Monday, March 18, 2019

Where is God in our writing? by Jo Wanmer


 “My name is Prince Charles. My Father is the King. I have an older brother, Jesus.” 
Some years ago a guest in our church introduced himself this memorable way. We were taken aback, but then caught the profound truth he shared.
In those few words, we understood this man knew God intimately. 
Does our writing convey such truth?

Imaged taken and owned by Jo Wanmer
As Christian writers we show our characters, we don’t tell about them. We show the reader what they are doing, how they are feeling and what they are about to do.

Does this maxim include God? Is He a character in our books? If not, is He part of the background?  The setting? Is He inanimate, or animate? Or is He excluded from the story.

In many Christian fiction stories God is completely absent. There may be a Bible verse, or church attendance, or even prayer at the table but no reference to God himself.  The characters talk about Him, but rarely show Him in the plot or allow Him to feature as a character.

If God was to appear in our books, what would He be like? I’ve been musing on a character sheet for him.

Character’s name: God, Jesus, Holy Spirit

Unique characteristics: He has three parts, yet He is only One.  He can be present without being seen. He can speak without being audible. He is like the wind – no one knows where it comes from or where it goes.

Imaged taken and owned by Jo Wanmer
Appearance: He is light, too bright to look at. Or He could appear in a different form. He appeared as men to Abraham and a man to disciples walking the road to Emmaus. Gideon saw him as an angel. He spoke out of a storm to Job.

Family: God is original family. Jesus is God’s son. God is His father.

Siblings: Numberless, but for the sake of our story, we will only consider Jesus’ brothers who feature in the current work in progress. You are one of his brothers. So am I.

Address: Heaven. In the hearts of men. Omnipresent.

Occupation: When on earth, Jesus was a carpenter, the Messiah and leader of men.

Occupation now: God, enthroned on high. Yet he is my refuge, wings under which I can hide, wisdom of the ages, creator of the universe, and father to the fatherless. Jesus, seated at the right side of the Father. My intercessor, passionate lover of His bride…

Ok…I’ve run out of words to describe He who is the Word. 

God is beyond description and understanding. Yet He is close, intimate, personal. This may mean the aspect of God you know and love may be different from mine. He is so big He can be everything to me. He can be a lover or a warrior, my defender or my enabling grace, a father who either disciplines and/or pours out extravagant love upon me….

As authors - we write the characteristics of God we know best. If we know Him as a stern judge, that is who we will write. If we know Him as rescuer and redeemer, we will tell of His grace and power. Perchance He is our best friend, our constant companion, our source of all help, it becomes difficult to think of a story where He is absent.

Many protagonists cry out to God for help, and He answers them circumstantially, as He answers us in our everyday lives. But He also speaks in one of His many voices – through the Bible, an impression, a dream or vision, a friend or an acquaintance. Or often the still small voice.
Some years ago I wrote a novel where God speaks to the protagonist directly, obtusely, profoundly. Can I share a snippet?

Imaged taken and owned by Jo Wanmer
“The contractions woke Milly in the middle of the night.
It’s too early God. I know I’m big, but it’s not time.
~~~Be still~~~
Not a time to be still God. Obviously You’re never given birth.
~~~Only to creation~~~
You birthed creation?
~~~What do you think of the work of my womb~~~
A gripping contraction distracted her. As it faded, she climbed from the bed and wrapped a blanket around her shoulders. She shut the kitchen door behind her so she wouldn’t disturb the rest of the house and flicked on the light. It shone a pale yellow. The generator would need to be run today.
Fading embers glowed in the stove. Shivering, Milly added kindling to the coals, praying it would flare and warm the kitchen.
Leaning on the kitchen table, she breathed through the next contraction.
They seem close, Lord. Is my baby ready?
~~~Be still~~~
Milly stopped pacing. Be still. Why do you say that at the most ridiculous time?
~~~Be still in your soul. Calm your worries and fears, your anxiety and questions~~~
Not my body?
~~~Your body will move of its own accord. When I created you, I programmed the birthing process in you. Allow your body to do its work. Focus your mind on me~~~”
Excerpt taken from ‘El Shaddai.’

