Congratulations to Summer Quarter Writing Challenge Cash Winners!

The FaithWriters’ Writing Challenge is on a break right now, with the last winners of the Goes Together LIke” quarter announced just last week. And that means it’s time to announce the four winners of the quarterly level awards. The highest scoring entry in EACH LEVEL over each entire ten-week quarter receives a $50 cash prize.

Level 1: BEGINNERS – Saddle for Sale by Rachel Barrett (Pen and Paper Challenge)

Level 2: INTERMEDIATE – Dear Doctor C.E.O. by Diane Bowman (Pen and Paper Challenge)

 Level 3: ADVANCED – And the Beat Goes On by Veronica Winley (Husband and Wife Challenge)

Level 4: MASTERS – Fleeting Moments of Forever by Ann Grover (Husband and Wife Challenge)

The new challenge quarter (with an old favorite as a theme!) starts up again in just a couple days – on Thursday, October 2. Be sure to give it a try – and YOUR name could be here next time!


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An Interview with God’s Word

An Interview With God’s Word
By Abby Kelly

Have you ever heard of the “5 W’s and an H”?

I studied journalism in college. I loved reporting, interviewing, writing and even editing articles. My favorite part was talking to people I’d never met, asking them questions and then piecing the story together. Being concise is one of the most important elements of writing a news story. I remember Dr. Senat saying over and over, “Cut out the extras! Get to the point! Answer all the reader’s questions and then stop writing!”

The best tool Dr. Senat gave his students as we were learning to write “tightly” were the “5 W’s and an H”. So, I figured, it might also be a good tool to pull together the most vital information about the Bible. Let’s ask God’s Word these questions!

Who is the Word of God? John 1:1-3 says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.”

The Word of God is much more than just the thick book you carry to church. It’s more than a collection of stories or even a “road map to heaven”. The Word of God is a person.

John 1:14 says, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” This means that Jesus Christ is the Word of God.

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Cutting Extraneous Words from your Manuscript

Cutting Extraneous Words from your Manuscript

Dialogue Tags and Adverbs

by Suzanne Hartmann

There are many different words that can be cut from a manuscript. Here, author Suzanne Hartmann talks about two of them – check out her series on this topic for more examples.

Dialogue Tags are phrases that identify who is speaking. It is necessary to let the reader know who is speaking, but excessive use of dialogue tags gets old quickly.

Examples =
“Pass me the bread, please,” Diana said.

“Don’ t you know you’re not supposed to do that?” asked Johnny.

When there are only two speakers, it is often obvious who is speaking because the dialogue goes back and forth between the speakers, although if the dialogue runs long, a reader can still get confused.

An occasional action beat is another way to let the reader know who is speaking, or letting us know the speaker’s thoughts.

Examples =
“Pass me the bread, please.” Diana scooped out a chunk of butter and waited for the bread basket to come her way.

“Don’t you know you’re not supposed to do that?” Johnny scowled at his little brother.

“Your painting is wonderful, Sammy. You’ve improved so much this semester.” In her mind, his mother compared the first painting he’d brought home with the one she held in her hand.

Too many action beats within the dialogue, however, can become distracting. The key is variety. Mix it up and keep it interesting.

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Christian Novel Contest – Xulon Publishing Package is Prize

Have you written (or at least started) a novel-length fiction manuscript with a sound Biblical message? If so, FaithWriters may have just the contest for you.

Any Platinum member can submit the first chapter of their novel and a synopsis to this free contest, sponsored by FaithWriters and Xulon Press. After the contest deadline of November 30, 2014, entries will be judged, and the winner will receive Xulon Press’s Best Seller Package (with a retail value of over $4,000) and free publicity and marketing of the completed book on all FaithWriters’ sites. Imagine – your own self-publishing package at NO charge to you! But remember – you must be a Platinum member to enter (click here to upgrade). Be sure to stop by the contest page for more details! And don’t forget – the deadline is the end of November – which is coming up faster than you realize!

