Thursday, August 17, 2017

Celebrating a 400th birthday

Baby Bible was born in 1611. Conceived by king’s decree in 1604, his father was Bishop’s Bible. His gestation, in the womb of great universities of Mother England, was long and arduous. Aided by forty-seven expert midwives, his arrival revolutionized the Bible family. Closely resembling his father, he proudly carried the DNA of his Hebrew and Greek ancestors.
Christened King James Version, he was affectionately called the Authorized Version. In the light of his brilliance, all older English members of the Version family paled into insignificance. Such was his popularity; he was published under The Bible or Holy Bible.
Despite his regal name, he related well with the commoner. He spoke their language and deeply touched English hearts, becoming a central player in the great revivals of England and Wales.
As he matured, he traveled all over the world. He was aboard the ‘Mayflower’ and a stowaway on the first fleet to Australia in 1788. His life, though exciting, was never easy. Often suffering shocking neglect and abuse, he was trampled in the mud in the French revolution and suffered horrific burns in Germany during the Second World War. He has been spat on, profaned and ripped apart, but never destroyed, for there is no power great enough to defeat his message. The Truth he carries is supreme.
Yet his greatest grief comes from being misunderstood. Often men twist his words and use his name for their own selfish agendas. These misunderstandings have started wars and fueled angry men. The new Americas were nearly destroyed by such zealous but deceived persons. The Irish battled for years–fighting fueled by their biased interpretations.
As KJV aged, he became so revered that he was present in every court, hospital, parliament and home. Though they requested his presence, dressed in his best black suit with gold embellishments, people rarely conversed with him, or heeded his wisdom.
Realising his language was no longer common, he reproduced. English Revised Version arrived in 1885. Subsequently the Version family burgeoned, spanning countries, customs and dialects.
Today old KJV enjoys semi-retirement, resting comfortably in the bookshelves of Christian homes, surrounded by his expansive family. Though still bringing life, hope and revelation, his greatest joy is watching younger members of the Version family, who work unsung in remote tribes across the globe. They reveal Jesus, bringing peace and joy, as he did from his birth, four hundred years ago.(Thanks to Bible Society in Australia for pics)
Jo Wanmer hopes you don't mind her accessing her archives for this blog. A prolonged flu has made writing boring at best and unintelligible at worst. This article was written five years ago to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible. As a writer, the Bible is her most important text book, full of amazing treasures and inspiration. 

Monday, August 14, 2017

Whaaat? You’re not coming to conference?

By Jenny Glazebrook

I know there are all kinds of reasons not to come to the Omega Writers’ Conference. Most are good and reasonable. But there is one that I want to shoot down in flames (oh no, a cliché … maybe I’m not a real writer and all those real writers out there will notice all the grammer and speling mistakes in here).
Copyright © 2017

Impostor Syndrome.

Ever heard of it? This phenomenon was brought to my attention only last week. Well, the name of it, anyway. To tell you the truth, I have suffered from it my whole life. So how do you know if you have it and whether it might be making you hesitate about coming to conference?

Are any of these thoughts familiar?

Maybe I shouldn’t come to conference until I have ‘made it’ as an author.

I’m not a real writer. I only dabble a bit.

I’m not published like the real authors who will be there.

I wrote something great once but I don’t have the ability to do it again. It was a fluke.

I don’t really belong.

I self-published so I haven’t had the quality of my work screened by a publisher.

I don’t understand the rules and techniques of writing. I think it’s all going to be above me.

I’m not a writer. I want to write, but I hardly ever do. Life gets in the way.

People might realise the truth about me. I’m a fraud.

I’d love to be a writer, but I really don’t have the talent.

Some people are called to write. I just do it because I enjoy it. They’re more gifted and important than I am.

I don’t even know yet if I really am or want to be a writer.

I’m just someone no one listens to so I have to write to express my 10,000 words a day somehow.

I don’t write for the Christian market. I don’t belong. (I just have to say here, that we are a group of Christians who write many and varied things, including for the mainstream. A Christian carpenter is not expected to just build crosses and communion trays!)

Is there another, similar reason that comes to mind?

I want to tell you right now that we WANT YOU THERE!

Whether you have written 100 books and have them all published, or once wrote a paragraph for a church bulletin, or you journal privately every now and then.

Because the truth is, we all start somewhere. We are all at different stages of the journey. As Richard Bach, best-selling author of classics such as Jonathan Livingston Seagull, says:

A professional writers is an amateur who didn’t quit.

We all begin as an amateur.

And even those who have published many books still battle this impostor syndrome. Wikipedia describes it this way: Impostor syndrome (also known as impostor phenomenon or fraud syndrome or the impostor experience) is a concept describing high-achieving individuals who are marked by an inability to internalize their accomplishments and a persistent fear of being exposed as a "fraud".

