Friday, September 28, 2012

Who is your super hero?

            Recently my husband went to speak at a conference run by University students. The young woman who was to introduce him asked him a couple of interesting questions beforehand, in preparation for her introduction. The first was ‘Who is your super hero?’  The second was ‘If you had magic powers what would you like to do with them?’
            My husband was stumped! With a lifetime of experience behind him as an engineer, business manager and CEO, he found the questions bemusing at best. Aspiring to live life like Spider Man, or having Harry Potter powers are very far from his mind set.
            ‘Whatever happened to the values of ‘down to earth responsibility, hard work and commitment’? he later asked me. ‘Why does the younger generation long to escape into fantasy?’
            He introduced his talk to them by challenging them to face the realities of life and to strive to bring about productive, practical changes in their world.
            I must say I agreed with him. As a writer of historical fiction, I am focused on understanding the mistakes and the achievements of those who have gone before, and trying to inspire readers to learn lessons that will help them make the best decisions for their lives. I love to imagine the personal experiences, conversations and interactions of my characters and to pour into them qualities and insight that I believe will inspire and challenge my readers. But my stories are all very down to earth, and based on real people who faced great challenges and struggles.
            This does not negate my desire to present readers with the love of God and the amazing changes He can bring into a person’s life. I believe fully in the power of God to bring about the miraculous, but I believe that the work of God is grounded in our daily walk on this earth and our interactions with the people around us.
            I am often disturbed by the tendency of many young people these days to escape into fantasy, to live half their lives (or more) in some virtual reality they can create digitally, or to interact for the most part through their computers, phones, I-pads etc rather than spending time with real people in real conversations about real issues.
            Am I just old fashioned? I know there are have always been beautiful nursery rhymes, fairy tales and fables, with great lessons for the young, and also great newer stories set in fantasy, which for some readers provide wonderful challenges and inspiration to live the best kind of life. However last week I saw a preview of a new kid's movie where four mythical characters team up; the sandman, tooth fairy - and I think Santa Claus and the Easter bunny were the other two - to help children make the most of their lives. Are we crossing a line into fantasy which is dangerously misleading?
           Perhaps it’s a stage of life thing? Do young people learn better through fantasy and older people through real life experiences? Or perhaps there are many roads to learning, and potential for getting lost along any of them?     
            Recently I read “Common sense is so rare these days, it should be classified as a super power.”  Of course that appealed to me, but may be that's just my age. Or have I lost the child in me too soon? What do you think?  


Carol has written seven novels based on her family history in Australia.
The Oakes Family Saga includes Suzannah's Gold, Rebecca's Dream and The Price of Peace.
The Turning the Tide series includes Mary's Guardian, Charlotte's Angel
and Tangled Secrets with Truly Free to be released in 2013.
The Face of Forgiveness, Carol's fourth novel, can now be read in serial form
under the title Forgiving Michael  http://www.carolpreston.blogspot.com
You can read more about Carol's other novels on her website  
Or you can contact her on http://www.facebook.com/writingtoreach


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

I am still learning

I read recently that the little sentence ‘I am still learning’ (‘ancora imparo’ in Latin) was one often used by Michelangelo, even in his later years. As well as achieving so much as a painter and sculptor, Michelangelo was also famous as a poet, engineer and architect. He was indeed a lifelong learner, always trying new things, always perfecting his skills and pushing the boundaries.

No, I am not in Michelangelo’s league in any way!  But I definitely relate to that little sentence ‘I am still learning’! In fact, I realised this again only this past week, as I struggled to understand what my daughter was explaining to me about buying a second website domain name and requesting the providers to ‘point the domain’ in a particular direction, according to which company was hosting my new site.
‘Oh, it means if someone pops your domain name into the internet, then the people who hold it will know where to send them ... it's like putting an address on a letter so the postie will know where to deliver it.’

Hmmm ... okaaaay!

Then I began thinking. Since I started my writing journey in 2004, I have learnt many, many new things. Back then, I had no real idea how one was supposed to go about writing a novel. I had studied some English in my original university degree. I had belonged to a couple of writers’ groups over the years. I had attended short courses and seminars at the NSW Writers’ Centre. I had read books and online articles about writing. And I had certainly written a wide variety of things, including teaching materials, studies, sermons, short stories, innumerable essays—and many, many letters. But there was so much more to learn, I discovered. Yet now, having written six novels, I find there are so many more aspects of writing I have yet to grapple with and master. Yes, Michelangelo, I too am still learning.

