Can Blogging and Fun Go Together?

By Jennifer Hallmark

Blogging enjoyable? I see y’all shaking your head right now. No way, no how. I’m part of several online and in-person writing groups and when blogging is mentioned, eyes roll and people shiver.

“I can’t think of enough to write about.”

“I forget when I get busy.”

“I don’t think it makes a difference.”

“No one reads my blog except my mom and Aunt Suzie.”

After several years of mindless and inconsistent journaling, I stopped. I dreaded blogging and what I wrote was rambling at best and confusing at times. It was time to go to God. After all, He created the people who invented blogging so maybe He could help me out.

I quit blogging and told Him about all my shortcomings, failures, and irregularities in my blogging world. Then I listened. It took some time but what finally came to mind was this: my blogging pointed to me. All about me. Me. Me. Me.

Oh.

He whispered in my soul about how others had helped me get my start in the craft, especially writers. I went to two of my critique group friends, Betty Thomason Owens and Christina Rich and laid out my heart. I wanted to give back to writers. How could I do this and would they like to be a part? They graciously agreed. Christina did the tech work, Betty edited, and I thought up ideas. 🙂

We brainstormed and decided on a blog that would spark the imagination through writing prompts. We would blog on various subjects—flowers, animals, sports, the Olympics—A plethora of topics with a writing prompt that might help someone who needed a little help. Our first post introducing our blog, Writing Prompts, Thoughts, & Ideas: Oh My! went live on April 28th, 2012.

Cue the crickets. We had a tiny following. We had contests for writing stories using our prompts and grew a tad. I went back to God. What were we doing wrong?

Nothing in the fundamentals.  But we could help writers even more by promoting them. Their books. Or blogs. And we wouldn’t worry whether theirs was a self-published book they wrote for their family or a best-seller. Our only stipulation: fairly clean reads.

Everyone did reviews and interviews so we came up with 3 Questions Wednesday. 3 simple questions and we’d promote the writer and whatever they wanted to promote. Our first guest was Jordyn Redwood. From there, the blog grew stronger. We had all types of guests from all writing levels and walks of life.

I started really having fun. I enjoyed meeting all the new people. We started adding bloggers and I met more neat writers. Books I never heard of before became part of my library. Writers and even publishers were coming to me, asking to be a guest on our blog.

We added Saturday interviews. We grew and by 2017, five years from the start, we were garnering shares, comments, and attention. Our blog morphed once more by honing in our focus on specific writers: Indie published and new to the writing world.

Now, please understand blogging is still hard work. At times, I wrestle with tech issues and want to throw my desktop in the yard. I grow tired and don’t always want to write my posts. I forget to do things on occasions.

But I’m having fun. I believe we’re making a difference.

My advice? Follow the Golden Rule. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Take your eyes off yourself and be a blessing to others. Invite others to come along for the ride. You’ll make new friends. You could start to smile when you blog.

You might even have fun.

Click to tweet: Can Blogging and Fun Go Together? One blogger’s thoughts. #blogging #amwriting

3 Questions Wednesday with Sara L. Foust

Happy Wednesday! Sara Foust is filling our last interview of the year and we are excited to introduce her debut novel, Callum’s Compass. Her novel won second place in Deep River Books’ 2017 Writer’s Contest…

So, without further ado, Sara, here’s your first question:

What inspires you?

Sara:  My faith. My family. Nature.

A good trio to pull inspiration from. 🙂

You’re a new addition to the crayon box. What color would you be and why?

Sara:  Evergreen. It reminds me of the greenery on the mountains of East TN. And it is steady, a strong color. I hope I am strong too.

A great choice! Just the name evokes a strong foundation lasting into eternity. Last question: 

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Sara:   I went through a lot of careers. I think the first was a veterinarian. But by second grade, I wanted to be an author. I drifted from being an author as I grew because it seemed so impossibly hard and scary. I am very thankful that God has allowed me to return to my truest passion.

That’s wonderful! God knows the desires of our heart. Thanks so much for dropping by, Sara.

