Once Upon a Time…

…four little words that deliver instant peace. Am I alone in this? Perhaps for me, they spur a pleasant, long-ago memory of being read to before sleeping.

As you can see in this photo, I’ve been reading for a long time.

This simple phrase opens a gateway into my imagination. Sleeping Beauty lies just beyond the gate, or Cinderella, Rapunzel, or Belle in Beauty and the Beast. As a child, I could easily imagine myself in one of those roles.

Once upon a time, I started a little story, having no idea where it would go. But writing it was fun and by the time I had mapped it out, the ending surprised me. I suppose that may be the reason I love to write. So, here is how it began:


Once upon a time, there was a little girl who lived in a tiny house on a large hill. Her name was Adelaide Thornton, and every weekday morning at exactly seven-ten, she said goodbye to her mother and began the long walk down the large hill. She stopped at the mailbox, where she waited until exactly seven-twenty-five, when her school bus arrived.

She greeted Mr. Augustus, who always answered, “Mornin’ Addy,” and then she made her way to the fifth row and sat in the seat on the left. This particular seat was always empty as if someone was saving it for Adelaide.

Though the bus was already filled with youngsters, no one else spoke to Adelaide, or even acknowledged her. And she was okay with that.

She scooched over, sitting close to the window, which left plenty of room for someone else to sit, but there was never anyone there. At least, no one that anyone else could see, other than Adelaide.

On this early spring morning, the bus made an unexpected stop before continuing on its way. Adelaide watched the front as a new kid climbed the steps. He seemed to be about her age, but he was taller. He had scruffy red hair and lots of freckles.

His eyes searched the bus and then, to her chagrin, stopped on the empty seat beside Adelaide. The only empty seat on the crowded bus.

As he made his way down the aisle, Adelaide noticed that no one was talking. The kids on the bus had gone completely quiet, as though they waited to see what would happen when the new boy tried to sit next to “Crazy Addy.”

The boy stopped at the fourth row and stood looking at Adelaide. “Is it all right if I sit with you?”

She heard a whooshing sound, as though everyone on the bus gasped at the same moment. And then she heard a whisper, “He’s very polite. I like him. Let him sit with us.”

All she could do was nod.                                                                              

The boy smiled and sat down.

Adelaide scrunched over, even closer to the window, so there would be room for everyone.

The other children on the bus began to titter and chat, but Adelaide knew they were watching…and waiting…and wondering. She also noticed Mr. Augustus’ eyes on her in the rearview mirror. He gave her a smile and a nod before setting off.

As the bus rolled forward, Adelaide heard, “He’s new in town. You should tell him your name and ask his name.”

She frowned at the empty spot in the middle of the seat, where someone sat. Someone no one else could see, except for Adelaide. But what he had said made sense to her. After all, the boy did seem very polite and had asked her permission to sit.

She cleared her throat.

Again, the other children hushed.

Adelaide ignored them and focused on the new kid. “I’m Adelaide Thornton. What’s your name?”

The new kid looked at her. “Nice to meet you, Adelaide. I’m Matthew Sommers, but everyone calls me Rusty.” He ruffled his dark, red hair and grinned.

Adelaide smiled back at him. Rusty was not only polite, but he was kind of funny, too. No wonder her brother liked him.

Oh yes, her brother. Adelaide was a twin. Though her brother had only lived two days on this earth, he had never left her. Some folks thought she was nuts and that’s why they called her, “Crazy Addy.” Others, mostly older folks, smiled and said she had an invisible friend. Only Adelaide knew the truth. He might be invisible, but he was not just a friend. He was her twin brother, Paul.


To be continued…

Launching a Book

Yes, I know it’s not Thursday (tomorrow is), but it is release day for Annabelle’s Joy. It’s one of those times that authors celebrate with great trepidation—did you know you can be trepidatious? (Silly side note). Apprehension may be a better word for the way I feel.

All I know is, I’m eagerly awaiting the outcome of this one.

