must develop the skill that allows them to recognize when to slow the pace of the story in order to draw out the tension of a scene.” #Suspense #amwriting


Frozen Notes

Lyric Carter’s dreams of fame and fortune in a rock band ended the day Balaam Carter left to pursue their dreams without her. When Balaam’s brother promised to love and protect Lyric and to love her son, Cade—his brother, Balaam’s child—as his own, she believed him. But Braedon turned her dreams into a nightmare by killing Balaam’s best friend, turning the gun on himself, and placing Lyric in the middle of a criminal investigation that could leave her and Cade dead. Balaam Carter’s every dream has come true, but he’s living in a nightmare of addiction and regret. The famous rock star would give everything he has to return to the girl he once held in his arms—back when his only crime was running moonshine for his father.

Now, he’s seeking redemption for all the destruction his dreams have brought to the people he loves. No one said the road to recovery would be easy, but Balaam is also desperate to protect Lyric and the little boy he left behind from a state full of drug lords who believe Lyric has the evidence that will tumble their lucrative cartels. Balaam’s continued sobriety, his natural ability for finding his way out of trouble, and his prayers to God above for the strength to never let them down again are all that he has to protect Lyric and his son. And still, he doesn’t know if he’s up for the task.

Coming in April: Delilah

How an Author Inspired Me

Throughout the month of May, our contributors will be sharing their inspirational stories of times when an author inspired them. Sometimes, all it takes is a smile and a word of encouragement. Other times, it may be a recommendation, or a good review. In some way, the author offered encouragement to keep writing, keep trying for an open door into the publishing realm.

For the most part, I’ve found authors to be very helpful and giving. They know how hard it is to write and have your work pored over by readers, editors, and agents. Sometimes the whole process seems to chip away at your confidence. For some reason, I had a sudden vision of a pigeon atop a statue. You know what pigeons do to statues. Yes, sometimes, it is very like that.

Especially when you send a portion of your work through an online critique loop. It’s like hitting send and launching a piece of your heart into the great void. Will it make the journey? Will it be torn apart by frenzied critiquers? Will they laugh uproariously, though it’s not a funny manuscript?

Several years back, a very hopeful younger version of myself joined ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers), took the preparatory course on critiquing, then joined the huge online critique loop. I had a completed historical manuscript to send through chapter-by-chapter, and I was ready to begin my journey. I composed my first email, attached my first chapter, and hit send with a trembling index finger.

And then I waited. And waited. And waited. Finally, I got a couple of crits. One was very helpful and nice, though there were a lot of suggestions. A LOT.  The second one was from a dear lady who must have been “up there” in age, because she said she remembered those days (the 1920s). She went on to say that no young lady would ever put on a pair of dungarees (which my character had done before climbing out a window and down a tree). I had a photograph of my grandma in a pair of dungarees. The picture was taken in 1924, the year I had chosen to begin my story.

She said a lot of other things, like how she laughed uproariously at some of my mistakes, and maybe I should do a more thorough research before I sent the rest of the story through. Of course, I was greatly offended. After crying over it for a while, I put it away. When enough time had passed, I compared her assessment with the few other critiques I received, and made some changes. I also made changes to the second chapter and sent it through, only to receive another scathing review from that dear lady.

I know you’re wondering why I’m writing about this in an article about authors who inspire other authors. Well, I’m getting to that. After having my feelings completely trounced several times, I contacted the critique group coordinator. That was my first interaction with Fay Lamb. She assured me this was not the typical critique, and I shouldn’t take it personally. She also suggested I not read anymore offerings from this person, and in the meantime, she would contact the lady and make a few suggestions of her own.

Not only that, but Fay Lamb read my chapters and was very helpful. She was kind, but honest. I needed to up my game. I did that, and she encouraged me to keep moving forward. She also encouraged me to leave the big loop and opt for a smaller group, instead. I worked with one or two other writers for a while, then joined a second small group.

