Friday, August 31, 2012

Friends With Benefits




The “checking Facebook” ritual which takes place several times throughout the day is essentially very much the same as crossing a village square, exchanging greetings and pleasantries. It is a way to check how people are doing, what they are talking about and how they are feeling. Facebook makes it possible to receive an immediate update on important personal events and which news stories that people are currently discussing. Mikael Eriksson Bjorling

It seemed easier to connect and not get lost in the crowd when living in a small town. In the city it’s easy to get into your own little world and disconnect from others. Facebook has become a bit like a village for me with quite a few benefits and thought I’d share them.

10 Benefits of the Facebook Village
1.   Connecting With Home: I travel for several months of the year and Facebook helps me keep in contact with home. Earlier this year I was in Antarctica and the Internet was so slow, sending an email took about an hour, however, Facebook only took a couple of minutes. All over the world, free Wi-Fi creates the opportunity to connect with home instead of expensive phone calls.

 2. Sharing the Joys and Sorrows: The joy of weddings, engagements and other significant events can be shared through photos and status updates. The sorrow of loss can also be shared and comfort given.

3.Reuniting Friends and Family: Every family has some dysfunction and mine had family feuds when I was growing up. I’m not sure of the ins and outs, and wasn’t personally involved but lost contact with cousins I loved. I’m now in contact again because of tentative messages and sharing on Facebook. Meetings have been arranged and reunions have been sweet.

 4. Connecting With The Past: Ex students and colleagues have contacted me on Facebook. I’ve caught up with ex students and colleagues all over the world through Faceboo. I was able to help one person with significant problems by connecting her to our community services after seeing her difficulties on Facebook.

I’ve also had messages from people who’ve read my books and been impacted by them.

5.  Prayer: I used to attend a prayer group, then it became a prayer chain on line. Now, I get alerts through Facebook for prayer requests. Recently two significant prayer points came via Facebook. One for a boy seriously injured in an accident and another for a couple working with refugees.

 6. Connecting With My Children: My children and their friends added me as friends. Facebook has helped me to connect with my kids’ friends in a different way. I see them at church or in my home, but sometimes you get to know them a little more through Facebook. I also get to see to see what they are doing in my home while I am away! Good thing they are all responsible.

I connect with my kids’ partners through Facebook too. They are part of the family in real life but also online.

 7.  Bringing Others Closer: Isolated people can connect with others. My mother in law is isolated as she is a full time carer. She connects with people through Facebook and has even found long lost school friends.

 8. Building Community: I have seen community in many ways such as helping someone find a house to rent, buying and selling furniture, supporting small businesses and encouraging people who are down are just some of the benefits.

9.  Being Inspired: I find quotes for my books, inspiration for writing and inspiring quotes to contemplate.  Encouraging each other’s artistic and creative endeavours helps those of us working in isolation to keep fresh and inspired.

10.  Becoming Involved: Quite often there is a call to action or service that we become aware of through Facebook. For example, the recent First Home project was successful in enabling a young couple to purchase a home to share with refugee families. Check it out: https://www.facebook.com/FirstHomeProject

Instead of just checking our Facebook page, we need to participate in real life too. The days of people cooking for families who are sick, of helping to mind children and to go and just sit with someone lonely should not be forsaken but enhanced.

Facebook can be used as a tool to:let us consider how to stimulate one another and to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another”. (Hebrews 10:24 and 25)

By Elaine Fraser
www.beautifulbooks.co

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Best Laid Plans


I admit I’m a planner. I like to know what I ‘m doing and where I’m going. Mostly.  Occasionally  I will get a twinges of spontaneity, but mostly I’m a planner, which is fine except that life sometimes has a habit of messing up those plans.

For example recently my husband and I had planned to go to Sydney where our son and daughter and their respective families would gather for celebrate a special family birthday. We try to do this whenever a family member has a birthday. But like this time, it doesn’t always work to plan. Two days before the planned celebration, my husband came down with one of the dreaded viruses going around. Despite prayers for a quick miracle healing, in the end we realised it was not going to happen. As you can imagine we were very disappointed.

