Cleaning and Organizing the Pinterest Way

By Jennifer Hallmark

What is better than a clean, organized home? I can’t think of much. I love the smell of a freshly laundered, dust-free, and everything-in-its-place house. But with six grandchildren who enjoy visiting Mamaw and Papaw and a full-time job writing, who has the time? Or the money to hire someone to scrub and scour?

Betty has already shared the way she schedules her cleaning. If you missed it, check it out here. But maybe you’re like me and can’t seem to follow a schedule when it comes to cleaning. I’ll start with a schedule but then notice that something (not on the list) needs to be done that day and I just have to clean that item. Then I’m off schedule. Again.

So, what’s a person to do?

Pinterest.

I’ve found so many great ideas and tips to first organize, then clean. So I thought I’d share some straight off my page and maybe they can help you create that clean and organized living space. https://www.pinterest.com/jenlhallmark989/cleaningorganizing-tips/

Organize

  1. Tips for Organizing Your Home for Spring Cleaning- This article takes your house, room by room, and shares good tips for putting it back in shape.
  2. 22 Things to Get Rid of Right Now-I loved this simple list.
  3. 20 Mind-Blowing Organization Ideas-Good all-around organizing tips.
  4. How to Organize Your Entire House: A Ten-Week Plan-For you planners, here it is, all written out.

Clean

  1. 3 Genius Hacks For Swiffers That Will Save You Money-I loved this one because, well, I love my Swiffer and it saved me money. 😊
  2. How to Wash Walls in 5 Easy Steps-Simple tips for that normally hard job.
  3. 20 of the Most Popular Cleaning Tricks on Pinterest-And here are twenty tricks all in one place.
  4. How To Clean Your Microwave In 3 Easy Steps-Am I the only one who looks in the microwave and can’t believe the mess? Here’s your answer.

Try out some of these ideas and tips and let me know what you think by leaving a comment. I’ve got to go now. I’m in the middle of organizing and cleaning the “toy” room I’m creating for the grandchildren. Now where are my rubber gloves?

Writing prompt: Needed: Money to

Click to tweet: I’ve found so many great ideas and tips to first organize, then clean.

5 Reasons to Love Wemmicks, Parables, and Max Lucado Books

By Jennifer Hallmark

wemmickDo you know what Wemmicks are? How about little Hermie? If not, you probably haven’t read a Max Lucado book to a child yet.

What? You didn’t know that my all-time favorite non-fiction author of encouraging, inspirational books for adults also writes children’s books? Then let me share with you 5 reasons you need to read these books…child reading

  • The Wemmicks– There are at least 5 books featuring the Wemmicks, small wooden people carved by a woodworker named Eli. The issues and situations they deal with definitely mirror those we encounter daily. Max addresses these issues gently, displaying the grace of God.
  • They touch your heart-One book I especially love is “Just In Case You Ever Wonder.” I cannot read this to my grandchildren without tearing up. We are so special to God and this book is simple enough for a child to understand, but deep in truth.
  • Little Hermie books-They are extremely easy to read with bright illustrations children enjoy. And I love the way Max uses insects as the main characters.
  • Christmas stories-Beside A Fruitcake Christmas, which is a little Hermie story, there is Itsy Bitsy Christmas: You’re Never Too Little For His Love, The Crippled Lamb, and one that I own, The Christmas Story for Children. Again, basic truth written for all ages.
  • Parables, Love and Acceptance-The basic theme of all these books is grace. They resonate with the parable of the prodigal son’s message: If you cry out to God, He will hear and come running. You and your children will feel the one-of-a-kind of love the Father has for you through the sweet messages in Max Lucado’s books.

(Click to Tweet): 5 reasons to love Wemmicks, parables, and Max Lucado books. https://ctt.ec/SD4ff+ #amwriting #amreading

20170214_134402Oh, and as for his selection of books for adults? I presently own ten, but would love to have them all. The first inspirational Christian book I ever read was When God Whispers Your Name. Someone at the church I had just started attending gave it to me, saying they felt like I needed it. They were right. It opened a whole new world of reading and drawing closer to God.

My favorite Lucado books are When God Whispers Your Name, In the Grip of Grace, On the Anvil, Facing Your Giants, and the mini-book, Give It All to Him. I buy that last one in large quantities and give them away. The parable within is a wonderful tool for witnessing to the lost or strengthening anyone who needs a little reassurance.

