Thursday, February 21, 2019

Title: CWD Member Interview – Susan J Bruce

Each Thursday we will be interviewing one of the members of Christian Writers Downunder – to find out a little bit more about them and their writing/editing goals.
Today's interview: Susan J Bruce (aka Sue Jeffrey)

Susan J Bruce with her greatest supporter - her husband Marc.

Question 1: Tells us three things about who you are and where you come from. 
I'll start with where I come from. I was born in Scotland but emigrated with my family to Australia a long, long, time ago. We arrived in Brisbane but spent some years moving up and down the Queensland coast with my dad's work, before settling in Brisbane. 
As a kid I had three loves: books, art and animals. Mum and I used to tempt stray kittens with food then catch, tame and re-home them. I was chuffed to complete my first solo kitten-catch when I was eight years old. Mum and Dad didn't believe me when I told them at six o'clock one morning that I'd caught a little silver-tabby tomcat. 'Go back to bed, dear,' was Mum's response. So I did. When I woke up again an hour later, Dad couldn't work out why there was a feral kitten in the kitchen. 
I didn't realise it at the time but I guess it was inevitable that I would study veterinary science. The thing most people don't know is that I nearly studied journalism. I often wonder what my life would have been like if I'd made that call? I think I would have enjoyed the challenge - and I might not have let my love of fiction slide like it did through my years of study and learning my science-based profession. 
But veterinary science suited me well. I moved to South Australia for my first job and discovered (after initial ultra-high levels of  stress) that I had a flair for the work. I enjoyed the interaction with the people and animals and later worked part-time in clinical roles even while I explored other fields such as church-based pastoral work and teaching part time at TAFE.  I think I'm one of those people who thrive on diversity 😁. 
The story of how I began writing is for another day but my love of words and a desire to learn the craft of storytelling led me to complete a Master of Arts in Creative Writing at Tabor in Adelaide and to complete a young adult (YA) novel as part of that process. It was a sometimes difficult, but always awesome, process and I have to give a shout out to the Tabor Humanities staff and all my fellow students. I learned so much and also that I have so much more to learn. When I finished that degree and needed some time to replenish my creative juices, my husband bought me a set of good acrylic paints. It took me more than six months to begin using them and to my surprise I discovered I could paint - you guessed it - animals 😃.
I'm still seeking publication for that YA novel (it won the unpublished manuscript section of the 2018 Caleb Prize) and have been involved in other projects along the way but a few months ago the veterinary clinic where I was working, closed. Some health issues have made it hard to find the right kind of work. That's not so great financially but my three great loves - books, art and animals remain - and now I can spend more time on all of them. 
Hey, I guess those are my three things. Funny how often we are closest to our true selves as children.

Question 2: Tell us about your writing (or editing/illustrating etc).  What do you write and why?
My desire is to write, mainly for the general market (both YA and adult), in a way that encourages and inspires the reader. I want to uplift people, bringing hope where there is no hope and laughter where there are tears. I can't do that on my own but I believe that God can, through me. As authors we have the privilege of going with readers into their most secret places. Places where the troubles of the world are pushed away and where adventures can teach us how to slay our own kinds of dragons. 
I have found it hard to define the genre of my writing but animals tend to photo-bomb my pages. My writing group once challenged me to write a story that didn't contain animals and when I read it to them they laughed because I'd failed miserably. That is probably why they asked me to be the editor for our group's short story anthology, If They Could Talk: Bible stories told by the animals (Morning Star Publishing) which was an awesome project to work on.

If They Could Talk: Bible stories told by the animals

I've tended to be a genre butterfly (you can read about that here) and enjoy writing all kinds of stories but in the last couple of months I've realised that most of my ideas for longer works involve mystery and suspense. I love beautiful prose but a good story is also important to me, preferably stories of overcoming, suspense and intrigue. My WIP is a time slip romantic thriller and I have an idea for an amateur-sleuth mystery which I think will be a lot of fun to write - so stay tuned.

Question 3: Who has read your work? Who would you like to read it?
If They Could Talk is marketed to Christians who want to see God's word from a fresh perspective. But as I've said above, I really want to write for the general/mainstream market. Maybe it's that genre-butterfly tendency but I'd like to reach both adult and young adult readers who like suspense and mystery, flavoured with romance and hope. 

