Jennifer Hallmark – Authorview

I met Jennifer Hallmark on the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) Scribes loop. After working together for a while, she invited me to become a co-writer on a blog she’d started with another member of the Scribes loop, Writing Prompts &Thoughts & Ideas…Oh My! She wanted to inspire writers with her blog. She’s done that and more. 
I hope you enjoy her answers to my “Authorview” questions…
Nickname or “wannabe” nameIf you don’t have a nickname, you can choose one you’d like, that tells us a little bit about who you are: Never really had a nickname, but how about Eowyn? I loved her in Lord of the Rings…
I am: Too serious.
My best trait:Persistence.
My bad habit: Overplanning.
Qualities I admire:Honesty, being real.
What I like to read:Fantasy, 1920’s mysteries.
What I write: Southern fiction, fantasy.
What I watch: Sports, competitive reality television, shows about geniuses like Elementary, Scorpion, and Numbers.
My family: loves me for who I am.
My favorite food, snack, or beverage: hot tea, pretzels, dark chocolate Milky Ways.
What I love to do:Read, enjoy time with family and friends.
What I admire: People who are real.
What makes me happy:God, family, music.
What makes me sad:Sickness, death.
I believe: That God has a plan and purpose for everyone, a hope and a future.

Jennifer’s Bio

Writer by nature, artist at heart, and daughter of God by His grace. Jennifer loves to read detective fiction from the Golden Age, watch movies like LOTR, and play with her two precious granddaughters. At times, she writes.With over 160 articles on the internet, her attention has moved to southern fiction.

Her first book was published in early 2014, a multi-authored Romantic Comedy novella, for Valentine’s Day called A Dozen Apologies. She is currently shopping her YA series, “Journey of Grace”, and a contemporary southern fiction novel, “When Wedding and Weather Collide.”

Jennifer’s website is Alabama-Inspired Fiction and she shares a writer’s reference blog, Writing Prompts & Thoughts & Ideas…Oh My! with several other writers. She and Christina Rich share an encouraging blog for readers called The Most Important Thing.
Jennifer and her husband, Danny, have spent their married life in Alabama and have a basset hound, Max.

Sweet Freedom A La Mode 
Buy Link

For some, the fourth of July is a celebration of freedom; for others it is a reminder of bondage. Of pain. Of fear. Of hopelessness. But there is a hope that is deeper, a love that is truer, and a freedom that no one can ever snatch away.
How can one take a step toward that freedom when the road appears shrouded with insecurities and doubts? These pages contain numerous stories: a woman longing to start again but bound by the failures of her past; a young man who, upon reaching adulthood, must face his fears of death; a woman offered a chance of true love but held back by crippling insecurities.
Is God even there? Does He care…enough to reach down and pull these men and women from the messes they’ve landed in, some of them by their own hand?
Freedom. Peace-saturated, joy-infusing freedom.
We pray our stories demonstrate what it looks like in the day-to-day…and provide a little insight into how one grabs hold of that treasured state of heart and mind.

Riley Tompkins Interviews Cara and Dane Adkins

Riley Tompkins, Southern Christian Magazine*Interview with Mara Adkins’ folks (uncut version)

Part 1
Riley: Thank you for agreeing to do this interview, Mr. and Mrs. Adkins. My first questions are for you, Mrs. Adkins.

Cara: You can call me Cara, Riley, and thanks for having us.

Riley: I’d like to know what happened, in your viewpoint. Why was your daughter Mara so mean-spirited towards all those men?

Cara: Without God in the middle of a family, there isn’t much hope. I think there were a lot of factors in this situation. I’m not here to play the blame game, but I have to accept some responsibility for part of the problem. (sighs) We’ve all come to the Lord and we are forgiven. Thank goodness for His Mercy and Grace.

Riley: Seems like God brought all three of you through a lot of issues.

Cara: Yes, by the time Mara left for college, her father and I were ready to call it quits. We planned to file divorce papers after she left home.

Riley: I’m so glad you didn’t do it. Mara’s so changed. What exactly happened to all of you that set off this chain of events?

Cara: Old friends called from out of town one day and wanted to visit with Dane and me. They had become Christians and they were able to answer many of our questions about God and life in general. They backed their opinions with Scripture and prayed with us to accept Christ as our personal Savior.

Riley: What did they tell you that seemed to be the most important thing during their visit?

Cara: That’s a great question. God is a provider, not a divider. A house divided against itself cannot stand and the enemy of our souls does not like good marriages. Dane and I have been married a long time and we have gotten through a lot of tough circumstances. I believe when we learned that every Christian has challenges, we weren’t the exception. We were relieved to find out that we weren’t the only people or couples that have problems, they are part of life. Problems, I mean…are a part of life.

