Back to Basics: Types of Classes for Writers

By Jennifer Hallmark

So you want to be a writer. You’ve heard the stories about writer’s block, low pay, long hours, little feedback on blogs, and book sales you can count on your fingers. But you aren’t deterred and excited about your future anyway.

My number one piece of advice?

Learn. Study the craft. Dissect books and movies. Gain knowledge on publishing, editing, and your computer. Immerse yourself in what goes on in the writing world.

There are many classes you can find in schools, groups, and on the Internet about the basics of writing, advanced courses on the craft, and all about publishing, marketing, and online ventures. I’ll make a list below. It’s by no means exhaustive, but I’ve learned a lot with a smaller amount of money than you’d think.

Education-If you’re still in school, there are high school writing courses. College offers writing classes and majors such as professional writing, technical writing, journalism, business writing, creative writing, publishing, and communications. You can also find community education classes through your local Board of Education or college. Many of these run for six weeks or so and can jump-start your career. My adventure in writing began with a six-week writing course at our local Board of Education.

Blogs and/or Websites-For years, I’ve followed blogs and websites that teach an aspect of writing I’d like to study. For social media, I go to Edie Melson’s The Write Conversation.  I read and write for the Southern Writers Magazine author’s blog. The Write Life is helpful for freelance writers. I also follow the Positive Writers and here’s their list of the top writing blogs in 2017. Check them out for the ones that can help you.

Conferences-I love to attend writing conferences to learn, network, and just hang out with other like-minded people. Workshops are offered as one-time learning experiences.

Practicums are smaller classes with hands-on experience offered. Continuing classes are usually a series of studies held throughout the conference where each day expands more on the topic of study.

Writer’s Groups-I belong to two types of writer’s groups. One meets in person monthly, the other is online. I enjoy each group for different reasons. Beside local groups, here are a few national ones: ACFW, RWA,  Word Weavers, and

Writing Coaches or Mentors-During my twelve-year career, I have had some wonderful people mentor me. It’s great to have someone show you the ropes to avoid the pitfalls you can find in writing. Writing coaches can also be helpful, but it’s easy to pay too much with little improvement to someone who says they can help. Research coaches and mentors, looking for testimonials from people or groups you know.

I hope this quick overview of classes will help you find your way through the maze that is a writing career. Come back and visit our blog throughout the year to read about first-hand experiences in writing, marketing, social media, and other subjects of interest.

Click to tweet: My number one piece of advice for writers? Learn. Study the craft. Immerse yourself in what goes on in the writing world. @InspiredPrompt #amwriting #writing


Remember: Here at the Inspired Prompt blog, our goal is to educate and inform writers, with an emphasis on new and Indie writers. We offer clear, basic information in four areas: how-to, marketing, encouragement, and our “signature” prompts, thoughts, and ideas. We hope to inspire writers/authors to reach for and attain their personal best.

We want to see you have a “significant” career in what you love to do…


Writing Prompt: Sue stopped in front of the cold, metal door and took a deep breath. Her first class and…



1st Saturday Extra: Do Writing Prompts Really Work?

By Jennifer Hallmark

Today is our first installment of a new monthly series called 1st Saturday Extra. Each month, we’ll share a testimonial or more personal interview from someone in the writing world. So pull up a chair and enjoy my thoughts on writing prompts.

I believe in writing prompts.

I really do.

The name of our writing blog originally was Writing Prompts, Thoughts, & Ideas…Oh My! Yes, I know it was too long, but at the time I thought it was clever. We’ve shortened it to The Inspired Prompt. Prompts can be pivotal to our writing career.

Prompts may truly be inspired. Why do I feel this way?

In the spring of 2019, my first novel will be released from Firefly Southern Fiction. I am beyond thrilled, ecstatic, and Snoopy dancing. It’s my dream come true.

And it started with a small writer’s group and three simple phrases: Wedding dress designer, dusty baseball cap, faded blue coveralls. From that simple beginning in 2009, a short story was birthed which turned into a novella and finally a novel.

I have two more works-in-progress (WIP) with a few thousand words (if you’re a writer, you’ll understand) and they also had a humble beginning with prompts.

Why do prompts spark creativity? To me, the subconscious is always at work for a writer with feelings and storylines just below the surface waiting to be unleashed. Writing prompts are one way to release them. My novel could have had a different occupation or clothing item if the prompt had been different but I believe the storyline probably would’ve been similar.

Prompts, thoughts, and ideas work best with free writing, where you just let your imagination run and try to keep up with it on a keyboard or with a pen. Now my novel is very different from that original bit of free writing. But the foundation was set that day in 2009 and soon will be in print.

I can’t wait for that day.

