Thursday, February 16, 2017

Re-write it yet another time...

My first effort at publishing was a success. How about that? That’s not something you hear every day.

 My first novel ‘The Manse’ was not the first story I’d written. In fact, it was not even on my schedule to write. I had written eight or nine unpublished novels prior to this, and I only started to write ‘The Manse’ because I was given an opportunity to contribute a serial to a bi-monthly magazine. As I began to write it, I had a vague idea where I would take it, but I only wrote about five or six hundred words every other month. This, dear reader, is not the way to approach the writing of a novel, but it is how I started out.

After two years of episodes coming out in the South Australian CWA magazine, the editor asked for an ending. She and the readers wanted me to bring it to a close. At this point I had a pink-fit. In my vague plan, I had reached the part of the story where the characters had just become established, and the first major conflict had been revealed – and they wanted an ending.
Believe it or not, this was a God given opportunity. I needed to tell the whole story, and I was losing my outlet, so following inspiration, I contacted the editor and proposed that I would wind the story up for the magazine – which would be a very unsatisfactory, unresolved ending – if she would allow that I could advertise the full novel for sale. She agreed. Only one small problem remained – well a host of small problems actually: I had to finish writing the whole novel, then I had to figure out how to publish it. Find a printer, right? Oh, and I’ll have to sort out a cover, and I guess I’d better get someone to read over it to look out for mistakes.
I did it. I published it myself, two teachers from school read over it and found a couple of spelling errors, it had a very dodgy looking cover, and I advertised in the CWA magazine. Between that outlet and various church contacts, I sold all 300 copies in no time. I had readers coming and begging for a sequel – which I thought was silly, as I had no notion of writing a sequel. One reader said she’d pray until God gave me a sequel. I was annoyed with this statement and got to thinking about how there was no opportunity for a sequel. But wait, there was that young lad, whose father had been killed suddenly...
Ok, so I wrote a sequel, actually a whole series that has six published titles, and one unpublished one.
In 1998, through a contact I had in Christian Book distribution, I had the opportunity to have ‘The Manse’ and ‘Green Valley’ (the sequel) distributed throughout Australia and New Zealand. He gave me this opportunity on the condition I sorted out that cover.
I found someone who was slightly more knowledgeable about graphic design than me (still not a professional), and I had someone who said they’d worked as an editor with an American publishing company go over the manuscripts again. I made some changes, and the 1998 version was released, and began to sell like crazy. ‘Like crazy’ means I sold them in the thousands.
In 2003 I was contacted by a publisher in the UK, who’d heard about my work. This publisher eventually accepted the first three books in this series. They went through another editor and re-write, with a professional designer on the cover this time.
All good – right? I’ve sold over 8,500 copies of ‘The Manse’.
Last year, to celebrate twenty years in print, I dragged the manuscript out – the UK version that has now been edited and re-written three times – and decided to get it ready for eBook. My giddy aunt!!! The writing was in such a bad way, I can’t believe I’d sold 25,000 copies of the series, and have avid Heart of Green Valley fans.

Christian writing in Australia has evolved at a rapid rate. I guess when I set out, I had no clue, and muddled along with the opportunities God put before me. Thank goodness the readers over the last twenty years didn’t know what I now know. Head-hopping; author intrusion; rogue adverbs (which I really actually like very much); elaborate speech attributions; loads of telling and not nearly enough showing; and an uncanny habit of using explanation marks for just about everything! These writerly sins were a solid part of everything I wrote pre-2012 – that’s like about eleven titles.
So here I sit. I did tell my readers I planned to release all of the Heart of Green Valley series to eBook. I re-wrote and re-edited ‘The Manse’ for the fourth time (and I admit, I skimped on the final editing as the opportunities to exploit the title for return are not there as they were twenty years ago).
This week I opened up the sequel, ‘Green Valley’ and groaned. This had been edited by both the American editor and the English editor. Obviously they had no idea either. I had thought I’d just have to make a couple of changes here and there. You know, cull all the adverbs, simplify the speech attributions, and sort out POV. No such luck. So far I have worked on the first scene, and out of about a thousand words, I’ve retained about twenty. Another deep sigh.
But I have to do it. If I was to put it up in its current format, the critics would move on it like a bunch of sharks at a feeding frenzy, and point out all of the issues. This ultimately would affect my reputation as a writer.
So be encouraged dear writer friends. Look at the bright side. You have the information at your fingertips today. You know what the writerly sins are, and can easily look up how to avoid them. Get ahead of the program and learn not to do it when you first write, so that you don’t have to spend half your life re-writing.