Riley: Did you and Dane join a Bible Study Group or attend church activities to help? In other words, a good group support system?

Cara: We attended a couples’ weekend, specifically Marriage Encounter, where couples can strengthen and renew their marriages. The retreat offers a tool for communicating. However, it works both ways. If both parties are willing to “work,” I mean really “work” together through their personal lives and marriage, it’s an excellent tool and we recommend it for all marriages, don’t we Dane? (Glances at Dane for affirmation. He shakes his head with a big smile. “Yes, we do, dear. As a matter of fact, Riley, we are now a team couple leading the local Marriage Encounter group.” Cara turns her attention back to interview) Yes, that’s right.

Riley: What about Mara? She’s an adult now. Were you glad she came home after almost five years?

Cara: Absolutely. Dane and I are so proud of her. She’s had a tough life, but always put on a brave face as she left the house every day. So much fighting…
We stated praying for her immediately and giving our precious baby to Christ to help her.

Riley: Do you really think she did the right thing by going all over the country to apologize to these men?

Cara: Yes, I do. She was obedient to what God asked of her. She learned a lot about repenting and forgiving. And even as she drove, the Lord had her undivided attention, and she told me, it was in those quiet times, she learned to forgive herself.

Riley: I didn’t think about that, forgiving yourself… So is she free now of her demons? I know that’s a pointed question, but readers will want to know.

Cara: I’ve never seen our daughter happier. Yes, she’s totally free in Christ and she successfully reached out to each man she hurt. Not all the men understood, but she’s accepted where they are…and prays for each one–– (voice breaks, due to emotion).

Riley: I’m sorry, Cara. I didn’t mean to upset you with my questions.

Cara: (Dabbing her eyes) Oh no, Riley, these are tears of Joy. Our Mara is a sparkling new person, inside and outside. Dane and I are thrilled with the healing of our little family. Mara has found love and happiness. We can’t wait to see what the future holds.

Riley: Thank you so much for sharing your heart, Cara. It looks as though you two have a wonderful ministry together.

(Dane hugsCara and give her a kiss then whispers, I love you, honey. Ya done good.”)

Cara: “You’re welcome, Riley.”

Part 2

(Interview with Dane Adkins)

Riley: Dad, what do you think about all this?

Dane: Excuse me, Riley, but I’m not comfortable with you calling me Dad. You’re every bit as old as I am.

Riley: I’m sorry, Dane I didn’t mean to imply––
Dane: I’m just joshing you, Riley. If you’re asking what I think of my daughter, I love her. I’m very proud of her, and I’ll support whatever decision she makes.
Riley: Of course. But now that you know some of the things she did in college to those poor, unsuspecting geeks. This cruel game she payed, along with her sorority sisters––as a man, how do you feel about that?
Dane: I don’t feel anything about that, Riley. Mara is not the same person she once was. She’s been forgiven.
Riley: (Clears throat) Oh, yes, I know. Your wife just told me about how Mara traveled all over, making apologies and most of the men forgave her.
Dane: No, you misunderstand me. She’s been forgiven, whether those men forgave her or not. She has God’s forgiveness.
Riley: Right. So you’re convinced she’s changed her ways?
Dane: Absolutely, she has. And let me tell you, Riley, with God’s help, she’s turned her life around.
Riley: From what I hear, you and Mrs. Adkins were a part of that turnaround. You were here for her, when she needed you.
Dane: (Low chuckle. Scratches head) Well, that’s where the real miracle comes in. If not for the Lord, we wouldn’t have been here for her at all (takes wife’s hand in his and smiles into her eyes). I found out what true forgiveness is. (Continues to gaze into Cara’s eyes)

Riley: Ahem. (Dane remembers I’m sitting here with them)
Dane: Riley, God healed our broken marriage, and here’s the best part: once we were walking in His healing and love, He sent our broken daughter back to the nest. Because of what we’d been through, we were able to give her the guidance she needed, the love and acceptance she craved.
Riley: And you now believe she’s this new person? You trust her to straighten up and fly right––to never damage another man’s heart?
Dane: I do, Riley. I know she’s a new person. I see God’s love shining out through her beautiful eyes. (Grins) She has my eyes, don’t you think?

Riley: She has your sense of humor too, Dane.
Dane: Well, that’s a good thing, right?

Riley: Absolutely. Thanks, Dane and Cara, for giving me a bit of your time today. I hope you’ll like the article I write about you and your daughter, Mara.

Dane: I hope our story encourages others to trust in God’s forgiveness. And if they live in the area, check out our Marriage Encounter group.

If you’ve been keeping up with A Dozen Apologies, you’ll know the voting has ended for the readers’ favorite hero. Our editor is busy working to get the final project ready to release as a FREE ebook February 14th–16th (Valentine’s weekend). What a wonderful gift to give yourself––a fun read. I will supply you with the link here on my blog or you can go to Write Integrity Press.

