Thursday, December 14, 2017

UNIQUE YOU

With apologies to Picasso
Yes, that's you.
(Not the 'Picasso'!)                                     

Think what a remarkable, and miraculous thing it isto be you!Of all the people who have come and gone on the earth, since the beginning of time, not ONE of them is like YOU!

No one who has ever lived or is to come has had your combination of abilities, talents, appearance, friends, acquaintances, burdens, sorrows and opportunities. If you did not exist, there would be a gap in history and something missing from God's plan for humankind. Nowhere ever in all of history will the same things be going on in anyone’s mind, soul and spirit like yours.

No one’s fingerprints are like yours. No one prays
about exactly the same concerns as you do. No one is loved by the same combination of people that love you
 – NO ONE!
No one before, no one to come. YOU ARE UNIQUE! You do not have to pretend in order to seem more like someone else. You weren’t meant to be like someone else, you were meant to be different.

No one can reach out to others in the same way as you. No one can speak your words. No one can convey your meanings. No one can comfort with your kind of comfort. No one can bring your kind of understanding to another person.No one can be cheerful in your way. No one can smile your smile. No one else can bring the whole unique impact of your way. No one can smile your smile. No one else can bring the whole unique impact of you to another human being.

This gift of yourself was given you to enjoy and share. YOU ARE UNIQUE! (Original writer Anon)
                                                                                     
BIO: Rita Stella Galieh, has written a trilogy of historical novels, Indie published, and also contributed to several US anthologies. She is now working on a third historical romance series, Resilient Women

A member of ICFW, ACFW, CWDU, ACW and Omega Writers,
connect with her on , Twitter, Facebook and her website: www.ritastellapress.com 

Rita studied art at the Sydney National Art School then joined the family ceramics studio. After their marriage, she and her husband attended Emmaus Bible College, and were also involved with Christian Television on Sydney’s Channel Nine. 
Currently she co-presents Vantage Point, an Australia-wide Christian FM radio program. She enjoys giving her fun-filled presentations of ‘Etiquette of the Victorian Era’ in costume.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Moments of Recognition by Elaine Fraser



It is interesting how one word can spark memories that one believes she has buried beyond recognition. 
Mandy Nachampassack-Maloney  

'Is this scene about you?' Lisa's brows furrowed into worry-worn grooves. 'Did this happen to you?'

My writing tutor, Lisa had just read a scene from a manuscript I'm working on about a woman who has an incident with her husband while on holiday in France. It was a nasty, cold, violence-infused moment.

'No. It's based on something I overheard in Aix-en-Provence and I've laced it with all the emotion I've ever felt when my husband and I have been at odds. It's also got elements of other situations I've heard of that happened to friends. It's sort of an every-woman experience.'

'Wow. It's so real I got goosebumps,' Lisa's tone carried the relief that she wouldn't have to counsel me to seriously reconsider the relationship I was in.

When we read something that resonates, when we read something that we recognise, either in ourselves, or in others, something powerful is sparked within us. It's the universal  experience of humanity.

While my story is about a fictional character, it's also a conglomeration of every woman I've ever known who has struggled to find her place in her own relationship. Where there's an imbalance of power, a subjugation of needs and wants, and a sense of shame there are women everywhere who can relate, even if they haven't been in that exact scenario. A fictional character or situation can viscerally remind us of a real someone or something in our own lives. 

That is the wonderful thing about great writing, or acting or music, or art. Art makes emotions and experiences recognisable. In that moment of recognition, it's not about art, it's  about recognising ourselves.

The challenge is to create art that is powerful enough to spark recognition. 

In this challenge, we mirror the Creator. When we read His book, we recognise His hand in the world. We recognise His character. We recognise His understanding of humanity through Jesus. 

When people read our blogs, short stories, poems, and novels do they recognise something of God's character? Do they recognise His love for them? Do they see something that gives them hope? 

Blessings, 

Elaine 






Thursday, December 7, 2017

Review of 'Playing God' by Morton Benning (Sue Jeffrey)


Last week I was asked to review the newly released publication, Playing God, by Morton Benning. It was a fun and thought provoking read so I decided to post the review here.