Maybe you’re like me and even as you read this definition you thought, ‘Oh, well I can’t have it because I’m not high achieving.’  So then my head started going around in circles. ‘Do I have it? Or do I like to think I have it because that would make me feel special and I want to be high achieving?’

However, I read something recently which challenged me. It was pretty much saying that if you’re scared you’re pretending to be someone you’re not and that others will find out – then become that person you think you’re pretending to be.

Edmund Rice Retreat and Conference Centre
So come along to a conference and learn the techniques you don’t think you have. Come along and develop. Dream big! Let God direct you without you putting up your own barriers of self-doubt and fear. Learn from those you consider to have ‘made it’. I can assure you they are more than willing to share with you. And they are still learning, too. They might just be further down the track than you are.

Don’t compare yourself with others. The truth is, no one can write what you can. No one has experienced what you have. No one else has lived your life. God has not given anyone else exactly the same gifts, talents and experiences he’s given you. We can all learn from each other.

Don’t be intimidated by others. Realise you are not alone. (And if anyone else is willing to share their ‘impostor’ thoughts at the end of this and call them for what they are, I’m sure there will be many who relate to them and are encouraged by your vulnerability).

As C.S. Lewis said, ‘Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.’ Stop overthinking, comparing, worrying … step out and take a risk. Be the writer you’re scared everyone else might discover you want to be but might not actually be.

‘For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. (2 Timothy 1:7 NLT)

Hmm, I don’t think I like this post. I’ve just challenged myself out of my comfort zone.

See you at conference!

You can book here:
Registrations close 10th October.

Jenny Glazebrook is this year’s conference chaplain and part of the pastoral care team. She lives in the small town of Gundagai, NSW, with her husband, four children and many pets. She loves to write and encourage others in their writing journey and walk with Christ. 

Thursday, August 10, 2017

A revealing experience

It is ten years since my first novel, Heléna, was published. During that time, I have spoken at all sorts of venues—churches, halls, Leagues’ Clubs, RSL Clubs, schools, private homes, even in the open air. I have addressed a variety of groups who meet for a variety of purposes—some simply to be together, some to learn more, some out of tradition, some to reach out and serve others. I thought I had exhausted most possibilities, but I was wrong. Last month, I was invited to speak at my first ever book club event—and what a unique, scary, humbling experience it was! After all, it’s not every day one walks into a room, knowing most present have read one’s latest book during the past month!

‘It must be like standing there naked,’ someone commented.

As I tried to banish that horrifying image from my mind, I realised how apt it was. If this group had chosen one of my novels instead, perhaps I would not have felt so exposed and vulnerable. After all, authors can hide in novels. And authors can refuse to take any blame for their characters’ beliefs and actions, because we know those characters have minds of their own. But no, this group had chosen my book, Becoming Me, which deals with my own struggles with self-doubt, insecurity and perfectionism. Nowhere to hide this time!
While we chatted over the yummy breakfast provided, someone asked me about a related issue. I could not remember, however, whether I had mentioned it in Becoming Me or in my earlier memoir, Soul Friend.
‘Oh, it’s definitely in Becoming Me,’ I was told. ‘It’s in Chapter Five!’
Whoa! Now I had read my own book again, in preparing for this event, because I have written many other things since it was published. But this person seemed to know it better than I did. Perhaps they had all gone through it with a fine toothcomb. Perhaps they were all about to tear me to shreds!
Eventually, everyone sat down and I was invited to talk for a few minutes about my life and why I wrote this particular book. Then the book club organiser began asking me some questions—and gradually others chimed in as well. As our time together unfolded, I began to relax and enjoy this unique, God-given opportunity. What a privilege to be there with such a lovely, sincere group of women to discuss my own book and the deep, related issues it brought to the surface for some of them! What a privilege to see the impact a book I had written and published with some trepidation had made in the lives of some at least! How humbling to realise God had used my words to convey greater self-understanding and reveal those often hidden hurdles that can be overcome in God’s strength!
I came away from my first book club event even more convinced of the power of our words to affect others in ways we could never imagine. It’s all so completely worth it, I said to myself, as I drove home across Sydney in a daze.
May you too know in your heart today the huge worth of your writing in God’s eyes and the power it can have to impact the lives of others.

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 the written and spoken word. She is the author of six published novels and two non-fiction works, ‘Soul Friend’ and ‘Becoming Me’. Jo-Anne is married to a retired minister and has three grown-up children and four grandchildren. For more information, please visit

Monday, August 7, 2017

Exploring Genre - Rural and Medical Romance

by Nicki Edwards

This year, the cross posts between Christian Writers Downunder and Australasian Christian Writers are focusing on genre. So far, we’ve had posts on meeting genre expectations, in Space Opera and Superheroes, Portal Fantasy and Secondary World Fantasy, Poetry, Free Verse and Verse Novels and Regency and Historical Romance . 