If you would like more information about forgiveness and God’s love for you, please contact me via the contact tab above (private message).

*Southern Christian Magazine is a fictitious magazine for this post. Any likeness to any real magazine (or reporter named Riley) is purely coincidental.

Paulette Harris: Part 1, Cara Adkins
Betty Owens, Part 2, Dane Adkins

Paulette Harris has two wonderful children and five awesome grandchildren. She still lives with her original husband and two cats. Both business and social work have opened her eyes to humanity and produced a desire to help others. Battling injury and illness while raising a family and dealing with a deep personal grief have finally led her to write as a way to help others face similar, seemingly overwhelming obstacles in their lives. Writing has become her passion. It’s her sincere wish and prayer that her work will be of aid to readers. Paulette offers services as an author/speaker and encourager of God’s Word, through her company, Wordburst.

You can find more information about Paulette and her work at

A Dozen Apologies is a collaborative novella soon to be released by Write Integrity Press. Paulette and I are two of twelve authors involved. It has been my great pleasure to work with such wonderful authors.

Thanks for stopping by!

Every Cotton-Picking Day

Why is there a picture of people picking cotton on my blogpost?

My current work-in-progress is set in the rural south. One of the hardest jobs I have ever done (with the possible exception of giving birth) is picking cotton. Yes, I am old enough to have picked cotton.

My grandparents were tenant farmers and their main crop was cotton. Even as late as the mid-60’s, they were hand-picking the crop. They usually hired locals to help them. The days were long and hot, and the work was back-breaking.

If you’ve seen Places in the Heart (Sally Field)  or even Gone With the Wind, you have an idea what I’m talking about. The only thing worse was chopping the cotton earlier in the season. Same deal: long hours, hot, pesky insects, dirt in your shoes…

I’m not complaining, it was good for me. You know, what doesn’t kill you…right. How did they survive such a difficult life? The work was hard and constant, but they didn’t give up. Year after year, they planted the cotton. It is beautiful in full bloom, by the way. And the sound of the wind through the leaves is so peaceful. The green plants made a wonderful playground for energetic children. I spent many happy hours there.

I’m enjoying writing this book, because it is so close to my heart. I feel I know the characters. Many of them sprang from memories of long ago. People who passed through my life during the sunny days of my youth. I hope the end product will be something you’ll want to read. I hope you’ll love them as much as I do.

Thanks for reading!

I Speak the Language

“Ah can do south.” I drawled out the words, giving south two syllables, as it was meant to be spoken. I was responding to a comment that my accent was not so prevalent. (Sorry about the rhymes, it was an accident.)

Originally from West Tennessee, I spent the last…ah…few years in Louisville, Kentucky. My first day here, Bobby Kennedy was shot. You do the math.

I tend to match the speech of those I am with. My mother was a Northwesterner who married a Southern good ole boy and for a few years, our family bounced back and forth between Southern California and West Tennessee, so you could say I grew up “accent challenged.”

When I break out into Southern Drawl around my friends from Kentucky, it never fails to get at least a chuckle, but when I go home to West Tennessee, no one notices my speech. If you live in Louisville—pronounced Loo-uh-vul by the way—you hear it all. You can usually tell what part of Kentucky someone hails from, just by listening to them talk. Eastern Kentuckians, for instance, have a very distinctive accent.

I remember my first experience with the “native tongue” of Kentucky, when I overheard two neighbors talking about turning farty. Sounds like a bad word, but they were actually talking about the number that follows thirty-nine. It didn’t take long for me to settle in. Far miles down the road meant that something was 4 miles away. 1425 Elmwood Court was far-teen twenty-five Elmwood Cart. A small amount of translation was all it took.

When translating local colloquialisms to the written page, I tend to run into trouble. I like to know how a character pronounces words, but an editor usually doesn’t like to see it.

“Ah was comin’ acrost the Miz-sippy Rivah on a Sad-dy afternoon”, is a little difficult to read. It reads more easily as, “I was coming across the Mississippi River on a Saturday afternoon.” You still get the feel of the southern accent, but without all the interruptions.

Feelin’ fair t’ middlin’, Feeling fair to middling. Use colloquialisms with correct spelling and the reader doesn’t stumble, but they get the idea.

If it causes the tongue to stumble, or slows down the reader, it is usually unacceptable. A fellow writer and excellent teacher gave me very good advice. Limit the accent to the first time or two the character speaks and then let the reader take over. If you keep the same speech pattern, without supplying all those accents and broken words, the reader is aware of the difference and it makes for a smoother read.

There are definite exceptions to this rule. I can’t imagine reading the Grapes of Wrath any other way, but I guess if you are on par with Hemingway, you can get away with most anything.