The Writing Challenge Needs You :)

When was the last time you entered the FaithWriters Writing Challenge?

That long, eh? Maybe it’s time to jump back in. diving

What is the Writing Challenge, you ask? If you are a platinum or gold member, you are more than welcome to write an entry, between 150 and 750 words, with a Christian worldview, with the topic as the focus of your piece. (If you are a silver member, you have a total of four opportunities to enter the challenge to try it out over your time as a FaithWriters member) But don’t wait TOO long. This week’s topic – RELAX – ends on Thursday, June 15 at 11am ET (when the challenge will go on a break).

Once the topic is closed, you can check out other entries to read and comment on – and a week from Thursday, winners will be announced, with the top three entries overall considered for publication in a future FaithWriters anthology.

The thing is…numbers are down for entries. We would LOVE to have more folks participate in this fabulous opportunity to practice writing to a topic, word count and deadline, and the fellowship that comes along with it. So, stretch your writing muscles and give the Writing Challenge a try (or a retry). You won’t be sorry!

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Remembering

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” George Santayana

“A forgetful heart soon becomes a foolish heart.” Rev. Karl Pike (former senior pastor at Good News Baptist Church)

Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘Throughout the generations to come you are to make tassels on the corners of your garments, with a blue cord on each tassel. You will have these tassels to look at and so you will remember all the commands of the Lord, that you may obey them and not prostitute yourselves by chasing after the lusts of your own hearts and eyes. Then you will remember to obey all my commands and will be consecrated to your God.’  Numbers 15:38-40 NIV

You can find the word “remember” in God’s Word more than 300 times. Usually, that kind of repetition means it’s important. And I have to believe that is the case for this particular sentiment.

There’s lots of different kinds of remembering mentioned in the Bible, but today I want to talk about just one. I’ll save my thoughts on what God remembers – and doesn’t remember – for another time. Today, I’m pondering His people’s need to remember.

Today is Memorial Day here in the United States. It’s a day to remember those who fought for our freedom. Those who made the ultimate sacrifice for the well-being of those not yet born – for our country.

I have friends who take this holiday extremely personally. They have lost someone near and dear to them in war. They do not need to be reminded to set time aside to honor the fallen. To them, I’d venture to say that every day is Memorial Day. But still, I am sure it warms their hearts to see others set the time aside to remember – even if it is only one day a year.

It seems that we, as humans, need reminders like these – physical “hints” can bring important things to mind that we might otherwise forget. The Israelites wore tassels on the corners of their garments to help them remember God’s law. They celebrated Passover to remember their deliverance from Egypt. We have countless holidays to help us remember everything from administrative professionals to fathers to our first president.

But there is Someone even more deserving of our remembrance. And everything around us and in us can be a cue to recall the sacrifice He made. He created the heavens and the earth. He gave us everything we have. He hand-crafted us – physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. And, when He wanted us to come close, and our sin repelled Him, He gave all that blackness to His Son, who took it upon Himself, and died on the cross to set us free from it.

I don’t need a holiday to remember He who made the ultimate sacrifice so I could be free in Christ. At least not all the time. (admit it – you act like He didn’t sometimes, dontcha?) But I’m glad there are plenty of them anyhow.

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Organization: Ridiculously Easy

Organization: Ridiculously Easy

By Randy Ingermanson

We all know people who seem to sail through life. They always have it together. When things go right (which is most of the time), they’re always working productively or playing hard or flossing their teeth. When things go wrong (which seems to be rare), they surf right over those glitches and carry on. I think we all secretly despise those people. They seem to have their lives on autopilot, never struggling. That’s not fair.

My hunch is that these people actually do struggle, but we just don’t see it. They put in serious effort, but they put in their effort in a different way than most of us do. These annoying people put their effort into creating good habits. I wrote about the habit of making habits in this column in January. Since then, I’ve had some new thoughts on it. If you missed that column, you might want to read it now. If you’ve forgotten it, you might want to review it on this page.

