Some “Sinful” Writing Challenge Topics

Well, we are working our way through the FaithWriters Writing Challenge‘s first quarter of 2015, and the topics are certainly different from most of the ones we have had in the past. There’s a reason it’s called the Writing CHALLENGE.

The winners for Lust were announced yesterday, and entries for Gluttony are now available for view and comments. And, if you feel like writing an entry, the new topic is Greed. So stretch those writing muscles!

Not familiar with the challenge, or need a refresher? On Thursdays at 11am ET, a new topic is announced. Simply write an entry in any genre between 150 and 750 words (with a Christian worldview) on the topic for the week and enter it in the appropriate level (click here for guidelines for choosing a level). The following Thursday, the entries are available for viewing and comments on the Writing Challenge portion of the website. Go by and give others’ comments – and watch for the brick throwing thread in the forums, which allows you to post a direct link to your entry (wait for this post before you do so!). The FOLLOWING Thursday, winners are announced.

Gold and Platinum members can enter the challenge every week if they choose. Silver members can give it a try a total of four times.

So, what are you waiting for?


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Naming Characters

Sometimes, finding just the right name for your character can be tricky. Here, author Suzanne Hartmann shares some ways authors come up with names for their characters.

Naming Characters

By Suzanne Hartmann

Based on the responses I received from questioning authors at a couple of writing forums, the following were the top 10 responses to how writers name their characters.

1) Many characters come to authors already named. Somehow they just know what the character’s name is.

2) Use on-line name lists. Here are a few:

3) Use roots of languages like Latin and Greek to build a meaning behind a character’s name.
for an antagonist – mal means “bad,” so you could create a last name like Malter or Termal or use a first name like Malia or Malin.
a character who is famous – aster means “star” It would make an excellent last name or could become a woman’s name, Asteria.

4) Create a name based on a person’s work or a main character trait in a foreign language. You can use an on-line translator such as where you can type in the English word, choose the language to translate to, and it will give you the foreign equivalent. Do translations until you find one that can easily be tweaked into a good name.
Accountant is “contable” in Spanish and “contablista” in Portuguese, so a good last name might be Conta or maybe Blista or Ablist.
Engineer is “ingeniero” in Spanish and “Ingenieur” in German, so a good first name for a woman might be Genni, or maybe a last name of Geniero.

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There is a Day for Everything…

I can guarantee you that every single day has a significance – and I’m not just talking in God’s eyes. If you check out this website, you will find that there are “holidays” and/or “observances” (often more than one!) for every day of the week – and some of them are pretty silly.

For instance, did you know that this past Sunday was “No Pants Subway Ride Day?” (I hope you didn’t celebrate it LOL) And next Tuesday is “Penguin Awareness Day?” Trust me – if you are ever in need of writing inspiration, give the holiday website a look – I can pretty much guarantee something will grab your interest.

Like I said, there is a day for everything – and there is even a day for nothing. And that, my dear writing friends, is today. Yes, January 16 is National Nothing Day. How will YOU celebrate? Personally, it sounds like a good excuse for a nap. ;)

What Unusual Places Have Inspired You?

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Writing Deeper Characters


by Randy Ingermanson

Deep characters are not deep merely because there’s something magical about them that sets them apart from other characters.

Deep characters are deep because the author chose to go deep with them. The author could have chosen to go shallow, and the result would have been shallow characters.

Any character can be a deep character. Any character can be a shallow character.

It’s not about who your characters are, it’s about what you choose to do with them.

I’m convinced that a very powerful way to go deep with your characters is to interview them.

Set up the interview in Q and A format. Ask your character a question. Then get inside the character’s skin and answer the question—in that character’s voice.

This works for several reasons:

It Alternates Between Analysis and Creation

Asking questions gives you a chance to put on your analyst’s hat. You get to ask the hard questions about motivation and values. You can probe as much as you want into your character’s mind.

Answering those hard questions gives you a chance to put on your creative hat. You get to become the character, exactly as you would if you were writing a scene from that character’s point of view.

