Page Turner Deadline Coming Up!

FaithWriters.com and Breath of Fresh Air Press are waiting for your entries in the eleventh annual Page Turner Writing Contest. If you are a member of the FaithWriters Platinum 500, you are invited to enter this very special contest created just for you.

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 the spur you may need to write and polish- but you only have a few weeks to get your entry ready. The deadline is SEPTEMBER 30, 2017.

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, including such things as the synopsis or book overview, the target reader (e.g. adult/young adult/women/new adult, etc.), the genre, similar books already on the market, and what makes your book different. Think of this as your pitch to a publisher. In other words, be concise, clear, and attention grabbing.

3. When you have a book overview and a polished first chapter, combine the two as one Word or RTF document (book overview first, followed by the chapter), and you’re all set to enter the 2017 Page Turner Contest.

This year, there will be one Page Turner champion: the highest rated entry overall, chose from either the Fiction or Nonfiction categories. This one champion will win:

1. A fabulous cash prize of $400 (US);
2. The offer of traditional publication of their winning manuscript by Breath of Fresh Air Press (which includes editing of the manuscript, if published by Breath of Fresh Air Press); and
3. Free publicity and marketing of their book on all FaithWriters’ sites for twelve months following publication

Two Page Turner runners up will be chosen (one from each of the two categories-fiction and nonfiction). Each runner up will receive:

1. Two one-hour, live online, mentoring sessions with Deb Porter through Finesse Writing and Editing Service.
2. Consideration for possible publication by Breath of Fresh Air Press

* Please see terms and conditions at this link

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.

WHAT CAN YOU WRITE ABOUT?

Once again, we’ve thrown the door wide open, with entry open to both fiction and nonfiction writers; however, your book should be suitable for Christian readers. Other than that, let your creativity and passion be your guide. We will be looking for the freshest fiction and nonfiction concepts with the greatest page turning appeal and publishing potential.

Chapter books for children are acceptable for entry; however, picture books do not suit the Page Turner concept.

We also regret that poetry collections do not suit the Page Turner concept. However, novels written in creative free verse are acceptable.

There is not a set word count for Page Turner submissions, but keep in mind that entries will include the first chapter only and a succinct book proposal. So although your finished manuscript may end up being the size of Gone with the Wind, don’t try and cram it all into the opening chapter.

So, what are you waiting for?  SEPTEMBER 30, 2017  is less than four weeks away. GET BUSY!

No Comments

A “Challenge” Challenge

The FaithWriters Writing Challenge has been a mainstay on this site for a VERY long time, making a huge impact on many Christian writers, helping them to improve their writing, learn to write on topic and with a word count limit. A number of past FaithWriters challengeers have gone on to have books published (Jan Ackerson, Teri Wilson, and Lynda Schab come to mind), while many other have had writing (even former challenge pieces) published in anthologies and magazines. It truly is a wonderful place to hone your writing craft and has helped many to become better writers.

But lately, numbers have been down. WAY down. To the point where the continuation of this FaithWriters mainstay is unsure.  If numbers stay down, we don’t know what could happen.

And that is the challenge for the challenge. We need more folks to enter.  Silver members can enter four times over the life of their membership. If you are a gold or platinum member, you can enter any (and every) week. And the topic for this week?

Challenge

Don’t write about the Writing Challenge itself (we want these entries to be of interest to everyone – not just FaithWriters members) – but who hasn’t experienced a challenge of some kind? Do some brainstorming, get something on paper (between 150 and 750 words), polish it up, and submit it no later than 11am ET THIS Thursday.

I have a confession: I was a serious writing challenge addict several years ago, and gained SO much from entering. But I haven’t entered in more than three years. God willing, that is changing this week. For the first time in a VERY long time, I have the start of an entry that I plan to finish up and enter.

Rise to the challenge WITH me 🙂

No Comments

Meet 2017 Best of the Best Runner-Up Amy Gaudette

Amy Gaudette has been entering the challenge for just over two years, along with her daughter Hannah – and both have often found themselves in the Editor’s Choice. This year, however, one of Amy’s pieces did even better than that – she came in third place in the annual FaithWriters Writing Challenge Best of the Best. Read on to learn more about Amy, her family life, and how she came up with her compelling, poignant 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?

AMY GAUDETTE: I’d have to say I was shocked. I then hollered for my daughter Hannah, who also writes for Faithwriters, to come quickly. I’d won twenty-five dollars! (I think she thought her mother had lost her mind.)

