Meet Donna Powers: Best of the Best 3rd Place Winner

See Jan Ackerson’s Best of the Best Winner interview here, and Francy Judge’s 2nd place interview here.

Donna Powers (formerly Franklin) has been around FaithWriters for a full decade, and has entered the FaithWriters Writing Challenge two hundred times. And this year, for the first time, one of her entries has been recognized as one of the Best of the Best. Join interviewer Joanne Sher as she chats with Donna about her love of FaithWriters, where her story ideas come from, and the love of her life – and their amazing story.

JOANNE SHER: First of all, congratulations on your third place win! What was your reaction when you found out you were chosen as third place in Best of the Best?

DONNA POWERS: I was both excited and amazed.  I couldn’t believe my “silly little story” had been chosen.

JOANNE: Your winning piece, Mortimer’s Plight, gave us a new and fresh perspective on a familiar tale (or tail?). How did you come up with the idea? Do you remember how it came together?

DONNA: The first thing that came to my mind when I read the word, “stir” was: “Not a creature was stirring…” and no matter which other way I tried to write that week’s topic, that take on the topic kept coming back to my mind.  I began writing that piece in an effort to make the idea “go away” (so I could get back to choosing what I was sure would be a “better” way to approach the topic).  When I finally finished it, I was as surprised as anyone.

donnapowerspicJOANNE:  Sometimes God gets those ideas stuck in our head for a reason, eh? You started entering the FaithWriters Challenge ten years ago (almost exactly! – your first entry was on August 9, 2006 – about a month after MY first entry, by the way). Other than a four-year hiatus, you have been a very regular contributor to it. What keeps you entering? (and, if you wanna share, what caused you to leave? Come back?)

DONNA: I love to write! I can’t properly describe how I feel when the words start to flow, but it’s one of the best feelings I know.  I especially enjoy doing it at FaithWriters, because I get to bless my brothers and sisters in Christ. I got hooked as soon as I began writing for the challenge, and entered every week.

When I left in 2011, I was going through an extremely difficult time in my life.  That crisis took all my mental and spiritual resources, and I had nothing left to give as a writer.  Last year, as God began to heal me and my situation, I realized I needed some sort of creative means of expression, and thought of FaithWriters.  Once I wrote my first entry, I was hooked again!

Continue Reading…

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Meet Francy Judge, 2016 Best of the Best Runner-Up

See the interview with Best of the Best winner Jan Ackerson here.

Francy Judge has been entering the FaithWriters Writing Challenge for more than half a dozen years, and now (for the SECOND time!), one of her pieces has made it in the FaithWriters Best of the Best. Join interviewer Joanne Sher and learn about Francy herself, her winning piece, and an amazing math skill she has.

JOANNE SHER: First of all, congratulations on your second place win! What was your reaction when you found out you were chosen as second place in Best of the Best?

FRANCY JUDGE: Thanks, Joanne. When I saw my name listed with the winners–it was definitely a Wow moment. My thoughts: “That’s my name! How did that happen?” I know there are so many talented writers who I expected to see there in my place. I think I let out a little scream.

JOANNE: I totally get the scream thing. :) Your winning piece, Who Kissed the Teacup? was a clever and fun take on a familiar tale. How did you come up with the idea? Do you remember how it came together?

FRANCY: For every Faithwriters weekly contest, I start a new file named “Ideas for (whatever theme.)” I type anything I think of related to the theme no matter how silly the idea sounds. Sometimes I fill a whole page with terrible ideas until I like one. On my Ideas for Smear Theme page I wrote about my mom and mother-in-law comparing their lipstick smudges on wine glasses to identify who drank from which glass. I also wrote the words Cinderella story—not sure why. After I thought of narrating from the Prince’s brother’s point of view, the story came together. I enjoyed writing this one.

JOANNE: It dme picefinitely showed – such a fun piece! This is  the second time you’ve had a piece recognized this way. Three years ago, Where’s My Kitchen? took third place in Best of the Best. That piece was very different than this one. How do you think your writing has changed since then? Grown?

FRANCY: I hope my writing has improved. I’m more willing to experiment with writing in different genres and styles, but I still lack confidence. I could win one week, but if my story flops the next week, I’m sure I’ll never write another good story again. I’m working on that, remembering why I write—not just to win, but to inspire others, touch hearts, or give readers a reason to smile. Continue Reading…

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Meet 2016 Best of the Best Winner Jan Ackerson

Jan Ackerson is perhaps one of the best-known names at FaithWriters. Not only has she placed numerous times in the Writing Challenge editor’s choice, but she is a FaithWriters- approved editor, mentor to many, and provider of free weekly writing lessons for all FaithWriters members. And now, her fable for the “Candy” topic of the FaithWriter Writing Challenge, Salvo, has been recognized as Best of the Best for 2016 (her second time with this honor – not counting times she placed second or third in the competition). Join interviewer (and Jan friend/fan) Joanne Sher as she talks to her about her winning piece, her wishes for her writing lessons, and a bit about her life away from FaithWriters.

