A Little Bit of Heaven in West Virginia

By Tammy Trail

I can’t think of a single family gathering that did not involve food. My earliest memory of eating apple pie was during a trip to West Virginia to visit my Dad’s family. He was very close to his grandparents, and we were invited to eat dinner with them one evening.

After dinner, my great-grandmother laid a freshly baked apple pie in the middle of the table. Even at the tender age of five, I could tell this was no ordinary pie. This pie did not come from a cardboard carton with a cellophane top, and there was no shiny tin “pie plate” that could later be used as a play tambourine. Nor was it once frozen to be thawed and baked later. This pie lay in an aged pie plate, one that must have seen years of sweet confections. Its crust was golden and flaky, made by loving hands. The aroma of apple and cinnamon was too mouthwatering to ignore. It was a smell that reminded one of heavenly perfection.

apple-pie-1229076__180As a child, I was a very picky eater. I was given the name “Inspector Jones”, because if it didn’t smell right or looked funny, there was no way I was going to eat it. But, this pie begged to be eaten. I think my Dad would have been disappointed if I had turned down Great-Grandma’s pie.

Once the piece was laid in front of me, I notice the layers of apples stacked between sticky syrup, sprinkled with cinnamon. I took the first bite, and fell in love. It was all that my eyes had promised it would be and more. To tell the truth, I haven’t tasted another apple pie like it since that day.

Once I tried making a pie from scratch. We had a neighbor who became disabled after serving in the Army during the Vietnam war. He was mowing his yard one day and just decided to go ahead and mow our lawn, too. I was so grateful that I baked him an apple pie. I didn’t do the lattice pie crust on the top like my great-grandma had, but instead I did a crumble top with brown sugar, cinnamon, butter and a bit of flour. Turned out great. I made one for our wee family too.

He absolutely loved it! And I was so happy that he was pleased.

photo-256887_1280Recipes are like old pictures handed down from one generation to the next. I wish that I could ask my great-grandmother how she made her pie crust, but it most likely would not have turned out the same.

There is something to be said for women who love to cook. The most important ingredient is LOVE. Love of cooking, of sharing your art, and a love of seeing others enjoying it too. Here’s a pie recipe you’ll want to try from Pillsbury https://www.pillsbury.com/recipes/perfect-apple-pie/1fc2b60f-0a4f-441e-ad93-8bbd00fe5334

Writing Prompt:

What are some of your favorite dishes handed down from an older generation?



Grand Prize Winners of Our Once Upon a Christmas Giveaway

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!

fireworks 2

Christmas Roundup – The Writing Prompts Crew

December seems like the best time to take a few moments and introduce you to the Writing Prompts Crew. We’ve added and subtracted over the years, but always end up with a really good group of writers. You can find more information about each of our writers, along with information and buy links for their published books by clicking “The Crew” tab above, or the link provided at the end of each bio. And please read to the end of this post for important information and details about the Once Upon a Christmas Giveaway!

Jennifer HallmarkJennifer Hallmark is co-founder of the Writing Prompts blog. She’s a writer by nature, an artist at heart, and daughter of God by His grace. She’s published over 200 articles and interviews on the internet. Through the Writing Prompts blog and her personal website, Alabama-Inspired Fiction, Jennifer focuses on her books, love of the South, and helping other writers. For fun, she loves to read detective fiction from the Golden Age, watch movies like LOTR, and play with her two precious granddaughters. Jennifer and her husband, Danny, have spent their married life in Alabama and have a basset hound, Max. Read more about Jennifer here.

betty owensBetty Thomason Owens is a multi-published author who writes romantic comedy, historical fiction, and fantasy-adventure. She has contributed hundreds of articles and interviews to various blogs around the internet and is an active member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), where she leads a critique group. She’s also a mentor, assisting other writers and a co-founder of a blog dedicated to inspiring writers–this one! Read more here.

