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Meet 2019 Best of the Best Runner-Up Allison Egley

See the interview with first place Best of the Best Mariane Holbrook here

Allison Egley has been around FaithWriters for a VERY long time, entering the Writing Challenge and encouraging others in their writing pursuits. And now, her poignant piece Strength and Dignity has brought her a second place Best of the Best “crown.” Join us as we learn more about Allison, her winning entry, her writing journey, and her life outside of FaithWriters.

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

ALLISON EGLEY: Well, once I found out this piece was judged “Best of the Quarter,” I was hoping it might find its way to the top three, but I was still definitely happy and a little surprised when I found out. 

 JOANNE: Your winning piece, Strength and Dignity, is well-structured and very thought-provoking. How did this entry come together for you? Any particular struggles getting it the way you liked it?

ALLISON: To get ideas for a topic, I often play what I call “The Alphabet Game,” where I try to come up with something related to the topic for each letter of the alphabet. For C, “cult” came to my mind immediately. Then, the idea went back and forth. At first, I was going to write a story about a cult that is very “proper” and where much is forbidden. Then I played with the idea of the opposite — a cult in which vanity is not only encouraged, but the main value of the cult. But I didn’t think I could really pull that off. And then I realized… I could combine the two, in a roundabout way – a cult that says that vanity and pride are forbidden, when, in reality, they think they are better than everyone else, which can be both pride and vanity.

As far as actually writing the piece, this came together pretty easily, and actually turned out better than I had thought, which is a rarity for me. I continued Esther’s story a few weeks later and have been encouraged to try to write more of her story. Interestingly enough, it wasn’t until after I wrote this story that started reading a couple of non-fiction books about people who have been caught in cults. Unfortunately, even in the modern day, the extreme corporal punishment I mention in my story is not uncommon in cults.

JOANNE: Thanks so much for sharing your creative process. You have been at FaithWriters for almost 15 years – and this is your second time being recognized for Best of the Best (the first time, you got first place in 2012 for Upload Complete – a VERY different entry than this one 🙂 ) What has kept you around FaithWriters, and what do you most like about it?

ALLISON: What I like most about FaithWriters is the people. Honestly, if it were just the writing, I probably wouldn’t have stayed around. It’s the people and the community, and the support from the people and community, not only in writing, but in all aspects of life. I have met so many amazing people on FaithWriters. Some of them I’ve had the opportunity to meet in person at the various conferences we’ve had in the past. Others I’ve never met in person, but I still consider them dear friends.

JOANNE: I absolutely second that! Have you always enjoyed writing, or is it something that developed later?  Continue Reading…

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Meet 2019 Best of the Best Winner Mariane Holbrook!

Marianne Holbrook has been a Faithwriters member for many years, and has been a big encourager to many. And now it’s time for FaithWriters to encourage her – with FaithWriters’ 2019 Best of the Best win for her moving entry Come and Dine. Read on to learn about Mariane, her winning entry, her (embarrassing) writing debut, and more.

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

MARIANE HOLBROOK: Thank you.  I was both surprised and shocked.  I hadn’t been following the BOBs and didn’t know of my win until Verna Mitchell sent me a congratulatory Email. I called to my husband to read Verna’s Email with me so I could be sure I wasn’t dreaming.

JOANNE: Your winning piece, Come and Dine, is so incredibly inspiring, especially knowing it was a true story. Was “Daddy” your father, or someone else you knew? How true to the actual happenings did you stay? How did this entry come together for you? Any particular struggles getting it the way you liked it?  

MARIANE: It’s a true story of my father who, even into our adulthood was always called “Daddy” by his five daughters. The story was told to me by the members of my family and several neighbors who were aunts and cousins.  Daddy was a godly man who taught Bible studies to fellow workers on the railroad during their lunch hour. He also was lay pastor of a small church in an impoverished nearby village whose residents begged him to preach on Sunday afternoons. That way he could still attend our church in the mornings and evenings.  Since he never owned a car, he would walk three miles down the railroad tracks for the 2:30 pm service, then walk back home in time for our church evening service. My sister and I often accompanied him. Over the years, relatives added details of the “Come and Dine” story that I hadn’t heard before, like the picnic held in our back yard. 