JOANNE: I understand that entering the Writing Challenge is a family affair. Tell me about Hannah – who started here first? Do you share your writing?

AMY: We started together at the same time. My daughter has wanted to be a writer since she was old enough to dictate her stories to me. She actually motivated me to get involved with Faithwriters. I hadn’t written since I was in high school. We both share our writing for critique, and at other times write “anonymously” in order to see if we can identify each other’s stories.

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERAJOANNE: Sounds like a perfect situation – and fun! Your winning piece, I Will Walk On Water, is incredibly poignant and real. To me anyway, it read like it came from someone with experience with people with these types of struggles. Did it?  Where did you get the idea for this piece? How did it come together for you? Any particular struggles getting it the way you liked it?

AMY: At first, I was simply trying to think outside the box for the topic “Entertain.” We have a small homestead on five acres, and I derive great inspiration and comfort from God’s creation around me. We do not have a TV or cell phones. Ultimately, for us, this is a blessing. As far as my MC’s struggles, I think we all have our own handicaps, whether inside or out, and at times, we need to dig way deep down inside to make the decision to walk a path of joy and thanksgiving no matter our circumstances. The decision to overcome fear and walk on water starts on the inside. Once I was able to put myself in the MC’s place, the story flowed.

JOANNE: That passion definitely came through in your story.  So powerful. You’ve been at FaithWriters for a couple years, and have been entering the Writing Challenge fairly regularly since then. How has FaithWriters, and the challenge, been helpful to you?

AMY: Speaking of overcoming challenges . . . I have wanted to write since I was in high school, but I have never been able to finish anything. I become frustrated and the writer’s version of tongue-tied. Faithwriters has enabled me to push through, given me the encouragement to keep pushing on, and the feedback is an enormous blessing. Those who frequently find themselves in the winner’s circle inspire me and call me on every week!

JOANNE: FaithWriters is wonderful that way, isn’t it? Do you have a challenge entry of yours that you would call your favorite? One that perhaps flowed effortlessly, or means a lot to you personally?

AMY: I would have to say I Will Walk on Water is my favorite. Even just speaking the title inspires me to overcome fears and identify the impossible things in my own life and, by the grace of God, walk on water.

JOANNE: Me too 🙂 Have you always enjoyed writing, or is it something that developed later?

AMY: I have always enjoyed writing, but have not had the motivation until my daughter challenged me to write! It is something we share together that I enjoy greatly.

JOANNE: Good for her! How about reading? What’s your favorite type of book to read? Who are your favorite authors?

AMY: In reading, I like everything from inspirational novels to devotionals to Christian drama . . . I even stretched myself and read Richard Evans’ Michael Vey Series! As far as favorite authors, Terri Blackstock, Karen Kingsbury, Janette Oak, Richard Evans . . . and Theresa Santy!! (To name a few.)

JOANNE: Some wonderful writers – and inspiration! Tell us a bit about you and your family.

AMY: My husband and daughter (15) and I live on a five-acre homestead in a small town in Maine. I homeschool, and we raise a few dairy goats, chickens, two feral cats, and we are extremely busy with our gardens. We put up food for the winters, as well as market some vegetables and cheese, and we try to grow extra for a local homeless shelter. Winter is a quiet season and I have more time to write as well as work on crafts such as knitting and weaving.

JOANNE: Sounds like a wonderful life. What are your hopes and dreams for the future, both personally and professionally?

AMY: My greatest hope is for world-wide revival! We need it. On a more earthly level, I hope in the next couple years to have prepared my daughter for her future dream of being a writer and an editor. For myself, though I’m not really sure how to get there, I hope to be able to write for gardening/ homesteading magazines as well as inspirational publications.

JOANNE: With your skills, I am sure you BOTH will achieve your writing  dreams. Where can folks connect with you?

AMY: Folks can connect with us through our farm Facebook page (facebook.com/lamplighterfarm). I do not have a blog at this time, but I hope to in the future.

JOANNE: Anything else you’d like to share?

AMY: I’d like to say, I can’t thank enough the people who have put Faithwriters together. It has brought us tremendous enjoyment, encouragement, motivation, and guidance. May God bless you all!

JOANNE: And you have blessed us FaithWriters folks – in so many ways. Thanks again, Amy, for sharing your story with us – and congratulations!

Be sure to enter the challenge again when it starts up again after a short break this coming Thursday. You could be a Best of the Best winner next year!