It happens in the writing life too. Sometimes we have plans for a character and that character refuses to co-operate, while another character becomes insistent we tell their story instead. Or it may  be that we put  a lot of work into a project only to find health issues keep interrupting it and pulling you down so that no writing is getting done. Yes, I’ve been a victim of that one a bit in the last couple of years. When that happens, we have a choice. We can either give up or put it all in the too hard basket. Or can accept this is the way it has to be for now, but that doesn’t mean giving up. Stubbornness is not a bad attribute for a writer to have. I will get back to my project as soon as the situation changes.

Sometimes your book will not turn out as you hoped. The publisher may produce a cover that does not help the book, or the editing may not be up to scratch and this happens even with traditional publishers these days as editors are overworked. I have recently read some shockers in a couple of books published by a large traditional overseas publishers, like the one which mentioned Jesus turning the wine into water. Really!  That’s not what my bible says.

It may a reviewer who just doesn’t get it and makes comments about the book that leads you to believe they didn’t understand where you were coming from. Reading is such a subjective thing. I’ve just finished reading a children’s book and my initial reaction was that the book was pointless.  Thinking maybe I was missing something, I gave it to someone whose opinion I trust and their reaction was similar to mine.  Both of us could not understand why the publisher had chosen to publish this book at all, especially given the cost involved in publishing a book.  Yet this was from a large and well know publisher. Maybe we are missing something, I don't know.

As well as reviewing on my  Write and Read with Dale blog http://orangedale.livejournal.com/I review books on Goodreads http://www.goodreads.com/and am constantly amazed at how several people can give a book 4 or 5 stars and then someone else comes in and claims it is the most boring book out and gives it 1 star

The writing life is not easy. That’s why it’s important to have writing friends and groups like this where we can support, and encourage each other  and spur each other on when we are feeling down , when the writing is not going well, when life interferes and stops us writing, or when covers or reviews are not as we hoped.
 

 
Streets on a Map, Dale’s latest novel was published by Ark House Press. Prior to that Dale has had seven children’s books and Kaleidoscope a collection of poetry published. Many of the poems in Kaleidoscope have been previously published in Australia’s literary magazines. She has won prizes for her poetry and has been published in several anthologies. She has also written bible studies and Sunday school lessons.More information about Dale can be found at www.daleharcombe.com or on her Write and Read with Dale blog http://www.livejournal.com/users/orangedale/

Monday, August 27, 2012

The curse of Miss Minnie Applegate: or how to escape jargon-ising our faith.


Gerald occasionally helps me
when I do children's talks at church. 
I've been thinking a lot about jargon lately; Christian jargon, Godly jargon. It’s very useful stuff – when you understand it. The problem is when jargon becomes the base language by which we explain our relationship with God, and our hearer (or reader) cannot understand a thing we say.
I have a facebook page on which I like to explore the topics of children, faith and stories. Every second Monday or so I put up a mini-review of a children’s book that I believe has something to offer these themes. A recent review featured The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Patterson (more famously known for her Bridge to Terabithia) and I subsequently posted a quote from her novel:

"The children's Sunday-school class... was presided over by an ancient Miss Minnie Applegate, who reminded her seven charges every Sunday that she had been 'saved' by Billy Sunday. Who in the hell was Billy Sunday? He sounded like a character from the comics. Billy Sunday meet Brenda Starr. Also, Miss Applegate neglected to say what Billy Sunday had saved her from. A burning building? The path of a speeding locomotive? Or indeed, having been so luckily preserved, what good had her pickling accomplished for either herself or the world?" 


The thing that caught me out about this particular quote was the fact that Miss Minne Applegate was probably very well meaning. She probably loved her Lord (and quite possibly Billy Sunday) but the language she was using distanced, rather than drew, her listeners. As a result the passion she attempted to share was completely obscured. I found myself shaking my head at her, as if I knew better. But do I?

My current writing project has been a series of Bible studies for the niche age group of 10-12 year olds. I’ve been studying, writing and experimenting with ways to best explore the amazing concepts of Psalm 23 and Philippians 2:5-11. So often, with my deadline approaching, I’ve had to catch myself from slipping into jargon and leaning on well used, little explained verses. The curse of Miss Minnie Applegate is out to get me.
Learning to pray and trust God
in difficult times are some of the
themes in my newest novel. 

