Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Failure was my beacon!




There I was, waiting at the traffic lights at the cross roads of life, waiting for the red light to change. Suddenly, the Green light beckoned; my Beacon. Only, it wasn’t pointing in the direction my vehicle was turned towards. No – I had to do a U turn to get there. And quickly.

Did I? You bet I did.
Was it worth it? Of course it was!

What a lovely surprise that failure was my beacon!

I had always wanted to write. As far back as I can remember. I was the daughter of two Journalists. Books were a much loved part of our household; writing was a way of life. I remember carrying around a notebook around when I was little, scribbling poems and stories. The desire to write burned brightly inside of me.

But life happened. And everything but writing took centre stage in my life for a long long time. My interest in the English language had begun when I was little. I’d spoken my Mother tongue, Sinhalese for the first 3 years of my life. The entry into school changed that. I began talking in English then. And with that, the wide world of English books opened up for me. I was enthralled.

However, my real foray into writing had to be when I became a Christian at 16, because that’s when I joined in with God’s story. Life suddenly opened up in amazing ways. Life with a capital L! God’s reality struck me by force – and I was plunged into a new and fabulous world of living for His Kingdom. 12 years of intense Ministry followed by 21 years of Marriage and Motherhood. All good.

On the study and working front, lots of non writing avenues were explored. First I studied to be a Laboratory Technician and worked as a Lab Assistant in a Girls High school. That was good fun. Next I studied Computer programming. I was enthralled with the intricacies and delights of programming. I worked for 8 years as an Analyst Programmer and enjoyed myself. Full time mothering came next. I revelled in that of course. What job could be more rewarding (and challenging?) than bringing up a child? Lots of volunteer jobs and lots of little paid jobs; all a perfect fit with being a homemaker.

When my one and only son entered High school, I decided it was time I looked to make my own life. So I began applying for jobs. A job that that never happened. Six years of job applications to work in Administration yielded just one interview. I was second in line for the job. But… I wasn’t the one chosen one. Yes, I had failed yet again!

That did it. That was my ‘aha’ moment! Was my failure to get a job a wake up call? Was God speaking to me through it? I went to Him. I asked Him. I listened. I grappled with it for days and nights. Yes, I heard His voice. God was opening up a different way for me. Not a boring job in Administration after all. Why not pursue my heart's desire – my deepest desire – the dream I’d always longer for. To become a Writer!

Had my hour arrived? I asked my husband what he thought. He, the hard working breadwinner of our household was extremely gracious. “If that’s what you want, go for it”, he said.

What did I feel then? A big "YES!" resounded from deep inside of me. This was what I have been born for!

And so, on January 10th 2007 I entered the grand new adventure of WRITING! I started tapping computer keys. With purpose. With passion. With enjoyment. My first Aussie acceptance came in June 2007 – Into Australian Stories 2007. A sweet sweet accomplishment it was!

It’s now 4 ½ years later, in August 2011. God has been very good to me. I’ve been published in the Australian Stories books every year. My 1st Inspirational book ‘Enjoying the Journey’ was published in June 2010. Getting there has been one incredible journey. I am presently writing book number 5 and greatly enjoying myself.

It’s not about me of course. My story is about Him. The One who created me. The One who died for me. My King, my Lord, my Saviour, my All in All. I am just joining His marvellous story – the story that goes on and on into Eternity.

What a wonderful privilege to be able to share my story with you. And to hear yours. He helped me find fulfillment through my failures – the beacon that pointed the way. And then of course He shone His light brightly into my darkness, so I could follow His lead and share His love with His world.

To God be the glory, great things He has done!


Anusha delights in life, the love of Jesus, people, the beauty of God’s Creation. She writes mostly for pleasure. She has decided never to grow old in spite of a body that is already defying her intentions! She enjoys the finer things of life including friendship and chocolate! Singing, walking, connecting with people and sharing God’s love are her some of her deepest passions. Like her writing, she is a work in progress!

Anusha lives in Adelaide with her husband Shan and their 21 year old son, Asela.

Friday, August 26, 2011

my writing

Sometimes my writing doesn’t seem to be important to me and other things seem to take priority. But generally when I go out and don’t have the internet to distract me I can get a lot of writing done.

This last week I had an appointment to keep. It was early in the morning, so it was just before lunch time that I was free. I could have gone home, but I decided to treat myself. I stopped in at the local coffeeshop as I know they had seats and tables and one of my favourite meals. I ordered my coffee and roll and sat down with a pad and pen. I always have pen and paper when ever I go out anywhere. You just never really know when inspiration is going to strike.

