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 

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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/

 

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

 

The Right Writers Conference

childrenpolaroidI was a daydreamer as a child. Actually, I haven’t changed that much–I’m still a daydreamer. My childhood wasn’t always easy, so I tended to find a happier place and hang out there. The place I found was usually in my head and possibly connected to the latest book I’d read, or something I’d watched on television.

As a stay-at-home mom raising three young boys, I found another reason to retreat to the happy place. I began to write stories. At first, it was a hobby. Then, as I wrote more and more, it began to be something else.  A calling. And I knew, even if no one ever read anything I wrote, I’d still write.

But others did read my stories. I entertained family and friends. They were impressed and encouraged me to pursue my interest. I took a writing class at the local college, and the professor encouraged me to keep writing.

BettynJenn2
Jennifer Hallmark and me at the Atlanta Christian Writers Conference

This past week, I attended a writer’s conference. I sat in classrooms with accomplished writers and writers on the way. Men and women who’d found their calling, their niche, shared what they had learned along that way. I soaked it in and used my pen for the first time in a long time, taking copious notes. Because what they’d found, I wanted.

Many professionals must continue to educate themselves in order to compete in their field. Writers are no different and conferences–good conferences–provide those opportunities.

Possibly even greater than the knowledge we receive at writers’ conferences, are the connections we make. There’s nothing like face-to-face discussions with friends we’ve made on Facebook and Twitter, or sitting down with someone who looks familiar, only to find they’re a multi-published, award-winning author. Gee, she seemed so normal.

I’d like to finish with this thought, shared with me by a new friend:

What I think is so great about these conferences is–how giving these authors are–they all want you to succeed, as they have.

And here’s why they’re so ready to share their hard-earned secrets — at some point, someone did the same for them.

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Unlikely Merger’s SAM List

Caribbean Beach2It all started on a Love Boat Cruise to the Caribbean. You might wonder how Mercy Lacewell ended up on a cruise like that with her semi-invalid father…

Well, that’s the kind of thing that happens occasionally, even in real life. It seems like the wrong place, at the wrong time, when it could just be wrong place at the right time. Or right place, wrong time. Anyway, Mercy went on a cruise with her dad. She met a young minister named Brent Teague and something happened to her heart. The almost-romance softened her heart a little and prepared her for what was coming next.

What was coming next–

Back home, Daddy and his assistant, Madeline, decide Mercy needs more life experience. They send her out as acquisitions analyst for Lacewell Limited. Her job: to assess the companies and businesses they find, and decide if the businesses are a good investment for the company. Sounds like fun, right? Except that it’s something Mercy has never done, never thought about doing, never wanted to do. She’s perfectly happy in Denver, taking care of Dad.

First trip out: wouldn’t you know they’d end up in Texas during a freak ice storm? Mercy and Lacewell Limited’s other acquisitions analyst (Dustin Rogers) never actually make it to the destination, but they find something better, and are able to add it to the list. And Dustin gets added to Madeline’s SAM list. What’s a SAM? Single, available male (remember that).

Next stop, Watkins Glen, New York, to check out an inn. This adventure includes snow, sledding, and Landon Gates. Now we’re ready for a warmer climate. How about San Diego, CA? Nice, very nice. And once again, Mercy bumbles through her first meeting with the owner of Montoya Olive Oil–yes, that’s MOO for short. Enrique Miguel Montoya, “Ric” for short–doesn’t seem to mind. He makes her feel very much at home among his clan in their beautiful home. Mercy learns not to bite an olive fresh from the tree, no matter how ripe it looks. Ric is a welcome addition to the SAM list.

alligator-439887_1280Staying with the warmer weather, Mercy is headed to Titusville, Florida, and a gator farm. Yes, you read that right. Adventure. For this one, she takes Uncle Thomas along. I don’t blame her. Mr. Mann welcomes her–Gabe Mann. Great name, huh? After a full assessment and a medical procedure, she says goodbye to Titusville, but Gabe finds a place on the list.

Headed north, Mercy stops in Madison, Alabama for a quick look at Diana’s Burger Bistro. Will this be a good investment? She has a rather unfortunate first meeting with the chef, a surfer-type named Talon Hawthorne. But he makes a nice save by cooking a meal that pleases her palate.

Fourteen Quarters Repertory Company is located in New Orleans, Louisiana. And Douglas “Digger” Grant is the contact. Chemistry! Mercy learns all about small productions and develops a nice friendship with a man named Icky. You’ll need to read the chapter to understand that one.

Chapter Eight takes place in St. Louis, Missouri, where Mercy looks at McBride Mortgage. She feels uncertain about this one and tries her best to talk Uncle Thomas into accompanying her. But…ends up on her own with the formidable Mason McBride, until she meets IT director, Levi Shepherd. Mercy was more than happy to spend quality time getting technical with this guy. Another addition to the SAM list!

Great Barrington, Massachusetts is Mercy’s next stop, to look at a trucking company. Ahhh, New England in the spring. Rob and Steve LeClerc of LeClerc Trucking, at your service. Mercy falls pretty hard for Steve. Or 9cb57-shutterstock_40179583maybe his dog.

All the way back across this wide country of ours, Mercy lands at LAX and hits the road for Santa Monica, CA. She quickly learns there is no avoiding L.A. traffic, but that’s nothing compared to the crankiness of St. Andrew. She ends up trapped in a very small room with Reuben Miller. For three hours. Kind of a crash course, ending with Rube Miller on the SAM list.

So that brings us to the final stop on Mercy’s itinerary–in Lexington, KY–land of blue grass, beautiful horses, and Knight-Link & Associates. After a near head-on collision with someone she believes to be a handyman or plumber, she meets with Philip Knight, the owner of the architectural engineering firm. He introduces her to his nephew Daniel Knight, aka handyman/plumber, who turns out to be a designer of equine habitats. And his cowboy charm wins him a place on the list.

11112210_858579607541022_8504991036842170166_oFinal chapter, readers’ choice. One of the ten handsome, young fellows you met in the above summary has won the chance to woo Mercy. Our readers voted for their favorite. Who is it? Well, you’ll just have to read the story to find out. Today, and for the rest of the 4th of July holiday weekend, you can download it absolutely free. Don’t have a Kindle? Did you know you can get a free Kindle app on your phone or computer? Just go to Amazon Kindle and check it out.

If you miss out on the free download, Unlikely Merger be available through the remainder of July for just 99 cents.

LandingRelated articles, blogs, and posts…

Write Integrity Press: Book Release Day – Free on Kindle!

Jennifer Hallmark: 3 Questions Wednesday with Jennifer Hallmark

            Fay Lamb: Who Wrote Whom: Meet the Authors of Unlikely Merger: Suzy Moore

Write Integrity Press: One Moose of a Summer

Fay Lamb: Who Wrote Whom: Meet the Authors of Unlikely Merger: Jennifer Hallmark

        Write Integrity Press: That’s When the Crazy Started

Jennifer Hallmark: Collaborative Projects by Fay Lamb

Fay Lamb: Who Wrote Whom: Meet the Authors of Unlikely Merger: Fay Lamb