Writing Challenge Best of the Best Contenders-Summer 2014

Can you believe it has been almost a year since FaithWriters named 2014′s Writing Challenge Best of the Best? Well, we have made it through almost 40 weeks of FaithWriters Writing Challenge topics, and it is almost time to crown 2015′s BoB and two runners up.

Unfamiliar with Best of the Best? Each week, the top scoring entry overall in the FaithWriters writing challenge is eligible to be declared the Best of the Best winner. At the end of all four ten-week quarters, we have 40 potential pieces vying for the Best of the Best crown. And, on July 1 each year, the highest rated of all the first place entries is named Best of the Best and awarded a $300 cash prize. Second and third place receive $100 and $75, respectively.

Now seems to be as good a time as any to share those contenders with you – and I will start with the “Goes Together Like” quarter from summer of last year. Click on the titles to read these amazing entries.

Slow Hours by Ann Grover (Day and Night challenge)

The Writer Weeps by Jim McWhinnie (Pen and Paper challenge)

The Master’s Chef by Margaret Kearley (Salt and Pepper challenge)

Broken Vessels by Rachel Barrett (Right and Left challenge)

Fleeting Moments of Forever by Ann Grover (Husband and Wife challenge)

A Plea from the Heart by Danielle King (Pros and Cons challenge)

Sanctuary of Silence by Ann Grover (Lock and Key challenge)

The Usual by Karen Pourbabee (Cup and Saucer challenge)

Fideles by Ann Grover (Cat and Dog challenge)

Big Sarge’s Goodwill Squad by Noel Mitaxa (Love and Grace challenge)

Watch for three more posts with contenders from the fall, winter, and spring quarters soon. And it isn’t too late to be on this list- there are still three more topics to enter to be in contention for the 2015 BoB crown! This week’s, “Trust And Obey”(don’t write about the song), closes at 11am ET on Thursday.

Get reading – AND writing!

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Discipline and Writing

Discipline and Writing

By Lynda Lee Schab

Writing lately has been challenging for me. I take that back. Writing has been virtually non-existent for me. . As I was mulling this over, I had an epiphany. Wanna hear it?

My book won’t write itself.

Deep, I know.

A while back, I saw a reporter interviewing Anne Hathaway on some entertainment TV show. Apparently, Anne had just lost about 15 pounds for a movie role. I know, right? The girl doesn’t have an extra 15 pounds to lose. But that’s not my point.

The reporter asked this question: “Wasn’t it hard to be on such a strict diet?”

Anne’s reply sticks with me:

“It doesn’t matter how hard it was. It’s what was required.”

Wow. Talk about a great answer. Rather than focus on the difficulty of sticking to such a regimented diet, and how she missed out on the fattening foods she loves, poor me…wah…wah…wah… Anne simply bucked up and did what she had to do. Okay, so she had a (few) million reasons to stick to that diet. I’m thinking if I was making millions of dollars on a book, I’d be more inclined to sit my buns in a chair and do what’s required, too.

But that’s beside the point.

The point is, just as acting is Anne’s passion, writing is mine. And if I want to see another book on the shelf, then it doesn’t matter how hard it is. I need to do what’s required to make it happen. Even if it means getting up early. Even if it means giving up something I love (*cough–Solitaire Blitz–cough*). Even if it means keeping my butt glued to my chair until my daily word-count goal is reached.

Of course, adopting that attitude is easier said than done. It begins (and ends, really) in the mind. It’s taking authority over my feelings when I don’t “feel” like writing. It’s telling myself (again and again, if necessary) during the difficult…boring…frustrating…moments, that “this too shall pass.” It’s constantly reminding myself that the fruits of my labor will all be worth it in the end. Even though my “fruits” will be grapes, compared to Anne’s watermelons.

Stop chuckling. You know what I mean.

Question for you: Is discipline something you struggle with? Any tips or recent epiphanies you’d like to share?

“For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” -  Hebrews 12:11


lyndaschabLYNDA LEE SCHAB got her writing start in greeting cards and has many articles and stories published in magazines and online publications. She is also a regular book reviewer for FaithfulReader.com, 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, www.LyndaSchab.com.


FaithWriters’ Daily Devotional

Did you know that FaithWriters puts out a daily devotional? And that you can get it for free in your email box, or put it on your site at no cost? AND that you could have your own devotional included?

Every day, a devotional by a FaithWriters member is posted at the FaithWriters Great Multitude Christian Daily Devotional area of the site. These short bits of God’s wisdom and encouragement from your sisters and brothers in Christ are a great way to bring the Lord’s message into your day.

But you don’t have to go to the site to read them – you can have them delivered to your email inbox, or get the code to have the devotional placed on your blog.

