Keeping Your Writing Active

Keeping Your Writing Active

By Gail Gaymer Martin

Suspense, mysteries, and westerns aren’t the only genres that need action. Keeping your story filled with action-packed verbs helps the plot to move and helps create a page-turner. Passive voice is only one kind of inactive writing. Selecting inexplicit verbs and deadwood sentence structure also stops authors form creating a moving, active story.

Passive Voice
The English class definition of passive voice is exchanging the positions of the subject and the object in a sentence. In active voice, the subject is doer; it acts on something. Example: The child picked up his toy.  In passive voice, the subject receives the action. Ex: The toy was pickedup by the child. Or  ”The note was signed by him” rather than “He signed the note.” In most cases, the subject should carry the action, but on occasion when who did it isn’t as important as what was done, then use the passive. ”Twenty size children were injured in a school bus accident.”

Notice the word “was” in the first example. The “to be” verbs, such as: is, was, are, were, be, been, are usually connected with passive voice. Still, writers should not totally exclude these verbs in their writing. The “to be” verbs are often needed in predicate nominative and predicate adjective sentences, like, “She was beautiful” or “He was quiet. They were soldiers.” Though the author is smarter to show her beauty (Her beauty touched him) and show his quietness His silence disturbed her). When those ideas are not the focus of the sentence but only a lead in to something more important, then use the passive voice. Still an author should avoid passive voice when possible.

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FaithWriters’ Writing Challenge – our evolving language

So, have you entered the FaithWriters Writing Challenge yet this quarter? I can happily say that I did – after an almost two-year break. This quarter’s topics are especially fun, as they are new words and phrases that are in the Oxford English Dictionary. From “googled” to “digital detox” to this week’s topic “omnishambles,” the subjects are proof that our language does NOT stay the same year after year. We’re halfway through the topics right now – so even if the current one doesn’t strike you, keep your eyes open – five more words are on deck!

Want to enter? Ponder the topic (google it if necessary - here’s a link to the definition of this week’s topic), and write a piece between 150 and 750 words about it and submit your entry no later that 10:59 AM ET on Thursday, May 8. Gold and Platinum members can enter each week, while silver members can try out the challenge a total of four times total. You can also find a buddy group to look your entry over before you enter, and chat about the topic if you’d like on the FaithWriters forums. See more details on the rules/guidelines at the Challenge main page.

Once the topic closes, be sure to read and comment on others’ entries – there will certainly be gems for you. And watch the brick throwing thread on the boards for the all clear – this is a GREAT place to post the direct link to your entry once judging is completed (please do NOT share your entry publicly before you hear that judging is done to protect the integrity of the process). Then watch the FOLLOWING Thursday for the challenge winners.

As a regular challengeer for many years, I think my jump back in will likely mean I won’t be taking quite as long a break until my next entry. Join me?

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Six Ways to Back Up Your Writing Files

Six Ways to Back Up Your Writing Files

By Lynda Lee Schab

For writers, losing work is equivalent to losing a child. Well, not really, but you get the picture. Backing up files is essential. The way you choose to protect your work depends on what type of writing you do, and your particular lifestyle.

Here are 6 options to choose from:

1. EXTERNAL HARD DRIVE - Hooks up to your computer via USB port.

PROS – It’s portable, safe, holds huge amounts of data, is upgradable if you need more storage, and keeps your computer from getting clogged with downloads and large files.

CONS – You have to actually remember to do it; it’s a little bulky to transport; it’s pricey – it will cost you anywhere from $50 – $100+ for a decent one.

2. THUMB/FLASH DRIVE- Tiny device, hooks up to your computer via USB port.

PROS -It’s cheap, sturdy, and small enough to throw in your purse or attach to your keychain.

CONS- Not as much storage as an external hard drive, and easy to misplace. And again, you have to remember to manually transfer your data.

3. DROPBOX - Dropbox is a simple online virtual storage utility that allows you to make your files accessible from almost anywhere.

PROS – Everything is online, so no need to carry around a flash drive; Can share content with anyone you’d like.

CONS – Are some concerns about security; 2GB free, but costs extra for more storage; support only online.

4. MOZYDownloadable backup software that automatically saves all data twice per day to an online storage site.

PROS – Reliable security; affordable — 50 GB for $5.99 per month; Does not constantly run in background, but runs only during the file transfers; Flexible automatic schedule, so nothing to remember.