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Meet 2014 Page Turner Runner-Up Becky Real

Read Page Turner winner Lori Dixon’s interview here, and one with runner-up Debbie Roome here.

Becky Real hasn’t been at FaithWriters long, but she is already making quite an impact. As one of two runners up in the Page Turner contest, her journey as written about in her work in progress could be on its way to publication. Read on to learn about her (scary) reaction to winning, how her husband’s cancer led to her passion for writing, and her busy life.

Joanne Sher: First of all, congratulations on your win! Can you tell us a bit about how you found out? What was your reaction?

Becky: Thanks! I was stunned when I learned I was in the top 15. Placing bowled me over and nearly knocked me off my feet – literally.

I was doing something that is not recommended — walking down the stairs at my home while checking Facebook from my phone. My cousin (also a member of FaithWriters) had posted a congratulations note to me about placing in the contest. When I first read it I thought she was commenting on being in the top 15. Suddenly I realized it was a December 1st posting. I stopped in the middle of the stairwell, clicked onto the FaithWriters site and saw my name listed.

I forgot whBecky Real 2ere I was, started screaming and jumping up and down and very nearly went “head over heels” as I slipped and stumbled down the rest of the steps. My dog Harley and two cats came running. Harley began barking and leaping up and down and the cats dashed upstairs past me to escape my high pitched screams and flailing arms and legs. Somehow I landed on my feet, swept Harley into my arms, swung her in circles and whooped out loud while tears streamed down my cheeks.

Once I caught my breath, put Harley down and landed safely into a nearby chair, I sent out a text message and Facebook blast. Then I cried some more…

I guess you could say I was kind of excited….

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The 2015 Fiction Page Turner Contest is Open!

It’s January, and it’s FaithWriters. You know what that means – right?

The ninth annual Page Turner Contest, sponsored by FaithWriters and Breath of Fresh Air Press, is accepting submissions! And this year, the focus is fiction. All Platinum 500 members are eligible to enter this fabulous 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 novel, this contest is just the spur you need to get writing and polishing – and we will even give you until the end of October to get your entry ready.

Sound good? Well, here’s what you need to do. First of all, if you are not already a Platinum member, upgrade your account. Next, write, edit and polish at least one chapter of your manuscript. Once that’s done, prepare an overview of the planned book. Combine the book overview and first chapter in one Word or RTF document, and you’re all set to enter.

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

1. A fabulous cash prize of $500 (US);

2. The offer of traditional publication of their winning manuscript by Breath of Fresh Air Press;

3. Final editing of their manuscript (through Breath of Fresh Air Press);

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

5. A special Page Turner Champion award plaque.

Two Page Turner runners-up will each receive*:

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Meet Xulon Fiction Contest Winner Ennis Smith!

Ennis Smith has been a FaithWriters member for a few years now, and he is delighted to have won the Xulon Bestseller Package from Xulon Press and FaithWriters for his manuscript “The Walking Dead.” Read on to learn more about Ennis, his manuscript, his journey to FaithWriters, and God’s provision for him.

JOANNE SHER: First of all, congratulations on your win! Can you tell us a bit about how you found out? What was your reaction?

ENNIS SMITH: Thank you Joanne! I’m actually still processing the blessing and thanking God for the opportunity. FaithWriters is a community full of awesome writers.

I first learn my submission was chosen through a routine email check. Mr. Mike Edwards sent a message notifying me of the winning entry Friday the 19th. It’s funny, one of the things he said to me was,“This isn’t a joke, Ennis. You really won!”Dad's WordPress Photo 5-16-14

My initial reaction was complete shock. My wife and I like to give our years individual labels. Back in January, we dubbed 2014, “The Year of Blessed Victory.” This year has been a particularly tough one for our family in terms of breakthroughs, but we never stopped trusting in God. Although we held out hope for blessings, it really seemed as though we were circling the desert with no end in sight. Just as I was brooding over my writing seemingly going nowhere, Mike Edwards sends me an outstanding email! Never doubt the Lord’s promises!

JOANNE: God IS faithful – and I love when He shows His children just that! When do you first remember developing a passion/love for writing?

