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Previous Challenge Entry (EDITOR'S CHOICE)
Topic: Blog (10/20/11)

By Margaret McKinney
~2nd Place


Mary Jane had no idea that her life was about to change.

It was a typical night shift at the Starbucks a block from campus, perhaps quieter because of the holiday. Around nine the store was barren, and Mary Jane felt the bitter smell of coffee sifting through her pores. It nauseated her. Shoving her forest-green visor off her forehead, she rolled her eyes and waited for midnight.

Then he entered, carrying a laptop and reusable coffee mug. Mary Jane felt the familiar tumble in her stomach as she mustered a smile at the cash register.

“Hello again,” he said.

Mary Jane could only nod.

As usual, he hummed while waiting for his coffee, and he flashed his customary brilliant smile while taking his change.

Mary Jane sighed as she watched him set up his computer in the corner. They were alone in the store and there was nothing to do. She pretended to wipe tables and pick up trash so she could wander near him. It was hard not to glance his way to see what he was working on – a thesis, no doubt, on splitting atoms or curing cancer. It had to be something important, ground-breaking. It had to be.

When she saw what he was actually working on, Mary Jane paled. Her stomach roiled as she silently took a step backwards.

But he caught her.

“Hey,” he said in a friendly tone. “What’re you up to?”

Mary Jane wrung the wet rag in her hands. “Oh, you know. It’s kind of dead in here. Nothing much to do, so I’m just cleaning up.”

His eyes flicked to his computer. “Am I in your way?”

No, never. He would never be in her way. Mary Jane shook her head quickly. “Not at all. I’m just wondering…what are you working on?”

“This?” He gestured to the open screen. “My blog.”

HIS blog. Why was it HIS blog? “This is your blog? You write it?”

He smiled and nodded. “Yep. It’s about Jesus. Do you want to have a look?”

Mary Jane crept towards him. “You blog about Jesus?”

The slight lift of his shoulder was appealingly shy. “Yes, of course, because Jesus is important, you know?” He eyed her curiously. His eyes were blue, and shaded by enviable black lashes. Mary Jane bit back a gasp at his beauty and the unlucky irony of the situation. She peered over his shoulder at the familiar layout. The telltale chill crept over her as she read the words of the Bible across the top of the screen.

“Don’t you ever get rude comments from people? Because not everybody out there actually believes.”

“That’s true,” he admitted. “And sometimes the comments are difficult to read.”

Mary Jane’s stomach clenched as she dropped the wet rag. “The hateful ones?”

He waved a hand. “Nah. God can handle their anger. It’s the others that weigh on me.”

“I don’t understand.”

The young man beckoned Mary Jane closer and gestured to the screen. “I’ll show you. This person – CM107 – they’re just angry, but I can see through that. The anger’s not directed at me, and often it’s the angry ones that really need a friend. Now, this one – “ he lifted a finger to the screen. “this MJ089, they comment almost daily, and always with deep and troubling questions. This person makes me heartsick.”

Heartsick. Yes, that just about covered it. Mary Jane gulped. “Is that so?”

“Yes. This person is screaming for God, and I just hope they listen when he answers. I‘ve been praying for MJ089 daily for weeks now, whoever he or she may be.”

Mary Jane weighed his words. Odd, his effort to pray daily for strangers that happen to comment on his blog. It made no sense. With a sigh she turned from the beautiful boy and his hopeful blog, and started walking back to the counter.

He stopped her with a parting comment. “It’s worth it, you know.”
“What is?”

“If one person comes to know God through this blog, it’s worth my time. Doesn’t matter if others think it’s a waste.”

When Mary Jane arrived home well into the night, she read the blog. That evening’s entry claimed that God was in the small moments as well as the big.
He was even, the boy said, in conversations with strangers in coffee shops.

MJ089 thought about the encouraging boy and his powerful prayers, and was inclined to agree.

Accept Jesus as Your Savior Right Now and be Certain of Eternal Life.

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Member Comments
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Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 11/03/11
This was really good. I did figure that Mary Jane was one of the commentators but I was eager to keep reading to see if I was right. The start was wonderful and drew me in immediately. I also thought it was a creative take on the topic.

There were a few minor hiccoughs with punctuation. There were some missing " and a word at the start of one quotation wasn't capitalized. Also make sure you start a new paragraph every time there is a new speaker. A critic group or writing buddy would help catch these minor errors.

I think the ending was a tad forced. I stumbled over some of the sentences at the end.

The message was clear and a great one. As Christians, we never know when we will have the chance to witness. I think you did a wonderful job with this inspirational story.
Theresa Santy 11/03/11
I love the way you've painted your characters here. I related to both of them, and sensed that I knew what they were feeling. I liked how the relationship between these two characters was interesting from the beginning, and then transformed into something even more beautiful.
Cheryl von Drehle11/03/11
Good beginning…hooked me enough to keep reading. Good flow; conversation varies from excellent to a little unrealistic.

I think you could come up with a stronger ending but the concept is very creative. Main thing I would change is the title…it gave away the ending too early. I like the characters and story line very much.
Noel Mitaxa 11/07/11
Very enjoyable read, with good pacing and easy-flowing dialogue. I also like how you wrapped it up.
James Brown11/07/11
An enjoyable read. You have a strong take on the prompt. The story has a good flow with credible characters.

You tell us in the opening sentence that Mary Jane's life is about to change. This works to draw the reader into the story. The thing is though, I don't see a dramatic change in her life. She is surprised he is the one writing the blog, but in the end she simply agrees with his latest post.

I personally prefer to begin with a strong showing sentence, instead of a telling one. I think the story would work just as well without the opening sentence.

I like the inner conflict you show in Mary Jane over the boy. Conflict drives a story and keeps the reader hooked. Seven hundred and fifty words makes it difficult to build strong conflict, bring it to a satisfying conclusion, and stay connected to the prompt.

Overall, a great story. Thanks for sharing it with us.
Tracy Nunes 11/08/11
I really enjoyed this entry. I was actually in suspense until the blogger's intentions were revealed. I wasn't sure if he was a good guy or not. That's a good thing, as it kept me guessing and reading to see what would hapen. Good job!
C D Swanson 11/09/11
Nice job of keeping me guessing all the way to the end! I liked this - it was very well written. God Bless~
Leola Ogle 11/09/11
One of my favorites so far! Great job, very interesting and great job with the topic! God bless!
Edmond Ng 11/14/11
Blogging for the Lord is one good way of leading others to find answers in Christ. We may never know how far our Christian blogs can reach the hearts of people out there, but we can be sure our effort will never go to waste. Your story has conveyed this truth very well. May we all not hesitate to blog for Christ and use whatever available tools online to reach the world. Good job on a well written piece and an excellent story plot!
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 11/17/11
Congratulations! This was a great sci-fi story and you deserve the win. :)
Tracy Nunes 11/17/11
Congratulations Margeret! Woo hoo!
Verna Cole Mitchell 11/17/11
Congratulations on placing with your story. I really enjoyed it--even liked the anticipation that Mary Jane would be one who had responded.
Theresa Santy 11/17/11
Congratulations Margaret!!!
Lillian Rhoades 11/17/11
Mega Congrats, Margaret!
C D Swanson 11/17/11
congrats on your win! nice job. God Bless~
Rachel Phelps11/18/11
Good idea for this prompt, and great interactions between your characters. Congratulations on your EC!