Click to tweet:  Check out Sara L. Foust and her debut novel, Callum’s Compass. @InspiredPrompt #Tennessee #fiction

Sara is graciously offering a giveaway of her book, Callum’s Compass. E-book or paperback. (Paperback available only to residents within the U.S.) Make sure to leave a comment to be entered to win…


Callum’s Compass

 KAT WILLIAMS’S brother died in a gruesome accident in the mountains of East Tennessee. She blames herself.

RYAN JENKINS’S fiancée was murdered. He couldn’t protect her.

With the death of her brother, Kat believes she is unworthy of love from anyone—even God. When a good friend elicits a promise that she will stop living in the past and then leaves her clues to a real-life treasure hunt, Kat embarks on an adventure chock-full of danger. To find the treasure, Kat will have to survive wild animals—and even wilder men. Can she rely on Ryan, the handsome wildlife officer assigned to protect her . . . without falling in love?

Ryan swore off love when his fiancée was murdered, but feelings long-buried rise to the surface around Kat. He volunteers to help with her treasure hunt, vowing to keep her safe. Together they venture deep into caves and tunnels . . . and even deeper into the depths of their unplumbed hearts.


Sara L. Foust writes Inspirational Romantic Suspense from a mini-farm in East Tennessee, where she lives with her husband and their five homeschooled children. She earned her Bachelor’s degree from the University of Tennessee and is a member of ACFW and Tennessee Mountain Writers. Callum’s Compass won second place in Deep River Books’ 2017 Writer’s Contest.

Sara also has a story, “Leap of Faith,” in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Step Outside Your Comfort Zone. Gain access to a FREE digital scrapbook detailing some real-life places from Callum’s Compass by signing up for her newsletter: www.saralfoust.com.


Christmas in Our Hearts

by Betty Owens

The wonderful thing about Christmas is…it’s the only one. (Adapted from the Tigger song).

Yes, there’s only one Christmas, and it comes once a year. I hear some of you shouting, “hallelujah!”

For many of us, the hectic Christmas season can be overwhelming, especially lately, when it seems to last the entire final quarter of the year. However, it’s still a magical, joyous time.

Christmas is one of those seasons that’s new every year–no matter how many traditions you carry over from previous years, there’s always something that’s new and precious.I tend to associate memories with sounds and aromas. Sounds, like the bells of a nearby church tolling seasonal tunes, send me back to my childhood home in San Diego, near the mission at Balboa. Aromas, like molasses cookies baking in the oven, mixed with the fresh scent of pine from the Christmas tree remind me of home. With the visual of old-fashioned Christmas bulbs reflected off shiny glass ornaments—I can almost hear the crackle of excitement in the air, as memories come rushing in.

I didn’t grow up in an overly religious home, so I didn’t always associate Christmas with church services and worship. But, we sang the beautiful carols and hymns I came to love and cherish. It Came Upon a Midnight Clear, Angels We Have Heard on High, O Come All Ye Faithful, are a few of my favorites.

As a young teen, after I accepted a friend’s invitation to join her church’s Christmas choir, I was hooked. Something began to change in my heart, making room for the Savior, and the story of His birth.

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.~John 1:14 NIV

Christmas took on a new and special meaning, so much deeper and more satisfying than the beloved fairy tale story of St. Nicholas. [Click to tweet]

We’ve had some wonderful posts this December, as our crew members have shared their hearts and warmed ours with beautiful moments, and priceless memories. Taken as a whole, these messages combine to relate the true meaning behind Christmas, and confirm our beliefs in the One born on that first Christmas Eve. I’ve linked them here, if you’d like to re-read them.

December: It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

Micki Clark’s Christmas Traditions

A Glimpse of Christ

It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas; The Reason for the Season

‘Twas the Night before Christmas

What Christmas Means to Me

Now, it’s your turn. What’s your all-time favorite Christmas memory or tradition? What sets your heart aglow as the day approaches? We welcome you to join the conversation. You’re the reason we write, and we love to hear from you.

From our homes to yours, may you have a wonderful, blessed holiday season!

The Writing Prompts Crew

3 Questions Wednesday with Suzy Parish

Welcome to 3 Questions Wednesday!