So, why don’t you try it out? Every Monday and Friday, we’ll share a post with some type of writing prompt. I’ll be sharing one at the bottom of this post also. Find a quiet place and take the sentence, items, or picture prompt, then write down all that comes to mind.

One day, we might be reading your novel. And you’ll tell people it all started with a prompt.

Click to tweet: Why do writing prompts spark creativity? Read on. @InspiredPrompt #amwriting #writingprompt

Writing Prompt: Use these four items to create a story: deli sandwich, Atlanta, aging horse, and a deserted farmhouse. If you’d like, share a bit with us in the comment section below.

Happy Writing!

deserted farmhouse

The Inspired Prompt Blog Has Arrived

By Jennifer Hallmark 

Can you believe it’s January 1st, 2018?

Wow. Every year, November and December seem to go by at Peregrine falcon speed, and then life skids to a slow glide after Christmas. To me, that’s okay. I do some of my best writing in the early months of a new year when it’s too cold for me to venture outside.

But you want to hear about our new changes, right?

Betty and I have been working hard to bring the blog up-to-date and really want to take it to the next level in 2018. We believe it is going to be our best year ever.

The sole reason we have this blog is to help writers. Betty and I agreed long ago that we’d been given so much along our writing journey, we would like to pay it forward. We started with articles, then added interviews, and even book promotions. Within the last couple of years, we noticed a trend. Our readers are mostly new writers and Indie-published writers. We decided to narrow our scope and cater to these writers.

Writer journaling in a book

Click to tweet: Whether you’re a serious writer or not, if you enjoy learning more about writing, our blog is for you. @InspiredPrompt #amwriting

We’re excited about the possibility of reaching more people. For us to do this, we have to focus in and provide relevant information. We’re ready to do this. How?

(1)   All topics will in some way pertain to writing, reading, or publishing.

(2)   Our goal is to teach, coach, and inspire. Our focus is reaching our readers with what they need.

We needed a new name and mission statement to guide our way. Our new name is Inspired Prompt and our tagline is: Follow Us Down the Write Road.

Our mission statement is:

The goal of the Inspired Prompt blog is to educate and inform writers, with an emphasis on new and Indie writers. We provide clear, basic information in four areas: how-to, marketing, encouragement, and our “signature” prompts, thoughts, and ideas. We hope to inspire writers/authors to reach for and attain their personal best.

As far as the leadership, Betty Thomason Owens and I will still be the blog administrators, with me being the idea guru and Betty, editor-in-chief. Gail Johnson has agreed to serve as our new content editor. Tammy Trail, Karen Jurgens, Harriet Michael, and Carlton Hughes will also return for another year.

We’ve added five new contributors: Shirley Crowder, Bonita McCoy, Fay Lamb, Kristy Horine, and Cammi Woodall. Please check out our contributor page to learn more about all our Crew members.

Topics to aid the writer will be better than ever. This month, we’ll discuss Back to the Basics For the Writer. February is all about romance. Throughout the rest of the year, we’ll touch on topics like social media, marketing, research, Indie publishing, freelance writing, and many more. So don’t miss a single post.

As always, we’ll interview both new and established writers, editors, agents, and publishers on our 3 Questions Wednesday segment along with several Saturday interviews. You can go to the menu for our Guest Post Guidelines if you’d like an interview or possible guest post.

On the first Saturday of each month, we’re adding 1st Saturday Extra, a timely article, writer testimony, or interview to encourage and enlighten.

The Inspired Prompt Crew is looking forward to implementing all these changes and seeing writers reap the benefits we hope to provide.

Take a few minutes to check out our new menu including:

How-To of Writing

Inspired Marketing

Choose Happy (encouragement)

Creativity Tool Box (writing prompts, thoughts, and ideas)

We’ll be adding more items as the year progresses. Thanks for taking time to stop by and visit! We hope to see you often in the future.

Writing Prompt: In lieu of a prompt today, share what change we made is your favorite and why.

3 Questions Wednesday with Sara L. Foust

Happy Wednesday! Sara Foust is filling our last interview of the year and we are excited to introduce her debut novel, Callum’s Compass. Her novel won second place in Deep River Books’ 2017 Writer’s Contest…

So, without further ado, Sara, here’s your first question:

What inspires you?

Sara:  My faith. My family. Nature.

A good trio to pull inspiration from. 🙂

You’re a new addition to the crayon box. What color would you be and why?

Sara:  Evergreen. It reminds me of the greenery on the mountains of East TN. And it is steady, a strong color. I hope I am strong too.

A great choice! Just the name evokes a strong foundation lasting into eternity. Last question: 

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Sara:   I went through a lot of careers. I think the first was a veterinarian. But by second grade, I wanted to be an author. I drifted from being an author as I grew because it seemed so impossibly hard and scary. I am very thankful that God has allowed me to return to my truest passion.

