Hi Catherine, welcome to FW. I look forward to reading some of your work. I'm sure you have many pieces that will inspire many. I love how God can take a struggle of one thing and allow that wisdom be applied to others. I'm sure I'll see that wisdom in your work and you might find nuggets of truth in some of my pieces.
I've been a member for four and a half years and I can't tell you all the wonderful things that have happened to me because of this site. I think the biggest blessing is the friends I've made. I didn't think it was possible to have such close friends from all over the world. I talk to many on a regular basis. Next is having my stories published or being ready to publish. Seven stories won an Editor's Choice in the challenge and my testimony is in the FW book, Triumph Over Trials
anthology. There is another testimony contest now !
FW is an awesome site. It can be a tad overwhelming because it's so big, but here are some tips for you about the forums and some other favorite spots.
People here are of all ages and have experience ranging from virtually none to having published some books. I think it's amazing how the people with more experience are so willing to help those with less. I'll forever be grateful for all the things people here have taught me. There are many poets here too. I've done a few myself although it isn't my favorite genre.
The biggest draw to FW would be the writing challenge. There are four quarters each year with ten topics in each one that are related. One thing the challenge does is encourage me to think outside of the box. One of the best advice I ever received was once you see the topic, jot down the first five things you think of, then throw them away because it's likely what everyone else is thinking of too. If you really feel drawn to that idea, try to tell it from a fresh POV (point of view)
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. I try to read and comment on every piece, though lately I haven't been able to do that as often as I would like. The topic for this coming week is Pen and paper. The Whole idea of writing on a certain topic can be scary, but also helps the imagination blossom. Some of the best pieces may not need to mention the topic words, yet one knows the piece is saturated in the topic. One pie0ce of advice I was given is to jot down the first five ideas that pop into your head, then throw them away because probably everyone else thought of those same ideas.
Of course if poetry is your favorite genre, there are many different ways to express a topic.
Another great perk 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. The prize is paid writing assignments plus having your article published on 100 blogs.
We are also doing a testimony contest where the top 50 testimonies will be selected for a book. I was part of the first book and it was a wonderful experience.
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. In the Water Cooler section they have a regional sections you might want to check out to see if there are people from your area. you.
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!
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.