So what you do think? Should God get a larger share of the action in our books? Would you like to read more of God in this style? Or maybe you don’t like it? I’m looking forward to reading your comments.

Jo Wanmer lives with family in Brisbane, Queensland. Her first book, 'Though the Bud be Bruised', a Caleb prize winner, was published in 2012. Her work also appears in a few anthologies. The book 'El Shaddai' was written in 2014 and with the feedback of many fine writers has been edited multiple times. It still remains unpublished due to life circumstances. Two others in the same series are written. One day soon they will be released. 


Friday, March 15, 2019

Great Expectations



Being writers, I would hope that most of us are familiar with the story of Pip, his infatuation with Estella and misplaced hope in Miss Havisham (sorry to those reader’s who’ve not read this Dicken’s classic).

 After Pip has reached the pinnacle of society, is dressed as a gentleman and mixing with all the cream of high society, he discovers that the person who has funded his education, has paid all his bills and who has promised him the great expectation of a fortune to live on is not Miss Havisham. It is the dirty, violent convict from his childhood—the man who forced him to steal a pie and an iron file. Miss Havisham has only ever designed his torment. The convict—who made good in the colony of New South Wales, running sheep—is the one who has felt kindly towards Pip. The convict is the one who has sacrificed all for Pip’s benefit. When Pip discovers this shocking truth, he is not only disappointed, he is disgusted. This is not what he expected. This is not how he’d planned for his life to turn out. At this point, Pip loses his hope, his joy and his peace.
 

I’ve been pondering on this idea of lost hope, lost joy and lost peace. How often have we misplaced our hope, thinking our joy and our peace will come if only we can get that certain job; if only we can marry; if only we can have children; if only our children will give us grandchildren; if only we have that house, or that car, or that overseas holiday; if only our book will be published?

Honestly, I’ve probably been in that place of believing my joy will be complete when one or all of those things come to pass. And I’ve also been in that place where those things have come to pass, and yet, things don’t always turn out how we plan. Things go wrong. Relationships go south. Kids get annoyed with their parents. Books don’t always sell.

Do you recall the Israelites at the foot of Mount Sinai? Moses was up on the mountain seeking the face of the Lord and the people began to fidget. Where’s Moses? What’s taking him so long? They come to Aaron and suggest they build a golden calf whom they can worship. And Aaron—who knows what’s going on in his head?—gets all the gold and makes a carved idol. Then they stand around singing, feasting and dancing and saying that this dumb statue has brought them up out of Egypt. How dumb can you be and still breath? Where were they when the plagues were raining down, and the angel of death passed over the land? How quickly did they forget who their Lord and deliverer was?

Dumb idols. Bread and water that doesn’t satisfy. 

Do we do the same thing ourselves? Where is God? What’s taking him so long to bring healing in my family? What’s taking him so long to help me achieve my purpose? When will I ever be financially comfortable so I can sit on a pool floaty and drink a pineapple cocktail?
At this point, we sometimes make idols of ourselves, or our jobs, or our family, or our feelings.
But the Bible is clear:

Psalm 16:11  (NKJV)
 “You will show me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”

 Romans 15:13 (NLT)
 “ I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.”

There are loads more Scriptures that clearly express how our hope, when placed in the Lord, will yield both joy and peace. I encourage you to do a word search and you will be encouraged by the Scriptures that come up. 

Disappointment is going to come in life. We do have great expectations—our society, media and education promotes these pictures of just what we can expect to fulfil our every desire. But when it boils down, while one person is digging in and insisting on their rights to be happy, that right will come at someone else’s cost. The culture of personal rights is OK, but it isn’t what brings joy and peace.

