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.

Devotion Writing: Journeying to Publication

By Martin Wiles

Every writer wants their name in the publication light—and better yet, to get paid for it. I was no different.

Prior to 2009, I had written little, and published even less. Just a few poems here and there, and only one that I remember getting paid for. Then my father unexpectedly died, and things changed. What connection his death had to my seriousness about writing, I’ve never been able to determine. I only know my attitude changed. The genre I chose was devotions. Not as popular as fiction, but read by many just the same. And I had enough experiences under my belt to write them.

But merely writing them wasn’t enough. If no one else read them, what was the purpose of doing what I felt God leading me to do? I began looking for places to submit my devotions, hoping to get a few published. If I got paid a little along the way, that would be great too.

Of course, I began with what I call the little g, Google. One of the first hits was a place named Christian Devotions. They didn’t pay, but pay didn’t concern me so much. I just wanted to do what God told me to do—and see my name in print somewhere as an added bonus.

Cindy Sproles was the executive editor of Christian Devotions, and, at the time, the ministry was small and she was helping writers develop their skills. Like most inexperienced writers, I thought my devotion was perfect as written the first time. She thought differently. I recall the gist of her response: “Martin, the heart of your devotion is good, but it needs work before it’s ready for publication.”

The work entailed more than I imagined. For one, I had to stop preaching. (At the time, I was a preacher.) I also had to avoid the “that” trap and stop using so much passive voice. After several revisions—revisions I thought I’d never finish—she finally accepted my devotion.

I continued to write for Christian Devotions and also to search for other places to submit my devotions. I had a few published along the way, and was even paid for some. I also became a member of the five o’clock club—the a.m. one. Six days each week, I wrote a devotion. Before I knew it, I had several years’ worth of devotions.

I need to write a book of devotions, I thought. Unfortunately, I knew little about the publishing industry or about the scams that circulate within it. I suppose the company I settled with for three books—two devotionals and one commentary—was close to what I now know as a vanity press. Although they didn’t charge me anything to publish my books—and they did design my covers and list my books on Amazon—they didn’t edit my work or do any marketing for me. I later discovered they accept almost any manuscript sent to them and publish it as is. Since the books were so large, the price was prohibitive. Apart from those I sold to individuals, only a couple were sold on Amazon. I needed another avenue.

Shortly after this fiasco, I attended Writer’s Boot Camp (now Asheville Christian Writer’s Conference), directed by Cindy Sproles and Eddie Jones, co-founders of Christian Devotions website. Eddie had also begun a new adventure: Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. His heart’s desire was to help authors get started and to produce quality books from a small publishing house.

Having met Eddie at the conferences a couple of times, I decided to send him a manuscript—365 days’ worth of devotions. By this time, my writing had improved, and, amazingly, he accepted my manuscript … with limitations. A years’ worth of devotions was too much, the book would be too large and costly, and very few would buy it. He suggested we split it up into smaller portions, perhaps as many as three books. Then, he proffered a Southern theme that became Grits, Grace, and God in 2013 and Grits, Gumbo, and Going to Church in 2016.

I was excited, to say the least, because I knew he didn’t accept every manuscript sent his way. I also knew they assigned each contracted writer an editor to work with, that they designed nice covers, and that they performed a fair amount of marketing at no cost to the author.

My editor, and now a good friend, was ruthless, but kind. Together, we produced two books I was proud to put on the market.

While I’m proud of my list of publication credits—and thank God for each one—not everything I’ve written has been accepted. My rejection scroll rolls out much longer than my acceptance one does. Such as the historical novel I spent months writing and rewriting. No publisher will touch it. It now rests lovingly on one of my book shelves where it may never see the light of the publishing world.

I recently signed another devotional book contract with Ambassador International. I look forward to what God will do through this book and to the long process that will precede publication. One thing publication has taught me is patience.

Because I believe God wants us to channel His grace and mercy, I now use what I’ve learned about the writing and publication process to help other writers and authors who are just beginning the journey.

And that editor who bled all over the first devotion I sent her? I’m now her Managing Editor and helping other writers the same way she once helped me. And the CEO of the publishing company who published my first book? I’m now one of his assistant editors also. God surely works in mysterious ways.

Click to tweet: I believe God wants us to channel His grace and mercy, and now use what I’ve learned about the writing and publication process to help other writers and authors who are just beginning the journey. #devotions #amwriting


Martin Wiles lives in Greenwood, SC, and is the founder of Love Lines from God. (www.lovelinesfromgod.com). He is a freelance editor, English teacher, and author. He serves as Managing Editor for Christian Devotions and as an assistant editor for Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. He is the author of five books and has been published in numerous publications.