When my first book made it through the critique process, I looked for an editor I could pay to help me whip it into shape. I knew Fay was working as a freelance editor, so I hired her. She held my hand through the process, and we ended up with a completed novel.

Then she suggested I send it to a small press publisher. A little over a year later, the book was published by Write Integrity Press.

I might have given up along the way, except for Fay’s encouragement. “You’re a good writer. Keep working on it.” Her example kept me moving forward through some very dark times. I wanted to quit. She wouldn’t let me.

Betty & Fay

Fay and I became friends and discovered we had so much in common, it was uncanny. In fact, we’ve found so many weird connections, we may possibly be twins separated at birth. We finally met in person at a Christian writers conference in Atlanta. You’ll find her name on the acknowledgment page of most of my published novels.

I am not the only writer she has helped. I know many others can tell similar stories with Fay Lamb as the star. Well, except for being her twin. That may be unique.

Thank you, Fay, for being there for me, and helping me through the tough times—the inevitable deep lows that come to all who profess to be writers.


Writing Prompt: [Finish this thought with a complete sentence:] The most helpful suggestion ever made to me by another author is…

Click to Tweet: Sometimes the whole (writing) process seems to chip away at your confidence. I’ve found #authors to be very helpful and giving. They know how hard it is to write and have your work pored over by readers, editors, and agents.

3 Questions Wednesday with Fay Lamb

Good morning! Welcome to another edition of 3 Questions Wednesday. This morning we’re talking with our very own Fay Lamb.

Fay Lamb 2018 GalleryGood morning, Fay. Can you describe yourself in three words?

Down-right crazy (is it one or two words if you hyphenate?) Just in case, Down-right certifiably crazy.

LOL. I love your sense of humor, Fay. Next question . . .

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

Without a second thought it would be to Teahupoo, Tahiti. I have a story that has been living in my brain for many years since I read James A. Michener’s The Drifters about a group of teens who were facing the troubles of their times: the Vietnam War, the sexual revolution, drugs, etc. My story involves professional surfing and five individuals who are ten years past their glory. Each have gone his or her own way, and one of the friends has allegedly perished in the surf. The survivors of their wild lifestyle are coming together to support a momentous occasion. The place where they will reunite is Teahupoo at the Billabong Pro, and there are lots of surprises and a mysterious stranger afoot. Just to give you a hint of the storyline, the title is Resurrection.

ocean waveI plan to write this story in a way that it will attract a very unreached people group in our society: surfers, and I will be donating books and all of my proceeds to Christian Surfers International.

If someone’s going to pay my way, they need to hurry because the Billabong Pro is August 10 through August 21, 2018 and as of the time of this interview, the countdown was: 114 days, 8 hours, 9 minutes, and 36 seconds from starting.

Hehe. Reader, if you want to see some amazing footage on Teahupo’o click the link. Last question . . .

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

So many crazy things happen in my life, and people sometimes believe I make them up. So, my obvious song has to be That’s My Story, and I’m Stickin’ to It by Jimmy Buffett.

Sounds like a plan, Fay! Thanks for joining us for 3 Questions Wednesday.

Click to Tweet: How an author inspired me. So many crazy things happen in my life, and people sometimes believe I make them up. 3QW with Fay Lamb @InspiredPrompt #interview


Fay Lamb 2018 GalleryFay Lamb is an author, an acquisition editor, and a freelance editor. She also loves to teach workshops for fiction writers.

The last novel, Frozen Notes, in her Amazing Grace romantic suspense series released in September. The series also includes Stalking Willow, Better than Revenge, and Everybody’s Broken.

Fay’s popular The Ties that Bind romantic series includes Charisse, Libby, and Hope. Readers are anxiously awaiting the fourth novel in the series, Delilah, which will be released in mid-2018.

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

Fay’s third series contracted with Write Integrity Press is entitled Serenity Key, and the first novel, Storms in Serenity, released in March, 2018.

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. Then there are her blogs: On the Ledge, Inner Source, and the Tactical Editor.