Also, are you a devotional writer? The FaithWriters devotional area may be just the opportunity for you to use your writing talents to spread God’s message to members. Check out the submission guidelines here.

Do you get the devotional? Thinking about submitting?

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Eight Ground Rules for Achieving Your Dreams

Eight Ground Rules for Achieving Your Dreams

by Megan DiMaria

Do you have a dream? A goal?

Is there a desire that has burned in your heart for years?

Or has a new vision popped into your mind?

Here’s the secret to staying motivated so you meet your goal:

Don’t wait until you accomplish your goal to be proud of yourself.

 Be proud of yourself every time you endeavor to reach your dream.
Be proud of every step you take to meet your goal.
Here are eight ground rules for achieving your dreams:

1. Know that creativity is a process, not a product.
2. Get started. Don’t quit.
3. Recall the delight you experienced in claiming that big dream.
4. Be brave. Pursue your dream despite the fear you may fail.
5. Understand that failure doesn’t mean it’s the end. It means try again, harder!
6. Establish discipline:

  • Be clear about your vision.
  • Be clear about what’s at stake.

7. Be Content:

  • Contentment is being thankful for what you have.
  • Contentment must be learned, and you can learn it.

8. The success is in the obedience.

I wish you all the success in the world, but mostly I wish you joy in your journey because at least one person will be impacted by your diligence: YOU!


Megan dimariaMegan DiMaria is an author and speaker who enjoys cheering on other writers. One of her speaking presentations is an in-depth study designed to encourage, refresh, and minister to writers as they pursue the journey of publication. She’d love to join to your next writer’s retreat and share the (hard-earned!) wisdom and encouragement she’s accumulated on her own writing journey.

Megan is an active member of several writers groups and is the author of two women’s fiction novels, Searching for Spice and Out of Her Hands. Visit Megan online at her blog at http://www.megandimaria.blogspot.com/

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You Rose to the (50-word) Challenge!

The response to the 50-word challenge was great – the creativity definitely flowed, and more than a dozen folks contributed. But only one person will receive the $10 Amazon.com gift card. And the winner (as determined by Random.org) is:

Brenda K. Blakely

Congratulations, Brenda! Contact me at joanne (at) joannesher (dot) com with your email address, and I will send you your prize!

And now, for a special treat, here are several of the entries. I have selected one from each person who entered (five people entered more than once – feel free to check out all of the entries in the comment section of the original post to see every entry)

And now, in alphabetical order by last name:

Perspective – 50 words -  by Kristine Baker

I am blind in one eye with no teeth in my mouth. Surgeries removed two ovaries, womb, one kidney, and appendix. I am gladder without my gallbladder, and I can only count to seven on my two hands. So many missing parts, but I am still thankful to be alive.

Till Death Do Us Part – 43 words – by Brenda K. Blakely

A hug, a kiss, I love you softly spoken; one enters eternity, one stands alone. Life lived left its mark as memories to take hold, easing the pain as the casket is lowered into the earth. Life begins again; each our separate ways.

Continue Reading…

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Less than 24 Hours to Write your 50-Word Story!

Do you remember the contest/challenge I announced last Tuesday? To write an entire story in 50 words and post it in the comments of the original post? And that there might be a prize? Well, the deadline is 11:59pm ET TONIGHT(Friday, May 8), and as of Wednesday afternoon (when I wrote this post), we were only one new person shy of “earning” the prize.

Check out the original post for details – and to post your own 50-word story in the comment section (THERE please – not below). It really is a challenging exercise. AND, each person who submits a 50-word story in the comments of the original post will not only have their 50-word story posted/displayed on a post on the FaithWriters blog next week, but one random person (via https://www.random.org/) will win a $10 Amazon gift card.

So – what are you waiting for?

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8 Tips for Those with Social Media Commitment Issues

8 Tips for Those with Social Media Commitment Issues

By Edie Melson

We all know it’s important for writers to have a solid presence online. But many of us struggle with Social Media commitment issues. We have good intentions, but our follow-through may be less than stellar.
So today I’d like to share some tips to help you stay on track.

Stay Committed to Social Media

1. Set Reasonable Expectations. I think this is the most important piece of advice I can give you. When I first started blogging, I wanted to excel at it. So my inclination was to set the bar high, posting at least five times a week. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized I might not be able to keep up. So instead I started slow, posting once a week, and only adding more days to my schedule when I knew I could handle it. It has been the smartest thing I’ve ever done. I’ve managed all my social media this way, and I believe it’s the one thing that has contributed the most to my success.
2. Don’t try to do it all at once. Along with reasonable expectations, don’t try to jump into everything at once. I began with blogging, moved into Facebook, and then into Twitter. Taking things one at a time helps you establish good habits without overburdening yourself.
3. Don’t try to do it all. It’s important to find a few things that you like with social media and stick with those. As I’m writing this, there are approximately 123 social media platforms. Five minutes from now that number will change. We can’t all do everything. Find the networks that work for you and concentrate on those instead of chasing every new things that comes up.
4. Diversify. Yes, stick with only a few. But make sure you are spreading your social media time between several networks. We all know that things change, and that’s true with social media. If you have all your social media eggs in one basket, you can get burned when those changes occur.
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Get Caught Reading

Have you seen the 50-word challenge on the blog from Tuesday? Check it out – you have until next Friday, May 8, to enter.

