See The Need

Writing in a time of uncertainty can be therapeutic. Finding ways to express our deepest fears, our repressed sorrows, can heal us from the inside out.

I think of the stories, poetry, and songs written during the great wars, pandemics, and struggles of our past. Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath, is one of those, among many. I know my readers could name more.

“I know why the caged bird sings, ah me,
When his wing is bruised and his bosom sore,—
When he beats his bars and he would be free;
It is not a carol of joy or glee,
But a prayer that he sends from his heart’s deep core,
But a plea, that upward to Heaven he flings —
I know why the caged bird sings!”

– from the poem, Sympathy by Paul Lawrence Dunbar, the inspiration for Maya Angelou’s biographical novel, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings – one of my favorite books.

The Christy Family, 1937

I was thinking the other day of all the things my mother’s eyes have seen. She was born in the dust bowl, in the midst of the Great Depression. Her parents moved to Seattle where rain fell often enough to dispel the dust. Her mother could breathe again.

Mom was seven years old when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. Fear hung over them as their society changed. Suddenly, their safe harbor seemed threatened. Would the enemy attack here, too? The U.S. Navy and Coast Guard scrambled to protect the vulnerable West coast.

The fear was real. Around her, the Japanese nationals were herded into internment camps to protect the general population. New words entered their vocabulary. Words like rationing and shortages. The face of the nation changed almost overnight. The sleeping giant had awakened.

And then Hiroshima.

Fast-forward to 1950 when the U.S. sent soldiers to help defend South Korea from North Korea. Mom gave birth to two children before the Korean War ended. I was the second born.

War, pestilence (polio and influenza), more wars and upheaval, happened over the next few decades. Our nation suffered a collective shock as we watched the scenes from Texas on television: our president was shot. We suffered a great loss that day.

I remember Vietnam. Many of my classmates were drafted or joined to avoid the draft. All the young men had draft cards. Some left, never to return. College campuses erupted in riots, protesting a war they felt we didn’t need to be involved in.

And then, Martin Luther King, Jr., was assassinated in Memphis. Another great loss amidst national shock. Riots erupted. Two months later, presidential hopeful Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated. Rioting continued.

What kind of world was this?

What kind of world is this now? What does our future hold?

Will normal ever return? This is the question Mom recently asked me. I saw the weariness in her eyes. She’s tired. Sometimes, I am too.

It is becoming all too clear that many of our children and our children’s children know very little about the history of their nation. Is it not important to teach them these things? To help them understand why?

My son, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you, making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. – Proverbs 2:1-5

Knowledge. Understanding. Wisdom.

Ask and it will be given. The best place to start is here, in the Word of God. This is the most important history lesson of all.

I encourage you to consider teaching your children and grandchildren. Read them stories from our history. Help them gain an understanding of what is happening all around them. Help them find their footing in this sideways world.

Teach them the most important commandments: to love the Lord our God with all our hearts, minds, souls, and to love our neighbors as ourselves.

It’s a start, a new beginning. Baby steps? Perhaps, but moving forward. Our future depends on moving forward.

Will normal return? Yes, but it may not look like the old normal.

See the need and become part of the answer.

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. – Jeremiah 29:11 ESV

 

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/

 

More

“Please, sir, I want some more.” —Charles Dickens, Oliver Twist

You know that moment when someone poses the question you’ve always wanted to ask, but never had the nerve? I remember the collective gasp of the roomful of orphans in this scene in Oliver Twist. No one had ever dared ask for a second helping. So, they waited with bated breath for what they all knew would come next.

coffee, cup, laptop, memeHello, Thursday Morning readers!

Are you wondering where I’m headed with that opening? Me too! It all started with my need to finish a project for my publisher. When I wrote “The End,” and declared it “a wrap,” I hoped to put writing aside for a few weeks and get busy on some household chores. A little spring cleaning, painting, organizing. All those things waiting in the wings for me to tackle.

But sometimes work takes precedence. Already, the marketing needs to be done. Which means I have to continue writing things to get ready for the release of the book I so recently finished, while it’s fresh in my mind, and also because time has a way of sneaking up on you.

So, I’ve gone back to the land of Annabelle’s Ruth. Not that I mind. You know, I was already missing Annabelle, Connie, Alton, Tom, and Miss Lillian. They are like old friends. Or maybe like my cousins who live where Annabelle lives. Whenever I have time to visit, it’s like I never left.

