Thursday, 21 March 2019

CWD Member Interview - Meredith Resce







Each Thursday we will be interviewing one of the members of Christian Writers Downunder – to find out a little bit more about them and their writing/editing goals.


Today’s  interview is with Meredith Resce

 www.meredithresce.com

Question 1: Tells us three things about who you are and where you come from. 


Hello. Well I am one of those country girls who has lived in the city since I got married 35 years ago. But you know what they say: you can take the girl out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the girl. My place of origin, where I always drift back to, is Melrose, Southern Flinders Ranges South Australia. My parents still live on the farm there, so that is the place I still call home. However, I have not lived there since 1983. I’ve lived in Adelaide for 22 years in stints broken up by 6 years in Geelong, Victoria, 1 year in Bristol UK and 6 years in Melbourne, Victoria. Though I hate moving and hate being away from family, those years spent in other states and overseas has served to broaden my horizon, and I’ve found lots of places to connect with new story ideas. 

I’ve been married since 1983, have three children and two grandchildren. My husband and I have served in Christian ministry for the majority of those 36 years. My focus in ministry has been music, drama, writing and sharing the gospel through teaching and preaching—and most importantly, I have loved connecting with and encouraging people.

Personally, I love sport – playing and watching (though I stopped playing Basket Ball last year as I was getting too slow). But I’m a football (Adelaide Crows AFL) and cricket (Adelaide Strikers and Australian Cricket Team) fan. I hate shopping unless it is a bookshop, stationary shop or kitchenware’s shop. Clothes shopping makes me break out in hives (metaphorically speaking).

Question 2: Tell us about your writing.  What do you write and why?


I prefer to write fiction. I’ve tried a number of genres. The most successful has been the historical romance Christian Fiction I originally published. I’ve also tried fantasy allegory, murder mystery, crime drama thriller, contemporary romance, and a couple of non-fiction titles. The market has changed dramatically in the twenty years since I was first published, and currently, I am writing contemporary romance for the Christian Fiction market, and am hoping to break into a new market in the US.

Question 3: Who has read your work? Who would you like to read it?

 

Over the years I’ve had people of all sorts of shapes and sizes who have become fans, particularly of my ‘Heart of Green Valley’ series.   I still get requests for the one book in the series that is out of print, as folks are still discovering them and enjoying the stories.
I’ve had readers from all age groups – teens through to ninety plus. That series has been my best selling series by far.
With my change in direction, I would like to broaden my reading audience. So far it has been mainly Australian, New Zealand and English readers. However, I am aware that if I am able to gain access to the American audience, I have to change from Australian spelling and language to US spelling and language, and that is a scary prospect.


Question 4: Tell us something about your process. What challenges do you face? What helps you the most?


Getting ideas is the easiest part of the process. Turning the ideas tap off would be helpful if I knew how, so as a result, I have more story ideas than I can manage to develop. Writing is a fun process. It used to absorb and drive me twenty years ago. Now I need to be disciplined about making time to write, but I always enjoy the way the story develops, and particularly like reading it after I finished. 

My main challenges are finding time, and working against the injuries that develop from a static lifestyle. I have to get more active as writing is hurting me. Doing the recommended stretches is great, when I remember.

Question 5: What is your favourite Writing Craft Book and why? 


Can’t say I have one, though recently I was recommended:



They provided some help on some recurring writing faults.

Question 6: If you were to give a shout-out to a CWD author, writer, editor or illustrator – who would they be?


Editor – Iola Goulton (I never feel totally settled until Iola has cast her discerning eye over a manuscript. She’s brutal, but the product is always so much better for her honest edits.)

Writers – Paula Vince (my first Australian Christian Fiction writing buddy); Amanda Deed and Rose Dee (we collaborated on a title ‘TheGreenfield Legacy’, which I believe is an excellent piece of writing); AndreaGrigg, Narelle Atkins (we contributed to a Christmas Book set that turned out to be a lot of fun)


Question 7: What are your writing goals for 2019? How will you achieve them?


I am planning to finish the ‘Luella Linely: License to Meddle’ series. This trilogy is based on popular Regency Author, Luella Linley and her busy attempts to match make her adult children. Her novel characters are much easier to manipulate.
Ideally I would like to find a US publisher to take this series, and so I will need to think American, which may prove a challenge, given I am very Australian, and quite proud of it.

