|A flower from my garden- perfect in its season|
Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Monday, November 28, 2011
Friday, November 25, 2011
Dr. Neil T. Anderson (Daily in Christ, August 10, 2010)
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
It's time we showed the world that we've got what it takes; not just to churn out the words, edit a tidy phrase and stimulate the imagination. We need to mechanise our processes. Speed up our production. Streamline and safeguard our creativity from the booby traps that come our way. In this age of gadgets, phones and umpteen numbers of electrical kitchen appliances I proclaim that it's the writer's turn. It's time for some serious inventing of just the write type!
Monday, November 21, 2011
Friday, November 18, 2011
After a wonderful four days in Brisbane, I'm home again. Having taken in the CALEB Awards dinner, Writers Fair and presented a Masterclass on my first three days there, I had a bit of down time to spend on Monday and decided to visit the city. I caught the bus in to the CBD and covered so much of Brisbane on foot, my toes were blistered. I explored the Queen Street Mall and strolled along the river bank watching ferries, river cats and a couple of paddle steamers. I found a great mangrove boardwalk which brought me close to the Botanic Gardens.
As I did all this walking, I couldn't help thinking about the horrific floods that swept through last January, devastating the ground I was stepping on. The river-front Jelly Fish restaurant had a spiel on their window about how they needed to put on flippers and snorkels to get to work and had to battle with octopuses and squid in their kitchen. I found it awesome that they were able to recover from a catastrophe of such magnitude and resume business with their senses of humour intact.
I remembered how I'd watched the TV coverage with disbelief, and when Queensland Premier, Anna Bligh, had addressed the nation with tears in her eyes, assuring viewers that they would all recover and bravely build their lives back again 'because they were Queenslanders'. With all of this in mind, and coming from South Australia, I found my walk deeply moving. God has filled human nature with heroism and resilience.
It doesn't take a natural disaster of this scope to draw the quality out of people. As writers, drawing on reserves of grit and determination is a way of life. We sit at our computers, we devote hours to honing our craft, determined to use our written words as an art form to bless others with what we find in our hearts. Some authors paper their walls with rejection slips from publishers, but keep plugging on.
We take on board feedback from editors, often starting all over again. We slash out entire scenes, we shuffle events in our stories around hoping to increase the tension, we groan at the sight of red marks all over our work but get stuck in to making changes. We pore over Thesauruses in the attempt to find that elusive word which is even more perfect than the one we've originally chosen. We ruthlessly pluck out extraneous words and scan each line carefully for those subtle 'point of view' violations within scenes. We re-phrase huge sections because we realise we've been 'telling' rather than 'showing' in our stories. Then when it's all polished to our satisfaction, we venture out trying to promote our work, often cringing at public places while folk give our books cursory glances, shrug their shoulders, wish us luck and move on.
I was overwhelmed last Friday night to be presented with the CALEB Award for my novel, Best Forgotten. My knees were knocking together so hard, I could barely stand. I'd be surprised if I got a wink of sleep that night. For me, this honour was the culmination of years of hard work during which I often felt like a complete duffer. Writing was a sacrifice in both time and finances. Even earlier this year, I found myself wondering if I should stop, but decided to keep going because I have so much passion and emotion tied up in it. Like many others who read this blog, I'm prepared to accept the uphill climb because I'm a writer.
Thanks to everyone who has congratulated me, and I'm delighted to especially thank my publisher, Rochelle Manners, because Best Forgotten wouldn't even be available without her, of course. She has been too awesome for words, and we all know that coming from somebody who works with words every day, that is saying a lot.
To my fellow writers, keep being resilient. I appreciate you all.
Paula Vince is an award winning fiction novelist and homeschooling mum who lives in the Adelaide Hills with her husband and children. She believes that stories are a particularly powerful medium to touch hearts and help change lives.
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
Lee Franklin lives on a small property in Western Australia, along with her husband, son, dogs and cows. She loves all things girly, suspense, pink (the colour not the singer), cold grey skies and the smell of rain.