Today, I'm looking at the place of Rural and Medical Romance.

I like what Iola Goulton said in a previous post that book genres are like food. If we go out to our favourite restaurant and order the usual and something different is served, we are disappointed, especially if we’ve been eagerly anticipating that familiar taste.

Book genres are a bit like ice cream. I have two or three flavours I keep going back to – English Toffee, Honeycomb Crunch or Cookies and Cream.

It’s kind of funny my tastes are so narrow as I’m one of those odd people who thrive on change, but when it comes to food and books, I’m always drawn to the familiar.

For me that means romance and women’s fiction. 

So what is romance, why is it my favourite flavour and why do I write medical-rural romance?

Romance can be classified into many sub-genres - contemporary, erotic, historical, rural, paranormal, regency, young adult, medical, Christian, romantic suspense . . . you get my drift. The list is probably never-ending.

All romance novels have a central love storyline and an emotionally satisfying ending. Beyond that, they can be set in any time or place and have varying levels of sensuality from sweet to spicy.

Women’s fiction are women-centred books that focus on women’s life experiences. These books are generally marketed to woman.

My latest book, One More Song which comes out in November 2017 is being marketed as both romance and women’s fiction.

When I started writing in January 2014 I was encouraged to “write what you know” and “write what you love”.

What I know and love is medicine and nursing, and it is from this I draw my writing experiences. I also love the gorgeous rural backdrop that sits behind small town Australia. I love the people in regional and rural communities and therefore it seemed a natural fit for me to write heart-warming medical dramas set in small towns.

My books explore the realities and complexities faced by people in regional and small towns with plots involving dramatic accidents, illnesses and critical medical situations. Think McLeod’s Daughters meets A Country Practice with a touch of All Saints thrown into the mix!

People ask why the rural romance genre is popular and why my books have sold so well. I think readers have an appetite for stories set on the land and they love strong, ordinary, everyday Aussie heroes and heroines. Whether it’s the city girl finding a new life in the country, or rural characters living their lives working the land, there’s something relatable for all readers whether they live in the country or the city.

Lucky for us writers of this genre, readers can’t seem to get enough of our stories. Perhaps because there’s something romantic and almost mystical about the Australian outback. Or perhaps because many city dwellers have an escapism mentality when it comes to the idea of a tree change or ‘escape to the country’. Ironically, ask any farmer and they’ll tell you there’s nothing romantic about living in the middle of nowhere!

Obviously authenticity is crucial in rural romance as with all genres. A country person can tell a mile away if a writer is faking it. It’s the same with the medical side of my books. Anyone with a bit of medical background and Dr. Google can be my harshest critic. I have to get my facts right.

What I love about writing small town medical romance is that the story is all about the community and the people, not just my hero and heroine. The setting is as important as the story because when people in small communities are thrown together into a medical emergency or crisis situation it makes for great dramatic fiction, especially when my heroine is the medico saving the day. I love demonstrating nurses and doctors working together doing amazing things because that’s what I see every day when I’m at work.

As a medical-rural romance writer I get to tackle all kinds of interesting rural and medical issues, whether it’s the problem of depression and suicide in the bush, or the complexities of care people in small towns face such as the lack of facilities and equipment or trained medical staff. I love showing how small towns rally together and just make things happen.

Despite tough publishing markets in recent years, the romance genre continues to do well but for all its market success, it still encounters a lot of snobbery from readers. There’s a dismissive attitude towards it. Additionally, as a Christian, one thing I’ve encountered is the presumption that if I write romance it’s probably smutty. This couldn’t be further from the truth. There’s a huge range of sensuality in the romance genre and my books are at the sweet or “clean” end of the scale with closed door, fade-to-black sex scenes.

The exciting thing for me as a romance author is our readers are extremely engaged and they’re voracious readers. It’s not unusual for a romance reader to admit to reading a book a day! I’m blessed with how the romance reading community have embraced me and my books and I’m also fortunate to be part of a group of romance authors who have a website specifically set up for readers who love rural romance. You can check it out here:

Nicki Edwards is a city girl with a country heart. Growing up on a small family acreage, she spent her formative years riding horses and pretending the neighbour’s farm was her own.

Nicki writes medical rural romance and when she isn’t reading, writing or dreaming about rural life and medical emergencies, she can be found working as a Critical Care Nurse in the Emergency Department or Intensive Care Unit, where many of her stories and characters are imagined.

Nicki and her husband Tim, a Pastor, live in Geelong, Victoria. With four teenage/young adult children, life is busy, fun and at times exhausting, but Nicki wouldn’t change it for anything. Visit her at to find all her other books.

Nicki’s latest book One More Song published by Pan Macmillan Australia will hit the bookshelves on November 28th, 2017 but is available to pre-order now wherever e-books are sold.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

My Passion for Story Telling

I am a passionate story teller.