But it is in the area of book promotion, particularly via the internet, that I have had to learn the most. When I began selling my first novel, I did not even have a website initially. A few years later, I can remember very reluctantly becoming a Facebook convert. In mid-2009, I began my own personal blog and since then have written over 150 posts for that. I then joined a couple of group blogs and began posting there when my turn came around. I also joined Shoutlife and Goodreads somewhere along the line. And now I have an Amazon author page as well. What will be next, I wonder? Not Twitter. I refuse to ‘tweet’!
But my steep learning curve has also extended beyond the internet. Last year, I experienced being interviewed via phone for a couple of radio programs. That was indeed a novelty. Now this year, I took part in filming a book trailer for my upcoming non-fiction book—despite being convinced that is one skill I could well do without.
The things I need to learn never seem to end. Yet would I have it any other way? God has much more for me to do and say and write yet, I believe. So it is up to me to do my best and to follow God’s leading in it all, to listen and learn and trust God will guide and undertake.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your on understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight. Prov 3:5-6
Jo-Anne Berthelsen lives in Sydney but grew up in Brisbane. She holds degrees in Arts and Theology and has worked as a high school teacher, editor and secretary, as well as in local church ministry. Jo-Anne is passionate about touching hearts and lives through both the written and spoken word. She is the author of five published novels – Heléna, All the Days of My Life, Laura, Jenna and Heléna’s Legacy. Her first non-fiction work, Soul Friend: the story of a shared spiritual journey will be released in October and a sixth novel, The Inheritance, in 2013. Jo-Anne is married to a retired minister and has three grown-up children and three grandchildren. For more information, please visit www.jo-anneberthelsen.com.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Hi. My name is Helen, and I am one of the newest additions to the Christian Writers Downunder  list of bloggers.

I never actually envisioned that I would be added to such a list; after all, I'm not exactly the epitome of Christian living at its best. Don't get me wrong, I'm not out every night breaking the Ten Commandments or anything; but I do tend to allow my circumstances to take my focus away from God more than I ought. When I know I should be praising, instead I tend to stamp my frustrated size 11 feet and throw spiritual temper tantrums.   

Some days I am overcome by an overwhelming sense of insecurity; I shrink away from both God and people, struggling to find anything likeable about me, inside or out. I doubt my character - as a mum, wife, friend and Christian - and run a personal CCTV loop of my faults through my mind, over and over again.

It can be a stormy sea of emotions to navigate; from a writing perspective I can sometimes feel like such a phony, writing on the goodness of God and his wonderful love, when in reality I feel a million miles away from both his goodness and his loving presence. But over the years the Holy Spirit has taught me a tenet of faith that has released me from questioning my legitimacy to write for God. It's a revelation that has become crucial to my life, in every aspect:

No matter how I feel, the truth of Jesus Christ will always be true. 

Aha! A rhema word indeed! God has so very gently shown me that when I write, I write from the heart. And in my heart of hearts is a deep-seeded love for God, an unshakeable trust in the truth of His Word and a delight in sharing the inspired encouragements that He whispers to me. 

So when I feel that I am being tossed around on that wretched sea of uncertainty, I can rest in the knowledge that I am safe, for His truth is my anchor - and it is unfailing, able to withstand the roughest of seas I come up against. 

What a relief it is, to know that I don't have to strive to feel holy enough to share the love of God;  to realise that my writing is acceptable to Him because of who He is, and the truth that He drops into my heart to share.

Blessings, 

Helen

My FaithWriters Profile page

Friday, September 14, 2012

Ask For What You Want


Did you know that God desires to give you not only what you need in life but also what you want?  For so many years I thought it was only OK to ask for what you really needed to get by, that God only gave you just enough, and to ask for anything more was not right.

Reading Luke 18 and the story of the woman persisting with the judge until her petition was answered, speaks mountains to me.  This woman knew she was right in asking for what she wanted. She was a widow that had been wronged, and in Old Testament law she was due justice.  She was in right relationship with God and so she never gave up in asking for what she wanted.

The same is true of us in prayer. Jesus knows the desires of our hearts and waits for us to open our mouths and ask Him.  He waits patiently for us to come to the realisation that He wants to give us more than we could ever ask for.  I am not talking about prosperity gospel, I am talking about practical things, like wanting our writing to be the best that it can be, for Him to open up new doors of opportunity to share our work and heart.  He wants to be the one we go to to increase business and ministry opportunities. He wants to be the one that receives glory for all we do, not just the things that seem more holy.  All things we do are holy unto God, when we follow Jesus. 