Question 8: How does your faith impact and shape your writing?


My faith underpins my writing in the sense that I believe God has given me the ability to communicate through writing, particularly through writing fiction. I love sharing about God, faith, hope, healing, salvation and deliverance, but I do not like to have my characters behaving in an odd way, so they don’t usually express any religious ideals unless the situation calls for it.  Much like the way I move through life. I am open to God at all times, but I don’t go all super-spiritual, religious jargon in everyday situations. Neither do my characters. My motto for my writing has long been: to encourage and inspire.

Monday, 18 March 2019

Where is God in our writing? by Jo Wanmer


 “My name is Prince Charles. My Father is the King. I have an older brother, Jesus.” 
Some years ago a guest in our church introduced himself this memorable way. We were taken aback, but then caught the profound truth he shared.
In those few words, we understood this man knew God intimately. 
Does our writing convey such truth?

Imaged taken and owned by Jo Wanmer
As Christian writers we show our characters, we don’t tell about them. We show the reader what they are doing, how they are feeling and what they are about to do.

Does this maxim include God? Is He a character in our books? If not, is He part of the background?  The setting? Is He inanimate, or animate? Or is He excluded from the story.

In many Christian fiction stories God is completely absent. There may be a Bible verse, or church attendance, or even prayer at the table but no reference to God himself.  The characters talk about Him, but rarely show Him in the plot or allow Him to feature as a character.

If God was to appear in our books, what would He be like? I’ve been musing on a character sheet for him.

Character’s name: God, Jesus, Holy Spirit

Unique characteristics: He has three parts, yet He is only One.  He can be present without being seen. He can speak without being audible. He is like the wind – no one knows where it comes from or where it goes.

Imaged taken and owned by Jo Wanmer
Appearance: He is light, too bright to look at. Or He could appear in a different form. He appeared as men to Abraham and a man to disciples walking the road to Emmaus. Gideon saw him as an angel. He spoke out of a storm to Job.

Family: God is original family. Jesus is God’s son. God is His father.

Siblings: Numberless, but for the sake of our story, we will only consider Jesus’ brothers who feature in the current work in progress. You are one of his brothers. So am I.

Address: Heaven. In the hearts of men. Omnipresent.

Occupation: When on earth, Jesus was a carpenter, the Messiah and leader of men.

Occupation now: God, enthroned on high. Yet he is my refuge, wings under which I can hide, wisdom of the ages, creator of the universe, and father to the fatherless. Jesus, seated at the right side of the Father. My intercessor, passionate lover of His bride…

Ok…I’ve run out of words to describe He who is the Word. 

God is beyond description and understanding. Yet He is close, intimate, personal. This may mean the aspect of God you know and love may be different from mine. He is so big He can be everything to me. He can be a lover or a warrior, my defender or my enabling grace, a father who either disciplines and/or pours out extravagant love upon me….

As authors - we write the characteristics of God we know best. If we know Him as a stern judge, that is who we will write. If we know Him as rescuer and redeemer, we will tell of His grace and power. Perchance He is our best friend, our constant companion, our source of all help, it becomes difficult to think of a story where He is absent.

Many protagonists cry out to God for help, and He answers them circumstantially, as He answers us in our everyday lives. But He also speaks in one of His many voices – through the Bible, an impression, a dream or vision, a friend or an acquaintance. Or often the still small voice.
Some years ago I wrote a novel where God speaks to the protagonist directly, obtusely, profoundly. Can I share a snippet?

Imaged taken and owned by Jo Wanmer
“The contractions woke Milly in the middle of the night.
It’s too early God. I know I’m big, but it’s not time.
~~~Be still~~~
Not a time to be still God. Obviously You’re never given birth.
~~~Only to creation~~~
You birthed creation?
~~~What do you think of the work of my womb~~~
A gripping contraction distracted her. As it faded, she climbed from the bed and wrapped a blanket around her shoulders. She shut the kitchen door behind her so she wouldn’t disturb the rest of the house and flicked on the light. It shone a pale yellow. The generator would need to be run today.
Fading embers glowed in the stove. Shivering, Milly added kindling to the coals, praying it would flare and warm the kitchen.
Leaning on the kitchen table, she breathed through the next contraction.
They seem close, Lord. Is my baby ready?
~~~Be still~~~
Milly stopped pacing. Be still. Why do you say that at the most ridiculous time?
~~~Be still in your soul. Calm your worries and fears, your anxiety and questions~~~
Not my body?
~~~Your body will move of its own accord. When I created you, I programmed the birthing process in you. Allow your body to do its work. Focus your mind on me~~~”
Excerpt taken from ‘El Shaddai.’

