FaithWriters Updates/Goings Ons

Several things going on here at FaithWriters over the next few weeks – and I thought you might like to hear about some of them. If so – read on!

FaithWriters Writing Challenge

We are currently in the eighth week of the Fall Quarter of the challenge, which has focused on animal-related sayings/idioms. The current topic (with a deadline of 11am Thanksgiving morning ET) is Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing. Get your entry in before the deadline – and watch for the next two topics in a similar vein. Or just stop by and read the most current entries. There’s always some creative stuff in there!

Page Turner Contest

The judging process is continuing for FaithWriters’ premiere contest – a first chapter/synopsis contest. But there won’t be much more waiting! Winners of the Fiction Page Turner Contest for 2013 will be announced THIS COMING SUNDAY, December 1, at the FaithWriters site and in the newsletter (and here on the blog on Tuesday), along with two runners up. Watch for it (and for interviews with our winners here on the blog over the next couple months!). Next year’s contest, which will focus on nonfiction, will open around the first of the year.

How God Provides Blog Contest

The most recent blogging contest is winding down – but it’s not too late to enter! Get your 750-word-or-less entry on how the Lord has provided for you written up and submitted on the blogging contest forum by THIS Friday, November 29 at 11:59pm ET. Check out the blog contest page for more details on how this program works, and enter here on the boards. Winners can recieve paid writing assignments and exposure. Don’t miss out!

How will YOU get involved with FaithWriters over the next few weeks?

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Worthy Words

Therefore this is what the LORD says: “If you repent, I will restore you that you may serve me; if you utter worthy, not worthless, words, you will be my spokesman. Let this people turn to you, but you must not turn to them. Jeremiah 15:19 NIV

I love words.

This probably isn’t earth-shattering news to most of you. I imagine most writers are at least mildly fond of them. It’s rather difficult to write without them, and though much can be communicated with grunts, body language and other such methods, words certainly make life easier when trying to get a precise message across.

Because I love words so much, I use them. A lot. I’m what many call talkative (the polite ones, anyway). And it’s amazing what comes out of my mouth – or my fingers. Good, bad, indifferent. Things I wish I could engrave in stone. Words I would do anything take back. Lies. Half-truths. Insults. Words meant to hurt. Those meant to heal. Wonderful words. Worthless ones.

Yet, I am God’s child: a witness to and for Him on earth. And what I say to some folks  – or what I email them, or post on Facebook – is exactly how they will perceive my God. Someone once said something like this: “You are the only Bible some people will ever read.”

God wants me – all of His children, actually – to be His spokesman. But what kind of an advertisement are we for Him when we speak or write words that harm, when we lie, when our words are worthless?  I would rather NOT be God’s spokesman if my words aren’t worthy.

Yet, those who know I am His – especially skeptics – will see me that way.

So I must speak worthy words so I can be a worthy spokesman for the One who has done all for me.

And so I pray…

May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart [and the writings from my fingers]be pleasing in your sight, LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer. Psalm 19:14 NIV

I hope this is your prayer as well.

Have your words been worthy today? This week? This month?

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Tips for First Drafts

Author and Editor Suzanne Hartmann shares a couple tips for writers as they work on the first drafts of their novel-length manuscripts. Check out a few more here.

Use Some Type of an Outline

Although seat-of-the-pants writers will chafe at this, it is a good idea to write out your thoughts about your story before you begin writing. This doesn’t necessarily mean it has to be in a form an outliner would call an outline, but it will at least give some direction to your story. It will help you to identify the event that gets your story started, give you the major plot points, and let you know how the story will end.

Not all outlines look like the traditional outline we were taught in school, but each type offers guidance as you write. Outline styles aren’t set in stone. You can merge two styles or make any of them more (or less) structured. The important thing is to choose one you can be reasonably comfortable with so you will have something to guide you as you write.

Types of Outlines:

  • Chapter-by-Chapter:  This type of outline follows the indented format we all learned in high school. Each chapter is the broadest topic and listed on the far left. Each scene is a indented as a subtopic and itemized under each chapter. Specific details for each scene are indented  as subtopics under the scene.
  • Scene-by-Scene: This type of outline starts with scenes as the broadest level instead of chapters. Specific ideas for each scene are itemized in an indented list underneath.
  • Idea-by-Idea: If you have not yet grouped ideas together into chapters or scenes, you can still create an outline with each idea as the broadest topic and itemize the specifics in an indented list under each idea.
  • Narrative: To create a narrative outline, you write out bits and pieces of scenes and plots in chronological order. It might include bullet points, sketchy ideas for scenes, or whole chunks of dialogue or description.

