Set Apart Church – New Blogging Contest

FaithWriters’ newest blogging contest is now under way – don’t miss your opportunity to help promote a Christian ministry, improve your writing skills, and maybe even win paid writing assignments!

The newest contest promotes Set Apart Church, an online non-denominational church meant to serve those who are unable to attend a local church for whatever reason. It includes weekly sermons, devotionals, and a place to share prayer requests. This is a relatively new ministry which we at FaithWriters hope to help. And you can help too, by entering the contest.

Check here and here for specific rules for entering, but in general, you must write an article of 750 words or less about the ministry, and post it in the appropriate place in the FaithWriters forums, in FaithWriters’ regular articles, and one other location. The article must have three contextual links to Set Apart Church’s website. Again, see more specific instructions at the links above. But don’t delay too long – the deadline is 9pm ET on Tuesday April 15, 2014.

Entering will not just benefit the ministry – there will be prizes as well :)

Best Gold or Platinum member entry: Two $75.00 paid writing assignments from Set Apart Church.
Second Best Gold or Platinum member entry: One $75.00 paid writing assignment from Set Apart Church.
Best Silver entry: One year Gold membership at FaithWriters.

Check out this ministry – and blog contest. Then enter!

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Dealing With Overwhelm

Dealing with Overwhelm

By Randy Ingermanson

Once in a while life feels overwhelming. It feels like everything is crashing in on you at once.

Like you’re spinning your wheels. Going nowhere.

I learned a neat trick a few years ago from Eben Pagan on how to deal with this. Eben teaches productivity techniques, and he’s good at it.

Today, I desperately needed Eben’s trick. When I logged onto my computer this morning, it told me that my external hard drive (the one that contains all my backups) was having problems. I ran some diagnostics and concluded that the hard drive really couldn’t be saved.

This meant a trip to town to get a new one. Since I live quite far away from civilization, this meant taking hours out of my day. Hours I didn’t have.

By the time I got home, I was feeling pretty depressed. I’d burnt a lot of time on an emergency and now I was way behind. And I had already been feeling stressed when I woke up, because there are a ton of things on my plate for this week.

I felt horribly overwhelmed.

So I tried Eben’s trick. Here it is, and it might work for you on a day when you feel like you won’t ever get caught up: Continue Reading…

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Congratulations to the blog contest winners!

The latest blog contest closed to submissions less than two weeks ago, and now we are excited to announce our winners!

This time, the contest was meant to promote FaithWriters’ partnership with Xulon Press, one of the largest Christian self-publishers.  FWers were to write an article about the various benefits of the partnership, including the second testimony book, and two giveaways of Xulon Bestseller Packages to Platinum members.

Out of the handful of entries, two of them rose to the top and were declared our winners. Be sure to check out the post on the boards to read the winning entries, and those of other folks who gave it a try.

And now, without further ado, our winners:

First Place: The Reluctant Mom by Toni Hammer ($100 prize)

Second Place: Hope Rises Again by P.J. Baker ($50 prize)

Watch the FaithWriters Forums (and this blog!) for the next contest, which will promote an online church for those unable to attend in person. It will be starting soon!

Congratulations, Toni and P.J.!

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How Dense Can Ya Get? (Story Structure and Timing)

How Dense Can Ya Get?

By Linda Yezak

Your bad guy hides behind Prada and a smooth personality. His car has leather seats. He whips out his Platinum card with the carelessness of one who doesn’t have to worry how much he charges to it.

And he has captured your Main Character’s eye.

She has a choice between the flashy guy who “knows how to treat a woman” and a plain ol’ blue-jeans clad country boy whose actions can be misinterpreted to put him in the worst light possible. He has a certain charm, but in your MC’s eyes, he’s the bad guy.

Wow. That’s the makings of a good story.

But it’s also a delicate balance. As the story goes along, we, the readers, learn the true nature of each man, and before long, we’re on the edge of our seats as our heroine consistently makes the wrong choice. The writer always lets us into her mind, always shows how she reaches her conclusions, always puts the good guy in compromising positions that confirm her opinion of him.