Sunday, November 13, 2011
Writers are a confirmed bunch of crazy people. It's true. I've been told, so it must be. I don't mean the first dictionary definition of 1. deranged of mind. I prefer the next one down, 2. fantastic, strange and ridiculous.
Known to dive into crazy situations, we whisper crazy thoughts and hunt down crazy stuff. We sniff out the crazy in others and revel in their stories, mentally storing details to savour later in our scribbles.
It's all part of the job description, and none of us would be game to deny it.
We hear a delicious phrase and tuck it away for our good pleasure. Ponder the title of a book from a list of thoroughbreds about to race. Lose ourselves smelling fruit as we contemplate what best describes late autumn.
We visit places far from home to taste the wind. Just to get the crazy details right. Revisit childhood to unearth emotions only God can strengthen us to navigate again. And let the moon rise, hours after our beloveds have fallen asleep, to continue writing until dawn nudges the sky.
While others go about their normal day, we wander down a pathway no one else can see. We dawdle there, and find something crazy enough to share with the dear one we call reader. And smile as we emerge with yet one more crazy thought.
Last January, as my kids swam in the waters of Phillip Island, I stayed ashore, shivering in the absent summer. I would not play in frozen water... until a crazy thought occurred to me. I wonder what it feels like to step in fully clothed? The way a character might in a moment of despair.
I just wanted to know. To feel the sodden skirt as it clung to my skin as I stepped out. To watch as tiny streams of water dripped down my legs and sand stuck to my hem as it dragged along the pathway home. Hours later, I looked again, to see the dusty salt marks in the creases of my skirt.
It was crazy and it was fun. And it was part of whom I've now become. A gatherer of details and experiences. A crazy writer.
Are you a crazy writer? Game enough to share a time when some craziness beckoned in your writing pursuits?
And if you're too shy to admit a moment of craziness, remember crazy also means, 3. very good or excellent. Ask any teenager. They're crazy too!
Dorothy Adamek writes Historical Romance. Visit her at her blog Ink Dots.
Friday, November 11, 2011
Amanda Deed resides in the south-eastern suburbs of Melbourne where she fills her time with work, raising a family, church activities and writing historical romance novels. Her new novel, Ellenvale Gold was released at the beginning of November. For more information, see:
Tuesday, November 8, 2011
|In the Sydney KOORONG bookstore|
At this difficult stage I believe all authors pass through, you need a big dose of perseverance and a willingness to learn as much as you can to hone the craft. And then realise that if you have a burning desire to write, the Lord gave you the gift in the first place. Stubbornly believe that things will happen in His time. (Jer 29:11) AND forget about making loads of money out of it, simply write as unto the Lord. A real pleasure comes from that, as it's like offering your precious talent (similar to OT times) back to Him.
NB: The following is not for authors who've already experienced this!
Sitting at a table in a busy bookstore can be quite a challenge. Some people won't meet your eye, just in case you might try a "hard sell". Oh, if only they knew! I just prayed that I'd have the opportunity to speak to anyone lonely. And it happened. Several people just opened up to me, and I was so thankful to the Lord for that. On the practical side, I had a little table banner made by Office Works which showed characters from my book. It only costs $25 dollars and can be eye-catching. Then I had to be ready to briefly explain what the book was about in a couple of sentences which I'd worked out beforehand. I also wrote ideas in a notebook so I wouldn't look bored just sitting there. It also helps to have a friend (or helpful husband) to stand nearby to chat with you occasionally.
These are just a few random ideas to help should you be published one day. Some bookstores won't be interested, while others are happy to have a local author help sell their books. It's good PR for them. I honestly did not relish ringing the managers and asking, but I remembered I am an ambassador of the Lord Jesus and I am offering books that will uplift readers, so that thought gives you confidence, (even if the nerves still flutter!)
Right now I'd really value your prayers as I'm soon to leave for a month's ministry to Thailand. Malaria is a concern because of all the water around. We've had all the other shots but we need strength to keep up the pace of meetings. We never know what we'll be doing or where we're going until we arrive. We love the Thais and pray that many will find faith in the Lord. We're able to hand out thousands of the Gospel of John translated into Thai which have details of a correspondence course at the back of each.
