So You Want To be a Writer

So You Want to be a Writer

By Jennifer Slattery

First of all, run now, while you still have a chance. Just kidding. But seriously, writing is not for the thin-skinned. And it isn’t nearly as glamorous as it might seem. In fact, most days you’ll be glued to your computer, still in PJ’s at two in the afternoon, ball cap by your side in case one of your normal, presentable neighbors happen by. Although truth be told, you probably won’t answer the door anyway. Or the phone. Until the tips of your fingers throb from pounding your keyboard and your eyes cross from hours upon hours of edits.

Then you’ll stand up to force blood into your numbed legs and glance out the window as you try to reconnect with reality. You’d love to have someone to chat with, only all your neighbors are at work. You call a friend and leave a message. You hop on Facebook and make a few random posts. You pace the room and argue with yourself (only because your dog won’t join the debate). Then you toss all thoughts of socialization aside and bunker down. But hey, you’ve always got the heroine in your latest novel. She’s your friend, right?

Actually, I totally love what I do. I can’t envision myself doing anything else. (And believe me, I’ve tried. When I’ve noticed a fatal plot error requiring a total re-write or my computer crashes halfway through a 90,000 word document.) But I’m still here, plugging away, day after day, word after word. Only now, I’ve learned to do things differently.

  • #I find ways to stay connected. When I first started writing, I did it alone. It wasn’t long before I fell into a pattern of discouragement. We all experience that once in awhile, when our negative self-talk runs amuck and those fears, insecurities and frustrations bite away at our resolve. Now I’m a part of three writer’s groups and I cherish the support they offer. I’ve also taken the time to nurture deeper relationships with a few ladies I’ve met along the way. Yeah, they’re largely internet and phone relationships, but they work. My greatest resource has been the American Christian Fiction Writers network. They have an amazing online loop, numerous mature Christian authors who love pouring into the lives of newbies, and a phenomenal critique group.
  • Continue Reading…

Have You Written a (Nonfiction) Page Turner?

Got a great nonfiction book in your drawer? Or started on your computer? Or even just an idea for one? If you are a FaithWriters Platinum member, there is a fabulous contest you can enter, at no charge, that could get your book published!

The eighth annual Page Turner writing contest (sponsored by, Finesse Writing and Editing Service, and Breath of Fresh Air Press) is now open, and this year, it’s for non-fiction. All you need to do is write the first chapter, together with a basic book proposal/overview of the planned book, and then submit it. And you have until the end of October to do it (which is coming up faster than you think – trust me!).

If you are a member of the FaithWriters Platinum 500 , you are invited to enter this very special contest created just for you. If you are not yet a Platinum member (click here to upgrade), this is the perfect reason to upgrade your membership.

The deadline to enter is October 31, 2014 – that’s only 69 days to go!

Why enter, you ask? The prizes are quite impressive.

One entry will be chosen as the FaithWriters Page Turner Champion for the year, with the author receiving:

1. A fabulous cash prize of $800;

2. Free editing of their manuscript (up to 300 double spaced pages);

3. Free publicity and marketing of their book on all FaithWriters’ sites for twelve months following publication;

4. A special Page Turner Champion award plaque.

5. Publication of winning manuscript by new Christian publisher, Breath of Fresh Air Press (publisher of the new line of Mixed Blessings books) – if at least 15 entries are submitted.

6. Free conference registration for the 2015 US FaithWriters Conference (see terms and conditions).

Two runners-up will also receive FaithWriters Page Turner Highly Commended award plaques and the offer of half price editing for their manuscript. They will also receive free registration for the 2015 US FaithWriters Conference (see terms and conditions).

Check out this link for more details if you are already a platinum member. (General details can be found here)

So, get working on your nonfiction manuscript!

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What Do You Do For a Living? Your Characters at Work

What Do You Do For a Living? Your Characters at Work

By Dorothy Love

Giving your characters the right job can help your novel in three ways:

  • *it helps with characterization
  • *it lends credibility you, the author
  • *it suggests ideas for plot

In medical novels, cowboy-themed novels, and detective novels, the job is the novel. If Miss Marple were not an amateur sleuth, there would be no story, for example. But you can still use your character’s job to characterize him/her, because the why of someone’s job is is more telling than the what. Is your character driving a bus because he likes it, or because it was the best he could get? Does your heroine work with abused children because her mother expected it, or because she’s trying to hear hidden wounds from her own childhood?  Is your character’s job a daily trial, or the realization of a lifelong dream?  A salesman who rushes to his first appointment full of excitement is different from one who loathes the very thought of another sales call. Regardless of the job, is your character good at it ( even if she hates it), does she care?  Showing your readers the answers to these questions can reveal more about character than merely telling them she is a sales clerk or an accountant.

Giving your characters  specific jobs also helps place them into a socio-economic level and can telegraph to your reader information about their backgrounds. Readers will make very different assumptions about a professor at Harvard Law than about a school custodian.  But you can also surprise your readers by playing against type. Suppose the custodian speaks three languages and owns a classic automobile? Readers will turn the pages to discover why he chose to work as a school custodian. But you will have to work harder to show readers why he made that choice.