I’ve just purchased one of his latest, a novel titled Miracle at the Higher Grounds Café. I can’t wait to see what encouragement and surprises await me.

So why don’t you give those Wemmicks a try? You’ll be glad you did…

Writing Prompt: The Max Lucado book lay near the fireplace, just inches from the burning logs. I’d meant for it to go in when I threw it but it seemed to have a mind of its own. I fell to my knees as…

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How Can a New Year’s Resolution Help My Writing?

By Jennifer Hallmark

new-years-eve-1941665_960_7202017. Relief washes over me as I realize it’s a new season. A time to start again, with a feeling almost like spring bursting forth in all its glory.

Except it’s cold. And nothing is blooming.

But it’s still a time of newness, and many people make resolutions or set goals every January for what they’d like to do, see, lose, gain, or buy during the New Year. Others, like myself, don’t like to promise to do things (mainly lose weight or write more) since they probably won’t follow through. But resolutions are worth looking into…

I pulled up dictionary.com and looked up the definition of a resolution. They say a resolution is: the act of resolving or determining upon an action, course of action,method, procedure, etc. A decision or determination; the mental state or quality of being resolved or resolute; firmness of purpose.

Oh. This sounds more like a plan than wishful thinking. Maybe there is something to making resolutions. But first, I always pray about a focus for each year. A thought or scripture to wrap my mind around so when life gets hard, I can remember and not lose heart. This year, my focus is to be thankful. Just pure, simple gratitude.

focus

Okay, so I have my focus to remember to be thankful. And maybe coming up with a plan is not a bad thing. I’ve researched this and found some very useful articles. So if you’re a writer and need help getting started this year too, here are the results of my research:

(1) Writer’s Digest. How to Develop a Writing Plan.

(2) Writers Helping Writers. Will This Be Your Year? Making a Writing Plan and Take Out the Guesswork.

(3) The Write Conversation. 9 Writing Productivity Mistakes to Avoid.

(4) Helping Writers Become Authors. 5 Ways to Make Better Writing Resolutions in 2016. 

(5)  Writer’s Digest. The Setback: How to Successfully Start Writing Again.

pencil picCheck them out. Then, like me, sit down and write out a plan or guide to keep you moving forward in 2017. And if you decide on choosing a focus, write it down and place it where you can see it often.

And let’s keep on writing!

Writing Prompt: Edith stared at the computer screen. She’d written Chapter One at the top of her page. Her first novel began with three words, the ones she couldn’t get out of her head. They were…

All Things Wedding

By Jennifer Hallmark

wedding flowersI dreamed of a wedding of elaborate elegance,
A church filled with family and friends.
I asked him what kind of a wedding he wished for,
He said one that would make me his wife.

~Author Unknown

This quote made me smile. June is traditionally the month of weddings and here at the Writing Prompts blog, we’ll discuss all things wedding. Whether a wedding is a simple ceremony among a few friends or as extravagant as Princess Diana’s, some type of ceremony can be found in almost all cultures and countries. Join us throughout the month of June. Maybe we’ll learn something new.

Mandy's wedding

Mandy’s wedding

Weddings are very much on my mind these days, though none of my immediate family married in June. Mom and Dad married in September as did my daughter, Mandy. My husband and I married in July. My son will be newly wedded (May 27th) by the time you read this post. When I think of the weddings I’ve been personally involved with, several words come to mind:

Beauty                         Romantic

Stress                           Hurry

Good food           Flowers          Surprises

 

And did I mention stress? I’m still looking for my dress and considering the groom’s table. That’s as far as I’ve gotten. Did I mention it’s only two weeks until the wedding? Sigh. But like all the others, it will somehow fall into place and we’ll look back with fond memories.

As a writer, I’ve thought a lot about weddings over the past couple of years. I’ve written a novel tentatively titled “When Wedding and Weather Collide.” If you knew me very well, you’ve find it amusing that I’m writing a book with a wedding as a major plot point. I never really dreamed about weddings as a teenager, though I always figured I’d marry someday. I didn’t have a scrapbook like my daughter or any thoughts on a wedding dress.