No matter which method you choose, putting the ideas rattling through your mind into some type of format makes sketchy ideas more firm, helps you see how to link major plot points, and gives some form to the story—all of which will help you mold the story as you write.

Do a Brain-dump

Once you have an idea of where your story is going with an outline, you need to get your ideas out of your head. You don’t want to lose any of them as you write out the details in your draft.

For pantsters, this may be how you write your narrative outline. If you prefer more structure, you might want to start with a narrative outline, then create your outline from the ideas that come out in the brain-dump. Or if you’re extremely structured, you might be able to slow down and sort the brain-dump as it comes out and place each idea in its appropriate spot in your outline as the ideas flow.

After adding the ideas from your brain-dump to your outline, a quick review will reveal plot holes, identify a sagging middle, and show how you can string your main plot points together in a cohesive manner. Take some time to firm up your outline before you start writing. This will make it less likely that you’ll run into a brick wall as you write, and save you time and frustration during the revision process.


Suzanne Hartmann is the author of PERIL: Fast Track Thriller #1, and Write This Way: Take Your Writing to a New Level, a blueprint for new authors to guide them through the process of writing and revising a novel.

Suzanne is a homeschool mom and lives in the St. Louis area with her husband and three children. When not homeschooling or writing, she enjoys scrapbooking, reading, and Bible study. On the editorial side, she is a contributing editor with Port Yonder Press and operates the Write This Way Critique Service.

LINK for Write This Way: Write This Way Blog:

LINKS for Suzanne:

Facebook – Suzanne Hartmann – Author

Twitter – @SuzInIL

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Thanksgiving-Related Contest – Just Two Weeks to Enter!

How has God provided for you? How have you seen His provision in the lives of others?

If you have a story (and I’m sure we ALL do!), have we got a contest for you! But don’t delay – you only have two weeks to submit your entry!

The newest FaithWriters blogging contest, “How God Provides,” is an opportuntiy to share God’s provision with readers, benefit a wonderful Christian ministry, and maybe even win paid writing assignments.

Simply write an article of 750 words or less about God’s provision, with the purpose of promoting the ministry You must include three to five specific keywords (shown at the “How God Provides” thread in the Blogging Contest forums)  with links to the ministry’s website. Share it in the appropriate place in the FaithWriters Forums, and in two other places, and you’re basically set.

The deadline for the contest is Friday, November 29, at noon eastern time. The folks from the ministry will then pick winners. What are the prizes, you ask?

Best Gold or Platinum member entry: Two paid writing assignments up to 1,000 words each commissioned by at $75.00 each ($150 total). Plus FaithWriters will post the winning article on 100 Christian Blogs.

Second Best Gold or Platinum member entry: One paid writing 1,000 word or less assignment from for $75.

Best Silver entry: One year Gold membership at FaithWriters.

Be sure to check out the blogging contest page for details on how these contests work – and then the page on the forums for specific information to this contest, and to see the other entries!

Have You Entered? How Has God Provided for You?

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Where Do You Get Your Writing Ideas?

We’re halfway through the FaithWriters Writing Challenge‘s last quarter of 2013, about a third of the way through NaNoWriMo (and PiBoIdMo – which you probably know NOTHING about – but that I’m participating in!), and less than two months from the end of the year.  Oh – and the latest blogging contest ends in less than thre weeks. And sometimes around this time, our idea well starts to run dry.

With Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the new year on the horizon, it’s easy to use up all our creative energy in other pursuits and not make time to think about writing (much less doing it!). But in the busyness of our lives, there are often LOTS of places for inspiration for future (or current) writing projects.

Where? Nature. Crowds (lots of “characters” that could make it in your next story). Music. Children. People you haven’t seen in forever. And more.

Even if you don’t think you’ll have time to write much at the end of the year, DON’T forget to look for inspiration for future projects – and jot them down.

Where Do You Get Writing Ideas? Do You Keep Them Somewhere?



Writing the Line: Christian vs. Secular Fiction

Writing the Line
By Delia Latham

What makes Christian fiction Christian?

If I had to sum it up in one word, I’d use “relationship.” The major difference in a secular romance and an inspirational one really is that simple: the emotional connection (relationship) between the hero and heroine, and between the characters and God.

Aside from the stringent expectation of quality writing, certain additional standards exist in the world of Christian fiction. A writer hoping to place a manuscript in this market would do well to become familiar with those finely drawn lines and stay well within their borders.

I can point out the right direction. You’ll have to choose the roads.

1. The sensuality meter

I was once challenged by a reader who felt the words “Christian” and “romance” conflicted.

“You cannot write about romance and call it a Christian book,” he stated. “Christians don’t partake in romance, at least not until after they’re married. And no one wants to read about that stuff between a husband and wife. What’s the point?”

