The Craft of Writing: Resources for the Journey

By Jennifer Hallmark

Learning the craft, or making our work readable, is one of the more important ways to sell books, gain a readership, and be taken seriously in the writing world. But how do we do that?

College, online courses, or conferences can be a great place to start. But maybe they’re not in your budget or timeframe at the moment. Where else can we find resources for our author journey?

I’m so glad you asked. 🙂 The Crew and I want to share our personal favorites:

 Gail Johnson

Bonita Y. McCoy

Tammy Trail

Kristy Robinson Horine

  • Anything by KM Weiland is useful. Not only is there a blog, and books, she has a podcast that she transcribes so readers can listen or read.

    Brandilyn Collins has some great books out on characters, plot twists, why stories work, etc.  Steven James has a podcast called The Story Blender. It’s pretty good.

Jennifer Hallmark: I’ve read tons of books on craft in the past, but now I tend to read more blogs and listen to podcasts. Here are some of the best (IMHO):

And don’t forget about Inspired Prompt and our resources. Here are three links:

We want to see you become the best writer that you possibly can be. There’s no magic formula. As you study, learn, read, and write, your voice will emerge and your skills will increase. It has worked for our Inspired Prompt Crew and it will work for you.

Click to tweet: Learning the craft, or making our work readable, is one of the more important ways to sell books, gain a readership, and be taken seriously in the #writing world.  #pubtip

Writing Prompt: Commit to either reading a writing craft book, one blog post a week, or listen to a podcast a week to strengthen your writing.

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.

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…

Targeting Your Writing Dreams

By Jennifer Hallmark

What is your writing dream? Children’s stories, Guidepost, or traditionally published novel? Do you have it in your mind? Now, what in the world should you do with your dream? You’ve come to the right place. Or should I say the write place?

Inspired Prompt is a blog for writers created by writers. Last month, we discussed all types of writing you can put pen to like devotionals, travel articles, newspapers, technical writing, and screenwriting.

Throughout August, we plan to share posts that take the July topic one step further: finding who you want to submit your work-in-progress to and how to go about it. We have three special guests who will also help you out. Michelle Medlock Adams, an author with over eighty books published, will discuss writing for children. Laurel Blount will teach us what it takes to write for Love Inspired and Dianne Derringer will talk to us about writing for The Upper Room and Christian Devotions US.

An important question to answer for every writer is “Who will publish my work?” There are many online and print publishers of magazines, articles, blog posts, compilations, and books. As a new writer, I tried out many places from literary magazines to devotion sites to children’s books. The mistake I made was not digging deep enough to see exactly what each publication wanted and needed.

Take devotions. I wrote in one style and sent it to many. I’m sure some were quickly rejected because I didn’t follow the guidelines. I even sent a query to one agent, then in re-reading the guidelines, realized I would instantly be rejected because of an error I made. Inspired Prompt will hopefully help you not to make those mistakes.

So, don’t miss a Monday or Friday post in August. You’ll learn a lot and maybe you’ll receive an acceptance letter from a publisher. If you do, please let us know. We’ll Snoopy dance with you…

Click to tweet: Inspired Prompt helps answer the question: Who do you want to write for? #authorslife #amwriting

Writing prompt: Pick one publication you’d like to write for. Take a full day to study their website, guidelines, and check out some of their past publications. Then take a leap of faith…

Are You a Writer Trying to Break into Publication? One Word of Advice

By Jennifer Hallmark

Know that writing is hard work.

I see your puzzled look. That’s my advice?

Yes.

Writing is hard work. To be a successful writer, you need to be patient, persevering, and have a strong work ethic. Why? Some days you’ll grow tired of waiting. Tired of keeping on. Tired of the endless work.

Successful writers don’t only write. They study the craft, practice, try different ways to get published, study, then write some more. And let’s not even talk about marketing. Click to tweet: The job of writer is an endless journey you never arrive at. The journey is the destination.

If you truly want to be a writer, be prepared to do certain things over and over again.

  1. Write. Articles, blog posts, short stories, novellas, or novels. Pick your poison and practice, practice, practice.
  2. Rewrite. Once you’ve written whatever it is you needed to write, the rewrites begin. Read the article, story, or novel out loud and find ways to make it better.
  3. Practice humility. When you finally break into publication, you’ll be edited. Given advice. Some you won’t like. So, you better learn to be humble now or your journey will be short-lived.
  4. Push past the pain, tiredness, or boredom. You’ll deal with all three of these at different times and sometimes at the same time. Just like any other career, you have to do the job when you don’t want to. As I’m typing away on my laptop, I’m a week away from the release of my debut novel, Jessie’s Hope. I did not want to write this article today. It won’t post until July 15th. But I have a block of time to write now and I know it’s better to get it done. Who knows what the future will bring?

Let’s say this out loud and together: Writing is hard work. But I am in this for the long haul. Writing is what I want to do. I seek publication. So, I plan to work and write and submit and study and learn until my time comes.

For I am a writer.

Writing Prompt: Your assignment is to tell one person this week, who doesn’t already know, that you are a writer. Get over it now. Then write some more.

Writer journaling in a book