Thursday, 16 July 2020

CWD Member Interview - Heather Margaret Jephcott



Most Thursdays this year we will be interviewing one of the members of Christian Writers Downunder – to find out a little bit more about them and their writing/editing goals.

Today’s interview: Heather Margaret Jephcott


Question 1: Tells us three things about who you are and where you come from. 
I am a poet, an artist and a musician….plus a lot, lot more. I come from Ringwood, Melbourne, Australia and for most of the last 32 years have been living in Surabaya, Indonesia. 

Question 2: Tell us about your writing (or editing/illustrating etc).  What do you write and why?
I published a poetry book called “Open Hearts, Quiet Streams” in 2013 and am hoping to publish another poetry booklet - a dual language one, this year that I actually prepared 2 years ago. 

Question 3: Who has read your work? Who would you like to read it? 
Anyone who has my book plus my fb friends. Also, I put videos of my reading of my poetry on Instagram. These readings get more views than any other place (I suspect). I would like everyone to read my poetry that reads English and/or Indonesian and wants to feel the beauty of God’s world and love. 

Question 4: Tell us something about your process. What challenges do you face? What helps you the most?
I began writing poetry seriously as a reaction to another poet’s poetry which I thought was fantastic but dark. I wanted to see if I could write poetry that gave light and beauty and that would be read across the socio-religious categories. 

Question 5: What is your favourite Writing Craft Book and why? 
What an interesting question! I do not have a specific favourite Writing Craft Book. I have been an English teacher. Actually, come to think of it, I still am. I have learned how to write from reading and teaching how to write and have been an avid reader and especially of Victorian literature. Also, I have found Writers and Readers Conferences invaluable. 

Question 6: If you were to give a shout-out to a CWD author, writer, editor or illustrator – who would they be?
Sue Jeffrey

Question 7: What are your writing goals for this year? How will you achieve them?
Ah….let me think about this question. This has been such an extraordinary year BUT I do have one goal that looks like it is coming into being and there is a master hand behind this, and not me. It is the publishing of an Indonesian/English Poetry Book. The publisher I used before went out of business but it appears at the moment that the Organisation we work with, the Indonesian part of it, is publishing and so we are in contact. 

Question 8: How does your faith impact and shape your writing?
I write out of my ruminations on the Word Of God, especially in the morning and also out of life as a follower of Jesus. I write for the specific context I am living in here in Indonesia but people throughout the world still appreciate what I write because truly, the Bible and life are what inspires me.



Monday, 13 July 2020

Woke or Awake? by Ruth Bonetti

Articulate wordsmiths beware!

Fellow writers do you quake in the new religion of righteous cancel culture? 
No book, statue or film is safe, even if it depicts those who fought against injustices like slave trading. 

The new religion of righteous cancel culture revolution insists "citizens who may have committed no crime and oppressed no one, feel obliged to get down on their knees in a gesture of supplication to persons unspecified." Thus Peter Baldwin sums up The race to tear down reason in The Weekend Australian  "The rise of a new cultural revelation threatens to destroy history itself."

History reveals disturbing parallels; the fall of the Roman Empire into Dark Ages; last century’s Nazi book-burning; writers, artists, intellectuals, linguists, decimated by Stalin and Mao. Today they are cancelled. In this hyper sensitive age do others feel uneasy, stifled, neutered? 

Johann Sebastian Bach: His Life In Pictures And Documents: Fischer ...Dead white males – of merit

"The evil that men do lives after them; the good is often interred with their bones." (Shakespeare) 
"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." (George Santayana.)

Censored?

What place in academia that chooses Confucious Institutes over Ramsay?
What place in my next manuscript for a "racist" 1959 letter quotation? 

My landlord grandfather checked a house rented to "an ants’ nest Chinese Den…Chinese heads bobbed up everywhere in every door…I don’t know whether you can complain about them or say anything nasty about them. If you did it with your eyes open we cannot blame them.” 

In 1903 he worked with Hindus "and in a friendly way I asked one how it is they can live in such an awful smell. He just shook his head and said, our smell is not as bad as your smell is to our countrymen…I think this should be our first starting point without casting any judgment." Edit out?