Playing God
Morton Benning
Stone Table Books $24.95

Playing God follows the story of Keenley Turnshoe, an apprentice cleric in the medieval fantasy world of Utopia. One day Keenley attempts to use the prayer glass in the clerical school’s library to ask the Great God Avatar a question. But something goes wrong. The God doesn’t respond as Keenley expects and the prayer glass goes blank. Keenley is terrified he’s broken the Great God.
What Keenley doesn’t know is that his world is virtual, created to be the play-thing of Jeff Masters, a spoilt rich-kid. Through the Deus Interface, Jeff acts as the God of the world, the interface a form of ‘answering machine’ for the prayer requests of the people. 
The problem is that the Deus Interface has decided that it is the Great God Avatar and perceives Jeff to be a threat. It strands the self-absorbed Jeff in his own virtual world where he is forced, to his disgust, to live by the rules of the world. Jeff joins forces with Keenley and his friends in a quest to return to his virtual throne room and fix the problem. Meanwhile Paley, the creator and coder of the virtual world must race against time to rescue Jeff. Failure has real-world consequences. If the Deus Interface cannot be defeated, not only will Keenley and others of the world be ‘killed’, Jeff and Paley may die.
Playing God is an entertaining tale that bridges the genres of science fiction and fantasy. I especially appreciated Benning’s humour which is, at times Pratchett-esque. In describing Keenley’s friend, Miyako, Benning writes: ‘She was the only one of her race many people in this part of the world had ever seen but she was so unassuming her teachers would often mark her absent by mistake.’ Later in the story, Jeff’s attempts to assert his Great God-ness are ironically contrasted with his impotence. ‘ “I’m God. This is my world. I’m in charge and I decide when it stops.” After a moment Jeff looked at the others and said, “So what’s the plan?”’
The story draws to a tension-filled conclusion where the two realities collide and a temporal twist raises the stakes even further. 
One of the benefits of writing in different worlds is that an author can explore issues and ideas out of their normal context. In Playing God, Benning considers the question ‘why is it that people want to be God, or be their own God, yet are really bad at being God?’ This subject has been dealt with frequently in pop culture, such as the iconic 2003 movie, Bruce Almighty. In this film, Jim Carey plays a down-on-his-luck news reporter who tells God he’s not doing his job properly. God, in response, gives him the job, with disastrous results. While Playing God is set in a completely different genre than Bruce Almighty, a similar truth is conveyed.  The self-centred Jeff’s extreme lack of God-like character has, at times, dire consequences for the people who live within his created world.
Playing God is an enjoyable read and I would recommend it for gamers, science fiction/fantasy aficionados, and anyone else willing to take the leap into Benning’s thought-provoking and entertaining virtual world.

Playing God can be ordered from all good booksellers or directly from the publisher, Stone Table Books.


Sue Jeffrey was born in Scotland but moved to Brisbane, Australia with her family when she was just a wee lass. After a childhood spent reading, drawing and accumulating stray animals, Sue studied veterinary science and later moved to Adelaide where she worked as both a vet and a pastor. After a sojourn of several years in the Australian Capital Territory, Sue returned to Adelaide with two dogs, a very nice husband, and a deep desire to write. Sue has a MA in creative writing and her short stories and poems have appeared in several anthologies including Tales of the Upper RoomSomething in the Blood: Vampire Stories With a Christian Bite, Glimpses of Light and A Chicken Can Make a Difference. Sue won the 'Short' category in the inaugural Tabor Adelaide/ Life FM 'Stories of Life' award and her e-book, 'Ruthless The Killer: A Short Story,' is available from Amazon.com. Sue also paints animal portraits

Monday, December 4, 2017

Exploring Genre 2017

by Jeanette O'Hagan



This year, the cross posts between Christian Writers Downunder and Australasian Christian Writers are focusing on genre. I've found it an interesting series and some more in depth look at different sub-genres in more depth. So just to recap -

Why Genre?


Iola Goulton started off the year asking the question - why genre?  She reminded us that genre's are useful for managing reader expectations and in helping to target promotion and marketing.

Then over the next several months we've looked at specific subgenres - or some broader categories - in fiction, non-fiction and poetry.

Fiction


Fiction has a number of broad categories such as romance, speculative fiction (science fiction and fantasy), crime and detective fiction, historical dramas, thrillers, military, women's fiction and literary - among others.  Fiction can also be aimed at children (picture books, chapter books, middle-grade), young adult (teens), new adults (teen-early twenties) or adults.

Romance




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 a romantic relationship between the hero and heroine or romantic couple.  Category romance is hugely popular and generally has some firm expectations. It can also range from sweet to steamy (or blend into erotica, which is really another category).

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 - eg. 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.

Speculative Fiction




Speculative Fiction images 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 super-natural - explanation is given), though these can cross-overs such as science fantasy and mixtures. There is easily over 100 sub-genres within this field - including crazy mash-ups like gaslamp fantasy or weird west.