And the same problem sneaks up on me when I'm crafting a novel, or studying the Bible with first time readers, or preparing children’s talks for my roles at church, or taking my books out to a playgroup and chatting with the mothers I meet. Jargon has become part of my DNA – but I want to shake it off! I want my words to be fresh, relevant and in the language of my hearer. I want the mystery of the gospel to be found in Christ – not in the baffled waffle spouting from my lips or keyboard.
So how can I attempt to keep Miss Minnie in her place?
I think the key lies in my remembering the undeserved gift of salvation.

The fact that Jesus died to save me from my rebellion against God is incredible. The fact that I (yes, little midgetly me) can approach the God Most High with my requests, as his child (child!) is amazing. I need to remember this daily, hourly even, so that when I dig into the Scriptures and seek the clearest way to explain what God has done to those around me (or who will read my words) my excitement and passion for Jesus will be evident. I’ll be driven to use words that transmit meaning, instead of alienation, because more than anything I want my reader to grasp how great and wide and deep the Love of God is (see Ephesians 3:17-19)! 
And if I do need to use one of the large and wonderful words Christian history has given me, may I wrap it up in tender explanation that retains relationship and allows truth to be understood.  

(The material in this post was originally shared as part of a staff devotion for Toongabbie Christian School, August 2012)

Penny Reeve is a children’s author currently living with her family in Western Sydney. This week she hopes to sew another pair of big-boys-undies for her toddler, plant a veggie garden in the old BBQ and share with a group of preschoolers just how far God's love can reach. 

Friday, August 24, 2012

Aussie writer on the journey: Publishing pitfalls for new fiction writers

by Narelle Atkins

One of the smartest things I did as a new writer was to join professional writing groups and connect with other writers. I gleaned valuable information from writing organisation newsletters, email groups and critique groups that helped me to avoid some of the newbie writer mistakes. There are a couple of things I’ve learned about publishing that I hope will help any new writers reading this post.

1. There are writing industry professionals who provide helpful services for aspiring authors.

It is true that a professional writer will invest money in their writing career in a number of different ways. Memberships, conferences, workshops, mentorships, manuscript appraisals are all great things and can provide valuable assistance to aspiring authors. The trick is to know which stage you are at in your writing career and choose resources that will best suit your needs.

Join writing groups that cater for the genre in which you write. Attend conferences where there will be editors and agents attending who acquire books in your target market. Writing craft workshops are valuable for new writers because very few fiction writers are talented enough to produce an excellent first book without a sound understanding of writing craft. Mentorships by published authors who write in your chosen genre are enormously helpful when you have a completed manuscript that has potential but needs work to lift it to a publishable standard. Manuscript appraisals by professional editors are expensive and most new writers are probably better off finding a critique group and learning about writing craft first before paying for a professional edit.

2. There are unscrupulous people who make money by ripping off aspiring authors

There are vanity publishers that make money from authors paying to publish their books rather than by selling books. Vanity presses don’t reject manuscripts or screen for quality like a traditional publisher. They don’t care how many copies of the book are sold because they’ve already made their money from the author. Authors can buy publishing packages and often pay large amounts of money to see their book in print, often with a high cover price. Sometimes the author is contractually obligated to purchase a large number of copies that they will have to try and sell.

It is rare for fiction authors to make money from a vanity press arrangement. Subsidy publishing arrangements can work well in certain niche non-fiction markets but are not recommended for fiction.

Writing groups are an invaluable source of information about publishers. Writers are usually willing to share industry information to prevent other writers from getting conned by dodgy publishers.

The following sites provide helpful industry information for fiction writers:
Preditors and Editors http://pred-ed.com/peba.htm
Writer Beware http://www.sfwa.org/for-authors/writer-beware/
Dear Author http://dearauthor.com/industry-news/

3. Self-publishing your first draft or a manuscript that has not been professionally edited is always a bad idea

I believe the ease of access to eBook self-publishing is a new pitfall that can snare aspiring fiction authors. There is now a temptation to self-publish your manuscript that has been rejected by all the traditional publishers without assessing whether or not your manuscript is of a publishable standard. We’ve all heard about the ‘Kindle millionaires’ but the vast majority of self-published fiction books sell very few copies. Savvy self-published ‘indie’ fiction authors work hard to develop marketing plans and leverage social networking opportunities to reach new readers.