No Comments

Meet 2017 Best of the Best Runner-Up Jan Ackerson

Jan Ackerson is one of the best-known members of FaithWriters – for her writing lessons on the FaithWriters forums and for being a FaithWriters-approved editor for fiction. But it is her Writing Challenge entries that may have given her the most attention. She has had a total of five entries recognized in FaithWriters’ Writing Challenge Best of the Best over the years – the most recent, second place with  her lovely piece “More Beautiful.” Read along as Jan shares tips on writing a great title, how her writing has changed over the years, and her passion for FaithWriters and the Writing Challenge.

JOANNE SHER: Congratulations on being Best of the Best runner up. What was your reaction when you found out your piece was among the winners?

JAN ACKERSON: To be honest, after reading Ann’s Relinquishment (note – see her Best of the Best interview) just before BoB would be announced, I was more eager to see the announcement to see if that story took a well-deserved first place. Anything I might win after that was gravy, and I was delighted for my dear friend. I will say that More Beautiful wasn’t one that I expected to rise to the top, and it made me shrug a bit.

JOANNE: Well, I hope you know it didn’t make ME shrug (or the judges!) I have always enjoyed your title choices for your challenge pieces (they are generally a HUGE struggle for me). How do you come up with your titles? Which comes first generally – the story or the title? Any tips for the rest of us in finding just the right title?

JAN: For me, the title is definitely the last thing. Once the piece is written, I read through it a time or two specifically with the purpose of finding a phrase that I can take verbatim from one of the sentences. I like a title to have strong and interesting words, but not to give away anything significant that I’d rather the readers get as they make their way through the story. I avoid anything that’s not original to my story—no familiar phrases or clichés, nothing that’s already the title of something else.

If I can’t find just the right phrase within the story, I’ll try to think of something that’s in the same mood and voice as the story.  That’s harder to do, and sometimes I really agonize, if that’s the case.

Continue Reading…

Comments Off on Meet 2017 Best of the Best Runner-Up Jan Ackerson

Meet 2017 Best of the Best Winner Ann Grover

Ann Grover is one of the most faithful (and one of my very favorite) contributors to the FaithWriters Writing Challenge. And this year, her entry for the Relax topic, “Relinquishment,” was the highest ranking story of the entire Writing Challenge year, making her the FaithWriters Best of the Best (for the second time) for 2017. Read along as Ann shares about her writing process, her upcoming retirement, and why she sometimes uses a scythe to cut her lawn.

JOANNE SHER: First of all, congratulation on your Best of the Best win (again)! What was your reaction when you found out you won 2017’s Best of the Best?

ANN GROVER: I checked FaithWriters on June 30, on the off chance the BoB might have already been announced. We were going to a rodeo early in the morning of July 1, and I knew I would be out of signal range all day. So it was a surprise to see the BoB already posted, but I was more surprised that “Relinquishment” was the chosen story. I had struggled with submitting it, for I feared it was off-topic and that it would stir up negative emotions in readers. It is probably the least favourite of all my submissions this year.

JOANNE: Wow – I never would have guessed. You had a total of fifteen first place challenge entries this year. That is pretty amazing. What keeps you entering? Do you have a “secret,” if you will, for placing so well so consistently?

ANN: Why do I keep entering? Good question. I think I continue to enter because FW is a safe place to practice. I can experiment with different voices and tenses, genres and styles. I take comments very seriously, maybe too much so, but after I get over any initial defensiveness, I do try to weave any suggestions into future works. I also keep entering so that I don’t “lose touch” with that side of me, to keep honed, while I keep putting off finishing my WIP, a novel.

Continue Reading…

1 Comment

Congratulations to the 2017 Best of the Best!

After twelve months of Writing Challenge topics and entries, we had our forty contenders for the 2017 Best of the Best award.

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. First place gets $100, second place $50, and third place $25.

Congratulations to our three awesome winners:

1st Place: Relinquishment by Ann Grover (Relax Challenge)

2nd place: More Beautiful by Jan Ackerson (Accidents Will Happen challenge)

3rd place: I Will Walk on Water by Amy Gaudette (Entertainment challenge)

The countdown to next year’s Best of the Best awards begins with the new Challenge quarter, starting July 6. You have to be in the Challenge to be in the running.

Watch for interviews with the winners in the near future!

Comments Off on Congratulations to the 2017 Best of the Best!

The Writing Challenge Needs You :)

When was the last time you entered the FaithWriters Writing Challenge?