Question 4: Tell us something about your process. What challenges do you face? What helps you the most?
Procrastination is my nemesis. I also have a chronic illness that makes me sore and fatigued most days so I'm not as productive as I'd like to be. I'm working on ways to combat this, like establishing a better routine and really appreciating the good things I have, like my awesome husband, who supports my crazy desire to be an author. It's easy to get depressed when life throws rotten onions your way but I'm learning the value of switching my thinking. Hey, I get to write and paint 😃. What an awesome privilege it is to be a co-creator with God.

Question 5: What is your favourite Writing Craft Book and why? 
There are so many - I can't think! As a newish writer Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird encouraged me and showed me how to persevere. More recently, Story Genius, by Lisa Cron helped me refine my ability to craft story. 

Story Genius by Lisa Cron

It's not a craft book but late last year I had the privilege of attending a Margie Lawson writing immersion on the Gold Coast. Margie is an international writing coach and her focus is on crafting awesome prose. If you can get to one of her immersions you will be inspired and empowered.

Question 6: If you were to give a shout-out to a CWD author, writer, editor or illustrator – who would they be?
That would be my friend and mentor, Rosanne Hawke. When I was in Rosanne's classes at Tabor I'd get this glow-in-God feeling as if there was nowhere I'd rather be than in that place, at that time. Rosanne always went the extra mile for all of her students. In the years since graduation Rosanne has remained a good friend and has encouraged me repeatedly not to give up.

Question 7: What are your writing goals for 2019? How will you achieve them?
To begin with I'd like to find a home for my YA novel and get my website up and working. I'd like to finish my WIP, at least in second draft form, by the middle of the year and indie publish a short story collection. I also want to begin work on the amateur-sleuth mystery that's brewing but I have another YA novel that's been buzzing around in my back-brain so we'll see which one wins.
How will I achieve this? Bird. By. Bird.

Question 8: How does your faith impact and shape your writing?
One of my favourite quotes on this topic comes from philosopher Jacques Maritain. 'If you want to make a Christian work, then be a Christian and simply try and make a beautiful work, into which your heart will pass; do not try to "make Christian".' 
This is what I strive to do as I write to encourage, not just Christians, but ordinary people, made in God's image, who don't yet know him.

Reference: J Maritain, Art and Scholasticism - Chapter VIII. Downloaded from on 02/01/19

Susan J. Bruce, aka Sue Jeffrey, spent her childhood reading, drawing, and collecting stray animals. Now she’s grown up she does the same kinds of things. Sue has worked for many years as a veterinarian, writes stories filled with themes of overcoming, adventure and belonging, and loves to paint animals. Sue won the ‘Short’ section of the inaugural Stories of Life writing competition and recently won the 'Unpublished Manuscript' section of the 2018 Caleb prize. Sue is the editor of 'If They Could Talk: Bible Stories Told By the Animals' (Morning Star Publishing)and her stories and poems have appeared in multiple anthologies. Her e-book,'Ruthless The Killer: A Short Story'is available on You can check out Sue’s animal art on Facebook.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

CWD Member Interview - Mazzy Adams

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

Today’s interview: Mazzy Adams

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

Who am I?

I’m an evolving story—with a title change along the way. I have poetry, short fiction, creative non-fiction and spiritual devotions published under my real name and as Mazzy Adams, the penname I adopted about four years ago. If you’re curious, you can read more about my evolution into a writer here and about why I chose my penname here

I’m also a word addict. I am totally hooked on those incredible lettered delicacies that pepper pages, tantalise tongues, trip through teeth, evoke a million images and emotions, flood curious minds with knowledge and wisdom and release springs of love, hope, compassion and understanding from responsive hearts. Not to mention, words can be oh so much FUN to play with! 

Photo above: My shape poem, Maple Music,was listed as chosen by the judge in the 2013 Poetica Christi Press Poetry competition and published in their 2014 Anthology, A Lightness of Being

Where do I come from?

I’m Queensland born and bred and, after a five year dalliance with Northern Beaches Sydney, New South Wales, my husband and I settled in Toowoomba to raise our three amazing children (I look at them and marvel). I’ve also been blessed with three wonderful grandchildren. Currently, I help my Maths/Science genius husband support my writing habit by working as a creative and academic writing tutor and manager in our Education Consultancy.

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

What do I write?