So what you do think? Should God get a larger share of the action in our books? Would you like to read more of God in this style? Or maybe you don’t like it? I’m looking forward to reading your comments.

Jo Wanmer lives with family in Brisbane, Queensland. Her first book, 'Though the Bud be Bruised', a Caleb prize winner, was published in 2012. Her work also appears in a few anthologies. The book 'El Shaddai' was written in 2014 and with the feedback of many fine writers has been edited multiple times. It still remains unpublished due to life circumstances. Two others in the same series are written. One day soon they will be released. 


Friday, 15 March 2019

Great Expectations



Being writers, I would hope that most of us are familiar with the story of Pip, his infatuation with Estella and misplaced hope in Miss Havisham (sorry to those reader’s who’ve not read this Dicken’s classic).

 After Pip has reached the pinnacle of society, is dressed as a gentleman and mixing with all the cream of high society, he discovers that the person who has funded his education, has paid all his bills and who has promised him the great expectation of a fortune to live on is not Miss Havisham. It is the dirty, violent convict from his childhood—the man who forced him to steal a pie and an iron file. Miss Havisham has only ever designed his torment. The convict—who made good in the colony of New South Wales, running sheep—is the one who has felt kindly towards Pip. The convict is the one who has sacrificed all for Pip’s benefit. When Pip discovers this shocking truth, he is not only disappointed, he is disgusted. This is not what he expected. This is not how he’d planned for his life to turn out. At this point, Pip loses his hope, his joy and his peace.
 

I’ve been pondering on this idea of lost hope, lost joy and lost peace. How often have we misplaced our hope, thinking our joy and our peace will come if only we can get that certain job; if only we can marry; if only we can have children; if only our children will give us grandchildren; if only we have that house, or that car, or that overseas holiday; if only our book will be published?

Honestly, I’ve probably been in that place of believing my joy will be complete when one or all of those things come to pass. And I’ve also been in that place where those things have come to pass, and yet, things don’t always turn out how we plan. Things go wrong. Relationships go south. Kids get annoyed with their parents. Books don’t always sell.

Do you recall the Israelites at the foot of Mount Sinai? Moses was up on the mountain seeking the face of the Lord and the people began to fidget. Where’s Moses? What’s taking him so long? They come to Aaron and suggest they build a golden calf whom they can worship. And Aaron—who knows what’s going on in his head?—gets all the gold and makes a carved idol. Then they stand around singing, feasting and dancing and saying that this dumb statue has brought them up out of Egypt. How dumb can you be and still breath? Where were they when the plagues were raining down, and the angel of death passed over the land? How quickly did they forget who their Lord and deliverer was?

Dumb idols. Bread and water that doesn’t satisfy. 

Do we do the same thing ourselves? Where is God? What’s taking him so long to bring healing in my family? What’s taking him so long to help me achieve my purpose? When will I ever be financially comfortable so I can sit on a pool floaty and drink a pineapple cocktail?
At this point, we sometimes make idols of ourselves, or our jobs, or our family, or our feelings.
But the Bible is clear:

Psalm 16:11  (NKJV)
 “You will show me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”

 Romans 15:13 (NLT)
 “ I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.”

There are loads more Scriptures that clearly express how our hope, when placed in the Lord, will yield both joy and peace. I encourage you to do a word search and you will be encouraged by the Scriptures that come up. 

Disappointment is going to come in life. We do have great expectations—our society, media and education promotes these pictures of just what we can expect to fulfil our every desire. But when it boils down, while one person is digging in and insisting on their rights to be happy, that right will come at someone else’s cost. The culture of personal rights is OK, but it isn’t what brings joy and peace.