TammyTammy J. Trail is a wife, mother and grandmother. Residing in Kansas where life is a never ending joy ride as “taxi driver” for two teenage boys. She learns something new every day, and once in awhile it’s useful information. A lover of historical fiction in any time period, her favorite is the American Revolutionary period.

Betty Boyd 1A Pennsylvania native, Betty Boyd moved to the Tennessee Valley in 1994. She retired in early 2012 after 30 years of Government service. She has a consulting firm, Boyd Consulting Services, which offers writing services. She active in her church, and community. She is currently working on her first non-fiction book. Read more here.

anne evansAnne Garboczi Evans has been biting off more than she can chew ever since she entered the world with a splash at 10 lbs 1 oz. Marrying a military man and moving six times in four years was just a continuation of that process. Anne’s favorite things to do are take long walks with her husband and little boy, “Joe-Joe,” and get addicted to Netflix TV shows with her husband. Their latest guilty pleasure is Fox’s House.  Read more about Anne here.

Holly MichaelHolly Michael has enjoyed a writing career as a journalist, features writer, and a regular ghostwriter for a Guideposts magazine before authoring novels and nonfiction books. Married to Anglican Bishop, Leo Michael, Holly has three grown children; daughter Betsy and football-playing sons—Jake (NFL) and Nick (University of Louisiana-Lafayette). Kansas City, Missouri is home and she blogs at www.writingstraight.com. Read more here.

Karen JurgensKaren Jurgens, a Cincinnati native, has been a Texan transplant for thirty years and counting. As a lifelong writer, she has written stories since her elementary school days. As an adult, she wrote Christian fiction for her church’s newspaper as well as non-fiction that was published in a national magazine. Since retiring from teaching in 2014, she has begun a new career as an author, blogger, and speaker within the context of Christian ministry. Read more here.

RobinMasonHeadShotRobin E. Mason writes Christian-worldview–in other words, there’s no salvation message, but there are plenty of characters who know the Lord and share His perspective with those who are struggling.

Tessa and Clara Bess are both available on Amazon, both for Kindle and in print.

The third book in the series, Cissy, will be available in 2016.   Ms. Mason also has several poems included in an anthology, Where Dreams and Visions Live (Anthologies of the Heart Book 1) by Mary Blowers, as well as a short story, Sarafina’s Light, also in an anthology, Blood Moon, compiled by Mary Blowers. She will also be working on a personal anthology of poetry to be released in 2016 as well. Read more about Robin here.

HarrietMichaelNew to the Writing Prompts crew, Harriet E. Michael (no known relation to Holly Michael) was born in Nigeria, West Africa, as the daughter of missionaries. Harriet is a writer, gardener, substitute teacher, wife of over 36 years, mother of four, grandmother of one and soon-to-be grandmother of two. She holds a BS in nursing from West Virginia University but has discovered her passion for writing. Since her first published article in 2010, she now has over a hundred and fifty published articles and devotions. Read more here.

From all of us, to all of you, may your Christmas be blessed!

“May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.” 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 NIV

OnceUponaChristmasOnce Upon a Christmas Giveaway Details!

Three chances to win!

Here are the categories and the prizes:

Readers giveaway – $25 Barnes and Noble card, Books: Tessa and Clara Bess, Warm Mulled Kisses box set, Crooked Lines, Plum Pudding BridePrize-1

Writer’s giveaway – $10 Starbucks card, Books: The First Five Pages, Heart Seekers box set, Tsunami 2004Prize-2

Shopper’s giveaway – $10 Walmart gift card, bracelet, Books: Glimpses of the Savior devotions, First and Goal (football devotional)Prize-3

Pop Culture Among Teens

Tammyby Tammy Trail

I have to admit right from the start, the whole Pop Culture writing prompt was intimidating. I had no idea what it was, or if I should even care about it in the first place. I’m so out of the loop I had to ask my teens. I live with two smelly teen boys ages 16 and 18, and on occasion they include their equally smelly friends in my home. A few girls have now been included into the mix, and the hygiene has improved. Now my house smells a lot better.