So many times as writers and Christians we are knocked back.  Time and time again we struggle and toil, some of us for a great many years. 

DON'T GIVE UP.

If God has placed a dream in your heart, a promise that you know is from Him, hold fast.  Never give up.  Continue to pray and believe that God will answer your prayer.  And I ask that this week  God will provide a new revelation to you of that dream, that promise that was given solely to you.  God will will not fail in His promise to you.

Nicole Watson
www.samsheart.com.au
www.comefollowmewatsons.blogspot.com

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Perfection – you are far far from me! (Like, I can’t even see you from here!)


In a semi-serious extension of Rita Stella Galieh’s proofing blog (below) I want to take the opportunity to admit that I am far from perfect. This will not be a great surprise to those who know me. They are perpetually reminded that I am not perfect, but this week highlighted just how imperfect I am.
Without going into the grisly details of this revelation, I will just say that proofing is not my thing, and I was reminded of that fact. I am not what you would call, a details person. I am happiest in a creative state where stories flow easily and characters come to life, not in the tedious world of correct spelling, punctuation, and picking up mistakes.
Don’t get me wrong – I know that to be a better writer I must strive to work hard on the technical aspects of the craft. It just seems that I never quite get there. I lack the talent and aptitude for it. So in my state of distress over a troublesome issue I flicked onto this Christian Writer’s Downunder blog and read Rita’s post (below).
I laughed and laughed, and I realized that I am not alone (bless you, Rita). There are others out there like me. What a relief. Then I had a great revelation. Instead of beating myself up over my lack of proofing ability I need to concentrate on improving my mistake catching eye, and get to know a few more proofing geniuses willing to check my work. Because at the end of the day – it’s far better to giggle when we find these things, not proclaim the end of the world.    

Rose Dee is the author of the 'Resolution' series. Her latest release is 'A New Resolution'; the third and final book in the series. 

Visit Rose at: http://rosedee.com/

Monday, September 10, 2012

What Happened to Proof Readers?

Good question

Especially in newspaper headlines. You've seen them, those silly statements and awful spelling. Oh, I know it's all about the pressure of deadlines. Or as my friend used to say, that's all for the gnus, now come the head lions! (Sorry about that.)

London couple slain. Police suspect homicide
(They may be on to something!)
Red Tape holds up new bridges
(You mean there's something stronger than Duct Tape?)
 War dims hope for peace
(I can see where it might have that effect!) 
Local high school dropouts cut in half      
(Chainsaw Massacre all over again!)

Well, we may not be journalists, but we also have to watch out for those tricky dangling modifiers. They can sneak into our work without us being aware. I've caught myself time and again.  An example (I didn't write,) Roaring down the highway with screeching tyres, the woman just managed to step out of the way.

Thankfully I found my creative mistakes before the editor or final proof reader did. And I get chills to think of them slipping by unnoticed until some reader points them out, sigh! Still, they make for entertaining reading when you discover someone else's mistakes.

Found on church bulletin boards, these items badly needed proof reading:
* Ladies, don’t forget the rummage sale. It’s a chance to get rid of those things not worth keeping around the house. Bring your husbands.
* The Fasting & Prayer Conference includes meals.
* The peacemaking meeting scheduled for today has been canceled due to a conflict
*.For those of you who have children and don’t know it, we have a nursery downstairs.
* At the evening service tonight, the sermon topic will be ‘What Is Hell?’  Come early and listen to our choir practice.
* The Rector will preach his farewell message, after which the choir will sing: ‘Break Forth Into Joy.’
* During the absence of our pastor, we enjoyed the rare privilege of hearing a good sermon when J. F. Stubbs supplied our pulpit.
* Irving Benson and Jessie Carter were married on October 24th in the church.  So ends a friendship that began in their school days.
* The church will host an evening of fine dining, super entertainment, and gracious hostility.
* Potluck supper Sunday at 5:00 PM – Prayer and medication to follow.
* Miss Charlene Mason sang ‘I Will Not Pass This Way Again,’ giving obvious pleasure to the congregation.


Rita Stella Galieh is currently working on another manuscript and sincerely hopes she will not fall into any of the above humbling traps.
http://inspirationalromance.blogspot.com