Writing Challenge: Best of the Best Contenders: Spring 2015

Just under TWO WEEKS before the Best of the Best winners and runners up are announced – can you believe it? And now is the time to review the last ten contenders (see the three previous quarters here, here, and here) – one of which was announced only yesterday!
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.
This past quarter’s topics were song titles – but you were not supposed to write about the songs themselves. Be sure to check these excellent entries out – and watch for the challenge quarterly winners in a day or so – and the Best of the Best for 2015 on July 1!
All’s Well – An Unspoken Message by Margaret Kearley ( from the IT IS WELL WITH MY SOUL challenge)
Assegais and Shields by Corrine Smelker (from the STAND UP FOR JESUS challenge)
All Good Things by Ann Grover (from the COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS challenge)
In the Secret Place by Ann Grover (from the A MIGHTY FORTRESS challenge
Suleiman by Jack Taylor (from the SWEET HOUR OF PRAYER challenge)
B’rihk Hu by Ann Grover (from the I SURRENDER ALL challenge)
The Society of Soldierettes for Sensibility and Sobriety by Ann Grover (from the ONWARD CHRISTIAN SOLDIERS challenge)
Walking the Waves by Margaret Kearley (from the TRUST AND OBEY challenge)
A Prayer of Praise by Ellen Carr (from THE WHOLE WORLD IN GOD’S HANDS challenge)

Some Angels by Ann Grover (from the ANGELS WATCHING OVER ME challenge)

Watch for the Best of the Best announcement on July 1 – and the next quarter of the Writing Challenge just a day later. You could be on this list next year!


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Is it Reflection, Interior Monologue, or Introspection?

Is it Reflection, Interior Monologue, or Introspection?

By Gail Gaymer Martin

I’ve been teaching fiction for years and during the Q and A time, I have received many interesting questions. The interior monolgue or internal speech, stream of consciousness and even introspection often cause confusion. Exactly what is it and what does it do? First let’s look at this question:

Difference between Introspection and Internal Monologue
The dictionary definitions are:
Internal speech, or verbal stream of consciousness is thinking in words. It also refers to the semi-constant internal or interior monologue we has with ourselves at a conscious or semi-conscious level. In fiction, it is a form of stream-of-consciousness writing that represents the inner thoughts of a character.
Introspection is the examination or observation of one’s own mental and emotional processes. In fiction, introspection can be extremely valuable to getting to know the character as the character gets to know himself
And the answer to the difference between internal monologue and introspection: Stream of Consciousness (Internal Speech or monologue) deals more with sensory input whereas interior monologue focuses on the processing of ideas. Any good soliloquy found in classical literature could be held up as an example of interior monologue. But stream of consciousness doesn’t handle morality or problem solving. It lives inside the moment and does not consider the past or future. Interior monologue considers the moment with reflection and planning.
And with those definitions in mind, here’s the question I received from the writer:
Is interior monologue direct thought or is it reflection? Is there a difference?
I use internal monologue and introspection interchangingly and  in a variety of ways. For one thing, through internal thinking, it is the only time the reader can know the character’s truths  as he sees it. It’s a time to reflect on the past and it’s a time to respond to the present or to plan for the future. It’s a place where the author can drop a clue to the past or piece of back story or even foreshadowing.
Here are examples:
Joe couldn’t tell her how he really felt. She wanted him to say he loved her, but he couldn’t. He’d learned that he couldn’t love anyone when he didn’t love himself.
This example allows the reader to understand more about Joe and why he rejects friendships and love. It also shows his attempt to view others as to what they are thinking. He could be right but he could be wrong. This leaves the reader with a question.
The past:
Looking at Susan today drew him back five years earlier when they’d first met. The memory sent a chill up his spin, recalling her face tilted toward the sky, the sun shining on her hair. Why couldn’t he allow those feelings to surface today?
This Internal monologue asks a direct question and leaves the reader with the desire to know why. This works as a hook to pull readers into the story.
The Future:
Tom’s mind spun with ideas. He had to do something. Time wouldn’t allow him to weigh every option. She needed his help, and it had to be now. Possibilities filled his mind until one stood out among the rest. He knew what he had to do.
Another effective hook.  If a chapter or scene ended with this line, readers would be drawn to turn the page and start the next section to learn the answer.
A shudder rolled over Susan’s shoulders as she headed for the basement. Why did she dislike this place? She knew. It was too much like a grave. A cellar was underground, and Susan preferred the light, not the dank gloom of a cellar.
Foreshadowing is a great way to draw readers into the story. They are alerted, if they’re thinking, that something is going to happen underground. Will Susan get trapped in a cellar or is it more the darkness that frightens her? Readers know that something is going to happen.  Another good hook.
No matter what you call it -  Internal monologue, Introspection, or Stream of consciousness – the examples show you how it can be used with purpose. Sometimes going into the character’s thoughts can explain a reaction or express the character’s emotions not shown because the scene was in the another character’s POV, but these thought can also provide excellent hooks that draw readers into the story and make them turn pages.
gailmartinMulti-award-winning novelist Gail Gaymer Martin writes Christian women’s fiction, romance and romantic suspense. Gail has fifty-seven contracted novels with four million books sold. She is the author of Writers Digest’s Writing the Christian Romance. Gail is a co-founder of American Christian Fiction Writers, a keynote speaker at churches, libraries and writers organizations, and presents workshops at conference across the US. She was named one of the four best novelists in the Detroit area by CBS local news. She lives with her husband in a northwest Detroit suburb. Visit her website at http://www.gailgaymermartin.com/. Her latest,  A Mother To Love, released from  Love Inspired this month.

