Thursday, July 20, 2017

Digging Deeper With Character by Nola Passmore


(Photo from photobucket.com; 
http://i703.photobucket.com/albums/ww33/bacalacabuckett/wed-nov16-dog-winter-games.jpg)


My protagonist has a really clear goal.  Maggie is a young Englishwoman travelling to Nova Scotia in 1881 to find her young brother and sister who've been sent to Canada as part of the Home Children program (a scheme that sent orphans and waifs from England to homes and farms in Canada). She was working abroad as a governess when their mother died, and the children were shipped off to Canada without her knowledge.  Sounds like a pretty good premise, doesn't it?  Well I thought so, until Lisa Cron arrived and shook my world.  Lisa Cron is the author of Story Genius: How to Use Brain Science to Go Beyond Outlining and Write a Riveting Novel.

If someone had asked me a few months ago about my character's motivation, I would have said that she wants to reunite her family.  If they'd asked why, I would have looked at them with a blank expression.  Well isn't it obvious?  Anyone in that situation would want to find their siblings and reunite their family.  The trouble is that I was looking at the external motivation without considering what was going on under the surface.  In Story Genius, Cron shows how to dig deeper to find out what your characters are really about.  What is the internal struggle going on that's fleshed out in the plot?  Do they have misconceptions that drive their behaviour?  Who were they the day before your novel began and how is that going to change as the novel progresses? Without that underlying conflict, the story can just become a bunch of things that happen, regardless of how beautifully written it is.



To avoid spoilers, I don't want to say too much more about my novel, except that I've discovered Maggie's main issue is abandonment.  Instead, let me use a hypothetical example to show you how 'digging down' might work.

Imagine your protagonist, Miranda, has a dream of becoming the CEO of a large corporation.  She starts out as an Administrative Assistant and overcomes a barrage of obstacles to finally reach the top.  However, the story won't necessarily engage the reader.  Unless we can connect with Miranda in some way, we won't want to go with her on the journey.  We won't care if she makes it or not. To build a connection with readers, you need to go deeper into her motivation. Why does she want to get to the top?  There are many possible reasons, but let's say she wants to have a job where she can earn a lot of money.  Why does she want to earn a lot of money?  So she can buy the things she's always wanted (e.g. nice clothes, house, car, travel).  But why does she want those things?  It's because her family didn't have a lot of money when she was growing up and she often missed out on things like a new dress.

So far, we've discovered some of the reasons that make Miranda tick, but it's still pretty general.  Most people would like more money so they can buy things they want.  Why does this mean so much to Miranda?  Think of a specific event when she couldn't afford something she wanted.  How about this?  When she was in Grade 10 at school, a boy she liked asked her to the school dance, but she didn't have anything suitable to wear.  She couldn't afford to buy a new dress and she didn't want to wear one of her old ones because some of the girls at school had previously made fun of her clothes.  So rather than be embarrassed, she turned down the invitation.  The boy asked someone else to the dance and she stayed home.  So how did that make her feel?  She felt like she was a second-class citizen who wasn't as good as the other girls.  She felt unloved.  What is the incorrect belief that guides her current behaviour?  She thinks that if she can rise to the top of the corporation and earn a lot of money, she will finally gain the love and acceptance she craves.  However, this is a mistaken belief because money doesn't guarantee love and happiness.  The plot then shows Miranda's internal struggle and we see her change over the course of the novel.  There's still more drilling down to do, but hopefully you're getting a sense of what is needed.  It's the internal struggle that drives the plot and builds connections with readers.

Lisa Cron explains it much better in her book, with lots of examples and practical tips.  I highly recommend Story Genius if you want your novel to really connect with readers rather than just being pretty prose that goes nowhere.  Now I just have to apply that advice to my own novel!

Could you dig deeper with any of your characters?  I'd love to hear your thoughts.


Nola Passmore is a writer and editor who has had more than 140 short pieces published, including fiction, poetry, devotions, magazine articles, and true stories.  She and her husband Tim own and operate a freelance writing and editing business called The Write Flourish.  You can find her weekly writing tips blog on their website.  She is currently penning her ever-changing debut novel, which involves lots of digging down :)

Website: http://www.thewriteflourish.com.au/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheWriteFlourish/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/NolaPassmore





Monday, July 17, 2017

CWD Highlights

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 in the first half of 2017


New Releases:



Ruth Bonetti - From the Midnight Sun to Southern Cross


In May 2017 Ruth Bonetti released Midnight Sun to Southern Cross: Those who go and those who stay - the follow-on from Burn My Letters.


In the tradition of great family migration stories, Midnight Sun to Southern Cross continues the saga of the Back brothers' flight from Russian occupied Finland to Australia as the nineteenth century turned into the twentieth. From frozen Finland to the lush rainforests of northern New South Wales, to the dry and dusty sheep country of western Queensland, Ruth follows the highs and lows of their new life under the Southern Cross as well as exploring the lives of the siblings who stayed in Finland.