It takes some serious effort to build a habit. Once you’ve got a good solid habit going, you don’t have to put in much will-power to keep it going. The habit keeps going under its own steam. You just maintain it. You appear to be coasting. The conventional wisdom is that it takes 21 days to get a habit running under its own steam. But that only works if you can actually get through those 21 days. And it’s easy to sabotage that startup effort by trying too hard.

Let’s look at an example to see what can go wrong.

You decide you’re going to get back in shape. Back when you were younger, you used to run five miles per day. You can do that again, right? Sure you can. So you get your exercise gear all together, you set your alarm, and you wake up tomorrow all charged and ready to go.

On Day 1, you leap out of bed the instant the alarm goes off. You suit up, you warm up, and you get rolling. The first mile is a little slow. The second mile is a little slower. Somewhere in the third mile, something pops in your knee. You limp back home, thinking that you’re not 18 anymore. You ice your knee. You get cleaned up. And you dial back your expectations to 2 miles per day for tomorrow.

Tomorrow morning when the alarm goes off, every muscle in your body is sore. Your knee still hurts. And you decide you’d better give yourself a recovery day. You wind up in recovery for three weeks, and finally your knee feels better. Then you either repeat the whole thing, or else you give up.

What went wrong?

What went wrong was that you put two hard things together in the same place. It’s hard to instantly raise your daily mileage by five miles. It’s also hard to form a habit. If you want to form a habit of daily exercise, DON’T start out with a hard workout. Start out with one that’s ridiculously easy. Maybe you decide you’re going to walk half a mile every day. You can do that in ten minutes. You can do that every day. You could do way more than that, OF COURSE, because it’s ridiculously easy. But don’t.

Do a ridiculously easy workout until your habit is firmly in place. Why? Because you’re doing something else that’s already hard—you’re using your will-power to build a habit. That’s very hard. Don’t make it harder on yourself. Make it ridiculously easy to do it every day. When you do that, you WILL do it every day. You may feel stupid for “only” doing such a little bit. Don’t. You’re not being stupid. You’re being smart. You’re exercising your will-power to get yourself in the groove.

After a few weeks (hopefully 21 days, but this is probably highly variable), you’ll find that you’ve built a habit. It’s a habit you enjoy because, after all, it’s ridiculously easy. You do it every single day because, really and truly, it’s ridiculously easy. Once that habit’s solidly in place, ramp it up. Not a lot. Ramp it up a little. If you were walking half a mile a day, boost that to walking three quarters of a mile. Or jog the last eighth of a mile at an easy pace. Or whatever. And stick to that new regime for a ridiculously long time. Maybe a week. Maybe two.

Life is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. Habits that you build now that you keep in place for the next thirty or forty years will give you ridiculously great benefits. You may know writers who put in eight or ten or twelve hours of writing, seven days per week. You may feel horrible because that’s not you. It’s not me, either. It’s not most writers. But there’s got to be some level of writing that’s ridiculously easy for you. Maybe it’s ten minutes a day (if you like a time quota). Maybe it’s 100 words a day (if you like a word quota).

Find your level that’s ridiculously easy. Make it a habit to do that on a set schedule—five or six or seven days a week. Without fail. No excuses. (And why would you make an excuse to skip a ridiculously easy thing that you enjoy doing?) When the habit’s solidly in place, ramp it up just a bit, but still keep it ridiculously easy. Then ramp it up again. And again. As time goes on, your definition of “ridiculously easy” will increase.

Thirty or forty years from now, you’ll look back on a long career in which you produced an amazing amount. You may never be one of those obnoxious people who sail through life without a struggle. So if you’re going to struggle, put your effort into the things that matter. Building a daily writing habit is a thing that matters.

Even if it’s ridiculously easy.

**

This article is reprinted by permission of the author.
 
Award-winning novelist Randy Ingermanson, “the Snowflake Guy,” publishes the free monthly Advanced Fiction Writing E-zine, with more than 16,000 readers. If you want to learn the craft and marketing of fiction, AND make your writing more valuable to editors, AND have FUN doing it, visitwww.AdvancedFictionWriting.com.
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The Critique Circle – Give AND Get Feedback!