2017 marks the twentieth anniversary of the first publication of ‘The Manse’, the first title in ‘The Heart of Green Valley’ series.
To read more about Meredith Resce and all of her work, visit

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Tuesday Spotlight - Anusha Atukorala

Each Monday and Thursday, Christian Writers Downunder's faithful and talented blog team contribute blogposts to inspire and inform aspiring and established writers. In 2017 we will be adding Tuesday Spotlights - posts that spotlight both writers and organisations that contribute to the writing scene Downunder. Our first on December 27 was on Nola Passmore, writer, editor, academic and the previous coordinator of Christian Writers Downunder. The next three will highlight the CWD Administration team: Anusha Atukorala, Paula Vince and Jeanette O’Hagan.

Anusha with Nola and Jeanette, Omega Writers Conference 2017

Today’s spotlight is on Anusha Atukorala.

Anusha Atukorala is a humble, gracious and faithful encourager and prayer warrior; a writer and speaker who is passionate about her faith, family, and writing. Her first book Enjoying the Journey is a collection of little God thoughts from everyday life. She has also had devotions and short stories published, including ‘A Dream Realised’ in Glimpses of Light. Anusha has been on the CWD Admin team for four years and her encouragement, wisdom, and prayer ministry is invaluable. Twice a week, Anusha faithfully posts the links to our CWD blog so you can read the inspirational and helpful posts.

Jeanette: Anusha, many people are inspired by your devotional book Enjoying the Journey and through your inspirational blog ‘Dancing in the Rain.’ What or who inspired you to write and to keep on writing?

Anusha:  Thank you Jenny for your generous words. It’s interesting that all my education was in my mother tongue, Sinhalese. But once I tasted Enid Blyton’s books as a little girl, my life changed forever! I devoured them as fast as I could and fell deeply in love with the English language. I scribbled stories and poems as a child, composed songs as a teenager and wrote reams letters over the years, connecting my passion for writing with my passion for people.

After I left school, I’ve been a Lab Technician, Analyst Programmer, full time mum, Charity Director and a full time volunteer. 10 years ago, when I failed to get a job, God nudged my heart. Yes, it was time to pursue my childhood dream and He called me to become a Christian writer. Yay! I’d been a believer for many decades at the time, so of course, God Himself was my inspiration.

Growing up, my Dad was a Director of a Newspaper group in Sri Lanka. Mum was a journalist. My family grew up with books, lots of them, so my parents are also a big part of that motivation. I went on to marry a lover of books and our son has followed suit. I’m very pleased that my son blogs regularly like his Mum!

Jeanette: Your mother was a prominent and award-winning journalist in Sri-Lanka. What influence has she her example had on your life and your writing journey? How important is family to you?

Anusha: Two things Mum pursued with excellence were writing and counselling. I’ve naturally taken to both like a Galah bird learning to fly, although I’m nowhere as professional as she was in either field. She was definitely my role model and championed my writing till the end of her days. 

My immediate family comprises two unique, amazing, priceless men! Shan and I celebrate 31 years of wedded bliss tomorrow. I’m deeply grateful to him for the many sacrifices he has made over the last 10 years so I could write. Without his support, or his hard work, I could not have pursued my dreams, so my Beloved (next to God) is the wind beneath my wings. Our son Asela (26) is on the Autism spectrum and has needed to has overcome numerous challenges to get to where he is today. I’m very proud of them both. So yes, family is very important to me, not least my 2 sisters and 4 brothers who too have been a significant part of my life.

Shan, Anusha and Asela, 2016

Having said that, Jesus made it clear, didn’t He,  that anyone who does the will of God is His brother, sister and mother? As I’ve travelled through life, I’ve met many remarkable people. Friends (I believe) are the family we choose for ourselves! That includes all you awesome writer friends. Thank you so much for being an integral part of my journey. I value you all.

Jeanette: And I've valued your friendship and that of other writers :)

Life isn’t always without struggle, yet you have a consistently positive attitude no matter what happens. Each week you find the silver lining, the patch of blue sky, the signs of God’s love and faithfulness around you. Where do you draw your strength from and how does this influence your writing?

