Questions, Anyone?

coffee, cup, laptop, memeWhen I renovated my blog, I wanted to have fun with it. Thus the theme, “Hello! Thursday Mornings!”

Opinions–mostly mine–are welcome, and every few weeks, I’ll open the “floor” (so to speak) for questions.

If you have a question you’d like me to discuss (I may or may not have an answer), please send it to me via the comments section below. If you send a really good one, it may become the subject of a blog post! How’s that?

In the meantime, I’ll answer the question, WHO am I, really? You can find most of that information in the tabs above, or I can tell you: I’m a Christian believer, married almost forty-three years to my wonderful husband, Bob. Besides my part-time pursuit of bookkeeping, he supports me in my writing venture. We have three grown sons, all of them married, and they’ve given us eight grandchildren.

I’ve been writing for about thirty years now. But I’ve only been a published writer for a decade. Next year, I will have seven books in publication. I started out writing fantasy-adventure stories. They were somewhat inspired by Tolkien’s LOTR. Okay, possibly more than somewhat inspired by Peter Jackson’s interpretation of Tolkien’s LOTR. Okay, maybe a lot more than somewhat inspired by Viggo Mortenson’s Aragorn/Strider role. Ahem!

I moved away from fantasy/adventure, to write historical stories. Since you can find most of this information in the tabs above, I won’t go into great detail. I’m working on two different (very different) series at the moment, and though I feel blessed to have them, I’ve vowed never to do that again.

My current work-in-progress will finish up the Legacy series with the story of Amy Juliana Emerson. If you’re a reader, you may think that name sounds familiar. That’s because Amy’s mother and dad are in Book 1, Amelia’s Legacy.

Amy is another rich, young heiress who is struggling against her destiny. World War II has recently ended as the story begins, and this girl is ready to launch herself on the world. But her dad has other plans. He’s trying to keep her high spirits in check, and not just to protect her reputation (or his own). Though Amy doesn’t realize it, she is in actual danger, and her antics have brought her the wrong kind of attention.

At a time when most young ladies of substance are either being given in marriage, or being given a voyage to see the world, Amy is sent to the country where she is expected to work. Rebecca Lewis Alvera, another of my characters from both Book 1 and Book 2 (Carlotta’s Legacy), takes on an important role in helping Amy curb her excessive energy.

A perfect storm is brewing as Amy’s stubborn resolve meets Dad’s resistance, along with an unknown force in the form of a familiar enemy. This is the section I am working on at present. The pressure is on as I not only end this particular story, but the series.

Oh, and I am a slow writer. It takes months for me to complete a story to my satisfaction. It takes my readers a matter of hours or a couple of days to read it. *Sigh*

That’s my story, and a little bit of my present situation. Add to the writing of this latest tome, about ten other roles in the writing/marketing world, and you have a vague idea of the daily life of a writer.

Thanks for stopping by today. I hope you’ll join the conversation, whether it is with a question, or just to encourage me. Or, maybe you don’t want to encourage me. Please don’t feed the  monkeys. Only some of you will get that.

If you click this link you’ll tweet this: Opinions, mostly mine, are welcome in my new weekly blog, Hello! Thursday Mornings!

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AmWriting AmReading

pc-1207686_1280When I’m not writing, I’m reading about writing, or doing research for writing. One thing I’ve learned so far, writers never stop learning. If you stop studying and researching, your writing can become stale and boring. Like old crackers.

Part of the growth process for a writer is reading fresh, new fiction. I’ve done a little of that in the past couple of months by helping to judge writers’ contests. I’ve read some absolutely wonderful chapters by talented writers that make me downright jealous. But that’s not a good reaction unless it spurs me to push forward to write crisper, more entertaining fiction.

IMG_9611One thing writers don’t really want to mess with is their unique voice. But you can write different types of stories in new genres, and explore different angles of the art. I’m anxious to do that, to learn how to craft a better story. Because stale crackers are only good for meatloaf or feeding to the squirrels.

Writers–When you started your first novel, how did you go about it? Did you just sit down and write, or did you outline it or plot it first? I’d love to hear your stories! First novels are a little like first babies or first jobs or even first love. We have sweet memories we like to share.

My first novel — I sat down and wrote, and wrote, and wrote. I wish I could do that now! Oh the freedom of fingers flying over keys, not worrying about content, just slugging it out there.

So that first novel–have you published it? Or is it squirreled away like a couple of mine?

books-927394_1280How do you learn more about writing?

  • Take a course
  • Attend a conference
  • Read/study a writing book or course (on your own)
  • All of the above

If you could attend a course taught by the best of the best in writing–who would that be?

I’m asking these questions because I’m curious, but also–I’m writing a post and could use the input. So, if you have a moment, please leave me a comment below. Thanks so much!

Right now, I’m sitting in my favorite writing spot, hammering out this post–it’s late again! I’m at my dining room table, occasionally looking out the window at pouring rain and beautiful buttercups in bloom. So, my final question is: Where do you write? Do you have an office, or do you–like me–move around with a laptop?

window-1287611_1280Wherever you write, however you write, I hope your writing is successful. But most of all, I hope your writing fulfills you, because doing what you love is the greatest kind of blessing.