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 (Superman) or a supernatural (eg 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.

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 Christina focus or be more 'secular' in its approach. Read more here.

Shorts


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

Poetry




Poetry can be non-fiction or fiction, it can be strongly narrative (ballads, for instance) or focus on a moment or a feeling or be metaphorical.

Valerie Volk gave a wonderful introduction to Poetry (here)  while the following week we explored Free Verse (poetry without a set rhyme) and Verse Novels (telling a narrative in verse)  (read more here).

Non-Fiction


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


It can be tempting to see genre as a straitjacket or a way of pigeon-holing our fiction.  It can be seen as restrictive or reducing writing to formula (the HEA, the red herrings and clues, etc).  Some genres have stricter guidelines  - the category romance, the cozy mystery - while others almost by their nature tend to push the boundaries  or like cross-overs with a meld of different genres (speculative fiction, Young Adult).

Writing within a genre still allows amazing variety and ingenuity, especially when there are so many.

ACW & CWD are thinking of extending this dip into genres and subgenres next year. With that in mind,

Have  your found the series helpful? How?
What did you learn (if anything)?
And are there any particular genres you'd love to find more about?

List of posts (chronological order)

Genre  
Creative Non-Fiction



Spaceship image courtesy of digitalart at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Cover Image Valerie Volk In Due Season
Other images copyright Jeanette O'Hagan

...............


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. Find her on Facebook or at her webpages Jeanette O'Hagan Writes or Jenny's Thread.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

The People Read It

by Jeanette O'Hagan


The people read it and were glad for its encouraging message. Acts 15:31 (NIV)



 'Why do you write?'


I love words. Writing allows time to choose and shape my words without interruption. I love telling stories - anecdotes, family legends, funny happenings.  I love making up stirring tales about heroes and heroines, strange lands and epic adventures. I love to teach, to impart shared wisdom, acquired knowledge. I love the way poetry encapsulates emotion and beauty and wonder. Writing helps me process my thoughts, to discover meaning -  to understand myself, to commune with God and to communicate with others. Writing is a calling though it can never take the place of a living relationship my Lord.

There are a multitude of reasons to write.  I think most writers write because they love writing, because they have something to say, stories to tell. Those that write for fame or fortune are surely soon disillusioned.

Why do you write?

And who do you write for?


Do you write for yourself? For an audience of One? For your family or friends? Or for strangers? Perhaps, for those who haven't yet been born?

Or, to ask it another way. Why is it important to you to be published?

The reasons for writing and the reasons for (wanting/seeking/being) published are perhaps different. Maybe, we write because we must, it's a passion or a necessity. But, we seek publication so that our words and stories will be read  - not just by us, or a select group of friends and family - but by those we don't know and may never meet.



Words Unread


Words are powerful. Yet, unread words wait in silence, wait to uncoil and be unleashed in the mind of the reader.

Of course, as many have reminded us - we can't choose the impact of our words or the size of our audience. God is the God of the harvest and He directs the workers. Paul say (1 Cor), one sows, another waters. We write - as well as live - by faith and by God's grace. This is true whether we write Christian fiction or for the general market, if we write  to shine a light or to entertain, to challenge (or all of the above).

At no time is our worth or our standing with God predicated on the state of our manuscript or our publication status or the size of our social following.

There is a balance - between resting in and on God and doing the good He has planned for us. Grace is not an excuse to be idle when we could be working, though there are fallow seasons, there are times when God calls us into the wilderness, times when He passes the mantle onto others - and then there are times of planting and harvest.

For me, and probably for you, writing is also about finding and connecting with readers - not only my friends and family, and not only other writers (though I love you all and I appreciate everyone who buys and reads (and reviews ;) ) my books and the books of other writers). I think its wonderful and necessary that we support each other  - but just as the Church needs to extend into the workday week and connect with the community beyond her doors to be effective, we also need connect with general readers.



In some ways, I think that is actually the hardest part of being a writer. And, it does require some effort and lateral thinking.





Here are some of ideas how we do this - not in any particular order or importance:

  • Readers in our existing networks - family, friends, work colleagues etc.
  • Being an expert or at least interesting in a related subject
  • Social media - being interactive not pushy
  • Blogging 
  • Readers groups and book clubs
  • Reviews, reviews, reviews
  • Cross-promotions with other authors
  • Blog tours, interviews, character cameos
  • Anthologies and book bundles 
  • Newsletters and events
  • Launches
  • Book signings & bookshop events
  • Author talks, School & Library visits
  • Study notes
  • Different formats
  • Donating books
  • Promotions and ads
  • Quirky promotions
  • Leaving books in mystery locations
  • Markets
  • Conventions and Book Fairs
  • Begging (joking, don't beg, pray instead)

Not that we can necessarily do it all and certainly not all of the time.  We do what we can - and rest in the Lord of the Harvest.