* Rita Stella Galieh has just had her second historical romance, SIGNED SEALED DELIVERED released by Ark House Press. You can read an excerpt at www.ritastellagalieh.com
Monday, November 7, 2011
One of my favourite memories from childhood was time spent with my grandmother. She was the greatest story teller, and what was even more special was, her stories were always true.
One story she told us on a number of occasions was about how when she was eleven years old – 1911 – her mother and father packed the family, 2 little girls and a baby, onto a horse drawn cart, and joined a convoy of several other families, and set out on a cross country pioneer expedition.
They lived in the mid-north of South Australia and decided to set out for the unsettled district of Ceduna. At the time, no white man had settled there.
They tied the milk cow behind the cart, and loaded crates of chickens beneath. To hear her describe the journey and the adventure used to stir my imagination. Below I have a couple of paragraphs in her own words taken from a recorded interview she gave just before she died:
“In those days on the West Coast water was very scarce. Water was like gold, in fact water would save your life but gold wouldn’t. Washing for the baby was so difficult, poor old mother had many a struggle to get enough water to wash the babies naps, and some of the water holes we got to, old dams, they’d have dead beasts or sheep all over them and we had to drink that because we had no other water, but it had to be boiled, all boiled before it could be used. Every night at camp everyone would do their own cooking, mother used to make what she called scone bread, baking powder bread, cooked in the camp oven with coals on the top and underneath and believe me it was lovely, we enjoyed every bit of it.
I don’t think anything tasted as good to me as that bread with boiled potatoes and onions, oh you’d have an appetite like a horse and it tasted so nice. One night we had to peel the onions and we peeled a stew pan full of them so everyone had onions that night. Gee they were nice.”
When I listened to her stories, it really stirred my imagination. I could sort of relate. She still lived very much the way she had lived during the depression era. Nothing was ever wasted, and everything was recycled. What she had was precious and used very carefully.
I remember when we used to stay at her place, I’d often want to call my mother on the old big black dial telephone. She would let me, but would always say, ‘Well that’s five cents gone west’. She could never really understand why we would want to spend a whole five cents on talking to someone, when we would likely see them at church come Sunday.
Haven’t times changed! Here I am feeling very much like my grandmother. The kids all have mobile phone plans with certain amounts of Gig download. They facebook, twitter, download movies and play scrabble on their mobile phones.
Talk about ‘five cents going west’!
Anyway, who am I to talk – here I am blogging!
What would my grandmother say to all of this technological interference in life? She came from a childhood where they were thrilled to have a pan of onions to eat. She used to tell us of how she and her sister used to amuse themselves on the new piece of uncleared land. One would climb the tree, and the other would chop it down – true story!
My grandmother was a very real person, and her world was a very real world, but it was so far removed from the crazy digital technological world that we live in.
That, my friends, is one of the reasons I write period drama romance.
Grandma’s life was physically tough, but you know something, I don’t think she knew the thing we call mental and emotional stress.
So every now and again, I like to visit times gone by, and imagine the trials of making your own bread and washing without the aid of electricity. It’s not too hard on me, as it’s only in my imagination. But I also like to imagine the cosy, easy to manage world, where the troubles in Afghanistan and other far reaches of the world are not dramatically broadcast into my loungeroom. The only thing to worry about is the family, the neighbours, and the handful of folks who live within walking distance.
I haven’t quite made up my mind whether this is a healthy escapism or a huge case of denial…Until then…
Ironically, enjoy this digitally produced blog about the time when life was much simpler, and folks used to dip their nibs into ink wells and write on paper.
Author of the ‘Heart of Green Valley’ series.