How can we shine light in this new Dark Age?

Awake, calls the voice to us of the watchmen high up in the tower;
Midnight the hour is named; they call to us with bright voices;
where are you, wise virgins?
Indeed, the Bridegroom comes;
rise up and take your lamps,
Alleluia! 


Johan Sebastian Bach told of the wise virgins in his cantata Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme. 

I wait with burning oil.
Zion hears the watchmen sing,
her heart leaps for joy within her,
she wakens and hastily arises...

Bach faced criticism, rejection – as we do

"The music is too showy. Some of our members even think it is sinful. Music should be simple so that it draws attention to God, not to the music or the performers."
Imagine Bach drawing a deep breath before defending his music:
"The main purpose of my music is to glorify God. Some people do this with music that is simple. I haven't chosen to use a simple style, but my music comes from my heart as a humble offering to God. This honours God no matter what musical style I use."
"I play the notes but it is God who makes the music."
Rejected by ecclesiastical employers, Bach's secular one gave him the freedom to write as he was inspired. After Bach died in 1750, his "fuddy-duddy" (white male?) music was forgotten for 80 years. In 1829, another God-driven composer Felix Mendelssohn revived his St. Matthew Passion. 

Cure Writers' Block

Bach wrote prayers at the beginning and end of his manuscripts: at the top JJ, an abbreviation for “Jesu Juva,” which translated means, "Jesus, help me."
Then the music began to pour from his soul and onto the page. When he was finished and satisfied, he wrote the letters SDG at the bottom of the page - Soli Deo Gloria - For the Glory of God Alone.


RUTH BONETTI is grateful for Bach's example as she writes Part 3 of her award-winning Midnight Sun to Southern Cross saga, St Lucia and the Art Deco Mansion–What drove the man who built it? Due for October release, it tells further Journeys of her Grandfather.  




Thursday, 9 July 2020

CWD Member Interview – Elizabeth Tai aka Tai Weiland


Most Thursdays this year we will be interviewing one of the members of Christian Writers Downunder – to find out a little bit more about them and their writing/editing goals.

Todays interview Elizabeth Tai (who also writes fiction as Tai Weiland)


Question 1: Tells us three things about who you are and where you come from. 

I am Malaysian but lived in Adelaide for about 3 years before returning to Malaysia. I was a journalist for 15 over years for Malaysia’s biggest English daily, The Star. I’m an avid gardener who dreams of having her own urban homestead one day where I can organise writing retreats. 

Question 2: Tell us about your writing (or editing/illustrating etc).  What do you write and why?

I write across many genres.
I currently write non-fiction as Elizabeth Tai and science fiction (space opera adventures) as Tai Weiland. I decided to use a pen name for my fiction because I spent many years building a career as a journalist and non-fiction writer as Elizabeth Tai. I’m also a personal finance blogger in real life, so it’s helpful to have a totally separate brand to write under. I also came up with a pen name because, in the past, I preferred to be more “under the radar” with my fiction. Now I wondered if I should’ve just written under one name because having two pen names is like managing two companies!
Tai Weiland is currently working on the space opera series, Distant Stars. I’ve always wanted to create a universe that I can write endless stories from, and this was my way of doing that! My first novel was conceptualised in 2013, during Nanowrimo.
The first book, a novella, is a prequel to the series - Heretics of Thran. The second is Book 1 - Shadows of Corinar. I’m editing the second book of the series, Nexus Point and hope to publish it by September. You can find out more about Tai Weiland at https://taiweiland.weebly.com



Question 3: Who has read your work? Who would you like to read it? 

The whole of Malaysia has read my articles as Elizabeth Tai the journalist, I suppose, but not many people know me as Tai Weiland. That’s because I’ve not gone all out to promote her. I plan to only do that once I’ve uploaded the second book of my science fiction series, Nexus Point.

Question 4: Tell us something about your process. What challenges do you face? What helps you the most?

