Monday, February 27, 2012

What I Love Writing About by Rita Stella Galieh

Visiting with young would-be writers at St George Girls High School
My first love is Historical Romance as you'll have seen by my books, Fire in the Rock & Signed Sealed Delivered.

A close second is my enjoyment in writing about real life romances in my blog. Oh, I really love hearing about how Christian people met each other, fell in love, and married. I consistently ask folk I come across to tell me their story. Some are quite happy about this. Some agree, but never quite get around to it, so I give their memories a nudge or two. I've even had a couple of fellows who've obliged. Ray Hawkins - one of our members - has his and Mary's story posting March 9. Also Paula Vince, Jan 27; Penny Reeve, Jo-Anne Berthlesen, and Rose Dee are posted consecutively from Feb 10, 17, and 24. Each post lasts a week and some ask their friends & family to leave a comment.

Of course I'm telling you this as a fishing exercise, if you haven't already guessed. Last year I had a spate of American, Canadian and South Africans who obliged, but I need more of you to share. Several young girls have read it without leaving comments, because they've actually told me. I believe it can be another helpful guide to girls wondering about this big life decision.

So...will you share your story on the web, too? (You don't have to be an author, by the way.) I'd like either/or your picture,wedding shots, books to be published etc. I can always edit if it's a little long, but I'd really love anyone who reads this to contact me via email which is >  ritagal(at)optusnet(dot)com. Have a look at  > http:inspirationalromance.blogspot.com  to see some of these stories.

* After much difficulty changing from a British program into Word Doc, Rita has just posted her manuscript, The Tie That Binds (the second book of the Watermark Women Trilogy) to Ark house Press.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Doing Your Best

I'm a proofreader. In my job, I'm the last line of defence before printed material for clients goes to print. I have to pick-up every spelling mistake, make the right call on hyphens, find capitalisation errors and fix punctuation problems.

Most of the work I do is for Christian organisations, helping them with their fundraising. These ministries depend on me to make sure they have first-rate material going into the public arena. If I miss errors then the ministry whose work I check ends up having a low quality newsletter or appeal. But also, I lose my credibility with the company who co-ordinates these jobs - they don't know if they can trust me to proofread accurately.

How can I make sure errors don't happen? It would help if writer got things right first but, as we are all aware, creative people are not necessarily detail-oriented. They get the brilliant ideas and put the writing down then do their best to tidy up, but they don't see the things that editors and proofreaders do.

I'm not an editor, and I'm not even a trained proofreader… but I'm a detail nut and it has largely earned me some credibility. I've had to research and learn about grammar and punctuation and I'm still learning. I have half-a-dozen books on this including two on Australian grammar and punctuation, because some is different to American. I've had to make it my own mission to get all the facts. I've had to learn about American styles so I can Australianise some writing (e.g., look up 'Oxford commas' online). I've had to learn about subject/verb agreement, hyphens vs en-dashes vs em-dashes, brackets and colons and a lot more.

And it's still possible to miss errors even after reading through a document two or three times. (Don't trust the spell-checker.)

Writers need to know as much as they can about grammar and punctuation even though publishers often cover these things with their editors. There are books written by nationally and internationally renowned authors, which are published by big publishers, and that have errors in them so it can't hurt to build our skills.

Right now, as I'm writing, my husband is in our garage using his power tools and annoying the neighbours on a quiet Saturday afternoon. He hates annoying them, but he has things he needs to do. He makes sure he buys the right nails and glue for each type of wood. And he knows how to maintain and use each tool correctly and safely so his finished product is as he first imagined it. Authors have a responsibility to know how to use their writing tools well so there's a nicely finished product that will stand when tested.

If you bake scones you know that you can do a basic scone with flour, butter and milk. But if you understand how all the ingredients work with each other - their science - you can tweak the recipe and approach to improve it.

Learn as much as you have time to about grammar and punctuation but remember there are different grammar and punctuation rules for American 'English' and Australian 'English' so make sure you use resources correct for where your writing is going to be published initially.

As a person, I'm pretty boring to be with but, for the sake of becoming a known writer, I've ramped up my image a bit online and you can read more about me at jackierandall.com and on my facebook page.

Thanks for all your posts. I'm learning a lot from everyone!




Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Update

Hi all, more of an update than a post! Six weeks I've now been in Redcliffe. As I wrote previously, the move has pushed and pulled me all out of routine, such that writing has been something hard to squeeze in! My head has not been in the right space for things to flow. Just finding the space when there are boxes to unpack, rooms to organise, kids to help in their transitioning - not to mention 150 new people in my new church to get to know [and praise the Lord, more coming all the time].