Anusha: As a brand new Christian at 16, Jenny, there were times I wondered if my walk with God was authentic. My faith hadn’t been tested then. Now, 43 years and an abundance of life experiences later, I know that I know that I know. God has been good to me. I say that with tears in my eyes and a deep conviction within. CS Lewis said that “God whispers to us in our pleasures and shouts to us in our pain”. It has been my experience too. It’s those trying, tough seasons that have led me discover if what I believed was true. God has come through for me over and over again—not always changing my circumstances but always walking with me through my darkest hours, comforting me and giving me strength to endure. He has been both my Hiding Place and my Inspiration.

When I created my website 5 years ago, I was asked to give it a name and the Holy Spirit whispered ‘Dancing in the Rain’. I realise now as I look back that it was the perfect title. Not only have I been able to draw strength from Jesus for my hard times but He’s also enabled me to use those experiences to encourage and bless others. What an awesome God He is!

Jeanette: He certainly is! What obstacles in your writing and how have you responded to them? What are your goals and dreams?

Anusha: The biggest obstacle in the last few years, Jenny, has been my health. I’ve suffered from fibromyalgia over the past 12 years and the debilitating fatigue and pain hamper my creativity. Obstacle number 2 is a lack of finances to obtain professional help. I’d hoped that I’d be able to work part time job to finance my writing, but my body doesn’t allow it at present!

At Disneyland I learnt that the best way to enjoy each ride was by clinging onto the rails and going with the flow. The analogy has helped me in real life too—I’ve learnt to cling onto God with all I’ve got and then go with the flow of wherever life takes me. Exhilarating! As for goals and dreams… I’ve just been listening to an audio book called ‘Living Forward’ by Michael Hyatt/Daniel Harkavy. Their LIFE PLAN consists of answering 3 questions.
  1.           How do I want to be remembered?
  2.           What’s most important?
  3.           How do I get from here to there?

I’ve spent the past 2 weeks answering those questions and found they were excellent ones to propel me forward. As for my goals in 2017, I’d love to get two more of my books on their way to publication. I’m writing a book to encourage those struggling with chronic illness. I’m also working towards put together a few more books using my blogs of the last 5 years.

Jeanette: I look forward to seeing both those book published :) If you were to give advice to someone just starting out as a writer, what would it be?

Anusha: If God’s called you to be a writer, go for it. Read widely. Write as often as you can. Study the craft. Link with other writers. Don’t get swamped by the world’s demands. Choose wisely how you spend your time. Say ‘Yes’ when God demands a ‘Yes’, but learn to say ‘No’ when you need to. Spend sufficient time with God every day and walk close to Him. Know His heart and write out of that relationship in obedience and trust. Being is always more important than doing. Yes, integrity matters. Rejections will come—accept  them as part of the package. Persevere! Persevere! Persevere! A Christian writer’s life is rich (though not necessarily in monetary terms) and rewarding—and with His help, you can reach for the stars.

And don’t forget … He who calls you is always faithful.

Jeanette: Thank you Anusha for your wise and inspiring words, for your contribution to CWD, your encouragement over the years, and for taking time to talk to us. Wishing you all the best in what God has for you, your family and your writing.

Anusha: Thank YOU Jenny. I really enjoyed my chat with you. God bless you richly for all you do for us Christian writers at CWD. It is greatly appreciated.

Anusha is passionate about many things – Jesus, love, life, family, friendship, music and the beauty of God’s creation. Her first book Enjoying the Journey is a collection of 75 little stories centred on God’s reality in her life. Anusha’s had stories published in 12 Anthologies and she lives to share God’s amazing love with the world. 

She is deeply blessed to have two places she calls home; the little paradise island of Sri Lanka where she grew up and the beautiful city of Adelaide, Australia where she resides; well perhaps three homes—since our Father God’s heart is her first and best resting place.

Website: Dancing in the Rain:

Monday, February 13, 2017

Remember your creativity!

