Hi everyone. For those who have not yet “met” me, I’m Deb Porter--long time FaithWriters member (the 11th to be exact) and general busy bee around the place. You’ll find me hard at work coordinating the Challenge, editing FaithWriters’ Magazine and the quarterly anthologies, coordinating the book review section, making sure everyone is taken care of over on the message boards, and a few other bits and pieces here and there as well--but that’s enough about me.
As FaithWriters is getting bigger and bigger (28,266 members as I write this--wow!) I really thought it would be good to have a non-email way to keep members in the loop with everything that’s happening each week--the official things and the fun things as well. All the news, FAQ’s and chat that will help new members find their way around, and old timers catch up on what’s happening.
First things first, did you know that there are two FaithWriters’ newsletters each month? There’s one for all FaithWriters members and another for the FaithWriters 500 members. Both newsletters are a must to read--seriously. They are not only crammed full of all the important information you need, they are also really entertaining.
If you are thinking, "Yes Deb, we do get our newsletters, and you are SO right! They’re more fun than a trip to Disneyland," then you can move on down a couple of paragraphs (although if that’s really what you think, you may want to try turning off the computer and getting out a bit more often). If, however, you are thinking, "There are newsletters?" then keep on reading.
If you haven’t been receiving your newsletters, then there are two possible reasons. The first, and most common one, is that your email or internet provider is blocking email from FaithWriters or, bless their hearts, sending it straight to your junk mail or bulk mail box. If you have a Yahoo, Hotmail or AOL account, this is highly likely, so please keep an eye on your junk/bulk mail boxes--just in case. You may be surprised how much you are missing. The second possibility is that your own spam settings are blocking emails from us.
This problem with email is growing, thanks to all the spammers out there, and it makes communicating with members very difficult. So if you haven’t been receiving your newsletters, notifications, and other important updates from FaithWriters, please try checking your junk/bulk mail boxes or your own spam settings. If that doesn’t solve the problem, then you may need to contact your internet provider and see if they are blocking mail from faithwriters.com.
In the meantime, here’s the link to the newsletter archives:
FaithWriters Newsletter Archives
If you are a 500 member, you can access the 500 newsletter by logging into your FaithWriters account and clicking on the red link to the FaithWriters 500 Member Area. (It’s above the big Private Messenger box).
When you get there, scroll down until you get to the Newsletter box. This newsletter is a must for 500 members. Don’t miss it.
Now, on to other things...
Have you been enjoying the Challenge this quarter? In case you haven’t realized, this is the genre/style quarter, and it has been stretching members more than any other quarter in the history of the Challenge.
I have to admit that I’ve been thrilled to see loads of new names entering each week and lots of new names in the list of winners, too. One of the most surprising weeks so far was the Science Fiction Challenge a few weeks ago. There was something really buzzing in those entries and I loved hearing comments like, “I would never have even thought of writing something like this, but I really enjoyed it.”
It’s been interesting watching how people react to the different genres. Historical had more than a few cringing (seems that “History” was one of the most hated subjects at school for a lot of members), but the great thing has been seeing so many people rise to the Challenge each week and give it a go. It’s that attitude that makes the Challenge what it is, and our regular challengeers are the best. So whether you place or not, if you have entered any of the topics this quarter, then as far as I’m concerned, you are a winner!
This week’s topic, “Writing for Children,” is proving to be a fun one, based on the titles submitted so far. Just a reminder, though—watch your word count. The minimum is 150 words, and the maximum is 750, and we do enforce that rule. The Poetry Challenge was a nightmare for word count, with around 18 entries having to be disqualified and removed (some only 40 or so words long). We have to remove them because of the 200 entry limit. If we had left the disqualified entries in the list, it would have meant that 18 other people would have missed out on entering.
Also, just on the "Childrens" topic, please make sure that your stories are aimed at children or pre-teens, not teenagers.
By the way, do you know how we judge the Challenge? Did you know that I post a list of the highest ranked entries (top 40 overall, and top 15 for each level) every Thursday afternoon on the message boards? Did you know that the ten highest ranked entries each week go into one of the FaithWriters books? Do you know why we call it a “challenge” and not a “contest?” These questions and more will be answered in the coming weeks. If you can’t bear to wait, why not pop over to the message boards and find out some of this information for yourself? It’s a great place to spend time.