That’s wonderful! God knows the desires of our heart. Thanks so much for dropping by, Sara.

Click to tweet:  Check out Sara L. Foust and her debut novel, Callum’s Compass. @InspiredPrompt #Tennessee #fiction

Sara is graciously offering a giveaway of her book, Callum’s Compass. E-book or paperback. (Paperback available only to residents within the U.S.) Make sure to leave a comment to be entered to win…

Callum’s Compass

 KAT WILLIAMS’S brother died in a gruesome accident in the mountains of East Tennessee. She blames herself.

RYAN JENKINS’S fiancée was murdered. He couldn’t protect her.

With the death of her brother, Kat believes she is unworthy of love from anyone—even God. When a good friend elicits a promise that she will stop living in the past and then leaves her clues to a real-life treasure hunt, Kat embarks on an adventure chock-full of danger. To find the treasure, Kat will have to survive wild animals—and even wilder men. Can she rely on Ryan, the handsome wildlife officer assigned to protect her . . . without falling in love?

Ryan swore off love when his fiancée was murdered, but feelings long-buried rise to the surface around Kat. He volunteers to help with her treasure hunt, vowing to keep her safe. Together they venture deep into caves and tunnels . . . and even deeper into the depths of their unplumbed hearts.

Sara L. Foust writes Inspirational Romantic Suspense from a mini-farm in East Tennessee, where she lives with her husband and their five homeschooled children. She earned her Bachelor’s degree from the University of Tennessee and is a member of ACFW and Tennessee Mountain Writers. Callum’s Compass won second place in Deep River Books’ 2017 Writer’s Contest.

Sara also has a story, “Leap of Faith,” in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Step Outside Your Comfort Zone. Gain access to a FREE digital scrapbook detailing some real-life places from Callum’s Compass by signing up for her newsletter:

3 Questions Wednesday with Suzy Parish

Welcome to 3 Questions Wednesday!

Suzy Parish discovered her love of books as a child in Richmond, Virginia when she took refuge from the summer heat in the local Bookmobile. She believes in the power of literacy to improve the lives of individuals and stewards a Little Free Library in a local park. Way to go, Suzy! So, with that in mind, let’s see how she answers our 3 questions.

Question: What inspires you?

Suzy:  Reading stories of hope and triumph over life’s trials. That inspired the tagline “Hope blooms in unexpected places.” True heroes inspire the heroes in my fiction.

Hope and heroes just go together somehow 🙂

Just for fun–You’re a new addition to the crayon box. What color would you be and why?

Suzy:  Forest Green. It’s been my favorite color since I was a little girl. I love nature, and the color green reminds me of life and resurrection.

Good choice. Green is definitely a color of life and rebirth.

Final Question–As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Suzy: I was full of questions as a child. That untamed curiosity led me to investigate a wide range of professions, including a veterinarian, Bible translator, writer, and artist. I believe that character trait helped me become a better researcher. But I never really had a single occupation in mind. If asked, I would have said all of them.

Curiosity is a must in a writer. Thank you, Suzy,  for visiting 3 Questions Wednesday.

Readers, here’s more about Suzy and her books–

Suzy Parish is an author at Pelican Book Group. Suzy wrote as a Community Columnist for the Huntsville Times. She is currently a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW).

Her novel, Flowers from Afghanistan was a semi-finalist in the Genesis contest for 2013. Suzy discovered her love of books as a child in Richmond, Virginia when she took refuge from the summer heat in the local Bookmobile. She believes in the power of literacy to improve the lives of individuals and stewards a Little Free Library in a local park. Suzy currently resides in Huntsville, Alabama with her husband, Chet. Her tennis-ball addicted dog Charlie keeps her life filled with daily mayhem.

Suzy’s debut novel, Flowers from Afghanistan will be released in 2018.

Click to Tweet: Find out how author Suzy Parish answered our 3 Questions! #military #fiction

 Flowers From Afghanistan

Weighed down by guilt following the death of his two-year-old son, Mac McCann accepts a year-long position training police officers in Afghanistan. Leaving his wife Sophie to grieve alone, he hopes the life-or-death distractions of his self-imposed exile will build a wall between him and his pain.

As camaraderie builds between Mac and the men on base—including a local barber and his precocious little boy—Mac’s heart becomes invested in stories beyond his own tragedy and he learns he is not the only one running from loss. But when the hour of attack arrives, will he be able to see past his guilt to believe there’s still something—and someone—worth living for?

With touching details based on true events, Flowers from Afghanistan is a redemptive journey of healing, a chronicle of hope in crisis, and a testament to the faithfulness of God through it all. Save