Even in the midst of suffering, a person can find joy. Remember, the Apostle Paul, who wrote a heap about the joy of the Lord and the peace that passes understanding, was not writing poolside at the Hilton. He was in prison, suffering beatings, knowing that the church members were being persecuted by the despot, Nero—thrown to the lions and burned as human torches. These were the conditions from which he encouraged us to rejoice in the Lord always. The only way to be able to achieve this is to make sure that we haven’t got our expectations set to the standard of the current social status, and that we don’t build dumb idols of our career, family or stuff that we own. 

Put your hope in the Lord, and pursue him, and in Him, you will find the fullness of joy and the peace that passes understanding.

Even in grief and disappointment, take those feelings to the Lord, and rest a while in His comfort. There you will find peace.

Expectations are exciting, but it is when we build up expectation based on a commercial or Hollywood image, and wait for those things to bring us satisfaction that we realise our hope is misplaced. I have been practising this way of giving my family a break. I don’t rely on them as the source of my joy. I have been practising finding that joy in the source of life itself—in Christ alone—and so disappointments, when they come, don’t have the ability to defeat me, as they may have done in the past. And what I expect of others is no longer so high that it’s a burden to them. They shouldn’t have to bear the weight of making me successful, fearing my disappointment when they can’t meet that expectation.

It is a freeing place to be. Once Pip began to understand who his benefactor was, and he stopped idolising Miss Havisham and Estella, he began to appreciate what he had been given, and the man who had given it. 

God bless you as you take stock of your expectations, and as you seek the source of joy and peace. You won’t be disappointed.


South Australian Author, Meredith Resce, has been writing since 1991, and has had books in the Australian market since 1997. 

Following the Australian success of her “Heart ofGreen Valley” series, they were released in the UK and USA. 

‘Hell on the Doorstep’ is Meredith’s 19th published project, the second non-fiction.
Apart from writing, Meredith also takes the opportunity to speak to groups on issues relevant to relationships and emotional and spiritual growth.
Meredith has also been co-writer and co-producer in the 2007 feature film production, “Twin Rivers”.
With her husband, Nick, Meredith has worked in Christian ministry since 1983.
Meredith and Nick have three adult children, one daughter and two sons.




Monday, March 11, 2019

Any Old Donkey


Lightstock.com

A wise and faith-filled lady once told me the Lord could use ‘any old donkey.’ I’ve never forgotten that. While I understood at the time she was referring to herself, I’ve often wondered about that saying: any old donkey.

I’ve recently come across several Bible references to donkeys that have made a real impression on me, and given me insight into what she may have meant.

First is Balaam’s donkey. Most of us will know the story of Balaam in the Old Testament. He was a pagan prophet, a practitioner of divination and magic arts who was called to Moab’s king to curse the oncoming Israelite army. Not somebody who you would expect would be useful to the Lord.

But the Lord can use anyone, anywhere, and at any time. He sent Balaam to the king with the instruction to say only what God put into his mouth.

But Balaam’s heart was rebellious, so on the way the Lord sent an angel to bar his path. Balaam’s donkey bucked up. The donkey could see the angel even though Balaam couldn’t. Balaam beat his donkey and cursed the animal, so the Lord opened the mouth of the donkey and spoke to Balaam through the beast. Then Balaam’s eyes were opened and he too saw the angel. He repented and went on to meet with the King. He said only what the Lord told him to, blessing the Israelites.

There is more to this story, and you can find it in Numbers 22–25. What struck me was how the Lord used that donkey. Peter later references this story when he spoke about false prophets and teachers:

They have left the straight way and wandered off to follow the way of Balaam son of Bezer, who loved the wages of wickedness. But he was rebuked for his wrongdoing by a donkey—an animal without speech—who spoke with a human voice and restrained the prophet’s madness. Peter 2:15-16 NIV

I don’t know about you, but when I envision the sort of animal the Lord would use to speak through, I think of a lion. A great beast of majesty and presence, king of its domain, with a stature as grand as that of Aslan in the Narnian Chronicles.

I don’t think of a donkey, a simple animal mostly associated with lowly existence. The workmate of a farmer, or the ride of a peasant. A beast of burden lacking majestic presence. Yet God chose to speak through a donkey.

lightstock.com


How often do we think of ourselves as that donkey? I know I do. Lowly, unprepared, simplistic, without finesse, lacking in presence and ability.