JOANNE SHER: Congratulations on your Best of the Best win. What was your reaction when you found out your piece was at the top?

JAN ACKERSON: I was incredibly excited!

JOANNE: I wish I could have seen your face. You were a regular challenge contributor for quite a while, but until recently, you hadn’t submitted a piece to the writing challenge in several years. What brought you back?

JAN: Well, I missed writing. I’d stopped for several reasons—busyness, family issues demanding my time and my energy, and a crisis of confidence, among others. But several months ago, I contributed to the KickStarter campaign of a writer whose work I admire, and the premium for my contribution was a few hours of one-on-one time with him, to critique my work and give me some direction for the future. He was very encouraging, and the spark to write again was ignited. But I’m still kind of shy about my writing, and I wanted to go back to a place where I felt comfortable before I branched out to other writing venues.

Continue Reading…

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FaithWriters Gathering THIS WEEKEND – not too late

Are you ready to ignite your passion – your writing passion, that is? If you are within driving distance from McDonough, Georgia (or already have plans to show up), you won’t want to miss the FaithWriters Gathering – coming up this Friday, July 15 at 5pm through Saturday, July 16 at 9pm at First Baptist Church McDonough. It’s not too late to register.

What is the FaithWriters Gathering? It’s not another writers’ conference. You won’t be sitting listening to people speak all day. Instead, we want you to escape to Georgia for a weekend of fellowship, fun, encouragement, inspiration, and hands on workshops and word games. Come prepared to write. (Bring notepads, pens, tablets, laptops, and anything else you need to ignite your writing passion.)

Registration cost includes hands on workshops, Saturday meals and snacks. Facilitators include FaithWriters Challenge Coordinator (and more) Deb Porter, editor and FaithWriters writing lesson provider Jan Ackerson, Page Turner champion and published author Theresa Santy,  and writing coach and editor Hanne Moon.

Check out more detail at the FaithWriters Gathering page. If you can make it, don’t miss it!

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Congratulations to the 2016 Best of the Best

After twelve months of Writing Challenge topics and entries, we had our forty contenders for the 2016 Best of the Best awards.

The annual Best of the Best awards are announced July 1 each year, and the awards go to the three highest rated Editors’ Choice winners for the previous twelve months.

Congratulations to our three awesome winners:

1ST PLACE Salvo by Jan Ackerson

2ND PLACE Who Kissed the Teacup by Francy Judge

3RD PLACE Mortimer’s Plight by Donna Powers

The countdown to next year’s Best of the Best awards begins with the new Challenge quarter, starting July 7. You have to be in the Challenge to be in the running.

Watch for interviews with the winners in the near future!

Congratulations, Jan, Francy, and Donna!

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Congrats to Spring 2016 Writing Challenge Quarterly Winners

A HUGE congratulations to EVERYONE who entered the FaithWriters Writing Challenge this past quarter.  Just by submitting an entry, you are a winner. But some pieces rise even higher than that to place – while others go even higher than that.

And that is what the quarterly cash awards are meant to recognize. The highest scoring entry in EACH LEVEL over each entire ten-week quarter receives a $50 cash prize. This past quarter  had a variety of topics – from fizzle to candy to social – and these four entries (one from each level) came out on top. Be sure to check them out!

LEVEL 1: Four Months by Maribeth Brownhill (FINISH topic)

LEVEL 2: Sister Chat by Sherry Brock (COMPUTER topic)

LEVEL 3: Why Not Save the Whales? by Taryn Deets (GAMBLE topic)

LEVEL 4: Salvo by Jan Ackerson (CANDY topic)

Watch for our BIG challenge award – The Best of the Best - to be announced on Friday July 1. Plus, the challenge will start up again on July 7. YOUR name could be here in a few months!

Congratulations, Maribeth, Sherry, Taryn, and Jan!

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Finding Time to Write: Don’t Despise the Bits and Pieces of Time You Have Available

Finding Time to Write:

Don’t Despise the Bits and Pieces of Time You Have Available

By Edie Melson

I had always believed that I needed at least an hour, and preferably three, to make any progress at all with my writing.

I couldn’t have been more wrong.

The truth is, those small bits and pieces of time we all have add up to a lot. And wasting them can severely hamper our ability to meet deadlines and find success.

Over the years, I’ve learned how to use the time I have, even if it’s just ten minutes. Today I want to share the specific things I do to help increase my productivity when long stretches of writing time just aren’t possible.

Tips for Finding Time to Write

1. Decide to use what you’ve got. This is the biggest part of the puzzle. If you wait for perfect circumstances, chances are you’ll never finish your book. Truthfully, things rarely line up. When they do—celebrate! When they don’t—just decide to work harder.