WA's granddaughter Ruth contrasts his and KJ's formative years in Finland with her own upbringing in outback Queensland. Her voyage of discovery and self-discovery uncovers research in Finland and Australia, and interweaves her own transformation from shy bush girl to speaker and musician.

Bio: Musician, teacher, author, performance coach, Ruth Bonetti is the author of dozens of books including Speak Out Don't Freak Out and Practice in Not a Dirty Word and more recently her historical-memoirs Burn My Letters and Midnight Sun to Southern Cross. Ruth initiated Omega Writers in 1991.



Carolyn Miller - Regency Romance



Carolyn Miller has had her first two Regency historical romances published this year by US Christian publishers Kregel.



'The Elusive Miss Ellison' released in February 2017

“Can the not-so-meek reverend’s daughter and the reluctant Earl of Hawkesbury look beyond painful pasts and present prejudice to see their future?"

Available at Koorong






'The Captivating Lady Charlotte' in June 2017

“Romance, responsibility and true love…
Can a widowed duke ever learn to trust the high-spirited Lady Charlotte when her heart demands the opposite of duty?”

Available at Koorong

A longtime lover of romance, especially that of Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer's Regency era, Carolyn Miller lives in the Southern Highlands of NSW, Australia, and loves drawing readers into fictional worlds that show the truth of God's grace in our lives.



Jeanette O'Hagan - Blood Crystal


Jeanette O'Hagan released Blood Crystal, the sequel to Heart of the Mountain 30 June 2017

YA Fantasy Adventure in the lost realm Under the Mountain – Book 2


The underground realm is under attack from mad Overseer Uzza and the Crystal Heart is failing. As things become desperate, Twins Delvina and Retza must brave a treacherous journey to seek help from Zadeki and his people.

Will they find the answers they seek before it’s too late? Is the blood of Uzza’s children the only way to restore the Crystal Heart? What are the twins prepared to do to save their realm and those they love from certain destruction?

Available from Amazon https://www.amazon.com/dp/B073H83F42.



Bio: Jeanette O'Hagan started spinning tales in the world of Nardva at the age of eight or nine. She enjoys writing secondary world fiction, poetry, blogging and editing and has published several short stories and poems and a novella, Heart of the Mountain. She has four short stories due for publication this year. Jeanette loves reading, painting, travel, catching up for coffee with friends, pondering the meaning of life and communicating God’s great love. She lives in Brisbane with her husband and children.



Jeanette Grant-Thomson - Healing Song


New edition of Healing Song - Merrilyn Billing with Jeanette Grant-Thomson was published in June 2017 (initially released in 1998 as Hear my Cry, Oh God!). It has a new title, new cover, a huge amount of editing, formatting by Lilly Pilly Publishing .

A True Story.

An electric shock caused many years of terrifying and crippling 'storms' in Merrilyn's brain. Desperate, she reached out to God and her sister . . . and embarked on a roller coaster healing journey.

Dramatic and inspiring, this true story has keys for people with long term problems.

Merrilyn is now Senior Pastor of Zions Hill Church, Launceston.

Buy from directly from Jeanette Grant-Thomson- jeanettegt@optusnet.com.au

Bio: A Moreton Bay Region author, Jeanette currently writes biographical works, novels and short stories.


Awards:


Lynne Stringer - Once Confronted


Lynne Stringer's Once Confronted (published October 2016 by Rhiza Press) won an Silver Award in Literary Classics (College Fiction section) on 1st July 2017

After a normal day turns disastrous, Madison Craig tries to put her life back together. She’s jumping at shadows and finds even familiar places terrifying. Can she forgive the men who hurt her? 

Her friend Evan Mansfield sees no need to do anything but hate their assailants. He struggles with bitterness, but Maddy wants to move on. What will she do when one of the men asks for forgiveness?

Buy link: http://www.rhizapress.com/once-confronted

Bio: Lynne Stringer has been passionate about writing all her life, beginning as the editor of a small newspaper (later magazine) for seven years, before turning her hand to screenplay writing and novels.



Susan Preston - Hold the Faith

In November 2016, Susan went to Miami because her novel Hold the Faith had won a Finalist award in the Christian, historical fiction section. Hold the Faith was published in 2014, and is the first book in a series of five books.

The series is self-published. It is set in the late first century AD and although sub-titled the ‘Apostle John Series’. Though important, the apostle John is the main focus of the books. The series focuses on the challenges and day to day life of the early Christians and the people whose lives they impact. (John’s fictitious great-grandson is a link through all the books.)

Susan Preston is a Scot transplanted to Western Australia, and now a widow. This and the loss of a stepson has given depth to my writing that it wouldn’t have otherwise.

The books are available on Amazon and although each is standalone it is a much better experience to grow with the people of the books.

Hold the Faith – Amazon link https://goo.gl/UBGtPE


Launches:

Kaye Hollings - Shaped launch

SHAPED - Is your life pear-shaped or purpose shaped?