As I reflect on my journey in creating meaningful narratives There are 3 elements that I think of immediately that have become essential elements in how I deliver a story.
There are many elements that others may hold as important to their craft, even other elements that may be technically eminent, and even other elements that I could mention that I deem important too, but these are my personal top 3.

1.       The Story needs to be Personally Meaningful
2.        The Story should be well told
3.        The Story is a catalyst for change

The Story needs to be Personally Meaningful.

Throughout my Primary school years, my younger brother and I shared our bedroom. One of my fondest memories growing up is of lying awake at night in our bunks while I told stories for Russell to help him sleep. Sometimes he was fearful of something, simply restless, or just keen for an imaginative story to finish the day. Fantasy and dramatic stories of friends and brothers facing fears, struggling through epics, discovering new worlds, meeting wonderful personalities, talking creatures, adventuring together, filled our pre-sleep nights. The hero was sometimes Russell. Often a challenge was conquered by the champions called “Russell” and “Shane” working it out together.

My childhood story telling not only set a tone for our brotherly mateship - that still resonates today – it developed my story telling ability. Interestingly at its basic level this meant that for our stories were personally meaningful because we were always part of the narrative somehow. In my simple terms as a child, this meant using our own names. No matter how fanciful the environment or situation crafted in those early tellings, it pertained to things that we were wrestling with. Being personally meaningful meant that the story was accessible, relatable, relevant, and pleasing. I have learnt that people connect with other people, so I make sure I focus my story telling on characters that emulate real life. The point is that the stories that pack the most punch are ones that have an innate, almost incarnate persona. They are authentic, open, honest, personal narratives.

The Story Should be well told

Some of my early writing is so difficult to read with the overuse of prodigious words, poor rhythm, unsubscribed animations, underdeveloped characters, over simplistic logic, lack of meaning, pithy adjectival manoeuvres, and just ‘bad’ telling that it distracted from what I had in mind. Somehow, I had bought into the mistaken notion that a story had to have a complex structure and had to be clever for it to be appealing, however, at its core, an effective story structure is simple. We can tend to fall in love with our own stories, and consequently we can end up including too many details. I guard against this by crafting my story, then walking away from it for a few days. I then revisit it with fresh eyes, and edit, edit, edit. I prune out all superfluous details. I give people enough detail to set the context and to help them experience the story and see what I see. Giving too few details doesn't work either, as it prevents people from envisioning your story, so it is an adventure in itself of achieving a pleasing balance.
Early on I was a better verbal teller (than writer), because talking and drama, and flowing with dynamic improvisation seemed to come naturally for me. When I began to flow with some of these same aspects in my writing I found that I could weave a powerful narrative, not because I was trying to drive the narrative, but I allowed the creativity to drive the story. I started to be surprised myself where the stories took themselves. When this began happening for me, I also started to get my audience more engaged: I have learnt to make them wonder “what happens next?” or “how is this going to turn out?” As the characters within my stories pursue their goal, they must run into obstacles, surprises, or some happening that makes the audience sit up and take notice.
They adage that stories don’t tell: they show is a good reminder here. It is perhaps the most fundamental maxim of storytelling. The receivers of our story telling should feel the environment, be emotionally engaged with the key characters, see a picture, feel the conflict, and therefore become more involved with the story. As my stories began to be told better something inherently spiritual began to happen too. I relied on the Holy Spirit to help guide me on my quest. Even utilising my imagination to envision how The Lord might be engaging in my created world to bring life and reveal His Kingdom. Alongside of this creative release, I began to learn some important construction techniques. I am now a student of how to tell a story: its different forms, genres, writing techniques and human pleasing, soul moving dynamics.

The Story is a Catalyst for Change

Finally, an important goal of my story telling is that it is not just a good read but that it moves people to grow or change. Stories have at least one “moment of truth.” The best stories show us something about how we should be responding in various circumstances, how we understand and connect with ourselves, others, creation or the Creator. The power of a good story is a profound one: it can help connect with and move your audience, and not just make your material more memorable, it can inspire and transform. Maya Angelou once said, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” People are not inclined to think about things they don’t care about. Stories stir emotions not simply for melodramatic effect, but to break through the white noise of information that continuously inundates us and to deliver the message: this is worth your attention. Perhaps the most effective way to help people be engaged at deeper levels to consider inherent changes for their own lives is by telling a compelling story.

I love the gift God has given us to be creators with him in our story telling adventures. I truly am grateful for this developing craft in my life that I get to bless others with. In the forefront of my thinking is a gracious God who I have joined hands with to make this journey together.
In the back of my mind I think the key aspects I have shared above help take me back to weaving my tales with an innate fervour.

What are yours?

God Bless.

Shane Brigg :)