I’m a PAGE—Poet, Author, Genre non-conformist, and Encourager—or Essayist if you prefer. At times, I’m PAGES, either because I’m writing Spiritual devotions, or I’m being long-winded, at which time the E stands for Editing and the S stands for Strike that/Slash and burn/Stalking typos and grammar gremlins or Scratching my head and tearing my hair out.

I've also written a New Adult Thriller. (Throw Ludlum’s Jason Bourne into a bowl with a biblical worldview. Sprinkle with quirky acronyms and gospel allegory. Add a dash of Calvin and Hobbes’ Homicidal Psycho Jungle Cat’s philosophical humour. Bake with a fertile imagination. Enjoy.)

Despite my concerns, the suspense of writing the novel didn’t kill me so I expect I’ll survive the Indie Publishing learning curve. Then, Licence to Die will be a living, breathing, deadly intriguing debut novel available in paperback and e-book—before 2019 expires.

Why do I write?

Because I can. And because I can’t not write. The urge to collate words with intention and purpose has become both a passion and a divine commission. And it’s FUN! (Yeah, even when I’m tearing my hair out.)

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

Readers of the dozen Australian, US, International print and online anthologies in which my poetry, CNF, short fiction and devotions have been published.

Also, my compassionate, encouraging, and helpful Quirky Quills writing companions. Several Beta Readers and my Editor have read the novel as a WIP.

While my children were young, I managed to woo and entertain enthusiastic audiences with my drama sketches and puppet plays (especially during the lolly meteor showers and dust storms), but technically they were hearers and viewers, not readers.

Who are my target readers for Licence to Die (and other works-in-progress I’m percolating)?

That mysterious and wondrous group recently recognised in their own right as New Adults; 16-25ish, they’ll have conquered—or be in the process of conquering—the trials and tribulations of senior schooling, university study, earning a living, or generally nailing Introductory Adulting—or giving it a good bash. Also, Advanced Adulting students (25-106ish) who remember what it was like to be a young adult, and can cope with adulting being used as a noun and a verb, not just an adjective (You’ll be relieved to know I haven’t nouned or verbed the word ‘adulting’ in the novel).

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

Process? It usually starts with a couple of words, a line of poetry, or a sentence that intrudes upon my everyday activities or my attempts to go to sleep, and gives me no rest until I’ve written it down. Many of my published pieces (and my novel) began life as ‘quick writing exercises’ for my Creative Writing degree. I focus on the ideas that have promise and those that are downright demanding till I give in and write them, like Licence to Die. I either go with the flow, or formulate a plan which I modify, as flow and coherency directs.  

Challenges? The poet in me likes to slip ‘writerly’ masterpieces into the mouths and minds of my characters, which I then have to delete for POV authenticity. Sigh! Like so many writers, balancing the financial budget also creates challenges.

I am most helped by the assurance (and reassurance) (and re-reassurance) of the Holy Spirit that this is what he wants me to do. Frequently, he uses other Christian Writers as his mouthpiece in this regard.

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

I found Manuscript Makeover by Elizabeth Lyon invaluable in managing and simplifying the complex structure of my novel. I also appreciate the wealth of quality wisdom and advice available online. In terms of influence, I found Janice Elsheimer’s The Creative Call helped me realise the hand of God had written ‘writer’ into my DNA long before I learned how to read his writing.

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

Absolutely, Nola Passmore—writer, editor, Quirky Quill and my most significant influencer. Some people won’t let you down, or won’t let you let yourself down. Nola is one of these rare and precious friends.
Also, Iola Goulton—not only for her recent, excellent work as copy editor for my novel, and her informative blogs, newsletters and social media links to all things writing, editing, publishing and marketing, but as a significant early influencer who, along with Anusha Atukorala, sent me out from my first Christian Writers Conference believing I had writer’s stuffing inside me—and it wasn’t all fluff. (Now you’re singing, ‘Winnie the Pooh, Winnie the Pooh, funny little tubby all stuffed with fluff’, aren’t you?)

Question 7: What are your writing goals for 2019? How will you achieve them?

Indie Publish Licence to Die, acquiring new and necessary skills in the process. Start pushing up the word count for the next novel. I hope to achieve this one step and one day at a time.

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

I’ve been a Christian believer from my childhood. I survived life’s wild, stormy weather long enough to become a writer because Jesus Christ is my anchor. We’re tethered together in love and trust. Just as nothing can separate me from the love of God in Christ Jesus, so nothing can separate Christ in me from the words that I write. Sometimes that connection is overt and obvious. Sometimes it is as inconspicuous and deeply layered as the rock beneath the ocean’s currents.