I am a semi-planner. I would have a certain vague framework for my novel and it’s off to the races I go.
Just kidding.
I notice that I need to be able to imagine a scene in my head before I could write the words. I have to be able to connect with my characters emotionally before I get fired up. When the details of the scene and the emotions of the characters connect, I can write really fast. I can complete a novella in a month - but that’s if I have a good idea of what I want to write.
But in general, I get  frustrated at the pace I come up with ideas. My life is so full that I don’t have enough “dreaming” time to come up with the plots of my books. And since my career involves producing words as well, a lot of my creative energy is used up by the day job. 
 I’m also currently in the midst of changing careers and it takes a lot out of me. I spend so much of my time learning about my new career job and industry that it leaves leaves me little time or energy to spend on my books. A lot of times I feel as if I have to choose between my books and my career, and it’s never an easy decision.
If I had one wish, I wish I could stop time so I can just finish all my books and then hit publish!

Question 5: What is your favourite Writing Craft Book and why? 

Ooh, this is like asking me to choose a favourite child! I’d say of all the books I’ve read, Editor-Proof Your Writing by Don McNair has brought my fiction writing and editing to the next level.

Question 6: If you were to give a shout-out to a CWD author, writer, editor or illustrator – who would they be?

I’d like to give a shoutout to Sue Jeffrey who has been my steadfast friend, counsellor, agony aunt and prayer partner! (She’s also an author, writer, editor and illustrator in one package!) She was a literal answer to prayer. When I came to Adelaide in 2012 and started my writing adventure, I asked God for a writing friend, and boy did He deliver! We met during Nanowrimo when Sue and her husband Marc decided to pop in at a Glenelg cafe for a write-in I organised. In the end, we ended up talking more than writing. In fact, we’ve not stopped talking and I’m ever so grateful for her friendship.

Question 7: What are your writing goals for this year? How will you achieve them?

Two main goals: 

  1. Finish the second book of my series  
  2. Lay down a solid foundation for my author business. Meaning, I want to set up my mailing list, tidy up my website, set up my reader magnet and finally do some book promotion - all that jazz. I would also like to start connecting with fellow authors.

The last 2 years has been very tumultous for me, career wise, and it was hard for me to focus on my authorpreneur business. Fortunately, I came across Mark Dawson’s Self Publishing 101 course - I’m using it as a blueprint to accomplish goal #2.

Question 8: How does your faith impact and shape your writing?

I’m still working on this, to be honest. 
I’ve always been a truthteller. I once wrote a fairly popular Christian blog called “Messy Christian”, and many readers tell me they liked my blog because I was honest. I was the kind of person who called out injustice, even if the person I’m highlighting is a well-known Christian figure. I asked difficult questions and poked a lot of rigid mindsets.
But with fiction, the journey has been a little challenging. In my early years I felt really, really constricted by the need to adhere to certain “rules” in writing fiction. I thought a Christians can only write Christian fiction, and that we shouldn’t show violence or even sex. So I felt a lot of guilt when I write fiction and try to “hide” that part of me from God. I kept thinking that God would be mad at the fiction I want to write! I think that’s why I write under so many pseudonyms - on some strange level, I didn’t want people (and God!) to know I was writing them!
But eventually my understanding of faith and my writing evolved, and I realise that I can communicate the truth and the values of the gospel in a unique way via my fiction, even if I had sex and violence in them. 
In fact, my science fiction stories has a faith component in it. It always disturbed me that science fiction worlds are often atheistic, as if that’s the pinnacle of progress. Faith is very much present in my worlds, and God takes an active part. The message of my stories is this: You may have all the technology and wonderful science, but you will still need God to truly be complete.


Monday, 6 July 2020

Daring Risk

Recently countless people around the world mourned the passing of Ravi Zacharias, Christian apologist and founder of RZIM. When I heard this news, I thought how much poorer humanity was for this loss. I was equally moved by the extraordinary legacy he left, fuelled by his heart to respectfully and compassionately seek out the questioner behind each question: helping the believer think and the thinker believe.