Writers love to write – but they also need to read. Reading – both in and out of your genre – can help improve your craft almost as much as writing can. And besides, if folks didn’t read, we’d all be out of a job (right??). And, reading is FUN. :)

May is National Get Caught Reading Month: a nationwide public service campaign launched by the Association of American Publishers to remind people of all ages how much fun it is to read.  There are several resources available for parents, teachers, librarians and kids on this website. But us writers can simply take/make the time to grab a book and enjoy – and learn from it. And encourage the other folks in your lives to be readers too!

Personally, I am currently reading several different picture books (as that is my genre), and am about to start a craft book on the topic. I’m in between “books for fun” at the moment, but will likely grab something from my Kindle before too much more time passes.

What Are YOU Reading?

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A Fun and TOUGH Challenge

Writing tight.

It is definitely a challenge. For most folks, it is much easier to go on and on about something than to just get to the point. Learning to say a lot in just a few words is a hard-earned skill for many. Many folks here at FaithWriters have honed that talent in the Writing Challenge, which limits you to 750 words per submission. It really is harder than it looks. :)

But challenge-length entries aren’t the shortest ones out there. Ernest Hemingway’s famous short-short story (“For sale: baby shoes, never worn.”) has inspired a website dedicated to six-word stories. If you search long enough, you can likely find challenges for short stories of many different lengths.

Several years ago, FW Challenge Coordinator (etc.) Deb Porter challenged FWers during a Writing Challenge break to write stories in fifty words or less. I rose to that challenge, and came up with five of them, which I posted in the regular articles section.

I would like to challenge YOU to do the same.  Feel free to check mine out above for ideas – if you participated “way back when,” go ahead and  link to yours in the comments. Here are a few others from that original mini-challenge – from my dear friends Allison Egly, Jan Ackerson, Betty Castleberry, and Seema Bagai.

Simply post yours (with word count included – title does NOT count as long as it isn’t ridiculously long) in the comments here for all to read (if you are having trouble leaving a comment, email me at joannesher at faithwriters dot net with your story and name and I will put it up). I will give you until Friday, May 8 at midnight ET to put up your entry (more than one is fine). If at least ten different people submit a 50-word story, I will do a random drawing for a small prize among all the participants. I am also hoping to post ALL of the stories in a blog post here later.

So, put your thinking caps on, write tight, and get to work on that 50-word (or less) story!


Discouraged? Turn Your Focus to God

Discouraged? Turn Your Focus to God

By Suzanne Hartmann

Several years ago, after I had received over twenty rejection letters from querying agents for several months, I succumbed to discouragement. I questioned whether I was going in the right direction with my novel, The Race that Lies Before Us. Thankfully, God had the answer for me, but I had to look to Him to receive it.

The following week, my church began a Bible study called Experiencing God. As I looked over the material, God caught my attention on the first day of the first lesson. The study asked, “When you come to the Lord Jesus to seek His will for your life, which of the following requests is most like what you ask?
1) Lord, what do you want me do to? When do you want me to do it? How shall I do it? Where shall I do it? Who do you want me to involve along the way? And please tell me what the outcome will be.
2) Lord, just tell me what to do one step at a time, and I will do it.”

Wow, did that ever smack me between the eyes! A few paragraphs further, the lesson really sank in with this statement: “If you don’t trust Jesus to guide you this way, what happens if you don’t know the way you are to go? You worry every time you must make a turn.” That’s exactly what happened to me. I wanted God to tell me how to change my manuscript to draw the attention of agents. I wanted Him to tell me which agents to query and whether my novel would ever be published. When I didn’t get the answers I sought, I took my eyes off of God and began to look at the expectations of the publishing industry. This quickly led to frustration, worry, and discouragement.

I recognized my sin, asked God to forgive me, then prayed He would strengthen my faith and fill me with confidence in Him. Then, and only then, did things began to happen again. The following day, I received another request for my full manuscript. The next day, I received “good” rejection letter (one with some personalization rather than a generic form letter) from an agent who had already sent a rejection letter—a very unusual happening that made it apparent that it was a God-thing. She said that my story has publication potential and stated that my writing impressed her.

Continue Reading…

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