It had been a long time since I had spent six whole hours at a creative writing workshop—so long that I wondered if I could even do such a thing anymore. Nevertheless, it was with a sense of almost awed expectation that I set out recently to drive to the NSW Writers’ Centre for a one day course entitled ‘Remembering your Creativity’, conducted by Sue Woolfe. I wanted this day to reignite my passion for novel writing—but was I aiming too high? After all, it was boiling hot and I knew the Centre was not air-conditioned. Hmm.

Fifteen of us sat with pens poised as our first session began, the fans whirring above us and some participants already mopping their brows. Yet, as our presenter explained her approach, all that fell away for me. In an instant, I realised what an absolute gift from God this day truly was. Here we were, being encouraged to remember the creative things we had enjoyed doing as a child. Here we were, being invited to write in a free-wheeling fashion, to decrease our conscious, logical brain activity, to be still and dialogue with ourselves. And, for me at least, that also meant dialoguing with God.

Throughout the day, Sue guided us through various activities in a gentle, affirming way. Here an exercise arising from a scene on a power point slide that, for me, evoked strong, almost overwhelming images from a visit to Turkey some years ago. Next, an exercise inspired by looking at our neighbour’s hand, which brought back a whirl of childhood memories of my old music teacher, as she reached across and gently showed me how to play something I could not seem to master. Then came a one sentence story starter, followed by a photo on a power point slide of a woman’s face. And at that point, I knew for sure God was right there with me, speaking insistently, whispering words of encouragement in a way I could not ignore.

Firstly, God used the story starter sentence to show me I had fallen into the trap of being all things to all people, believing I was indispensable, and almost losing myself as a writer in the process. But then God also spoke clearly through the photo we were given. You see, this beautiful woman bore an uncanny likeness to my grandmother—which left me gobsmacked, as the novel I had to put aside in all my busyness last year was one inspired by this same grandmother! As I wrote reams during each exercise—changing points of view, having our character move, respond to someone else and so on—God seemed to say, ‘See how I can restore the joy of writing to you—and tie it all in so well?’.

I wonder if any of you have had a similar experience recently in your writing journey that you might like to share with us. Wherever you are at, however, I want to encourage you all to remember your creativity and allow yourselves the joy of writing without any strict agenda and with the abandonment of childhood. Later, your words can be shaped in whatever way they need to be. But for now, remember your own creativity—and also that you belong to an amazingly creative God!

Jo-Anne Berthelsen lives in Sydney but grew up in Brisbane. She holds degrees in Arts and Theology and has worked as a high school teacher, editor and secretary, as well as in local church ministry. Jo-Anne is passionate about touching hearts and lives through both the written and spoken word. She is the author of six published novels and two non-fiction works, Soul Friend and Becoming Me. Jo-Anne is married to a retired minister and has three grown-up children and four grandchildren. For more information, please visit

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Get Real

In my writing workshops, I often discuss character weaknesses and how we writers can use these vulnerabilities to engage our readers. By ‘reader connection’ I don’t mean a collective whole, rather a ‘this could be me or my best friend’ type of significance. But how?
November 1, 2016, I celebrated the release of the final book in my young adult techno-crime thriller trilogy. Activate completed the set, easing tensions from Replicate’s rocket-ride action and loose-ended resolution, whilst bringing full circle the story of Integrate’s Blaine Colton, teenage GMO and survivor of mitochondrial disease (mito).

In creating Blaine, I was inspired by a real life mito hero. But this week I learned a friend had died from one of the types of mito I’d referenced to construct for Blaine a uniquely complex version of the disease. I’d known this friend for years, but our lives had taken different paths. Despite remaining in contact via social media, I’d never realised they had mito. When I heard of their death, I felt … numb. It couldn’t be true! Someone was playing a cruel joke and any moment, as I scoured my friend’s Facebook wall, I’d find it was a mistake and somehow, silly me, I’d misinterpreted the message. Instead, I found words of grief and sympathy. Suddenly Blaine was in my world, only it wasn’t Blaine. It was my friend. And they were dead.

This moment confronted me, forced me to revisit the power of writing authentic characters. It was like my advice was working in reverse, where suddenly I was being drawn into my character’s world through reality.

Mid last year I was privileged enough to be one of 180 poets included in the Veils, Halos & Shackles international poetry anthology, a collection of poems depicting the wounds and struggles of women worldwide, presented as raw, personally impacting experiences. The influence of works such as this makes me increasingly convinced a significant key to connecting deeply with our readers involves a willingness to give voice to our own vulnerabilities. Yet, our modern society doesn’t like the impracticalities of a candid response. ‘How are you?’ is often a rhetorical question, asked while keeping up a brave front.
Was this how I’d missed my friend’s illness?