When choosing your characters’ jobs, consider their world view, their self image, their natural abilities and their social class. To preserve your credibility, choose jobs that you know a lot about, or that you can learn about. Include enough detail to make the story seem real.

If you are working on a novel now, what jobs have you given your characters? How do those jobs inform your story?


Dorothy LoveBefore moving to the inspirational market with her Hickory Ridge series of historical romances for adult readers, Dorothy Love published more than a dozen novels for preteens and young adults at major New York houses including Random House and Simon and Schuster. Beyond All Measure, her first Hickory Ridge title from Thomas Nelson debuted in June, 2011 to starred reviews from Library Journal and Romantic Times.  The second book, Beauty For Ashes, released  in early 2012. The third and final book, Every Perfect Gift, released at the end of 2012. CAROLINA GOLD, Dorothy’s next novel, a stand alone historical, was published in November of 2013. Dorothy shares a home in the Texas hill country with her husband and two golden retrievers. She loves chatting with readers through her website: or her author page on Facebook:

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Another Month to Submit Your Testimony!

In case you haven’t seen, the deadline to enter FaithWriters’ second Testimony contest has been extended another month. You now have until September 15, 2014 to submit your testimony for possible publication (and participation in royalties) in FaithWriters’ second testimony book.

All upgraded  members (click here to upgrade if necessary) who were not published in FaithWriters’ first book Trials and Triumphs are eligible to enter. Simply write your testimony (either of salvation or of keeping your faith during struggles) according to the contest guidelines n 1,200 words or less, and submit it before the contest deadline of September 15, 2014. The 50 entries selected will not only be published, but the authors will participate in royalties from the book’s sales.

Sound good? Check out the guidelines, and get working on your testimony!


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Conflict that LIfts the Bar

Conflict that Lifts the Bar

by Gail Gaymer Martin

Problems, crises and conflicts need solutions, but the conflict needs to be strong. It can’t be running out of wine at a party or disagreeing on what movie to see. You all know that arguments and disagreements aren’t worthy of being considered a conflict in fiction.

A conflict needs to involve a vital situation or issue needed for the main character to reach his goal. He needs enough money to pay the taxes and buy back the family ranch. He must find the killer to prove the accused is not the criminal. The more desperate the need the more exciting the solution is to readers. So what can you do to raise the stakes in your novel?

Near Home
Stakes are raised when the conflict or threat is close to home. Someone was murdered on the next street. The neighbor’s child was seriously injured by a hit and run driver. The situation could have happened on your street. The child could have been your own. Still the situation creates a problem and desire to resolve the character’s fear. He wants slower speed limits on the highway. He wants a neighbor watch or better police patrols. These types of issues can happen in novels as they do in real life, but they cannot be the major conflict in the story until the problem is on the character’s doorstep. Then it becomes more personal.

Raising the Stakes
Take a scenario such as this: A coworker has a seriously ill child whose life can only be saved with medication not approved by the FDA, yet successfully used in Europe. This situation would sadden a family man, but if the situation happened to his brother’s son, it’s his nephew who will die without the medication. The grief and concern deepens the closer the issue. Now it becomes personal. The situation involves his brother and nephew. He is more than sad. He fills with anger and writes to his congressman and the FDA. He writes an article to the local newspaper asking citizens to start a petition to force the government to act on the approval of this medication that is affect in other countries.

Continue Reading…

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Five Facts About Writing Contests

Five Facts About Writing Contests

By Lynda Lee Schab

Thinking about entering a writing contest? Here are a few things you may want to keep in mind:

The best things in writing aren’t always free. People often complain about writing contests that aren’t free. Hey, free contests are great, but they also tend to be sponsored by huge publications that have huge prize budgets or wealthy donors. And that equals huge competition for you. Yes, someone has to win and it could be you. You have nothing to lose, so definitely go for it!

More often, however, you’ll find paying contests. Sometimes the fees go towards the prize kitty. But more often, the the money goes towards the organization’s administrative costs. Many people do not realize the time, expenses, and manpower required to run a website. Not to mention to organize and manage a writing contest.

Writing contests keep the creative juices flowing. Particularly contests based around a topic, phrase, or word. Let’s face it. Sometimes writers could use a little help in the inspiration department. And contests are a great way to give us that nudge we need.

Growth Guaranteed. IF you take constructive criticism well, of course. Entering contests allows us to get our work read and often critiqued by industry pros or published writers. In other words, people who know what they’re talking about. The feedback alone is well worth any conference fee (see #1). And if you take that feedback and actually apply it to your writing, you will emerge a better writer. Guaranteed.

You could get noticed. As mentioned above, many contests consist of a judging panel of agents and editors, which means there is the possibility that they will like your work enough to request seeing more of it. Which puts you one step closer to that contract.