Why We Write

Eighty-six  years ago today, a baby girl was born in Germany. Thirteen years later, she received a diary for her birthday, and wrote in it regularly for two years. And she impacted the world in a way she never could have imagined.

Perhaps you already know who this girl is. How, for many (me included), hers is the first name that comes to mind when we think of Holocaust victims.  Anne Frank is in many ways the voice of the Holocaust – of Hitler’s oppression of the Jews (and others). And it is all because of her writings – writings she never intended anyone else to see.

And maybe that is part of why her story is so compelling. She wasn’t writing for a paycheck, for accolades, or to impact the world. She wrote because she could – because she had something to say: to get off her chest. She was baring her soul – writing as she felt led. She wrote for an audience of one.

Anne Frank was not a Christ-follower, but maybe she has something to teach us about our focus and our purpose for writing. Maybe not. But I have to believe that her story – the story of the horrors of the Holocaust – would have been seen much differently if she had told her story any other way.

Why do YOU write?

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Writing Challenge Best of the Best Contenders: Winter 2015

And now for the third group of four Best of the Best contenders (check out the ten from Summer and Fall 2014 in previous posts)

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.

Winter 2015 was seven deadly sins and three remedies quarter. Give these ten excellent entries a look!

Thinking and Knowing by Melanie Kerr (LUST challenge)

Just Once by Ann Grover (GLUTTONY challenge)

Adieu, Dodo by Beth LaBuff (GREED challenge)

The Coffee Boiler by Ann Grover (SLOTH challenge)

When Sirens Blare by Francy Judge (RAGE challenge)

Your Fountain by Holly Westefeld (ENVY challenge)

The Ode and the Epitaph — The Paragon-Pariah of Fallow Field Farm by Beth LaBuff (PRIDE challenge)

The Test by David Walker (FAITH challenge)

My Expectation by Vincent Lyon (HOPE challenge)

The Seeker by Dave Walker (LOVE challenge)

Watch for the final quarter of Best of the Best contenders in a week or so – and it isn’t too late for YOUR name to be on the list! The tenth and final topic of the quarter, “Angels Watching Over Me (don’t write about the song),” closes this Thursday at 11am ET. Enter soon!


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Hook Me

Hook Me

By Delia Latham

If it had eyes, they’d be watching me. Reproachful. Accusing.

It’s a book, for heaven’s sake. A simple, ordinary, inanimate object without sight or voice. And yet it chides me for neglecting a duty…back pedaling on a promise. I feel its sightless stare each time I’m within five feet of it.

Here’s the weird thing: I love to read. If I pick the book up and read it, it will stop taunting me. So why not just do that, and eliminate all the unpleasantness of avoiding a lifeless object?

The problem is, I did pick it up and start reading. This particular novel didn’t grab my attention from the word “go.” As much as I love to read, that much, at least, is necessary. If a writer doesn’t hook me from the beginning and pull me in so deeply that I can’t put the book down, I will put it down, and I won’t ever pick it back up.