By writing out of the honest, messy reality of our brokenness, we may not necessarily create characters that are all peaches and sparkles. But maybe, like Blaine turning up in my real world, we can allow readers a place to cry in the ashes with characters that will turn up in their world.

I know other authors have created such a place for me over the years. Perhaps our willingness to become vulnerable as writers will give our readers permission to agonise with our characters, experiencing their challenges, and give room to identify mutual pain. And knowing the hope we’ve found in even the darkest moments, maybe we can also use our vulnerabilities to share comfort and invite them to journey with us along the path to healing.

Queensland author Adele Jones writes young adult and historical novels, poetry and short inspirational, fiction and non-fiction works. 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 to present a practical and encouraging message by drawing on these themes. For more visit or

Monday, February 6, 2017

On Genre ...

By Iola Goulton

Welcome to the first Australasian Christian Writers/Christian Writers Downunder joint post for 2017. This year, we’ve decided to theme our posts, and our theme is GENRE. Genre is important in publishing, in fiction and in non-fiction. If you’re anything like me, you have favourite genres, not-so-favourite genres, and read-on-pain-of death genres. And you can get a little upset if a book doesn't meet your expectations.

Genre is like food.

My husband and I often go out for Saturday brunch together, sampling some of the many cafes in our area. He has two go-to orders: the big breakfast, or the hash brown stack. Each café tries to make their offering a little different, so what you get with each order varies. The hash brown stack has several hash browns, and may come with bacon or eggs or sliced tomato or sliced avocado. The eggs might be fried, poached, or scrambled. But the key is that it’s a stack: there are two or three hash browns in a stack, with the other ingredients layered in between the hash browns. The clue is in the name.

Or so we thought.

We tried a new café recently, and my husband ordered the hash brown stack. But it wasn’t a stack. It was three hash browns slapped on a plate beside some fried eggs, with a bowl of slushy baked beans on the side.

Not what he’d expected.

When we visit a restaurant and order a meal, we have expectations about what we’re going to get. If I order a hash brown stack, I want hash browns. In a stack. With stuff in between them. It occurred to me there are a lot of similarities between café menus and bookstores, real or virtual.

We look around, decide what we want, and feel unhappy if our expectations aren’t met.

How many times have you finished a perfectly good book with a "meh" feeling, because it wasn't what you expected? Perhaps it had been billed as romantic suspense, but there wasn't enough romance. Or enough suspense. Perhaps you'd bought a tell-all biography and found most of the information was stuff you'd already read online. Perhaps you'd been looking for a devotional with new insights into the Bible, and got the same tried-and-true clichés as in the last three you read. Or worse, perhaps you got a "creative" interpretation of the Bible.

As authors, we need to understand our readers and what they expect. 

We need to understand our readers, and manage their expectations. Part of the way we understand and manage reader expectations is through genre. If you're not sure what genre you write, then I suggest you need to read more. I'm not the only person who suggests this. So does Nola Passmore, in her recent post at Christian Writers Downunder. And so does Stephen King, who says:

We've talked a bit about genre before at Australasian Christian Writers, including brief explanations of several major genres:
Our 2017 joint ACW/CWD posts are going to go into these genres in more detail, and investigate some lesser-known genres.

Here's another reason to consider getting your genre right: marketing.

Selling books.

Genre is vital for selling books. The recent Author Earnings report shows that 69% of all US book sales are online. That's not just ebook sales, but ALL book sales. Many of those sales are through Amazon, and the key to Amazon sales success is getting your book categorised properly. Meaning, getting your book categorised in the right genre. Last week, I read a blog post from an author who was disappointed by the sales of her first solo single title novel (she'd co-written other single title novels, and had a number of category romance novels published).

When I checked her book on Amazon, I saw her publisher had messed up her categories: they'd categorised her novel as historical ... and as contemporary. That's not going to help sales. Sure, readers might find the novel, but it's also going to confuse them—and potentially lead to critical reviews from authors expecting a contemporary mystery, and getting a historical adventure/mystery. I see this a lot. Novels categorised as non-fiction. Novels listed in the wrong category, or one that doesn't seem consistent with the book description.