CONS – No file sharing; Can take up to 3 days for initial backup, No phone support

5. CARBONITE- Similar to Mozy, Carbonite is downloadable online backup software.

PROS – Unlimited storage; intuitive backup process; apt for beginners and inexperienced users; Phone support;.File searching offered; 15-day free trial.

CONS – Offers only annual plans (starting at $59.99), no monthly options available; Must purchase a new plan for each computer; Must manually select files to transfer.

6. EMAIL - Email yourself a copy of your manuscript every time you add to it.

PROS: Easy; Free; Can access from anywhere

CONS: Have to remember to actually do it; If email address is compromised, you may lose your most recent copy.

The most important thing, of course, isn’t which option you choose, but that you do it. How do you back up your work?

lyndaschabLYNDA LEE SCHAB got her writing start in greeting cards and has many articles and stories published in magazines and online publications. She works behind the scenes at, is a regular book reviewer for, 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,


Congrats to Latest Blog Contest Winners!

FaithWriters’ latest blogging contest, focused on The Set Apart Church, a new online non-denominational church without walls, is finished – and winners have been announced. Winners will receive recognition, the knowledge of blessing and ministering to those who might need a church like this, AND prizes.

And without further ado – congratulations to our winners – check out their entries in the FaithWriters forums!

First Place: Tear Down the Walls of the Church by Wayne Cook (wins two paid writing assignments from The Set Apart Church valued at $150)

Second Place: Something Larger Than Myself by Kathleen A. Trissel (wins one paid writing assignment from The Set Apart Church valued at $75)

Best Silver Entry: It’s Never too Late by Graham Keet (wins a free one-year gold membership to FaithWriters)

Congratulations to the winners! Watch the forums for the next blog contest.


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Share Your Testimony

TrialsandTriumphscover2-21-14_opt (2)Have you had a chance to read Trials and Triumphs, FaithWriters’ first book of testimonies? Forty different FaithWriters members share their stories of salvation or God’s provision through trials. These testimonies will inspire and encourage you – and could help bring a lost brother or sister to faith – and, for a limited time, the book is free in the FaithWriters bookstore in exchange for a review. If you don’t have it already, head on over and get it for yourself! You WILL be blessed.

Reading these testimonies may just inspire you to write up your own – and if so,  we have a possible outlet for it. Did you know that FaithWriters (in collaboration with Xulon Press) is putting out a SECOND testimony book? It’s true – and there is a contest going on right now to choose the fifty testimonies to be included in the book. It could be YOU who has a testimony published in the next book.

Any gold or platinum member who was not published in the first book is eligible to enter this contest. Simply write your testimony (either of salvation or of keeping your faith during struggles) according to the contest guidelines (scroll down a bit on the page linked to here to read them) in 1,200 words or less, and submit it before the contest deadline of August 15, 2014. The 50 entries selected will not only be published, but the authors will participate in royalties from the book’s sales.

Sound good? Check out the guidelines, and get working on your testimony!


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See It, Smell It, Taste It, Hear It…

See It, Smell It, Taste It, Hear It…

By Megan DiMaria

I recently read a story that left me wholly unsatisfied. The author skimped on writing in the sensory details. I felt disoriented while reading and found myself eager to be finished.
Beaver Creek 2007 001
When I read, either fiction or non-fiction, I need to feel as if I’m dropped into the scene and can experience what the character can experience.

The photo on the left is taken from the window of a luxury resort in Beaver Creek, Colorado. (I cashed in lots and lots of loyalty points to enjoy a few days in the Rockies.)

If I were reading a scene that takes place in that resort I’d like to know what the room looked like. How did the luxurious bedding feel to a weary body? How big were the windows, and what kind of shadows fell across the floor? How did the wind sing as it wove its way through the pines? Can you hear the whinny of horses as they cart vacationers through the mountain trails? Did the breeze carry the fragrance of pine boughs? What color blue was the sky? How plush was the carpet? What speciality was the hotel’s chef known for?

All those little details woven into the story help to transport the reader. If I take the time to read your book, please transport me.

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Joseph of Arimathaea

Joseph of Arimathaea
By Lori Dixon

Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent member of the Council, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God, went boldly to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body.When he learned from the centurion that it was so, he gave the body to Joseph. So Joseph bought some linen cloth, took down the body, wrapped it in the linen, and placed it in a tomb cut out of rock. Then he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb. Mark 15:43-44, 46 NIV

I’m sitting in semi-darkness weeping over Joseph of Arimathaea and the conviction I am under this morning as I examine my own life.

