For the first time in FaithWriters/Breath of Fresh Air Press Page Turner history, TWO different manuscripts have been selected as winners – one fiction and one nonfiction – in celebration of the first chapter contest’s tenth year. Over the next month or so, you will have the opportunity to hear about and meet four different people and their books – the champions and runners up in both categories. First, the Fiction Page Turner winner: Meghan Andersch.
JOANNE SHER: First of all, congratulations on winning the Fiction Page Turner! Can you tell us a bit about how you found out? What was your reaction?
MEGHAN ANDERSCH: Thanks, Joanne! I first found out via Paypal notification with a congratulatory note from Mike and Bea. I figured there must be a glitch, especially since it was a month early. Then the announcement went up on the FaithWriters site, and it slowly started to dawn on me that this was for real. I was absolutely floored. I called my husband, mom, mom-in-law, and sister (I am blessed with a great group of encouragers) and then just basically floated around the house for the rest of the evening.
JOANNE: That early announcement took ALL of us by surprise – and I’m glad it DID sink in . When do you first remember developing a passion/love for writing?
MEGHAN: I fell in love with books as soon as I learned to read, and dabbled in writing early on. I wrote a lot of (terrible) poetry in elementary school and started getting more into writing fiction in high school. I got serious about writing later when considering a career change. My husband and I were talking about adopting through the foster care system, and with the state government job I had, it was considered a conflict of interest for me to become a foster parent.
I participated in some of the writing challenges at FaithWriters and completed my first novel rough draft during NaNoWriMo 2012. It was during that November I discovered I absolutely loved writing. It was hard for me to switch my brain from my fantasy world and go to my other job!
JOANNE: It is amazing how God directs us – in such creative and different ways! Is writing a hobby or potential career for you? Or something else?
MEGHAN: I hope to grow toward a career in writing. I can’t think of any better job! (Well, any paid position. “Mom” is my proudest job title.) My primary aim in life right now is homeschooling my three children, but as they grow more independent, I’m beginning to have more time for writing. I am a part-time reporter for a local newspaper and write fiction on the side.
JOANNE: Reporting is a great way to learn to write tight and to a deadline. Share a bit about Such a Time as This. Where did you get the idea for it? What’s it about? How far along in it are you?
I worked late one night and when I left the office, everyone else had already gone home. Though the parking lot was well lit, it struck me as a secluded, lonely place. I worked as a caseworker for Child Welfare at the time, and started wondering What if?
This angry character lurking in the dark waiting for a particular caseworker stuck with me. I kept wondering why he was so angry and what made him desperate enough to commit a kidnapping.
So the story grew out of that. Trevor is a parent who would do anything to get his children back. Juliana is the caseworker who would do anything to protect Trevor’s children from him. The effects of their violent confrontation ripple throughout the community and change multiple lives forever.
I’ve just started on about the eighth draft. I know the broad strokes of the story, and now the details are starting to mesh, so it’s pretty exciting!
MEGHAN: I think I first heard about FaithWriters through an article in Writer’s Digest. I didn’t do much then, just signed up for a free account, and browsed around a little. When I started thinking more seriously about writing, I started exploring the site in earnest. I began reading the articles and entered a few of the writing challenges.
Entering a challenge the first time was scary! But the comments were so encouraging, I knew I had to keep going. That’s definitely what stood out to me about FaithWriters. The community as a whole is so willing to encourage and help each other. In 2013, I was able to attend the FaithWriters conference in Portland, Oregon and it was incredible. Meeting so many like-minded people wanting to use their talents to serve God was definitely inspiring.
JOANNE: That encouraging, helping spirit is what I love best about FaithWriters as well. And the community – whether in person or online, is so special. What kinds of books or genres do you prefer to read and/or write?
MEGHAN: I like to read a little bit of everything. Right now, I’m enjoying well-written children’s books with my three kids. I prefer to write fiction and my writing tends to be a little dark. I like to show how God’s love shines through pain and suffering.
JOANNE: Children’s books can certainly be WONDERFUL – and shining light in the darkness is part of our mission as believers, isn’t it? Tell us about your family.
MEGHAN: I am blessed with a very patient husband who thinks it’s great that I want to write. He works full-time so I can homeschool the kids. He also makes the coffee every morning and can grill a pretty mean steak.
We have three wonderful children who are 7, 9, and 12. They’ve had to deal with some pretty rough circumstances already, but their joyful enthusiasm for life is boundless. They help me volunteer every week in the Gluten-free Department of our local Food Co-op. They are the only three children I’ve met who think baked onions are a great bedtime snack.
JOANNE: Baked onions? Wow. What are your other passions besides writing?
MEGHAN: I love to read, play piano, cross-stitch, and crochet. I also love being out in the mountains. Thankfully, we live in some of the most beautiful mountains in Eastern Oregon and get to enjoy them frequently.
JOANNE: Where can people find you online?
MEGHAN: I’m at http://faithwriters.com/member-profile.php?id=27445 and meghanandersch.weebly.com. Oh, and on Facebook of course.
JOANNE: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
MEGHAN: I’ve been very troubled, especially of late, over the unrest in our world. We who have hope in Christ have such a responsibility to share his Good News. I just want to encourage anyone reading this to take heart and keep sharing, whether that’s through writing or speaking or any other talent Christ has given you.
And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith. Gal. 6:9, 10 KJV
JOANNE: Amen! Again, congratulations, Meghan. Thanks for sharing your story (both the fiction AND nonfiction one) with us!
Watch for an interview with Nicki Jeffrey, the nonfiction Page Turner winner, next week!