2. Do your pre-work. There are a couple of things I recommend you do before you start writing in those short bits of time. AND they can also be done in bits and pieces.

  1. Have a road map of where your book is going. I’ve learned that I work better from a scene map (a list of all the scenes I want to include in my book). You may not have something that detailed. But you should know what you want to write about next. After you finish a scene, before you get up, make a couple of notes about where you want to go from there.
  2. Have a foundation of research to build on. I take a few weeks, before I start writing, to do my research and compile my notes.
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Page Turner Deadline in Four Months!

FaithWriters and Breath of Fresh Air Press are pleased to announce the Tenth Annual Page Turner Contest  – and this year we are celebrating in a very big way. For the first time, the door is open for both fiction and nonfiction manuscripts – with a winner and runner-up in BOTH categories!

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, this is the perfect reason to upgrade your membership.

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 manuscript, this contest is just the spur you need to get writing and polishing-and we will give you until the end of September (note this change from previous years) to get your entry ready.

Sound good? Well, here’s what you need to do:

1. Write, edit and polish at least one chapter of your manuscript. You may seek professional editing input to polish your chapter.
2. Prepare a book proposal.
3. Combine the  chapter and book proposal as one Word or RTF document (book overview first, followed by the chapter), and you’re all set to enter the 2016 Page Turner Contest.

See further details here (if you are a platinum member) or here (if you are not yet a platinum member).

This year, there will be two Page Turner winners-one from the fiction submissions, and one from the nonfiction submissions. These two champions will each receive:

1. A fabulous cash prize of $250 (US);
2. The offer of traditional publication of their winning manuscript by Breath of Fresh Air Press;
3. Free publicity and marketing of their book on all FaithWriters’ sites for twelve months following  publication; and
4. A special Page Turner Champion award plaque.

A Page Turner runner up will be chosen from each of the two categories (fiction and nonfiction). Each runner up will receive a special Page Turner award plaque.

Brief feedback on your entry by Deb Porter (Breath of Fresh Air Press) will be available after the contest is concluded. However, this feedback will only be provided at the entrant’s request (which should be indicated by checking the appropriate box on the entry form). Many people enter the Page Turner purely for this very helpful feedback.

Is your interest piqued? If you are a Platinum member already, here’s where you can find out all the details, and also where you will go to submit your entry:

If you are not yet a Platinum member, you can find out all about the Page Turner contest here.

So get working on your manuscript – and get it submitted before September 30!

Are you in?

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FaithWriters Gathering: Early Bird Deadline Approaching!

So, are you planning to attend the FaithWriters Gathering in McDonough, Georgia (outside Atlanta) this summer? It’s sure to be a fabulous time of fun, fellowship, and learning, and the price is incredibly reasonable considering all you will be getting.

Need some details? Here we go:

FaithWriters Gathering: Ignite Your Passion

Friday, July 15, 2016 at 5pm to Saturday,July 16, 2016 at 9pm

First Baptist Church, McDonough, GA

Cost: $50 until May 31; $57 from June 1 on

The FaithWriters Gathering is not another writers’ conference. You won’t be sitting listening to people speak all day. Instead, we want you to escape to Georgia for a weekend of fellowship, fun, encouragement, inspiration, and hands on workshops and word games. Come prepared to write. (Bring notepads, pens, tablets, laptops, and anything else you need to ignite your writing passion.) Cost includes workshops, plus Saturday meals and snacks.

PLEASE NOTE: In the event of your cancellation, all but a $10 administration fee, per person, will be refunded. Rates do not include transportation or room charges.

Session/workshop offerings include songwriting, creative nonfiction writing, beginnings and ends, poetry, critique, fiction essentials, and more.

There is a block of rooms reserved at a nearby hotel, and the church is providing limited shuttle service to and from the airport (see more details at the FaithWriters Gathering page).

And the early-bird price only lasts another two weeks!

Who’s Coming to the FaithWriters Gathering?

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FaithWriters Going Mobile-Responsive – Pardon Our Dust :)

417720305At the request of members, and to keep up with technology, FaithWriters will soon begin a gradual conversion to a mobile responsive site. Much of the hard work of individual page conversion has already been done on a duplicate site designed for development. We will gradually be replacing the current site pages with pages that will automatically re-size based on your viewing device.

This has been a very large and time consuming project due to the size of the site. As we convert, you should not notice any interruption on a normal sized laptop or larger screen. We are hoping for no issues on mobile devices, but there could be issues at times with links not working and misaligned formatting on pages.

If you are using a mobile device, for a time you may experience pages that respond correctly to your device size and other pages that display in their current full size format. A gradual transition should avoid any huge issues that might occur by transitioning all at once.

We thank you for your patience.

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