By Kaye Hollings

Launch: 27 August 2017 at Mosaic Baptist, Mudgeeraba, QLD

Genre: Non-fiction; mind, body, spirit.

What shape is your soul?

Shaped is the story of the fashioning of my soul and filling that space with purpose and peace. How do you go from writer to Psychiatric Chaplain to Funeral Director? What a journey! I invite you to come and retrace my steps with me and perhaps discover your own revealed path emerge from the confusing maze of life and find yourself in the safe hands of the Divine Potter. 

Who or what is shaping you now?

The clay of our lives is pliable and can be moulded into many forms. It has been said that every person is born with a God-shaped hole, a void on the inside that only he can fill. This vacuum is the inbuilt desire of the human heart for something more, something transcendent, something spiritual that will last forever and give meaning to our existence. Have you discovered that vital connection between personal well-being and development of the inner life? 

About the author

Kaye has worked as a writer for the Church Missionary Society and Wesley Mission in Sydney, and has had many human interest stories and poetry printed in magazines and other publications.

She has authored two books of inspirational fiction – Dawn of Hope published in 2013 followed by the sequel Kept by Love in 2014. Shaped is the non-fiction prequel to the first two books and completes the story.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

The Writer's Triathlon


by Jeanette O'Hagan

Cycling to the top of Mount Kosciuszko



'Everyone has a book inside them' or so they say.

Yet most people don't write a book and many who start one never finish it.  Finishing a book - a creative non-fiction memoir or self-help book, a novel or a book of poetry - writing or typing 'The End' on the last page of your magnus opum is a great achievement, a wonderful feeling.

Yet in many ways, that is just the beginning. Rather than a sprint, writing is more like a marathon, a mountain climb or, to be even more accurate, a triathlon. 'How so?' you ask. Let me explain.

A triathlon is a race that involves three legs - a swim, a bike ride and then a run (often 10k or more). It is a three stage race in which the competitor has to change gear, skill-set and tactics, and each of the legs involves endurance.

So, what are the three legs of the the Writer's Triathalon?  Penning, publishing and promoting.


Penning (or writing) the book


There are many forms of writing - journalism, report writing, poetry, articles, devotions, blog posts, short stories. All of which have their place and are worthy endeavours, but for this post my focus will be on writing a book - a novel or a memoir or some other form of creative non-fiction. The first step is writing or typing your book and this isn't as simple as it first seems.

To write a good book you need:

  • A great premise or idea
  • Good and contemporary writing style (or writing craft)
  • An understanding of story structure, characters and plot. 
  • Knowledge of your genre and audience. 
  • Multiple edits
  • Feedback from critique partners, beta-readers and editors.

This is the first leg of the triathlon - where you have dived into the water, swum against the tide and the waves, maybe found your head under water from time to time or with a noseful of salt. But despite all, you've preserved, you've made it to the end, and now you can rest of your laurels, loosen the champagne cork and let off the fireworks.

Yet, it is the end of the race only if you wrote the book for yourself and no one else - or perhaps close friends and family. If you want readers you need to front up at the next starting line.

Publishing your book baby


It's time to hop on your bike and start searching for a publisher. This means submitting to traditional publishers or it may mean publishing the book as an Indie author.  (I discuss the different approaches to publication here).

To publish you need:
  • Your manuscript 
  • A publisher (either big press, small press or your own imprint)
  • Editors and proofreader 
  • Formatting (for print and/or e-book)
  • A catchy and engaging title
  • A stunning cover
  • Blurb and pitch for the backcover. 
  • CIP registration, ISBN's etc. 
  • A printer 


Getting a book ready for publication involves a support team, time and knowledge. But once it's done, you can hold your book baby in your hands, you can smell the fresh ink, admire the gloss and lines of the cover, flip open the pages and just breath in the aroma. Your book is complete. Now surely, you can wipe the sweat off your brow and change out of those bike pants?

Sorry - there is one more leg to go.

Omega Writers Book Fair 2016

Promoting (or advocating for) your book


Isn't that the publisher's job? It might have been once, but these days you as an author are expected to advocate for your book, to promote it. And if you wait until your book is released - you've probably waited too long.

Promotion is hard for a lot of authors, especially if you, like me, are an introvert - not used to blowing your own trumpet. At the moment I'm doing the 30 authors 30 days challenge on promotion - and I can tell you it is stretching me with live Facebook posts among other things.

When we promote our book, we are making it visible, introducing it to potential readers - hopefully to people who will enjoy it and some of whom might pass it on to others.

