Friday, 5 August 2011

Where do you think you are going?

‘Where do you think you’re going?’ The voice, though inaudible, stopped me in my tracks. ‘Who do you think you are? You can’t go in there! What a fraud!’

Shoulders slumped, I turned and started to walk back to my car, away from the meeting I had rushed across town to attend.

The previous day I had met Rochelle Manners. She was speaking at this meeting. and had invited me to attend. With sudden clarity I realised was entering a gathering of writers. Authors! I wasn’t an author! I just wanted help getting my book published. For a moment I froze in the middle of the road, fighting a mental battle about my identity!

‘If I’ve written a book–I must be an author!’ I pushed down my butterflies and slipped into the Omega Writers meeting.

For about 15 years, I’ve wanted to write this book. It lay deep inside me, a powerful testimony to my amazing God, a hidden pearl trying to push its way to the surface. Sometimes I’d sit at the keyboard and start typing, but my efforts bored me after the first two hundred words! How could I ever find a way to release this story?

Last year, after having read four Christian novels in three days, an idea pushed its way into my thinking. Could I write my story as a novel? Setting Francine Rivers as my mentor, I began. Within three days I had 10,000 words. Three months later, when I walked into that writers meeting, there were 85,000 words on my computer. That was a year ago this Sunday.

A door opened for me to attend an Omega Writers mentorship. Last November I spent a whole week writing and learning from authors–real authors! My mentor, Mary Hawkins, patiently taught me the basics of writing. At the end of the mentorship, I returned home and began a complete rewrite. Early May the book was finished again.

Now I had a book! A real book! I submitted the manuscript to Omega Writers for a free appraisal. Another weekend with amazing authors at Mt Tamborine fixed a few anomalies and strengthened some weaknesses. As I type this blog, my manuscript lies in process, awaiting the publisher.

To my surprise, I now find myself accepted into this amazing group of Aussie wordsmiths. Does this mean I am a real author?

While writing this book, I have learned so much about the craft of writing, but also about myself and my God. My book deals with big issues: sexual abuse and healing, witchcraft and evil, religion versus relationship, Christian hypocrisy and the amazing power of unconditional love. It catapults the heroine from a sheltered Christian life into raw gut-wrenching faith where the only one in control is the King!

The title? The cover? The blurb? They are waiting to be revealed. For a taste go to my blog and read the poem that opens the book.

So where do I think I’m going? Who do I think I am? I’m a daughter of the King of Kings and I’m following my Father God. He says we are going places, exciting places. It is so much fun walking with the King!


  1. That is so good, when people ask what I do, what do I say? During the week we met a man to organise shutters for our windows. He asked what we do, and I said unemployed, but an trained in Admin. And my wonderful husband said, "no, she's actually a writer." That was such great validation.
    so I may not have much published but I am a writer and with God's gifts I hope to bring people closer to the Lord

  2. Thanks Jo, it's wonderful to read feedback about how a bit of encouragement and support has the ability to spur each other on to achieve great things.
    When people ask, "What's your occupation" I still get embarrassed about saying, "I'm a writer." As it doesn't yield much income, I'd find it hard to get past the idea that they may think I'm pretentious. Only recently, after seven books, I've decided to say it with pride and conviction anyway. I wonder why we're like that.

  3. I know exactly how you feel, Jo. Funny though, when I first admitted to being an author, most people said "What have you published?" I'd reply, "Well, nothing yet, but I've written three books." I'd usually get an "Oh" for an answer and they'd change the subject. But if you persevere, the great day will eventually come when you have that book in hand. Like Paula said, you need to hold onto that inner conviction that God has called you to write.

  4. Thanks for your honest blog, Jo. One thing that helped me get used to the idea of being called an author or writer was that I had to describe myself that way quite early on while phoning up various official bodies in the process of researching my novels. So by having to say 'Hello. My name's Jo-Anne Berthelsen. I'm an author living in Sydney.' umpteen times over helped me convince myself it really was true! God bless and encourage you - I hope and pray one day you'll use that term' author' and not even give it a second thought!

  5. Thanks for your blog Jo. I really liked your final paragraph. It holds such affirmation and strong reminders of who we are in Christ and what we are meant to be doing.

  6. Hi Jo - that was lovely. Thanks for sharing. It does feel both strange and wonderful to call yourself a Writer, doesn't it? Hope the Publisher gets back with a YES. As Penny said I too loved the way you ended! I enjoyed your easy style of writing - you do communicate well. Thumbs up and God bless.

  7. Thankyou so much for that Jo. I cant wait to read your book! Walking with the King is an amazing experience!

  8. Hi Jo. Thanks for sharing your writing journey with us. It's great to read how we all suffer similar self-doubt along the way, but can all find the encouragement we need in God. All the best with your book.

  9. HI Jo Im a reader here and love hearing how authors get started. (Some readers get really excited meeting an author live and probably more so than the author will ever meet.)
    When I met Paula last year I told everyone about meeting her and how excited I was about it.
    It was even more exiting than meeting Colin Theile when I was in grade 6.

    (not sure why I show up as coming from Melbourne when Im a South Aussie)

  10. Thanks everyone for your comments and feedback. Your encouragements spurs me on! It is fun to start to get to know people on this site and intersting to learn what others are writing about. Enjoy following the King!

  11. Thank goodness I’m not the only one that has felt a moment’s hesitation at revealing my occupation. I have learnt so much from this Jo – the main lesson is to first and foremost claim my position as a writer.

  12. I'm a couple of days behind with my blogs. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Jo. I want to encourage you by saying, you write and you're trying to get published. That looks very much like an author to me, so have no hesitation in calling your self one ... and be proud of it. :)

  13. Hey Jenny, I wonder if it's because Naracoorte is getting close to the Victorian border that you appear to be coming from Melbourne. It would be a shame to show up as a Vic instead of a South Aussie(no, just kidding, Amanda, Dorothy, Lynne and any others I've missed, I'm sure it would be a privilege, you have a beautiful state)

  14. Jo, I can confirm - and VERY strongly - that you are an "author"! Your story is a very powerful one that has to be told and I so admire your commitment to your writing it. Reading your manuscript that first time for the mentorship programme convinced me of that over and over. Sure, it needed rewrites, some "writer techniques" to increase the engagement even more of readers, but this is a book not to be missed! I think you are learning perhaps one of the hardest lessons all of us writers have to learn - rewrite, rewrite, rewrite! And that is so true for a first manuscript as for a 21st one. I know that only too well.

  15. Hey Paula its funny in some things It says Adelaide but on here it says Melbourne. (Im closer to Adelaide!) But I am really a miss placed Western Australian who had the misfortune of being born in the wrong state (Victoria) and living in the wrong state (SA)

  16. Thanks for sharing Jo! I'm like you - I am discovering things about myself as God's child each day, and so much of that comes from the writing journey. Blessings to you as you continue on the path we are all treading with awe and thanksgiving. For it allows not just our writing to become refined, but our hearts as well.

  17. Hi Jo,
    Thanks for your post I often feel the same but we have to do what we think God wants us to. All the best with the book.
    Jennifer Ann

  18. Wow! how encouraging you all are to me. Thanks for your generous comments, Mary. i'm so looking forward to seeing my book released.
    Blessings. Jo