By the way, all the FaithWriters books are available here, or through Amazon:
Our next book, Abundance of Life, will be available very soon, and I have to say I love this particular book. It’s a delight from start to finish. It fizzes with life, which is exactly what you would expect. Honestly, the FaithWriters books make fantastic reading and great gifts. We were invited to a friend’s home for dinner recently, and I took our seventh book, Journey of Faith, as a gift for her. She was delighted and has loved the fact that she can pick it up and read a quick bit of inspiration whenever she wants. She grabbed me after church a few weeks later and said that she’s laughed, cried and been inspired, which is exactly the reaction we want from our readers.
Moving right along....
Well, I’m off to get my passport organized on Monday. The photos have been taken (not as bad as my driver’s license, but no glamour shot either), and now it’s a case of getting the paperwork underway. Then I just have to get my airline tickets ready, and after that I’ll be counting down the days until the first FaithWriters’ Conference in Michigan in August. I can hardly wait. Believe me, it has to be something really wonderful to get me to travel all the way from Australia by myself--and I know that this conference is going to be a turning point for FaithWriters and everyone who attends.
Apart from the privilege of speaking at the conference, I have to admit that I am so excited about meeting all my FaithWriters friends (and some new ones as well). I had a really long telephone conversation with Scott Lindsay (the owner, creator and driving force behind FaithWriters) a few weeks ago, and we are both really looking forward to seeing everyone in August. We know it’s going to be a fantastic event, and we want as many FaithWriters members as possible to be there.
It’s quite funny, but the lead up to the conference is a bit like preparing for a wedding. The third member of the conference organizing team, Amy Wiley, has started having dreams about it already. I haven’t quite had that happen yet, but they’ll probably start once the event draws nearer. I’m pretty sure Amy’s dream isn’t going to come to pass, though, as she had me climbing trees outside the hotel, which I can tell you right now just ain’t gonna happen!
Even so, message board regular, Al Boyce, very thoughtfully posted a Google earth shot of the Radisson Hotel, and circled all the trees in the immediate vicinity, just in case I do end up deciding to act like a koala.
So, are you going to be there? It’s definitely not too late to register, and we would be delighted to have you with us. It’s going to be so much fun, and I am sure you will leave inspired. We had a little Australian FaithWriters Conference last August, with just a handful of ladies, and the impact of that weekend together was incredible. So I really encourage you to do everything you can to be at the US conference this year:
Conference Information and Registration Form
Oh, and for the Aussies and Kiwis, we are planning to have another FaithWriters Down Under conference next year, so stay tuned for that. Or even better, leave a note in the feedback box below if you might be interested in attending.
Anyway, to keep up with all the latest conference buzz, make sure you visit the message boards here:
Conference Information on the Boards
Speaking of the message boards, it’s been great to see our old mate, Maxx (our first Best of the Best winner) back in action. Not only is he back on the boards, but he’s also back in the Challenge, and back in the winners list with his poetry entry (congrats Maxx!).
This win with poetry has kicked off a very funny thread on the boards. Has Maxx lost his gritty, boundary-pushing edge to become a sensitive “new age” guy? If you need a laugh, and are familiar with Maxx’s work, then don’t miss this very tongue-in-cheek thread on the boards:
Maxx’s No, No, No Thread
There’s a really loving, encouraging community over on the message boards, and we even have a place for you to post your prayers. So if you have a prayer need, come on over and let your brothers and sisters in Christ lift your need to the Lord.
Well, that’s more than enough for this week’s Heartbeat. Now it’s over to you. I have loads of information and FAQ’s to share with you over the coming weeks, but I want to know what you want to know. So if there is a question about FaithWriters that you’ve been desperate to know, just leave me a note in the comment box below, and I’ll answer some each week.
Also, each week I’ll try and highlight some articles or challenge entries that have caught my eye. This week I have to shine the spotlight on one of the entries in the recent Humor challenge. This entry didn’t win, but it sure struck a chord with a lot of feedback-loving members. So if you get a chance, take the time to read:
FaithWriters Feedback by Ed VanDeMark
By the way, if you have ever wanted more feedback on your Challenge entries (and who doesn’t?), make sure you stop by the message boards on a Monday night. As soon as I give the “all clear” (meaning the judges have finished reading and rating entries, and the winners list is on the way to FaithWriters), members are able to start hinting about which entries belong to them. It’s a great way to point more readers in the direction of your work (and a lot of fun too). Just make a beeline to the Writing Challenge forum on the boards.
Well, that’s it for this week. Keep writing, rising to the Challenge, and being a shining light for His glory!
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