If you’re a regular here, you already know what the book is about. If you’re not a regular, thanks so much for stopping in. You’ll find more information at the end of this post. What I really want to do right now is introduce a few folks who helped me get to this point.

Marji Clubine is the owner of Write Integrity Press, the publisher of most of my books. Those of you who self-publish have an idea of what goes into the publishing process. Marji gives of her time and talent and I appreciate it more than I can say.

My editor this time was Lillianne Kohler. I’ve not worked with her before. She has a good eye for detail. She did an excellent job, finding my mistakes and smoothing out the rough spots. I’m the first to admit, I need all the help I can get. Which reminds me of three others, Nike Chillemi, Gail Johnson, and Kristi Robinson Horine, the members of my ACFW critique group. All my chapters have passed through them at least once. They make a great team and are some of my best cheerleaders.

I can’t keep going day after day without the encouragement and prayers of my family, my church, and my closest friends. Not only do they show up when I have a booksigning, but they urge me on during the downtimes. “When will the next book be coming out? I can’t wait to read it!”

I am so humbled and honored to be loved by a man who gives me the freedom and the time to spend staring at my computer, making up stuff. He’s been more like a coach than a cheerleader, and he inspires me to keep pressing on by showing me how. He keeps going, keeps believing in me, even when things don’t look promising.

Annabelle’s Joy is dedicated to a couple of friends I’ve known since they were in high school. Patti and her sister, Linda, lost their husbands within months of each other. In the following days, months, and years, I watched prayerfully as the two made their separate journeys through this deep sorrow and loss. Sadly, these were not the only losses they’d endure over the next few years. I was inspired by their strength (though they didn’t feel strong). But isn’t that how it usually is?

When we are weak, He is strong. God shows up in the dark times, giving us strength to continue on. Though I couldn’t begin to know what it was really like, their experience helped me flesh out Annabelle’s struggle to overcome her losses.


If you’re on Facebook, come visit the event page for the book launch! I’m giving away several prizes, and also giving opportunities for you to help with my release. There’s no purchase necessary, you just need to check in by clicking “Going” at the top. That will get you entered in the drawing. Then, feel free to read the posts and take part in any discussion.

Now, here’s how you can help: There will be a post titled: Reviews from Readers. If you’ve read one or both of the Kinsman Redeemer books, please leave a short review on the event page (I loved it! is a great review).

Here’s the link to the event page:

Facebook Event Page for the Book Launch: Annabelle’s Joy

If you’re not on Facebook, you can still enter to win prizes by leaving a comment on this post, or via my Contact Me tab on this website. Just say, “Count me in” in the message (or something similar).

Another 3 Questions! I’m also on the Inspired Prompt blog today, answering their 3 Questions. Here’s a link to the interview: 3QW at Inspired Prompt.


A 1950s Clean & Wholesome Romance

She’s waited too long. When Tom proposed last year, Annabelle wasn’t ready to open her heart to another man. Pain still held a thin crust around it. Time has healed her heart, but with a new woman in town, one who clearly has her sights set on Tom, does it matter if Annabelle’s heart is ready to love again?

Folks in town are keeping a close eye on their pharmacist, hoping to be the first to hear the good news. He’s been courting the widow Cross for nigh on two years now. Annabelle Cross better wake up and put her dancing shoes on. Mr. Tom is prime real estate.

Drift back into the simple, country life of Tennessee in 1957 with this sequel to award-winning ANNABELLE’S RUTH.

Annabelle’s Joy – Kinsman Redeemer, Book 3

Genre: historical romance

Author: Betty Thomason Owens

Release Date: August 7, 2019

Amazon Buy-Link: https://www.amzn.com/B07TXQRKG3/

It Truly Takes A Village to Raise a Debut Novel

By Jennifer Hallmark

When I began my writing journey in 2006, I thought of me and my computer tucked away in my study tapping away at the keys, only emerging to run to the bank to cash my royalty checks. Yes, I had a lot to learn. Though writing is a solitary endeavor, many people came by my side to help and influence me along the way.