To promote

  • Build your 'platform' (see here) - through your networks, connections and through social media (at least 3 months before your book is released, but really, it's never too early to start)
  • Have a social media presence
  • Have a website and possibly a blog
  • Start a mailing list
  • Talk about your book (but not all the time),
  • Connect with other readers and writers
  • Help others - it's not just about you


Leading up to and after the book release you can

  • Have a cover reveal
  • Give out advanced readers copies, ask for reviews
  • Put together a 'street team' - enthusiastic backers and readers that will help promote your book through feedback, reviews, shares of posts and links, and by buying your book
  • You might advertise - through social media or local press, radio etc. 
  • Have a launch - a physical launch (especially for a physical book)
  • or an online launch - (especially for a e-book). I recently had an online launch for my latest novella here
  • An author take-over - like a launch but gives slots to other authors of similar genres or audiences & so may attract new readers.  
  • A blog tour - I'm currently having a book tour for Blood Crystal here.
  • Giveaways and prizes  
  • Maybe talks are relevant groups - book clubs, libraries, schools etc. 
  • Sell your books at fairs and conventions
  • Continue to seek reviews or apply to review sites.
  • Join groups, be an active participant
  • create relevant and interesting content (memes, excerpts, short stories, teasers) etc that will draw people to your book
  • write the next book - and the next one - and the next one
  • star all over again - pen, publish, promote. 

But remember - that it's not just about spruiking your book. Readers and buyers will quickly turn off if it's just about 'buy my book' - make sure you have plenty of relevant and interesting material that draws readers to your sites, make genuine connections with others, be prepared to help as much or more than your receive.  

The third leg of the triathlon is more a marathon than the sprint. And it's not just one race. 

It's okay to write for ourselves, it's okay to write for a close group of friends and family, it's okay to write without being too worried who will read your book. If writing is therapeutic or a hobby or a way of expressing yourself. After all, other people play chess, or collect stamps or make quilts.  And we all have family commitments and church commitments.  None of what I've said is prescriptive. 

However, if we are serious about people reading our books, if we feel this is what God has called us to do - then we need to get our triathlon gear ready.

BTW love to hear your ideas on penning the words, publishing the book, promoting and connecting with readers.  



And you are welcome to join the ride with Blood Crystal blog tour.

Images c. Jeanette O'Hagan or used with permission.

Jeanette O’Hagan has just released Blood Crystal, sequel to Heart of the Mountain with four short stories coming out this year. in Crossroads anthology, Futurevison and two other anthologies  Jeanette first started spinning tales in the world of Nardva at the age of eight or nine. She enjoys writing secondary world fiction, poetry, blogging and editing.

Her other publications include The Herbalist's Daughter: a short story and Lakwi's Lament: a short story. Her short stories and poems are published in a number of anthologies including Glimpses of Light, Another Time Another Place and Like a Girl. Jeanette is also writing her Akrad’s Legacy Series—a Young Adult secondary world fantasy fiction with adventure, courtly intrigue and romantic elements.

Jeanette has practised medicine, studied communication, history, theology and a Master of Arts (Writing). She loves reading, painting, travel, catching up for coffee with friends, pondering the meaning of life and communicating God’s great love. She lives in Brisbane with her husband and children.

Find her at her Facebook Page or at Goodreads or on Amazon or on her websites JennysThread.com or Jeanette O'Hagan Writes . if you want to stay up-to-date with latest publications and developments, sign up to Jeanette O'Hagan Writes e-mail newsletter.










Monday, July 10, 2017

Treasure in Unlikely Places


How thankful I am for my grocery deliveries—they have changed my life. In days past, I’d spend a few hours at a shopping centre on Monday, then spend the rest of the week recovering. But now—my online shopping is only a few simple computer clicks, and my ever-flagging energy levels remain topped up. Perfect! One cold wet Monday recently, I opened my front door to a lean, lanky young man. “Come in” I said with a smile. He walked inside, his arms laden with shopping bags.

As he strode past my bookcase, he turned, glancing at its contents with hungry eyes.
“What an interesting house!” He placed the shopping on my kitchen bench top.
“Could I have a look at your books?”
“Sure”

It was the first time a delivery man had been fascinated by my books. Come to think of it, it was the first time anyone had looked so rapt at the sight of my precious bookcase, containing my writerly world. He pulled out a couple of books and read their blurbs in deep concentration. Yes, he was a reader. I asked him what he’d been reading lately. His answer surprised me—he’d  been reading Buddhist teachings.
“So you’re interested in spirituality?”
He nodded.


“That’s great!” I felt the tug of the Holy Spirit in my heart. Give him one of your books Anusha. I ran inside and brought a copy of ‘Enjoying the Journey’. Jake (let’s call him ‘Jake’) took it, surprised and grateful. After he left, I prayed fervently for Jake. Strangely enough, just before he’d  arrived, I’d been mulling over the fact that some Christians might share Jesus with their delivery men, sure I wasn’t one of them. But here was a God-breathed opportunity. I prayed that this lovely young man would return so we could have a God conversation. I prayed that he would read my book. I prayed he would and seek and find the Light of the world.

Sometimes we find treasure in unexpected places, don’t we? If I didn’t suffer from chronic illness, I would not have needed Jake to deliver my groceries—and he, a seeker would not have got a copy of a Christian book in his hands.