Did you know that FaithWriters has an area especially for folks who need an extra eye for their writing? The Critique Circle is a place where you can help others improve their writing, and have them help you too! And any help you get or receive can only be seen by the writer (so no concerns about people seeing what people point out to you)

If you want your writing to be the best it can be, having “fresh eyes” look at it, and give feedback, is important, and almost always beneficial. People of many writing levels (from newbies to FW-approved editors to everything in between) provide critiques in the critique circle in exchange for critiques of their own work.

The system works best, of course, when critiques are detailed and thoughtful – but you don’t have to be an expert to be helpful. Did you get confused at a certain point in the reading? Did you notice missing punctuation? Would the story be more compelling with more detail? Anyone can help, and the critique circle is a great place for that.

Everyone starts out with a free critique – and after that, you get a credit for each critique you give to others, allowing you the opportunity to submit another piece for critique. This peer critique area is a great place for you to get some extra polish and suggestions on your poem, article, story, script, or anything else you might want extra opinions on.

It’s always best to have an “extra set of eyes” on your writing, and what better place to do it than at the Critique Circle?

The critique circle is open to FaithWriters Gold and Platinum members. To become a Gold or Platinum member, click here

Have you used the critique circle? What value do you see from giving and getting critiques on your work?

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Motivation and Inspiration

Motivation and Inspiration

by Joanne Sher

Both of the above, it seems, have been lacking in me over the past little bit writing-wise (at least as they relate to the projects I really need to be working on). It is, in a word, frustrating.

I’m guessing I’m not the only one out there who is unmotivated – whether it’s about writing or something else. So, to that end, I’m planning to share some encouragement right here in this post, in the hopes that it will bring motivation AND inspiration to anyone who needs it – myself included. And if YOU have anything to add, please share it in the comments!

Let’s start with a bit of Scripture – shall we?

I can do all this through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:10

And how about a quote or two?

When you come to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on. ~Franklin D. Roosevelt

Putting off an easy thing makes it hard. Putting off a hard thing makes it impossible. ~George Claude Lorimer

If there’s a book you really want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it. ~Toni Morrison

I hated every minute of training, but I said, ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.’ - Muhammad Ali

“A writer is a writer not because she writes well and easily, because she has amazing talent, because everything she does is golden. In my view a writer is a writer because even when there is no hope, even when nothing you do shows any sign of promise, you keep writing anyway.” Junot Diaz

What is your favorite motivational quote or scripture? Please share in the comments!
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Congratulations to the Winter 2017 Quarterly Challenge Winners!

A HUGE congratulations to EVERYONE who entered the FaithWriters Writing Challenge this past quarter.  Just by submitting an entry, you are a winner. But some pieces rise even higher than that to place – while others go even higher than that.

And that is what the quarterly awards are meant to recognize. The highest scoring entry in EACH LEVEL over each entire ten-week quarter is recognized. This past quarter  had a variety of topics, and these four entries (one from each level) came out on top. Be sure to check them out!

LEVEL ONE: All Circuits are Busy by Linda Morgan (Busy Topic)

LEVEL TWO: The Day by Robert McFaddin (Back to Basics Challenge)

LEVEL THREE: She Had a Moose by Phillip Cimei (Fragile Challenge)

LEVEL FOUR: A Whisper of Raspberries by Jan Ackerson (Jam Challenge)

The Writing Challenge starts up again on Thursday, April 6, with a new quarter of topics. Be sure to enter!

Congratulations, Linda, Robert, Phillip, and Jan!

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Eat Your Broccoli

Eat Your Broccoli

Focus, balance, and your to-do list

By Randy Ingermanson

Over the last few months, I’ve gotten control over my insane To Do List. I described how I did that in February. The key element is to use a trusted system where all your tasks and projects are organized. If you know that your entire life is managed in one trusted system, you never have to worry about forgetting things.