This week I made some writing contacts in my new town, through the Redcliffe library - and they are very supportive down to buying my books for the library. The whole move process is a hard one, but one that is I know already, expanding my tent - stretching me. It's actually been a theme in my preaching [don't mean to preach at you] - for God to help you grow sometimes he's got to break you, so he can reassemble you. How are you allowing God to stretch you - break you - take you into deeper water. It's scary and hard - but part of growing. What bad writing habits do you have to unlearn, to reach your potential.

God bless.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Whose Voice?


Firstly, I apologise for the delay in writing this blog. I've had major issues with provision of phone and internet in our new home. Thanks so much for your patience.
When I start a new work of fitction, I always make sure I create my characters as real as I can with dark secrets in their past; dreams and hope for their future; their disappointments in life up until this time and everything in between. I include everything right down to their favourite colour and foods.
One of my current projects is going through a deceased Christian woman's possessions with a view to writing her biography or a story based on her life. I haven't decided which way I'm going to write the story yet. I'm hoping by the time I finish reading through the documents and letters the Lord will point me in the direction he wants me to go.
As I read the letters I'm conscious of the voice of each of the letter writers and how I'm beginning to understand their personalities through the letters. I'm learning about the hopes, dreams and disappointments of the people who have been a part of this woman's life. I'd never thought written correspondence, whether it's letters or emails could be so insightful in getting to know a person and how this can be used to build a character's profile and voice. I've also realised that each of us have our own voice in writing as well as the way we speak.
This exercise adds a different dimension to how I now view my future characters and the voice I will use in the dialogue I will create for them. Think about the characters in your books; are they speaking the dialogue in their own voice or art they using your voice in disguise.
I recently had a reader, who knows me well; say she saw me speaking through one of the characters. 'It sounded just like you,' she said. At first, I smiled at her comment, but the more I thought about it and studied the dialogue in that book, the more I became disappointed I hadn't created the character true to their personality.
Writers put a lot of themselves into their work. I expect that of myself because my readers want to get to know me through my writing. As writers our voices should be in our narrative of the work, but when the character is speaking, it is their words, not ours.
The comment from my reader gave me a lot to consider. From now on I will be revising my dialogue with the view of fine tuning my character's voice. What about you: whose voice is your character using?

Friday, February 17, 2012

As a writer...

... I’m finding life is filled with joy, fun and frustration at the moment. Now that my first book is out and I’m onto my second, I’m confident that I can write ‘All-in Night 2’. I know what I want to say, but it’s getting the time and head space to sit down and write. I love my life and all the people in it but I find it really distracts me from getting stuck into writing.

We are living on our farm at the moment while we ‘owner build’ our new home, which means there is a constant stream of people coming and going. There are speaking engagements and RE lessons to prepare, meals to organise, new mums to encourage, church commitments to fulfill and my family to care for and love.

So how do we as writers live our lives and fulfill our dreams of writing our books? I have come to the conclusion that it’s a discipline I must continually practice, by setting chunks of time aside each week so I can think and write. It’s like eating healthy, drinking enough water, exercise and getting enough sleep. It’s now an important part of my life that I need to nurture.

I know this in theory, now I just need to put it into practice!

This morning I once again got out my diary and carved out hours in my week that I committed to keep free so I could write.

The main thing is that I don’t get discouraged but continue to celebrate every little achievement, of which there are many!

Lynne Burgess


J


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The local bookstore versus the world