I obviously had to write longhand as I didn’t have my computer with me. So sitting down with a story I started a little while ago. I ended up writing over two and a half pages. Which would be about 600-700 words. I was very pleased and if I didn’t need to get home, I am sure I could have written more. Just a few days later, while I was at home, waiting for some baking to come out of the oven, I wrote over 5 pages. For some reason this story seems to really be flowing well.

Now most of the time it is more convenient to type the story straight into a word document. Where spelling is fixed and it is easy to read, but sometimes that is not the case. I also find that when I do type a story after writing it longhand I will actually edit it as I copy it. It is also good if you have to story longhand I can take that at time I don’t have a computer and check up story facts without having to wait until I get home.

There are times when I am feeling a little down, tired, and am not very inspired and I am sure that happens to all of us.  I realised it is good to have a goal, either a word limit or a time limit that you will spend writing, just to make sure you do some everyday. Today as I didn’t spend much time online, I did a lot of writing. I am thinking I will have to do that a few times a week, to keep up my writing goals.

But you don’t just have to count what you write in your current WIP (work in progress). Here I am writing a blog and this can be counted as part of my word count for today. But today I didn’t really give myself a goal as I have a meeting tonight.  A writer’s meeting for the first time at my house. It is only a small house and I fear there may only be one other person coming, but that is all right. We might re-figure the group and go in a new direction.

I hope you all enjoy writing.

Melanie Carter Winkler

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

I get by with a little help from my friends.(The Beatles and Asta)

In the last few weeks my husband came off his racing bike and broke a rib, our son was in and out of hospital with unexplained pain, our dog died and then we accidentally ran over our young neighbour's dog. During this time I stumbled upon creative artists -a singer, visual artists, a photographer, writers - who were starting an online support group, an 'Artist's Way' circle. (For those who don't know of 'The Artist's Way'- the author is Julia Cameron and it is a creative recovery workbook. It has helped many, many blocked creatives. I am one of them. It was definitely the springboard that led to my first published magazine articles.)

It is at least 10 years since I last worked through this book and so I am enjoying exploring its pages again. What has given me the most joy, this time, is the support of fellow creatives. Who else understands the agony of being blocked. I know poet Maya Angelou gets it. This quote of her's says it all - 'There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.' Who else can get the sheer thrill of breakthroughs than a fellow artist?

So what is the connection between my husband's broken ribs or my son's illness, the arts and the online support group? It is this: the healing power of art and the comfort of artistic friends -in particular Christian friends who are artists.

While my son was on morphine for excruciating pain I doodled in my journal - I drew him on his bed with the drip in his arm and a peg on his finger and I wrote my fears across the page. In the early morning before I went to see him in hospital I wrote about it in my 3 morning pages (an Artist's Way practice. I see it as talking to God on paper.).Then I wrote another 500 words of the novel I am playing with, which I started purely for fun while working through 'The Artist's Way' again. I thought of that phrase - 'writing to save your life', and for the first time I could apply that to me. The morning pages were cathartic, healing, they soothed me - here I sat with God. The novel was sheer pleasure - a joy. God used my love of writing to keep me afloat. And my AW (Artist's Way) 'friends' cheered me on as I filled them in on my progress, at our weekly check ins. The lovely thing about The Artist's Way is the spiritual side of this book, while not Christian, it does allow for a creator and therefore talk of God is allowed (perhaps a rare thing today).

And then there is another group - a writers' online prayer group. I know some of these precious individuals in person, others I haven't met but I feel I know them well, nonetheless. They are all Australian Christian Writers and I love them to bits. Their love and prayerful consideration of my emails has moved me to tears recently. They are always there with a kind word and I know they are praying for me and that knowledge helps me to breathe easier. This group cares for the whole of me - for my writing, my art, my hopes and dreams and for my everyday, walking around life. They care for my children, my husband and even my pets. They listen to my fears. They have prayed for a dying friend and for my emotional pain. They share my successes, and excitement at life. These friends are prayer partners who write, and somehow this makes all the difference.

So I am writing this to say if you are a writer and you don't have a support group around you to champion you on, through the good and bad times of writing and everyday life, then please consider finding yourself one or start one. And never, ever stop being the creative person that God has wired you to be. It will heal you. It will comfort you. God may even use it to speak to others.