That long, eh? Maybe it’s time to jump back in. diving

What is the Writing Challenge, you ask? If you are a platinum or gold member, you are more than welcome to write an entry, between 150 and 750 words, with a Christian worldview, with the topic as the focus of your piece. (If you are a silver member, you have a total of four opportunities to enter the challenge to try it out over your time as a FaithWriters member) But don’t wait TOO long. This week’s topic – RELAX – ends on Thursday, June 15 at 11am ET (when the challenge will go on a break).

Once the topic is closed, you can check out other entries to read and comment on – and a week from Thursday, winners will be announced, with the top three entries overall considered for publication in a future FaithWriters anthology.

The thing is…numbers are down for entries. We would LOVE to have more folks participate in this fabulous opportunity to practice writing to a topic, word count and deadline, and the fellowship that comes along with it. So, stretch your writing muscles and give the Writing Challenge a try (or a retry). You won’t be sorry!

Comments Off on The Writing Challenge Needs You :)

Remembering

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” George Santayana

“A forgetful heart soon becomes a foolish heart.” Rev. Karl Pike (former senior pastor at Good News Baptist Church)

Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘Throughout the generations to come you are to make tassels on the corners of your garments, with a blue cord on each tassel. You will have these tassels to look at and so you will remember all the commands of the Lord, that you may obey them and not prostitute yourselves by chasing after the lusts of your own hearts and eyes. Then you will remember to obey all my commands and will be consecrated to your God.’  Numbers 15:38-40 NIV

You can find the word “remember” in God’s Word more than 300 times. Usually, that kind of repetition means it’s important. And I have to believe that is the case for this particular sentiment.

There’s lots of different kinds of remembering mentioned in the Bible, but today I want to talk about just one. I’ll save my thoughts on what God remembers – and doesn’t remember – for another time. Today, I’m pondering His people’s need to remember.

Today is Memorial Day here in the United States. It’s a day to remember those who fought for our freedom. Those who made the ultimate sacrifice for the well-being of those not yet born – for our country.

I have friends who take this holiday extremely personally. They have lost someone near and dear to them in war. They do not need to be reminded to set time aside to honor the fallen. To them, I’d venture to say that every day is Memorial Day. But still, I am sure it warms their hearts to see others set the time aside to remember – even if it is only one day a year.

It seems that we, as humans, need reminders like these – physical “hints” can bring important things to mind that we might otherwise forget. The Israelites wore tassels on the corners of their garments to help them remember God’s law. They celebrated Passover to remember their deliverance from Egypt. We have countless holidays to help us remember everything from administrative professionals to fathers to our first president.

But there is Someone even more deserving of our remembrance. And everything around us and in us can be a cue to recall the sacrifice He made. He created the heavens and the earth. He gave us everything we have. He hand-crafted us – physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. And, when He wanted us to come close, and our sin repelled Him, He gave all that blackness to His Son, who took it upon Himself, and died on the cross to set us free from it.

I don’t need a holiday to remember He who made the ultimate sacrifice so I could be free in Christ. At least not all the time. (admit it – you act like He didn’t sometimes, dontcha?) But I’m glad there are plenty of them anyhow.

Comments Off on Remembering

Organization: Ridiculously Easy

Organization: Ridiculously Easy

By Randy Ingermanson

We all know people who seem to sail through life. They always have it together. When things go right (which is most of the time), they’re always working productively or playing hard or flossing their teeth. When things go wrong (which seems to be rare), they surf right over those glitches and carry on. I think we all secretly despise those people. They seem to have their lives on autopilot, never struggling. That’s not fair.

My hunch is that these people actually do struggle, but we just don’t see it. They put in serious effort, but they put in their effort in a different way than most of us do. These annoying people put their effort into creating good habits. I wrote about the habit of making habits in this column in January. Since then, I’ve had some new thoughts on it. If you missed that column, you might want to read it now. If you’ve forgotten it, you might want to review it on this page.

It takes some serious effort to build a habit. Once you’ve got a good solid habit going, you don’t have to put in much will-power to keep it going. The habit keeps going under its own steam. You just maintain it. You appear to be coasting. The conventional wisdom is that it takes 21 days to get a habit running under its own steam. But that only works if you can actually get through those 21 days. And it’s easy to sabotage that startup effort by trying too hard.

Let’s look at an example to see what can go wrong.

You decide you’re going to get back in shape. Back when you were younger, you used to run five miles per day. You can do that again, right? Sure you can. So you get your exercise gear all together, you set your alarm, and you wake up tomorrow all charged and ready to go.