I just spent a couple days at a tradefair for the Christian Booksellers Association of Australia. It was a good time, but a lot of work as always. I am challenged whenever at these events by the plight of the small bookstores and the plight of the big stores.
Most Christian bookstores exist for multiple reasons, not just for the sale of books and gifts. Many exist to provide volunteers an opportunity to talk to strangers about God, pray with people, donate or give to people time or resources for their development and so on. As such the Christian bookstores are on the frontline for ministry in Australia, yet they are struggling. Why are they struggling? We all know - don't we?
First people are buying their books from overseas. Now I don't think there is anything wrong with this, lets face it we all want to save a dollar. But what does saving a dollar really mean? Could it be worth sending that little bit extra to help support your local store? Most of the local little stores are working for the people and set up primiarly to be a place where they can help the community. Many churches have little bookstores that are open at least a couple days a week, but there are also some churches that don't even open through the week. Where do people go if they want some support? Perhaps they don't anymore ... I am not sure, but I do believe the bookstores can fill this gap if we help support them to. So spend $20 on a novel by Paula Vince at your local bookstore instead of buying it for $14-$15 from overseas. Yes some of those overseas places are cheaper, but then you can even give it a flick and feel the book. Also see it as a ministry. By supporting your local store it keeps them there ...
Secondly we are buying our books in digital formats. Ok so this might be where it is necessary for bookstores to go e too. The major bookstores are selling ebooks online now and you can download their apps to make it easier, so do give it a go! But then with never going to a bookstore you will never get to see some of the new stuff they have.
Thirdly a spiritual battle... see Jo Wanmer's post from a few days ago....
One of the issue for Aussie Christian authors is that who is going to search for our books online if we don't know we exist? Who is going to be there for us? If the smaller bookstores take on our titles and then have them sitting there when your readers visit the store they will find them! So we need the stores even to get our names out there and then perhaps still sell more digital editions as well.
So what do I suggest? Do a bit of both, support your local small store, support your local big store, buy online and write reviews (yes almost all the major places have review writing options so write them up there so they might be seen and sell more - supporting one another...) and buy your digital editions. Do a bit of all of it! :) Christian writers should be reading each other and working together. I know many of you are and well done! Keep it up :)
PS many of the smaller stores sell more non-fiction than fiction. Challenge - go and get an Aussie fiction book from your local store and rave about it to them. They may not have even read it and don't know it is sitting there. Tell them you loved it and then they might promote it too! A great trick and hopefully it will help encourage them and be inspired too.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Behind the Words on a Page


Would-be writers are told ‘write what you know. Write what you like to read the most!’
Great advice. As I reflected upon it however, I felt short-changed.

I know a lot of things to varying degrees. Life has given me some interesting experiences. When wrapped up in God’s grace and intervention there is some story telling merit to be found in them.

When I first began to write I had some hard lessons to learn! I liked to read westerns and war stories. Could I write them? No! I hadn’t experienced what I like to read. That was depressive.

Life took a dramatic turn when the Lord Jesus stepped on my toes and my heart opened to His presence. I loved His Word. Now, I’m far from being a scholar or theologian but I wanted to share my Lord and His teachings. But how? Not being a novelist and being ignorant of Point of View and unimaginative in dialogue there was no best seller poised on my fingertips. Various devotional books, such as ‘My Utmost for His Highest’ by Oswald Chambers arrested my attention. ‘I’ll write one of those’, I said to myself. Ha!

I had words and I had a pen. That’s a dangerous combination. However as I tried to bring construction out of chaos the finished work was lifeless. In the pleasure of God He had to take me from theory to knowing by experiencing what I would develop through words. Combined with experience, the Lord wove into my heart the missing ingredient called passion. Much to my frustration this took time. But it was essential if ever I was to have something worthwhile to say. Without passion any writing will not live, faith will remain a theory and love will be but an illusion.

I write what I know. It has taken years of being shaped, crushed, rebuilt, pruned and stored before finding expression in print. I’m not young anymore and how many words will flow only the Lord knows. Still, without His taking me through the school of life’s experience and teaching me from the wisdom of others how to write, my desire would have simply expired in the mire of incompetence.



Allow me to close with the following poem. I think it will clarify what I’m trying to say.


I Wanted to Write

I wanted to write
A poem on love
Burning with desire!
It was so calculated
With words evaluated
For rhythm and rhyme
But,
Something amiss
Romance asleep
It was simply still life.

Then,
You came into my life!

I now had to write
My poem of love
For my heart burned
With a love unearned!
Words glowed on pages
Blazed through the ages!
Now,
Writing on fire
Romance alive
It was passionate life!

For,
You are now in my life.

Raymond N. Hawkins 23/1/2012.

Ray is the author of ‘The Neurotic Rooster’ devotions from three short term mission trips to Africa. (Self published). Then through ‘Even Before Publishing’ he has had ‘Children – God’s Special Interest’ and ‘From Eden with Love’ (the Biblical teaching on Marriage) available in Christian bookshops and on ‘Kindle.’

Ray is married to Mary, a multi-published Inspirational Romance author.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Aussie authors writing Aussie books for Aussie readers

As Australian readers we have fed ourselves on a basic diet of US literature, with an occasional book from somewhere else as a side dish. With the advent of Word Writers Fair, CWD and other writer networking events, we have now feasted on Australian books. That is, we, the passionate writers, have. Most of Australian Christians don't know we even exist.