In other words, a lack of understanding of genre, and the way it influences and reflects reader expectations.

Take my food example: my husband was disappointed with his hash brown stack because it didn't meet his expectations of what a hash brown stack should be. It's not that there was anything wrong with the individual components of the meal, or that the meal didn't taste good. It's just that it wasn't what he was expecting. Readers are the same. They're not browsing the Classics shelves looking for the latest Love Inspired Suspense (or vice versa). They're not cruising the romance shelves looking for poetry.

Readers know what they want, and they expect those expectations(!) to be met.

And that's why we're going to be looking at genre in our joint posts during 2017. Please join us!

About Iola Goulton

I am a freelance editor specialising in Christian fiction. Visit my website at to download a comprehensive list of publishers of Christian fiction. 

I also write contemporary Christian romance with a Kiwi twist—find out more at

You can also find me on:
Facebook (Author)
Facebook (Editing)

Thursday, February 2, 2017

The Plan, The Thing and The Other Things

by Mazzy Adams.

I like a plan that comes together, don’t you? We all have them. Nicely thought out, supported by research, relevant consultation and wise advice, organised and actioned consecutively in a timely manner, success celebrated with circumspect consideration for all the answered prayers, amazing people that came alongside to help, all those wonderful coincidences whereby everything fell into place in the nick of time, followed by moments of thankfulness and modest recognition for your own personal diligence in achieving such a positive outcome. Does that describe your usual experience?  Yes? No? Sometimes?

If you answered ‘Yes’, please, oh please, tell me do, how do you do it? I am keen to know because, after a year (at the least) of having one plan after another hijacked by circumstances beyond my control, I think I have lost that plot! Unexpected obstacles thwarted my every move; nothing happened ‘in a timely manner’, wise advice eluded me when I needed it most, my prayers appeared to ricochet. I thank God I was able to enjoy some precious moments with some amazing people in Katoomba and Sydney during the 2016 Omega Writers Conference. Without them, I’d be a mouldering heap of blithering self-pity right now (as opposed to the tongue-in-cheek purveyor of philosophical rhetoric on how life really works that I’m trying to pull off here).

I have felt like the protagonist in an experimental first draft; the arc of my character development pushed to and fro by an unruly pendulum. Who on earth is writing me into such a frustrating story? I mean, just because a good writer drives their precious, bookish creations to the brink of insanity if not destruction so that truth will be revealed and meaning or purpose discovered, it doesn’t mean … It doesn’t mean … Oh. Yeah. It does. I get it. Now.

I get it because I know the Author:

 ‘Your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.’ Psalm 139:16 (NIV)

I get it because I know He knows the plot:

‘“For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’ Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

I get it because I know He has a purpose:

‘And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.’ Romans 8:28 (NIV)

Thankfully, His story ends well:

‘He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade … you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.’ 1 Peter 1:3-4, 8-9 (NIV)

Are you frustrated by a similar period of thwarted plans and a confusing life script? I encourage you to hang in there (that’s what I’m trying to do) and trust that God has both the process and the outcome covered. After all, given the longevity and ongoing sales record of His written word, He is clearly an excellent author with a proven track record.

So here’s the thing: Although my plans may go awry, my life still has purpose and meaning because God created me with His purpose in mind. 

Here’s another thing: Discovering His purpose, then walking in it, is proving to be a very grand adventure, with high stakes and unexpected twists and turns, but it promises an awesome outcome. Bring it on!

And here's another thing: I’d like to share a concept I learned while attending a recent Queensland Writers Centre Express Year of the Novel Course led by Veny Armanno. I found the concept useful for analysing plot and simplifying or distilling a story into a synopsis. The theory, posited by Tony Earley, says stories need two pieces: The Thing and The Other Thing.

As I understand it, ‘The Thing’ is your story’s central idea or premise which, on its own, may be interesting or relatively mundane, even familiar. For example: Girl meets boy and falls for him.

‘The Other Thing’ is the approach, the twist, the extraordinary thing that gives your story zing, and takes it to another level. For example: The boy is a righteous alien from Krypton and way too busy saving the world from evil to court a brash, female journalist who is forever getting into trouble, but court her, he does. (Yeah, I'm a fan of Superman. And feel free to jump in on the allegory.)