Readers are smart and they will download a sample of a book before hitting the ‘buy now’ button. If they get burned too often from buying badly written and poorly edited self-published books, they are likely to avoid them altogether and buy books from traditional publishers who have a reputation for producing quality books.

A happy customer will tell a couple of people about a great product they’ve purchased, but an unhappy customer will tell everyone they know about a bad product. There are now online book clubs, reading groups, customer book review sites and numerous other ways for readers from around the world to share book information. A bad first book will damage your reputation and deter readers from buying your next book.

I’ve only covered a couple of the pitfalls confronting fiction writers and I know there are many more. I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences because knowledge is power and we can all help each other avoid the pitfalls.




Narelle Atkins writes contemporary inspirational romance and lives in Canberra, Australia. She has published Bible Studies on Smashwords and blogs regularly at http://30MinuteBibleStudies.wordpress.com

She is a co-founder of the new Australian Christian Readers Blog Alliance (ACRBA) http://www.acrba.blogspot.com and she is a regular blogger with International Christian Fiction Writers http://www.internationalchristianfictionwriters.blogspot.com

To learn more about Narelle, please visit her website.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Paying it Forward


There's a story in my "Chicken Soup for the Writer's Soul" book written by a lady who once volunteered to help out in her child's first grade classroom. She would listen to students read from their readers. One little boy, whose home life was known to be a shambles, had a severe speech impediment that had held him back for several years. The volunteer mum had an impulse to give him a cheap story book of his very own. Well, she couldn't believe how that boy's face shone, as happy tears slid down his cheeks. The teacher reported that he hugged the book to his chest at all times when he wasn't poring over it. Miraculously, owning his first  book helped him to begin to read with more clarity and expression.

This was a pivotal event for that volunteer mum, who had been toying with the idea of trying to write a novel. When she saw what an impact the author of that Little Golden Book had made in the life of a disadvantaged child, she longed for the potential chance to make a similar difference in some other readers' lives.

I understand where she's coming from because I've been in both positions, hers and the boy's. I had a miserable time throughout school, but being a bookworm brightened my life. I remember hanging out for the next books in series, having my heart soar on days when the mobile library drove onto the school premises and sharing the hurts and triumphs of each character I read about. As a Primary School student, I often used to 'act out' the stories, walking around with a book in front of my nose pretending to be one of the characters. Recently, I drove my kids past a house where I used to live when I was little. There was a great wooden plank fence still there which used to be the "Faraway Tree" which I'd climb up to visit Moonface, Silky and the rest of Enid Blyton's gang. People used to think I was a strange little girl.

As I grew up, I wanted to pay it forward too. What a privilege, to be able to brighten and affect the lives of other readers the way these authors did for me. I love to think of being part of the pond ripples, as other potential writers have even written or emailed to say the same thing about me. My writing is part of my way of saying thank you to each of the authors who would have had no idea of the impact they'd make on me.

Thank you, Enid Blyton
Thank you, Laura Ingalls Wilder
Thank you, Louisa May Alcott
Thank you, L. M. Montgomery
Thank you, Beverly Cleary
Thank you, Charlotte, Emily and Anne Bronte
Thank you, Jane Austen
Thank you, Eleanor H. Porter
Thank you, Charles Dickens
Thank you, C. S. Lewis
Thank you, A. A. Milne
Thank you, Lewis Carroll

That's the tip of the iceberg as there have been many others too.