The start of his legacy can be traced to a step of faith and obedience when, as a seventeen-year-old, God met him on a bed of suicide. He vowed to leave no stone unturned in his pursuit of truth. In hindsight we see an extraordinary life, but as he began stepping out in the early years of his journey, I expect he faced many obstacles. His obedience to the call of God on his life may have been seen as risky, for the potential cost it could incur.
Photo Credit Elijah Hiett @elijahhiett- Unsplash
The more I reflect on this, it seems risk is often a companion of obedience, and obedience to God (with all its risks) a companion of legacy: Dare we trust His version of our lives over our own?

As Christian writers, our lives encompass much more than our writing journeys, but in the writing context I believe the coupling of risk and obedience can be evident as we dare to write truth in a culture that is aggressively post-truth.

Whatever genre, I suspect many of us can recall a moment we’ve felt the risk of writing what the Holy Spirit’s laid upon our hearts. It may not have been hot sweats and clammy palms (although it could have been that too), but I’m sure you’re familiar with that tussle of “dare I?”.

It could be an open reference to faith in your general market novel. It could be cutting that risqué scene that would make your story “edgier”. It could be including those uncomfortable, gritty elements that honestly portray humanity at its lowest. It could be letting yourself be vulnerable enough to write about your own brokenness. It could be putting down the pen for a few hours on a tight schedule to remind a child they’re well loved. It could be writing into a new genre. It could be using the word sin to depict the flaw that runs through every human heart, for which the only cure is a Saviour who willingly gave all to rescue us from our sinful condition and recklessly pursues us with His love.

Each of our writing journeys are different, as are the wrestles we face. We can each write a legacy that touches a different part of our inherently broken world. Fact is, being counter-cultural is very risky, no matter how gracious you are (and gracious isn’t really my strongest point—working on it!).

The question is, dare we be obedient to penning words that make us tremble when they’re whispered into our heart from the ultimate Creator? What if those words risk public humiliation? What if they risk being misunderstood? What if they risk losing friends or being shunned by family? What if they risk losing possessions?

What might we risk by our obedience to His drawing?

Then again, what might the souls those words reach gain? Could they be words that point a searching heart towards truth?
Photo Credit - Ben White @benwhitephotography - Unsplash
Fact is, we all blow it and are all largely risk averse, but I am confident in the kindness and mercy of a God of second chances. I also believe each step of obedience to Him can write a lasting legacy. It may not seem much at the time. We may never know the impact of our written words. But who knows what legacy we’ll leave when we’ve passed from this life to eternity, if we but dare take a risk.

Adele Jones is a Queensland based, award winning author. She writes young adult and historical novels, poems, inspirational non-fiction and fiction short works, along with juggling family responsibilities and a ‘real job’ in the field of science. Her first YA novel Integrate was awarded the 2013 CALEB Prize for unpublished manuscript. Her writing explores issues of social justice, humanity, faith, natural beauty and meaning in life’s journey, and as a speaker she seeks present a practical and encouraging message by drawing on these themes. For more visit www.adelejonesauthor.com or contact@adelejonesauthor.com

Monday, 29 June 2020

Even when we're not looking...

For all of us, 2020 has been a strange year. In my family, not much as changed as I mostly work from home already and chronic illness has us 'social isolating' most of the time anyway. In many ways, 2020 hasn't been any stranger than the last few years.

It's been a few years since my last book was published. Life has been taken up with, well, life. Little did I know how God had been working in my life to make my dreams come true, even when I was just plodding away doing my thing.

Back in 2013, I was asked by my local library to run a group with young writers. This was a face to face workshop once a fortnight and it was the highlight of my week. I come up with a crazy writing prompt as well as give the teens an opportunity to pick my brains about all things writing. With covid hitting earlier this year, the group has moved to a weekly session via Zoom.

Over the last couple of years, I have known that my day job would be ending as my bosses were retiring. I tried many different things, but kept coming back to the business idea of working with young writers, basically expanding what I had been doing with young writers.

A few months ago, an opportunity came up to purchase a business that does exactly what I have been wanting to do. I can already see potential and possible growth with this business, freeing me up to write and publish more books.

This is also clearing the way so I have the headspace to get back to doing what I really love - writing!