From said teens, I have learned that Feminism has become an important movement again. Equal pay for a job done by both sexes should be the norm and not the exclusion. They see this through the lens of popular female musicians like Beyoncé, Taylor Swift, and Rihanna, who have all broken barriers of a former culture of music to become icons in their own right. Young ladies are planning their futures, which schools to attend, picking a major, and how it all will effect their ability to produce an income. I tend to agree that if I put in the time and effort to be educated in a field that competes with my male counterpart, I sure would like the same pay as a man. After all debt, and the cost of living doesn’t discriminate between the sexes.

I know there are female gamers out there, but the boys seem to spend all free time in front of a gaming console, or computer. This past Christmas my husband and I spent a good deal of time in the attempt to locate a game for XBOX that one of the kids wanted. Everywhere we looked it had been sold out. They are serious about their games. And the games are evolving with better graphics, and more creative story lines. I must be getting old. I think they are just noisy. To top it all off, they can play games live, on the internet, and play against others. They have their own gaming lingo, and well…culture. Gosh, I think back to when I was their age–I was happy just to get my frog across the road before it got run over by a truck!

And then I asked them what they are reading. My favorite subject! Vampires are out. Zombies are in. Zombie Apocalypse is very popular. I did watch World War Z too. I confess I didn’t find it as entertaining as Downton Abbey. The kids liked it. Dystopian story lines such as the Hunger Games is high on the list too. I’m a bit nostalgic about some of the books I read as a teen. I made a list and my son, Sean, picked a couple to read to humor his old Mom. He read “Flowers for Algernon.” I loved seeing him so engrossed in the story he had a hard time putting the book down. He came to me one night and gave the book to me and said it was the saddest thing he had ever read. And it was unfair to have put Charlie through the experience in the first place. I agree.

Tomorrow there may be a whole new pop culture, and that’s OK. It will give me something to talk to my teens about.

Complete the prompt below for an extra entry in our quarterly drawings! Submit your completed writing prompt via Comments…

Writing prompt: Write a few sentences combining Downton Abbey and a zombie. 🙂

Tammy Trail


Today we welcome our own Crew Member, Tammy Trail, to 3 Questions Wednesday.


(1) What is your favorite book? [Bible excluded]

Tammy: Redeeming Love, by Francine Rivers. It made me cry a bucket of tears.


(2) If you could walk into any book, what literary character would you want to be?

Tammy: Christy Huddleston from the book, Christy, by Catherine Marshall. I admire the story of Christy because she saw a need, went out of her comfort zone to help others, and didn’t quit when it got tough for her.

(3) If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?

Tammy: My husband I have a dream trip we would love to take someday to see Ireland and Scotland. Sometimes when I see landscape pictures of our dream trip it makes me cry. God is such an awesome Creator.

Thanks, Tammy, for dropping by!

Tammy J. Trail is a wife, mother and grandmother. Residing in Kansas where life is a never ending joy ride as “taxi driver” for two teenage boys. She learns something new every day, and once in awhile it’s useful information. A lover of historical fiction in any time period, her favorite is the American Revolutionary period.

Christmas Traditions

imagesJSXRI824By Tammy Trail

I have the pleasure of kicking off the month of December with our theme of Christmas traditions. I started out by doing a bit of research on different traditions other families participate in to celebrate the season. I read that lots of folks like to ride around the town they live in and enjoy the homes decorated with lights, followed by hot chocolate while wearing their pajamas. Lots of baking of cookies and getting together with friends and family for a decorating day.

There was a very sweet idea I read about involving a brand new tree skirt decorated with a child’s handprint every year to commemorate the season and create a memory. I also found that in the country of Sweden there is a tradition where at 3 pm on Christmas Day the country enjoys old cartoons from Walt Disney with the main character of Donald Duck being the favorite.