I know I can’t name everyone or even try to because someone would be left out. So, I’ll talk about three ladies I love who had a part in seeing my dreams come true.

  1. Fay Lamb. I met Fay when she was the coordinator of the ACFW Scribes group. That’s the online critique group for the American Christian Fiction Writers. I didn’t really have a clue to what I was doing. After being in the big group for a while, she moved me to a small group and even did editing for me at no charge. She was my first real online writer pal and I am so thankful for her past mentoring and for being my friend to this day.
  2. Betty Thomason Owens. I met Betty in that first critique group and we became friends. Later, we joined with Christina Rich to start a blog for writers, a way to give back to the writing community. The blog, Inspired Prompt, has grown tremendously and much of that credit is due to Betty and Christina. I had ideas but sorely lacked technical skills. They helped me to learn so much. Betty and I have ridden to many conferences together and I consider her one of my best friends and a great influence on any writing success I have.
  3. Eva Marie Everson. When Firefly Southern Fiction first came on the scene a few years ago, I knew I wanted to write for them and Eva Marie Everson. I was able to meet her at the Catch the Wave Conference in Atlanta and sign up for every class she taught. I came to her with a raw story and she was interested enough to give me a chance to better it. She mentored me and I learned so much about writing and editing. And on June 17th, Jessie’s Hope was released into the world.

Influence. John Maxwell said that, “Leadership is influence.” These ladies to me are strong leaders and have influenced my life for the better.

Thank you.

 

Jennifer Hallmark writes Southern fiction and has published 200+ internet articles and interviews, short stories in several magazines, and has co-authored three book compilations. Her debut novel, Jessie’s Hope, released on June 17th, 2019.

When she isn’t babysitting or gardening, you can find her at her desk writing fiction or working on her two blogs.  She also loves reading detective fiction from the Golden Age and viewing movies like LOTR or Star Wars. Sometimes you can even catch her watching American Ninja Warrior.

www.jenniferhallmark.com

www.inspiredprompt.com 

Jennifer Hallmark, Facebook

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Pinterest

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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?

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 the author’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 24thAuthor June Foster/

June 25thTrumpet Tuesdays/

June 26thSeriously Write/

June 27th Author Betty Thomason Owens

June 28thHeartfelt, Homespun fiction/

June 29thThe Write Conversation/

 

The Ties that Bind: Delilah

This post is what you would call “two birds, one stone.”

Hello, Thursday Morning readers! I have a treat for you today. I just finished reading Delilah, by Fay Lamb. It was delightful. This is book four, the final book in her “Ties that Bind” series. I’ve loved all the books in this series, and hate to say goodbye.

Delilah has been a lasting presence throughout this series. In the beginning, she was the character I loved to hate.  If she had walked off the face of the earth, or been eaten by an alligator, I would not have minded, except the stories may not have been so interesting. She did at least provide plenty of conflict.

The change in Delilah actually begins in book three, aptly entitled “Hope.” You don’t have to read Hope, or any of the other books, but I urge you to begin with Charisse and read your way to the end.

Delilah (the book) begins with conflict as she (a former judge) stands before a judge. In fact, this story keeps the conflict wire live, piling on enough to break Delilah. At times, I wondered if she could hold onto her newfound faith.

Isn’t that just like life? Everything’s going well, then along comes the tests and trials that strengthen our faith. They’ll make or break us. Delilah (the woman) was always a tough cookie, so I was hoping for the best. She didn’t disappoint.

Of course, Lamb added romance, complete with a dollop of steam and a near train wreck when little hateful sister arrives. Yes, more conflict. Nothing is going to be easy for Dee. Would you expect anything less for such an edgy character?

The Ties that Bind series offers an ensemble cast. You meet them in Charisse. You get to know them better in Libby. The friendship deepens in Hope, and matures by the end of Delilah. These ties are strong, which is a good thing, since they’ll be stretched to the limits by all that life throws at them in Delilah.

This is a story with a message of forgiveness and grace. Saying “I forgive you,” may be easy, but true forgiveness which is coupled with forgetfulness is difficult. You have to forget the past in order to truly forgive. You can’t keep rehearsing the sin or circumstance.

