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.

 

The Basics of Fiction Writing

By Jennifer Hallmark

Hello, friends and fellow writers! February will be the month we dive into the basics. The basics are what makes writing short stories, novellas, or novels truly something unique and special. Each Monday and Friday, we’ll discuss a different aspect of this topic and you’ll either learn something new or brush up on an old favorite.

Most stories have a beginning, a middle, and an end. I like what Stephen James says in his book, Story Trumps Structure: How to Write Unforgettable Fiction by Breaking the Rules, “…stories have an origination, an escalation of conflict, and a resolution.”

I like that way of thinking. Something sparks and begins the story, life gets worse, and then the story reaches a resolution, either positive or negative. Think of any action movie. There’s a major something that happens and the hero or heroine needs to save the day. Then things swing back and forth from better to worse ending with the day being saved or lost.

I’ve read lots of books on writing. (If you’d like to see a list of the Inspired Prompt Crew’s favorite writing books, go here) I found two different thoughts when it comes to the basics of fiction writing:

  • Setting
  • Characters
  • Plot
  • Conflict
  • Resolution

And:

  • Plot
  • Setting
  • Characters
  • POV
  • Theme
  • Symbolism
  • Conflict

I think each of these points is important to a great read. I’m going to look at one aspect and the rest of the Crew will share their thoughts on future posts.

(From literary devices.net) Symbolism-the use of symbols to signify ideas and qualities, by giving them symbolic meanings that are different from their literal sense…To develop symbolism in his work, a writer utilizes other figures of speech, like metaphors, similes, and allegory, as tools.

In The Lord of the Rings, the One Ring symbolizes power. In my upcoming debut novel, Jessie’s Hope, the porch swing is a symbol of freedom for Jessie. Why? You’ll have to order my book in June to find out. 😊

So, stick around and enjoy the month here at Inspired Prompt. We’ll learn a lot and have fun doing it…

Click to tweet: The basics of fiction writing. Some say there are five basics and others seven. What do you say? #amwriting #WritersLife

Writing Prompt: Pull out your favorite book and take a moment to think about the basics: Characters, setting, plot, theme, etc. Do they all work? What could be done better? Share your thoughts below (without naming book or author, please)…

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.

Inspired Prompt Thanks You!

Hello, friends of Inspired Prompt! It’s hard to believe that 2018 has almost come to an end. Wasn’t it just January?

We want to take a moment and thank you for being there for us. Your comments, thoughts, shares, and visits mean the world to our Crew. Our purpose and the work put in by Betty, Gail, Shirley, Tammy, Fay, Christina, Harriet, Carlton, Bonita, Karen, Cammi, Kristy, myself, and all our guest bloggers is to help YOU be all you can be when it comes to writing.

We truly want to make a difference in our part of the world. 2019 is going to be our best year yet. We will explore such topics as:

  1. Time to Write.
  2. Basics of fiction writing.
  3. Publishing in 2019.
  4. Other ways to break into publication.
  5. Releasing a book.

And so much more! Join us for our Monday and Friday posts on the topic of the month and our fun Wednesday and Saturday interviews. We’ll also be adding articles to our pages:

  • “How To” of Writing
  • Inspired Marketing
  • Creativity Tool Box
  • Choose Happy

Maybe you’d like to be interviewed or be a guest blogger. If so, go to our guest guidelines page to learn more.  We’d love to showcase your book, blog, or yourself. 🙂

We’ll see you soon!

Happy New Year from Betty, Jennifer and the entire Inspired Prompt Crew!

 

What Genre Is This Book, Anyway?

By Nike N. Chillemi

Blood Speaks, Cover

All you have to do is look at the cover and it’s plain to see that BLOOD SPEAKS is a Christmas mystery. The title screams mystery novel and there’s a Christmas wreath on a Christmas red cover. Well, that still begs the question, is it a Christmas novel or a mystery novel?

This conundrum has been cleared up somewhat by calling these types of novels Mixed-Genre, or Cross-Genre, or Blended-Genre. 

The old adage was that genre fiction had to fit neatly into an easily recognizable single category: romance, mystery, historical, science fiction, fantasy, horror, etc. Today, the lines are fading and elements of one genre are blending into one another.

In the past brick-and-mortar world, staying within a specific genre was necessary because the bookstore needed to know on what shelf to place the novel. And shelves were labeled by genre. Pretty much, they still are. However, today a novel can be listed in one blog’s mystery favorites and another’s paranormal favs. books-2596809_1280

So, what genre is BLOOD SPEAKS? First of all, it’s Christian fiction. It took the first two novels in the series for Veronica “Ronnie” Ingels to become comfortable in her relationship with the Lord. Now that she is, BLOOD SPEAKS opens with Ronnie and her BFFs on a bridal shopping trip to that one special bridal shop in the snow-covered Maryland mountains. Ronnie and Taylor County, Texas sheriff’s deputy, Lt. Dawson Hughes, have a wedding date set.

Then, that begs the question with all this bridal shopping going on, is this a mystery or a romantic suspense? Ronnie is a private detective and Dawson is a sworn detective. So, is this a detective novel? I tend to think of the series as three detective stories, but that’s a mystery sub-genre. I also think the series has a strong love story element. Not only are Ronnie and Dawson falling in love, but Ronnie’s best friend and Christian mentor, Bertha, has fallen in love with a Gabby Hayes look-alike. Bertha is the sweetest fifty-plus, plus-size Christian lady. Many fans of the series instantly fall in love with her.

Then again, since this novel is set in a quaint holiday decorated village in December, is it a Christmas story? Well, the answer is BLOOD SPEAKS falls squarely into the mystery category. The story is driven by the need the heroine and hero have to find the killer. It also fits neatly into the detective story sub-genre and it has strong romance elements. Then it veers outside of the box with a strong secondary character who is a lovely plus-size widow who falls into her own fifty-plus love story. And, yes, it is also a Christmas mystery.

I guess we have to say BLOOD SPEAKS is mixed, crossed, and blended.

Click to Tweet:  Today, the lines are fading and elements of one genre are blending into one another. #Mystery #amreading #Mixed-Genre 

Writing prompt:  This time there would be no witnesses.


Moi 2017 Ponte Vedre LibraryNike N. Chillemi writes contemporary detective and/or suspense novels with a touch of wry humor, and there’s often a national security twist to them. She likes her bad guys really bad, her good guys smarter and better, and a touch of the comedic. Her newest endeavor is COURTING DANGER.

Nike is the founding board member of the Grace Awards and its Chair, a reader’s choice awards for excellence in Christian fiction. She has been a judge in the 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2016, and 2017 Carol Awards in the suspense, mystery, and romantic suspense categories; and an Inspy Awards 2010 judge in the Suspense/Thriller/Mystery category. Her four novel Sanctuary Point series (out of print), set in the mid-1940s has finaled, won an award, and garnered critical acclaim. The first novel in the Veronica “Ronnie” Ingels/Dawson Hughes series HARMRUL INTENT won in the Grace Awards 2014 Mystery/Romantic Suspense/Thriller/Historical Suspense category. She has written book reviews for The Christian Pulse online magazine. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and John 3:16 Marketing Network.

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