As a reader I seek a good strong story. I'm choosy about what I read. I was an Aussie who mostly read books from well known Americans, because I could choose an author I was confident about. 
About a year ago, I realised that if I want my book to be read, I better see what is out there in the Australian market. Not all books are my chosen genre, but I've discovered many really good reads.  I've also read some that have made me cringe because they aren't well written or edited. So how do we lift the profile of Australian Christian Authors?

Many of you are working very hard on building an on-line presence, finding speaking engagements and signing books. All this is making a difference. And together we are encouraging each other to polish our work to very high standards.

This is good, but have we really assessed the battle we fight. Have we identified the enemy? Are we fighting American authors, Australian apathy and ignorance or the difficulty to penetrate the larger book stores? 
Is the problem with our stories or the standard of our writing? Is it our publishers  or editors? Or is there a bigger enemy?

Aussie authors have an important story to tell. God is planting within us a new level of revelation. We are on the cusp of the move of the Holy Spirit that was prophesied over Australasia, firstly by the early explorers and then by prophetic voices a hundred years ago. God needs skilled writers Downunder! Writers able to present His message to the rest of the world. He needs good publishers, thorough editors, and brilliant illustrators. He needs you.

So what is the enemy? Or who is our enemy? I believe our struggle is not against flesh and blood (or mindsets and prejudices), but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (Eph 6:12)

It is logical when you think about it. Why would our enemy sit on his hands and let us build our profile unhindered. So look around your life. Can you see the dirty paw prints of an accuser, a liar, a thief anywhere? Has he planted a hand grenade of hopelessness, or discouragement in your family or business – or in your heart? Has he discredited you in the industry?

How, then, do we fight the hidden guerrilla warfare that Satan delights in? I know you guys follow these principles, but allow me to list them.

·        Believe that Jesus paid for all our mistakes, imperfections etc
·        Remove all unforgiveness
·        Confess all sin aloud so the enemy can’t use it against you
·        Worship & read the Word
·        Practice the presence of God
·        Pray.

Then get out your big bazooka and blast the enemy off your playing field. The Lord taught me to do this, once again using Ephesians. This is the way I pray.

I ask that the God of my Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give me the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that I may know Him better. I pray that the eyes of my heart may be enlightened in order that I may know the hope to which he has called me, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people,  and his incomparably great power for me because I believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way. Because of that power within me, I negate the work of Satan in my life, the life of my family, my business and my book. No weapon formed against me shall prosper. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Hallelujah!
(Eph 1:17-32, Isaiah 54: 17, Phil 3:13)

Maybe you would like to join me in making a way in the Spirit for the Christian book industry in Australia. Pray aloud and pray with passion. Let’s turn the tables and become hidden soldiers scattered around this country, pushing back enemy strongholds and releasing the good news of Jesus!

Jo Wanmer is excitedly awaiting the June release of her first book, 'Though the Bud be Bruised'. She is a passionate speaker and is available to speak in any state on topics such as 'How to protect your child from sexual abuse' 'You can create your world', 'Victory over darkness', 'Should we forgive the unforgivable.' Jo can be contacted on jowanmer@gmail.com or on Facebook. 

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Reviews and the Author

I have been contemplating the concept of objective versus subjective reviews lately. I have a slight problem with writing reviews. I want to give everyone five stars. But when I look at all the books I have read and reviewed there are definitely stand out pieces of work, and others that – for one reason or another – I didn’t enjoy as much. So what is the right way to write or read our reviews?

As writers, our work will always be subject to someone else's opinion. I believe it is the bane of any artistic form. Our writing is as open to public opinion as a painting on a canvas, or a dramatic performance.

Objective view is a form of opinion we can all relate to. I can admire the construction and literary worth of a book independent of its storyline. It is when the story is not to my taste, that the subjective part comes into play.

It’s the difference between recognizing the right of a painting to hang in a museum, but not ever wanting to see it hang on a wall in your house. Or liking an actor, but not running to see every movie he features in.

I think when reading reviews of our work, or writing reviews for others, we have to remember that there is a large percentage of taste involved. God made us to enjoy different things. Thank goodness, because the world would be a very boring place if we all liked the same things. What I love will not necessarily be what you love. And that’s okay. It’s not about pleasing our friends or colleagues. It’s about honestly conveying OUR individual experience.

I have come to the conclusion that a part of having our work ‘out there’ comes with the obligation to listen to the opinions of others – no matter how ‘out there’ those opinions may be.