Paula Vince is an award-winning author and homeschooling mum. Her novels are set in her own beautiful corner of the world, the Adelaide Hills. Please visit her at her brand new website, www.paulavince.com or her blog, www.justoccurred.blogspot.com

Monday, August 20, 2012

Writing Whispers


The best time for planning a book is while you're doing the dishes.  
Agatha Christie
The Scullery Maid by Guiseppe Maria Crespi

Or... hanging the washing, or driving the kids to school, or mopping the bathroom floor. 
Wonderful ideas have a habit of arriving when we're up to our elbows in dish water or at the traffic lights. This is when a little preparation allows the capture of inspiration. So what do you do when you don't have your trusty writer's notepad beside you?
1. Scratch it down. If it means stepping away from the sink for a moment and scribbling an idea onto a scrap of paper, it's worth it. Don't let your inspiration disappear like the wash water down the drain. Write your thoughts on the steamy window with a wet finger if you must. Just get it down. And don't forget to re-write in your notebook before you clean the window!
2. Store it away. This has become a daily habit for me now. If you're on a long walk and all you have is your phone tucked in your pocket, don't be afraid to stop and send yourself a message. Speak it into the recorded memo function. Send your best friend a text and tell them to resend your garbled words back to you. They know you're a bit of a nutter. They won't mind!
3. Pray it won't fade away. If you really can't stop to write something or record your own voice, (when you're on the freeway or in church) commit your thoughts to the One who inspires them in the first place. Tell Him your idea and ask Him to return it to you at the right time. 

As for me... I'm on a plane today. Winging my way back from a quick trip to Bangkok with my Beloved. I know I'll be inspired by the people around me in airport lounges. I can't help it. It's the sticky beak in me. 

Good thing I've plenty of time to ponder my next book idea, and talk about it with the Giver of all inspiration. Because I think an airplane is just as good as a kitchen sink for deep thinking. Maybe even better. 

How about you? Where have you found yourself with a head full of inspiration? How do you capture the writing whispers?

*****

Dorothy Adamek lives at Crabapple House with her Beloved, their three teenagers and five pampered backyard chickens. She writes historical romance, Aussie style. Follow her love of all thing yesteryear at Ink Dots. 

Friday, August 17, 2012

Branding

Over the past twelve months or so, I've been learning a bit about 'branding'. To me, I guess this is like marketing specifically with my target audience in mind. In my mind, I have an image of a bow and arrow aimed at that red dot, the bullseye. As I continue to learn, I continue to make adjustments. But, here are a few things I have learned so far.

First of all you have to figure out your target audience. Who are you writing for? Perhaps it's children, or even more specifically 8-12 year-old girls. Perhaps it's men struggling with men's issues.

Once you have that idea clear, you design your website and/or blog to appeal to that audience. For example, look at Paul Jennings' website (here). It is not designed to attract the parents, but the kids. Our kids are more and more web friendly, so they need to see what appeals to them. Another good is example is our very own Dorothy Adamek. Her blog (here) screams Victoriana and romance, and that's exactly what you get when you read her posts.

Which brings me to the next thing - a tagline. At Ink Dots you might have seen this phrase - 'The heartbeat of yesteryear.' A tagline sums up what you're about, nice and succinctly. You hear these kind of tags all the time on TV ads. If you heard the taglines without the company's name, ten to one you would know who they are. 'Because you're worth it,' for instance. Or 'melts in your mouth, not in your hand.' Your tagline identifies you as an author and your USP (Unique Sales Proposition). For me, I created one (for now) based on a lot of feedback I get from my novels - 'keeping you turning pages past midnight.' You can use a tagline in your email signature, on your blog, website, business cards, brochures etc.

Even if you are as yet unpublished, you can begin building your brand using these ideas. It will help establish your platform for the future.
I am still trying to define many of these things, and even writing this post makes me realise I still have a lot to work on. I'm curious to know what other ideas any of you have, or do you find it overwhelming to think about?


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, Black Forest Redemption, is due for release on the 1st of October this year. For more information, see:
http://www.amandadeed.com.au/
http://amanderings.wordpress.com/


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Critiquing or Editing? That is the Question.

How do you feel when you've finally come to the end of your story? Like little Eliza here, it's really hard to let go.

I have to admit I don't belong to a critique group, but I think I'd be unlikely to hand it over to so many varied ideas and suggestions. Some authors do find this a great way to go as it seems to fire them up in a fresh way. You know "steel against steel" sharpens the mind.

