Tag Archives: Jennifer K. Hale

My Super Fun and Exciting News!

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Well, folks, I’ve been teasing about it for days, so here it is– my big news!

I am super crazy excited to announce that I have signed a contract with Thomas Nelson publishers to collaborate on a writing project with none other than the amazing Max Lucado!

If you’ve read Before Amen: The Power of a Simple Prayer by Max Lucado (released last year) then you are familiar with his idea of “pocket prayers.” The whole book is about how prayer is a heartfelt conversation with God– that you can invite him in without the flowery words or flashy show, and God shows up. It’s about being free to connect with God in a powerful and simplistic way, without feeling like you need a big vocabulary or a “wish list” a mile long.

Coordinating with this book, Thomas Nelson will be releasing a series of prayer books geared toward specific groups (moms, dads, military, friends, etc.)–six books in all.

I am very honored and delighted to say that my name will be on the cover of Pocket Prayers for Teachers, releasing in May of 2016, just in time for Teacher Appreciation Week! (Is that divine timing, or what??) ūüôā

Obviously this is outside of my usual writing genre (I’m usually writing fiction of the romantic, sometimes historical, sometimes contemporary, sometimes YA variety). However, if there are two things I know a lot about, it’s teaching and prayer.

As I work on this prayer book, God is reminding me of¬†so many things– including just how much he loves teachers and what an amazing mission opportunity he’s given each teacher within their own school setting. ¬†DSC02709

To say that I am honored to be working on anything associated with Max Lucado would be a gross understatement, as I have read and admired his work for years and years.

My heart is super grateful for this opportunity and I’m looking forward to what lies ahead on this writing journey. There’s never a dull moment and God is always doing things that surprise me. He’s amazing and awesome like that.

Don’t worry– I’ll be reminding you (a lot) to pick up a copy of this prayer book for all the teachers in your life closer to the release date.

Thanks for your support, friends!

Real Signature

 

 

 

 

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Filed under For Teachers, Writing

10 Things I’ll Never Live Down- Number Three

**I¬†originally¬†posted this last year, but it’s that time again and this story is definitely one I’ll never live down.*

It’s football season and in my family, that means it’s a matter of time before someone brings up a reference to another thing I’ll never live down.

I married into a family of football fans.

I’d never been much of a football fan myself, mostly because I didn’t understand the rules.

I had no idea what a down was, what “3rd and 10” meant, or why on earth sometimes a team scored 6 points and other times it was 2 or 3.

And I really, really didn’t understand why an idiot player would take the ball and run straight into the onslaught of giants in front of him.

None of it made sense to me.

But then I married into a family of super-fans, and my hubby started with Football 101, allowing me to ask questions until I finally gleaned enough of an understanding of the game that I could really become a fan.

My father-in-law holds season tickets to his favorite college team, so when he invited me to tag along with him and my husband to a game, I was really excited.  I wanted to see this game up close; to really enjoy the atmosphere of it.

I’d been to one or two college games before, but at the time, I was more of¬† a fan of the band and cheerleaders than I was the actual players, so this would be the first game when I could really appreciate the game and be part of the atmosphere.

We settled into our seats. I cheered with the rest of the crowd when the boys took the field. I sang the fight song and yelled like crazy at kickoff. I watched with intensity, and asked my husband and father-in-law questions for clarification as the game went on.  They were kind enough to oblige my ignorance so that I could better understand the game.

But then came THE question.

The next play was coming up and I didn’t really know how they judged the distance to the next down. So, I leaned over to my husband and asked–

“Where’s the yellow line?”

“Huh?” Hubby responded.

“The yellow line on the field–where is it?”

Taking in my serious face, my hubby held in his chuckles long enough to elbow his dad and have me repeat the question. Then they both burst into uncontrollable laughter and shared my question with the fans around us.

I had no idea why they were laughing.

“Jen, the yellow line is computer-generated on the screen for the viewers at home.”

My face flamed and my father-in-law (who has always loved to crack jokes about me being a blonde) laughed until I thought he was going to faint.

And I gave him plenty of ammunition. Serious, serious blonde moment.

To this day, I haven’t lived it down. Every football season a male in my husband’s family makes a crack about the yellow line on the field.

I’ve been to plenty of games since and have been able to impress my hubby, his brothers, and my father-in-law with my growing knowledge of the game.¬† I’ll never forget the time I called a player offsides from the stands, shocking the males in the family so much that their eyes bugged out.

So, yeah, I’ve learned a lot about the game. I can now be considered a true fan.

But as for the yellow line, I’ll never live it down.

ROLL TIDE!!

Share with me: ¬†What’s your finest “blonde” moment? (And yes, brunettes & gingers have them, too!)

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Filed under Just For Fun

Writing Ain’t Just Writing Anymore

I’ve been asked many times, “when do you have time to write?”

I appreciate that question because it means that the person asking acknowledges that writing is a long-term process that requires a block of time to accomplish.

But this post is not for those people. This post is for the non-writers. For those who enjoy reading a good book, but don’t exactly know what goes into creating that book. For those who might wonder, “what do you do all day?”

This post is about a day in the life of a full-time writer.

I don’t know much about accounting. I don’t know much about being a stock broker. I don’t know much outside of the areas in which I’ve been educated.  That being said, I don’t think the majority of people know much about what a writer does.

It seems simple–writers write. Yeah, if only.

Writing as a career (that is, actively pursuing and publishing multiple novels as I am), is a full time job.