Of course, once you have that trusted system in place, you need to categorize all tasks in two ways:

  1. How important is this task?
  2. How urgent is this task?

Life management experts are constantly harping on the need to focus on the Important, rather than the merely Urgent.  The Important things are the ones that make your life cool, fun, exciting, profitable, or all of the above.  The Urgent things are the ones that need to be done now, now, now.  Things that are both Important and Urgent are the things you should do first. Things that are neither Important or Urgent can be left for “maybe someday.” And yeah, those are probably never going to happen, so eventually you will quietly scratch them off your list because you just don’t care about them, and you don’t care that you don’t care. The trick is scheduling the things that are Important but not Urgent, and the things that are Urgent but not Important.

This year, my key word has been “Focus”. I’ve learned how to focus on the very few things in my life that are Important. And that’s good. That’s wonderful, in fact. I feel like I’m going great guns on the two things in my life that are both fun and profitable. Huge progress. Yippee.

The problem is that over the last few months, I got hyper-focused. Yeah, sure, I’ve made incredible progress on the Important stuff (which also happens to be the fun stuff). But I’ve started to let slide the merely Urgent stuff (which generally is the not-fun stuff.) As you can guess, this meant that the boring Urgent things in my life began piling up. I had them all neatly listed in my trusted system. I just wasn’t doing them. Because I was working on Important stuff.

That would all be fine, but there’s a reason these things are called Urgent. The more of them that stack up, the more stress you feel. I finally realized that Focus is all very well, but there can be too much of a good thing. So this month I’m working at keeping things balanced a bit better. The Urgent things in life are a bit like broccoli. You know you should do them. You just don’t want to.  (That’s not the case with Important things. Important things, by definition, are the things you really want to do. They’re either fun or profitable or both.) So that’s the diagnosis: I wasn’t “eating my broccoli.” What’s the solution?

I talked to my mastermind group about this, and we came with an action plan:

  1. I allocate time every day to “eat my broccoli”. Meaning I commit to spending a certain number of hours that day to doing things I hate doing. The rule is that every morning, the first task I do is assign the number of hours for these tasks. Then I have to spend that many hours working on them. (Breaks are allowed. As I noted last month, breaks are good for you. Very good. When doing these tasks, I’m allowed to take lots of breaks.)
  2. One of my friends in my mastermind group emails me every day to make sure I met my commitment for that day. (Thanks to Lacy for keeping me accountable.) I probably won’t need her help for very long. Pretty soon, “eating my broccoli” will be a habit. But right now, it’s good to have a virtual mom who makes sure I do.

As one way to take the sting out of “eating my broccoli,” I assigned this category a new name: “Total World Domination.” This is of course a brazen lie. These things don’t have anything to do with conquering the world. But it’s just a little easier to schedule one hour of “Total World Domination” than to schedule one hour of “Boring Stuff I Don’t Like Doing.” If you disagree, I’ll send you a cruise missile.

Homework

Answer these questions honestly:

  1. Are you keeping up with the “eating your broccoli” tasks in life?
  2. Did you lie when you answered #1?

If you need a little help in eating your broccoli, here are the three steps you can take to start moving in that direction.

  1. First thing every day, make a hard commitment to a certain amount of total time which you’ll spend knocking down your list of those horrible, boring, necessary things in your life.
  2. Never cheat. If you say you’re going to do 4 hours, then do 4 hours. By the way, starting out the first day committing to 4 hours is really dumb. I won’t tell you how I discovered this. Commit to something, but make it something you can achieve without feeling the urge to put your head under the lawn mower.
  3. Ask somebody to check up on you every day to see if you ate your broccoli.

Focus is good. Balance is better.

**

This article is reprinted by permission of the author.
Award-winning novelist Randy Ingermanson, “the Snowflake Guy,” publishes the free monthly Advanced Fiction Writing E-zine, with more than 15,000 readers. If you want to learn the craft and marketing of fiction, AND make your writing more valuable to editors, AND have FUN doing it, visitwww.AdvancedFictionWriting.com.
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Enter the Page Turner!

FaithWriters.com and Breath of Fresh Air Press are waiting for your entries in the eleventh annual Page Turner Writing Contest. If you are a member of the FaithWriters Platinum 500, you are invited to enter this very special contest created just for you.