What ideas or experiences of connecting with readers have you had?


New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
----
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 stories and poems in over a dozen anthologies, including Glimpses of Light, Futurevision, Tales From the Underground, and Quantum Soul. She recently released her debut novel Akrad's Children - the first in the Akrad's Legacy series.

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

Monday, November 27, 2017

The Right Write-Life Formula

by Anusha Atukorala



Years ago when I was desperate to conceive my second child, a well-meaning friend suggested that I needed to pray in a certain way in order to have my prayers answered. Hmm...! Isn’t God more interested in my heart than in any prayer formula? God did not give me a second child. But many years on, He blessed me with two lovely daughters in Christ, satisfying my heart’s desires for 3 children—one son and two daughters. The parents of my "daughters" did all the hard work! I had the joy of having them without changing even one nappy! (A great idea, God. Thank you.) My prayers may have been frail and faulty, but they were answered.


More recently, when sharing my health struggles with another (also well meaning) friend, she asked if I prayed daily for good health, telling me it has worked for her. She implied that it was a must in order to receive healing. I do spend plenty of time with God each day. I do talk to Him often. But I don’t ask God for healing every single day, because I don’t think it matters. God knows my heart. Even if my words aren’t quite right or the number of times I pray not the perfect number, I can count on Him to give me His best. After all, it’s not my impeccable prayers which bring results but the mercy and love of a faithful God.

The only Prayer formula I know is not to have one. Instead I seek the Giver of all good gifts. And oh, it’s been a thrilling journey. So … what’s the correct Write Formula if there such a thing?  I’ve spent hours learning the craft. I’ve attended conferences (fabulous times), borrowed a plethora of books from the library, (and read them from cover to cover), written articles and essays, poetry and songs, books and blogs. Perhaps unlike prayer, there IS a right Write Formula? Yes, I believe there is!


It’s true that in order to do most things well, we need instructions to guide us and help us stay on par. We can’t play a game of Cricket or Tennis or Footy without rules, could we, or there would be mayhem. We can’t write a sentence without using grammatical rules or it would not make sense. But what about the right Write Life? Does that have rules too? 

Jesus did not come to bind us with rules and regulations. He came to release the prisoners and set the captives free. As Christian writers, we can take a joyful leap across the chasm of legalism and into fields of grace. Perhaps the biggest decree for our writing lives is that there are no rules? There is only GRACE! Precious, glorious, bountiful grace. The Grace that overflows into our lives as we seek to live for God and for His glory.

Grace means that …

1.     Despite my sins, mistakes and imperfections, He still calls me to write for Him.
2.     It’s not following His laws which will help me thrive as a Christian writer but desiring and seeking intimacy with Him.
3.     If He calls me, He will equip me and help me. It’s as simple as that!
4.     As Paula Vince shared with us so beautifully last week, success as a Christian writer is very different from the world’s view of success
5.     God will use even the deficiencies and failures in my Write Life to touch and bless others
6.     Perfection may often be unattainable but I can aim at excellence



7.     God’s ways are often unusual, unexpected and unfathomable but always trustworthy
8.     My writing may not be exceptional but when I do my best, led by His Spirit, miracles happen
9.     He will always give me a second chance
10.  When I yield to the Holy Spirit. He will use my words, weak and frail as they might be, to prod and poke, to lead and lift, to bless and build
11.  We are each not called to be a carbon copy of other writers but free to pursue our own calling
12.  Most importantly, it’s His glory that we are on about, not our own

So how do I grow into a Christian writer? By spending time with Him, by following the Spirit’s leading, by using my time wisely, by learning writing skills (yes, following those rules), walking in integrity, allowing Him to shape me. being part of the body of Christ and by helping other writers thrive.


Grace frees me to become the writer I was meant to be.
Grace gives me wings to partner with the Holy Spirit.
Grace spurs me on to dare to change the world through words.


Let’s do it! Let's dance in fields of grace!



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. Please stop by at her website to say G’day to her. Dancing in the Rain. She’d love to see you there.


Her first book "Enjoying the Journey" comprises 75 little life lessons and 16 colour photos. Her second book "Dancing in the Rain - words of comfort and hope for a sad heart" will be published in 2018 by Armour Books. Please stay tuned.