As Galatians 2:20 says, ‘I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.’ Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

That sounds like a licence to die, don't you think? And also freedom to live (the ultimate sequel). 

Mazzy Adams is a published author of poetry, fiction and creative non-fiction. She has a passion for words, pictures and the positive potential in people.


Monday, February 11, 2019

Just Write Something

Before Christmas, I was in a bit of a writing frenzy. I was trying to write two short stories and I had deadlines for both.

In the midst of all the editing I ground to a halt with one of my stories. I had to do a whole lot of work on the structure of it.

Structure in stories is the part that I struggle with the most.

I knew what I had to do, thanks to my frantic reading of books on structure. It was going to be hard work.

With Christmas holidays looming and all the craziness that comes with the end of the school year I felt I couldn’t concentrate. I didn’t have the mental energy to continue ploughing through.

Around about the same time a competition popped into my inbox. It was connected with a cooking blog that I subscribe to.

In twenty-five words or less they wanted me to tell them which recipe I would make out of their newly released cookbook and why. The prize was phenomenal and all I had to do was conjure up a creative way of talking about food!

Surely I could handle twenty-five words or less. It was easier than juggling five thousand words.

I scribbled and doodled in my notebook and came up with a rhyming ditty about a recipe, its ingredients and why I would make it – perfect. I sent it off and then sat down to work on structure.
In the next three weeks I sent off four more ‘twenty-five words or less’ explanations of recipes in between slogging it out with my story.

These little snippets of writing were fun, they were short and they kick started my writing again. I was reminded that in the midst of the bog of structural edits I still loved writing.

I didn’t win the competition but I had lots of fun trying and my story was structured to within an inch of its life.

So, I learnt something.

Knowing that I could write twenty-five words or less and be clever and creative about it gave me the boost I needed to continue polishing my five thousand words.   

Linsey Painter loves to write stories that draw on her rich heritage of growing up overseas. Her children’s stories focus on growing young hearts, challenging assumptions and exploring courage in the face of life’s difficulties. Linsey’s stories are drawn from real life and imaginative fantasy adventures. Life doesn’t always turn out the way we expect and sometimes we need to be brave and find out how to love and trust again. Through her stories Linsey shows that joy and beauty are everywhere even when life is difficult. Linsey lives in Cairns with her husband and two lively boys.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Welcome Susan and Kirsten

A couple of weeks ago we announced that Anusha Atukorala was stepping down from the Christian Writers Downunder Admin team after five years to pursue other goals, and that Mazzy Adams would be joining Paula Vince and myself (Jeanette O'Hagan) as a new team member.

Both Paula and I appreciate Mazzy's enthusiasm and contributions.  And all three of us are delighted to announce two newer members to the team: Susan Bruce and Kirsten (K A ) Hart.

Who are they?

Both Sue and Kirsten have been active members of Christian Writers Downunder and, in fact, both have contributed to the CWD anthology Glimpses of Light and are regular CWD bloggers.

Susan J. Bruce

Susan J. Bruce, aka Sue Jeffrey, spent her childhood reading, drawing, and collecting stray animals. Now she’s grown up she does the same kinds of things. Sue worked for many years as a veterinarian, is an animal artist and is notorious for including animals in almost every story – even when she tries not to.

Sue won the ‘Short’ section of the inaugural Stories of Life writing competition and recently won the 'Unpublished Manuscript' section of the 2018 Caleb prize. Sue is the editor of 'If They Could Talk: Bible Stories Told By the Animals' (Morning Star Publishing) and her stories and poems have appeared in multiple anthologies. Her e-book, 'Ruthless The Killer: A Short Story' is available on You can check out Sue’s animal art on Facebook.

Kirsten (K.A.) Hart

K.A. Hart is a born and bred Territorian who moved to Queensland and had no choice but to stay after her assimilation into Toowoomba’s infamous, collective known as Quirky Quills.

Since then, K.A. Hart has had two short stories published. Stone Bearer, appears in Glimpses of Light and Tedious Tresses, in the As Time Goes By Mixed Blessings anthology. She is currently working on a fantasy novel.

When she is not writing, perfecting the art of starring into oblivion or buying-up all the books in Koorong, she is locked away in the gym learning Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, playing the guitar and cruising the streets on her Kawasaki Ninja (when she finally gets her licence and replaces the back brakes).

Welcome aboard Sue and Kirsten. 

This brings the CWD Admin team to five:

Jeanette O'Hagan (Coordinator)
Paula Vince
Mazzy Adams
Susan Bruce (aka Sue Jeffrey)
Kirsten Hart

And so you can get to know us a little better, over the next five Thursdays we will be posting a Meet Our Members post on each one of the team. 

Jeanette O'Hagan

Monday, February 4, 2019

Exploring Genre - Round Up

by Jeanette O'Hagan @JeanetteOHagan

In 2019, we are continuing the tradition of a cross-post between Christian Writers Downunder (CWD) and Australasian Christian Writers (ACW), with more forays into the different genres. You may wonder if, after two years, there are any more genres to explore. Well, yes, there are. In fact we haven't come close to covering them all. But before we launch into some more examples, I will give a round up of the ground we have already covered. This post can be used as a quick reference and handy resource on different genres.

What is Genre?

Literary Genre is a particular type or style of story which may be defined by style, tone, content and even length. Basically, genres define creative innovations and reader expectations that have developed over time with broader categories (fiction, non-fiction, or prose, drama, poetry, media), to larger families (e.g. romance, science fiction, fantasy, crime etc) and more narrowed or specialised categories (sweet romance or cosy mysteries or spaghetti westerns).

Why should I care about Genre?

Iola discusses why genre matters
- it  helps manage readers expectations and it also helps market books to our readers. Read more here and here.

When you are starting out, it is often a good idea (at least at first) to just write and learn the craft and worry about genre later.  This is especially true if writing is a hobby or release or therapy.

However, if at some point you wish to publish your writing and attract readers, understanding genre can also help you hone how you write or maybe help decide which aspects of the story to emphasise or which project to focus on (if you have more than one project on the go).  It can also inspire ideas.

Some genres have more defined expectations than others (e.g. category romance or CBA Christian Fiction), while others are more open to experimentation and cross-overs between genres (e.g. Young Adult fiction or Science Fiction).

Knowing your genre and your readers' expectations helps in both writing and in attracting a readership to your writing. Having an idea about Genre Trends can also be helpful.

Jeanette O'Hagan discusses Genre Trends (for 2018) here.

What Genres Are There?

Genres range across the broad categories like Fiction, Non-Fiction, Poetry, Children's Books and Young Adult etc.


The major fiction genres are Romance, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Crime, Historical, Contemporary Drama and Literary.  Each broad genre often has a swag of sub-genres and some sub-genres may cross-over e.g. Romantic suspense includes elements of romance and suspense novels. Or a time-travel novel may be Science Fiction or Fantasy or even Science Fantasy.


This is a hugely popular genre with a large audience of avid readers.

While romance can often be a subplot or theme in a range of other genres, in category romance the focus is on the relationship and the obstacles to the relationship between the hero and heroine or romantic couple with an expected Happily Ever After (HEA).

There are a wide range of sub-genres with romance.

Carolyn Miller introduced us to historical romance (romance set before the present day) and in particular regency romance - romance inspired by Jane Austen and set in or around the regency period - e.g. early 19th century. You can find her delightful post here.

Nicky Edwards took us on a tour of rural romance (set in the country) and medical romance (with nurses or doctors as protagonists and which includes medical drama), usually set in contemporary times. You can read more here.

Romance can also include contemporary romance, paranormal romanceromantic suspense, romantic comedy, sweet or clean romance, or other more racy sub-genres.

Speculative Fiction

Speculative Fiction imagines a different reality - whether that be a variation of earth as we know it or different world altogether. It is generally divided into Science Fiction (where science or a imagined science explains the world) or Fantasy (in which a non-scientific - often supernatural - explanation is given), though these can cross-overs such as science fantasy and other mixtures.

There is easily over 100 sub-genres within this field - including crazy mash-ups like gaslamp fantasy or weird west.

Science Fiction

Adam Collings introduced us to Space Opera - epic Science Fiction set in space with a focus more on the story than a detailed or hard science - think Star Trek or Doctor Who. And, also the Superhero sub-genre which can used a scientific (e.g. Superman) or a supernatural (e.g. Thor) explanation for the special powers. Read more here.


Jeanette O'Hagan introduced Secondary World and Portal fantasy - both of which are set on an alternative (non-earth) world. In the first the world exists without reference to earth, whereas in the second, the protagonist travels through a door or portal to the other world. Read more here.