JOANNE: What a wonderful man! You have been around FaithWriters for a long time, but took a break from the challenge until recently (in fact, “Come and Dine” was your first challenge entry back after seven years!)  – and you have been faithfully entering since then. What does FaithWriters mean to you, and how has it impacted you? 

MARIANNE:  I took a break because my health was declining.  After my sons and my relatives asked me to write down the stories I often told of my family, I could think of no better venue than FaithWriters.  It provides the impetus and motivation to complete a story each week. I am keeping them in a file for my family to enjoy when I’m gone. Since I am 85 years old, I realize I have a limited amount of time left so I’m committed to writing for as long as I can.  My health hasn’t improved but my coping mechanism are better. Every day I thank God for strength He gives me for each new day. Continue Reading…

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Congratulations to the 2019 Best of the Best Winners!

After twelve months of Writing Challenge topics and entries, we had our 30+ contenders for the Best of The Best.

The annual Best of the Best awards are announced July 1 each year, the awards going to the three highest rated Editors’ Choice winners for the previous twelve months. First place gets $100, second place $50, and third place $25.

Congratulations to our three awesome winners:

1ST PLACE Come and Dine by Mariane Holbrook (Feast Challenge)

2ND PLACE Strength and Dignity by Allison Egley (Vanity Challenge)

3RD PLACE Royalty Enshrined by Sally Hanan (Blessed Challenge)

Watch for interviews with the winners on the blog soon.

Congratulations, Mariane, Allison, and Sally!

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Writing Challenge Quarterly Winners – and Change for Next Quarter

ANNOUNCEMENT: Starting in July, the FaithWriters Writing Challenge will have nine topics each quarter, with a one-week break between weeks five and six.

Congratulations to the FaithWriters Writing Challenge entrants whose entries scored the highest in each level over the entire Spring quarter. Be sure to give these entries a read (click on the titles) – you WILL be blessed!

BEGINNERS/INTERMEDIATE: The Final Salute by Robin Newberger (RAIN challenge)

ADVANCED: Daddy by Arlene Baker (QUESTION(S) challenge)

MASTERS: Ginormous Love by Rachel Burkum (IT’S CHILD’S PLAY challenge)

Congratulations to Robin, Arlene, and Rachel! Keep your eyes open for the announcement of the 2019 Best of the Best winners (the highest rated entries for the last four quarters) on July 1.

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Permission to Be (write) Bad

Permission to Be Bad

By Randy Ingermanson

Writing a first draft is hard. You have to create a group of interesting characters in an interesting storyworld, force them into conflict in scene after scene, and never let the story go flat.

For some writers, writing a first draft is also fun. They write with abandon, pushing out the words, getting the story down on paper. But the problem is that when these writers finish the novel and actually look at what they wrote, they usually find that the first draft is bad. For other writers, writing a first draft is torture. They labor over every single sentence. They sweat the small stuff and the smaller stuff. And then when the story’s finally written, and they actually look at what they wrote, they usually find that the first draft is bad.

There’s a pattern here.

The First Draft is Usually Bad

I suppose a few lucky writers don’t write bad first drafts. But most writers do. And that’s OK. For most writers, a bad first draft is the necessary step to writing a fairly good second draft. Which is the necessary step to writing a pretty good third draft. And eventually, after enough drafts, the story turns into a very good final draft.

What If Your First Draft is Good?

That’s great, if your first draft is good! Super, actually. Amazing. You are not like most writers. If you are lucky enough to write awesome first drafts, be happy. But don’t tell anyone, because most writers don’t, and some of them will get downright snippy if you tell them your first drafts are amazing.

Some of them will sneer at you and say that if you really can’t improve on your first draft, you can’t be much of a writer. Pay no attention to those naysayers. But do get your manuscript edited, because even good manuscripts have issues. But the fact remains that most writers write awful first drafts most of the time. I certainly do.

Is It Bad to Be Bad On the First Draft?

No, it’s not bad. It’s uncomfortable. It’s discouraging. It can be downright debilitating. But it’s normal.

If you just remember it’s normal, that may keep you from beating yourself up. You have permission to write a bad first draft. You have permission to be awful. You have permission to write the worst drivel ever. Because you can fix it in the next draft. Or the one after that. Or the one after that.

But you’ll never fix it unless you first write it. So get it written, as the old slogan goes, and then get it right. And you have permission to take as many drafts as you need to get it right.