 


Grits, Grace, and God

Grace & Grits & God offers personal insights and practical tips for dealing with life’s challenges, loses, and setbacks. As a pastor, Martin Wiles knows about tough times. He’s seen it in the faces of his parishioners—and his own. Find God’s spiritual truths in your daily challenges. Turn loses and setbacks into step-ups. Dish out blessings to others from your scraps. Show grit, love with grace, and trust God through the hard times and at all times.

Grits, Gumbo, and Going to Church

If you’re struggling with the real meaning of going to church and following Christ, then Grits, Gumbo, and Going to Church is for you. Martin Wiles has been in the pew or the pulpit his whole life. He has experienced the best and the worst in the church. He knows it can be a place of pain or a place of blessing.

Christian Devotions: The Birthing of a Ministry

By Cindy K. Sproles
Acquisitions Editor
Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas

Christian Devotions Ministries was born in August of 2008. We became a 501c3 shortly after our inception. God called two friends together to make this ministry happen and it came about like this:

Eddie Jones and I met at Blue Ridge Christian Writers Conference and it was there we both sat across the table from editors and publishers handing out the same responses. No experience. Not only us, but many others new to the industry simply didn’t have the experience necessary to rise to publication at that time. We were good with that, understanding that new writers have to learn to write before they can become published so our prayer became, “Lord will you allow us to provide the opportunity for new writers to gain their first publication credit? Will you help us build a reputation of goodness, kindness, and willingness to teach others? Will you groom our writing so that we might be able to share your word to the world? And finally, will you grant us the opportunity to get to know publishers, agents, and editors so that we might gain the platform necessary to be able to offer this to others?”

I’m not sure why we were surprised, but God did answer yes to all our requests and www.ChristianDevotions.us was born. Currently, we publish devotions daily year round. Our goal is to help new writers gain that first publication credit and have it mean something in the industry. We work to mentor writers as they send us submissions, grooming them to write a touching and impactful devotion that can be used on the website and distributed worldwide.

Christian Devotions now is home to over 800 authors, many who continue to submit to the site as well as a continual flow of new, unpublished authors on a daily basis. We are blessed God saw the potential in us and this work to bless us. The daily devotional ministry reaches some 171 countries and emails over 20K emails weekly to our subscriber list. Folks and receive the devotions free of charge by going to the site and signing up in the email box. Christian Devotions holds the Asheville Christian Writers Conference each February at the Cove, the Billy Graham Training Center, in Asheville, NC with an amazing faculty each year. We welcome all writers to the conference and offer tracks for both new and seasoned writers. www.ashevillechristianwritersconference.com

Christian Devotions also has www.DevoKids.com – our site for homeschooling families as well as children from 5-10 years old.  Then for adults who are looking for a place of encouragement, we offer InspireAFire.com.

Next to ChristianDevotions.us comes our blog talk radio show www.christiandevotionsspeakup.com hosted by Scott McCausey. Visit the Speak Up site and listen to hundreds of amazing interviews from theologians, sports figures, Christian music artists, and even actors. Scott talks with them all about the impact God has had in their lives.All that to say, Christian Devotions Ministries is well rounded. We have something for everyone.

God has blessed us by growing the ministry of Christian Devotions greater than we ever imagined, but then our God is greater than we can imagine anyway. For those who want to submit to ChristianDevotions.us, visit our site at www.christiandevotions.us, click on the tab that says Write for Us, and download our guidelines and the sample devotions that teach you how we write devotions for the website. You may submit to christiandevotionsministries@gmail.com. Our Managing Editor is Martin Wiles.

Visit us at any of our sites. Invite us to your conference. Spread the word about the daily devotions and help us make a greater impact on a hurting world.


Cindy K. Sproles  is an author and speaker. She is the cofounder of Christian Devotions Ministries and the cowriter of the popular He Said, She Said Devotions written with her cofounder, Eddie Jones. She is a novelist and best-selling author. Cindy’s devotions and articles are published in Christian newspapers across the eastern seaboard, including having been used to represent legislature for protection of the elderly. She is a speaker to women’s conferences addressing not only the heart of women, but also their biblical responsibilities to their families.

As a teacher and speaker for Christian Writers Conferences, Cindy teaches writing skills and how to write placing God in the forefront.  She is a contributing author to CBN.com and is the Executive Editor for www.christiandevotions.us and the Managing Editor for Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas’ imprints: SonRise Devotionals and Straight Street Books. She is a certified life coach and mentor, an eldercare specialist and a special needs advocate. Her book, New Sheets – Thirty Days to Refine You Into the Woman You Can Be is being used to help raise funds for Hope House, an abortion crisis center and her novel, Mercy’s Rain, is giving a voice to children who suffer sexual child abuse. Cindy is also the coauthor of He Said, She Said – A  Devotional Guide to Cultivating a Life of  Passion.