What are the treasures we Christian writers discover in unexpected places?
Here are a few possibilities:
1.      Did something unpleasant happen to you this year? You've got some interesting writing material!
2.      Did a relationship break down?  Perhaps your new knowledge could be used to enhance your fictional characters?
3.      Did you face a rejection in your writing? You may have learnt to better your craft?
4.      Has your health failed you this year? Could it lead to more times of reading… which would in turn fuel your writing?
5.      Did the Enemy whisper negative words to you? Aha—perhaps he knows you are a writer to be reckoned with? Keep writing

6.      Did life throw curve balls at you? Perhaps it’s made you grow into a more mature writer?
7.      Has finding sufficient time to write been a challenge? Perhaps it’s time to order your life anew? Maybe it's time to discover a different set of priorities for this present season?
8.      Have there been more failures than successes in your writing journey? You know what they say … it can only get better from here!
9.      Do you feel a failure? The perfect soil for a writer's tree to flourish are roots of deep humility. So put on your on writerly gloves and keep gardening.

10. Has your walk with God been on shaky ground? It just might be an invitation from God Himself, to seek Him all over again? Who knows where that would lead.


You and I know too well how hard the battle. Writing is not for the fainthearted; that’s for sure. Rarely has either my life or my writing life gone according to plan. But you know what? God’s used those hard times to help me dig out riches—like a deep pit which yields its sparkling gems, glimmering under the sun, but mined with difficulty, through blood, sweat and tears.
·               Let's throw off the discouragement that often clings to our writerly dreams. Let's embrace our calling and ask God to lead us. Let our hearts, lives and our pens create pages of beauty, truth and goodness, words which will make a difference to our world and resound to His glory.  


Anusha’s been on many interesting detours in life, as a lab technician, a computer programmer, a full time Mum, a full time volunteer, a charity director, a full time job chaser, until one golden day (or was it a dark moonless night?) God tapped her on her shoulder and called her to write for Him. She has never recovered from the joy it brought her. 


She loves to find others enjoying life with Jesus and does her mite to hurry the process in her world through her writing and through her life. The goodness of God is her theme song through each season, as she dances in the rain with Jesus. Please stop by at her website to say G’day to her. She’d love to see you there. Dancing in the Rain. Her first book "Enjoying the Journey" is a collection of little God stories that will bring you closer to your Creator. 



Thursday, July 6, 2017

Empowerment Through Trust

 by Josephine-Anne Griffiths


The other day while I was reading and proofing a manuscript for a lovely Christian writer, the penny finally dropped for me as to the one true theme of the book. It’s a fabulous book and I shall be posting a review on my website on July 10th when it is due to be released. Yes, there are many themes and thoughts running throughout this particular book, however, the theme that struck me the most, was that of control. Control of us by others, our resulting actions, and our desire to self-control and have control of every moment and detail of our earthly lives. I guess it is only human, but if we truly know God, we should know and accept that He has ultimate and complete control over everything. We just need to trust, and that can be extremely difficult.



Some weeks ago now, there was a disaster at the Griffiths’ residence. A nasty old Ransom Malware worm accessed my computer via my website. I know I should have been more cautious when opening an article on a ‘likers’ website and I should have unplugged the external hard drive before proceeding. I definitely should have copied important files to a USB flash drive; however, I’ve previously been misplacing these pesky little things. Trust me, quite a few changes will be taking place within my writing space.


· Always back up, but unplug external drive when not backing up.

· Use those USB flash drives, label them, and store them in the safe.

· Be super cautious about what I open up on the internet. Just because someone ‘liked’ one of my posts does not mean that they are a friendly source. I’m afraid my human pride and my annoying curiosity let me down here. ‘Oh wow! Another person likes what I am writing!’



The point is that I thought I had good control over what I was doing. I promised myself that I’d finish my first draft of ‘Charlie Dreams’ by the end of May this year. I did it. I finished before my deadline at the beginning of May. After approximately three years of writing on and off on this particular project, scraping some and writing more, I came up with 80,000 beautiful words (or so I thought and still do), ready to go through their first edit.
Ah, the agony of the edit. Killing off many of my darlings, correcting my grammar mistakes and other typos. I don’t know who would have cried the hardest, me or those beautiful words. Over those three years I wrote somewhere between three hundred and fifty and four hundred thousand words. Many darlings had to be executed, but what if every last darling word was gone? What if I was faced with a blank screen, with all my hard work just a memory? Well that’s kind of what happened to me. 'Charlie Dreams is lost in cyberspace ... gone forever, unless I start the whole process again. I spent a couple of weeks mourning my loss, crying, stamping my feet, sitting in my armchair sulking, vowing that I would never write again.



