Hi to both of you! I hope you find FW all that you are looking for! it's really an amazing site. I've met friends from all over the world. These are good friends whom I communicate with on a regular basis too. It's an awesome site. It can be a tad overwhelming because it's so big, but here are some tips for you.
People here are of all ages and have experience ranging from virtually none to having published some books. It sounds like this is a perfect fit for you!
It's been an answer to prayer for me. I have some health issues and FW has opened so many doors for me. If you can afford the extra money a month to become a gold or platinum member, it is so worth it! There are many benefits that I hope you are discovering okay. The biggest would be the writing challenge. We just started a new quarter and the new topic for the next challenge will be released in just a few hours. The word count limit has helped me learn to tighten my writing up quite a bit. The deadline has also helped me on my procrastination. I still wait to the last minute, but am writing on a more regular basis. There is also some excellent reading material there.
Another great perk for platinum members is the Critique Circle. It is a great place for paid members to receive a detailed critique on their work. Just recently, they have allowed members to pay so much a page for detailed feedback. This is for silver members or members who want a critique but don't have the time to critique someone else's work. That's how the circle works. Each time you leave feedback, you receive a credit to allow you to post a piece and to get a constructive critique. I've found that by leaving feedback for others, I also learn a great deal about what works or doesn't work in my own writing.
You also may want to check out the blogging contest. The word blog used to scare me, but now I've learned that it isn't that big of a deal. I think the contest this month is How God Provides. You need to add some links and stuff, but if you follow the directions, it's not too hard at all. The prize is paid writing assignments plus having your article published on 100 blogs. Check it out: viewtopic.php?f=92&t=37542
FW is a great place to meet other Christians and writers.I also think it's awesome because there is people with all kinds of experience here from having published book to having never really written much at all. People here are great encouragers and willing to share their knowledge with others. The Open Forum
is a great place to ask questions about writing and publishing.
You also can find a wealth of info and a variety of people on the boards. It's also a great way to make friends. A great place for writing tips can be found at Jan's Writing Basics.
It might be a bit overwhelming to post at first, but I'd urge you to bite the bullet and jump in. Jan is wonderful at giving invaluable feedback to everyone who tries her thread and posts their "homework."
Also The Water Cooler
is a great place to meet people. They have topics that range from regional areas to just popping in to say hi. Another great place to go is Prayer Requests.
It's wonderful to be able to request prayer and to lift others up in need.
Fw is much like a family. There is something for everyone. The people encourage, support, and love each other. Welcome to the family! We even have a kids' site if you have any budding writers you might want to check that out too. http://faithwriterskidsforum.faithwriters.com
I hope I gave you some places to start. The site is huge and there are so many wonderful things here. You may want to check out the FAQ
thread as that may answer many of your questions.
Have fun exploring, jump into conversations and don't be afraid to ask any questions.