Maybe you’ve got a half-written manuscript gathering dust in the bottom of your wardrobe. Perhaps it’s something you wrote during NaNoWriMo last year. It could even be an idea that’s been brewing in the back of your mind for years. Whatever the stage of your manuscript, this contest is the spur you need to write and polish-and we will give you until the end of September to get your entry ready.

Sound good? Well, here’s what you need to do:

1. Write, edit and polish at least one chapter of your manuscript. You may seek professional editing input to polish your chapter.

2. Prepare a book proposal, including such things as the synopsis or book overview, the target reader (e.g. adult/young adult/women/new adult, etc.), the genre, similar books already on the market, and what makes your book different. Think of this as your pitch to a publisher. In other words, be concise, clear, and attention grabbing.

3. When you have a book overview and a polished first chapter, combine the two as one Word or RTF document (book overview first, followed by the chapter), and you’re all set to enter the 2017 Page Turner Contest.

This year, there will be one Page Turner champion: the highest rated entry overall, chose from either the Fiction or Nonfiction categories. This one champion will win:

1. A fabulous cash prize of $400 (US);
2. The offer of traditional publication of their winning manuscript by Breath of Fresh Air Press (which includes editing of the manuscript, if published by Breath of Fresh Air Press); and
3. Free publicity and marketing of their book on all FaithWriters’ sites for twelve months following publication

Two Page Turner runners up will be chosen (one from each of the two categories-fiction and nonfiction). Each runner up will receive:

1. Two one-hour, live online, mentoring sessions with Deb Porter through Finesse Writing and Editing Service.
2. Consideration for possible publication by Breath of Fresh Air Press

* Please see terms and conditions at this link

Brief feedback on your entry by Deb Porter (Breath of Fresh Air Press) will be available after the contest is concluded. However, this feedback will only be provided at the entrant’s request (which should be indicated by checking the appropriate box on the entry form). Many people enter the Page Turner purely for this very helpful feedback.

WHAT CAN YOU WRITE ABOUT?

Once again, we’ve thrown the door wide open, with entry open to both fiction and nonfiction writers; however, your book should be suitable for Christian readers. Other than that, let your creativity and passion be your guide. We will be looking for the freshest fiction and nonfiction concepts with the greatest page turning appeal and publishing potential.

Chapter books for children are acceptable for entry; however, picture books do not suit the Page Turner concept.

We also regret that poetry collections do not suit the Page Turner concept. However, novels written in creative free verse are acceptable.

There is not a set word count for Page Turner submissions, but keep in mind that entries will include the first chapter only and a succinct book proposal. So although your finished manuscript may end up being the size of Gone with the Wind, don’t try and cram it all into the opening chapter.

So, what are you waiting for? You still have until SEPTEMBER 30, 2017, to prepare your entry. GET BUSY!

 

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What Can I Say?

What Can I Say?

by Rev. Dr. R.J. Lightsey

Exodus 4:12
“Now go! I will be with you as you speak, and I will instruct you in what to say.”

I will get right to the point. There are times when I don’t know what to write about or what to share with others so they may be encouraged or challenged. There are days when I don’t have a clue what God wants to speak through me. Believe me when I say I sometimes feel I don’t have anything at all to say. As I began to pen this article, I realized today is one of those days.

But I know (as I have known for years) that what I have to say to uplift my brothers and sisters in the Lord does not begin with me. My Father gives me what to say at the right time and for the right reasons whatever pleases Him. As God said to Moses, “Now, go! I will be with you as you speak, and I will instruct you in what to say” (Exodus 4:12).

I understand my responsibility is to stay prepared and focused to hear from God at any and all times (of course there is still room for improvement). Also, I must write by faith, literally seek God, trust God, and then sit at my desk and allow the Master to speak to me through the keyboard. Truly, a message, the right message for the present time, will come forth.

I must remember and you must remember our words are not our own. God will instruct and anoint us as we position ourselves to be used. No need to worry about what to say or what will be received or rejected. We just need to open our mouths or start stroking the keys on the keyboard and trust God to do the rest.