Slowly I began to reason through the situation. After all, this was so much my own fault. I could either sulk forever, or perhaps begin again, using the gifts that God has generously bestowed upon me. You’ll be happy to hear that I have chosen the latter.
Now about that little word, control … try as we might to control all things us, we never have complete control – only God has that. He told me. He warned me. I heard those soft, patient words inside my stubborn head which said ‘Back up properly, keep everything safe, print off a hard copy and lock it in the filing cabinet. You never know what may happen, but I do, so be careful and wise.’ Did I listen? Well obviously I did not! Will I listen in the future? Definitely! I am already listening. Our desktop computer and my laptop are having a well-earned vacation with the computer technician/engineer (aka my beloved step-son, Brad). As you read this, I am working on hubby’s (aka HoneyBun) laptop, with strict instructions not to even think about putting anything on his laptop. This is all going directly to a flash drive which is labelled and will go into a snap-lock bag near my work space, with a duplicate in my safe. Next time I have so many words to share, I will go straight to Office Works and let them print out a hard copy, and bind it for me.



As mere humans it is natural to want control, especially if we have been through some traumas in life. We yearn to have that control over something. I know myself that I have been through stages in my life where others controlled and manipulated me. Feeling powerless and useless is very debilitating. However, although we are not useless or stupid, because we were wonderfully made, with a purpose, we don’t need to have control of everything because He always has our back. Always has everything sorted ahead of time. He knows why things happen the way they do. Which leads me to another question. ‘Why am I writing, and who for? What does He want me to write?’ You know, if I never wrote another word, He would always know and appreciate what I had written, because nothing is lost in His realm.



Some good news now! I did manage to find my synopsis for ‘Charlie Dreams’ and one short chapter. It is a beginning! Also I have signed up for ‘July Camp NaNoWriMo’ which began on Saturday July 1st. I have made a slow start, but it is a start. One cannot edit or proofread a blank page 😏



So, what have I gained from this experience as a writer? Apart from the need to be more careful and organised, I’ve truly realised the need to have faith, and trust the One who loves me the most.

"You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them." ~ Maya Angelou

Who am I writing for? That’s easy, God of course. Everything I do each day is for Him, and I know He’s smiling down upon me even when I make mistakes.




What about you? Did you ever have such a moment when you realised that all things were really beyond your control? I hope you did because it is both humbling and empowering. Yes, we do have free will … that is a gift, but beyond that we must trust.



Please leave a comment below. I would love to hear of your experiences. In particular, how did you regain the courage to begin again, whatever it was that you were working on.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Exploring Genre - Regency and Historical Romance

by Carolyn Miller

This year, the cross posts between Christian Writers Downunder and Australasian Christian Writers are focusing on genre. So far this year we’ve had posts on meeting genre expectations, the science fiction subgenres of Space Opera and Superheroes, Portal Fantasy and Secondary World Fantasy, Poetry, Free Verse and Verse Novels. I’ve been asked to write about Regency Romance, and its place within the Historical Romance genre.

To be honest, history was never really my thing in school. I always thought it a little (okay, quite) boring, and irrelevant for current day life. That was until I discovered historical romance – especially Regency romance.

Historical Romance  

The classic definition of ‘historical romance’ is not one about fiction set in the past that deals with love, but rather, in Walter Scott’s words, “a fictitious narrative in prose or verse; the interest of which turns upon marvellous and uncommon incidents.” Novels (or films) like Rob Roy, Ivanhoe, even Wolf Hall, may be considered historical romances, even though they may not have a strong emphasis on the romantic relationship between the characters.



Nowadays, most of us associate historical romance with a story set in the past (pre-WWII) that focuses on the developing attraction between two main characters, with an emotionally satisfying, optimistic ending. 

Historical romance genres span time periods from the Ancient World, Medieval and Elizabethan age, through to Colonial US and Western time periods. A number of Australian Christian authors who write historical romances include Meredith Resce (colonial & other Australian time settings), Rita Stella Galieh (Victorian era), Mary Hawkins (colonial Australia), Elizabeth Ellen Carter (various eras, for the secular market), Dorothy Adamek (pioneer Australia), Carol Preston (convict era to WWI), amongst others.

Regency Romance 

Regency romance is a subgenre of historical romance, being defined as novels set between the years 1811-1820, when the Prince Regent, (later George IV) ruled England in place of his ill father. Although Jane Austen’s novels were published in this time period they were set a few years prior, so there are questions as to whether they truly can be considered Regency fiction.


History of Regency 

 Georgette Heyer, a prolific English writer of the 1920s-1960s, modelled her fiction on Jane Austen’s works, and used a great deal of period details to give a sense of authenticity to her works. This included basing plots around real events, such as the Napoleonic Wars, the precise descriptions of clothing and furniture, the use of Regency-era ‘cant’ (slang, such as “all the crack” to describe something very fashionable, or “bluestocking” to describe an academic female) all to aid her readers’ understanding an unfamiliar time period. Her commitment to research was such that she had whole rooms devoted to research materials – this was pre-internet days. It even saw her purchase a letter written by the Duke of Wellington, just so she could emulate his style of address. Not for nothing is she considered to have invented the Regency romance genre, and spawned so many imitators, Barbara Cartland being one.