The vast majority of writers already have a full time job doing something else, so writing is a full time job that has to be fit into another full time job.

In my case, I am a full time wife and mother, and I have to fit my writing career into that. That is much easier said than done.

I have responsibilities to my family, to my church, to my community, to my friends, and to myself (gotta keep healthy!). I have a full-time life. And I had one well before I decided to pursue writing. So making time for writing has become the challenge that I overcome on a regular basis.

In my life I’ve found time to write in the afternoons when my boys are either napping or having “quiet time.” I normally can carve out a couple of hours on a good day, and zero hours on a bad day. Occasionally, if I have the energy, I’ll write at night after my boys are in bed. But seeing as how my alarm goes off very early in the morning, this is a rarity. Sometimes, on occasion, I’m able to carve out time on a day when someone has offered to help me with childcare. On those special days, I can devote more hours to my passion. My husband is very supportive of my writing, but even with his help, I don’t often have time to write everyday.

Crafting a story isn’t all that easy.

It’s often said to me, “I could never do that. I don’t have any ideas for a story.”

Well, that’s part of my passion. I have a very, very, very, very, very long list of ideas. I’m constantly coming up with new ones.

But committing those ideas to paper is a process.

A good writer researches their story to make sure details are accurate.

For my current WIP (work-in-progress as it’s known in the writer-world) I’ve been researching Cambodia, even though Cambodia is only a very small portion of the book. For historicals, I have to delve into my history knowledge and make sure that my details and events are accurate. Just the research portion of the creative process can take a l-o-n-g time.

Another step in the process is plotting.

In the world of plotting there are two groups: the Plotters and the Pantsters. I am a Pantster.

I’m not a good plotter. I’m just not. I can’t sit down and create an outline of my story in detail before I’ve written it, but I do have a general idea of where the story is going, and what scenes I want to include (flying by the seat of my pants). So, I do make a list just to keep myself on topic. Some writers are very detailed plotters and have an outline that almost looks like a completed novel. God bless ’em.

And then there’s the actual writing.

Some days, when time permits, I can hack out several thousand words. This is a very, very good day. Other days, either time is an issue or I’m still thinking through elements of the story and I might stare at the blinking cursor for a while and be happy to produce a couple hundred words.


And when my manuscript is done, a first draft complete, then comes the editing process.

This involves hours of carefully combing through the story and editing the big elements–plot, conflict, character motivation, etc, and the little details like tags, beats, word choice, spelling, and all the nitty-gritty details. This is a long, continuous process. Every time I read my stories I can find something to edit. I’m an obsessive editor, so I actually enjoy the editing process more than the first-draft writing process. The more I learn about writing and story crafting, the more I want to edit. Once the backbone of the story is there, it’s the details that I like to tweak.

When I feel like the story is fit for human consumption, I have some readers get involved. 

Beta readers–those who normally like books in my genre and will read it and give feedback. My critique partner, my agent, and writer friends who will read with a critical eye and help me fix any gaps, holes, or problems. And my mom. Because she loves my work but will always give me her honest opinion.

And when I’ve gotten feedback from those people, it’s more editing.

Then it’s time to send it off to publishers via my agent. To do this an author must create what’s known as a packet that includes not only a short blurb about the book, but a 3-5 page synopsis (that is a bad word in the writing community. Do you know how hard it is to crunch an entire book into 3 pages??), market comparisons, marketing strategies and all sorts of other things.

And some of those publishers, believe it or not, want you to do more editing before they’ll even consider publishing your book.

And the publication process is a whole ‘nother animal that many other writers have been wonderful about sharing. Suffice it to say, it’s editing on steroids. And book promotion. Massive work on book promotion. And marketing. And a whole host of other things that can be, even to the seasoned writer, overwhelming at times.  

So, I’ve finished a story. What now? Start another one? 

Sure, but in between ALL of the steps in this process, there’s the important goal of creating a reader fan-base or following.

How does an author do this? Via the web of course. Hence the blog, Facebook and Twitter followings that are very important.

It is the goal of any author to connect with their readership. And believe it or not, publishers actually consider how many followers an author has on various social media networks when they are looking at their work for publication. 

I’m not just blogging for the fun of it. It’s part of my job–part of my career as a writer.
I’m not just on Twitter for fun (yes, honey, I actually am cultivating my career although you think I spend entirely too much time on Twitter!).
I’m not posting things on Facebook just for the heck of it.

This is all part of the bigger picture–my career as a writer. 

We writers of the world would really appreciate your support in the following ways:

Follow us on Twitter. Like or Friend us on Facebook. Follow our blogs and share our posts with your friends–and please please PLEASE leave comments on our posts.

The point of blogging is to instigate conversation, so we want to hear from you. Please don’t be shy. Please contribute your opinion. It’s what we want–it’s what we need. It’s how you can help support us.

Oh, and read our books, of course. ūüôā And if you read a good book, pass the word along to as many of your friends as possible so that you are promoting that author. This is the best thing you can do for any writer.

**And I haven’t even mentioned the process of a writer finding an agent. Blessedly, I already have an agent, so that is not a process I have to undertake anymore. Praise the Lord! But it is a major step for many writers still.

Also, we find time to support our fellow authors by following & commenting on their social media contributions and by reading and talking up their published works.

The moral of the story is that writing isn’t just writing. It’s a full time job.

Thanks for your help and support. You guys are the best!


Share with me: What part of a writer’s life most surprises you?  Writer-friends– what part of your career as a writer do you find most challenging; most enjoyable?

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Filed under Writing