(Note – if your manuscript is nonfiction, be sure to check out our 8th Annual Page Turner Contest, which is focused on nonfiction this year. The winner gets a fabulous cash prize and publishing with new Christian publisher Breath of Fresh Air Press and more. More details here.)

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Why Word Count Matters

Why Word Count Matters

By Randy Ingermanson

I’ve noticed an interesting fact about my successful novelist friends.

Word count matters to them. A lot.

They may have a daily word count quota or a weekly quota. But they have a target.

When you have a target, you have a chance of hitting it. If you don’t have a target, you’re guaranteed not to hit it.

Word count matters because that’s what gets you to the finish line of your novel.

You can have all sort of amazing plot twists for your story. You can have brilliant characters. Snappy dialogue. A dazzling theme.

None of those will do you any good unless you get them on the page. As words.

A short novel is around 60,000 words. A medium length novel is around 90,000. A long one might run 120,000. An epic could go 200,000 or more.

You don’t pile up that many words without putting down some serious word count on a regular basis.

My friend James Scott Bell used to talk about the “nifty three-fifty.” The idea was that you sit down to write and you don’t stop until you’ve got 350 words.

That may not seem like a lot, hardly worth doing. But at least it’s a very doable target. I can drill out that many words in about 20 minutes at my usual pace for writing first draft copy. Even a slow writer can produce 350 words in an hour.

So a “nifty three-fifty” target is easy to hit every day.

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Meet 2014 Best of the Best Runner-Up Kenn Allan

Kenn Allan is no stranger to FaithWriters, the Writing Challenge, OR Best of the Best. In fact, he held the crown eight years ago (see his first Best of the Best interview here). Join Joanne Sher as she gets an update on his life, his reaction to his 3rd place win, and a bit on what inspires him.

JOANNE: First of all, Kenn, congratulations! Can you tell me what your reaction was when you learned one of your entries placed 3rd in Best of the Best this year?

KENN: Hiya, Joanne. I suppose my reaction is best described as “pleasantly surprised.” I had completely forgotten about my eligible challenge entries until receiving the notification. I suspect I might have squealed a bit but I’m not sure.

JOANNE: Your winning entry, Nature Speaks, is a beautiful piece on how nature declares God’s attributes. What was your inspiration for this piece? Do you recall how it came together?

KENN: I’ve always been in awe of God’s creation; it’s easy to catch a glimpse of Eden if you look hard enough. Nature Speaks was an expression of Psalms 19, “The heavens declare the glory of God and the firmament sheweth His handiwork.” Although pleased with the finished work, the rigid nature of the left margin glitched me; after all, the poem spoke of God’s creative nature and He rarely uses straight lines. So, anyway, that’s why the left margin is curved.

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Hearing Voices

Hearing Voices

by Linda Yezak

When you’re awake at three a.m. agonizing over your manuscript, whose voice do you hear? What is it saying?

If you’re hearing your characters working out their tough scene, you’re in good shape. If you’re hearing the encouraging cheer of someone who supports and believes in you, you’re in really good shape.

The voice that makes me most angry is the one that whispers “you can’t do this.” The best way to shut that voice up is to prove it wrong.

But then, there’s the voice that says “you shouldn’t do this.” Great advice if you’re planning something stupid, but if you’re not—then what?

If you’ve been reading my blog lately, you already know I’m having trouble with Corporate Ladder. It went rogue not long ago, and I needed to decide what to do with the intense scene I’d written too early. It was a good scene, a logical progression from what I’d built in before, but it was too intense for the first quarter of the novel. I reread it yesterday and decided to yank it out and save it for later.

As I read it, I heard voices in my head. Familiar voices–people I know whose advice is usually sound. They were saying what they always say when I work on Corporate Ladder: “don’t.” Hearing these voices may be one of the reasons CL has been a work in progress since 2009 and never a completed manuscript. The other reason is that it’s my first serious work, and I want to do it right. I want it to be, not just good, but exceptional.