In all of this, I can see God's hand at work, even when I wasn't looking or even asking specifically for help. Opportunities come along when we're least expecting it. In the chaos of 2020, it can sometimes be hard to see God at work, but He is there, working away in the background.

A little encouragement in these crazy times. Keep moving and remember, God is working, even if you can't see it at the time. Things will come together at just the right time.


Melissa Gijsbers currently has three middle grade books published and a picture book on the way in 2020. She currently lives in Gippsland, Victoria with her two teenage sons, their pet blue-tongue lizard, and baby budgie. She runs a weekly online writing group for young writers via Zoom.

You can find her at www.melissagijsbers.com and on Facebook and Twitter.

Thursday, 25 June 2020

CWD Highlights - April to June 2020



Christian Writers Downunder is a diverse group of writers, editors, bloggers, illustrators. As a group we support each other through our Facebook page and blog.

Today's blog will highlight some of the achievements of our members from April to June 2020


New Releases, Acceptances & Cover Reveals

Lynne Stringer


Lynne Stringer released a new science fiction novel, The Verindon Alliance on 1st May 2020 (Published by Rhiza Edge). 



As Princess Vashta of the Vendel finishes her combat training, she hopes she will lead their forces into battle against her race’s deadly enemy, the Verindal. But when Brandonin, the heir to the Verindal throne, comes to see her father, it’s clear he desires peace, not war.

When a new enemy arises, striking at all who call their planet home, each race blames the other, even though the princess is sure this danger comes from somewhere new. She seeks Brandonin’s help in fighting this menace, but what can they do when both Vendel and Verindal refuse to work together? Can they defeat this deadly threat themselves or will it mean the end of life on Verindon?

The book (a prequel of the Verindon trilogy) is available here

Lynne Stringer is the author of the Verindon series of young adult science fiction romance books and Once Confronted, a contemporary drama.









Melissa Gijsbers

Melissa Gijsbers has released the first 4 ebooks in a series of writing prompts. The series is called LitPrompts.


Each ebook has 10 writing prompts on a different topic, starting with toilet paper!




The first ebook was published on April 23, with the other ebooks going live on Amazon during May.


All the details of the ebooks can be found here -  and more are on their way.


Olwyn Harris 


Reading Stones released the first of a 3-part Homes of Healing series by Olwyn Harris in April. 

The first book, Beachside Cottage is followed up with 2nd part, Petrea Downs, to be released on the 25th June.




These stories following the lives of Eliza-Beth and her sons and how they find healing through their connections to people, places and God.






Beachside Cottage is available here and Petrea Downs here.

Helen Brown


In May Reading Stones also released the 2nd Edition of Helen’s Book, Turning Water into Wine and the Revised Edition of 365 Glasses of Wine.



In Turning Water into Wine, Helen Brown takes 100 ordinary "water" moments and describes how God has used these to teach her valuable lessons about life and His love for her. Available here



365 Glasses of Wine from Helen Brown gives a daily "sip" of inspiration and encouragement. Each story is taken from her real-life experiences of walking, with God, through farming, drought, hardship, family life, and depression. Each story is designed to encourage others as they walk with God.  Available here.





June will also see the release of the 2nd editions of More Water into Wine and Conversations with Myself, by Helen Brown, these both being available after the 30th June.







Congratulations to our authors for their exciting new releases, revision and for all who have been working on their stories during the upheavals and challenges of the last few months.

Events & Opportunities

Omega Writers Conference Now 2021


A reminder that the Omega Writers Conference has been postponed to October 2021 due to Covid restrictions.

Due to the current Corona crisis, the 2020 Conference committee (Raewyn, Andrea and Narelle) have announced the postponement of the Omega Writers conference from Oct 2020 to Oct 2021 with no loss of funds.

Peppers Kingscliff is now rebooked for 8-10 October 2021.

Everything stays the same. Susie May Warren is happy to reschedule for 8-10 October 2021.

The next highlights post should be at the end of September. 

Sunday, 21 June 2020

Its a new era. Thoughts by Jo Wanmer


Covid 19, social distancing, demonstrations…..
We have entered a new era.