Except…I made a promise to read and review this book. So I have to open it again, and I know it won’t be a pleasure read. “Plowing” is hard work. If I must “plow” through a book, I’ve defeated my purpose in reading, which is pleasure, escape, entertainment and relaxation. I want to lose myself in the story, preferably from the very first sentence, and not have to think about the fact that I’m reading. I want to become a part of that fictional world, and forget the real one exists, at least for the duration of that novel. If the author fails to absorb me into his or her tale that thoroughly, then I am constantly reminded of my existence outside the book, and I will return to it, leaving the fictional world on the shelf.

Continue Reading…

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Writing Challenge Best of the Best Contenders: Fall 2014

And now for another set of Best of the Best contenders (see the ten from last summer here).

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.

Last fall was the genre quarter (take two!), where folks were challenged to give several different styles of writing a try. Check these fabulous and unique contenders out!

Face to Faith by Ann Grover (Autobiographical challenge)

Five Reasons I Never Became a Rapper by Timmy Boyle (Humor challenge)

One Act of Defiance by Rachel Malcolm (Fantasy/Sci-Fi challenge)

All Around by Shelley Ledfors (Suspense/Thriller challenge)

Cries in the Wilderness by Ann Grover (Contemporary Fiction challenge)

Tom Tilbake by Ann Grover (Travelogue challenge)

Life, One Clue at a Time by Diane M. Bowman (Action/Adventure challenge)

Blisters and Scars by Rachel Barrett (Coming of Age challenge)

The Night He Was Laughing by JK Stenger (Inspirational challenge)

The Man With a Passion for Peace by Ann Grover (Biographical challenge)

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

Enter this week or next – and enjoy!

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Literary Baklava – Adding Layers of Meaning to Your Novel

Literary Baklava – Adding Layers of Meaning to Your Novel

By Dorothy Love

As newlyweds, Ron and I frequented a local deli owned and operated by a man known  as Big Al. Though his tiny deli ( it had  only 5 tables) was located in the heart of a sprawling Dallas suburb, it might as well have been sitting in the heart of Athens (Greece, not Athens, Texas).  Most everything on Big Al’s menu, except for the sandwiches, came wrapped in grape leaves and garnished with chunks of feta cheese and marinated olives. Big Al’s was also the only place in town that served Dr. Brown’s sodas. But the main reason we loved going there was to indulge in a serving of  Big Al’s baklava: layer upon layer upon layer of paper-thin pastry filled with chopped nuts, butter, and cinnamon, all  soaked in honey. Biting into it, one tasted first the subtle crunch of the pastry, then the nutty flavor of the pecans, the creamy spiciness  of butter and cinnamon, and then the long, sweet finish.


A novel is built in the same way–adding meaning by layering various types of character actions and reactions to the bare bones of the dialog, and enriching the story as a whole through the use of metaphors. Here’s a rough example with the layering shown in italics:

Bare bones dialog:

“I’m shutting down the plant next month,” Jake said.

“Probably for the best.”

“Come about!”


“I’m shutting down the plant next month,” Jake said, not meeting her gaze. (physical reaction)

Mary watched him tighten his grip on the boat’s tiller. (physical reaction). Obviously the boss’s decision hadn’t been an easy one. Everyone knew the plant had lost money for three straight years. But in a town as small as Harper’s Cove, what were his employees to do?( internal reaction) Her mouth went dry. ( physical reaction) Mary reached into the cooler for a can of cola and popped the top. (physical reaction)  Jake Hardin had been born into wealth and privilege. No wonder he didn’t reallize that losing Hardin Industries would be a huge setback not only for him, but for the whole town. Still, he was a good guy. And nothing she might say could change the company’s bottom line. Why make him feel worse? (internal reaction) She sipped the cola and set the can into its holder near the stern. (physical)

“It’s probably for the best.” (verbal reaction)

“Come about!” Jake called.

She ducked her head as the boom swung wide and wind billowed  the sails. (physical reaction) That was the problem with falling in love with someone like Jake Hardin.

Trying to make him see things from her point of view was merely spitting in the ocean. (metaphor)

This is a very rough example. I’m sure you can do better! But I hope it will help you in building a story layer by layer, a story that ultimately will be as sweet, as rich, and and as satisfying as a piece of Big Al’s baklava.


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 2013. Her latest novel, THE BRACELET, released in December. Dorothy shares a home in the Texas hill country with her husband and two golden retrievers. She loves chatting with readers through her website: www.DorothyLoveBooks.com or her author page on Facebook: www.facebook.com/dorothylovebooks

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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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