Francine Rivers admitted she wouldn't join a critique group as it would be too much like a committee...too many ideas. And she also commented that the great authors of the past didn't work that way. They wrote alone and unaided. However, getting your work edited by a professional is an entirely different matter. Apart from grammatical errors, they pick up on the flaws in writing style, pacing and scene structure that novices aren't aware of. Of course they can charge big time as it's their time and skill involved.

I just love the way Debbie Ridpath captures what most of us authors struggle through! It's good to have a special reader whom you trust willing to read through your manuscript with helpful comments and willing to talk over any weaknesses. It really does help to understand a reader's point of view. Something you think think you've explained so well might be as clear as mud to someone just as intelligent as you are! And it comes as a shock to discover there might be another perfectly acceptable way of writing it.

I'd love to know how all you other authors out there think about this. Go it alone or work with a critique group?


Besides contributing to several US anthologies, Rita Stella Galieh has authored two novels, Fire in the Rock and Signed Sealed Delivered, Book I of a trilogy. She blogs weekly about true stories of women & occasionally men at http://inspirationalromance.blogspot.com . While waiting for her 2nd and 3rd books to find a publisher she scripts and is co-speaker for a Christian radio program, Communication, broadcast throughout Australia and HCJB, Missionary Radio.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Faith Under Siege

Faith! We all have it, even those people who think they do not. We all have areas of faith where we believe implicitly in something, even if we don’t understand how it works. For example, I believe that my heart beating will keep me alive. I’ve studied a little biology and understand the rudimentary workings of the cardio-vascular system, but I really could not sit here and say, I can tell you exactly how it works, why it works, or what makes it start working in the first place.
Another example of faith is when we go to an airport or train station. We buy a ticket to a destination, and this small piece of paper tells us that if we go to a certain gate lounge or platform, that we will be able to board a vehicle that will take us to that destination? How do we know that flight QF692 will actually take me to Melbourne? I don’t! I also don’t know how the plane manages to get off the ground or stay in the air, or go in the right direction. But it does, and I have faith that it does, otherwise I wouldn’t get on it in the first place. Somewhere along the line, many of us have accepted, by faith, that God exists. Sometimes that faith is extended by varying degrees: God is our creator; God is our Saviour; God is our healer; Jesus is our Lord. There are many points along a faith journey for any one of us.
But of recent times I have noticed that my own personal faith journey has been under more fire than is typical. The usual suspects that tease our faith in God are: doubt, fear and disappointment. I’ve met these characters quite a number of times over the years, have taken on the challenge, and usually emerged more grounded in my faith than before.
Then I met a new customer in the ‘let’s-see-how-tough-you-are’ department. Betrayal. That was a goodie! I never thought I’d think things like: ‘I don’t care if I never go to church again in my life!’ Have you ever been in that place? It’s a bit deeper than the normal pot-holes we stumble in. But thank you Lord, with time and the love of a faithful God, I’ve found my way out of this cavern again. Phew!
But that’s not the full account of the attack armoury. There is something that has been around for a while, but I’ve been carefully cocooned in a strong faith environment, so its influence hasn’t really penetrated my thinking before. But having recently engaged in a secular study environment has awakened me to some new opportunities to regroup. Actually, the influences of Darwin, Freud, Nietschke and Marx have been out and about for over a hundred years, suggesting that it is all right – nay – sensible and beneficial to consider life on its own without God, Jesus, the Bible, or any other religious ‘crutch’. The message gradually seeped into our western society over the twentieth century – God simply isn’t there!
Those of us who have experienced God in more than an intellectual way simply can’t accept that.
But things continued to develop (or deteriorate, it depends on how you look at it). Post modernism has been making its push for the last few decades, and while I’ve had my head in the clouds, haven’t noticed that the philosophical atmosphere has changed again.
Actually, now, it’s OK if you believe God is there, BUT, everyone experiences God in his or her own way. Truth is relative, and no one can say what truth is or if it really exists. You are allowed to believe your version of truth, if you want, but you cannot say with any certainty that what you believe is true, because everyone experiences life differently.
Fantastic! If that doesn’t put your head in a whirl, I don’t know what will.
So my faith, that has survived all sorts of doubts, disappointments and blows, now has to face the prevailing attitude of the 21st century.
Now I have to stand at the boarding gate of my own faith flight and ask the question: ‘Is it safe to fly?’
Thank goodness, even philosophy allows that we experience truth through different evidences, and several of these evidences allow for faith: Revelation; Authority; Intuition; the senses and reason.
I have gone through my life’s time-line to my different points of revelation, and there have been about five distinct ones over the decades, and when I consider what was revealed to my heart at each juncture, I can apply all other aspects of reason, intuition and authority to it, and I find it to be sound and true.
There was a point when I had the revelation that Jesus was God and He loved me. I was four. Then the revelation that the Holy Spirit was God and He could live in me. I was eight. I was sixteen when I studied biology, and the very distinct and clear revelation was that God is my awesome creator. In my early adult years, I discovered by revelation that God was not just THE Saviour, but He was MY Saviour, and that I was as in need of salvation as anyone else (even if I have never robbed a bank!) There have been other points of revelation, and continuing journey that surrounds each one.
The point I would like to make today is: If you have found your faith under fire or worse, under siege, go back along your timeline and find those points where you absolutely knew – where God spoke into your heart in a way that was undeniable. Hang on to those points, and move on from there.
Bless you