“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”
Isaiah 43:18-19 NIV

Throughout 2018 and 2019 this scripture was my word, my promise, my password.
As I reviewed 2018, I realised, to my surprise, I had closed many doors that year. Mostly in decrees and prayer. I had kicked out old mindsets, family strongholds and pulled down the enemy’s strategies, effectively forgetting former things.

We entered 2019 with great hope, expecting the new. And, yes it did manifest but not as I’d hoped or even expected. (God never does what I expect.) I watched as other areas of our lives closed, came to unexpected, uncomfortable endings.

The doors of our rented office closed and my lounge room became an office for hubby and two staff. Then the staff left, leaving just me to help him. This was definitely new!

A few months later my beloved church closed. But that pushed us beyond our comfort zone into a different place. The Lord led a remnant of us into an Acts-style, community gathering. Once again, very new, and exciting, ground for us.
Then this year Covid sent even our tiny Christian community onto Zoom. Another new beginning. I’m not a fan of Zoom, but we began praying together daily, gathering around our screens at 6.30am, still in our pyjamas. This has been happening since Passover. A wonderful new beginning.

The bible tells us that Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it lives alone. But if it dies it produces many seeds. (John 12:24)
Many of our dreams have dropped, lifeless, to the ground, but shoots of vibrant new life are pushing up from the dirt and devastation into the bright light of God’s Word and His amazing promises. New bigger dreams are birthing. I can see the beginning of the new and the promise it brings. I know there is a great crop of fruit coming. I’m excited.

By definition, anything new is seen, experienced or acquired for the first time. When awaiting the arrival of a new baby, despite today’s technology, we still don’t know what that baby is like, who she resembles or how she’ll behave until she has come. Our experience with a previous child may or may not help as she is new. Never seen or experienced before.

We are entering a new era. Many things I’ve experienced this year have never happened before in my 70 years of going around the sun. So I know things will never be the same again. My hope is settled more firmly on Jesus, our rock. My worship is deeper and simpler. My prayer life has grown and an excitement stirs in my spirit.

I watch the world trying to self destruct as lies, conspiracy and lawlessness abounds. As much as it seems the enemy is in control, I know this is the birth pangs of new life, the old ways being dismantled, as the new transitions into being. God is still on the throne…the wind and waves still know his name.

How has all this effected my writing? Like most other areas of my life…it is paused...waiting for the understanding of the new. To return to, or continue with old ways and old methods is risking missing the path into the fullness of the new. So I wait on the Lord. In His time I will rise up on wings like eagles. I will run and not grow feint. And I will write what he puts on my heart.

How about you? What is God saying to you about these unsettled times?

Jo Wanmer is writing this from a wonderful retreat at Noosa North Shore, where she has enjoyed three days break with Steve. At home her dog, Barclay awaits and her family, who have now made her a  great grandmother! She loves to write, but has been slow in production of late. Eight years ago her book 'Though the Bud be Bruised' was published and has helped many.


Thursday, 18 June 2020

CWD Member Interview - Ester de Boer



Most Thursdays this year we will be interviewing one of the members of Christian Writers Downunder – to find out a little bit more about them and their writing/editing goals.

Todays interview: Ester de Boer, Author and illustrator

Question 1: Tells us three things about who you are and where you come from.
I have always been creative and imaginative- I was drawing on every available surface from the moment I would grasp a crayon. And have always been a story teller. My parents were amazing story tellers, just able to make up stories on the spot. My siblings and I used to rewrite our favourite stories into plays or “radio” plays with sound effects, so stories were a big part of my childhood. 

One of my favourite pages in Raymund and the Fear Monster by Megan Higginson, which I illustrated.

I didn’t take my creative side seriously until later in life, so have spent most of my life squeezing myself into uncomfortable and ill-suited roles. (I think there should be a way you can have a doctorate in unfinished courses of study- kind of a PHD of ADHD??? I’d be a well-lettered person by now!)