Not wishing to trample any copyright toes, I tried (unsuccessfully) to find a link to the originator, Tony Earley. What I found instead was a post by Sharon Pelletier of Dystel, Goderich & Bourret LLC. Sharon explains Earley’s premise in words more-or-less identical to those in the course notes I received. So I’ve included her link here for anyone who would like to read more about ‘The Thing and The Other Thing’.

Have any interesting things (or 'Other Things') rocked your world recently?

Mazzy Adams is an Australian wife, mother, grandmother, creative and academic writing tutor and published author with a passion for words, pictures and the positive potential in people.


Monday, January 30, 2017

Salted With Fire

'Everyone will be salted with fire’ Mark 9:49 NIV.

Preserving, seasoning, and healing—that’s what comes to mind when I think about salt. Apart from the fact that I love salt on everything (definitely one of my food vices), I know salt has been a vital contributor to humanity in general, and in spite of all our modern technology, we still need it. So what did Jesus mean when he said we would be salted with fire?

I have a strong feeling the answer will be unique to each one of us, but I did recently gain a greater perspective on what Jesus meant when I witnessed the effects of fire. One year ago, a savage bush fire raged through the area around our camp. Preparation, planning, and prayer saved our camp, but the consequences of the event made me contemplate this verse.

Fire destroys

There wasn’t a blade of grass left for miles. Anything dry, dead, or dying was swallowed by the flames. My husband, who was in the thick of the fire, spoke of it as a living, breathing creature, an all-consuming monster that powered up mountains, unstoppable, leaving carnage in its wake. All that remained was a blackened landscape. I was in tears to see my favourite Paperbark tree lying on the ground while red coals flickered inside. Before the fire, I had no idea that termites had been feeding at its core. In its weakened state, the tree couldn’t fight the embers that enveloped it.

My Paperbark Tree
My Paperbark, and many other trees, were still burning weeks after the fire had moved on. My son exclaimed that the land looked like a battlefield. The grey shapes on the ground—where trees had fallen and burned to ash—looked like fallen soldiers, or a crime scene cut-out. It hurt to witness my country so bare, without creatures to occupy it. Not even a bird.

Fire Clears the Land

After the shock wore off, some unforeseen advantages to the bereft land emerged. For the first time in all the years we had been in the area, we could clearly see the lie of the land. The removal of all the long grass and fallen debris revealed the slope of each gully, and the natural stacks of rock faces. We learned so much about the area—like where prospectors had been before us. Pieces of tin, old bottles, and even an antique stove top were among the treasures we discovered.

I wondered if sometimes God allows a fire to rage through us, to clean us out the way He cleaned our bushland. The overwhelming storm of emotions, the intense heat of situations that burn out of our control, the uncertainty of knowing if the hardships we are facing are going to consume and destroy us, or those around us. These times ravage us, but we know God has prepared us with His word. We devise a plan of faith, and we surrender it all to Him in prayer. He is faithful, He sees us through, every time.  He allows the fire to rage, to clean, to cleanse, and to reveal, but His word is a fire in itself that burns a circle around us. The raging inferno can only go so far.

"Is not my word like fire," declares the LORD, "and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces.” Jeremiah 23:29 NIV

After the fire is extinguished, will we see ourselves more clearly? Will the fire clean out all within us that is dead and dying? Will it expose disease, like I discovered with my favourite tree? There are sure to be slow-burning embers long after the fire has powered through. There may even be mini flare-ups when the temperature rises again. Though the carnage will impact us, it cannot destroy us.

“ … when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.” Isaiah 43:2 ESV

Fire Brings Renewal

My bushland remained blackened for three long weeks. The animals stayed away, as there was nothing left for them to hide behind, and not a drop of food or water. On the third week, it stormed. Lightning, thunder, and bucketing rain.  Green shoots started to peek out through the burned earth, and the green leaves of the trees heathy enough to have survived started to shine.

A week later, it looked as though the Lord had covered the land with a blanket of green. Mobs of kangaroos ran across our path. Plain turkeys took up residence at the dam, and birds of all kinds rebuilt their homes in the treetops. Animals we had never before seen in the area came to feed on the fresh grass. It was a renewal that delighted our hearts. We were witnessing a transformation.

