Hi Mark, Welcome to the Wonderful World of Faithwriters. This is an incredible site filled with amazing people who genuinely want to help others be the best writer possible and all that plus some wonderful Christian fellowship. This is like a family to me and has given me more than I could have dreamed of when I first joined three years ago.
First, I've made some dear, sweet friends from all over the States to Australia, Africa, England, Thailand and Latvia. These aren't just casual friendships but close friends, many of whom I talk or text each day.
One of the cool things about FW is its diversity. Not only do we have writers from all over who range from teens to grandparents, we also have a wide variety of genres. My favorite is children's stories, but there are also sci-fi, fantasy, nonfiction, devotions, poems, romance, testimonials, Biblical fiction and just about everything in between.
The forums are a great place to get to know one another. The Water Cooler is a place to chill and talk about anything from the weather to just saying howdy. There are a couple of small groups who love and support each other. The Pacific Coast Rest Stop or the Southern Porch can be found in that section. (You don't need to be on the Pacific Coast or from The South to pop in)The prayer Forum offers an opportunity to pray with others or ask for your own prayer requests or share some joys. The Open Forum is the best place to find writing related threads.
One of the biggest draws to FW is the weekly challenge. You do have to be a paid member to participate, but if you can afford the few dollars a month it is so worth it. I've learned to write on a regular basis. Without a deadline, I tend to procrastinate. It has also stretched my imagination with up to 100 or more people writing on the same topic, it's important to finds a way to stay on topic but be different from others. In January, Silver members were given a chance to try the challenge for four times throughout the year. Often once one realizes how helpful it can be, it'll encourage more people to participate which is awesome because it allows more people to see your work.
Don't hesitate to ask any questions you might have or jump into any discussions. I look forward to getting to know you and read some of your work. I know it can feel a bit overwhelming at first but once you start exploring hopefully you'll feel at home and be comfortable in the forums and maybe even want to read and leave some comments on others' work.