Hi Toni, welcome to FW. I'm delighted you found Deb's post and followed it here. She is an amazing person and one of the back bones of the site. I'm sorry to hear of your chronic pain and being bedridden. There are quite a few people here with health problems. When I joined FW over four years ago, we had a lot in common. I was in bed about 80 percent of the time. I walked with a cane and ended up in the hospital as often as every 6 weeks to 3 months. God has worked amazing miracles in me and a lot of my blessings have come from FW. First, I quickly found a new family who prayed for me and encouraged me. I also learned God gave me the gift of writing as a way to deal with the pain. Because of the challenge, I started writing every week, then I started leaving feedback, and people would ask me to help edit something they were working on. Next thing I knew I started getting paying jobs to edit all because of the wonderful people at FW. After being sick for 25 years, things started looking up. I am doing quite a bit of editing and have published a picture book. I no longer walk with a cane, am more active, and wasn't in the hospital once in 2012 and only twice in 2013. I'm not sure what God's plan is for you and I'll pray that he blesses you like he did with me.
FW is an awesome site, but can be a tad overwhelming because it's so big, but here are some tips for you. Don't worry about being nervous, we all remember that elephant trumping around in our stomachs when we first started sharing our work with virtual strangers. People here are of all ages and have experience ranging from virtually none to having published some books. We also have all kinds of genres. My favorite is children's books, but we have devotions to Biblical fiction to testimonials and how to books to sci-fi and romance.
The biggest draw to FW would be the writing challenge. A new topic starts on Thursdays This quarter will end in a week or two, but after a short respite, it'll start up with a new theme. It's always challenging to write on a topic, and for me to meet a deadline and keep it under 750 words. I can be a tad wordy, but the challenge has helped that for sure. Writers often think we have to impress other writers, but the truth is it's all about the reader.
Check out the free read for review section. In exchange for a free ebook or pdf, the reader agrees to leave a honest review on Amazon and other places the book may be listed. For me, I've learned a lot by reading as much as possible. It helps me learn what I like and what doesn't work for me and then I can apply it to my own writing. Shortly after joining, I decided to challenge myself to read and comment on every challenge entry. It hasn't been easy, but it has made me more aware. I make a point of starting with positive things, then if I have constructive feedback, I'll leave that next and then end with positive. It's not always easy, but it's always possible. I've learned that I can take things away from a story or article even if I don't agree with the author or it's written in a genre I'm not totally crazy about.
If you become a Gold or Platinum member you might want to check out the Critique Circle. It's one of my favorite spots and really is the best place to get honest feedback.
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. One of, if not the single, best spot 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. Speaking of family...we even have a kids site so if you know any from 7 to 15, have them check it out. Here is the link for that: http://faithwriterskidsforum.faithwriters.com
There is something for everyone. The people encourage, support, and love each other. Welcome to the family!
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.