I loved the character arc that completes in this final episode, as Delilah learns to live among people without chewing their heads off.

So, why “two birds, one stone?” Well, I needed to review Delilah, and I also needed a blog post this week. Simple, right? Now I have both, and y’all have a possible list of four books to read while on vacation.


Delilah – Ties that Bind Book 4

Calling a truce with the man you love? What’s the fun in that?

Newly elected judge, John M. Turner, tries his best to call an end to his war with former Circuit Judge Delilah James, the woman he bested in the election by only a narrow margin. Delilah refuses to accept his flag of surrender. Worse yet, a vengeful assistant state attorney, the other candidate whose entry in the race actually handed the win to John, is seeking to have them both removed from the Florida Bar, and the game Delilah has forced upon him has given their enemy ammunition for his disbarment.

Delilah likes the give and take she shares with John. What fun is there in surrender? She wants to make amends but makes a mess of every attempt. Added to her foibles, life has become complicated: John’s teenage sister hates her, and Libby Carter has been arrested for battery on a police officer and has embroiled Delilah in the plight of the homeless. Her past has returned to haunt her, and if that’s not enough, she’s deep into the one experience in life she never thought would happen to her. She’s fallen in love.


Fay Lamb has always taken joy in forming words that tell stories that will enrich the lives of others. She tackles issues that she has had to face. She isn’t afraid of the hard issues and takes delight in weaving humor into the lives of her characters, even in the direst of circumstances.

Fay has contracted with Write Integrity Press for three series. The Amazing Grace series is complete and available as are the first three books, Charisse, Libby, and Hope, in her Ties that Bind contemporary romance series.

Fay loves teaching the art of fiction and has taught at several conferences over the last five years. She is currently the co-host of Publishing Laine, a monthly radio talk show on the Along Comes a Writer Network on BlogTalkRadio.com

Fay and her husband, Marc, reside in Titusville, Florida, where multi-generations of their families have lived. The legacy continues with their two married sons and six grandchildren.

What Happens Now

Hello, Thursday Morning readers! I’m looking at sunshine and blue skies right now. And a big, yellow forsythia bush, the abode of an extremely territorial and illusive cardinal.

This morning, I took a long, leisurely walk in the sunshine. On the way back, I noticed all the flowers blooming. The really early ones, like crocuses and grape hyacinth. Wild flowers too—well, weeds, really—but they still have beauty.

Sunshine certainly improves the mood. And it energizes me. But I didn’t need a lot of help today. I’ve completed the final book in the Kinsman Redeemer series. In a few days, I’ll send the manuscript to my publisher and then I’ll wait. And hope.

I’m excited about this final book for several reasons. It’s the last in the series (kind of sad). This ends me working on two series at the same time (not doing that again). And, it means something new is coming.

That’s not all. The final Kinsman Redeemer book is a baby without a name right now. I’m calling it, “book three.” And I have to confess, I went through an entire box of tissues writing the end of this book. And they were good tears. As I drew to a close, the readers on my critique loop were sending me threatening emails: please DO NOT send through another cliffhanger. So I had to send through two chapters at once. 🙂

What happens now? As soon as the manuscript is on its way, I’ll start building my Pinterest board for this book. I loved doing that for Rebecca’s Legacy. If want to follow me on Pinterest, click here. Then the marketing begins. Stay tuned!

coffee, cup, laptop, memeIt started with the book of my heart. I wrote a story near and dear to my heart, set in a familiar place and era. It was a retelling of the story of Ruth, that mixed in elements of my mother’s life.

The final book brings the story to a satisfying finish. As Annabelle’s neighbor, Tom, says, “Once you have Annabelle Cross in your corner, she’s there for life.”

Sing praise to the Lord, you saints of His,
And give thanks at the remembrance of His holy name.
For His anger is but for a moment,
His favor is for life;
Weeping may endure for a night,
But joy comes in the morning.—Psalm 30:4-5 NKJV

See you in April!