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And on to 2015!

Can you believe 2014 is nearly over? January 1 is a mere two days away. Maybe it’s time for us to look at our writing progress over the past twelve months and plot a course (with the Lord’s guidance, of course) for the year to come.

Of course, this doesn’t just have to be about writing. But since this IS a writing blog, that will be my focus (though not laser-like LOL) in this post.

I pretty much always set goals for myself – because, for me, accountability is HUGE. I have daily, weekly, and annual goals (I used to do monthly as well, but decided to lighten up A BIT :::eyeroll::: ), and I have found, for me, anyway, that having them there helps me accomplish them (and remember them LOL). It helps me with my focus.

For instance, my writing-related goals for 2014 (posted on my blog sidebar) were only three in number – but they definitely helped me stay focused. And I can say with almost complete confidence (because as of this writing one part is undone – but I’ve got a few days yet) that I achieved all three.

While I didn’t specifically follow all of the rules of creating SMART Goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Reasonable and Timely) – which are VERY good rules, by the way – they each had at least one or two of those aspects.

I would recommend you at least try to set a couple of writing goals for 2015 (note, I said goals, NOT resolutions. Sounds a bit more doable in my book :) ). Feel free to post them in the comments if you want.

Another popular approach to the start of the new year is to choose a single word to focus on for the year – to center and inspire you. Check out this site  (there are several others too – Google it :) ) for a Christian approach and support if you’d like.

Just FYI – I did this for 2015 also – for the first time. My 2014 word is/was “Content” (accent on the second syllable) and it was a great reminder to me when things were tough. So maybe you want to pick a word yourself.

(By the way, if you want to see my own goals and word for 2015, check out my personal blog, where I will have a post about them no later than the 2nd of January)

Do you set goals? Are you going to pick a word for 2015?


Meet 2014 Page Turner Runner-Up Debbie Roome

New Zealander Debbie Roome is no stranger to FaithWriters – or to being in the winners’ spotlight. Not only has she placed in the Page Turner in the past, she has also been a runner up for the Writing Challenge Best of the Best several years ago. Read on to learn more about her, her writing journey, and her entry, A Pile of Stones, that wowed the judges.

JOANNE SHER: First of all, congratulations on your win! Can you tell us a bit about how you found out? What was your reaction?

DEBBIE ROOME: I landed in Christchurch Airport after a day in Auckland and switched on my phone while we were taxiing to the gate. I saw on Facebook that the Page Turner winners had been announced and was very surprised to see my name there. It was an exciting moment and I felt like standing up and announcing my good news to the whole plane-load of passengers!

JOANNE: I likely would have done just that! When do you first remember developing a passion/love for writing?Deb 1

DEBBIE: I’ve been writing since I was five. It’s a lifelong love and I always did well at creative writing and poetry at school. I wrote my “first book” in a spiral bound notebook at the age of 6.

JOANNE: Is writing a hobby or potential career for you? Or something else?

DEBBIE: It’s a hobby, a ministry and hopefully will be a full-time career one day.

JOANNE: Share a bit about A Pile of Stones. Where did you get the idea for it? What’s it about? How far along in it are you?

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Xulon Fiction and Quarterly Writing Challenge Winners!

After several months of submissions, and a few weeks of waiting, we have our winner of the Xulon Press Bestseller Package for a fiction manuscript. Congratulations to Ennis Smith, whose novel, The Walking Dead, rose above the other submissions to take the prize. Watch for an interview with Ennis, and more information on his book and his prize, in coming weeks!

And now, for MORE winners

The FaithWriters’ Writing Challenge is on a break right now, with the last winners of the Genre 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: Meant for Us by Rebecca Real (from the Autobiography Challenge)

LEVEL 2: Vagrant by Trace Pezzali (from the Coming of Age Challenge)

LEVEL 3: Life, One Clue at a Time by Diane Bowman (from the Action/Adventure Challenge

LEVEL 4: The Night He Was Laughing by JK Stenger (from the Inspirational Challenge)

The Writing Challenge starts up again on January 8.


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