Inspired Prompt: Abundance in 2020

By Jennifer Hallmark

You crown the year with your bounty; your wagon tracks overflow with abundance. The pastures of the wilderness overflow, the hills gird themselves with joy, the meadows clothe themselves with flocks, the valleys deck themselves with grain, they shout and sing together for joy.” Psalm 65: 11-13 ESV

Hello, friends of Inspired Prompt! It’s hard to believe that 2019 has almost come to an end. And we’re going to begin a new decade…2020.

It’ll be a year of an abundance of great articles, guest posts, and interviews to help you along your writing journey with Betty, Gail, Shirley, Tammy, Fay, Harriet, Carlton, Bonita, Karen, Cammi, Kristy, and myself. We want to help YOU be all you can be when it comes to putting words on paper.

2020 is going to be our best year yet. We will explore such topics as:

  1. Staying fit for the long run.
  2. Classic love stories.
  3. Writing nonfiction.
  4. Short interviews with people in the industry.
  5. Historical fiction.
  6. Marketing

And so much more! Join us for our Monday and Friday posts on the topic of the month and our fun Wednesday interviews.

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!

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…

3 Questions Wednesday with Leigh Ann Thomas

Hello, friends! Today, I’d like to introduce you to my friend, author Leigh Ann Thomas.

Welcome! Tell us, who is your favorite author?

Leigh Ann: Oh, this is tough! I have favorites in different genres. For example, in women’s fiction, I love to devour novels by Eva Marie Everson or Deborah Raney.  If I need a suspenseful rush, I reach for the works of Lynette Eason, Jodie Bailey, or DiAnn Mills. But if I must choose, there’s one author I read every day.  Oswald Chambers challenges my thought processes and points me to Jesus. I love his voice and his passion for God.

A great choice. Now…

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

Leigh Ann: If my mind worked like Steven James or Lynette Eason’s, I would love to explore the world of mystery/suspense. I’m fascinated by the way suspense authors weave a complicated tapestry and bit by bit, reveal these crazy-tangled layers underneath a story.  Amazing!

I don’t see how they do it

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

Leigh Ann: I was fascinated with Ted Dekker’s early works, including The Circle Trilogy (before Green came along). I would love to spend a day exploring the Colored Forest with Thomas Hunter and Rachelle. The author paints with such vivid strokes, and if I’m enjoying a breath-taking autumn scene, I sometimes make believe I’m in Dekker’s imaginary forest of intense color.

Make-believe is a writer’s bread and butter 🙂

Click to tweet: 3 Questions Wednesday with Leigh Ann Thomas. Learn about her new book, Smack-Dab in the Midlife Zone. #authorslife #amreading

Readers, if you’d like a chance to win a copy of Leigh Ann’s book,  Smack-Dab in the Midlife Zone, leave her a comment below. Keep reading for information about the book. Don’t forget to leave a comment or ask Leigh Ann a question!

 


Smack-Dab in the Midlife Zone

The infamous middle years:

  • Children move through school, fly the coop, and return home bringing more children
  • “Natural” highlights are—in reality—gray hairs
  • Clothes-shopping in Juniors brings guilt and undergarments get sturdier
  • Children need us less, parents need us more
  • Questions abound: Who is that woman in the mirror? What is my purpose? Where do I fit in? What now, Lord?

Over 40? No problem. With joy and transparency, Smack-Dab in the Midlife Zone uses scripture, prayer, and the power of story to show women in midlife how being smack-dab in the middle of God’s plans and purposes is the best place to be.

With the Lord’s guidance, this packed-with-transition life season can be infused with growth, discovery, and edge-of-your-seat adventure!


Leigh Ann Thomas is passionate about encouraging women to seek God’s best. She has penned four books, including Smack-Dab in the Midlife Zone: Inspiration for Women in the Middle and is a contributing author in 12 compilations. A staff writer for the parenting sites, InTheQuiver.com and Just18Summers.com, Leigh Ann has also contributed to Southern Writers Magazine, Power for Living, Charisma Magazine, and others.

She is married to her best friend, Roy, and they are thankful for the gifts of three daughters, two sons-in-law, three amazing grandsons and a grand-princess.

Website

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Amazon author page

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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

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.