Last Winner of 2013

drum rollLast drum roll please…Connie Cortright! Congrats Connie! You’ve won the last $10 Amazon gift card we will ever give away.

Why?

Because next year the Writing Prompts Crew will start giving away bi-monthly $25 Amazon gift cards on our blog. Woo hoo!

That is in addition to prizes given away every Wednesday during our 3 Questions Wednesday interviews…

So…be extra sure you stop by and comment on our Monday and Friday posts in 2014 and win!

Have a blessed New Year’s Eve and we’ll see you next year…

Four Ways to Smoothly Transition from 2013 to 2014

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By Jennifer Hallmark

Transition time again. Here we stand at the end of December awaiting the New Year. I approach every New Year from a practical point of view and I’d like to share this with you…

(1)First, I buy a new calendar. A calendar puts me in the right frame of mind. A new year will soon be here, a clean slate for my hopes and dreams.mxor02

(2) Next, I put away Christmas. The day after Christmas I usually drag all my totes from the attic and fill them with my decorations until next Christmas rolls around. If possible, I like to have it done before New Year’s Day. I usually do a little re-arranging as I put my usual knick knacks back on the shelves and add one new item. This fresh look again reminds me of that clean slate.

(3) Now, its time for the deeper stuff. I forgive and let go. In a year’s time, people irritate me and I can carry around my own guilt, shame, or condemnation over 365 days of life. December is a good time to bring these people to mind and forgive them as Christ forgave me. It’s time for me to let go of my failures, shortcomings, and weaknesses, giving grace to myself and others.

(4) Lastly, I pray for a 2014 focus. Each December I ask God to help me focus on what He has in store for the next year. I keep my ears open for a theme, something simple like restoration, trust or healing. This encourages me and gives me a specific topic to study, prayer over, and fall back on during the New Year.

What specific ways do you transition into a New Year? Leave a comment and be entered in our last gift card drawing of 2013…

Ginger Solomon

 

044Today we welcome Ginger Solomon, author of romance – both contemporary and historical – to 3 Question Wednesday.

 

(1) Do you watch reality television? Why or why not?

Ginger: Yes, I have watched Survivor since the second half of the first season. Yep, I know it’s not real. *shrug* I don’t really care. Some of it is funny, but mostly I enjoy seeing how people interact. Despite their claims that who they are in the game is not who they are in-real-life, you know they’re lying. As the saying goes…Leopards can’t change their spots. Somewhere deep down, who they are on the game is who they are when push comes to shove and they are backed into a corner.

Other than that, I don’t watch any other reality TV shows. Too many other things vying for my time. 🙂

(2) What are your thoughts on e-publishing?

Ginger: I think it’s a good way for authors to get their work in the public eye. Yes, there are some who push books out there that should never have sat down at the computer to type, but that goes without saying. Those people exist in whatever field you explore.

(3) Which do you prefer? Facebook or Twitter?

Facebook. I have a twitter account, but I have a harder time keeping up with it.

 

Ginger’s debut novel, One Choice, will be releasing soon from Astraea Press. She lives in Madison, Alabama with her husband and seven children on a 7-acre mini farm. She spends her time homeschooling, writing, reading, and doing needle-work (crocheting or knitting).

You can find her at her blog – A Bed of Roses…Thorns Included, or on Facebook, and Twitter.

 

 

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Introducing the newest Crew Member on the Writing Prompts Blog

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Today we welcome our newest blog member, Dicky To. Enjoy learning more about this trained chef and romance writer.

(1) Welcome to the Writing Prompts Crew. Tell us a little about yourself.

I grew up in Hong Kong and was raised as a Buddhist. My family was pretty rich, and I enjoyed the luxuries of life. However, I was very unhappy because I felt unloved.

When I came to Chicago for education, I met a very beautiful girl at college. She brought me to church. I began to feel something different in the lives of the church members, something I had been quietly yearning in my heart—love. On one Saturday night, as I was reading the Bible she gave me, I felt God’s calling, and I accepted Jesus the next day.

My friendship with the girl grew. After eight years of dating her, we were married in the presence of our Lord. I am the most blessed man of all because the Lord had brought such godly, beautiful woman into my life.

Currently, my wife and I live with our two young sons in Hoffman Estates, a northwest suburb of Chicago. We attend a local church.

I enjoy cooking. I was trained as a chef in Hong Kong.

(2) How did you become interested in being a writer?

Actually, I wrote a romance fiction for my wife for our anniversary. Something inspired me to develop it into a full-length novel (well, I am still revising it at my own pace). More importantly, I’d like to deliver God’s messages to non-believers through Christian romance fiction. In November 2011, I joined ACFW.

