Thursday, 23 March 2017

Stories of Life (Sue Jeffrey)

This picture is of me (on the right) with the legendary, Catch Tilly, at the Stories of Life award ceremony and the launch of the anthology, A Chicken Can Make a Difference

Early last year I heard about a new writing competition. Stories of Life was calling for 500 word and 1500 word life stories that were personal testimonies of faith. As God has done so much in my life and made himself ‘present’ to me in real ways again and again, I thought I’d have a go and see what happened.      Not long after winning I was asked to take the reigns of the Stories of Life social media pages to promote the 2017 competition. This has been a huge learning curve for me. I’m learning as I go – focusing mainly on the Stories of Life website and Facebook page.

     My first attempt at an entry was okay but it lacked ‘zing’. I shelved it and went about life until I realised it was one week until the deadline. I’m an ENFP – that’s a type of Myers-Briggs personality profile. ENFPs are usually creative but they also respond well to deadlines. 
     I wrote one story that day (for the short category) and edited it during the week, happy that I had a work that I could submit. That story, Lucky Underwear, reflects a conversation I once had with a friend about cricket, luck, superstition and underwear, and how that discussion led me to start seeking Christ 😀Then on the following Sunday – the day the competition closed – I decided to write another story about my dog, Hero: a canine gift from God. 
     I Prayed For a Dog made it into the competition anthology, A Chicken Can Make a Difference, but I won the ‘short’ category with Lucky Underwear.
     I was excited. I was told weeks before the presentation that I’d won something but I didn’t know where I’d placed. My good friend, Catch Tilly, had also placed in the same section (also with a story about underwear - I sense a theme with the judges) and I was sure she had won. But to my great surprise it was me who topped the category 😀.
     Another adventure involved heading into the 107.9 Life studios to record both of my stories for broadcast on radio, among the twenty chosen to be read on air during January. It felt strange to hear my voice on radio but I loved the fact that so many people could hear me tell of my faith journey. There was a huge response to all of the stories aired, with many people requesting to hear certain tales again. 
     It’s interesting that while I’ve had good personal feedback on Lucky Underwear, it is I Prayed For a Dog that has made listeners cry. You can hear the recorded stories on 107.9 Life at 6.30pm every Sunday evening and one author is featured each week on the Stories of Life website.
     The Stories of Life competition opens again on April 1st, 2017 and I’d like to encourage you to enter.  You have plenty of time to ponder and write, as the competition doesn’t close until the 31st of July. This year you can write your own story or the biography of another person, with their permission, of course. Click here to see the categories and prizes. I don’t know of any other Australian competition that can give an author the level of exposure that Stories of Life can - and give them chance to impact the world with their words. Not only were stories from A Chicken Can Make a Difference broadcast on radio but some writers are now contributing to the Eternity Matters column in newspapers. 
     People love story and this is a chance to tell yours. The website is still being modified to accommodate the changes to the competition in 2017 but feel free to check out our work-in-progress (click here). The audio recordings of my two stories are live on the site this week if you’d like to listen (click here)  and feel free to check out and ‘like’ the Stories of Life Facebook page (click here). Every click helps us to gain a wider audience. And, if you are intrigued as to why ‘underwear’ and faith were linked by two authors, hop on over to the book store (click here) and pick up a copy of A Chicken Can Make a Difference.
     In the meantime, think about your faith journey and about what you might like to write. Where has God met you in your life? How did he change things for you? Is there a quirky angle that gives your storytelling the X-factor? Underwear might have run hot as a theme in 2016 - what do you think will be popular in 2017 😀😀😀?
     What story will you write? Do you have any questions? Let me know in the comments below 😃.

Sue Jeffrey was born in Scotland but moved to Brisbane, Australia with her family when she was just a wee lass. After a childhood spent reading, drawing and accumulating stray animals, Sue studied veterinary science and later moved to Adelaide where she worked as both a vet and a pastor. After a sojourn of several years in the Australian Capital Territory, Sue returned to Adelaide with two dogs, a very nice husband, and a deep desire to write. Sue has a MA in creative writing and her short stories and poems have appeared in several anthologies including Tales of the Upper RoomSomething in the Blood: Vampire Stories With a Christian Bite, Glimpses of Light and A Chicken Can Make a Difference. Sue won the 'short' category in the inaugural Tabor Adelaide/ Life FM 'Stories of Life' award and her e-book, 'Ruthless The Killer: A Short Story,' is available from Sue also paints animal portraits.


  1. Congratulations Sue. How fabulous that you got two stories into the Anthology. Very intrigued by your title. And that's wonderful that you won the short category last year. I do love hearing real life stories to look forward to reading both stories one day.

  2. Thanks, Anusha. I put a link in the article to the audio of both stories. Each different coloured line is a link to elsewhere. Should I go back into Blogger and make that clearer? :)

  3. Thanks for all the links. Sounds like a wonderful, affordable contest to consider. And we'll done to you two ladies, and everyone else who made it into the anthology.

  4. Congrats Sue - on your win, getting two stories in the anthology & being appointed as social media manager. Stories of Life sounds like a wonderful project. My ears picked up when you said 'a biography of a person' as I have some faith-filled biographical stories to tell - but on looking at the comp page ("tell your personal testimony, or relate a spiritually significant moment or event") it sounds like the stories need to be more overtly spiritual. It's a great opportunity, thanks for sharing.

  5. They have to be life stories of faith, Jenny. They don't necessarily have to mention God in every sentence. One of mine was about my dog!

    1. I was thinking about my uncle & his family's struggle against apartheid which was definitely faith-inspired. One day I hope to write a book and/or a film script on it. Definitely inspiring story but the faith element is probably more implicit than explicit.