Adele Jones lives in Queensland, Australia. Her writing is inspired by a passion for family, faith, friends, music and science – and a broad ranging imagination. To find out more visit www.adelejonesauthor.com
Thursday, January 30, 2014
Adele Jones lives in Queensland, Australia. Her writing is inspired by a passion for family, faith, friends, music and science – and a broad ranging imagination. To find out more visit www.adelejonesauthor.com
Monday, January 27, 2014
I was pleased with it, until... until I looked at his which looked just spectacular. I wanted to show you his stunning photo but for some reason the blog doesn't want to take it, without you having to stand on your head to look at it.. So here is a different one instead, not as effective but still pretty sky.
Of course there are several explainable reasons for the difference. Firstly mine was just taken on my inexpensive mobile phone camera, while his was taken on a proper camera. You’d expect given better equipment, the results would be better. Also I’m really just a hack when it comes to photos. I snap them for my own amusement and have been known to have thumb in shot or horizons that aren’t straight. He is much more accomplished.
Of course I might just as easily compare myself to someone else I heard talking the other day. She’s been working on a manuscript for years but still hasn't even got half way, isn’t sure she wants to write the rest or of she will ever finish it.
Thursday, January 23, 2014
As readers we want to believe what we're reading is true, don't we? Of course, but that's only when we read nonfiction.
When we read fictional novels, we actually do something interesting, often as an automatic response.
We know the story is not true, even though it may contain many facts. But here is where we actually choose to set aside that part of us that doesn't believe a word of what we're reading and accept what the author has written ... all of it.
Yes, we deliberately suspend our unbelief.
Now here is where the onus is on the author to convince you to believe and thus accept the plot and the reality of the characters.
It's a big job. Authors are expected to do thorough research to make the whole story resonate with his or her readers. And when they don't, we get disgusted and lose interest. Yet when an author is also an avid reader it becomes difficult to simply read for enjoyment and set aside their critical eye. But should they?
I don't believe so. We can all learn from each other. We can appreciate the author's skill, but we can also see where they may have slipped up here and there on certain "rules" we believe they should have followed. Here is where we must use caution. As we all know rules are helpful in just about every case. Yet there are times when they can also be cumbersome. I personally love it when an editor points out mistakes, ( and I've made enough of them!) or suggests other ways to write in order to strengthen the storyline or double check facts.
And don't fall into the trap of thinking "that couldn't have happened" or "they wouldn't act that way". Dan Walsh's book, The Deepest Waters is a case in point. Many of our Australian authors incorporate things that have happened to them into their stories, even if it might seem far fetched.
Real life truth can be far stranger than fiction. And people do not always act the way we expect them to. There are many underlying reasons for this. We don't always know why we sometimes say or do things we wouldn't ordinarily do or say! So why should our characters be any different?
Ah, it all makes for great reading doesn't it? Let's remember that with the next book you read. (I mentioned Dan's book because I admit I thought he was stretching my suspension of unbelief a bit thin. How wrong was I?)
I wonder how many of us read books with our mental editor at work or whether we can switch off and enjoy.
Rita and her husband co-present the Christian radio program Vantage Point, broadcast on FM stations around Australia. She had two historical romances published and her novel, Signed Sealed Delivered, can be found on Amazon Kindle. Books II & III of her trilogy are still in the pipeline.
Monday, January 20, 2014
This is probably not the book you would recommend to a teenage girl who had just become a Christian. Yet it began a journey of reading Christian books. These days I wouldn't agree with all of Norman Vincent Peale's theology but back then I knew nothing about theology. I had not grown up in a Christian family but had come to faith through a church youth group.
The book, A Tough Minded Optimist, gave me the one thing I desperately needed at the time, hope. I was a deeply depressed teenager and I read and reread this book, filled with story after story of people who had turned their lives around by trusting God and changing the way they thought.
I had always been an avid reader; it was a way of escaping the real world and getting lost in another. Now I had found a whole new genre of material. I stumbled across John Powell, David Seamands, and when I had my children, James Dobson.
However the next life changing book moment came when a friend gave me a copy of Selwyn Hughes' quarterly devotional, Every Day With Jesus. For the next 20 years I read these devotions. I also read Selwyn Hughes' other books and went to one of his conferences when he was in Australia.