How sad, this inability to distinguish between sex and romance!

Let me try to make it easy.

Romance is the wooing of another’s heart and the emotions involved in that courtship.

Sex is the physical consummation of a physical attraction (no relationship necessary).

In a Christian romance, sex is off limits for the unmarried hero/heroine, and takes place behind closed doors for married ones. What’s left? Relationship.

Continue Reading…


The Writing Challenge – Jump In!

Have you participated in the FaithWriters Writing Challenge lately? It’s a fabulous way to improve your writing , get used to writing to a deadline and word count, and even get some encouragement and feedback on your entries. Lots of FaithWriters have grown tremendously as writers by entering the Writing Challenge. So give it a try – or come on back!

This quarter, the topics are animal-related sayings, so there is A LOT of room for creativity! Feel free to let your imagination go wild give some of these phrases a try as topics (and you don’t have to have a single animal in your story!).

Not familiar with the Writing Challenge, or need a refresher?

  • *Gold and Platinum members may enter – though silver members get four credits total to enter (a chance to try it out before upgrading their membership if they’d like – click here to do so)
  • *A new topic is presented on Thursday mornings at 11am NY time, and you have until the following Thursday at 10:59 am NY time to enter your piece.
  • *Your entry must be between 150 and 750 words and must be conceived and written after the topic is announced. Entries may be in any style or genre, and they do not need to be overtly Christian in message. However, they should at least reflect a Christian outlook and should not be overly violent or sensual.
  • *The best entry in each level for the entire 10-week quarter will receive a $50 cash prize at the end of the quarter (four prizes total)

Want more details? Check out the submission rules, guide for choosing a level, the main challenge page, and/or the Writing Challenge forums. We’re about halfway through the quarter, so there’s still plenty of time to give it a try.

Have you entered yet this quarter? Planning to write something up? I am. :)

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Don’t Waste Your Disasters

FYI – the FaithWriters blog schedule will be changing, starting next week, to Tuesdays and Fridays (with an occasional extra post as needed)

Don’t Waste Your Disasters

By Randy Ingermanson

Bad things happen all the time to novelists.

  • You get in a car accident.
  • Your hard drive crashes.
  • You lose your job.
  • Somebody in your family dies.
  • You get robbed at gunpoint.
  • A fire breaks out in your apartment building.
  • You break a leg.

The list is endless. Most of these are very bad, and some of them are incredibly awful. You can’t make them go away. You can’t make them less bad.

But when bad things happen to you, there’s one thing you can do to extract a little profit from a horrible situation.

You can store it away in your mind to use someday in a novel. The crucial thing is to save the memory of how it felt when that bad thing happened to you. Emotions are the currency of fiction.

A novel thrives on setbacks and disasters. In a typical novel, your characters are going to have all sorts of horrible things happen to them.

If you want their emotions to feel real to the reader, then you need to have some sort of emotional memories to tap into.

You don’t have to have experienced everything your characters will experience. You just need to have experienced something that will create a similar emotive experience.

Maybe you haven’t been sent to jail for embezzlement. But you might have been caught cheating on a high school chemistry test.

Maybe you’ve never been in an airplane crash. But you might have been in an auto accident.

Maybe nobody’s ever fired a gun at you. But you might have had a baseball thrown at your head.

When you’re writing your novel and something terrible happens to a character, ask yourself what emotion they should be feeling. Then ask yourself if something bad has ever happened to you that caused that same emotion in you.

If so, then relive the bad memory and use it to power up the emotion in your character.

The longer you live, the more bad things will happen to you, or to people you love. You can’t avoid them.

But you can put them in your emotional bank account to use in a novel someday.


This article is reprinted by permission of the author.
Award-winning novelist Randy Ingermanson, “the Snowflake Guy,” publishes the free monthly Advanced Fiction Writing E-zine, with more than 6,200 readers. If you want to learn the craft and marketing of fiction, AND make your writing more valuable to editors, AND have FUN doing it, visit

Five Steps to Active Writing

Five Steps to Active Writing
By Jacki McGuyer

You’ve worked hard and long to finish your manuscript. You’ve edited so many times, you’re positive every word is perfect. You’ve slashed all the passive phrases from the text. Now you’re ready to submit your work to agents and publishers.

WHOA, wait a minute. You may have missed the forest for the toothpicks. During the editing process, it’s easy to get hung up on story, plots, and characters, missing the passive and redundant words. Not to worry, you can search out these words with your “Find and Replace Tool.”