(3) Can you tell us three unique things about you that we may not know?

* I am very sentimental so that my story is always emotionally driven.
* I love to watch Japanese romance anime like Whisper of the Heart and From Up On Poppy Hill. These stories always warm my heart.
* I still like toys because they are fun to look at and to play.
* (One extra): I love grocery shopping. I am always fascinated by the wide varieties of items a supermarket carries especially baked goods.

(4) Being Christmas Eve, could you tell me what this season means to you?

Christmas is not about giving ‘tangible’ gifts. It’s all about sharing the Love of Christ with others because Jesus is the Greatest Gift of all. That’s what my wife and I have taught our two sons.

Moreover, spending time with my family is very important on Christmas because it is the birthday of Christ, the happiest time of the year.

Thanks, Dicky. We look forward to reading your blog posts beginning in January 2014. christmas candle

A Train Station Christmas by Nike Chillemi

The Writing Prompts Crew would like to thank Nike Chillemi for contributing the following short, short story. We hope you enjoy the read.

Montauk, NY Railroad Station
December 24th, evening
Alexandra “Alex” Mink, Private Investigator

"Courtesy of Stock.xchng"Christmas Eve, what a way to usher in the holiday, performing surveillance at a train station. At least it kept me busy and prevented me from dwelling on the recent losses in my life. Who was I kidding? I couldn’t stop thinking about my undercover FBI agent fiancé having been gunned down by the gang he’d infiltrated. Nor could I forget my State Trooper partner’s murder. That’s why I’d left the force and become a private cop.

Standing on the platform, I wrapped my black-leather jacket around me against the bitter wind coming off the Atlantic. Flashing back to the designer jobbie with the fluffy fur hood the salesgirl at the outlet store tried to push on me, I had to admit, that one now had some appeal. Mine was lined, but what beat out that other coat is this one had side pockets large enough to conceal my Beretta.

My client, an eccentric billionaire with a phobia against calling the police, had a killer after him. So he hired me for protection.

My cell phone rang. It was Kirby, my part-time assistant, a full-time gamer, and a techno wiz. He had determined the hit man would come to this northern, seaside resort-town on the commuter train, appearing to be a holiday traveler.

The day before yesterday, I’d spent hours in my car staking out the station. Yesterday I’d used Kirby’s car for surveillance. Today I checked out the place on foot. The trains had come in regularly, expelling passengers laden with luggage and gaily wrapped holiday packages.

The only thing of note was the elderly pot-bellied gent with a scruffy white beard they’d recently hired as a janitor. The man had to be in his seventies. So, it wasn’t likely he was my hit man.

My cell phone rang. “Alex, I’ve got new info. You’re looking for an attractive dark-haired Latino with a mole near his nose. The women find him debonair. Oh, and Merry Christmas.” Kirby chuckled as he rang off.

I walked inside, glad to get out of the cold. Then I moseyed up to the ticket counter, asked for a schedule, sat on a bench, and pretended to peruse it.

The janitor, wearing a pair of plaid flannel overalls, dutifully swept the station. As he came my way, he nodded, smiled. “Merry Christmas, Miss.”

I forced myself to smile back, not feeling in the least cheery and bright.

A train pulled to a stop at the platform. Passengers rushed through the station for their cars parked in the lot, or a taxi. A man in a wool overcoat carried a large cardboard box with the image of a nativity scene on its front. He set the box down to the side of the ticket counter and asked for a monthly ticket for January.

The old gent ambled over to the box. Holding onto his broom for support, he dropped to one knee. When he briefly bowed his head, I got the impression he was praying. Nawh, couldn’t be.

I stood and took a few steps toward him.

Just as the commuter turned to retrieve his box, the old man stood and walked away. He murmured something like, “I remember it well. The glory shown in the night sky.”

“Excuse me. What did you say?”

“Nothing, dear. What are you doing here at this late hour on Christmas Eve? That was the last train.”

“I’ve been waiting for someone, but he didn’t show.”

“I’m sure a lovely young lady such as yourself has folks to spend this joyous night with.”

With my punk-spiky black hair, I’d been called a lot of things, but lovely young lady usually wasn’t one of them. “I have a friend or two I could crash in on.”

He seemed to usher me toward the door and I found myself walking with him, though my professional gut instinct was to wait.

The door of the men’s room opened and there stood a drop-dead-gorgeous Hispanic male who could’ve adorned the cover of GQ. And yup, he had a mole by this nose.

“Do you think I don’t know who you are?” He pulled from under his black-leather duster an AK-47 with its stock cut down and trained it on me.

