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

Therapeutic Writing

Therapeutic writing. What thought pops into your mind when you read or hear those words?

As an author, I often write to cleanse my heart and mind of painful things. I’ve found it therapeutic. So, I was not surprised to hear this discussed in a writer’s meeting.

Not only did the exercise help a young woman process the pain of loss, but those writings helped her form a scene in her work-in-progress, as her main character dealt with the loss of a loved one. In the finished product, the character’s emotions are raw, her actions and conversations, achingly real. Readers will fully engage with the scene and the character.

What about non-writers–ordinary folks looking for a way to ease their emotional suffering?

I’m not a professional counselor, but I would suggest it to anyone. When I journal my feelings, I’m not writing for others, so I don’t have to worry about grammar, spelling, or sentence construction. I just pick up a pen, or open a new document on my preferred electronic device, and start writing. I write out my pain, shout my anger, tell a deceased loved one how I feel. All the things I didn’t have the chance to say when they were still alive.

Then what? I keep it hidden away. Shred it. Burn it. It’s up to me. Most writers will definitely want to keep theirs, and remember the depths of pain and despair, so they can write from their heart and bring a scene to life.

But what if someone can’t, or doesn’t want to write? Talk. There’s an app for that. Find a free, or inexpensive speech-to-text program and use it. Sometimes, seeing those words in written form–repeating them out loud–promotes healing. Sometimes.

I love to go for long walks. And those seem to be the times when my creative processes are flowing. I have all kinds of ideas. So I get out my phone, open a note, and start dictating. Sometimes I throw them out, but many times, I find good material that I can use in my work.

Mom, please write down your memories! How many times have I heard this? One of my sons wants me to write down the stories I’ve heard all my life. Stories about long-dead family members. Stories that will be lost, unless someone writes them down. Telling those stories is a quick and easy way to store them. Then I can transcribe them or use a speech to text program to bring them into a word document.

This process is both therapeutic and healing for me, because some of these memories bring up old hurts and painful losses. Talking them out, writing them down, can help me deal with the pain and restore my hope.

Though I’ve barely tapped the surface here, I hope I’ve encouraged a reader or two, or at least given you food for thought. If you’d like to study it further, there are numerous articles written on the subject of therapy writing or journaling. It’s important that you resist guilt feelings over delayed or prolonged grieving. And never assume to know exactly what someone is going through (even if you’ve suffered a similar loss or trauma).

Everyone processes emotion in their own way. This is why I believe writing therapy is a good thing, because it is so personal.

How do you process grief?

(Click to Tweet)  Everyone processes trauma or loss in their own way. #WritingTherapy #journal


Who won last week’s book giveaway?

Congratulations, Sandra Ardoin! And happy reading. I hope you enjoy the book!

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