3 Questions Wednesday with Jennifer Hallmark

Welcome to 3 Questions Wednesday!

I’m really excited about this week’s post since the guest is … ME! I’m a blogger and author, thrilled that my debut novel released a couple of days ago. It’s been a looooong journey but one that’s been well-worth the wait.

How will I answer our three questions now that I’m a too-good-to-be-true novelist? Read on, my friend.

Who is your favorite author?

Jennifer: I love reading and read just about any genre. I’d have to say my favorite author is James L. Rubart. I pre-order all his books. I don’t do that for anyone else, but his books are so engaging that I just can’t put one down once I get started.  His tagline is Live Free and that’s what all his novels promote.

If you could write about anyone or anything fiction/nonfiction who or what would you write about?

Jennifer: In the first writing class I ever attended in 2006, the first question asked was “If you could write anything, what would you write?” We had a few minutes to figure it out. At the time, I’d only considered writing non-fiction. The thought of me writing a novel hadn’t really entered my mind.

I pondered for a moment, then wrote in my notebook, “I want to write an allegorical fantasy like Narnia or Lord of the Rings.” I’ve been working on this book, which I consider my magnum opus for several years now and am currently running it through a critique group. Maybe one day you’ll get to read it. 🙂

If you could spend time with a character from your book whom would it be? And what would you do during that day?

Jennifer: Wow. I love all my characters.  It would be a blast to hang out with Estelle Granger, the woman who creates Jessie’s wedding dress. Her quirky personality would make her so much fun to be around. We’d go eat pizza and then shop ’til we dropped…

Click to tweet: Debut novel: Jessie’s Hope by Jennifer Hallmark. Firefly Southern fiction. #BookGiveaway #amreading


June Blog Tour Giveaway Extravaganza-June 10th-June 30th

Prizes include:

  • $25 Amazon Gift Card
  • $10 Starbucks Gift Card
  • Print copy of Jessie’s Hope
  • 2 Kindle copies of Jessie’s Hope

Giveaway details: Go to my Rafflecopter Page to enter and possibly win one of five prizes to be drawn by Rafflecopter. Winners will be revealed on Jennifer’s blog on July 1st. You can only enter by visiting my June blog tour from June 10th until June 30th. My visits include:

June 13thJennifer Slattery Lives Out Loud
June 14thFavorite Friday Fiction
June 15thInspired Prompt
June 17thAuthor Trish Perry
June 17thSouthern Writers Magazine
June 18thAuthor Liz Tolsma
June 19thInspired Prompt
June 21stSnark & Sensibility/
June 24thFear Warrior
June 24thJune Foster
June 25thTrumpet Tuesdays
June 26thSeriously Write
June 28thHeartfelt, Homespun fiction/
June 29thThe Write Conversation/


Jessie’s Hope

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?

Amazon

Barnes and Noble


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 Fiction book collector.

And, at the moment, binge watcher of River Monsters. Welcome to my world!

You can find me at: my website, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and my monthly newsletter.

Jessie’s Hope by Jennifer Hallmark

Good morning, friends! Thank you for joining us on this lovely Saturday. We’re excited to have Inspired Prompt co-founder Jennifer Hallmark talking about her debut novel. Let’s begin!

Tell us a little about yourself.

Jennifer:  Well, I’m a 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 fiction book collector.

And most exciting of all at the moment, DEBUT AUTHOR. 🙂

What do you love most about the writing process?

Jennifer:  I love it when I have an idea and get in the “flow” of writing. I can’t type fast enough to keep up with my train of thought. I also enjoy going back and editing my work to make it the best it can be.

How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

Jennifer:  At the moment, I’ve almost finished the sequel to Jessie’s Hope and have ideas for a third book. I also have two other Southern fiction stories started.

Since I love fantasy, I’ve also written a hundred thousand word fantasy that I’m editing with a book two partly written.

To answer your question, way too many…

If you could give advice to your younger writing self, what would it be?

Jennifer:  Be careful when you pay someone to “help” you. I didn’t always spend my money wisely in the past. I also would’ve joined a writing group and went to a writing conference much earlier in my career. There’s nothing like having friends in the writing business.

What are common traps for aspiring writers?

Jennifer:  

  • Scams that seem to be the real thing. 
  • Thinking your writing doesn’t need editing.
  • Giving up too easily.
  • Not trying out many different types of writing.
  • Not turning to friends for help.

What does literary success look like to you?

Jennifer(1) Learning to enjoy the journey. Too often in my life I’ve focused on goals and missed the wonder during the trip.

(2) Earning the publisher back their money. I want to be a good steward of what’s been entrusted to me.

Future Projects or WIP you can talk about?

Jennifer:  I’m editing the sequel to Jessie’s Hope and also am sending my fantasy through the Word Weaver’s critique group, Page 20.

Great advice and thanks for stopping by today!