Our weddingSo when my boyfriend proposed, almost 34 years ago, I said okay. I couldn’t think of an argument against it. I was finishing a semester at college so Mom did a lot of my planning. I remember I didn’t want a traditional bride and groom cake topper, so I found a bell and dove to go on top. I wanted pink in the wedding because it was my favorite color. I borrowed a dress, planned a fairly simple ceremony, and we became husband and wife.

In my novel, I really enjoyed planning the wedding. I found the perfect dress, picked out colors, cakes, bridesmaid’s dresses, and even invitations. You can see all of my findings on my Pinterest page here.

So, in a way, I discovered a perfect wedding. 30 something years later. But that’s okay. Maybe one day, I’ll sell the movie rights and we can all watch the wedding on the Hallmark channel…  🙂


Writing Prompt: Complete this thought…

Lila stepped into the fabulous, lace-covered gown that had been her grandmother’s. The few alterations had made it fit like it had been made for her. Her best friend, Anne, started to zip the gown, then stopped.

“Uh, oh.”

“What do you mean, uh oh?”

The Crocodile Hunter and the Writer

crocodileBy Jennifer Hallmark

I have no fear of losing my life – if I have to save a koala or a crocodile or a kangaroo or a snake, mate, I will save it.”-Steve Irwin

When I think of Australia, one of the first things that come to mind is crocodiles. Large, salt-water, scary, teeth-filled reptiles that can grow to 17 feet long. Yes, the stuff nightmares are made of.

Also The Crocodile Hunter, Steve Irwin. I really enjoyed his shows where he and his family would rescue, doctor, and feed the terrifying crocodile. Steve and his wife, Terri, were major proponents of conservation. Instead of a honeymoon, the couple took the chance to embark on a crocodile rescue mission and film the project for a wildlife documentary. According to Wikipedia, film footage of their honeymoon, taken by John Stainton, became the first episode of The Crocodile Hunter. (Shown below)

Irwin was a passionate conservationist and believed in promoting environmentalism by sharing his excitement about the natural world rather than preaching to people. He was concerned with conservation of endangered animals and land clearing leading to loss of habitat. He considered conservation to be the most important part of his work: “I consider myself a wildlife warrior. My mission is to save the world’s endangered species.”

While I didn’t always agree with all his philosophies about conservation and life in general, there was something about a man totally sold out to what he believed. On September 4, 2006, Irwin was on location at Batt Reef, near Port Douglas, Queensland, taking part in the production of the documentary series, Ocean’s Deadliest. He was snorkeling in shallow water when he was stung by a stingray in the heart and died.

He had given his all to see the message of conservation reach others. As a writer, what is my message? You might say, “But I write fiction”. All writing has a point to make, even if it is to purely entertain. Every book, whether non-fiction or fiction, has a theme. Have you thought about what you are trying to convey through your writing?

One theme I try to incorporate in all my writing is hope. I also love to include symbolism in subtle ways throughout my writing. Many times, in writing the first draft, I do this sub-consciously, only to notice it later in a read through. It is part of who I am and shows up in my writing.

writing450Crocodile hunting and writing. Maybe there not as different as you first thought. Both need passion to keep moving forward, courage to tackle the tough assignments, and a willingness to see it through to the end. I leave you with these questions.

  • What is your message?
  • What is your specific work’s theme?
  • What are you trying to convey through writing?

This is the final month before our big blog-a-versary celebration in June! You can enter our contest to win a $100 gift card simply by finishing one or all of our writing prompts offered on our regular Monday and Friday posts. If you haven’t already, you may want to follow this blog to receive an email each time we have a new blog post. The “follow” link can be found to the right of this post. Or, you can also “like” our Facebook page to stay up with the news.


Writing Prompt: Write a short paragraph from the prompt below. Don’t think of a theme or message. Just write it fast and from the heart. Then analyze the finished product and see what the subtle (or not so subtle) message is.

Uluru, a massive sandstone monolith, towered over our camp, magnificent even in the fading light of day. The place was sacred, or so said Daku, our young Aborigine guide. I turned, suddenly aware of a force emanating from somewhere above…uluru-1076320_1280

Golden Age of Detective Fiction

Sherlock By Jennifer HallmarkThis month, in honor of the topic, Favorite Historical Time Period, I’m writing to you as a reader. Reading is like breathing to me. I always have three or four books going at the same time; both fiction and non-fiction.  Though I enjoy reading and writing Southern fiction and fantasy, my personal favorite novels to unwind with are British mysteries from the Golden Age of Detective Fiction.