Elements Found in Regency 

In addition to period details and the romance genre’s expectations of a HEA (happily ever after), there are a number of other elements often found in Regency fiction:
·       References to the ton (British high society, consisting of the aristocracy and fashionably wealthy)   
·       Portrayals of social activities as carriage rides, morning visits (often paid in the afternoon), dinners, plays, operas, assemblies, balls, considered usual for the social season, which occurred between January and June, when Parliament was in session.
·       Mention of sporting activities engaged in by young gentlemen of the period, such as riding, driving, boxing, fencing, hunting, shooting, etc.
·       Social class differences
·       Marriages of convenience: marriage based on love was unlikely for most women, their main concern to acquire a steady and sufficient income for the woman and her family
·       False engagements, and mistaken identity, deliberate or otherwise
·       Mystery or farce elements in the storyline

Traditional Regency romance, with an emphasis on the primary romance plot, usually has very detailed historical details and tries to emulate the language of the period – for their notoriously picky readers. J  Regency historical romance is considered slightly different, and may have more modern characterisations, and a degree of sensuality (ie bodice rippers) not in keeping with Regency values.

Christian Regency

Christian Regency romance fiction really took off in the early 2000s with Lori Wick’s ‘English Garden’ series. More contemporary Christian Regency authors (they’re mostly US) include Julie Klassen, Sarah Ladd, Kristi Ann Hunter – and yours truly, waving the flag for Australasia! J In addition to the usual Regency elements we also see the depiction of the hero and heroine’s faith, with common themes including forgiveness, commitment and social injustice, and the ‘heat’ of secular novels restricted to a chaste touch of the hand or (gasp!) a kiss.


Reading Regency 

Regency romance has many avid admirers – some of whom may have been persuaded to read by Jane Austen films and a certain Colin Firth. Reading such novels can be a great way to gain a little more understanding about a time in English history that witnessed such things as the Napoleonic Wars, the advent of industrialisation and subsequent social upheaval, adventure and exploration and excess. Couple that with observing the relationship trials – and the fantasy element of grand houses and handsome, tilted heroes – and there can be a lot to enjoy and appreciate about Regency romances.


Carolyn Miller lives in the beautiful Southern Highlands of New South Wales, Australia, with her husband and four children. Together with her husband she has co-pastored a church for ten years, written songs and headed music ministry, and worked as a high school English and Learning and Support teacher.
A longtime lover of romance, especially that of Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer’s Regency era, Carolyn holds a BA in English Literature, and loves drawing readers into fictional worlds that show the truth of God’s grace in our lives.
Carolyn is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Australasian Christian Writers and Omega Christian Writers and is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of the Steve Laube Agency. Her debut Regency novel ‘The Elusive Miss Ellison’ released in February 2017, and her second ‘The Captivating Lady Charlotte’ released in June from Kregel Publications. Both are available from Amazon.com.au, Koorong, Book Depository & other sites.
Connect with her at www.carolynmillerauthor.com and subscribe to her quarterly newsletter, and follow via Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Taking the Pain Out of Collaboration

Collaboration, or co-writing, is cool at the moment. Four of our own wrote the collaborative novel The Greenfield Legacy a few years back. A group of prominent indie authors recently took an overnight train ride and created a novel together.

The big issue with collaboration, when it comes to self-published authors, has always been the accounting. Somebody has receive the royalties and divide them up each month (potentially the rest of their lives). This needs to be done for each collaboration. Podcaster Joanna Penn has often lamented that there isn’t a platform that makes this process easier. Well, now there is.

A new service by the company BundleRabbit has just launched a service that will distribute a co-written book to all the major retailers, and pay each individual contributing author, for a small percentage. Payment is handled through PayPal. They take care of currency conversions.

Essentially, this makes them like Draft2Digital, but for multi-author projects. This could be a game-changer. I suspect we will see a lot more co-written books in the near future. As with any third-party distributor, you lose a portion of control. The book is uploaded to the retailers by BundleRabbit, so you won’t see the sales information on your KDP dashboard. Instead, sales information is provided by BundleRabbit. However, given the convenience of letting them take care of all the royalties, it sounds like a good compromise to me.

Collaborating on a project can bring some advantages. By accessing each other's reader base, you can expect awareness, and possibly build some new fans. It also brings it own set of challenges, as is inevitable when more than one human being is involved in something.

But BundleRabbit have been around for a while, so what else do they do? In addition to this new service, they make it easy for authors to put together bundles of books, in the same way that the popular sites like Humble Bundle and StoryBundle do. Books can be combined on a subject matter, or other grouping. These bundles will be distributed to the retailers, but customers can also buy direct from BundleRabbit. That’s where it gets interesting. Customers can choose what they want to pay for these bundles (there is usually a minimum price specified). Unlike other bundling sites, anyone can be a curator and make their own bundle (out of books that are on BundleRabbit). For that reason, it may be worthwhile for authors to submit their books. You never know when somebody might include it in a bundle, which will give you sales. (The author has to approve the inclusion of their book.) The curator receives 5% of sales, plus the author share if any of their own books are included. This provides fundraising opportunities. Imagine a bundle of books by CWD authors. Something along the lines of the Super Series Spotlight that our own Jeanette O’Hagan was recently involved in, except that all the books can be purchased in one go, for a discounted price.