Friday, August 19, 2011

My Path to a Writer's Life

On a cold winter's evening in a small village in Germany, a little girl was born… But as she grew up, religious morals didn't suit her. After all, hadn't school taught her that the evolutionary process leaves all things to chance and that everyone had the right to do as they pleased? So who was the church to make rules about right or wrong? At age nineteen she met a young man from a far-away country and fell in love… and many years later something unexpected happened… If you want to read more about her journey from Atheism via New Age Philosophies to the Living God, visit www.drlepke.com.au/truth.htm#4

It’s amazing what God can do with a life that is yielded to Him. When I was young, I was so shy that my cheeks would turn red every time someone tried to engage me in conversation. I felt left out, alone, wistfully eying the ‘in crowd’ and escaping into a world of books. Even my husband wasn’t happy about me being a spectator rather than a participant in social activities. Little did he know that God would one day grant his desire and give him a brand new wife; one that would very much participate indeed. To God be the glory!

But never in my wildest dreams did I think I would be a writer. Especially not writing in a foreign language! I’ve always loved books, but writing? Me? Never! I didn’t even like learning when I was young.  My love of knowledge wasn’t awakened until I began studying natural medicine here in Australia, where I became fascinated by the intricacies of the human body and the prospect of being able to help people regain their health. But when I became a Christian in 1983 through the witness of two clients, my focus shifted to learning about God and His word. I would get up really early before anyone else was awake and sit at the kitchen table with my brand new bible, a cup of coffee, my ever-present crayon markers, and a special pen to note those precious treasures I found.

Many years have passed since then, but my passion for sharing the gospel has never stopped. And neither has my passion for learning, which eventually took me through all the stages of academia. I noticed a lack of growth and fervency among believers, and discrepancies between some church practices and what was written in Scripture. And somehow this stirred a desire in me to do something about it. At first I thought, “We already have such an information overload, what’s the use of adding more? “ But then I came across a book by Charles Mackintosh (penned in 1898!), and what I read inspired me to start writing:

“We do not deem any apology necessary for adding yet another to the numerous publications already extant, having for their object the circulation of pure truth. We want them all – and thousands more. We cannot have too many agencies for the furtherance of that which is good, and the suppression of that which is evil, for it is a lamentable fact that the enemy of souls has wrought far more diligently at the printing press than the servants of the living God. Numerous as are the books…in which the words of eternal truth shine…yet are they outnumbered, to an appalling amount, by publications of an infidel, immoral, and irreligious tendency.”

These words stirred my soul because they are as valid today as they were more than 100 years ago. It was like God saying to me, “Go, girl!” I have since written many articles for educational purposes, magazines and websites, and am now working on my first two books. Academic writing has always been easy for me. But to convey those facts in a creative way that keeps the reader hooked, now that is quite a different kettle of fish (oh, by the way, I love those busy fish on your blog, Jo!).

Becoming part of a writer’s community is a new experience for me, and I am hoping to get to know some of you along the way. Thank you for your inspiring posts!

Margaret is a naturopath, counsellor, writer, Web designer and speaker to Christian women. She and her husband also run a counselling, mediation and retreat ministry.
  
Margaret's professional website: www.drlepke.com.au 
Ministry: www.biblicalrescue.org 
Blog: http://drmargaretstreasurechest.blogspot.com 

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Taking Leave of One's Senses

James Castle was born in rural Idaho in September 1899. His birth was two months early and he was born completely deaf, yet James became a ground-breaking artist and his works are now collectable around the world.

James’ parents ran a post office and general store and James filled his childhood with drawing done on offcuts of used envelopes, discarded packaging and even on the back of his sister’s homework. It was his way of expressing himself and, although he had no exposure to the art world, his expression and ability matched the progression of famous art and ran parallel to Picasso's style.

Around ten years of age he was sent to a school for the deaf and blind, and lived there for five years. The punishment for not learning the deaf-signing and voice control lessons was to be smacked on the hands with a ruler and to have all personal possessions removed, including drawing gear.

Undeterred, James used sharpened sticks, soot and spit to write on any rubbish he could find so he could to express himself. He refused to learn to sign or speak and died in 1977 with boxes and boxes of his art around him that were pure expressions of his world through his eyes.

James Castle lived in a silent world and he’s made me wonder if I would write differently if stopped using all my senses.

Last night I went to a restaurant. When I walked in, I smelt the inevitable smoke that hung outside the door where people have to do that now. I saw people sitting, standing, finding tables, ordering food. I heard music, chatter, doors, cutlery on plates.