From Selwyn Hughes I discovered Neil Anderson who wrote along similar themes, then there was Larry Crabb, Dan Allender, R.C. Sproul and Mark Buchanan. I said to someone recently I can't give my books away because, although I won't read them again, they have sentimental value because they changed my life. They replied, "If you gave them away they might change someone else's life." Ouch!
I am grateful to each and every one of these authors yet none of them know they changed my life. It motivates me to tell my story through the things I write when I realize how much other people's stories have impacted me.
We may never know whose lives we touch, encourage and motivate with our writing. However if we seek God as we write we know that God will use our written offerings to bless others.
abooklook.blogspot.com.au. She is also a librarian.
Thursday, January 16, 2014
We are soon approaching one of Australia’s National Holidays – January 26th – Australia Day. I always love a public holiday. Apart from the day off from work, Australians love a good opportunity to have a picnic or Barbeque; an opportunity to pull out the cricket bats and wickets; to sit at water’s edge and enjoy the heat while the kids play in the water. I have been known to tape an Australian flag to the aerial of the car. In the year we were in the UK for Australia Day, we went outside in the freezing cold with our jar of vegemite and Australian flag, wearing footy shorts, singlet and thongs (flip-flops for the non-Australians) and took photos to mark the occasion. Actually I took the photo, my son wore the Aussie garb.
In recent years I have become aware of some agitation that has been coming to light over Australia Day. I’m not going to say I know what it’s all about, but from the bits and pieces I have picked up I would suggest it has something to do with point of view. As writers we are big on ‘point of view’ discussions; how important it is to keep the POV from jumping around, but more importantly as a writer of fiction, it is crucial that we can begin see things from various points of view and show an empathy or understanding if we are to make our characters credible.
I’ve had numerous discussions with my daughter who has been a teacher of Aboriginal Studies for seven years, and is currently studying a masters in Aboriginal Studies. She is very animated when she talks about Australia Day. For some odd reason she doesn’t see Australia Day the same way I do. The chops on the barbie and the cricket on the TV is not what she thinks of at all. If anything she says she thinks of the yobbo’s who drape Australian flags over their shoulders, waving stubbies of beer in their hand, racing around the suburbs inciting violence and yelling racial chants. You might ask if that was our usual family activity for an Australian Day holiday, and I would say: Of course not. I think I saw something of the sort on TV once and dismissed it without a second thought. Those sorts of people are not Australian! Are they?
Then I recall a recent back yard party I was invited to. The family were Indian migrants, and their backyard was full of Indian migrants. We ate some fabulous curry and even joined in some Bollywood dancing to music that was blaring out of the speakers in the parked car. It was very multi-cultural from my point of view. There was me, the lone Aussie Aussie, my husband , who identifies as an Italian, though he was born in Australia, and two or three other Italian neighbours. It was all going very well until I engaged in a conversation with one of the young Indian fellows. He was highly educated, and unlike a lot of his friends at the party who drove taxis for a living (all the taxis were parked in the street), he worked in a slaughter house. He was scathing in his description of the country Australians he worked with. He saw them as racist and abusive. I wanted to object. I am a country Australian, and we are not racist, are we?
This year I was studying Australian Literature of 20th Century for a semester. Of course Dorothea Macellar’s ‘My Country’ was dragged out and examined, and I immediately connected. ‘I love a sunburnt country; jewelled seas; ragged mountain ranges; the wide brown land for me.’ But then there was another poem entitled ‘Australia’ by Ania Walwicz. Walwicz arrived as a twelve year old non-English speaking migrant to a crowded urban environment, and from the way she has written her poem, her experience was not that great. ‘Acres of suburbs watching the telly. You bore me. Freckle silly children. You nothing much. With your big sea. Beach beach beach...you dumb dirty city with bar stools. You’re ugly...’ It’s not what you’d call a poem that inspires patriotism. Clearly her point of view was of a crowded, unfriendly, overwhelming place where she had no escape.