New in Christian Suspense: Colorblind

Today, I welcome my friend and fellow writer, Amy Blake, back to my blog for a reason that gives me extreme pleasure! The release of another of her books–Colorblind. I’ll let her tell you about it.

1a33b-blake2bfamily2b22b2I’m excited to share with you about the release of the second book in my On the Brink Christian suspense series, Colorblind. The first book in that series, Whitewashed, released last February. The series follows three homeschooled friends–Patience, Christy, and Natalie–as they step into adulthood. Since each book tells only one girl’s story, the books can be read in any order. You can buy Colorblind and Whitewashed in both e-book and paperback on Amazon. I hope you’ll pick up your copies today!

Here’s a little more about Colorblind:

FC---Colorblind---3rd-DraftEighteen-year-old Christy Kane has always been Daddy’s princess. But on the first day of her music internship at his mega-church, reporters shatter her world with terrible news: Daddy’s had an affair with the church preschool director. Christy feels as betrayed by God as the man she’s always considered Prince Charming.

When Mom sends her to Buckeye Lake to help with Aunt Jo’s School of Music and Dance in the restored Pier Ballroom, Christy’s problems only increase. First, the ballroom sits on Buckeye Lake, making her face her greatest fear—water. Second, she must help lead a handful of semi-talented volunteers, who harbor racial tensions and mysterious underlying antagonisms, in a professional quality performance for the Grand Reopening of the ballroom. The stakes are high—Aunt Jo will lose the place if they fail. Third, Christy discovers a diary written by Lillian, who lived near Buckeye Lake in the 1920s, and becomes intrigued by the stories of thousands coming to play at the amusement parks and dance in the ballrooms. But her interest soon turns to concern as tragic events from the diary happen in Christy’s world, ninety years to the date of their first occurrence.

Between her shattered past, her uncertain future, and her dangerous present, Christy doesn’t know where to turn. Does Daddy’s God really exist? If so, does He care enough to rescue her?

Award-winning author Amy C. Blake is a pastor’s wife and homeschooling mother of four. She has an M.A. in English from Mississippi College. and has written articles, devotionals, and short stories for a number of publications. You can connect with her on Facebook, Goodreads, and Twitter. She’d love for you to visit her website at amycblake.com for tips on homeschooling, advice for the rookie pastor’s wife, and helps for the Christian life. You can also find more information on her website about her novels–Whitewashed, Colorblind, and The Trojan Horse Traitor.

 

What Lies Ahead

  1. Write first post for 2016.
  2. Complete book 2 of Kinsman Redeemer Series: Sutters Landing.
  3. Get passport photo.
  4. Get passport.
  5. Fly to Cuenca, Ecuador for mission trip that includes a speaking engagement.
  6. Did you see #5?
  7. Omgosh! I am actually going to Ecuador!

Here’s how it happened:

My youngest son decided he wanted to go to Ecuador on a mission trip, and he wanted me to go with him. After a moment’s hesitation, I said, “Umm…okay…” In my head, I was already formulating all my excuses for why I could NOT go to Ecuador. But first…

12247775_10206343088474606_5277214904899162802_o
Bill & Connie McDonald, Missionaries to Ecuador

Why Ecuador? A couple of my acquaintance (Bill and Connie McDonald) left for Cuenca in 1989. I admired them greatly, and was so proud of them, but I have to admit–the very thought of going so far away frightened me. So I pledged to help them, which got me off the hook for the time being. All these years later, that couple–lead by God, of course–accomplished quite a lot: “…they have pioneered the Pentecostal Evangelical church in the Andean region of Ecuador, headed the Latin American Childcare (LACC) program to plant schools with a Christ-centered focus throughout the nation, and founded the Unsión Foundation and Unsión Television.” –from Unsion Foundation‘s webpage.

Bill and Connie are no longer full time over there, but travel back and forth. However, both their children are now serving in the Amazon regions. See Joil & Leah Marbut’s Jungle Missionary page.

11028013_10205835655310433_4512249505539321019_o
Youngest son & me

In early December, my son approached Bill McDonald and asked about making a trip. What could we do to help while we’re down there? Bill had an idea. He turned to me and said something that sounded a lot like: “I’d like to have you speak to a group of women in the area church…a three-day conference with around 150 women–possibly as many as 500.”

After I retrieved my chin from the floor, I realized that God had been preparing me for this. My first clue was the head nod. Instead of the back-and-forth of a negative response, I was nodding…as though accepting the invitation. Okay. That very morning, I had “happened” upon a blog post titled “Do It Afraid.” The writer speaks at conferences around the world. In the post, she confessed her constant battle with fear. Fear of flying, fear of strangers, fear of crowded places, but she refuses to let any of those stop her. So I knew instinctively, if God is calling me, He would give me all I need to accomplish it. Courage. Confidence. Material needs. Monetary provision. Strength for the journey.