Find and Replace:

You will find this tool under the “EDIT” button on your word processing tool bar. After editing your manuscript, go on a SEARCH AND REPLACE MISSION. Do NOT try to eliminate every occasion these words appear, but reduce the number vigorously in order to strengthen and activate your work. You can make changes as you find them, or highlight the text to consider if you print your manuscript. Use the highlight feature. Choose a color you can’t miss.


IS, AM, ARE, WAS, WERE, and all verbs including BE, BEING or BEEN

You’ll be amazed at the difference it makes in your manuscript once you find and eliminate embedded PASSIVE words—or replace them with ACTIVE words and phrases.



To make actions clear to your reader, it’s easy to use a redundant word already implied in the action.

Mark stepped “back” onto the patio.

Mark stepped “up” onto the patio.

Mark stepped “down” onto the patio.

Mark stepped onto the patio.

If you’ve done your job setting the scene, the reader understands where the patio is and knows if the character is repeating an action.



Replace “unclear” words with “specific” words. Find a substitute. Ask yourself what picture the word brings to mind, can you see “very”? How much is “a lot”? Replace with “tangible” words and phrases—or delete them.



Find and replace words when used to move the story forward. It’s easy to find yourself using them to made unnecessary transitions from action to action.

Frankie bolted upright, damp with sweat, “then” he reached over to the bedside table and switched on the lamp.

“After” Frankie bolted upright, damp with sweat, he reached over to the bedside table and switched on the lamp.

Frankie bolted upright, damp with sweat. He reached over to the bedside table and switched on the lamp.

Eliminating “Move Forward Words” makes the action vivid—adds drama. Move forward words weaken the scene.



We litter our work while writing almost automatically. You’ll not want to eliminate every use of these words. Read the sentence without the word to see if eliminating works.

Scooter raked the leaves that had fallen to the ground to one side.

Scooter raked the leaves to the ground to one side.

Scooter raked the fallen leaves aside.

Bring an active voice to your manuscript by getting rid of the litter. As the above example indicates, your SEARCH AND REPLACE MISSION may require a more specific verb, changing a sentence, or even an entire paragraph. No one said writing is easy. This process is worth your time.

As you go through the Five  Steps to Active Writing, watch for repeated words within a sentence or paragraph. Pay attention to the first words in your sentences—ensuring you haven’t used the same word repeatedly in consecutive sentences.

She, She, She—The The The. Where you’ve begun a sentence with AND or BUT, strike it out—eliminate—delete.

These five steps point out errors even seasoned professional make. Agents and publishers no longer have the time or resources for line-by-line editing of every manuscript landing on their desk. They can spot an armature author after reading one or two pages.

Activating your manuscript by following the Five Steps to Active Writing, along with the edit you do on plot, character and “show-don’t-tell”, could make the difference between acceptance and rejection.

**Jacqueline McGuyer- Christian Fiction Author

With every book she writes, it is Jacqueline’s ambition to grow and be faithful to her readers. She aspires to give them an entertaining story to dazzle and provide honest and thoughtful information to keep them coming back for more. Above all, she is a Christian and her faith guides her pen.

Article Source: WRITER

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THREE DAYS until Page Turner Deadline

Procrastinators – it’s time to stop putting your polishing off – the deadline to submit your entry for FaithWriters’ Fiction Page Turner contest is literally just around the corner. On Thursday night, October 31 at 11:59 ET, submissions for FaithWriters’ biggest contest will close. Don’t delay – there won’t be another opportunity to enter fiction until 2015!

For the unfamiliar, Page Turner is a novel-length manuscript contest – but you don’t need the whole novel! All you need to do is write the first chapter, together with a synopsis/overview of the planned book, and then submit it for the 2013 Page Turner Writing Contest. Entering the Page Turner (Christian fiction this year) is free to FaithWriter Platinum members (click here to learn about upgrading to Platinum membership).

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

1. A fabulous cash prize of $800;
2. Free editing of their manuscript (up to 300 pages);
3. Free publicity and marketing of their book on all FaithWriters’ sites for twelve months following publication;
4. A special Page Turner Champion award plaque.
5. Consideration for publication of winning manuscript by new Christian publisher, Breath of Fresh Air Press (publisher of the new line of Mixed Blessings books).
6. Free conference registration for either the 2014 US FaithWriters Conference or 2014 FaithWriters’ Down Under Conference (see terms and conditions).

Two runners-up will also receive FaithWriters Page Turner Highly Commended award plaques and the offer of half price editing for their manuscript. They will also receive free registration for either the 2014 US FaithWriters Conference or 2014 FaithWriters Down Under Conference (see terms and conditions).

Need more details? Platinum members can see them here. More general guidelines for all are available at this link. But don’t delay – time REALLY is running out!

Get Your Entry In!

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