Then, I remembered James Castle. What would he have experienced in the restaurant? I couldn’t easily turn my ears off, so I closed my eyes and, suddenly, I smelt onions... and beef; I heard individual voices, but many of them; I felt the cold of the table, even though I’d not noticed it when my eyes were open before.

It seemed that my other senses had filled the gap of my sight and changed how my mind focussed on the scene. I wondered if this could deepen my writing too.

James Castle laid each of his pictures before us and let us imagine the words. Writers lay out words for the reader to get the picture so they can visualise the story. And actors speak the dialogue, and their actions give us the narrative.

Tonight on TV, someone described Kevin Spacey’s acting as: 'it’s so good, it never seems like he's acting'. For me, I want to learn to write so well that readers forget they're reading. I want them to close the book and wake in the morning not remembering if they’ve read the story in a book or if they’ve seen it as a movie.

Friday, August 12, 2011

A SPIRIT OF POWER ...


Late last year we stayed at King Lake in Victoria. This area is now regrowing bigger and stronger than before after the tragic bush fires of 2009. It reminded me of how writers can sometimes feel burnt out and unappreciated when our writing is rejected or we receive a bad review. We question whether we should take up the challenge again for our next work.

However, when we're called to write it's important for us not to let rejection cripple us so that we never write another word. All rejection means is that our work is not suitable at that moment for that publishing house; a reader preferred to be reading something else; or we're ahead of our time for what we've written. It's not the end of the world. It's your work that's been rejected, not you as a person.

We can learn a lot from the burnt forest. In the same way the destroyed forest begins to grow after a fire we, too, can grow in our writing after a rejection. We can't help it. We've been called to write so we must write.

The important thing to remember is that we come back stronger than before. When starting a new work the words and small phrases are the new shoots that begin to sprout on the trees. The longer we sit at the key board or put pen to paper the more the words grow and blossom into a mini branch then an adolescent branch and finally to maturity when it becomes a chapter, part of the bigger tree, the book.

We repeat this for each of our chapters until we have the tree complete and mature ready to blossom and be shown to the world. The new tree provides nourishment for the readers, shelter and beauty. It welcomes wildlife that comes to enjoy the beauty of that tree in the same way as our readers. Soon the charred bark of the trees falls away and in its place is strong bark that supports the tree to keep the branches and leaves contained for generations to come. When you write a work of excellence your book will also be here for future generations.

If your work gets rejected I want to encourage you to become that new tree of life. Create new branches so that your work reaches out and changes lives in the world in the same way the forest changes us, giving us hope, and renewing our spirit. In faith we push forward to the next work when God plants a seed of creativity in our hearts that needs to be watered and allowed to grow influenced by the experiences of our lives. Every book has a different fragrance. Let's not be afraid of creating that aroma from our own unique blend.

"For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and self-discipline." (2
Tim 1:7 NIV)

Make a decision today to use rejection to make your writing stronger so that your unique bouquet will add to the wonders of this amazing world.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Who Let The Cows Out? Moo-Moo-Moo-Moo!



(Lynne Burgess is unable to post today, so I'm filling in for her. Hope you get better soon, Lynne!)


Yes, I know. That was a poor rendition of a pretty famous song.

I must confess, today it was me who let the cows out. You see, we live on a small property and have six, gorgeous, Dexter cows. We also have lots and lots of grass that needs to be mown.

Six cows and one sheep can eat a lot of grass. Hubby mows a lot of grass. So we came to the natural conclusion.

Let our four-legged, manure-making, automatic-mowing-machines out!

Yes. Brilliant idea.

We closed the front gate and put a padlock on it. Can't have cows wandering on a main road.

Made sure they couldn't hurt themselves on anything. Made sure fresh water was available.

Then it was time to let them loose.

You should have seen them. It looked like a bunch of prisoners escaping from a Federal Penitentiary. Cows kicking, sheep baa-ing and dogs barking. The noise was deafening.

Life was good. Cows were happy, hubby was happy, what more could I ask for?

I settled into my favourite chair, pulled out a book I needed to review and grabbed a Pepsi Max.

Yep, life was good.

Thirty minutes later and I got that creepy feeling. The one where you just know someone, somewhere is looking at you.

I turned my head...and there was Babette, nose pressed against the window looking at me.

Once I got over the shock and cleaned up the spilt Pepsi, I grabbed my phone and took a pic.

That's a photo of her above.

Isn't she the prettiest cow you ever saw?

So yes, it was me who let the cows out. Moo, moo, moo, moo.

Now I just have to work that scene into a story. And, considering I write suspense it won't be easy.

