Hi Patricia, welcome to FW! This is an awesome site. There are so many things to explore. It can feel a bit overwhelming at times but don't hesitate to ask for help if need be. I think I may have been the person who suggested you visit the boards, but I encourage a lot of people so it's hard to remember them all!
One of my favorite things about FW is how I have made close friends with people all over the world. I hang out in the Pacific Coast Rest Stop a lot so I have friends in those states and another oddball who lives in Maryland. I have also become close to people from Africa, Australia, England, Latvia and Thailand. I live in a super rural area in Western NY and would never had the opportunity to meet people from all over the world. I can't imagine my life without FW!
This is a diverse site as well. There are all ages from teens to grandparents who having writing experiences from journaling to published books. There are also all kinds of genres. My favorite is Children's stories. But you'll find sci-fi, fantasy, devotions, nonfiction,romance, Biblical fiction and everything in between.
The weekly challenge is the most popular way to showcase your work. I am so excited to hear you have already taken the plunge! I have learned so much from feedback from people who want me to be the best writer I can be. I have also learned to write on topic while still being different from all the other entries. The deadline has really helped me write on a regular basis.
I also like that people here really can get invested in each other and cheer when others succeed. I've been to other writing sites where it seems all they want to do is to rip into my work and discourage me. But here is so different!
Another place for members who would like to have their work critiqued can go to the Critique Circle. They now offer two options. If you're a Gold or Platinum member you are given one credit to post your piece and ask for feedback. Then you have to leave feedback for others to receive more credits. If you're a nonpaying Silver member, however, you can pay a small fee to have your story critiqued in detail. This option is also available to members who don't feel comfortable or have time to critique others.
Also you can post your older stories in the general submission or free reprint page.
There are a lot of threads on the board too and if you're not used to that, it can feel overwhelming too. The Open Forum is the best place to get answers or talk about general writing things. The Water Cooler is just like the name says--a place to hang out and chat about almost anything. The prayer Forum is a great place to pray for others or request prayer requests yourself. There is a whole section about the writing challenge. You'll probably want to check each of those out yourself.
The Blog/monthly contest is another great thing that FW offers. Don't let the name BLOG scare you off. Right now a contest is going on to highlighlight a problem our youth is facing. Many leave the faith after going to college so the contest wants to draw attention to that fact and help find ways to reach our youth. It can seem on first glance, quit complicated, but there are people who will help you through if if need be. I have a story I want to enter but just got out of the hospital last week and am trying to play catch up.
I usually attempt to read every challenge each week, but it's a whole dy into it and I haven't been able to read any yet. If I didn't mention it earlier, I'd really encourage you to read and comment on as many stories as you can, especially the ones in your level. Some people think they haven't been writing long enough to leave feedback, but most have been reading for years and can spot things they like in any article.
Have fun exploring the site and jump into any threads that sound interesting. I hope to see you out and about and read some of your work. Oh and I saw your duplicate message and because I'm a moderator, I deleted it so people wouldn't get confused or so that you wouldn't miss any welcomes!