But as we approach Australia Day particularly, I want to look at the reason we celebrate in the first place. I have heard the throwaway line – it’s the day Australia was settled. And in those few words lies the problem. It was the day the Europeans arrived, ran up a flag and proclaimed that the British Empire would build a nation. However there were already settlements and nations all over the land we now call Australia. Of course they were the first Australians. When we look at the first picture we see the ceremony with the flag, the officials standing around about listening to proclamations and prayers. However, the second picture shows us the other folks that we don’t see represented in the first picture. These were the first Australian indigenous people whose land the Europeans were laying claim to. From that day to this, a lot of history has taken place, but usually we only focus on the part that represents from the European (particularly the British) point of view. So when we come to Australia day we of white British descent can give a cheer and thank God for this great land, and for all the good things that we enjoy by way of provisions and freedoms. But while British colonial settlers were successful in building a great future for their white descendents, what was constructed for the indigenous population was characterised by some very ugly history, if we choose to look at it.
Now I am about to enter contentious waters. Come with me a little way – it will be OK. In 1938 at the 150th anniversary Australia Day celebrations, a small group of courageous aboriginal people staged a silent demonstration, proclaiming the day as a day of mourning. This group was led by a William Cooper and his nephew, Douglas Nichols. They weren’t saying ‘Europeans have stolen our land’; nor were they saying, ‘Europeans go back to where you came from’. What they were saying was, ‘let us be a part of the nation you have built’. This was the beginning of Australia’s own civil rights movement where this group had written a petition to the King asking that Aboriginals be given civil rights: to be counted, to be allowed to have a say over their own affairs, to vote, to be allowed to go into the public swimming pool, for their returned soldiers to be allowed admittance to the RSL clubs. At that time they were still having children being taken from them indiscriminately, and they were only allowed to live on certain reserves. They were not allowed to move around from those reserves, nor were they allowed any say on how the reserves were run. All of that was left to white overseers. Some were benevolent, some were cruel and unkind. William Cooper begged his nephew, Douglas Nichols, to use his influence to help their people. Doug Nichols was the first indigenous professional football player in Victoria. He was reluctantly accepted by the VFL(they couldn’t refuse his skill), but he was refused the usual rub-downs that all other football players received. But he persisted in the game, and eventually joined his uncle in the cause. After he finished his football career, he became a Christian minister, and using his influence he pursued the cause of equal rights for his people. It is an inspiring story of Australia’s civil rights leader – he is our Nelson Mandela; he is our Martin Luther King. Why don’t we know much about him? Perhaps you do, but if you don’t, I strongly encourage you to take a look at a TV documentary you will find on You Tube. It is from the series ‘First Australians’ produced for SBS. This episode is called ‘A Fair Go for a Dark Race’, directed by Beck Cole.
This Australia Day as you enjoy your chops and sausages with good old tomato sauce (translation ketchup for American friends), and you cheer wildly while the Aussie’s beat the Poms in the cricket, don’t forget to give a nod of recognition to the other points of view. In our country today there are many different cultural and ethnic backgrounds represented. Sometimes their experiences have not been so great. Perhaps we could offer a prayer for our government and for our people, that we can find the course of grace and wisdom that will help us travel difficult roads together towards a more loving and accepting time.
Author of Cora Villa, Mellington Hall, For All Time and The 'Heart of Green Valley' series
Monday, January 13, 2014
I write for the mature adult market, for mostly women who are interested in seeing life’s big issues discussed and resolved. But am I writing for the Christian market?
Because the Christian readership in Australia is so small, should I try to be inoffensive to every sector of the market? But if I write to satisfy the lowest common denominator, I fear my book will lose its impact. Surely it is tragic to gloss over the most compelling scenes, missing the opportunity for powerful writing, risking frustrating one half of my readership to avoid offending the other half.
I believe we can go there without being explicit or obscene. But where is the balance?
Wendy Francis commented about this topic, when speaking at the launch of Though the Bud be Bruised. She thanked me for showing her reality without leaving behind yucky feelings and images. This comment has been very helpful to me.
Should I soften my writing to make the book safe for the Aussie Christian market? I've pondered this question long and hard. But I can't bear to weaken the powerful scenes, or remove the theme that relies on the graphic action. Having said that, I believe this book still 'shows' without leaving nasty images or feelings behind.
Thursday, January 9, 2014
In January, a lot of us make New Year’s Resolutions. We’ll go to the gym, lose 20 kilos, learn French, and tutor children twice a week at the local refugee centre. The problem is that by February, we’re watching reality TV and polishing off a tub of ice-cream. One reason is that we sometimes set the bar too high. Then when we can’t meet our lofty goals, we give up. One of my favourite newspaper columnists, Frances Whiting, has resolved this problem by publishing her “Remotely Achievable List” each year. One of her goals for 2014 is to “learn how to write more interesting tweets/Facebook posts than ‘Homemade lasagna for dinner. Yum!'’” Actually, that could be a lesson for a lot of us!