How often do we think of others that way? I know I’ve been guilty of this, too. I’ve looked at someone and thought there was no way the Lord could use them. Sometimes our perceptions or prejudices get in the way. Like Balaam, who couldn’t see the angel for his anger at the donkey, we can’t see God’s own messenger because we’ve decided it cannot be.

But, as my wise friend told me, the Lord can use any old donkey.

You see, the donkey is an animal of servitude. And one thing I know for sure is that the Lord can use any one of His servants, no matter what church or denomination. It’s us who miss out if we can’t see or accept the message because of our prejudice towards the messenger.

The next Bible reference to the donkey that struck me was in Judges, where Samson:

Finding a fresh jawbone of a donkey, he grabbed it and struck down a thousand men. 
Then Samson said, “With a donkey’s jawbone
I have made donkeys of them.
With a donkey’s jawbone
I have killed a thousand men.”
When he finished speaking, he threw away the jawbone. Judges 15:15-17 (NIV)

That was one tough jawbone! I know Samson was a mighty man, full of supernatural spiritual strength, but I wondered at that fresh jawbone of the donkey. How did it not fall apart? For such an unremarkable creature, it sure had a mighty frame.

Again, the Lord used something lowly to bring about a mighty victory.

Finally, think of Jesus’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem, riding a donkey to shouts of “Hosanna.” This fulfilled the prophecy in Zechariah:

Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion!
Shout, Daughter Jerusalem!
See, your king comes to you,
righteous and victorious,
lowly and riding on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a donkey.  Zechariah 9:9 (NIV)

lightstock.com


There are all sorts of debates as to why Jesus rode on a donkey. I’ve read some interesting ideas as to the symbolism behind the donkey, but what strikes me is that—yet again—the common donkey rose to a mighty use.

I believe my wise friend was correct. The Lord can use any old donkey. Next time you think yourself unable to be used by God, or look at someone that way because you wonder if they are useful to the Lord, remember the humble donkey. Remember the mighty ways the Lord has lifted this animal up. It has been useful in service to Him far beyond the grand beasts of the world.

How much more useful to Him are we when we have a heart to serve Him. 

God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are. 1 Corinthians 1:28 (NIV) 

First seen in Book Fun Magazine. 

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 the novella, A Christmas Resolution.
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: https://rosedee.com/


Monday, March 4, 2019

Exploring Genre: Dystopia

by Jeanette O'Hagan



What is dystopia?




An imagined state or society in which there is great suffering or injustice, typically one that is totalitarian or post-apocalyptic.  

It's the reverse side of the coin to utopia (a word invented by  Sir Thomas Moore in sixteenth century  in his Utopia (1516) to define a perfect harmonious society.

Utopia means 'no place' while dystopia means 'bad place or a place of pain and struggles.'

With the naive modernist belief in progress and the powers of education and science to solve all problems in the nineteenth century, science fiction often looked to a bright future that would eliminate war, hunger, pain, disease. 



But the wars and genocides and problems of the twentieth dented that belief. As did the failure of attempts at  susposed utopian societies, including those of communism - in Russia, China and other places. 

This turn from optimism to pessimism was reflected in speculative fiction. The science fiction of H G Wells spans this change with often a more pessimistic view of the future of humanity (as in The Time Machine). 

Both utopian and dystopian fiction reveal the author's ideas of what is good and bad in society. And often one person utopia is another's dystopia.


The classics

Some classic dystpoias include well known books such as:

Time Machine by H G Wells (1895)
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (1932)
1984 by George Orwell(published (1949)
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (1953)
A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess (1962)
The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood (1985)



Early dystopian novels were often secular prophecies or projections of a possible grim futures if certain trends of the time continued unabated. And while each is dated to some extent, they can still be scarily relevant to our time so many decades later - from Orwell's Big Brother in 1984 or Bradbury's wall TVs, consumerism and senseless shallow lives living for the latest thrill in Fahrenheit 451.