My Dream

So all of that said, I have a dream. It’s not something for now, maybe in a few year’s time, after I’ve built a little more experience writing and publishing my solo works.

I imagine getting a group of Christian spec-fic writers together in a video conference, to set up a virtual writer’s room like they use for American TV shows. Together, we’d plot out a season-wide arc for a series. Then, each writer would be assigned an ‘episode’ and write it as a novella. These could be brought together and published as a box set using BundleRabbit.

Just think, a full length book could be produced in the time it takes to write just one novella. The contributing authors could all chip in for the cost of editing, or maybe even have the editor take a percentage of royalties. The possibilities are endless.

So what about you?
Have you ever though about working on a collaborative project?

Adam David Collings is an author of speculative fiction. He lives in Tasmania, Australia with his wife and two children. Adam draws inspiration for his stories from his over-active imagination, his life experiences and his faith.
Adam is a great lover of stories, enjoying them in books, movies, scripted TV and computer games. Adam discusses these on his own youTube show – Stories with Adam Collings.
Find him at adamdavidcollings.com or sign up to his email list for a free short story.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Introducing the 2017 Omega Writers Conference

By Iola Goulton


Bookings for the 2017 Omega Christian Writer’s Conference are now open. The conference is being held from 27-29 October 2017. The venue is the same as last year, the Edmund Rice Conference Centre in Mulgoa, and there are many familiar faces on the organising committee. And there will be a lot of familiar faces from previous years.

There are some changes—excellent changes.


First, all attendees will be placed in host groups for the weekend—a small group that will meet together on the first day, led by an experienced conference-goer. This gives everyone an opportunity to meet new people, and gives first-time attendees someone to ask if they have questions. This isn’t a big conference compared to some, but it can still be a daunting experience if you’ve never attended a writing conference before.

My tip: if you’re flying into Sydney, take the conference bus. We all meet at a coffee shop to wait for the bus, which leaves at 1:30. It’s a low-key way to meet people before we actually arrive at the venue.


It also helps to remember that many writers are introverts, and our group is no exception. Many of the people you meet at the conference who act like extroverts will go home and spend the next year in their introverted writing cave. And dieting. Because they feed us well!

The Programme


This year, there are three streams on offer: fiction, children/young adult, and non-fiction:

Fiction

The fiction stream is headlined by the weekend’s keynote speaker, Margie Lawson. Margie is an international speaker and writing coach, and many members of Omega Writers, Australasian Christian Writers, and Christian Writers Downunder have benefited from her online courses (from Lawson Writer's Academy), or attended an in-person immersion (five days of brilliance).

While Margie specialises as a fiction coach, many of her key messages are equally important for non-fiction writers. For example, she’s a big fan of using cadence, power words, and rhetorical devices to add impact to our writing. Great preachers use many of these same devices.

Other speakers in the fiction stream include Dr Patricia Weerakoon, and Carolyn Miller. Patricia had been scheduled to speak last year but had to pull out at the last minute, so we’ve been waiting to hear her for a long time!

Children/Young Adult

Australia has a wealth of Christian talent writing for children, and four of these talents will present a combined workshop: Rochelle Manners, Rowena Beresford, Katrina Roe, and Jemima Trappel.

Attendees will also hear from Penny Morrison, and from American author Alex Marestaing, who will also be the guest speaker at the CALEB Award dinner on Saturday night.

Non Fiction

Non fiction authors will be treated to sessions from May Luan Kim, JoAnne Berthelsen, and James Cooper.

You can find out more about all these speakers at the Omega Writer’s website.

Publishers and Editors

Publishers Rochelle Manners (Rhiza Press/Wombat Books) and Deb Porter (Breath of Fresh Air Press) will be attending, and both are available for paid one-on-one appointments, bookable at the conference. Rochelle Manners also runs the conference bookstall, so bring your wallet—no EFTPOS is available, and you will want to buy books. Lots of books. (Rochelle can be persuaded to post them if your airline luggage limit is a problem.)

The conference also gives you the opportunity to meet one-on-one with freelance editors (including me). This is a great opportunity to get some feedback on your writing, and some direction for your next steps. Appointments can be booked at the conference, and are paid.

Are you convinced yet? Then it’s time to book! 


Bookings are open at the Omega Writers website. Note that there is a discount for members of Omega, so this is a great time to sign up if you’re not already a member.

Are you planning on attending the conference? Do you have any questions about conference?



About Iola Goulton

I am a freelance editor specialising in Christian fiction. Visit my website at www.christianediting.co.nzto download a comprehensive list of publishers of Christian fiction. 

I also write contemporary Christian romance with a Kiwi twist—find out more at www.iolagoulton.com.

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