He took Jesus down.

How many times have I read this passage and just skipped over this man’s sacrifice? This man’s bravery? His dedication to do a job that nobody would have signed up for.

To approach Pilate was somewhat crazy enough, but then it says he begged . . . Mark’s version said he ‘craved’ the body of Christ. This morning, in the privacy that can only be found at the crack of dawn, I sit and cry, well aware that I am such a comfort seeker had I been there at the cross I most likely would not have volunteered to take on the dirty task.

I picture Joseph prying Christ’s hands and feet free. The open wound on His side oozing blood mingled with water . . . stickiness staining Joseph’s hands and clothes. The discomfort of exposure. To see His Savior naked. People were with Joseph; he had an audience of mourners during this most intimate exercise.

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Writing Feedback – Sharing Your Babies

Our writing projects can sometimes feel like our babies. We spend so much time thinking about them, writing, editing, fixing, rewriting, that oftentimes, we might have trouble seeing their faults. Our wonderful writing, it seems, can do no wrong.

But there is always room for growth. Even bestselling authors need editors, and folks with a different perspective. And the neat thing is, anyone can give feedback to anyone – you don’t need to be a bestselling author to share your thoughts, as a reader, on a piece. If something doesn’t make sense to you, a learning writer (and we are ALL learning) needs to know.

One of the best places for this kind of feedback – whether receiving it or giving it – is FaithWriters’ Critique Circle. Currently, several advanced level writers and some editors are spending time there, leaving feedback for folks who submit their work. And the comments folks make are not available to those who browse – so people are more likely, I believe, to be honest with you about where your piece might need work.

All upgraded members need to do to get constructive feedback is to leave some for others – and remember, ANY feedback from folks of any level is helpful. Anyone can leave a critique – and when you do, you get a credit to sumbit your own work to the Critique Circle. Gold and Platinum members can then submit work for critique themselves, likely resulting in two or three critiques from others.

Don’t be afraid of sharing your babies with the world – a little critique can only make them better!


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Big Goals and Interview Tips

Big Goals and Interview Tips

By Lizzy Ainsworth

I’ve been hearing a lot lately how we need to set ourselves some crazy goals, to go further than what we thought we could and think outside our little box or blog.

So I set a goal, and maybe I’ve set the timeline too close, but by Mother’s Day next year, I want to interview a specific best-selling author and a very popular blogger.  I’m not mentioning names, because it’s just a pipe dream at the moment.

I decided to start interviewing people to work towards this goal .I figured I would start with a few self-published authors and work toward something bigger, but then this opportunity popped up to interview Candy Chand, who co-authored ‘No Greater Love’ with Levi Benkert, published by Tyndale House.

I loved the book, and started thinking about the woman who co-authored it, who had poured in her heart and soul to this book, but whose story was not told, and thought, ‘I want to know more.’

So I googled her name, but I could not find an interview that answered the questions I wanted to ask her, but I did find her e-mail address. So I gathered up my courage and wrote a little e-mail about how I was a young author, with a little, little blog but that I would love to interview her.  After all she could only say no, right?  Thing is, she said yes, and actually she said it within 5 minutes of my sending her the e-mail.

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Help Authors – and Yourself – with Reviews

Do you know what one of the most valuable things is to published authors these days? What can boost sales and get more recognition in the world of books?

Book reviews – that’s what. With the plethora of different book options out there, reviews on sites like Amazon can draw people to books, and good reviews can encourage folks to purchase.  And FaithWriters has a program to help authors get those reviews – AND benefit the readers as well.

FaithWriters’ Free Reads for Reviews is a way for authors to accumulate reviews (and readers to get free books) to help with sales and marketing. Just go to the FaithWriters bookstore and check out the Free Reads for Reviews program. There are over six dozen books by FaithWriters members available in this program, from fiction to self-help to Bible studies and more. Simply look at the list, contact the author, and he or she will send you a copy. Read the book, leave an HONEST review (doesn’t have to be positive) at their Amazon page or elsewhere if applicable – and you’ve done your part!

But that isn’t the only benefit to readers! FaithWriters has a special incentive going on now through the end of June. The person who reviews the most books between the beginning of this year and midnight June 30, 2014 will receive $150 – and everyone who reviews any book during that time will get their name put in a hat, with one person winning $100. See this link for details and how to make your review “count.”

And if you’re an author and want your book involved, check out this link.

What book will you review first?

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