I had to give him points for the cool black leather.

The old gent stepped in front of me before I could get my Beretta out of my pocket, and I’m a fast draw. Then time seemed to slow down and a faint glowing appeared around the old man.

“Ah, but the thing is, you don’t know who I am.” He hurled his broom as if it were an Irish Shillelagh and it crossed the room in a nanosecond. It knocked the wind out of the pretty boy and set him on his derriere.

I rushed over, kicked the AK-47 out of reach, and slapped a pair of hand cuffs on our unhappy guest. Then I called 911.

As the police left with the would-be assassin in tow, the old janitor said to me, “You’ve done a good thing. The world is safer with this evil man put away. You made Christmas a bit merrier than it might’ve been had that one had his way.”

Author Information:

IMG_1320Nike Chillemi has been called the crime fictionista due to her love of a good mystery story. Alexandra “Alex” Mink will be one of four female detectives and/or operatives, each having their own novel in the upcoming Authorized Operations series. Of course, the female detectives will each have a dashing male hero as her counterpoint. The first novel, introducing the series, HARMFUL INTENT, will debut in the spring of 2014. To find out more about Nike and her suspense stories: http://nikechillemi.wordpress.com/

Nativity photo Courtesy of Stock.xchng.

Betty Thomason Owens

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Today we welcome Betty Thomason Owens, author and member of the Writing Prompts Crew, to 3 Questions Wednesday.

(1) Do you watch reality television? Why or why  not?

Betty:  Unless you count that southern dynasty show I sometimes watch with my son, no, I don’t watch reality television. Why? After one season of following Dancing With the Stars, I swore off reality television. I was so disappointed when the favorite, most talented dancer lost out to the one with the most friends who called in.

(2) What are your thoughts on  e-publishing?

Betty: I’m a fan of e-publishing when it’s done well. The story should be well-crafted and this means spending the time and/or the money to perfect your work. “Study to show yourself approved.” In other words, do the work before, during, and after. Let your creation speak for itself. My adventure fantasy novels were self-pubbed. They’re not perfect, but they were a learning process for me. I’ve seen authors do very well with their e-pubbed books, and I applaud them because I know how much work it takes to get their work out there and keep the process going.

(3) Which do you prefer? Facebook or  Twitter?

Betty: Like so many others have said, Facebook, because it’s more personal. I’ve been able to connect with friends and family all around the country. I love seeing pictures of their children and spouses and pets. It makes me feel I’m a part of their lives, even though so many miles separate us.

I do use Twitter, but I’m sometimes disappointed by all the ads on there. I love when someone connects with me, thanks me for following, or asks how I’m doing. Or, as one follower said recently, “I used to live in the Bluegrass area. Beautiful country.” Most often it’s: “Buy this” or “Look at this.” That’s okay, because Twitter is a great way to get your information out there, but don’t overlook the power of a personal word. Take a moment to encourage and reach out to your followers in a more personal way.

262944_xlA member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Bluegrass Christian Writers, she has self-published two Lady of the Haven Novels, inspirational fantasy-adventure. She has written historical fiction novels and will be published in early 2014 in a multi-authored Romantic Comedy novella for Valentine’s Day.

Along with her duties here, Betty blogs on her website, www.bettythomasonowens.com. You can find her on Facebook, where you can also “like” her author page, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn.

For a chance to win a free copy of her book (print or ebook), “The Lady of the Haven,” please leave a comment on this post.

What’s Your Favorite Christmas Movie?

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By Jennifer Hallmark

I love November and December! The holidays bring our family together sharing traditions, conversation, and good food. We enjoy shopping, riding around our community to spy out new Christmas decorations, and winter sports. Something I look forward to each year is watching my favorite Christmas movies and shows.

A Christmas Carol (1984) starring George C. Scott is classic Dickens. The portrayal of Scrooge is masterfully done. Two scenes stand out to me. The scene with a homeless family sitting in the cold eating potatoes that had fallen off a wagon. Then the creepy specter of Christmas yet to come, especially where Scrooge sees his own gravesite.

Christmas cartoons I love include Frosty the Snowman with Jimmy Durante, and Jackie Vernon, Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer with Burl Ives, and A Charlie Brown Christmas. My favorite is Dr. Suess’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas with Boris Karloff.

White Christmas is a beloved family film and my daughter’s must see Christmas movie starring Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye. It’s a Wonderful Life with James Stewart and Donna Reed is another classic holiday film.its_a_wonderful_life

Now it’s your turn. What’s your favorite Christmas movie?

Writing Prompt: Jenna turned on the television and within moments tears formed. Not again. The last evening she spent with Lyle they’d watched…