Rose Dee’s first novel: ‘Back to Resolution’ was released in November 2011. Please visit www.koorong.com.au or www.amazon.com for details.

Rose’s next book: ‘Beyond Resolution’ is due for release in April 2012.

Visit Rose

at: ww w.rose dee.com


Sunday, February 5, 2012

PROMOTIONAL VIDEO AND AUTHORS


video

As I continue on this publishing and marketing ride, it has become apparent that one of the uphill battles that Australian authors face is publicity. Put simply “just getting your book out there” so people can at least make a choice to read your book rather than not even knowing that there is a book about ………[ whatever your subject matter is].

I think if Australians knew that there were Aussie Christian authors then they would make an effort to at least look at the material offered. But this is a common problem it would seem across the entertainment industry in Australia. How do we effectively get the message across that good Aussie Christian authors exist? Aussie authors write in most genres with styles as diverse as the tastes of the reader.

I wonder if the American and international community of Christian writers find it to be as difficult as we do with marketing???

This blog and the ICFW blog has encouraged me to take a closer look at the technology available to us and how we can use it. So thank you to those people who set up both blog sites, I’m learning so much.

Enter technology!!!!! Another medium we should consider are video trailers for our books. I have seen a few of the American authors do this. It is a great idea. The younger generation, watch video clips on YouTube constantly, believe me I know, as I hear peals of laughter emanating from behind closed bedroom doors only to find on investigation that it is the latest soccer clip blooper. This is a medium that engages the X & Y generation instantaneously.

The video programs are free on your computer and they are not too hard to work. But if you are not technologically inclined [like me], I’m sure there will be someone in your family or church who can show you the ropes.

I think these promos would be ideal for fiction and non fiction genres. If you don’t already have usable video material, you could get people you know to dress up and act out scenes, or do a documentary style, take on your non fiction book. It is only limited by your imagination and that is one characteristic that an author usually has plenty of. Then set the clip to music or a narration, this can be done on Movie Maker on your computer.

With the help of my techno husband we have put together a video trailer on YouTube for “Broken Pottery - the life of an African girl”. We faced some obstacles in that I had to trawl through the many VHS tapes of our time in Africa. Then we bought a 50 dollar device so we could install the videos onto our computer and made the movie. Hillsong Publishing were extremely helpful to deal with and we paid for a license to have the “Magnificent” backing track as the sound accompaniment to the video. The price they charged us was also very reasonable. Koorong have placed the video on their site under my book name for which I am grateful.

I hope you may consider doing a movie promo for your own books because it may just help to communicate to potential readers that Aussie Christian books are worthy of attention.

Above is our promo, I realize its weaknesses which I can’t change but I thought it was worth having a go because you just never know how God may wish to use it for His purposes.

Sincerely, Jennifer Ann

For more information about Jennifer Ann or her book “Broken Pottery – the life of an African girl” please go to her website; www.JenniferAnn.info

Friday, February 3, 2012

Faith, Hope, Love

Have you been to the book shop lately?  I mean actually into a mainstream retailer, and had a look at the selection of books that are on offer.  Worse still have you seen the books that are targeted at teenagers and even children?  They are dark and twisted.  Recently my son and I went on a quest to find a kids joke book. Not a crude one, not one full of evil, but a collection of giggles that would not leave a young mind traumatised.  It was not an easy task.


It got me to thinking that I am so thankful for each one of you.

I am so glad that God has called you on this day, in this hour, to weave faith, hope and love into your works, to add a glimmer of light to an often dark retail bookshelf.  I am so thankful that you are passionate and don't give up in the face of continual challenges.  I am blessed by your stories, works of art and factual insight.  I want each of you to know that God fights for you. 

When you are rejected by yet another publisher....He comforts you.

When you struggle to make ends meet...He gives you what you need and a little bit more.

When you succeed...He celebrates with you.

When you spend hour after hour combing your manuscript...He is guiding your hand.

Writing is not simply a product of the mind, but an expression of the innermost recesses of the human heart.  We are born again believers in Christ, filled with His light. If we do not persist in creating and expressing, then how will the world ever truly see faith, hope and love?  Only God is the source of faith, hope and love, and we know Him.

We dare to be different, knowing that if we plant a spark in the heart of the reader, God will do the rest. 

Nicole Watson writes non-fiction and resides in the Yarra Valley, Victoria.  You can find out more about Nicole here:
Sam's Heart on Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/samsheartbook