Back to Oliver’s question, it was my publisher who asked for more. I was like the roomful of orphans, staring back at her, waiting for the inevitable explosion. But of course, it didn’t come. Not out loud, anyway. After a bit of thought, I realized, in this case, a little more was just the thing.  I’ll scrape the bottom of the pot and see what I can come up with. Sometimes, that’s the yummiest part.

Click to Tweet: You know that moment when someone poses the question you’ve always wanted to ask, but never had the nerve? #amwriting More

I trust you’re having a wonderful spring. If you’re a mom, I hope this Mother’s Day holds many blessings. I look forward to spending time with some of my family this weekend. And then, it’s back to the writing board. Maybe a dash more adventure is what is needed, rather than washing walls and scrubbing baseboards. Oh, and don’t be afraid to ask for More!

And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. —Luke 11:9 ESV

Thankful for the Busyness

Hello, Thursday Morning friends! No, that title is not a typo. Or maybe it is. Is it still a typo if it’s done on purpose? 🙂

The other day I was complaining (to myself–no one else was here), that I had so much to do, I couldn’t do it all, not in one day. And the days ahead looked every bit as busy. Would I ever catch up? So, I complained to myself, loudly. Whined. Woe is me.

When I finally got quiet, I heard this still, small voice inside: “Be thankful you’re busy.”

Some of this “busyness” pays. Some of it doesn’t pay $$, but it’s necessary to maintain a clean house and a happy husband. Happy family. Some of the busyness involves committees and groups, things that don’t pay money, but add value in so many other ways, like: friendship, fellowship, training and growth.

And then there’s the writing gig. If you’re a writer, reading this, I know you feel my pain. I’m torn when the inspiration hits and I’m on the job with too much work to accomplish to take even a moment to jot something down, or leave myself a voice message. Or write run-on sentences. Or breathe.In our overly-busy oft-interrupted daily lives, we sometimes yearn for quiet moments of leisure. A mini-vacation from the routine, away from phones and noise and the pursuit of $$.

That’s where my heart was the other day when I was…whining. And that still, small voice reminded me to be thankful. Grateful.

Gratitude: the quality of being thankful; a strong feeling of appreciation.

It’s an attitude. Something I need to cultivate and remember in the trenches, when I’m sweating a deadline, whether it’s taxes due or my latest manuscript. Some people don’t have jobs or ways and means of supporting themselves. They long for the chance to be published. They’d love to serve on committees and lead groups.

So, here I am with a humble attitude, realizing that I’m flawed, but grateful. Thankful. Loving the busyness of my life. Happy in the moment. This moment, right now. Making it count.

In ordinary life, we hardly realize that we receive a great deal more than we give, and that it is only with gratitude that life becomes rich.–Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Click to Tweet: In our overly-busy oft-interrupted daily lives, we sometimes yearn for quiet moments of leisure. Thankful for the busyness via @batowens #grateful #thankful

A Lesson in Love – Support Your Local Author

Hello, Thursday Morning, and all those who happen by today.  Most of our part of the country received a blast of Arctic air this week, along with snow. If you were snowed in, I hope you enjoyed your time off.

I poured myself an extra cup of coffee and enjoyed the view. I don’t mind snow, as long as I don’t have to get out in it.

I’ve been thinking about writers this week. Most writers work hard and make very little. A few hit it big and make a name for themselves. Some end up working it as a job, others as a hobby.

If you’re a writer, you know the loneliness of pursuing the craft. Sometimes, a writer’s own family doesn’t realize how much “blood, sweat, and tears” goes into the work they do. And when the work is done, and the book is out there–its creator is biting his or her fingernails, waiting to see whether anyone will read it. Or like it.

Do you have a writer in the family? Here’s a way you can support that loved one. Buy the books. Don’t wait for your writer friend or family member to offer you a freebie, those books cost her a lot of $$. Head out to the bookstore, or click over to Amazon and buy the book.

Display the books. Have a bookshelf dedicated to the writer you love.  Brag on her when company comes. Displaying the books may catch their interest enough that they go home and buy the book.

Give the books as gifts. Make the gift special by getting it autographed.

Read the book. Okay, this one may be the most difficult. You don’t like to read, you don’t like your writer’s style. Not everyone likes the genre the writer may have chosen. In that case, at least skim the book. Read the reviews on Amazon. Get an idea of what’s in the book. Talk to the your writer friend or family member about their research, which may have been extensive. This may bore you to tears, but remember, we’re talking about love here. You are showing your support.

This is how you encourage your local author. It also shows that you love this writer and appreciate the hard work that goes in to each of their creations. Help your star shine, if only for a moment.

…I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. — Ephesians 4: 1-3 NIV