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.

JOANNE: You’ve been entering the Writing Challenge somewhat regularly for more than seven years. How has FaithWriters, and the challenge, been helpful to you in your writing journey?

FRANCY: More than anything, entering the FaithWriters challenge has helped me write consistently. I love having a theme as a starting point for writing a short story or poem. I need that to focus and the deadline to push me to finish. I’ve written almost 200 stories because of FaithWriters! Receiving encouraging feedback is motivating too. I also look forward to reading other entries and seeing the many creative ideas spawned from one theme. I am forced to work harder to compete.

JOANNE: Motivation is SUCH a helpful part of this site 🙂 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? (and has it changed since the last time I asked three years ago?)

FRANCY: I’m less confident about my poetry, but one poem I wrote for FaithWriters evokes many emotions for me aside from wanting to improve it. The last time you asked me this question I said a certain poem and story were special to me because I wrote them just after Hurricane Sandy wrecked our town. Better than Before is a poem I wrote three years later after God showed us the good he could bring from what seemed hopeless at the time. Samaritan’s Purse ministries fixed our house damaged by Sandy storm flooding. Different volunteers from all over the country showed up each week and blessed us. It was a challenging and amazing year that I had to write about.

On the lighter side, Happy Anniversary is another personal favorite. I still laugh at the second honeymoon my husband and I tried to have for our first anniversary.

JOANNE: These are BOTH great in their own way! Thanks for sharing them. What is the hardest part of writing for you? How do you overcome it?

FRANCY: The hardest part of writing for me is not having enough time to write. Working at my job full-time doesn’t leave much time for writing. I try to stick to a routine, waking up at 5:30 AM to write for an hour before the morning rush begins. I also write during my lunch break. I sleep less, drink more coffee, and pray for inspiration.

JOANNE: I TOTALLY get that – and am sure many others reading this do too. Tell us a bit about yourself.

FRANCY: I’m married to my husband twenty-six years now. We became Christians and got baptized together while I was going to an art college in Manhattan. We have four sons and a daughter. The oldest three are in college. Somehow when they were toddlers together, we didn’t see that coming. I work as a medical records coordinator at a nursing home close enough to bike to on nice days. It helps to pay for things like the seven gallons of milk we need each week. I’ve had articles and short stories published, but I chose to self-publish my novel Randi’s Steps. This story is special to me because it was inspired by my childhood. I’ve discovered I’m terrible at book promotion.

JOANNE: Book promotion is HARD. What is one thing about you that most people don’t know?

FRANCY: I have a skill for guessing the cost of my food shopping bill within fifty cents. I add as I go and estimate the total. When the kids were little and I dragged them with me, I would have each of them guess too. I can get competitive over the strangest things sometimes.

JOANNE: Wow – I may just need to try that on my next grocery trip – though I am certain I wouldn’t be even in the same ballpark! Anything else you’d like to share?

 FRANCY: I’m working on a second novel about two high school friends who struggle with eating disorders. I hope to finish it this year.

JOANNE: Praying for much success with that – AND all your other endeavors. Thanks so much for chatting with us, and congrats again!

Watch for the interview with Donna Powers, the 3rd place winner, here soon. And don’t forget to enter the Writing Challenge yourself – this week’s topic is TRUST.

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