Click to Tweet: Author Jennifer Hallmark shares her writing advice, debut novel, and encouragment #amwriting  #Southern @InspiredPrompt

June Blog Tour Giveaway Extravaganza 

June 10th-June 30th

Prizes include:

  • $25 Amazon Gift Card
  • $10 Starbucks Gift Card
  • Print copy of Jessie’s Hope
  • 2 Kindle copies of Jessie’s Hope

Giveaway details: Go to my Rafflecopter Page to enter and possibly win one of five prizes to be drawn by Rafflecopter. Winners will be revealed on the author’s blog on July 1st. You can only enter by visiting my June blog tour from June 10th until June 30th. My visits include:

June 13thJennifer Slattery Lives Out Loud/

June 14thFavorite Friday Fiction

June 15thInspired Prompt

June 17thAuthor Trish Perry

June 17thSouthern Writers Magazine

June 18thAuthor Liz Tolsma

June 19thInspired Prompt

June 21stSnark & Sensibility/

June 24thFear Warrior/

June 24thAuthor June Foster

June 25thTrumpet Tuesdays

June 26thSeriously Write

June 28thHeartfelt, Homespun fiction/

June 29thThe Write Conversation/


Jessie’s Hope

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?

Amazon

Barnes and Noble


Jennifer Hallmark writes Southern fiction and her website, Alabama-Inspired Fiction, and the group blog, Inspired Prompt, she co-founded, focus on her books, love of the South, and helping writers. She’s published 200+ internet articles and interviews, short stories in several magazines, and has co-authored three book compilations. Her debut novel, Jessie’s Hope, will release in June of 2019.

When she isn’t babysitting or gardening, you can find her at her desk writing fiction or working on one of her two blogs.  She also loves reading detective fiction from the Golden Age and viewing movies like LOTR or Star Wars. Sometimes you can even catch her watching American Ninja Warrior.

Visit Jennifer at her blogFacebookFB author pageTwitterPinterest, and her Amazon page.

Four Tips on Landing and Working with a Traditional Publisher

By Jennifer Hallmark

I stared at the typed manuscript on my desk. It represented over a year of work. Traditional publishing or Indie publishing? Or vanity press? Though I was a newbie, I needed to make a decision. I knew very little about the publishing business. No, scratch that. I knew nothing at all.

I’d been writing my first novel and loving every minute of it. It sang, it soared, it was perfect. (Yes, I can hear you laughing from here)

A person from a vanity press approached me and offered to publish my wonderful 100,000 word work in progress which had no genre, no edits, and no formatting whatsoever. I’d been praying ever since I started writing for God to show me what to do. I was clueless and not ignorant of that fact.

So, when this opportunity presented itself, I went back to prayer. The only words that seemed to resonate inside of me were “Follow the traditional road.” I was a bit sad at the time. I mean, look at what the world was missing by me not putting my novel out there.

*Shaking head.*

What did I know about traditional publishing? Nada. I began to study all the types of publishing, taking online courses, reading writing craft books, and attending writing workshops, groups, and conferences. It didn’t take me long to figure out what a mistake I’d almost made. I kept following the traditional road the best I could and here I am, thirteen years later, about to release my debut, traditionally published novel.

Click to tweet: Four tips on landing and working with a traditional publisher. #publishing #amwriting @Inspiredprompt

If the traditional road is one you’d like to follow, don’t despair. It shouldn’t take you as long as it did me. Let me share four tips that will make a difference in your journey:

  1. Know the publisher. When I first started, I just sent my novels to publisher’s names I liked and gave little thought to what they wanted. I did get some helpful criticism back from several publishers but nothing else. When I finished my novel, Jessie’s Hope, I diligently studied the publisher I had set my sights on, Firefly Southern Fiction. I studied their guidelines until I could say them in my sleep. And I read several books by Firefly.
  2. Get your manuscript edited. Whether you hire a freelance editor, join a critique group, or find a critique partner, get another set of eyes on your work. I ran Jessie’s Hope through a critique group first, then had an editor friend give it a once over. I wanted it to be as polished as I could make it.
  3. Meet said editor or publisher. One way you can meet them is online. You can visit their site, read all their blog posts, and comment until they recognize you. I found out that the Firefly editor, Eva Marie Everson, was going to be at a conference near me and I made plans to go. I made an appointment to meet with her and also took all of her classes. I needed to learn what she was looking for in a more personal way.
  4. Submit your work. Finally, at the conference, I showed her a bit of my work and also explained the trouble I was experiencing in learning deep POV. She ripped my first pages to shreds as she taught me first-hand about deep POV both in our meeting and during class. She asked for a longer submission to be sent to her email and two months later told me the story intrigued her. But I had to first take a chance and submit or I would have never known it had potential.

After the good news, I started snoopy dancing. But then she had one of her beta readers read the full manuscript and tell me all the problems it had. I worked hard over the next two years and resubmitted it in 2017. She accepted the manuscript and on June 17, my dream of being a traditionally published author will come true.

Eleven and a half years after I made the decision to follow this road. I’m sure glad I didn’t know in the beginning how long it would take or I’d have probably given up.

Now which road should you take? Indie publishing has come a long way since I started writing. I believe God understood my lack of patience and desire to see my work in print and the fact that I would regret publishing too soon. He pointed to the traditional road and for me, it was the right one.

I suggest you prayerfully look into both ways of getting your work into print. (I purposely left out the third way. Don’t use a vanity press.) Do some research into both methods. Use my four tips with a publishing house that you feel a connection to and see what happens. You never know until you take that step.

In leiu of a writing prompt:

Question time. Ask me a question in the comments and I’ll try to answer it or find an answer for you.

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)…