Like many of you, my love of writing showed up early in the journals I would keep, the stories in the school magazine, the positive comments on my English assignments. The next obvious step seemed to be to study English at University. I embarked upon this course and loved every minute of the reading and analyzing and discussing of texts with others. Unfortunately, I fell short of finishing my degree due to family upheaval at the time. Instead, a series of mundane jobs became my lot until, happily, the release of marriage and children. Because, you see, I decided to be a stay-at-home mum. As a young girl, I had often been called a 'little mother', feeding my hapless brother with Farex and dressing up my long-suffering cat in baby clothes. Clearly, it suited something deep within my personality to nurture, cosset and fuss.
As my children grew, I completed my English degree and thought seriously about further study, with the object of obtaining a librarian qualification and becoming an income-earner. A lot of prayer went into this, because my heart wasn't really in it. All I really wanted to do, deep down, was Christian ministry or writing or preferably a combination of both. And indeed, God did seem to be saying very clearly not to pursue a librarianship or any other career. 'Be still at my command' was the gentle word that I kept hearing.
God knew something that I didn't. In the not too distant future, I would need to be there, at home, using all the strength and resources that He would supply to me to supervise, pray for and support my youngest in her long battle with depression, anxiety and alcohol abuse. 'But this can't happen in a Christian home!' someone might be thinking. It can and it did. God can throw a curve ball at us from time to time, but His intentions are always for our ultimate welfare, and through that dark time, my daughter came to faith in Christ and I grew.
My daughter still struggles, but her heart is in the right place and God is polishing her - sanding a rough spot here, highlighting a facet there - until she becomes the beautiful, refined gold that He has in mind for all of His children. I no longer fear trials and troubles, because I know that God always wins. Always.
And the Christian writing ministry? My daughter's journey became the subject of my first book - unpublished yet, but quietly awaiting its time.
Wednesday, November 2, 2011
I’m a relatively late starter to fiction writing. My eyes were opened to the possible power and influence of fiction by seeing how hypothetical stories can help managers relate to possible future scenarios, which helps them to plan for such possibilities. Even though the stories’ details will almost certainly be wrong, presenting scenarios in story form lets people identify with them in a way that isn’t possible using only a formal descriptions of the scenarios.
This got me interested in the relationship between fact and fiction in ostensibly fictional stories. The key is the distinction between a story’s plot and its underlying theme.
Unfortunately, terminology can be a problem here. By ‘theme’, I mean the story’s deeper meaning, lesson, or moral, such as ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’. It’s usually related to the protagonist’s character development; eg, learning to give the benefit of the doubt. The theme is distinct from (although related to) the story’s genre, topic and plot.
For a reader to be able to relate to a story, the story has to be applicable to the reader. However, a fictional story’s plot is usually directly applicable to nobody! For example, very few readers are actually boy wizards. Even in non-fantasy genres, no reader is ever likely to find themselves in exactly the situation described in the plot of any work of fiction.
In contrast, a story’s theme can be directly applicable to all readers. Even though readers may never have to fight an evil wizard, they can nevertheless identify with the need for courage, tenacity, ingenuity, etc.
The fact that a theme is relevant to people’s reality reveals that it isn’t actually fiction. So, in a fictional story, the plot is fictional but the theme is not (or, at least, it is not intended to be: some readers may disagree with the theme and deem it false.)
The distinction between plot and theme is fundamental to many passages in the Bible. Probably none of us will ever experience the plot in any of the Bible’s parables, but we’re all called to apply the theme behind every one of them. So, regardless of whether we consider the plots to be fictional or not, we treat the themes as non-fiction.
Because readers can relate directly to a story’s theme, it plays a significant role in hooking readers. Our writing can benefit if we give serious thought to our stories’ themes, and not just their plots and characters.
I’ve found that selecting a theme for a sequel, or a follow-on book in a series, can be tricky. While it’s easy to devise a new plot, it’s not so easy to avoid repeating the previous story’s theme—or worse, not having a theme at all. Repeating the theme requires the protagonist to go through the same character development journey, which suggests that they never actually completed the journey in the first volume despite probable indications therein to the contrary. And if there’s no theme, then the character undergoes no development at all.Do you put conscious thought into your themes, or do they just happen?