The suggested root causes of the dystopia may vary - form a devastating war or natural disaster, from capitalistic consumerism to a conformist communism, to twisted theological autocratic regimes, to misogyny or climatic catastrophe (or some mixture of these).

The stories are meant as a warning and to provoke change, but often have a pessimistic tone. Thus 1984 ends with complete capitulation 'He loved Big Brother' though others are more optimistic with seeds of change (the 'living books' of Fahrenheit 451).

Young Adult Dystopian books


Dystopia goes almost hand in hand with the emergence of Young Adult literature as a distinct target audience (13-19) coming to prominence in the 1990s.

Lois Lowry's The Giver series (1993), Mortal Engines by Phillip Reeve (2001), City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau (2003), Scott Westerfield's Uglies (2005) series, Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games trilogy (2008), Maze Runner series by James Dashner (2009), Veronica Roth's Divergent trilogy (2011)  -  dystopia has become a trope for YA books.

Common elements include a society which may at the start seem utopian (e.g. Brave New World, The Giver, Uglies, Divergent) or the inequities and conflicts may be more obvious (The Hunger Games). However, the apparent peace and prosperity is usually achieved by some evil or sacrifice and/or by a totalitarian control over the citizens.



Veronica Roth is a Christian  and, in the Divergent trilogy, the Abnegation faction arguably espouses many Christian virtues (though the virtues of the other factions such as honesty, knowledge, amity and courage are also valued by Christians). Yet, even these can be twisted and used in the wrong way.

The protagonists are generally part of the dystopian world and at some point, their eyes are opened, and they may seek to escape it, resist it or change it.  In some cases, there is a wider outside world (The Giver, the Divergent trilogy) or there may be a rebel group (The Hunger Games), but in each case, solutions often have mixed results and the ending may be tragic or unresolved or a mixture of good and bad outcomes.

Apocalyptic and Post-Apocalyptic fiction


Dystopia is closely related to post-apocalyptic fiction and is often set after some major catastrophe has fallen on modern society (e.g.  the Uglies, The Hunger Games etc), though not always.

Apocalyptic literature focuses the arrival of a global catastrophe like global nuclear war, alien invasion, or a major pandemic (cf The Stand by Stephen King, 1978). Post-apocalyptic literature deals with the aftermath. It can be dystopian with a focus on dysfunctional societies or it might be more chaotic (cf Mad Max movies or Waterworld) or focused on the individual. Dystopia is generally the individual or group against society, whereas post-apocalyptic is more the individual against nature or other individuals and focuses on survival rather than changing society.


Christian Dystopia 


Is there such a thing as Christian dystopia?

Some may think not. On the other hand, the Bible has strong apocalyptic themes (particularly in Daniel, the Book of Revelation, but also in the teachings of Jesus, Paul, John and Peter). And the prophetic nature of dystopia (e.g. warnings of coming disaster if individuals and societies don't change their ways) is also a strong strand in both the Old Testament and the New (cf with Amos, much of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, or Jesus' warnings for instance).

Dystopia provides a great platform for examining the benefits and failings of societies and the balance between the individual and the state, security and freedom, and the place of science, spirituality and religion. It can remind us that no society or social or political system is perfect, even our own.



Christian dsytopia generally takes a more hopeful approach, and would in some way look to God and a renewed heaven and earth, rather than a perfect societal system as one's ultimate goal.

Christian dystopia for an adult audience isn't that common. One suggestion I saw was That Hideous Strength by C.S.Lewis (1945; the third book of his sci-fi trilogy), though I think it might be closer to proto-dystopia - as the focus is on a band of people who wish to bring about their version of utopia (but what is in fact a dystopia) with the potential for terrible consequences and injustice.

Kerry Nietz's A Star Curiously Singing is a more recent example of a future dystopian world from a Christian perspective (though I tend to agree with one reviewer, that it is better to steer away from using a known (non-Christian) religion as the baddie, especially as I get tired of the common stereotype of Christian priests or theocracies cast as the cardboard cut-out villains in book after book after book).



