There are two systems of Private Messages (PMs) on FaithWriters.
On the regular FW site, you must pay a small fee to access your PMs. You may send PMs for free and do not need to be a FW member to send them. Subscription to the PM service comes free with Gold and Platinum memberships.
More information can be found here:
http://www.faithwriters.com/myaccount/m ... popup1.php
However, for just $1.95 a month more, you can have access to the Private Messenger service, as well as the Challenge, Critiquing Circle and some other special services and discounts by signing up for a Gold membership.
There is also a PM service on the message boards. These ones are completely free and are available to all members. It is located at the top of the forum page.
Provided your email address is up to date at both FaithWriters.com and also here on the message boards, you will receive an email to let you know when you've received a private message. You will be able to tell the difference--the free messages from the boards will have "PHP" and "boards" in the link.