 

Research: The Inspired Prompt Way

Research. We’ve spent the month of March dissecting this topic from all angles. From how to start, to research on the road, and current events research, a way to gather information should be coming clear.

I’ve asked the Crew to share their go-to source when it comes to research. Here’s what they said:

Harriet Michael: As a Christian nonfiction writer who writes a lot of Biblical pieces—devotions and essays to a Biblical theme, my go-to resource is Bible Gateway where I can look up passages, do word searches, find commentaries, and find passages in all translations. Here is their link: https://www.biblegateway.com/

Jennifer Hallmark: Sometimes when I write, I just can’t think of the right word so I use an online thesaurus. Even if I don’t find what I need, it often gets my creativity flowing so I can move forward in my writing. Their link is http://www.thesaurus.com/

Kristy Horine: I find the Blue Letter Bible www.blueletterbible.org to be a great resource due to its interlinear concordance, cross references, language explanations, and access to commentaries. It has an app that is free that can be downloaded to your phone.  In addition, www.biblestudytools.com is helpful in the commentary area.

Another source is www.thoughtco.com. This is not a Christian-based resource, but it sure is fun for those strange and unusual questions like if brain cells regenerate, or the difference between racism and prejudice. It is based on the idea that we should be lifelong learners and seeks to teach just that. Plus, it has a really neat daily email you can sign up for. And, for numbers: www.barna.com and www.pewresearch.org

Betty Thomason Owens: I attended a class on researching at the Mid South Conference. The instructor gave us the Library of Congress website. It’s huge. You can find articles, photos, and lots of other interesting studies and stories and books. https://www.loc.gov/  I also love History.com  https://www.history.com/ and the Smithsonian.com https://www.smithsonianmag.com/.

Gail Johnson: I use the Bible, Webster’s dictionary, and the Strong’s Concordance. Also Bible Gateway and the online versions of the dictionary and thesaurus.

Bonita McCoy: I love  Biblehub.com because it gives you the verse in several translations. I use it for my Beautiful Pieces of Grace blog. Also the good old library for articles for the Inspired Prompt site and my Courageous Writers blog.

Fay Lamb: My research varies on what the subject happens to be. If it is medical, I will look up medical research on various sites, but I also look for journals of people who have undergone medical procedures. I also use slang dictionaries for slang for certain times. I even have a surfers’ slang dictionary.

Tammy Trail:  I tend to look for historical societies. There is a blog I like to catch up with too, Colonial Quills. Lots of historical information there for me. I use the Colonial Williamsburg website also. For writing related information, I love Seekerville.

Carlton Hughes:  Like others, my research varies depending on the subject. I’m mostly writing devotionals now, so usually I’m searching for a specific scripture on Bible Gateway. Blogs like Novel Rocket are good for general advice on fiction writing.

Shirley Crowder:  I use Blue Letter Bible — lots of commentaries, words studies, etc. https://www.blueletterbible.org/

Karen Jurgens: I use Google for whatever I need to know when I’m writing about Paris and other parts of the world. I study maps of the city, and I use reference books I’ve purchased while visiting. For example, I bought lots of historical books and maps of Cayman Island when I vacationed there a couple years ago. I always write about settings I know personally or have visited.

Cammi Woodall: Started in September of 1998, Google is the world’s largest search engine. You know how I know that? I googled it! When you can use your search engine name as a verb, you know you are doing something right. I love other sites like AskJeeves.com or Yahoo.com, but I always come back to Google. In one research session, l learned that the world’s oldest church is the Dura-Europos house church in Syria, arsenic poison will still show up in your fingernails 6 to 12 months after ingestion, and a ten-gallon hat really only holds three-quarters of a gallon. Who knew? Google did! And now I do, too.

Thank you, Inspired Prompt Crew! As you can see, there are research sites galore for the fiction and non-fiction writer. Do you have a go-to site that’s not listed above? In lieu of a writing prompt, we’re asking you to share that in the comments below…

Click to tweet: The Inspired Prompt Crew shares their go-to source when it comes to research for writers. #research #Google