Meredith Resce
Author of ‘Cora Villa’, ‘Mellington Hall’ and many other popular novels.
http://bit.ly/CoraVillaTrailer

Friday, August 10, 2012

10 seconds to glory?


I must admit I’ve spent some late nights and early mornings watching some of the Olympics. I love to see the athletes, who show such self discipline, dedication and perseverance, achieving their best. Many of their personal stories are even more inspiring than their sporting achievements, and so many testify to the personal growth that has come from their disappointments and hardships as well as the highlights of their sporting careers.  
However,  I heard the term ‘10 seconds to glory’ early on the morning before the 100 metre race, and it made me think about how blessed we are as Christians that we are called to run a race for a prize that is granted to us by our Saviour, Jesus. He has made the sacrifice. He has paid the price, and we are assured an eternity of blessing and glory – not just 10 seconds.
I’m inspired by the athletes to apply myself to living the best way I can, to develop my skills and gifts, and to persevere in spite of setbacks. I believe this is how God wants me to live too, but I’m so thankful that glory for me does not depend on how well I do, who I beat, or how many people applaud me. 
This is such an encouragement to me because as much as I’m spurred on by the number of people who buy my books, or LIKE my author page, or give me positive feedback, I’m assured that the greatest prize of all is already mine. And because I do my best to glorify God in all I do, including my writing, I know I can trust Him to bring me to the finish line and help me produce the best results possible.
1 Corinthians 9:25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training.
They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.
What a wonderful promise!
I had some similar thoughts to these when I wrote my first novel
 ‘Suzannah’s Gold.’ (http://www.amazon.com/author/carolpreston)                          People in Suzannah’s life were not going for gold medals but they were sacrificing much in the hope of finding gold nuggets. I loved writing about Suzannah, for whom gold was found in trusting God and doing what was right in His eyes.
Of course our lives are still challenging, there are still hurdles along the way, and goals that stretch us until we are spent, but what a blessing to reach for the best with absolute assurance that we are winners in God’s eyes.

Carol    http://www.carolpreston.com.au
            http://www.facebook.com/writingtoreach
           

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Blogging about Blogging


I confess that till recently, I was a very reluctant blogger. Not that I don’t like writing. Not that I don’t enjoy airing my views on paper. I do. I most certainly do. But it seemed to me that life was busy enough. I didn’t want to add another weekly deadline to my already filled up schedule. So ever since I began my “Adventures in Writing” – I shook my rebellious head at the idea of starting my own blog. Blogging every now and then for Christian Writers Down Under was different. I thought that that was the perfect solution and just right for me.

Until one fine day! Our Facilitator of Christian Writers Downunder, the wise and enterprising Lee, shared with me how important it was for a writer to have a platform and that a regular blog was part of that. I was finally persuaded. (Well done, Lee!) And so, this reluctant blogger finally got to her feet in the area of creating, not just her own works of fiction and non fiction but also her writer’s platform. In February this year I enjoyed producing my own website and immediately started on my blogging journey. I was delighted at the very encouraging response I received from family and friends, well wishers and other readers.