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Share Your Testimony

Every Christian has a testimony – many more than one. Whether it is how you were saved or how God was with you through circumstances, we all have a story to tell of God’s faithfulness, mercy, and grace. And as writers, putting it down on paper may be the most logical thing to do.

And FaithWriters is giving you the opportunity to not only write it down – but to share it with the world, get it in print, and participate in royalties. But time is running out!

September 15 2014 (that’s just ten days away!) is the deadline to submit for the second testimony contest. The first contest led to the publication of 40 testimonies of FaithWriters members in the Trials and Triumphs book. YOU could be the next person published!

All gold and platinum members (including those published in the first book)are eligible to enter (click here to upgrade). Simply write up your true testimony (either salvation or God’s work in your difficulties) in 1,200 words or less, check it (or have someone else do so) for editing/proofreading issues, and submit before that deadline. (Please see the contest rules and guidelines here – scroll down a bit – for more details) Fifty of the testimonies submitted will be selected for inclusion in FaithWriters’ second testimony book. All authors will receive a percentage of royalties from the publication of this book.

Don’t wait too long – ten days will go by quick. Enter!

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Critting It Right

Critting it Right
By Delia Latham

Critiques are a literary “bread of life” to some writers. Others shudder at the thought of allowing another author to rip/tear/shred at their carefully chosen words.

Here’s my take on the subject. A solid critique can mean the difference in having a manuscript (which may never be seen by anyone other than the writer and the editors who reject it) or a novel (which makes the journey from writer to critique partner to writer to editor – and then into print and available to readers).

I’m not here to laud the value of a critique. If your mind is made up to hate them, I doubt I could change it anyway. So this article is for those of you who, like me, wouldn’t dare send a manuscript out without your critique partner – or better yet, partners – having seen it first.

I’ll talk about giving constructive criticism. Since I’m certainly not the reigning guru, you can take or toss anything I say – just as I hope you would do if I critiqued your manuscript. Because that’s the whole idea, isn’t it? Get someone else’s take on your work. She’ll watch for typos and misspellings, sentences that don’t flow well, and inconsistencies (like your hero having blue eyes in one chapter and brown in another). She’ll also make suggestions she thinks will improve your words. The thing to remember with a critique is that, just because your crit partner makes a suggestion does not mean you must use it. It’s a suggestion. Something to consider. That’s all.

(That’s the extent of what I’ll say about receiving a critique.)

All that said, critiques can hurt. I’ve been there. So, while it’s important to be honest (otherwise, what’s the point?), it’s also important to be nice. Making the writer feel unspeakably stupid should not be your goal.

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Blank and Blank – Rise to the Challenge!

Well, we’re in the middle of the current Writing Challenge quarter, and the topics have been pretty fun – and always double! This quarter, every topic is TWO words that you need to write about (this is AND, not OR), and whether it be husband and wife, salt and pepper, or day and night, some wonderful pieces were created.

The newest topic, which opened yesterday, is CUP and SAUCER. Lots of ways to approach it. And there are still a handful of topics left after that until the challenge takes a break for a couple weeks.

Want to enter? Ponder the topic, and write a piece between 150 and 750 words about it and submit your entry no later than 10:59 AM ET on Thursday, September 4. Gold and Platinum members can enter each week, while silver members can try out the challenge a total of four times. You can also find a buddy group to look your entry over before you enter, and chat about the topic if you’d like on the FaithWriters forums. See more details on the rules/guidelines at the Challenge main page.

Once the topic closes, be sure to read and comment on others’ entries – there will certainly be gems for you. And watch the brick throwing thread on the boards for the all clear – this is a GREAT place to post the direct link to your entry once judging is completed (please do NOT share your entry publicly before you hear that judging is done to protect the integrity of the process). Then watch the FOLLOWING Thursday for the challenge winners.

Give the challenge a try – hope to see you there!


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