Dystpoia has become more of a thing among Christian Young Adult novels. 

For instance:


  • Nadine Brandes's Out of Time series which starts with A Time to Die.
  • Anomaly by Krista McGee
  • Ted Dekker and Tosca Lee's The Book of Mortals series (starts with Forbidden)

My own Under the Mountain series - while epic fantasy - has dystopian themes - with a enclosed, dystopian society in the deep caverns beneath the mountain and where solutions are not simple but there is always a glimmer of hope. 



So have you read dystopia? What do you like or dislike about it? Which authors would you recommend?

This is a cross-post between ACW & CWD,

----

Jeanette spun tales in the world of Nardva from the age of eight or nine. She enjoys writing secondary world fiction, poetry, blogging and editing. Her Nardvan stories span continents, time and cultures. Many involve courtly intrigue, adventure, romance and/or shapeshifters and magic. Others, are set in Nardva’s future and include space stations, plasma rifles, bio-tech, and/or cyborgs.

She has published numerous short stories, poems, four novellas in the Under the Mountain series, her debut novel, Akrad's Children and Ruhanna's Flight and other stories.

Her latest release is Shadow Crystals, the penultimate novella in the Under the Mountain series with Caverns of the Deep due in April/May.

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. She lives in Brisbane with her husband and children.


Find her on:
  

Monday, February 25, 2019

Turning Heads and Tables

by Jeanette O'Hagan



Writing isn't for wimps, especially if your aim is to send it out into the world for others to read.

There is nothing wrong, of course, in writing for therapy or writing for your own amusement or for the benefit of a select group of friends and family or indeed an audience for One. Such aims are noble and worthwhile.  Yet we can also be called or constrained to take our work further afield, and that too is a worthy aim.

As I mentioned in an earlier post (here), writing for a wider public could be considered a triathlon:  writing the book (or other work), getting the book published (traditional or Indie), and then helping readers aware of your book (marketing and promotion). Each stage has it's joys and struggles. Not one of them is easy.

Today, I'll like to focus on connecting with readers. No, not another post on social media, but on some face-to-face ways of bringing your opus to the attention of readers who would enjoy and appreciate it.

It seems to me that there might be four ways of bringing a reader's attention to a book
1) Through a distribution network, which includes having the book in catalogues and/or on the shelves of bookstores or libraries or airports.
2) Online availability and promotions (listing the book with online retailers like Amazon, Kobo, I-Books etc), and promoting social media, and advertising.
3) Word of Mouth - through reviews and the recommendation by enthusiastic readers to other readers.
4) Author-Reader events - such as book launches, author signings at bookshops, conventions, book fairs or having a stall at a fete, author visits and talks.

Traditional publishers often favour the first option, Indie publishers the second, but the truth is, that barring miracles (which surely can happen), whether your book is published by a traditional publisher or Indie published, you as the author will need to be proactive in promoting your books if you want them to be seen. And as most authors (though by no means all) are introverts, that can be a daunting prospect.

Unlike my husband, I have to make an effort to put myself out to strangers. On social media, at least I get to think about what I'm going to say, to edit and retype messages. It doesn't feel as confronting as talking to people in the flesh. Yet, I have to say, that eye to eye contact can be a lot of fun. If you haven't done it, maybe it's worth considering.

As yet, I haven't arranged a print book launch, author visits to libraries and schools or book signings at a bricks and mortar bookshops, though I know a number of our members have been quite proactive in this area.  What I have done is fetes, a book fair, and conventions.

Conventions




Over the last two years, two other authors - Lynne Stringer and Adele Jones - and I have teamed up to go to both OzComicCon and Supernova.  Not only has it been a lot of fun, we've connected with our crowd (fantasy and science-fiction geeks), spoken to lots of potential readers, meet some interesting authors, sold books and even had enthusiastic fans seeking us out at the next event.