- First, we can commit our goals to prayer, asking God to show us what He would like us to work on and then asking for His help in achieving those things.
- Second, aim for realistic goals that will stretch us, but aren’t beyond our reach.
- Third, if we share our goals with an accountability partner or trusted group, they can encourage us to keep on track.
- Fourth, life happens. If unexpected things occur during the year (e.g., illness or family issues), we need to be kind to ourselves and adjust goals where necessary. It’s not about beating ourselves up if we don’t meet our objectives, but about staying in the race.
I haven’t quite finished setting my writing goals for this year, but I’ve made a start. I’ve registered for a Month of Poetry challenge where we have to write a poem a day for the whole of January. I’ve managed to keep up so far and I’m already seeing the benefits. Not only is it fun, but by the end of the month I’ll have 31 poems and feedback that I can work on with a view to publication. Another target is to finish the complete first draft of my novel. I wrote about 15 000 words last year, but then stalled. This year, I really want to keep the pages ticking away and I’m counting on my writing buddies to keep checking in on me.
Monday, January 6, 2014
During this first week of the year, I stumbled across a quote by Annie Dillard. She reminded me, "How we spend our days is how we spend our lives." Then she expanded on that to say, "Who would call a day spent reading a good day? But a life spent reading - that is a good life."
I had to stop and think about that, because I do consider a day free to do nothing but read is a good day indeed. As I pondered, I began to see what I think she meant. And she's right.
Consider the benefits of a life spent reading. We stimulate healthy paths in areas of our brain which might have been left dormant otherwise. At parties, we have the potential to begin interesting conversations. We never need to worry about being bored in unexpectedly empty hours. Instead of moping about how we have nothing to do, we relish the sudden opportunity to get stuck into our books. If we're caught in a queue or waiting room without our books, we simply pull our fully loaded reading devices out of our handbags or briefcases and we're all set. If we're bloggers, it isn't difficult to come up with something to spark a blog post because our minds keep ticking over with what we've read. As I skimmed through my blog to see the tone of last year, I noticed how often I said something occurred to me because of something I'd read. If fiction is among the mix, we may be more empathetic people than those who don't read. Even scientific studies have indicated that. Imagining ourselves in other people's shoes comes easily to us, enabling us to intuitively sense how those around us might feel, making us more sensitive in our relationships. We may be more familiar with the experience of having sudden flashes of insight or unexplained answers to questions we've been pondering, without actively seeking them, because they come to us from within the pages of our books. We are more familiar with the interesting features of the world without physically having to visit each place. And our imaginations are healthy. They get more aerobics than those of people who merely opt for watching TV. There are huge benefits to a life spent reading.
BUT to have the benefit of a life spent reading, we have to be able to spend part of our days reading without feeling that we're wasting our time. There's where people may sometimes come unstuck.
It's increasingly difficult for people to justify doing that in the twenty-first century. There's usually something pressing and urgent to be done within each 24 hour block. We feel lazy if we're caught with our feet up, reading a book, while there are still dirty dishes in the sink or wet towels on the bathroom floor. When we feel as if we shouldn't read until all the housework is done, there's very little time left over. If your house is like mine, one room is being made messy while another is being straightened. If we are lucky enough to be caught up in the pages of a fascinating book, how easy it is to call the day a write-off and say, "I spent too much time reading," or "I did absolutely nothing."
Now that we're beginning a new year, I'd like to encourage us all to remember the great benefits of a life spent reading, and remind us that we won't achieve those good things listed above unless we prioritise at least a little while each day to read. And if we really want to feel as if something good and constructive is coming out of our reading time in the short time, we can leave trails of our experience through reviews left on our blogs, or any of the many book review sites. That's a good record of our life spent reading, which might be springboard for those of many other people.
I wish you all happy reading in 2014.
Paula Vince is the award-winning author of contemporary, inspirational novels such as "Best Forgotten" and "Picking up the Pieces". She lives in South Australia's beautiful Adelaide Hills, which she uses as the setting for her novels. Her most recent novel, "Imogen's Chance" will be published in April, 2014.