She is the mother of four adult sons and  lives in the mountains of East Tennessee with her husband. Cindy can be contacted at www.cindysproles.com or by emailing cindyksproles@gmail.com.

Working With the Industry: Meet Jr. Agent Hope Bolinger

Hello, friends! In the writing world, it’s good to know about the industry and the people who work there. Today, I interview Hope Bolinger, Jr. Agent at Hartline Literary Agency. You’ll enjoy hearing what she has to say in response to our thought-provoking questions–Jennifer

Writer journaling in a book

Hi, Hope! Please tell our readers, what is an agent’s purpose?

Hope: Essentially, being an agent boils down to two things: coach and cheerleader. We want to steer our clients in the best direction in the publishing industry. We pinpoint snags in contracts and try to help them attain the best deals possible for their books. We also want to be the author’s biggest advocate when approaching publishers. We don’t take on clients unless we love their work because we have to sell it again with equal or more vigor to the industry professionals who can help make their dreams become a reality.

How hard is it to be an agent in today’s publishing industry?

Hope: It’s difficult in the aspect that publishers are inundated with hundreds, thousands of manuscripts. Even as an agent, you have a lot of competition with other agents who are trying to help authors break into the industry. I will say it becomes easier the more you connect with editors at writing conferences and in one-on-one meetings. In the traditional publishing world, especially with the biggest houses, an agent is almost a  necessity.

What three things can a new author do to catch the attention of an agent?

Hope: Great question. I would boil it down to this:

(1) Meet the agent in person if possible. I remember the authors most who pitched to me at writer’s conferences or talked with me after a session. Follow-up emails from conferences are extremely helpful as well.

(2) Make that first page shine. I can usually tell by the first chapter whether or not the client would be a good fit. If the third chapter has good writing, but the first chapter or prologue (please don’t send us your prologues) is an information dump, we’re less inclined to want to take you on.

(3) Build platform before sending your books to us or to a publisher. Especially in nonfiction. It breaks my heart when I have a client with an excellent book, but the publisher turns it down because the author doesn’t have a large enough platform.

What three things can a new author do that will discourage an agent?

Hope: This will be harder to funnel into three main points, but I would say the number one problem I have is an author who comes off as a stalker. As agents, we look for authors who can strike a balance between professional and personal, but the latter half often seeps through more than the former. For instance, we’ve gotten love letters from queries before (even to some of our agents who are married.) 

Second, an author who swings to one of two extremes on platform. We have those who say, “I have no social media whatsoever.” And then we have authors who think they’re hot stuff. Show us all the platform you’ve accumulated, but don’t come off as arrogant or as if agents are doing you a favor. We want this to be a partnership that can last for several years, or even a lifetime.

Third, sending several emails to the agent at once. It’s best to send all the submission materials (Please don’t send all twelve of your books to us at once!) in one email. You can follow-up after 6-8 weeks, or whatever the certain agent has listed on his or her website. But agents receive literally hundreds of emails a day. If twelve of them are from you, they will be less inclined to take you on.

 5. Are you open for submissions? What are you looking for?

Hope: I am personally open for submissions (some of the agents at C.Y.L.E. are closed right now). I do a mix of fiction and nonfiction, but my sweet spots are YA (Young Adult), MG (Middle Grade),  Historical (especially anything ancient), Thriller, and Humor. I’m especially looking to sell in the ABA markets (American Bookseller Association.) Please no memoir (unless you have a significant platform), horror, self-published books, poetry, stage plays, or erotica. If you have a submission you think would be a good fit, send a query to hope@cyleyoung.co

Thanks so much, Hope for all the great advice. And readers, make sure you keep a watch for Hope’s novel, Den, to be released by Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas, June 3, 2019

Check here for details about the progress of her book: http://www.illuminateya.com/books/comingsoon/den/

Click to tweet: What three things can a new author do to catch the attention of an agent? Hartline Literary Agency Jr. Agent, Hope Bolinger, answers this question and many more. #WritersLife #amwriting


Den

Danny was told sophomore year was supposed to be stressful . . . but he didn’t expect his school to burn down on the first day.

To add to his sophomore woes, he—and his three best friends—receive an email in their inboxes from the principal of their rival, King’s Academy, offering full-rides to attend the prestigious boarding school. Danny says no. His overbearing mother says yes. So off he goes.

From day one at King’s, Danny encounters horrible hazing initiations, girls who like to pick other people’s scabs, and cafeteria food that could turn the strongest stomachs sour. As he attempts to survive, he will have to face his fears or fall prey to the King’s Academy lions.


ABOUT HOPE BOLINGER

Literary Agent. Published Novelist.

Hope wants to help authors understand the publishing industry.