Now for the testimony. What can I say? There have been countless times I have witnessed God perform this as He is doing now. He has and continues to take me from not knowing what to say to trusting Him to give me what to say as I step out on faith. I am encouraged to “position” myself to be used by Him at all times. It’s not enough to know that God will instruct us in what to say, but as He told Moses, He will be with us as we speak. It is so comforting to know I never speak or write alone. The Almighty God is always with me (and you).

www.lightseyministries.org

Rev. Dr. R.J. Lightsey has over thirty (30) years in active ministry as an anointed pastor/preacher, teacher, exhorter and leader with the ability to clearly and passionately communicate God’s Word. Dr. Lightsey is experienced in planning and implementing church conferences, workshops and seminars, church planting, public relations and networking (faithandfavor.org).He is the author of Living in Praise, A Collection of Christian Poems.

Article Source: http://www.faithwriters.com

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11th Annual Page Turner Contest is Open!

FaithWriters.com and Breath of Fresh Air Press are pleased to announce the eleventh annual Page Turner Writing Contest. If you are a member of the FaithWriters Platinum 500, you are invited to enter this very special contest created just for you.

Maybe you’ve got a half-written manuscript gathering dust in the bottom of your wardrobe. Perhaps it’s something you wrote during NaNoWriMo last year. It could even be an idea that’s been brewing in the back of your mind for years. Whatever the stage of your manuscript, this contest is the spur you need to write and polish-and we will give you until the end of September to get your entry ready.

Sound good? Well, here’s what you need to do:

1. Write, edit and polish at least one chapter of your manuscript. You may seek professional editing input to polish your chapter.

2. Prepare a book proposal, including such things as the synopsis or book overview, the target reader (e.g. adult/young adult/women/new adult, etc.), the genre, similar books already on the market, and what makes your book different. Think of this as your pitch to a publisher. In other words, be concise, clear, and attention grabbing.

3. When you have a book overview and a polished first chapter, combine the two as one Word or RTF document (book overview first, followed by the chapter), and you’re all set to enter the 2017 Page Turner Contest.

This year, there will be one Page Turner champion-the highest rated entry overall, chose from either the Fiction or Nonfiction categories. This one champion will win:

1. A fabulous cash prize of $400 (US);
2. The offer of traditional publication of their winning manuscript by Breath of Fresh Air Press (which includes editing of the manuscript, if published by Breath of Fresh Air Press);
3. Free publicity and marketing of their book on all FaithWriters’ sites for twelve months following publication; and

Two Page Turner runners up will be chosen (one from each of the two categories-fiction and nonfiction). Each runner up will receive:

1. Two x one-hour, live online, mentoring sessions with Deb Porter through Finesse Writing and Editing Service.
2. Consideration for possible publication by Breath of Fresh Air Press

* Please see terms and conditions at this link.

Brief feedback on your entry by Deb Porter (Breath of Fresh Air Press) will be available after the contest is concluded. However, this feedback will only be provided at the entrant’s request (which should be indicated by checking the appropriate box on the entry form). Many people enter the Page Turner purely for this very helpful feedback.

WHAT CAN YOU WRITE ABOUT?

Once again, we’ve thrown the door wide open, with entry open to both fiction and nonfiction writers; however, your book should be suitable for Christian readers. Other than that, let your creativity and passion be your guide. We will be looking for the freshest fiction and nonfiction concepts with the greatest page turning appeal and publishing potential.

Chapter books for children are acceptable for entry; however, picture books do not suit the Page Turner concept.

We also regret that poetry collections do not suit the Page Turner concept. However, novels written in creative free verse are acceptable.

There is not a set word count for Page Turner submissions, but keep in mind that entries will include the first chapter only and a succinct book proposal. So although your finished manuscript may end up being the size of Gone with the Wind, don’t try and cram it all into the opening chapter.

So, what are you waiting for? You still have until SEPTEMBER 30, 2017, to prepare your entry. GET BUSY!

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