How would you include that scene into your current work-in-progress?

_____________________

Lee Franklin lives in Western Australia on a small property. She loves her cows and has even been known to ask their opinion on story ideas. They're happy to listen to anything she says, as long as she's brushing their coat at the time!

http://www.hyalinehouse.com/

Monday, August 8, 2011

Why? A journey to publishing

People often ask me why I started a Christian publishing house. So since this is my first blog post (ever by the way, I haven't blogged before) I thought I might share that ...

 
I am a would-be writer! How many of us are out there in Australia - 1000s. How many in the Christian market - heaps... and we would all love to get published... right? Well I was one of them, still am some days, but then I discovered ...

 
... there weren't that many places to "get" published and self-publishing was expensive and tough marketing it on your own.

 
So somehow I thought, hey I could help people get published and then it was like God said - try this. So I started Even Before Publishing, a traditional publishing house for Christian authors. After all why not? It wasn't so much of a journey or even a reason why, it just sort of happened. Interestingly though now I know why I did.

 

 Running a Christian publishing house has a lot of advantages:

 
  • I get to read some great new manuscripts
  • I get to work with and support new, aspiring and established authors
  • The books we publish are often suitable for a range of markets and make great gifts for our friends and family... reaching more Aussie readers.
  • It is a wonderful experience to get behind authors and get their inspiration to readers
Running a Christian publishing house has a lot of challenges:

 

  •  I don't really enjoy saying no when authors submit, but sometimes we do have to, unfortunately there are a lot of manuscripts out there
  • It is a changing industry, what is going to happen next? ebooks, digital printing and so on... this could also be an advantage, but there is lots to watch to see what to do next and what to focus on.
  • Running a business has its own challenges and all Aussie authors are still working for real breakthrough in Australia.

So when asked why I started it, I guess my answer is "If God is for us who can be against us, so why not!?" And I have found I like publishing more than writing most days! It is a privilege to work with so many Aussie writers.

Friday, August 5, 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.
www.jo-wanmer.blogspot.com

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!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

When you ask – Be prepared to receive.

When you ask the Lord from the depths of your heart what He wants you to do with your life, hold on, because you’re in for one incredible journey. Looking back now, I don’t know why it never occurred to me that my over-active imagination and love of stories would translate into being a writer. I know I always loved to tell tales; the three story saga of “Hamburger and Hot Dog” written in the third grade can attest to that. I can only say that the world got in the way. It was only after I truly desired from the depths of my soul to seek the Lord’s will, and to do something that was purely for Him, that I was led to write. The discovery of Christian romance novels sealed the desire (thank you Mary Hawkins). I set about writing a story that I wanted to read: one with drama, mystery and the most heart-rending romance. But, most of all, I wanted a story with characters that would show how wonderful our Lord is. Not in a ‘beat you over the head’ way, but in the perfect way He works His miraculous will, transforming all things for the good of those who love Him. Such is my first novel ‘Back to Resolution’. I can only be honest: I wrote it for myself. However, the thought that the Lord will use it to reveal Himself to others is the most rewarding part of its existence. I feel a great privilege to be an Aussie Christian Author. To count myself among this number of truly talented and God inspired individuals, is an awesome blessing. I look forward to many more years of entertainment, teaching and witness from our Aussie writers, and hopefully my work will be a support to this extraordinary group.


BACK TO RESOLUTION
Bay Anders is lost. She enjoys every privilege a wealthy upbringing affords, but the void in her soul refuses to be filled. Her mother’s dying revelation drives Bay to the brink of self destruction, before a move to Australia changes everything. She embarks upon a search for
her father that leads her to his island home, into a hazardous melting pot of hostile locals and a mystery – her father’s disappearance. The only person who can help her is a strong, self-assured and intensely magnetic man. Bay must fight an overwhelming attraction to stay focused on her goal.

Flynn McKenna is hiding from the world. A past filled with mistakes drove him to withdraw from society and live in seclusion. But the arrival of a woman he cannot avoid shatters his solitary existence. As the search for Bay’s father unites them, can he resist his desire for her?

It becomes a race against time as developers try to take over the island.

From the glittering streets of LA, to the beautiful Daintree forest in North Queensland, to the idyllic island ‘Resolution’, Back to Resolution is a romantic mystery that shows how far a little faith can go.




Rose Dee’s debut novel 'Back to Resolution' is a
wonderful combination of romance,
drama, mystery and an insight into
finding faith and where you belong.
Available: November 2011

Please visit Rose at: http://www.rosedee.com/