Homework—A few questions to think about

  1. Are you working on the first draft of a novel right now?
  2. Is it coming along more slowly than you’d like?
  3. Are you worrying too much about making it perfect?
  4. Would it hurt to leave some work for the second draft?
  5. Would it speed things up to give yourself permission to be bad? (Just for this draft?)

It may be that none of these questions apply to you. If not, then keep doing what you’re doing. But I’m betting these questions apply to a lot of writers.

**

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. 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 http://www.AdvancedFictionWriting.com.

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Congratulations to FW’s Quarterly Challenge Winners!

Congratulations to these three, who had the highest ratings in their levels this past quarter!

BEGINNTERS/INTERMEDIATE My Marine by Jenny Miller (Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder Challenge)
https://www.faithwriters.com/wc-article … p?id=57636

ADVANCED Milestones and Millstones by Stephen Kimball (Shop Challenge)
https://www.faithwriters.com/wc-article … p?id=57387

MASTERS Power from Beyond by Tracy Nunes (Shop Challenge)
https://www.faithwriters.com/wc-article … p?id=57391

Great job, Jenny, Stephen, and Tracy!

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Writing Challenge Change

Important Change in the Writing Challenge

Effective with April 4th Entries

“I could write a fantasy piece with a lion and a witch and no mention of God, and yet be firmly Christian,” C.S. Lewis

About a year ago, we made a change to the Challenge submission rules after some had expressed concerns about the direction of the entries. The concern was that the entries were gradually drifting further away from FaithWriters’ mission to improve Christian writers and put out good Christian writing. We agreed and made the change that has been in effect for the last year. This made some happy, and some not so happy.

Recently, we have talked to several members who approached us with knowledge of the change. We discovered that it was not necessarily the submission guidelines that they viewed as an issue. Their concern was that the guideline that entries come from a Christian worldview was not always being upheld, especially for winning entries. All agreed, from both sides of this matter, that they want to put forth writing that honors God.

Therefore, after many discussions with members, we have decided to adjust the guidelines to more of a middle position based on these talks, while asking the judges to pay closer attention to this matter. We have asked the judges to keep in mind our desire to promote Christian authors and Christian writing. We believe it is important that especially those entries selected as winners in the Challenge should not only offer great writing, but also be from a Christian worldview. Our goal in doing this is to continue to produce great articles from a Christian worldview while encouraging more members to enter again. FaithWriters is obviously a Christian writers’ website, and we trust that our members as a whole desire to honor God with their writing. In my opinion, members are writing for God and not FaithWriters.

The new submission guidelines are somewhere in the middle of where they were from the beginning of the Challenge and where they have been this last year. These new guidelines will commence in the second quarter of this year, starting April 4, 2019. We appreciate your support.

The guidelines will state:

Entries may be in any style or genre, and they do not need to be overtly Christian in message. However, they must, at minimum, come from a Christian worldview/outlook. The entry may be directed to readers in general, the Christian reader, or may be evangelistic in nature. Entries can also be simply clean, fun and humorous from a Christian point of view, Christian Soup for the Soul style, provided they fit the topic. In the case of fiction, the Christian worldview/outlook may be subtle or allegorical, but it should still offer a fairly clear Christian viewpoint. While it is not required, adding a scripture verse is always encouraged to clarify a message. Entries that are clearly outside of a Christian worldview will remain on the list, but will be not eligible for judging. Entries with offensive language or content, that are overly violent or sensual, and/or are deemed inappropriate for the Challenge and Christian readers, will be removed, even if these elements are used in the portrayal of a non-Christian character. 

Go HERE for some guidance on a Christian worldview.

Thank you to all of those members who helped in this matter.

We are the body of Christ, not perfect in the flesh, but always loving each other and working together.

Blessings,

Michael Edwards
Owner, FaithWriters
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Marketing: “The Reason Why”

Marketing: “The Reason Why”

By Randy Ingermanson

From time to time in your career as an author, you’ll need to write sales copy. At the very least, you’ll need to send an e-mail to your fans when you launch a book. There’s no getting around this. Your publisher will expect it, and your fans (by definition) want to know when you’ve got a new book out.

In your sales copy, you’ll make an offer. Every author I know hates making an offer, but unless you make an offer, you aren’t going to make very many sales. That’s just the way people are wired. Most people won’t take action unless you ask them to. And the way you ask is by making them an offer.