Fire Transforms

Just as fire transformed my bushland, I know the Lord allows hardships in our lives to transform us.  The experience seasons us. This fire season we will be even better prepared than last year. My husband has installed a fire-fighting hose, and built a dam.

I believe the Lord salts us with fire for the same reason—to prepare us, strengthen us, and clean us out for His work.

Jesus said:

"I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled!” Luke 12:49 ESV

Expect the fires to come—and with them, the salt that will season your life, and your faith.

… each one's work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. 1 Corinthians 3:13 ESV.

Rose was born in North Queensland, Australia. Her childhood experiences growing up in a small beach community would later provide inspiration for her Resolution series. 
Two of the three Resolution novels have won Australian CALEB awards. She has also released The Greenfield Legacy, a collaborative novel highlighting the pain of Australia’s past policy of forced adoption, as well as standalone novel, Ehvah After. Her most recent release is A Christmas Resolution, which is part of the novella box set, An Aussie Summer Christmas.

Her novels are inspired by the love of her coastal home and her desire to produce stories that point readers to Jesus. Rose holds a Bachelor of Arts degree, and resides in Mackay, North Queensland with her husband and son.

Visit Rose at:

As previously published in Book Fun Magazine:

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Omega Writers Needs You

Hello CWD people. 

Let me introduce myself, if you haven’t run across me before. My name is Meredith Resce, and I am the new president of Omega Writers—a formal members group who seeks to connect writers from around the Australasian region, and to put them in touch with resources and educational programs.

I first became aware of Omega Writers about nine years ago, and at that time it was a Christian writers’ group based only in Queensland. They invited me as a guest speaker from South Australia to one of the initial writers’ conferences, and it was the first time I had connected with other Christian writers in Australia.

From that time to this, Omega Writers has expanded at a steady rate. One of the affiliated resource/Face Book groups is ChristianWriters Downunder, and I don’t need to tell you how valuable this group is. I might take this opportunity to congratulate Jeanette, Anusha and Paula on the opportunity they create to connect, engage and discuss writing issues, and they do this making it freely available to us as Christian writers.
We are all part of a large body of writers—a team, if you like—who unselfishly work to encourage and assist other writers to improve their craft and find success in their dream of being published.

Omega Writers as a group has been working to increase the benefits of membership. There are not nearly as many paid up members as there are Australian and New Zealand Christian writers, and I would like to take this opportunity to again encourage you to become a financial member. Well how does that benefit me? You may well ask. There are a number of things that are accessible to you as a member:

1.       If you are a writer, publisher, editor or illustrator you may give us your profile, details and picture to add to our resource directory.
2.       You will receive discount on conference registration, CALEB prize entry fee, and a number of editing services will offer a discount to OMEGA members.
3.       You will receive a 25% discount to become a member of the Australian Writers’ Guild.
4.       There have been some substantial discounts offered from Day Translators (a reputable translating group) for OMEGA members.
5.       You will get information on groups that are forming in your region, or who are aimed specifically at your genre. (eg state chapters, the screenwriters group, the science fiction group etc)

Other ideas have been floated that would add value to your membership, but I need to remind everyone, that this organisation is run by volunteers, who give up time and effort to pull all of these resources and opportunities together.

                Being a financial member helps us pay the bills, and at times we would like to be able to remunerate certain volunteers who pour months of work into the jobs done.

                Next month, I will be initiating a fund-raising strategy (currently being prepared by a fund-raising professional, free of charge). We want to bring some better known writing specialists to our next conference, and this of course takes money. We would also like to offer some good prizes for our writing competition, while at the same time being able to offer some remuneration to the judges and other hard working officials.

                What do Omega Writers need you for? Well at the very least, if you would consider becoming a paid up member, that would encourage us, and give us a little bit more in the kitty. But wait, there is more you could do for us. We need judges for the CALEB prize; We need enthusiastic, confident members who will help enact the fund-raising strategy; We need conference help volunteers.

                One thing I’ve learned from over twenty years in the Australian writing scene, if we don’t band together, and each carry some of the load, there won’t be an Australian or Australasian writing scene. We do not have the huge Christian population of the US, and we have to fight for every small thing we achieve. Will you become part of the team?

                Omega Writers needs you!

                Check out this short promo video I made last year.

Blessings and looking forward to hearing from you soon.