By combining as a team, we've been able to share expenses and support each other over the long days of the convention.  We have also each signed up to Square (there are other systems as well) which is a seamless way of accepting credit cards as well as cash for sales. Also, posters, banners and - in our case - cosplay (dressing up as characters in our books) helps with presentation. Having a bit of bling or swag often attracts attention (though there may be restrictions on what you can give away.)

Overall, it has been a great experience and has been incredibly encouraging to find people who are interested in what we have to offer them.


Fetes



For a couple years now, I've had a table at our church's Christmas Twilight Markets. This too has been a great experience. Expenses were minimal and I have made some sales and connections. On the whole though, despite a few enthusiastic book readers, the attenders have not been as interested in buying books or in my particular genre (fantasy and science fiction).

Fetes (school fetes, street markets, car boot sales, handmade markets etc) would have potential to connection with readers, though it would depend a lot on the market (people going to a Farmer's Market may be far more interested in fresh vegetable than buying books).


Book Fair




Over the last three years, I've been part of organising the Omega Writers Book Fair in Brisbane.  We've run the Book Fair in September 2016, March 2018 and the third one is coming up on 16 March 2019. (We changed from September to March as there were so many writers' events occurring between August to October, it was hard to choose a date that didn't clash with something else).

The Book Fair runs from 10am to 2:30pm.  Authors, editors, illustrators and others pay a smallish fee for a table to help cover venue costs, advertising, lunches etc. We have display bags, a scavenger hunt (for signatures from each table), door prizes, author readings and workshops. Actual attendance for readers is free (or gold coin donation), and workshops have a nominal price.

Each year we have had an enthusiastic response from  local Christian authors - with most returning for a second or third year. Despite efforts of spreading the word about the Fair, it has been harder to entice readers, but we did see a upturn at the second Fair and hope to see even more attend this year. A radio interview with Anne Hamilton will be aired on Vision Radio in the first week or so of March this year. And libraries, schools, local papers etc have been contacted. Hopefully too, each author will promote to their network, encouraging them to attend.  We also have a Facebook Page (check here) and Event Page (here) where we can promote our authors and keep people up to date with developments.

Our current venue works well with respect to undercover spaces and a separate room for workshops. It is relatively central (though on the northside of Brisbane). It's main drawback is a lack of visibility from the main street. This year we have a banner and signs to draw people in.

Certainly many authors have had good or at least some sales and contacts with interested readers. Last year, a home-schooling dad was enthusiastic about seeing so many authors with quality children's books suitable for his son.

It is a lot of hard work on the part of the organisers and it takes time to establish an event like this, so that it gets known and appreciated. Despite this, I think it's been a worthwhile endeavour, not just because of sales and connections, but hopefully also because it raises the profile of our writing community.  I get the feeling that many readers are unaware of Australian Christian writers and having an annual Book Fair is one way of alerting potential readers that there are many quality books that might not grace the shelves of a bookstore and are worth their time and interest.


A local Book Fair is something that could be done in other cities, if someone was willing to initiate it. and thought it worth doing.

No doubt there are other legitimate ways of connecting with readers in person.  What have your tried? What would you be willing to try? Let us know in the comments below.


And, if you are in South-East Queensland on Saturday, 16th March - or at the Gold Coast on 22-24th April, we'd love for you to drop in to see us either at the Omega Writers Book Fair - or at Supernova Gold Coast.

---

Jeanette spun tales in the world of Nardva from the age of eight or nine. She enjoys writing secondary world fiction, poetry, blogging and editing. Her Nardvan stories span continents, time and cultures. Many involve courtly intrigue, adventure, romance and/or shapeshifters and magic. Others, are set in Nardva’s future and include space stations, plasma rifles, bio-tech, and/or cyborgs.

She has published numerous short stories, poems, four novellas in the Under the Mountain series, her debut novel, Akrad's Children and Ruhanna's Flight and other stories.

Her latest release is Shadow Crystals, the penultimate novella in the Under the Mountain series with Caverns of the Deep due in April/May.

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. She lives in Brisbane with her husband and children.


Find her on: