Thursday, November 15, 2018

Waiting

by Jeanette O'Hagan


In my latest release, Stone of the Sea, one of the characters thinks, "Waiting was all they seemed to do these days. Wait for food. Wait for to learn their fate. Wait for Baba to return and take back the realm.'


Sometimes being a writer can feel like that - waiting to finish a novel,  waiting for feedback, waiting to hear back from agents and publishers, waiting to be published, waiting for sales, waiting for reviews, waiting for traction in the market, waiting for... it doesn't seem to end.

When I launched back into writing about six years ago, I thought getting published was the ultimate goal. After a while, it seemed like that goal would never happen. Others achieved it, but I didn't.

So I was over the moon with when a few of my poems and a short story was accepted for publication in 2014. Holding a published book with my story in it was a thrilling experience. Yet, I soon discovered that with each goal achieved, there are others that loom ahead and the waiting begins again - and with it the uncertainty and the feeling that the new horizon remains beyond reach and the voices of doubt and discouragement multiply. It can be frustrating and demoralising.

What I've learned along the way is that waiting is part of the journey. It's part of the way of things. But it doesn't last for ever.




Things Happen While We Wait 



When I was seven, I decided to grow a pawpaw tree. Armed with a little knowledge and a great deal of enthusiasm, I separated out a single seed, found a gardening spade and marched out to the back garden. I dug a hole—probably about 30 cms deep—placed the seed at the bottom of the pit, flooded it with water from the hose, piled in the dirt, patted and shaped the resulting slurry until it was a hard  concrete dome (drawing on my uber-mudcake making skills, but that's another story).

I congratulated myself and sat back and waited for the tree to sprout and grow.

Next day, I checked my tree-in-the making. The mound looked just as I left it. Maybe, little drier under the baking Mt Isa sun. I added some more water. The next day—nothing, just bare dirt. The following day—well, you guessed it, nothing.

Frustrated and worried, I grabbed the spade and dug up the seed to see if it was growing yet. Nope. I buried it again. Dug it up the following day. 

Mum said, ‘Be patient, Jenny. Seeds take time to grow.’

My first venture into horticulture was, I confess, a huge failure, but it taught me something. That good things take time to grow. That patience is an important asset. And digging up seeds is not a great strategy.


Growing plants requires knowledge—what does the plant like in terms of soil, water, position, depth to plant the seed etc—and experience.

It also requires, active waiting. Passive or idle waiting is doing nothing and expecting something to grow. In active waiting, we plant, care for and tend the plant, but we don’t keep digging it up each day to see if it’s growing.

Looking back now, I'm glad my novel wasn't published immediately. It gave me time to hone my craft, become aware of current styles, grow a nework. I'm still not very good at waiting, but I can appreciate it's necessity.




God's timing matters



Six years on, and I have many short stories and poems published. I've published three novellas in my Under the Mountain series, a collection of short stories and my first novel, Akrad's Children.  I've seen sales and reviews, yet I'm still very much a small fish in this big pond.

I write because I love writing and I have so many stories waiting to be written. It's such a joy when others enjoy my stories as much as I do :)

I also write because I feel called to it and believe that God can speak through my writing, even though it is aimed at the general market.

I would love my writing to be sustainable - so I can continue to write and to publish. Sometimes that seems an impossible dream. This year I've been under some pressure to 'show results' and as the putative deadline looms, I've felt pressured and overwhelmed, trying to do everything with all the other roles, responsibilities and expectations. At the same time, sales took a dip, finding reviewers for my latest book met mostly deaf ears, and my campaign chest emptied. It seem an impossible task. Growth was slow or invisible.

In the midst of my frenzy- God has blessed me through the kindness of friends, through small encouragements (another great review, a fan asking about a sequel, an unexpected job, great sales and interactions at Supernova last weekend).

Most of all, He reminds me that He gives life, He gives the growth, He builds the house. I realised I was holding on too tight, that I needed to release my death grip on my dream, to give back to him the dream he ignited in me out of the ashes.

Once again, I'm learning to wait on Him and to trust him with the desires of my heart.

I don't know what the future holds, but I do know whose hand I'm holding as walk toward it. And that is all I need.



*****

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, two novellas and her debut novel, Akrad's Children and Ruhanna's Flight and other stories.

Her latest release, Stone of the Sea (the third novella) is now available. .


Subscribe (here) to Jeanette's monthly email newsletter for the latest on cover reveals, new releases, giveways, and receive the short story Ruhanna's Flight for free.

You can also find her on:




Thursday, November 8, 2018

Meet our Members–Elaine Fraser




Each Thursday in 2018 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 interview's interview is with Elaine Fraser

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

1. I’m a writer from the hills of Perth and live with my husband and golden retriever, Bear. 
2. I travel around the world with my photographer husband, Steve for about three months of every year. 
3. I used to be a high school teacher, but now write full time. 



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

I’ve always written and I taught English for many years. About twelve years ago, I gave up teaching to give writing a go. Since then, I’ve published five books and am writing a few others–two non fiction inspirational books and three YA novels.
I blog on my own website, elainefraser.co as well as Kinwomen, Australasian Christian Writers, and Christian Writers Downunder. 
My husband is a landscape photographer and writer and I work with him on his books and articles as well. 
I write because of compulsion. There’s something in me that has always loved to write. I think it first came out of reading–reading and writing go together in my head. I taught English and loved teaching others.
 I also write to work things out. What I’m thinking, what emotions I need to process and so on. I also write to express ideas and thoughts in order to hopefully inspire others.



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

When I wrote my first non-fiction book in 2004, I never imagined that I would write fiction. I never imagined that I would write for Kinwomen. I never imagined that I would write the book I’m working on now, The Solo Traveller. I never thought I’d write a book about a girl struggling with her sexuality and faith. 
God has been leading me to write for people on the fringes of faith–people who perhaps used to go to church or may be spiritually searching. 
I’ve met all sorts of people through my travels and writing–people who live on the streets of Skid Row in LA, kids who have family members shot in the ganglands of the projects in LA, people who used to go to church and are now self-proclaimed atheists, people whose sexuality has separated them from family members for twenty-five years, people who call themselves spiritual, but don’t like religion. These are the people I have in mind when I write. 
The story is in the struggle and I grapple with issues in my writing. I question and study and wrestle with my beliefs and values.

I have to work out my own faith. If I write in such a way that depicts characters who seem to accept everything without questioning, then am I giving the reader what they need? Stories that show that faith isn’t black and white. That faith is something robust and challenging and worth working out. 

Because I don’t present black and white views on issues, the risk is that my stories may be seen as too liberal for some and too conservative for others. 

Being labelled too conservative by one end of the opinion spectrum or too liberal at the other is a risk I’m willing to take. 


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

One of the biggest challenges I face is developing routines in my writing. Because I travel so much, I tend to binge write, put my WIP down for a while and come back to it. This leads to some difficulties in continuity. 
I’ve just finished the final draft of a women’s fiction novel eight years after I first got the idea, five years after I submitted the first three chapters to my Oxford University tutor, four years since I first went to Tuscany and developed the novel further, a year on from finishing the first draft of 150 000 words, and four months after receiving feedback from an editor and an agent that I needed to rewrite parts and cut 50 000 words out of the manuscript. 
I've already published five books and this has been the most difficult one ever–a new genre, a new target audience, a parallel narrative, writing 50 000 words too many and having to cut them, lots of travelling and disjointed writing all contributed to a messy process.
I almost threw the book out because it got so difficult, but I persevered and learned so much. What helps me the most is community. I belong to a group of writerly friends who encourage and support each other–friends all over the world. 

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

I have a few key texts that I refer to over and over. I’ve been studying two texts that have helped immensely in editing my latest manuscript. (I wish I had these books before I began this book!) 
Firstly, Story Genius How to Use Brain Science to Go Beyond Outlining and Write a Riveting Novel by Lisa Cron




Story Fix: Transform Your Novel from Broken to Brilliant by Larry Brooks helped me to figure out where to cut 50 000 words from my manuscript and tighten up the story. 






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

I would like to honour Iola Goulton who has edited a few of my books and helped me immensely in getting my latest novel into shape. She Skyped with me, edited the manuscript twice and then took it back a third time.
Her sense of humour, knowledge, feedback, and professional approach has been invaluable in helping me not to throw my WIP out and give up. 
Iola is a RITA Romance with Religious or Spiritual Elements Winner for Kara Isaac’s novel, Then There Was You, along with Halee Matthews, and I’m so proud of her. 




Question 7: What are your writing goals for 2018? How will you achieve them?

As I write this, I’ve finished the final draft of my WIP and Iola is doing the final proof. My goal is to secure an agent and publisher for the book by the end of the year. 

I am 30 000 words into a YA novel and have enough material for two non fiction books, but I think I'll be finishing those in 2019. 

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

The more I write, the more I go out and speak, the more I interact with people in workshops, the more I realise that unless there is divine silence and divine interaction, my words are like a ‘clanging cymbal’
The space where faith, prayers, and pen on page meet is a divine interaction, a divine dance. 
There’s so much noise in the world. There are so many of us writing and promoting ourselves on social media and we contribute to the noise. In order to promote our work, we often seem to be shouting about it to the world. But, if we hear the whisper of God, if we listen to it, if we sit in stillness and whisper to God about our work, we will find that it is not necessary to shout. 
 I’ve found over the years, that trying to follow a pattern set by others, a formula, or trying to fit into a genre’s expectations, or peer’s expectations doesn’t work. 

If I listen to the whisper of God, He leads me and encourages me to find my own voice, my unique perspective. Sometimes he even leads me to be countercultural or to question things. 
 When I whisper to God about my work, I find my writing goes to places I never dreamed of and my soul is taken into new territory. 

Monday, November 5, 2018

Exploring Genre: Romance Novellas and Novelettes

By Narelle Atkins @NarelleAtkins




A romance novella can be defined as a short and complete romance story with a typical word length that ranges between 20,000 to 40,000 words.

A novelette has a word count starting at 7,500 words. A story with a word count between 17,500 to 20,000 words may be defined as either a novella or a novelette.

Stories longer than 40,000 words are considered short novels.

Traditionally Published Romance Anthologies


Novellas and novelettes have always been popular in the romance genre. Pre-Kindle and the emergence of ebooks, romance publishers would often release trade length novella collections containing a number of stories. In 1997 Aussie author Mary Hawkins had a Christmas novella, Searching for a Star, published in the Christmas Dreams 4 story novella anthology by Barbour.


In 2017 Aussie author Lucy Thompson had her historical romance, Waltzing Matilda, included in a 9 story anthology The Captive Brides Collection published by Barbour. The stories are connected by a common theme: Can their captive hearts be freed to dream, to dare, to love?


Novellas that are connected to a series



A Tuscan Legacy is a multi-author contemporary Christian romance novella series that includes a family mystery plot. A Tuscan Legacy opens with a short novel length Book 1 - That's Amore.



My contribution to A Tuscan Legacy is Solo Tu (Book 7) set in Sydney, Australia. I've indie published four romance novellas and Solo Tu is my longest, coming in at just under 40,000 words.




Mary's Hawkins' Australia romance collection from Barbour included three short novels and a novella.




Nicki Edwards' Operation Mistletoe Magic and Operation White Christmas are part of her 'An Escape to the Country' rural romance series.

Novella Prequel to Book 1 in a Series


In recent years we’ve seen the rise in popularity of the romance novella being used as a marketing tool to launch a series. The prequel ebook novella is effectively a loss leader. It's often priced at 99c or free with the goal of funnelling readers into the new series. Alternatively, the prequel novella may be a 'reader magnet' and given away for free to readers who have subscribed to the author's newsletter. These marketing strategies are used in all fiction genres for both traditionally and independently published series.

Novellas in ebook multi-author boxed set series


Boxed sets started to gain popularity in the Kindle store in 2013 and they remain a favorite with readers. 'An Aussie Summer Christmas' was released two years ago. For a limited time we offered six ebook novellas for the bargain price of 99 cents. The novellas in the set included A Christmas Resolution, All is Bright, Falling for Maddie Grace, Melbourne Memories, Santa Next Door and my novella Seaside Christmas.


My Inspy Romance author friends have put together A Christmas to Remember - on sale for Christmas 2018.

Print book single author collections


Authors sometimes combine their books into one print book collection. Meredith Resce has included two novellas and two short stories in Four Short Stories: Falling for Maddie Grace; And Where There's Smoke.

Standalone Romance Novellas


Tips for writing a romance novella or novelette


Ensure the plot isn't too big and complex


There's only room to develop a single romance plot in the shorter length romance novellas and novelettes. The shorter the word length, the larger the focus of the story will be on the hero and heroine. The word length puts limitations on the amount of time the minor characters can be on-stage in the story.


Limit the point of view characters to the hero and heroine or a single viewpoint.


In a typical romance novella or novelette there isn't space to include a minor character point of view. An exception would be a romantic suspense that may include short scenes in the villian's point of view.


Shorter time frame stories often work well


A good example is Amy Matayo's romance novella Christmas at Gate 18.



Reunion romances are popular tropes


If the couple already know each other and have an established history, the romance plot can get moving at a faster pace from the start without losing plot plausibility with readers.

External conflict and forced proximity is important


The shorter the story, the more the balance between scene and sequel will skew toward shorter sequels. The external conflict is what pushes the hero and heroine to be on-stage together in the scenes.

Tight writing and fast scene transitions


Every word counts in a shorter length story. The tighter the writing, the more space the author will have to write the important sequels that allow the reader to take a breath and reflect between the fast paced action scenes in the story.

Any Questions?


Have you written a romance novella or novelette? Do you enjoy reading them? I'd love to hear your thoughts and experiences.


A fun loving Aussie girl at heart, NARELLE ATKINS was born and raised on the beautiful northern beaches in Sydney, Australia. She has settled in Canberra with her husband and children. A lifelong romance reader, she found the perfect genre to write when she discovered inspirational romance. Narelle's contemporary stories of faith and romance are set in Australia.

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Thursday, November 1, 2018

Omega Writers' Conference 2018 Highlights


Report by Paula Vince

Late October is the time for the annual Omega Conference, when writers from all over Australasia come together for a great weekend of fun, fellowship and teaching. This year we gathered at The Monastery, in Adelaide, South Australia. The tranquil gardens were a good backdrop for the buzz of energy and ideas flowing through the Hub and workshops. Then on Saturday evening, we all enjoyed the announcement of the CALEB Awards, and celebrating with the winners and finalists.

Here is my impression of the wonderful weekend, followed by those of several others I've asked to chime in, just to bring you a composite picture of how awesome it was. We hope it will inspire you to consider attending future conferences.

Paula Vince: As I sat in the sessions, I realised how rare it is to receive encouragement designed especially for people who love to write. My soul must have been hungry for it. The keynote speaker, Alex Marestaing, has a compassionate way of addressing the hurts and disappointments we may feel along the way. I love his reminder that when we write, there's often some deeper magic going on than we may even be aware of. And that self-confessed oddballs could consider ourselves 'Outside Voices' that God can use. I'm going to dust off a story I had freezing cold feet about and get back to work.

Carolyn Miller: I really enjoyed meeting so many new people (and catching up with other friends).

Penny Reeve: It was a privilege to to be able to pair up people with editors, publishers or specialists at the Hub. I loved seeing genuine connections being made, ideas launched and writers courageously seeking input into works in progress.

Rosanne Hawke: Omega Conference was a real mix of encouragement, inspiration and learning for all writers, whether they be beginners, emerging or mid-career. I found confirmation for my project and was able to mentor others as well. Great to meet writers who I've only met on Facebook. Hadn't seen Cecily Thew Paterson since she was 17. Great to catch up with publishers and to network. And to enjoy great food and atmosphere at The Monastery.

David Rawlings: It was great to meet the people behind the Facebook names. I'm connected to many other Australian writers, but being able to chat, share and get to know them in person was a privilege.

Marc Jeffrey: The worship on Sunday, along with the devotional about the jar of expensive perfume did my head in. In a good way!

Nola Passmore: I really liked the theme of the conference 'From a Whisper to a Shout' and it's amazing how that kept coming up in the different sessions. One of the things that resonated most with me was that we need to think differently about writing. We tend to think in terms of a whole book or a whole screenplay. But a Facebook post or an Instagram post can impact a lot of people. Don't spend years thinking about what God has whispered to you. Start writing and get it out there.

Adam Collings: Having been involved in Omega Writers for a number of years, I finally made it to conference. It felt like coming home. I was surrounded by friends that I knew, but had never met. The speakers were amazing, the worship was powerful, the food was fantastic and the location was inspirational. I have come home ready to be an outside voice for God and change the world with my words.

Sue Jeffrey: I loved the peace in the venue - beautiful gardens - and the professionalism of the presenters. I learned new things and was able to commune with God. The worship made me cry (in a good way)

Adele Jones: Inspirational. So great seeing people getting brave about shouting what's being whispered into their heart. The Omega Writers conferences always feel like a family reunion!


Kaye Johnson: As a newbie and not knowing quite what to expect I was so encouraged by the weekend. From getting insights into timelines for memoirs, and giving myself permission to feel vulnerable, to listening to God's whisper in my ear, and taking action to shout it from the rooftops! Allowing myself to be unravelled and renewing the affirmation that I am a child of God (thank you Steph and Simon for leading us in worship!) and learning about Outside Voices from Alex, all contributed to a huge learning curve for me. Thank-you everyone for your friendship and encouragement. You have certainly challenged me to put this into practice and just write!

We would encourage everyone to begin saving for next year's conference. They are so well worth attending, if you can possibly make it. And our thanks goes out to the hardworking committee team, everyone who ran a workshop, the publishers and mentors present, the caterers at the venue, and anybody else I might have missed. Not least are all the delegates who put aside a weekend to travel and attend, since rubbing shoulders with others and face-to-face communication is ultimately what makes a good conference great.

Paula Vince is a South Australian author of contemporary, inspirational fiction. She lives close to the beach, and loves to use her environment as settings for her stories. Her novel, 'Picking up the Pieces' won the religious fiction section of the International Book Awards in 2011, and 'Best Forgotten' was winner of the CALEB prize the same year. She is also one of the four authors of 'The Greenfield Legacy', Australia's first and only collaborated Christian novel. Her most recent novel, 'Imogen's Chance' was published April 2014. For more of Paula's reflections, you may like to visit her book review blog, The Vince Review.



Monday, October 29, 2018

The Delicate Art Of Criticism

by Charis Joy Jackson


I hate criticism. OK that’s not true, I used to dislike it, now, I’ve discovered how much constructive criticism has made me a better writer. I’m still learning and I hope I will still be honing this craft well into my 90’s. But most of all I hope by reading this, it will help you change the way you look at criticism.

Let’s be honest, none of us really like it. We want people to read our stuff and say it’s THE shining example of what the written word should be. We want to take home all the awards and praise of how amazing we are as creatives, but often we deny one of our biggest allies. Criticism.

Yes, you can receive criticism that’s hard to hear. But one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned about it, is to accept it as often as I can, because it’s helping to sharpen my skill.

When we look at criticism and use our time and energy to fight what’s been said about our writing, we’re wasting our creative juices on negative actions and thoughts. We’re effectively shutting our creativity down and the next time we sit down to write, it’s gonna be harder for us to put pen to paper.

As a young creative all I heard was the negativity criticism offered and it hit me on a personal level. Now as a more experienced creative I actually understand the purpose of constructive criticism. Not just criticism, but constructive criticism.

The point is not to tear someone's work apart, but to make it stronger.

I think if more people understood the fine art of constructive criticism we'd live in a happier, more creative society. And I'm talking about people receiving it and people giving it.

The Art of Giving Constructive Criticism

Start with what you like about the writing. Talk about how it moved you. Be specific to point out things you especially enjoyed. It's ok to gush a bit about these parts. It's a huge encouragement for the artist.

Then move into areas you think could be strengthened. The more specific, the better. As a writer, I need those specifics. Especially if it's dealing with character development and the choices the character made.

The Art Of Receiving Constructive Criticism

On the reverse, if you struggle to receive criticism, the best thing for you to remember, is your work does not define you. Say it with me.

"Your work does not define you."

Your identity is not in what you do. So when you hear someone “tearing” apart your hard work, smile and remember they’re not talking about you.

If you get someone who doesn't know how to give criticism, have grace for them and take what they say with a grain of salt, because even some of the harshest critics may actually be hitting the nail on the head. Even if it isn't said the right way.

When I was first learning to receive criticism, I never wanted to listen or make the changes that were being suggested. I felt that if I did, it would no longer be my work, but a joint effort. Truth is, it's still your work and you should listen to that criticism, because you want your work to be the best it can possibly be.

If we all believed that to take on board someone's criticism made it no longer your work, then we'd never have any epic stories. There would be no Tolkien's or Lewis'. Your work is still your own.

And at the end of the day, you choose how much you take in from the criticism you receive. Use it as a tool and not your enemy.



Charis Joy Jackson works as a full-time missionary with Youth With A Mission (YWAM) a non-profit organisation in Queensland. During the day she mentors young adults, teaches on several topics including worship, intercession and how to makes movies. In her spare time she spins stories of speculative fiction and captures her crazy dreams in print. 


Sign up to her writing newsletter: https://www.charisjoyjackson.com/story.html
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Previous articles: https://randomthoughtsanddreams.blogspot.com/
The Dreamcatcher’s Journal: https://theddreamcatchersjournal.wordpress.com/
Amazon Author Page:  amazon.com/author/charisjoyjackson 
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Thursday, October 25, 2018

Meet Our Members: Raelene Purtill



Each Thursday in 2018 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 interview:

Raelene Purtill ( writes as R.A.Purtill)

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

I have been married to Steve for 25 years. We have three children in their twenties at home which is in the northern suburbs of Brisbane.



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

I have written all my life and I’ve written everything – journals, poems, plays, shorts stories, blogs and I’m now dipping my toe into the longer form of the novel. I am drawn to speculative fiction and love the imagination on which these stories thrive. As a Christian, I am aware of something greater, more than just this world and I enjoy the ability for these stories to explore the human condition. But I also like real stories too about real people and while I don’t write them, they are the stories I like to read.





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

Nobody and everybody!

Seriously, my editors and mentors and the members of writing/critique groups. My short stories have been selected for anthologies, so I must be doing something right!




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

I like to write longhand in pencil first. This gets it all out of my brain. I also make scrapbooks with images of places and people and things, and research. This is my reference tool. Then I type up what I’ve written – I use Scrivener. I do the following edits in the same document. I don’t keep various versions until I am well into late drafts, then I print them out and work on the hard copy. I share with my writing group before sending it to a professional editor.

My challenges are that in the real world, I care for our son and my creative time is limited. I overcome this by getting up early and making the most of the ‘edge of the day’ as someone has called it.





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

Zen In the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury. He was my first author. He introduced me to sci-fi.



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

I must acknowledge the input of our Omega chapter members who have nurtured and supported my writing and the lovely Christian editors who have given me advice and feedback. It’s a wonderful community and nice to know we are not only fellow creatives, but sisters in Christ too.

Question 7: What are your writing goals for 2018? How will you achieve them?

I achieved a long-time goal in 2018. I entered and was shortlisted in the CALEB prize for unpublished manuscript with my fantasy story ‘Asteros Rising.’

For 2019 I plan to continue writing my next book. An historical story based around the pearling industry of north Queensland at the time of Federation. Another ambitious project and through which I have had to deal with much Resistance – but at least the house is tidy!!



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

It keeps it clean. I am sure that I could easily slip into worldly thinking and writing if I did not have it. ‘Asteros Rising’ deals with a number of Christian themes: what it is to be human – there are android characters; healing and where the power to do that comes from; people of faith vs those with pagan views.

I pray and journal as part of my writing process.

----


Raelene enjoys all sorts of creative writing and she loves connecting with other writers at conferences, retreats and workshops.

She facilitates a local writing group and is a member of the Writers Anthology Group which produces an annual anthology.

She lives with her long-suffering husband and three millennial offspring in the northern suburbs of Brisbane.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Your Lights are On!

His Grace Abounds
I enjoy discussing life’s deeper issues at our church small group sessions. Presently, we’re studying Max Lucado’s series on Grace. Last week, even though I’d tucked into a hearty breakfast before I left home, I felt ravenously hungry during our Bible study. So when I drove home at lunchtime, a single thought raced through my mind like a wild wind rushing by at 99 kmph. I HAD TO FIND A DELICIOUS BITE TO EAT. And SOON. The plate of rice, veggies and lentils awaiting me at home had lost their appeal. My insatiable stomach’s loud grumbles were insistent—I had to have something more substantial.

Drooling saliva, I drove to the local shopping centre and bought myself a toasted subway chicken sandwich, adding a decadent melting brownie for dessert. Mmmm. I couldn’t wait to get home to enjoy my meal with a good book. Unfortunately, I was waylaid. A saleswoman selling artificial grass thrust a brochure into my hands, pelting me a dozen questions. As politely as I could, I cut off her sales pitch and kept walking. A travel boutique loomed to my right. Oh! I had to buy a plane ticket to Sri Lanka. Should I pop in and have a chat with a travel agent? On reflection, I decided to do that another day. A good thing too.


When I reached my car, my eyes opened wide in surprise. A lady walking past called out to me ‘Your Lights are On.’ What? How come? As a new driver, I had already done that. Twice. It had of course led to a dead battery each time and a call for roadside assistance. So ever since, I have had Obsessive Compulsive Disorder whenever I leave my car. I check if the lights are off not once but three or four times. I make certain all four doors are locked. I walk around my car ensuring all is well.

How had I left my lights on? Perhaps my rumbling stomach had a lot to answer for?

I jumped into my car, inserted the key into the ignition and turned it on. Would it start? A few anxious moments passed and then … it did. Hooray! A miracle. Thank you God. Thank you so much. As I sped home, the lady’s words resounded in my ears like a loud symphony.
Your Lights are On!
 
His Grace Covers Me

I thanked God for saving my car battery. I thanked Him that I didn’t dawdle any longer in the shopping centre as I could have done. I thanked Him that He often over-rides my failures with His grace. And I even found a few writing tips from that experience!

1.    I had eaten a good breakfast that day, but I was still hungry. Note to self: Feed on God’s Word several times a day and let it nourish my spirit. If I make the Word of God a banquet I feast on, His truths will permeate my being. They will take root within and will colour both my soul and my writing.


A Christian writer's feast

2.    I was sure I could trust my compulsions when it came to my car. Apparently not. As a writer, I edit my words over and over again. But … I am human. In spite of all that effort, I will not always get it right, which is why I need other writers to come alongside me to critique my work. I need professional editors who’ll show me what works and what doesn’t. I need writing books to teach me. I need conferences and writing groups. Just like I needed that lady who walked past my car. They may sometimes state the obvious, but perhaps the obvious needs to be stated?

3.    I know it was God who nudged me to keep going after I bought my lunch. There were numerous distractions in that shopping centre and had I stayed another five minutes, my car battery might have died. Whew. Thank you God for your whispers. I need those murmurs in my writing journey too. His inspiration and my perspiration work well together. We are a team. He is the Leader and the Author.
Father, Son and Holy Spirit, we need YOU
4.    I deserved to have a dead battery that day. God’s grace  saved me. An undeserved gift. And so with my writing too. The Holy Spirit takes the words I write and uses them to bless and encourage others. Without His input—my words, no matter how clever or profound will miss the mark. Without His touch they will be dead and useless.