Question 2: Tell us about your writing (or editing/illustrating etc).  What do you write and why?
I have three types of writing – my fantasy novel, which is a long-term project; my “no way I am going to show you this unless you’re my therapist” stuff (admit it- we all have some hidden somewhere!) and (I really don’t know how to categorise it) stuff I’ve written in response to a revelation by the holy spirit. 
The fantasy novel is eccentric and darkly comical, while the Christian-based writing is (and I am surprised, as the thought of “inspirational writing” makes me want to poke my fingers down my throat) um… inspiring, uplifting, without a trace of my usually sardonic tone. I kind of wrangled with that for a while, but I realise that they’re simply two parts of myself- not my “Christian” self vs my “dark side”. I’d feel untrue if I only did one and not the other. 

Question 3: Who has read your work? 
I have had many hapless victims, cornered in my home or at a coffee shop, forced to listen as I read my work to them. I do this as shamelessly as any grandma with gigantic albums full of grandkid photos- it’s the best way to proof read (and yes, they have to sit through that as well). 
In a more formal context, I have had three stories published so far in Stories of Life: “When Andy Met God”, “Three Dummies in a Dinghy” and “Under the Frangipani Tree”. 

Available at Koorong

Who would you like to read it?
Anyone who would be encouraged or inspired by it, I suppose. I don’t try to write these. They’re responses to, sometimes, really painful or difficult situations or struggles, and the writing is the product of coming through them. 

Question 4: Tell us something about your process. What challenges do you face? What helps you the most?
No matter what type of writing it is (and I mean this literally, whether it’s a fantasy novel or university essay) I always read it out loud. I do this over and over, to myself, to others… and sometimes I get others to read it back to me. I’m musical, and I put this in my writing. You can’t ignore rhythm, tempo, texture. I keep pruning and reshaping sentences to try to get the right flow. 
If I am writing from God-given inspiration, I feel a sense of responsibility to communicate it truthfully and also to critique it theologically as well. I may be feeling sparkly rainbow fuzzies from a wonderful experience, but I may also be way off mark theologically. I won’t put pen to paper without prayer and the Bible to refer to, so it ends up being part of my worship “process” which is really beautiful- I revisit the memories, the revelation, the breakthrough, that first brought me to the experience- and the final writing becomes a solidifying of this in myself. 

Question 5: What is your favourite Writing Craft Book and why? 
Gosh, I don’t have one! I do, however, constantly read, and I’m not passive in that process. I have writers whose style I admire, like Salman Rushdie, who uses amazing alliteration or Paul Theroux (I took so long to read the Mosquito Coast because I kept rereading paragraphs just to hear them again). I think the best writing lesson is being a reader of good writing.

Question 7: What are your writing goals for this year? How will you achieve them?
I have drafted out another autobiographical short story which I now need to edit. I also plan to complete the current section of my novel (a tough process of helping my protagonist escape capture by rabbit crime gangs, ride a pirate rocketship through a gushing ringbridge, and battle two-headed parasitic birds that nest in the shells of aged, retired planets- phew!) 
How will I achieve this? I think I need a few long plane or train trips! There’s nothing like the long, boring hours awaiting your destination surrounded by odd human specimens as wonderful character inspiration… I cannot write at home. 

Question 8: How does your faith impact and shape your writing?
When I was a new Christian, I went into a creative void, as I found myself going from being a little free-spirited bohemian chick to trying to fit in in a subculture that was so restrictive and suspicious in regard to imagination and creativity (I am first a visual artist). I was constantly told that God would probably require me to give up my art, though I never received any logical explanation why. As I’ve grown more in my relationship with God, I have gained a healthier understanding of my giftings as God-given. It’s actually a big story in itself, but it’s affected how much I have come to sit comfortably in my own skin as an artist, writer and creative person, through the eyes of the creator, not church culture. If I didn’t have that understanding, I think I wouldn’t have sense of peace or freedom behind my work. 


Ester de Boer grew up in Townsville, North Queensland and has gradually allowed gravity to pull her further down into the icy climes of Gippsland, Victoria. She is a creative writer, artist, children’s book illustrator, musician and all-round arty person. To support her art habit, Ester works as a special education teacher and on Sundays plays violin and sings in her church music team.  You can view some of her illustration work at www.esterdeboerillustration.com 

Thursday, 11 June 2020

CWD Member Interview – Marc Z Jeffrey



Most Thursdays this year we will be interviewing one of the members of Christian Writers Downunder – to find out a little bit more about them and their writing/editing goals.