Authors such as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle [Sherlock Holmes], Margery Allingham [Albert Campion], Agatha Christie [Poirot, Miss Marple], Ngaio Marsh [Inspector Alleyn], and Dorothy Sayers [Lord Peter Wimsey] enjoyed great success predominantly during the 1920’s and 1930’s. With the exception of Doyle, most of their novels take place after World War I through the early 1950s.

Blue_plaque_re_Dorothy_L_Sayers_on_23_and_24_Gt__James_Street,_WC1_-_geograph_org_uk_-_1237429I love reading about the detectives during these years and the way their work intermingled with the war. Albert Campion, Lord Peter Wimsey, and Inspector Alleyn all worked in the war effort as spies, ambassadors, or agents. The characters are imperfect, real, honest, and wonderfully created. I could go on and on about them all but for lack of space, I’ll just mention Lord Peter Death Brendon Wimsey.

“Lord Peter” as he is referred to by most of the other characters in the book, is described as being of average height, with straw-colored hair, a beaked nose, and a vaguely foolish face. Behind the foolish face, however, lie keen analytical skill, athletic prowess, and unmatched persistence. He uses his royal stature, the son of the Duke and Dowager Duchess of Denver, as an aid to gathering information and gaining access to help him solve cases that puzzle the local police and Scotland Yard.

This character is endearing to me, a real hero, for several reasons. He has weaknesses, but keeps moving forward in spite of them. During his time as a young man in service during World War I, he suffers shell shock or what we now call post-traumatic stress disorder. When Lord Peter is overworked or tired, he struggles with relapses from the war in the form of nightmares and physical ailments. This only makes me want to cheer for him more.

Another reason is his love for Harriet Vane. After taking up her case where she’s been falsely accused, he proves her innocent of the crime of murdering her ex-boyfriend. Lord Peter saves her from the gallows, but she believes that gratitude is not a good foundation for marriage, and politely but firmly declines his frequent proposals. After solving several cases together over a period of several years, they finally reach the point where she must make a decision in the novel, Gaudy Night, a personal favorite.

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My Sayers and Allingham novels

I’ve bought and read the majority of the books by Dorothy Sayers and Margery Allingham. I’m now in the process of collecting Ngaio Marsh’s well-written mysteries with Inspector Roderick Alleyn. I’ve just finished book 15.

 

If you find yourself in need of something different to read, I’d highly recommend the mysteries of the Golden Age of Detective Fiction.
Tweet: #Reading is like breathing to me. http://ctt.ec/JcmU1+ #fiction

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My newest detective books

Writing Prompt: I glanced at my bookcase, brimming over with detective stories. Which one should I read tonight? Suddenly…

Grand Prize Winners of Our Once Upon a Christmas Giveaway

OnceUponaChristmas
Wow. 2016 is here. And nothing is more fun than announcing winners to kick off this new year.

Let’s start with Lori Stanley Roeleveld’s book Red Pen Redemption. The winner is…Phee Paradise. Congrats, Phee!

Once Upon a Christmas Giveaway

We offered three sets of prizes for our grand prize winners.

Readers giveaway – $25 Barnes and Noble card, Books: Tessa and Clara BessWarm Mulled Kisses box set, Crooked Lines, Plum Pudding Bride

Writer’s giveaway – $10 Starbucks card, Books: The First Five Pages, The Time Keeper,  Heart Seekers box set, Tsunami 2004

Shopper’s giveaway – $10 Walmart gift card, bracelet, necklace and earrings, Books: Glimpses of the Savior devotions, First and Goal (football devotional)

Now the moment you are all waiting for:drum roll

We are happy to announce three big winners:

(1)Reader’s giveaway-Caryl Kane.

(2)Writer’s giveaway-Sparks of Ember.

(3)Shopper’s giveaway-Deborah Dunson.

Congratulations to all our winners! We’ll be getting in touch with you soon so we can send those gifts to you!

We’ll also be having another big giveaway to celebrate our blog’s 4-year anniversary. Our Blogaversary!

Make sure to leave comments on our Monday and Friday posts in 2016 to be eligible for more great prizes throughout the year…and don’t forget our weekly 3 Questions Wednesday interviews.

We’d also like to give a big shout out for our top four commenters of 2015:

Hip Hip Hooray to Deanna, Sparks, Amy, and Caryl!

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