Writing is something which has always come naturally to me. I’ve usually had a profusion of writing ideas stacked up in a large pile in my head, just like the mound of delicious books that adorn the top of my bedside table, waiting to be read. My “Idea notebooks” are always full. My problem has always been that I need to find sufficient time to sit and write all I want to. (Perhaps there’s some lack of discipline lurking in there?) Many other vitally important things seem to clamour for my attention all the time - work, people, pleasure, chores and the 101 other facets that go into living life.

Does that sound familiar?

And so, for the first few weeks, I wrote my blog to please any publishers out there. And also to show them that I was indeed worth publishing. But I have to confess that much as I love writing (and writing a blog is fun, isn’t it?) – I would have preferred to spend my precious time working on my next book rather than dreaming up my next blog.

As I began to send my blog link out weekly to my family and friends and many others in my extensive contact list, I started to get many lovely responses to my blogs. There was one friend in particular who did something for me. She’s been going through a tough patch in life. She told me that every blog I’d written seemed directed at her. That God spoke to her and encouraged her through them. Every time. She’d enjoyed my book she said and now she was an avid follower of my blog. My eyes were wet with tears as I read her email. I felt warmed from the inside out.

But you know what? She helped me as well. She blessed me by helping me figure out why I needed to write a blog in the first place. Just like a light switched on in my mind, God flooded my heart and my mind with understanding. In the blink of an eye, my attitude to blogging changed. Since then, I have been writing not to please my publishers.

I am now blogging because I have a call from God to write and encourage others. It’s as simple as that. It’s a way I can honour Him. A way I can be faithful to my call.

What a difference this knowledge has made in my life! My motivations are totally altered – and for the better. Every time someone writes to me to tell them that God had used my blog (and in fact when He’s used anything I write) to speak to them, my heart is filled.

We writers have a great calling in life don’t we?
Are you excited? I am!


Do tell me your stories. How did God encourage you in your writing journey? Was there a reader response that dazzled you from the inside out? I would love to hear about it.

Keep writing and keep blogging and keep on keeping on, my friends. You and I have stories to share that will bring light to the world. And a smile into many hearts.

How blessed we are!


Anusha loves life and all it holds. She delights in connecting with people and living life for Jesus. Writing is a way she gets to know herself and her world. Also a way she shares the goodness of God with the world around her.

Her website ‘Dancing in the Rain’ can be found at:
http://anusha-atukorala.webnode.com/.
She hopes you will stop by to say Hello!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Words of Affirmation

Day by day God is teaching me to be intentional with my words.  What I speak, write and even think have a profound impact, not only on myself, but also those around me.  Words and experiences help form our ideology and beliefs.

For example when we are pregnant, everyone asks, "How is the baby and when is your baby due?"  Nobody asks, "How is your fetus, when is your fetus due?"  Yet, when difficulties in pregnancy arise the baby suddenly becomes a fetus therefore changing perceptions, rendering a baby less than precious, even dispensable.

When I am asked what I do for work, how I reply often depends on my state of confidence.  At times I reply, "I write." And if I am having a particularly daring day, I tell others, "I'm an author." There are many days that I don't 'feel' like an author, as if there is some kind of grand author ideal out there and I don't measure up.  Yet, despite my feelings God is teaching me to embrace and share the fact.  I think part of the problem in announcing my 'authordom' is I don't like labels. People put you in a box when you tell them you do something for a living.  So sometimes I like to mix it up, keep it fresh and be defined by who I am not what I am.

So I wanted to ask you all how would you like to introduce yourself?  It doesn't have to be something you would actually say aloud in public.  If you could declare to the world in full who you are in one sentence, what would you shout?  At the risk of blowing my own horn and doing something entirely against the Australian grain, here is what I would say:

My name is Nicole Watson, princess in the Kingdom of Heaven,  God's salt and light upon the earth, perfectly imperfect thanks to Jesus, speaker of truth and encourager of others.

Now, share yours with me and do something really brave and say it aloud.  Remember your words and thoughts impact your beliefs.

Nicole Watson
Author of Sam's Heart
www.samsheart.com.au
www.comefollowmewatsons.blogspot.com