Todays interview: Marc Z Jeffrey

Question 1: Tells us three things about who you are and where you come from. 

My mother is a published author and a librarian and my father was a prominent scientist in defence and a sci-fi book nerd, so writing was something that was always going to happen – it was just a matter of when.
I have had a number of careers, through ocean science and IT and I worked in the Australian Patents, Trade Marks and Designs Offices (now known as IP Australia)… So I was pretty exposed to crazy ideas. I am sure some of these have fed into my creative works

Question 2: Tell us about your writing (or editing/illustrating etc).  What do you write and why?

I write what I am interested in, usually in fictional form. I probably only started thinking about writing seriously when I heard about NanoWrimo in about 2001 and thought I’d take it on and write something of length. However, it was 2003 before I first actually took up the challenge. Before that, it had mainly been abandoned attempts plus short stories articles and articles for a staff magazine that I was editing – and usually ended up writing most of, as I got so few contributors.
Oh yeah. I edit too. Probably do way more of that. My skill is shooting down a wandering apostrophe at a hundred paces. My wife tells me I am a good copy-editor, too.

Question 3: Who has read your work? Who would you like to read it? 

a) My wife, Susan J Bruce (aka Sue Jeffrey), who is an admin of CWD. Members of my writing group, Literati. Probably my day job bosses, though if they have remote access to my personal computers, I am officially worried. Anyway, in that case I hope I’ve entertained them thoroughly and taken their minds well away from digging for dirt.
b) Editors from major publishers, major movie companies. More realistically, the person who needs to dream more, to believe more and to act on their beliefs more. Other than me, that is…

Question 4: Tell us something about your process. What challenges do you face? What helps you the most?

What helps me most? Getting reminded mainly by my wife that I won’t remember much of my current office job when I retire; (I already know that).
Challenges. Finishing. Yep, probably finishing and knowing when to stop finishing and do something about publishing… But seriously, it’s not the sum total (think word count) of what I produce that matters most – (I say as I while away too many hours on silly word games) – but who I influence and what I do on the way. 
I prefer the writing process to be organic, but to be organic I need to be diligent in collecting and mulling over facts, thoughts and observations. I think faith works in a similar way.
Published books would be great but the process, not the product, is the thing of substance.

Question 5: What is your favourite Writing Craft Book and why? 

Stephen King’s ‘On writing’. One of the first books I ever read ‘on writing’ and it has stayed with me. It is short – good advice and to the point.

Question 6: If you were to give a shout-out to a CWD author, writer, editor or illustrator – who would they be?

(Am I allowed to pick someone other than my wife?) Claire Bell. Author. She has a keen sense of how things are, not just how they appear to be, and is able to bring that out in prose.

Question 7: What are your writing goals for this year? How will you achieve them?

A year. Well, it was a full year in January. I thought of it as a long time then. I told myself I would write something fresh – but I really want to knock into shape a trilogy that I started way back in 2007 (no, really) and has been waylaid too many times. Nearly half the year has gone without really starting, but who knew about COVID in January? We knew too much about bushfires back then. But the wet, cold weather has arrived – so no more excuses.

Question 8: How does your faith impact and shape your writing?

As I write mainstream, I will borrow an analogy used by website developers when determining how to make the site easy to use; be able to access information and submit forms without problem. The analogy used is ‘baking in’ those features that make the site easy to use in the initial style templates, long before the developers get to play and ‘pretty it up’. 
Similarly, I don’t intentionally go about inserting faith blueberries into my story right before it is sent off to beta readers. That would be gauche. The flavour will be there in the mix to start with and be ‘baked’ into the finished product. The story will be faith-flavoured regardless of who is going to read or assess it.


This is my editing website, launching soon. Special introductory rates will apply for members of Christian Writers Downunder 
Work in Progress: Watch this space.