Beware of BHS (Big Head Syndrome). Okay, so you’ve been entering contests for a while now and you’ve been finaling, or even winning. This may cause your ego to make a grand appearance. But remember that verse in Proverbs about pride coming before a fall? Don’t get to the point where wearing a padded suit is required. Try to maintain a humble spirit. Yes, it’s fun to win but keep in mind the reasons you write. If you’re a Christian, hopefully it’s to glorify God – not yourself.




lyndaschabLYNDA LEE SCHAB got her writing start in greeting cards and has many articles and stories published in magazines and online publications. She works behind the scenes at, is a regular book reviewer for, but Lynda’s passion has always been fiction. Her novels, MIND OVER MADI and MADILY IN LOVE, are available in print and on Kindle. Lynda lives in Michigan with her two children. Learn more about Lynda on her website,

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Private Messenger now available to ALL members!

All members can now receive direct private messages from anyone interested in their writing through private messenger. If you had previously listed your email address in your profile, it should be removed now to reduce potential spam to your email address. Private messenger provides you with a level of privacy and security you did not have when posting your actual email address.
If you are a Silver member and have never been able to check your private messages, there may be some there now. Log into the site and look on the right hand side of the My Account page. It will tell you if there are any new messages waiting for you. Click on the link to read your messages. Please erase the ones you do not want to keep.
As new messages come in for you,  FaithWriters’ system will email you about the message that is waiting for you. Make sure your current email address in registered in your profile HERE. If you are not logged in, you will be asked to do so before being taken to your profile page to update your email address.
Note: Private messages with job opportunities will still only be sent to upgraded members. If you want to benefit from those opportunities you will need to upgrade HERE.
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Win A Xulon Best Seller Package – Raffle

Have a book you have been considering self-publishing? FaithWriters has several ways you can be in the running to win a Xulon Bestseller Package (over $4,000 retail value!) – and the newest one just went live today!

For our newest contest we are holding an old fashioned raffle with a hi-tech touch. There is no purchase required and you could win a Xulon Publishing Package ($4,383.00 Retail Value) to be used for any type of Christian book you desire. All FaithWriters members are eligible to enter and there are over thirty five ways (things you can do on the site) to increase your chances of winning – everything from putting the FaithWriters’ daily devotional on your website or blog to liking FaithWriters on Facebook to entering one of FaithWriters’ many contests. The only required entry is being a member of FaithWriters (silver, gold, or platinum) – once you do that, you can enter in any of the other ways.

Scroll down on this page for more details, and to start entering. You’ve got until November 30 at midnight ET to get your entries in, and there is no limit to the number of points you can accumulate.

What are you waiting for?


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Just Over Two Weeks To Enter Testimony Contest!

Do you have a salvation or perseverance through trials testimony that wasn’t published in FaithWriters’ first testimony book Trials and Triumphs? Are you a Gold or Platinum Member (or willing to become one)? Are you interested in getting your testimony published, and participating in royalties for sales? FaithWriters has an opportunity for you – but don’t wait too long. Time is running out!

Simply write your testimony (either of salvation or of keeping your faith during struggles) according to the contest guidelines (scroll down a bit on the page linked to here to read them) in 1,200 words or less, and submit it before the contest deadline of August 15, 2014 (that’s only 17 days away, folks!). The 50 entries selected will not only be published, but the authors will participate in royalties from the book’s sales.

Sound good? Check out the guidelines, and get working on your testimony!

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Defining Moments

Defining Moments

by Megan DiMaria

I’ve been thinking about defining moments lately. As an author, they populate my books. As a human being, they have shaped my character and my choices.

I’ve often heard good fiction characterized as real life without the boring parts. That’s very true, and both fiction and real life have defining moments.

Defining moments can be good as well as bad. The good — the day you know you’ve found “the one,” or the birth of a child. Some defining moments are obvious, like the death of a parent or when a loved one gets in a car accident. But there are some defining moments that come to you quietly in a crystallized realization while you’re simply taking a walk, or else they can seep into your bones when you overhear a conversation not intended for your ears.

The funny thing about defining moments is that they may not be honest interpretations. What if someone perceives a situation differently than it is? What if a misunderstanding causes someone to have a defining moment? It’s easy to see that happening in a child’s life: I didn’t pick up my room, so mommy and daddy are divorcing. That kind of thing.

A friend told me of a defining moment that occurred at the birth of her first child: “Oh, my goodness. I can’t die for at least 20 years.” The realization that flooded her brain shocked her, but then she knew it was because her dad died while she was a very young woman.

Libby, my character in my current WIP (work in progress), is experiencing a defining moment. I’m having fun playing with the way she reacts to it. After all, fiction is real life without the boring parts.


megan dimariaMegan DiMaria has been a freelance writer for 20 years and is the author of two women’s fiction novels, Searching for Spice and Out of Her Hands, both of which are set in the Denver area. She is a member of several writers’ groups and enjoys encouraging other writers in their pursuits. Visit Megan online at or at her blog at

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