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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of "Make Hay While the Sun Shines" (without using the actual phrase or literal example). (03/06/08)

TITLE: Salted Fish and Firewood
By Debbie Roome


Month One
The smudged grey of the city is gone; a stained memory compared to this pristine landscape. Purity unfurls in textures of lakes and mountains and forests of white birch and pine. Itís the perfect place to work on my novel. Isolated, peaceful, rustic.

Month Two
I have just one neighbour, Old Man Wilson who lives across the lake. I rowed across today to introduce myself. He was working in his vegetable garden; turning over spadefuls of thick loamy soil and dropping seed potatoes into cool hollows. ďYou should get planting too, young man.Ē He leaned on his shovel for a moment. ďConditions are perfect right now. These potatoes will store well for the winter.Ē

I thought of his words as I rowed onto Three Springs, the small settlement where turquoise and sapphire streams merge before mingling with deep navy waters. The supply store has all the basics and besides, my larder is full of tinned goods. I canít be bothered with gardening.

Month Three
Old Man Wilson is cutting wood. Has been for days. ďYou need to do this in early summer.Ē He told me. ďThe wood needs several months to dry out.Ē I watched as he cut log after log, sweating and straining as the chainsaw bit into knots and sawdust filled his eyes. It seems like a lot of work and I have better things to do. Besides, my wood shed is a third full. If Iím careful Iím sure that will last.

Month Four
Saw the old man out on the lake this morning. The salmon run is in full swing and his boat was piled with slithering fish, silvery with peach blushes along their sides. ďCome over and Iíll teach you to salt and dry them.Ē He shouted. I rowed past his place later and saw them hanging by their tails, flesh slit, mouths draining salty water. I kept rowing and caught a salmon for dinner. Iíll find something else to stockpile for winter.

Month Five
Iím getting a bit tired of Old Man Wilson. He brought me some home-made jam today; blackberry and raspberry that heíd cooked up himself. ďIíll show you where the thickest patches are.Ē He offered. ďThe fruit is at its best and Iím cooking and canning as much as I can.Ē

I chose to work on my novel which isnít coming along too well.

Month Six
Old Man Wilson is nuts. Literally. Heís been foraging in the forest for nuts and came out with two buckets full. Iíd rather sit and enjoy the changes of early autumn. Watch the leaves fluttering; carpets of copper and burnished gold.

Month Seven
The nights are getting cool now and the wind has a sharp edge. Old Man Wilson shot a deer last week and is still busy with it; skinning, gutting, preserving. Iíve shot a couple of birds but thatís about it. I canít be bothered with all that mess.

Month Eight
Iíve started using my firewood and itís going down quicker than I anticipated. I went looking for more but the forest is soggy and damp. To make things worse, I arrived home to find a bag of russet apples on my porch and a note from you-know-who. ďThe supply store has barrels of apples at a good price. Youíll need fruit in winter. Best get some.Ē I burnt the note in the fire.

Month Nine
The first snow of winter is falling. I should really go and get supplies but I want to watch the snow swirling across the mountains. Maybe Iíll get down to some serious writing later in winter.

Month Ten
The lake is frozen but not enough to walk on. If only Iíd gone to Three Springs while it was still accessible. My tins are running low and Iím desperate for some decent food.

Month Eleven
Iím at Old Man Wilsonís house. He noticed there was no smoke coming from my chimney so trekked across the ice to check on me. I felt like such a fool when I admitted I had no wood and no food. His sheds are stacked with wood, fish and venison; with potatoes, nuts, apples, jam and berries in syrup. I guess Iíll have to humble myself and sit out winter on this side of the lake.

Month Twelve
Spring is here. The snow is finally melting and tender buds are poking through the ice. Iím looking forward to going home and planting my first potatoes.

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This article has been read 989 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Shelley Ledfors 03/13/08
What an excellent illustration of the topic. The writer accomplished neither winter preparation nor writing it seems, but apparently learned his lesson at last. Nice piece.
Sally Hanan03/14/08
You have some beautiful descriptions here. I'm guessing that the novel was never finished. :)
Verna Cole Mitchell 03/15/08
Your descriptive writing is awesome, and each new entry pushes the topic forward a little more. I love the concluding entry.
Deborah Engle 03/15/08
This story is just what I like. The point is clearly seen, yet the story is still interesting. Well done.
Lynda Lee Schab 03/16/08
Nicely done! Well-crafted and clear, precise writing. Very creative format for the topic this week. Bravo!
Lyn Churchyard03/16/08
oh boy, now that was a hard way to learn a lesson. Nice touches of humor along the way. Great story. Right on topic!
Jan Ackerson 03/16/08
I loved the subtle way that even his writing changed over the months--became testier, less lovely. Perfect!
jodie banner03/16/08
I would love to hear Mr Wilson's take on his new neighbor.Great take on the topic.
Joanne Sher 03/16/08
I love the progression of this, and how well it illustrates the topic. Great descriptions too. Lovely.
Dee Yoder 03/16/08
Poor guy-even when you're starving, it's hard to eat crow! You represented the topic well and your characters are very well described. I really enjoyed reading about this less-than-prepared writer.
Chely Roach03/16/08
What a great illustration of the topic; awesome writing. Loved it.
william price03/16/08
Very well written. Thank God for Mr. Wilson. The story had a gentle pace and made the read enjoyable. Great work. God bless.
Sheri Gordon03/16/08
I love your descriptions of the area--I felt like I was there. This reminded me of the Grasshopper and the Ant story--a great fable my mom used to tell me. Nice job with the topic.
Betty Castleberry03/16/08
Vivid description, great voice, right on topic. Very well written, too.
Kristen Hester03/16/08
Right on topic. This is very well written and entertaining. Good job!
Patty Wysong03/17/08
I love this. It's a grat demonstration of the topic and the lesson he learned. It was neat seeing his progression as the months went by.
Joshua Janoski03/17/08
A very cool and unique way of demonstrating this week's topic. I really liked the format and the progression of this story.

Old Man Wilson definitely knew what he was doing. Good thing he had compassion on the writer, otherwise he would have been in a world of hurt for not listening.

Thank you so much for sharing.
Debbie Wistrom03/17/08
Thanks for the hint, I looove Old Man Wilson. Perfect for topic. We think we are so smart,,,,,Thanks for a great read.
Debbie Wistrom03/17/08
Thanks for the hint, I looove Old Man Wilson. Perfect for topic. We think we are so smart,,,,,Thanks for a great read.
Peter Stone03/17/08
What a wonderful, engaging read. On topic so many times too, and, great to see the MC learn his lesson by the end.
Patrick Whalen03/18/08
The descriptions here are wonderful! I really enjoyed reading this and realize I too need to begin my potato planting!
Karin Fiscaletti03/18/08
An excellent story! Makes me want to begin my gardens. You describe a very nice place, made me want to be there too!
Yvonne Blake 03/18/08
So descriptive! It sounded like Alaska. That's where I'd like to retire and write.
Of course, after this, I'd take a lesson from Mr. Wilson and stock up for winter.
I liked his gentle reminders. I expect he stocked extra for the "city guy".
Wonderful writing.
Sara Harricharan 03/19/08
heehee, poor guy, he should've listenly to kindly Old Man Wilson. I hope he prepares for next winter and then he can sit in and write plenty of novels! You did great with the topic here, I like it! Nice job! ^_^