It got me thinking if we had any traditions in our family, and I guess we do. I like to find a new angel ornament every year for my tree. I have even received angel ornaments as gifts from friends who know of my collection. I now have a tree almost completely covered in angels. As a child, I remember my mother putting a small manger set under our Christmas tree every year. I now do the same. To me, it signifies the first Christmas gift of the baby Jesus for us all. My family also looks forward to the candlelight service on Christmas Eve every year. My daughter has suggested that we have an Italian style dinner this year after services and everyone should be in charge of one dish. Maybe this will be the start of a new tradition and we can do a new country every year.

One year while visiting my mother in New Mexico during Christmas we noticed many of the sidewalks to the front door of the homes were lighted with what she called, “Limagesuminaria” –a tradition from Mexico–paper sacks with sand in the bottom to support a lighted tea candle. Traditionally used on Christmas Eve to guide the spirit of the Christ child to a home.

Whatever traditions you decide to incorporate into your holiday season, I hope everyone has a blast creating memories you and your children will remember for many years. I have one special memory from childhood that I would like to share. When I was about 11or 12 years old, my mother gathered all of us children together and explained that we would have no Christmas that year. She tearfully told us, because our Dad was spending a year in the Penitentiary, she would not be able to afford to buy gifts. We didn’t even have the heart to put up a tree that year. She promised to make it up to us the next year. So four kids went to bed on Christmas Eve with disappointed hearts, but we knew we would be going to visit my Grandmother later on Christmas day, and she always had something for us under her tree. I don’t know to this day how we slept through the night, but we found a wonderful surprise on Christmas morning. Our tree had been put up and decorated, and under it was enough gifts for three Christmases! Our Aunts and Uncles had all pitched in and made sure we had everything we needed for winter and toys too. I watched grateful tears roll down my mother’s pretty face with each gift we opened. She made sure we said our “Thank you’s” later that day!

I wish everyone a joyous and blessed Christmas season!

The Mystery of Self-Publishing


By Tammy Trail

To be perfectly honest, this whole traditional or self-publishing dilemma has me baffled. I am so new to the art of writing that it’s all Greek to me. I think the economy has forced a lot of folks to rethink the whole publishing industry. I have heard that in the past, publishing houses used to be pretty liberal with their ability to contract writers who showed they had a creative voice and the talent to back it up. Not so anymore. They are being pretty tight-fisted these days, willing only to publish a certain number of books each year, making it harder for new authors to get their product out.

But, is that really true?

I know of several first-time authors who are getting contracts from major publishers. So is it more competitive, or are the publishing houses just becoming more selective on the type of product they choose to sell? Perhaps they have just raised the bar a bit more, looking for a product that will sell because they only have limited contracts to invest in.

And even though self-publishing is becoming more in vogue, it was only a couple of years ago when I heard, “she is thinking of self-publishing,” whispered behind a hand into a friendly ear like it was a naughty word. Now it seems like EVERYONE is doing it. Naughty or not!

I have an acquaintance, who has also been a bit of a mentor to me, she is multi-published in the traditional market, and she has encouraged me to try self-publishing. I believe for those authors who are so talented that books just flow from the fingertips like water, self-publishing is just a way for them to make money with their craft without going through the middleman and waiting for the traditional publishers to catch up with them.

I googled, “self-publishing” to see what it got me. A bit more confused actually.  This article was very helpful:


One must be careful of what they get themselves into as well. My mother has a friend who is a writer. She went through what some would consider a “Vanity Press” to get her book published. She signed a contract without looking at the fine print. There were promises made that were not fulfilled, and of course she can’t get out of it without heavy legal fees.

That is why I am so thankful for writing organizations like American Christian Fiction Writers, a community of experienced writers of all levels willing to give advice to folks like me who are just starting out in the craft of writing. There is also a multitude of credible blogs by folks who care about the promotion of craft, like Seekerville, and our own happy place here at Writing Prompts. In my own humble opinion, there are no hard and fast rules about which avenue is better, what really matters is the quality of the writing.

The writing really needs to be top notch, whichever path you choose. Taking the time to learn the craft in order to produce a worthy product is still my number one goal. I guess the rest will follow when it’s ready.