5.    The car lights being on that day could have led to a dead car battery. But it didn’t. My writing might sometimes seem to be a failure, but God can use that too. Only eternity will reveal what He will do with it. He is a God of second chances.

Let your Light Shine! 

'Shine your light' says Jesus to us Christian writers. As we continue to surrender every day to the Holy Spirit, His Presence will recharge and renew our batteries. Not only that, we would do as He asks in shining His love and light into a dark world in dire need of a Saviour.


Let Your Light shine through our words, Lord!

"Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in heaven." Matthew 5:16


Anusha’s been on many interesting detours in life, as a lab technician, a computer programmer, a full time Mum, a full time volunteer, a charity director, a full time job chaser, until one golden day (or was it a dark moonless night?) God tapped her on her shoulder and called her to write for Him. She has never recovered from the joy it brought her. She loves to see others enjoying life with Jesus and does her mite to hurry the process in her world through her writing and through her life. The goodness of God is her theme song through each season, as she dances in the rain with Jesus. 

Launch of Dancing in the Rain - May 12th 2018

Please stop by at her website Dancing in the Rain to say G’day. Her first book 'Enjoying the Journey' contains 75 little God stories that will bring you closer to your Creator. Her second book ‘Dancing in the Rain' was released in March 2018 by Armour Books and brings you hope and comfort for life’s soggy seasons. 

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Upcoming Events

by Jeanette O'Hagan



As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend. Proverbs 27:17 (NLT)

Writing is often thought of as a solitary pursuit - the reclusive artist scribbling away in the attic as words are distilled and preserved for future generations. And it's true that writers do spend many hours working alone. Even so, it takes a literary village to birth a book. From reading the greats, to teachers, mentors, critique partners, beta-readers, editors, agents, publishers, formatters, cover artists, publicists, distributors, booksellers and readers. More than that, writers can and do encourage each other to keep the flame of creativity burning bright.


There are a number of opportunities for Christian Writers Dowunder to meet not just virtually (online), but also in the flesh. Here are some opportunities.

Omega Writers Conference 26-28 October 2018


Omega Writers Conference is on again at the end of this month. Be swept up by the ambience of The Monastery, Adelaide as we take you from `A whisper to a shout’ building your confidence as a writer through inspired plenary sessions and awards night, through educational workshops and supported host group connections.


When
26 – 28 October, 2018

Where
The Monastery, Adelaide

The winners of the CALEB award will be announced on Saturday night.



Omega Writers Chapter Groups



Different Omega Writers chapter groups meeting together on a regular basis. You can find a list on the Omega Writers website. Non-Omega Writer members are welcome.



CWD Brisbane Meet-up




If you are in the Brisbane area, drop-in for an informal chat at 2pm Sunday, 28 October at the State Library of Queensland cafe.

An impromptu get-together of CWD members that has occurred in the past in Brisbane, Melbourne, Adelaide.


Omega Writers Book Fair 2019


*** HOT OFF THE PRESS ***



Omega Writers Book Fair is on again next year.  We are planning on a wide range of published Christian authors, workshops, readings, prizes and giveaways.

Saturday, 10am-2:30pm 16 March 2019
Hills Church
79 Queens Road,
Everton Park, Qld 4053

If you live or will be in South-East Queensland on this date, come along and be part of a great event.

Toowoomba Retreat 2019



The Omega Writers Toowooma Retreet is a wonderful time of refreshment, inspiration and networking.

SAVE THE DATE 7-9 June 2019

Local opportunities


There are many local opportunities to meet other writers - local writers groups (e.g. Regent Writers), meet-ups (like the Moreton Bay Meet) and Greets, conferences, retreats.



Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.


Image courtesy of tratong at FreeDigitalPhotos.net




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, two novellas and her debut novel, Akrad's Children and Ruhanna's Flight and other stories.

Her latest release, Stone of the Sea, is currently on preorder for 31 October release.


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.


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