On Day 1, you leap out of bed the instant the alarm goes off. You suit up, you warm up, and you get rolling. The first mile is a little slow. The second mile is a little slower. Somewhere in the third mile, something pops in your knee. You limp back home, thinking that you’re not 18 anymore. You ice your knee. You get cleaned up. And you dial back your expectations to 2 miles per day for tomorrow.

Tomorrow morning when the alarm goes off, every muscle in your body is sore. Your knee still hurts. And you decide you’d better give yourself a recovery day. You wind up in recovery for three weeks, and finally your knee feels better. Then you either repeat the whole thing, or else you give up.

What went wrong?

What went wrong was that you put two hard things together in the same place. It’s hard to instantly raise your daily mileage by five miles. It’s also hard to form a habit. If you want to form a habit of daily exercise, DON’T start out with a hard workout. Start out with one that’s ridiculously easy. Maybe you decide you’re going to walk half a mile every day. You can do that in ten minutes. You can do that every day. You could do way more than that, OF COURSE, because it’s ridiculously easy. But don’t.

Do a ridiculously easy workout until your habit is firmly in place. Why? Because you’re doing something else that’s already hard—you’re using your will-power to build a habit. That’s very hard. Don’t make it harder on yourself. Make it ridiculously easy to do it every day. When you do that, you WILL do it every day. You may feel stupid for “only” doing such a little bit. Don’t. You’re not being stupid. You’re being smart. You’re exercising your will-power to get yourself in the groove.

After a few weeks (hopefully 21 days, but this is probably highly variable), you’ll find that you’ve built a habit. It’s a habit you enjoy because, after all, it’s ridiculously easy. You do it every single day because, really and truly, it’s ridiculously easy. Once that habit’s solidly in place, ramp it up. Not a lot. Ramp it up a little. If you were walking half a mile a day, boost that to walking three quarters of a mile. Or jog the last eighth of a mile at an easy pace. Or whatever. And stick to that new regime for a ridiculously long time. Maybe a week. Maybe two.

Life is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. Habits that you build now that you keep in place for the next thirty or forty years will give you ridiculously great benefits. You may know writers who put in eight or ten or twelve hours of writing, seven days per week. You may feel horrible because that’s not you. It’s not me, either. It’s not most writers. But there’s got to be some level of writing that’s ridiculously easy for you. Maybe it’s ten minutes a day (if you like a time quota). Maybe it’s 100 words a day (if you like a word quota).

Find your level that’s ridiculously easy. Make it a habit to do that on a set schedule—five or six or seven days a week. Without fail. No excuses. (And why would you make an excuse to skip a ridiculously easy thing that you enjoy doing?) When the habit’s solidly in place, ramp it up just a bit, but still keep it ridiculously easy. Then ramp it up again. And again. As time goes on, your definition of “ridiculously easy” will increase.

Thirty or forty years from now, you’ll look back on a long career in which you produced an amazing amount. You may never be one of those obnoxious people who sail through life without a struggle. So if you’re going to struggle, put your effort into the things that matter. Building a daily writing habit is a thing that matters.

Even if it’s ridiculously easy.

**

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 16,000 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, visitwww.AdvancedFictionWriting.com.
Comments Off on Organization: Ridiculously Easy

The Critique Circle – Give AND Get Feedback!

Did you know that FaithWriters has an area especially for folks who need an extra eye for their writing? The Critique Circle is a place where you can help others improve their writing, and have them help you too! And any help you get or receive can only be seen by the writer (so no concerns about people seeing what people point out to you)

If you want your writing to be the best it can be, having “fresh eyes” look at it, and give feedback, is important, and almost always beneficial. People of many writing levels (from newbies to FW-approved editors to everything in between) provide critiques in the critique circle in exchange for critiques of their own work.

The system works best, of course, when critiques are detailed and thoughtful – but you don’t have to be an expert to be helpful. Did you get confused at a certain point in the reading? Did you notice missing punctuation? Would the story be more compelling with more detail? Anyone can help, and the critique circle is a great place for that.

Everyone starts out with a free critique – and after that, you get a credit for each critique you give to others, allowing you the opportunity to submit another piece for critique. This peer critique area is a great place for you to get some extra polish and suggestions on your poem, article, story, script, or anything else you might want extra opinions on.

It’s always best to have an “extra set of eyes” on your writing, and what better place to do it than at the Critique Circle?

The critique circle is open to FaithWriters Gold and Platinum members. To become a Gold or Platinum member, click here

Have you used the critique circle? What value do you see from giving and getting critiques on your work?

Comments Off on The Critique Circle – Give AND Get Feedback!