Other Speculative 

Alison Stegert explores the difference between Steam Punk and Gaslight fiction - both of which are inspired by the Victorian age of steam and Victorian science fiction writers such as Jules Verne and H. G. Wells. Steam Punk tends focus more on the science fiction aspects, while Gaslight has a more paranormal vibe. Read more here

Ian Acheson introduced us to Supernatural Fiction - which focuses on supernatural beings such angels, demons and/or ghosts (and is related to paranormal and urban fantasy). It can have a faith or Christian focus or be more 'secular' in its approach. Read more here.

Other speculative sub-genres include fairy tale retellings and fractured fairy tales, paranormal, urban fantasy, horror, dystopian, cyber-punk, cli-fi, solar punk, time travel, grim-dark or noble-bright etc.

Mystery and Crime


Donna Fletcher Crow discusses crime mystery, in particular historical crime mystery such as medieval crime mystery here

Virginia Smith explores the different kinds of mystery novel from cosy, police procedural, private eye, etc. here. 

Other forms of mystery can be hard-boiled, noir, paranormal or even as specific as Scandinavian Noir.


Suspense can be part of a straight thriller or mystery/crime novel or can involve romance as a major subplot in romantic suspense (where danger forms a backdrop to the romance).

Sandra Orchard discusses the elements of suspense here

Other significant fiction genres include Historical Fiction, Contemporary Drama, and Literary Fiction

Christian Fiction

Christian Fiction can be understood in different ways. For some, it can be any fiction written by a Christian, for others it has a much more defined and strict definition with overt Christian content such as bible verses, prayer, mentions of Jesus, conversion scenes and the absence of graphic sex, violence and strong language. Somewhere in the middle, others would include books that may have less overt religious content but are written from a Christian worldview, contain Christian values and themes, and include pointers to faith, but which would still be appropriate for a general market. See here and  here for more discussions.

Christian fiction can include the majority of the other genres we've covered, such as romance, mystery, historical, science fiction, fantasy etc.

More specific Christian fiction has subgenres such as Christian supernatural fiction (see Ian Acheson's post above), Biblical fiction and Christian allegory (like Pilgrim's Progress).

Biblical Fiction

Biblical Fiction re-imagines the characters and stories we find in the Bible, often filling in the gaps and fleshing out the historical setting.  While Biblical Fiction can be written from a non-Christian perspective, Christian Biblical fiction is true to the tenets of Christian faith and the Bible itself.

Susan Preston discusses Biblical Fiction here.


Nola Passmore introduced us to creative non-fiction (and how that differs from reportage). Read more here.

Non-Fiction can include historical works, memoir and biography as well as self-help books, devotionals, theological works, text books or informational books, books of essays, coffee table books, cookbooks  etc.


Poetry can be non-fiction or fiction or a mixture of the two, it can be strongly narrative (ballads, for instance) or focus on a moment or a feeling or an image or be metaphorical or evoke shared feelings and realities.

Valerie Volk gave a wonderful introduction to Poetry (here

Jeanette O'Hagan explored Free Verse (poetry without a set rhyme) and Verse Novels (telling a narrative in verse) (read more here).

Targeted by Age and/or Gender

Children and Teens

Penny Reeve introduces us to the difference between picture books and chapter books in younger readers. Read more here.

Cecily Anne Paterson discuses writing for Young Adult or Teen readers (generally from thirteen to nineteen years of age). Read more here

New Adults

New Adult Fiction is a more recent category, ranging from nineteen to twenty-five year olds (or up to thirty), generally school leavers starting university or work, living away from parents, forging new relationships, learning what it means to live independently.  Read more here.

For middle-aged and older readers

Various 'lits' may target these age groups, usually with a humorous or even farcical tone. For instance 'chic-lit', then there is 'hen-lit' or 'nana-lit' targeting women of different age groups (thirty-somethings, middle-aged, older women). Women's Fiction tends to be more serious - and maybe more 'literary'.

Westerns and Military fiction (and non-fiction) may be primarily targeted to male readers.


Both fiction and non-fiction may be written with a primary focus on humour, whether witty and dry, or more slapstick in style, or farcical or satire.

Length and format categories


Jeanette O'Hagan looked at 'short fiction' from flash to novellas (though it could also be non-fiction). Read more here.

Narelle Atkins explores novellas and novelettes in the romance genre here.