Since she started writing novels at 16, she’s been trying to crack the tricky code of how to catch an editor’s eye. She’s learned a lot along the way and wants to help authors find an in in this crazy industry.

Hope Bolinger is a professional writing major at Taylor University. She has served in various roles at IlluminateYA Fiction, Hartline Literary Agency, N 2 Publishing, and The Echo. Over 200 of her works (plays, poems, articles) have appeared in various publications. Her most recent success is having her YA novel Den contracted by Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas, scheduled to release June 3, 2019.

Healing Love by Jennifer Slattery

I’m so happy to welcome back to the blog, my good friend, author/editor/ministry leader, Jennifer Slattery. She has helped and encouraged me so often!  So what’s she up to these days? Her sixth novel, Healing Love

Tell us a little about yourself and your background.

Jennifer:  Oh, my. This could take a while. Let’s see. When  I was three … Just kidding. I live in Papillion, a fun suburb of Omaha, but I’m originally from the west coast. I miss the mountains, ocean, and evergreen trees, but I’ve fallen in love with snowy winters and all the colors that come in fall. I’ve been married for … (I always have to stop and think. Terrible, right?) 22 years??? My husband and I had a bit of a rocky beginning, but God turned everything around and has been drawing us closer to one another (and to Him!) ever since. Love my man! Love my God!

What genre are your books? What draws you to this genre?

Jennifer:  My books fall in between two genres—women’s fiction and romance. I’ve been told they’re similar to Nicholas Sparks books. I’m not sure what draws me to this genre. I just write the stories I feel God has laid on my heart. Sometimes, those are pure fun and silly, other times they go deeper. Really, I just love writing and losing myself in a world of my own creating.

Do you work to an outline or prefer to see where an idea takes you?

Jennifer:  I feel this is changing somewhat, and I’m not sure what I’ve landed on. Originally, I just wrote and let the story take me wherever. But then I got myself into a mess. My timeline was totally off, things unfolded too quickly, and others not quickly enough. I figured I’d save a lot of headache if I started writing by outline.

I wrote six novels that way, but recently, I decided I just wanted to have fun. I didn’t want to worry so much about where my story was going; I just wanted to enjoy the process. The result—a book that was a hybrid between plotting and pantsing. 🙂 We’ll see if it ever makes it to print.

What is the hardest thing about writing?

Jennifer:    Hmm … I think sometimes the pressure; I worry that I’ll let people down. This is something I have to fight, and remind myself that I write for Christ and am enough in Him, regardless of what I produce. I’m also usually convinced whatever story I’m working on stinks, so then I have to push through the desire to toss it and my computer in the trash. Haha! So I guess I would answer, how it can trigger one’s insecurities and bring them to the surface.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

Jennifer: I have no idea. I try not to presume on my future. So much of my life has not gone as I “planned” and in the unplanned, so much good has happened. I may shift to more nonfiction, I may write lighter, fun stories. I’m six classes away from a ministry degree, so I may seek employment in a church somewhere. Ultimately, I want to be in tune with whatever God desires and however He leads, because He knows best.

Thanks for dropping by, Jennifer!


Healing Love

A news anchor intern has it all planned out, and love isn’t on the agenda.

Brooke Endress is on the cusp of her lifelong dream when her younger sister persuades her to chaperone a mission trip to El Salvador. Packing enough hand sanitizer and bug spray to single-handedly wipe out malaria, she embarks on what she hopes will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

But Brooke is blindsided by the desperation for hope and love she sees in the orphans’ eyes. And no less by the connection she feels with her handsome translator. As newfound passion blooms, Brooke wrestles with its implications for her career dreams.

Ubaldo Chavez, teacher and translator, knows the struggle that comes with generational poverty. But he found the way out-education-and is determined to help his students rise above.

When he agrees to translate for a mission team from the United States he expects to encounter a bunch of “missional tourists” full of empty promises. Yet an American news anchor defies his expectations, and he finds himself falling in love. But what does he have to offer someone with everything?


Author, speaker, and ministry leader Jennifer Slattery writes for Crosswalk.com and is the managing and acquiring editor for Guiding Light Women’s Fiction, an imprint with Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. She believes fiction has the power to transform lives and change the culture.

Healing Love is her sixth novel, and it was birthed during a trip she and her family took to El Salvador that opened her eyes to the reality of generational poverty and sparked a love for orphans and all who’ve experienced loss.

Her deepest passion is to help women experience God’s love and discover, embrace, and live out who they are in Christ. As the founder of Wholly Loved Ministries, she travels with her team to various churches to speak to women and help them experience the love and freedom only Christ can offer. When not writing, editing, or speaking, you’ll likely find her chatting with her friends or husband in a quiet, cozy coffeehouse. Visit her online at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud.com and connect with her and her Wholly Loved team at WhollyLoved.com.