Suzy Parish discovered her love of books as a child in Richmond, Virginia when she took refuge from the summer heat in the local Bookmobile. She believes in the power of literacy to improve the lives of individuals and stewards a Little Free Library in a local park. Way to go, Suzy! So, with that in mind, let’s see how she answers our 3 questions.

Question: What inspires you?

Suzy:  Reading stories of hope and triumph over life’s trials. That inspired the tagline “Hope blooms in unexpected places.” True heroes inspire the heroes in my fiction.

Hope and heroes just go together somehow 🙂

Just for fun–You’re a new addition to the crayon box. What color would you be and why?

Suzy:  Forest Green. It’s been my favorite color since I was a little girl. I love nature, and the color green reminds me of life and resurrection.

Good choice. Green is definitely a color of life and rebirth.

Final Question–As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Suzy: I was full of questions as a child. That untamed curiosity led me to investigate a wide range of professions, including a veterinarian, Bible translator, writer, and artist. I believe that character trait helped me become a better researcher. But I never really had a single occupation in mind. If asked, I would have said all of them.

Curiosity is a must in a writer. Thank you, Suzy,  for visiting 3 Questions Wednesday.

Readers, here’s more about Suzy and her books–


Suzy Parish is an author at Pelican Book Group. Suzy wrote as a Community Columnist for the Huntsville Times. She is currently a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW).

Her novel, Flowers from Afghanistan was a semi-finalist in the Genesis contest for 2013. Suzy discovered her love of books as a child in Richmond, Virginia when she took refuge from the summer heat in the local Bookmobile. She believes in the power of literacy to improve the lives of individuals and stewards a Little Free Library in a local park. Suzy currently resides in Huntsville, Alabama with her husband, Chet. Her tennis-ball addicted dog Charlie keeps her life filled with daily mayhem.

Suzy’s debut novel, Flowers from Afghanistan will be released in 2018.

Click to Tweet: Find out how author Suzy Parish answered our 3 Questions! #military #fiction


 Flowers From Afghanistan

Weighed down by guilt following the death of his two-year-old son, Mac McCann accepts a year-long position training police officers in Afghanistan. Leaving his wife Sophie to grieve alone, he hopes the life-or-death distractions of his self-imposed exile will build a wall between him and his pain.

As camaraderie builds between Mac and the men on base—including a local barber and his precocious little boy—Mac’s heart becomes invested in stories beyond his own tragedy and he learns he is not the only one running from loss. But when the hour of attack arrives, will he be able to see past his guilt to believe there’s still something—and someone—worth living for?

With touching details based on true events, Flowers from Afghanistan is a redemptive journey of healing, a chronicle of hope in crisis, and a testament to the faithfulness of God through it all. Save

Grand Prize Winners of Our Once Upon a Christmas Giveaway III


Wow. Christmas is truly just around the corner. I still have shopping to do, blog posts to write, and cookies to bake. Not to mention parties to attend and family get-togethers, well, to get together. But let’s take a moment to pause and let y’all know who won our Once Upon A Christmas Giveaway III.

 

Once Upon a Christmas Giveaway

We offered three sets of prizes for our grand prize winners.

First giveaway prize package – $25 Barnes and Noble gift card, Books Adored: 365 Devotions for Young Women (hardback) and The Reason by William Sirls (paperback)

Second giveaway prize package– $25 Starbucks gift card, Books The Tilting Leaves of Autumn by Robin E. Mason (signed paperback) and Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Dating Game (paperback)

Third giveaway prize package – $25 Subway gift card, jewelry, Books A Perfect Fit by Karen Jurgens (ebook) and The Whisper of the Palms by Harriet E. Michael (paperback)

Now the moment you are all waiting for:

drum rollWe are happy to announce three big winners:

(1)First giveaway- Laura Zimmerman

(2)Second giveaway-Sonnetta Jones

(3)Third giveaway-Sum Dietzel

Congratulations to all our winners! We’ll be getting in touch with you soon so we can send those gifts to you. A big thank you to everyone that entered. It was by far our best contest yet…

Stay tuned to all the big changes ahead in 2018…And don’t forget our weekly 3 Questions Wednesday interviews.

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