Collaborative Writing

Jeanette O'Hagan explores ways that writers can collaborate and that is in the actual writing itself in collaborative works such as ghost-writing, partnerships, anthologies and more. Read more here.

Where to next?

Being presented with the different categories and genres can be as overwhelming as looking at the different brands in the supermarket. Too much choice. On the other hand, it can be seen as freeing, for there is really something for everyone and opportunities for cross-overs and mash-ups.

Tell us - what genres (or sub-genres) do you love to read?  Which do you write in?  Which would you like to learn more about?


Jeanette 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 Nardvan stories span continents, time and cultures. They involve a mixture of courtly intrigue, adventure, romance and/or shapeshifters and magic users.

She has published numerous short stories, poems, three novellas (Heart of the Mountain, Blood Crystal and Stone of the Sea) in her Under the Mountain series and her debut novel, Akrad's Children and Ruhanna's Flight and other stories. She has short stories and poems in seventeen anthologies and was thrilled that her story, Wolf Scout, was recently accepted for the upcoming Inklings Press anthology, Tales of Magic and Destiny.

Her latest release, Shadow Crystals (the fourth novella) will soon be available on preorder.

You can also find her on:

Facebook |Jeanette O'Hagan Writes | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

Thursday, January 31, 2019

God gave me two words for my writing journey, and they weren’t what I wanted to hear

I had it all planned.

I’ve always been a writer. After I spent my school years writing short stories and poetry, I moved into journalism and corporate communication. Words have put food on my table since I was nineteen.

Fiction writing was always something I was going to do … one day. All these ideas for novels came to me, which I politely filed away for that day in the future when all the financial ducks were lined up. That would allow me to comfortably approach the task of writing without the expectation of getting paid. When I had enough money or enough clients behind me so I could safely take the plunge into what is a vocation not flushed with cash, I would take them out of my folder, and write fiction. (I currently have 17 storyboards sitting there waiting to be fleshed out into living breathing stories).

It was a hobby. Or so I thought.

Then God challenged me.  He reminded me that His gift of notes with story ideas and novels on them wasn’t just it. He hadn’t just given me stories to tell, He had also given me the ability to tell it and He would provide the room in which to tell it.

He took my writing dream, flipped it upside down and then stood back and said two words to me.

I would have loved to have heard: “Publishing House.” Now that I could live with.
That would form the basis of an amazing testimony. I started with a dream and led me to the outcomes of being on the shelves. Just inspiring.

But no.

I wanted to hear: “Great Story.” Now that would be the highest endorsement of my writing. Proof that I wasn’t living in my own little delusional bubble where my work-in-progress was spun gold simply because I was the only one judging it. That would be terrific to hear.

But no.

A part of me wanted those two words to be “Best Seller”. Wouldn’t that be an amazing achievement? Now that would be a testimony – nobody to best seller under God’s direction. Classic rags to riches story.

But no.

The two words I heard were these. “Trust Me.”

“Trust Me” are two words no control freak wants to hear.  I’ve learned over my time on this planet that “Trust Me” is a phrase that actually increases my blood pressure, it doesn’t reduce it.
So it took me a while, but eventually I trusted Him in that. I started to write and invested more of my time in this calling. And my concerns about who was going to pay the bills have drifted off (although at times they do come storming back). God’s provision of work while I’ve been writing – and I’ve done two manuscripts now – has been incredible. Clients have come looking for me, some who I haven’t worked with in years, but the flow has always been there. 

There is always enough.

Still, as someone who prefers to control his world, this was very unsettling, but I’m glad I did.

Next month my debut novel comes out. On March 5, The Baggage Handler will hit the shelves courtesy of HarperCollins Christian Publishing in the States. And I’m writing The Camera Never Lies ready for a November 2019 release.

{Just as an aside, if you'd like to win some Baggage Handler tags for your suitcase, head over to my web site.}

None of that would have happened if I had waited for that mythical day in the future of having enough. Instead, it took a lesson in trusting God, whereby I learned – eventually – that the issue wasn’t having enough, it was in trusting God to be enough.

And those two words stick with me. It’s frantic juggling books (something you may know all too well) but I’m trusting in that process.

I’m glad I heard those two words. They were the right ones.