Preparing the way. The last few months, I’ve been reading and studying scriptures and messages regarding forgiveness, pointing to certain topics, pinpointing painful circumstances in my life, as well as the lives of others close to me. These prodding messages caused me to turn inward and ferret out all the dredges of bitterness. I’m not claiming to be perfect, far from it. I think because it’s been an issue in my life, much of my writing includes the message of forgiveness and reconciliation. As Bill spoke about the problems faced by the Ecuadorian women, understanding flowed over me like rain.

TakeoffOver the next few months, as I prepare for this trip, I hope you’ll think of me and say a prayer for me, and for those going with us. We have a Facebook page started, called Ecuador Trip, and also a “Go Fund Me” page for those who’d like to help us make this journey. We’re also looking into translation of my books to Spanish.

The needs of these women are not so different from those of women around the world. I’m praying God will use the message of grace and forgiveness to heal their hearts and set the stage for what He has called them to do.

file0001745124941Along the way, I plan to keep you informed of our progress and give you insight into what God is speaking to my heart. He is not overwhelmed by the need, and neither should we be. Following his call should not be cause for fear, but for honor, and humility. Because I am well aware, He often chooses the least to accomplish his work.

Not Alone

Not Alone

A Literary and Spiritual Companion

for Those Confronted with

Infertility and Miscarriage

 

My friend Jennifer Hallmark is one of several authors featured in this newly-released non-fiction book. I asked her about her involvement with the project.

How did you become involved with the writing of this book?

I saw the “call out” for submissions at Kalos Press by Jessica Snell. As I read the requirements, I felt the essay I’d written several years ago about my experience with miscarriage would fit. I sent it to Jessica and went through a couple rounds of edits before it was accepted.

Oh, edits–how we love those, right? Tell us a little bit about this book.

It could be called an “edgy” Chicken Soup for the Soul. By edgy, I mean the essays, written by men and women who’ve dealt with the pain and emotions that come with miscarriage and/or infertility, are heart cries. These stories are told by broken people who have found hope in the midst of their struggle.

Infertility and miscarriage can be very personal. What do you and the other writers hope to accomplish by sharing your experiences?

We want to let others know they’re not alone. When I went through my miscarriage, I didn’t know of any resources to help me cope, though several years later I found a book by Jack Hayford called I’ll Hold You in Heaven which brought me comfort. In Not Alone, I found hope and empathy as each person shares their experience.

On a more general “writing” note–where do your story ideas come from?

Everywhere. An old green shed I passed once on the side of the road is a major part of the novel I’m working on now. An overheard conversation or story on the news can point me in the direction of a new plot. Writing prompts are important to me to expand my creativity and one reason I co-founded a blog called Writing Prompts & Thoughts & Ideas…Oh My!

What was the most surprising thing you learned while writing one of your books?

I’m not a plotter by nature, and a lot of the storylines and characters are a surprise. One revelation in my latest novel has been that the antagonist, who I didn’t like, had a change of heart and has now become one of my favorite characters. J

What’s next for you? What other projects are you involved in at present?

We’ve just re-released the Heart Seeker series with Write Integrity Press. All four books are now available in one. I helped write two of the novellas, A Dozen Apologies and Unlikely Merger.

I’m also finishing final edits of my southern contemporary novel and then have a couple more novels that need editing so I can search for them a home.

Thanks, Jennifer, always great to hear from you.

Thanks so much for letting me drop by, Betty!


 

Not Alone: A Literary and Spiritual Companion for Those Confronted with Infertility and Miscarriage

Our society understands how terrible the loss of a child is when that child is out of the womb, but what about when a child dies before birth? Or what about the emptiness that comes when a very-much-wanted child is never even conceived?

These quiet, private losses are hard for those who have not experienced them to understand. And these losses leave those who have suffered them feeling alone in their grief.

Not AloneNot Alone: A Literary and Spiritual Companion for Those Confronted with Infertility and Miscarriage is a resource both for those who have suffered through these experiences and for their friends and relatives, who want to understand what their loved ones are going through.

This collection contains true stories that are:

  • sensitive, and yet honest
  • angry and raw, but not despairing
  • unique, and yet relatable

The contributors to this book are male and female, old and young, some who eventually had children and some who never did, and yet despite their differences, they share a common grief and a common faith.

No experience of miscarriage, infant loss, or infertility is like any other, yet by reading these painful and hope-filled stories, you’ll be comforted by knowing there are others who understand the journey you’re on, the loss you’ve suffered, and you will find that even though your loss is uniquely yours, you are not alone.

IMG_6297-5x7-100resAbout the author–Jennifer Hallmark has published articles, short stories and been part of four book compilations, A Dozen Apologies, Sweet Freedom A La Mode, Unlikely Merger, and Not Alone: A Literary and Spiritual Companion for Those Confronted with Infertility and Miscarriage. Jennifer’s website and the group blog she co-founded focus on her books, love of the South, and helping writers.

Connect with Jennifer here:

https://www.facebook.com/jenniferhallmark

https://www.facebook.com/authorjenniferhallmark

https://twitter.com/JenHwrites

https://www.pinterest.com/jenlhallmark989/

Jennifer Hallmark Amazon Author Page