There are two basic parts to an offer:

  1. Here’s what you get.
  2. Here’s how much you’ll need to pay.

For obvious reasons, you want to make part 1 of the offer as good as possible. On Launch Day, it’s fairly common to offer some freebies to go along with your book. And for equally obvious reasons, you want to make part 2 of the offer as low as possible. On Launch Day, it’s fairly common to give a discounted price. (You may not have control of the price, so this may not be an option.) Your goal on Launch Day is to make the offer irresistible, because you want to spike your sales. That’s your best shot at getting on a bestseller list.

“What’s the Catch?”

The problem with irresistible offers is that modern people are skilled at resisting them. We’ve all heard crazy-good offers that turned out bogus—they were too good to be true. So when you hear a great offer, your immediate reaction is “What’s the catch? Why such a good offer?” You need to be ready with an answer. Part of your sales copy should respond to this question. Continue Reading…

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The Writing Challenge – Changes for 2019!

The FaithWriters Writing Challenge is one of the biggest constants, and most well-known parts, of FaithWriters. And, every once in a while, changes need to be made for whatever reason. And this year is one of those times. Two things will be different once the challenge starts up again on Thursday, January 3.  One is logistical, and the other relates to “staffing.”

First, starting with the first topic of 2019, the Challenge will be reduced from four levels to three. The numbers of entries each week, especially in the lower levels, has decreased, to the point where it often isn’t much of a competition. To help remedy that, we are COMBINING LEVELS 1 and 2 (Beginners and Intermediate) into a single Beginners/Intermediate level. Advanced and Masters will not change. To move up to advanced, entrants must place twice (1st, 2nd, or 3rd) in that level or in the Editor’s Choice. Three placements in the Editors Choice moves the Challengeer up to Masters, no matter where they are. More details can be found here and here.

The second change is best shared by FaithWriters’ own beloved Deb Porter:

To my beloved Challengeers, old and new, and to all FaithWriters members.

After almost sixteen wonderful years, my husband and I have experienced some fairly dramatic changes to our circumstances. Unexpected, but God-directed every step of the way. It is this change that has finally led me to make the very hard decision to step back from my role at FaithWriters.

Every step of this new direction in my life has been God-led, and I believe with all my heart that His hand will remain on FaithWriters during this transition too. I leave the Writing Challenge in the very capable hands of longtime FaithWriters member, Joanne Sher. Continue Reading…

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Meet 2018 Page Turner Non-Fiction Runner-Up Lori Othouse

See the interview with Page Turner Champion Debbie Roome here, and fiction runner-up Annette Griffin here.

Lori Othouse has been around FaithWriters, off and on, for more than a dozen years, entering the Writing Challenge, posting in regular articles, and more. And now, her non-fiction manuscript, Grace to Remain, has been named the non-fiction runner up in the 2018 Page Turner contest. Read on to learn more about Lori, her book in process, her love for Faithwriters, and more!

JOANNE SHER: First of all, congratulations on being the non-fiction runner up in the Page Turner contest! Can you tell us a bit about how you found out? What was your reaction?

LORI OTHOUSE: Thank you so much! I’m so honored and thankful to be a runner up! I actually found out when I was out shopping with my two daughters. We were in a store and I checked my email and saw the announcement. At first, I was kind of afraid to look. Then, when I scrolled down and saw my name, I was so excited! I tried not to smile too big in the middle of the store, but I couldn’t help it. After letting it sink in for a few minutes, I told my oldest daughter when we got out to the car. She loves to write, too, and was so happy. Needless to say, that email made my day!

JOANNE: I’ll bet! Fun to have folks to celebrate with. When do you first remember developing a passion/love for writing?

LORI: I first remember writing short stories and poetry when I was about 12 or 13, none of which I would want to share now, but back then, I thought they were pretty good.  I continued writing here and there throughout high school, but nothing very significant. After I graduated, I was pursuing other things and didn’t really do any writing for about 10 years until I began writing scripts for holiday productions at my church. That’s what really got me back into writing again. I did that for several years and it really stirred up my love for words in a new way. I started writing poetry and short stories again and found a new passion for using words for good and for God in a way that I never did before. Continue Reading…

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