Based in South Australia, David Rawlings is a sports-mad father-of-three with his own copywriting business who reads everything within an arm’s reach.  He has published in the non-fiction arena and is now focused on writing contemporary Christian stories for those who want to dive deeper into life

His debut novel - The Baggage Handler - comes out on March 5 through HarperCollins Christian Publishing. His second novel - The Camera Never Lies - will arrive on shelves in November 2019. 

He is currently represented by The Steve Laube Agency.

Monday, January 28, 2019

Talents? What talents?

Image courtesy of fantasista/
I’ve always had an uneasy relationship with money and am not a subscriber to the prosperity gospel, which has gained significant momentum during the past decade or two. It seems to me that prosperity teachings often place too much emphasis on financial gain for its adherents, instead of giving the glory, and the gain, to God.

Motivation is the lynch pin. If we’re motivated by God’s promptings and our love for our Lord, then any gains that ensue, whether personal or generalized to the community, are pleasing to our Father. I highly suspect that He is further pleased if those gains are in our spiritual development.

If, however, we’re motivated by personal gain – the almighty dollar, status and/or power, for instance – God sees our heart and grieves. God has never been pleased with avarice.
Prosperity gospels take this avarice one step further, however, by using prayer and scripture as a kind of magic. Words can be manipulated into ‘spells’ with relative ease.

And hence my uneasy relationship with money.

In more recent years, though, I’ve noted that not all devoted and genuine Christians hover as closely to the poverty line as I have always done. At first, I thought God had simply chosen to bless them in this manner more than He has blessed me…and I’ve been okay with that. The wind blows where it will, after all. (Alright, let me be perfectly frank, there have been a few times when I’ve pitched headlong into a full-blown pity-party, at least for a few minutes, but I do try awfully hard to snap out of it.)

After a fortuitous conversation with a beautiful Christian woman several weeks ago, it dawned on me that I’ve been missing something vitally important all these years. And it all boils down to a deeper understanding of scripture, specifically, the Parable of the Talents.
The Parable of the Talents, as many of you will recall, appears twice in the synoptic gospels of the New Testament. (Matthew 25:14-30 and Luke 19:12-27)

In both Matthew and Luke, a master puts three of his servants in charge of his finances while he travels further afield. To each he gives a specific amount without any instruction about how to handle it.

‘To one he gave five talents, to another two talents, and to another, one talent, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. 16 The man who had received five talents went at once and put his money to work and gained five more. 17 So also, the one with two talents gained two more. 18 But the man who had received one bag went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.’     Matthew 25

(Note: As it happens, a ‘talent’ is worth a great deal of money in today’s terms – according to my research it’s equal to approximately 1.5million US dollars!)

When the master returns home he asks each of his servants what they’ve done with the money he entrusted to them. It’s clear he expected some profit from the servants’ stewardship and he compensates them accordingly. To the two servants who doubled their profits, he gives rich reward but to the servant who played it safe and made no attempt to grow his riches, he meters out a negative compensation.
Image courtesy of

As with all the parables, Jesus is attempting to teach us a spiritual truth here and it’s definitely not just about money. Everything we have comes from God, be it dollars in the bank, our homes and possessions, our talent for writing (or painting, or woodwork or cooking – the list is endless), or our spiritual gifts. And our Master is waiting patiently for us to make the most of what we have; not to merely hoard it and look after it, but to use it wisely and watch it grow. For HIM.
Image courtesy of

We’re writers, you and I, and I’ve come rather late to the party in that I’m only just realizing that God wants me to step up, to take a few risks, to get out there amongst it and get some books happening! In other words, I need to be head down and tail up as often as time permits. No more procrastination. No more false humility. No more finding a myriad more chores that need to be attended to first.

Many of you are already accomplished writers and continue to be an ever-present source of inspiration and encouragement. Your words have fed my soul. I’ve been given much, it seems, and it’s about time I gave God some return on His investment.

Hmmm…it’s been a sobering realization and also a precious one. (And while I think of it, it’s probably also a good time to refinance that mortgage of mine!)

Melinda Jensen blogs extensively on emotional and psychological abuse and is currently enjoying a sea change from writing fiction to writing non-fiction, self-development books. Who'd have thought? A keen student of human nature, she's had articles, short stories and poetry published in a variety of magazines, newspapers and journals, having juggled single-motherhood and chronic illness for about 24 years. She's still almost sane and definitely has a heart for God and a yearning to bring a couple of books to fruition this year. Apart from that, she's besotted with cats, makes jolly good fudge and is desperately trying to keep her garden alive in the drought.