After a while, though, it’s time to start showing her doubt of her choices, otherwise we, the readers, start getting seriously frustrated with the woman.

Soon after the midpoint, she needs to start getting niggling little doubts that increase beyond a “niggle” by the three quarter point. By this time, she should be in deep, completely entangled with the wrong guy, so the last quarter of the book leads to the nail-gnawing climax and satisfying conclusion.

Continue Reading…

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Great Reads from Some FaithWriters Members!

If you are looking for some inspiring stories, whether fiction and nonfiction, FaithWriters is the place to look – especially this week. Two new publications became available in just the past few days, and you will definitely want to check them out.

First, the highly anticipated book of forty FaithWriters members’ testimonies, Trials and Triumphs, is now available – and, for a limited time, it is FREE as an ebook! Check out these inspiring stories of FW members’ salvation testimonies, as well as how God was with them during trials. Read their inspiring stories (including my own story of how I came to Christ), and leave a review, if you would, on the FaithWriters bookstore  AND at Amazon (where you can purchase a paper copy of the book – and soon, an ebook!) That is the best way to garner sales for this book – and we would love your help.

And on a side note, we are currently holding a contest for a second book of testimonies – if yours wasn’t published in this first book and you are a gold or platinum member, stop by here  and scroll down a bit for information and to enter.

Secondly, the latest issue of the FaithWriters Magazine is now available! The March issue includes inspirational short pieces – from poetry to true life inspirational stories. There’s plenty of fiction, too, with humor, romance, slice of life, and several genres. Be sure to stop by and check it out!

Which Will You Read First?

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Broken Record Writing

Broken-Record Writing
By Delia Latham

With the advent of CDs and streaming music, the term “broken record” is fast becoming obsolete. I’m hoping most people still know what it means.

Even if the experience is not personal, most of us have heard the result of a scratched record. The needle gets hung in the scratch, the record keeps spinning, and the result is an annoying repetition of the same words – over and over…and over again.

It happens in writing as well. Sometimes our characters’ repetitious actions make a reader crazy.

My heroes chuckle a lot. They grin when I can’t think of anything else for them to do. They love to “quirk” or “hike” an eyebrow. My ladies’ lips “curve upward in a smile” way too often.

I recently read a rough draft chapter for an author whose characters overused their hands. Every few sentences, an action tag involved the word “hands.” She wrung her hands. He ran a hand through his hair. Their hands touched. He stuffed his hands into his pockets. She placed a hand over her mouth.

Talk about your broken record! A whole book of that would have me breaking the record over the hero’s head.

A friend admitted that she uses coffee as a tool for too much of the action in her story. He poured himself a cup of coffee. She wrapped her cold fingers around the hot mug. He sipped the hot brew. She tasted the lukewarm liquid and set her cup back on the table. He put on another pot of coffee. If I consumed as much caffeine as these characters, I’d never sleep!

Continue Reading…

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The End of the Challenge Quarter is Near!

So, have you entered the FaithWriters Writing Challenge lately? If you haven’t (or even if you have), and you want to get in on this quarter’s topics, you only have a few more weeks. That’s right – this quarter, which has topics focused on “ends,” is close to ITS end. This week’s topic – The Short End of the Stick – is the eighth topic of the quarter, which means only two more follow before we have a short break.

What is the Writing Challenge, you ask? In brief, it’s an opportunity to write to topic, deadline, and word count.  A topic is announced at the challenge page on Thursday at 11am ET, and you have until the following Thursday to write and enter a piece (fiction, nonfiction, poetry…) between 150 and 750 words. The entries are judged by anonymous judges, and winners are announced a week after the deadline. In the meantime, you can see others’ entries and give them encouraging and/or constructive comments. It’s a great way to hone your craft and practice writing to a topic, deadline, and word limit.

AND, at the end of each ten-week quarter, the highest ranked piece in each of the four levels over that quarter receives a cash prize! And he top three entries overall each year receive larger cash prizes, and are crowned “Best of the Best.”

Gold and Platinum members are eligible to enter the challenge as many weeks as they wish – silver members can try it out a total of four times. (Click here to upgrade your membership) Check out the rules for the challenge here, and submit your entry before the quarter is over! Don’t let the “end” quarter end without YOUR entry!

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When Readers Hate Your Characters

When Readers Hate Your Characters

by Dorothy Love

So, when my book Beauty For Ashes released a couple years back, the reviews came in from bloggers and from Amazon readers. I received my share of positive reviews, but I’ve been surprised at the strong reaction to one of my secondary characters from some readers. One reader said Mary made her so mad she wanted to throw the book across the room. Another said Mary is a woman you love to hate.  One very thoughtful reviewer asked whether disliking a character meant the author had done her job and if so, was it fair to award fewer stars.

I’ve been a student of writing fiction for almost twenty years, published  since 1995,  and one of the first things I was taught was that stories must have conflict. A second lesson: characters must grow and change as a result of the events of the story.  In the case of Mary Stanhope Bell, she first appears as a demanding, thoughtless and even lazy person who gives my main character, Carrie, a hard time at every turn.  Conflict! This was by design. I wanted my readers to identify with Carrie’s struggle to get along with Mary, and I wanted them to see by the end of the book how Carrie’s kindness and duty to her family changed Mary’s heart and transformed her into a more sympathetic character. But it seems that some readers focused only on Mary’s faults and  ignored her growth as the story unfolded.

I had a talk with my editor about this. She supported my portrayal of Mary as both realistic and essential to  the central theme of the story. But it’s clear that  some readers wanted Carrie and Mary to be best friends…no accusations, no harsh words, no slammed doors. Everything all sweetness and light. But life isn’t like  that. At least mine isn’t.  And  stories without sufficient conflict aren’t compelling enough to keep me as a reader engaged. I’ve always felt that if  my stories evoke strong emotions in the reader, then I have done my job. Of course I’d love it if every single reader fell in love with my stories, but that is as unrealistic as a story without conflict.

Continue Reading…

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Xulon Publishing Package: YOU Help Decide

As mentioned previously, FaithWriters and Xulon Press are teaming up to award two comprehensive publishing packages to upgraded members. One of the packages will be used to produce a second testimony book, with testimonies from fifty Gold and/or Platinum members. Another will be rewarded to a single Platinum member for the best fiction manuscript with a sound biblical message. These packages are worth over $4,000 each. Click here for more details on these packages and how to enter.

But what about the third package? Who will win that? Well, FaithWriters members get a chance to have a say! Check out this poll to vote on how the third package will be awarded – or suggest your own idea. FW plans to go with the majority’s vote on this third award.

Should it go to:

Best poetry entry?

Best devotional book?

Most helpful FaithWriters member?

Or someone else?

Stop by the survey at this link and let us know!

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Stick to It!

Stick to It!
By Jennifer Slattery

Today wasn’t one of my best writing days. Although I hit my word count goal, I didn’t stagger away from my computer until near three. Since I normally start novel work by 7:30, that made for a long day. One with editing and publicity work still waiting to be conquered.

In light of my rather murky muse, it’s no wonder I considered a major gear shift. In fact, as I puttered around the house, sweeping away the mountainous cobwebs that had gathered on more creative days, I plotted and planned another book entirely. And even convinced myself I needed to set my novel aside–the one I’m 45,000 words into and planned to have completed by the end of the month–to start on a fresh book. Ah, a blank notebook, a blank screen, with ideas popcorn kernelling through my head.

Good thing I’m a praying woman. Hesitant to veer too far off my schedule without clear confirmation, I spent the afternoon in prayer. And nope, I never did get the novel-chucking, muse-chasing confirmation. So tomorrow, I’ll plunk back in my office chair, poise my fingers over my keyboard, squeezing out another 2,500 words (I upped my daily word count goal this year), whether they fly or crawl. Because sometimes we need to persevere and not everything comes easy, even when God’s behind us. (Like my old track coach, I believe occasionally  He makes us sweat, not because he’s mean, but because He loves us and wants to help us be our best.)

Continue Reading…

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