Even in the midst of suffering, a person can find joy. Remember, the Apostle Paul, who wrote a heap about the joy of the Lord and the peace that passes understanding, was not writing poolside at the Hilton. He was in prison, suffering beatings, knowing that the church members were being persecuted by the despot, Nero—thrown to the lions and burned as human torches. These were the conditions from which he encouraged us to rejoice in the Lord always. The only way to be able to achieve this is to make sure that we haven’t got our expectations set to the standard of the current social status, and that we don’t build dumb idols of our career, family or stuff that we own. 

Put your hope in the Lord, and pursue him, and in Him, you will find the fullness of joy and the peace that passes understanding.

Even in grief and disappointment, take those feelings to the Lord, and rest a while in His comfort. There you will find peace.

Expectations are exciting, but it is when we build up expectation based on a commercial or Hollywood image, and wait for those things to bring us satisfaction that we realise our hope is misplaced. I have been practising this way of giving my family a break. I don’t rely on them as the source of my joy. I have been practising finding that joy in the source of life itself—in Christ alone—and so disappointments, when they come, don’t have the ability to defeat me, as they may have done in the past. And what I expect of others is no longer so high that it’s a burden to them. They shouldn’t have to bear the weight of making me successful, fearing my disappointment when they can’t meet that expectation.

It is a freeing place to be. Once Pip began to understand who his benefactor was, and he stopped idolising Miss Havisham and Estella, he began to appreciate what he had been given, and the man who had given it. 

God bless you as you take stock of your expectations, and as you seek the source of joy and peace. You won’t be disappointed.


South Australian Author, Meredith Resce, has been writing since 1991, and has had books in the Australian market since 1997. 

Following the Australian success of her “Heart ofGreen Valley” series, they were released in the UK and USA. 

‘Hell on the Doorstep’ is Meredith’s 19th published project, the second non-fiction.
Apart from writing, Meredith also takes the opportunity to speak to groups on issues relevant to relationships and emotional and spiritual growth.
Meredith has also been co-writer and co-producer in the 2007 feature film production, “Twin Rivers”.
With her husband, Nick, Meredith has worked in Christian ministry since 1983.
Meredith and Nick have three adult children, one daughter and two sons.




Monday, 11 March 2019

Any Old Donkey


Lightstock.com

A wise and faith-filled lady once told me the Lord could use ‘any old donkey.’ I’ve never forgotten that. While I understood at the time she was referring to herself, I’ve often wondered about that saying: any old donkey.

I’ve recently come across several Bible references to donkeys that have made a real impression on me, and given me insight into what she may have meant.

First is Balaam’s donkey. Most of us will know the story of Balaam in the Old Testament. He was a pagan prophet, a practitioner of divination and magic arts who was called to Moab’s king to curse the oncoming Israelite army. Not somebody who you would expect would be useful to the Lord.

But the Lord can use anyone, anywhere, and at any time. He sent Balaam to the king with the instruction to say only what God put into his mouth.

But Balaam’s heart was rebellious, so on the way the Lord sent an angel to bar his path. Balaam’s donkey bucked up. The donkey could see the angel even though Balaam couldn’t. Balaam beat his donkey and cursed the animal, so the Lord opened the mouth of the donkey and spoke to Balaam through the beast. Then Balaam’s eyes were opened and he too saw the angel. He repented and went on to meet with the King. He said only what the Lord told him to, blessing the Israelites.

There is more to this story, and you can find it in Numbers 22–25. What struck me was how the Lord used that donkey. Peter later references this story when he spoke about false prophets and teachers:

They have left the straight way and wandered off to follow the way of Balaam son of Bezer, who loved the wages of wickedness. But he was rebuked for his wrongdoing by a donkey—an animal without speech—who spoke with a human voice and restrained the prophet’s madness. Peter 2:15-16 NIV

I don’t know about you, but when I envision the sort of animal the Lord would use to speak through, I think of a lion. A great beast of majesty and presence, king of its domain, with a stature as grand as that of Aslan in the Narnian Chronicles.

I don’t think of a donkey, a simple animal mostly associated with lowly existence. The workmate of a farmer, or the ride of a peasant. A beast of burden lacking majestic presence. Yet God chose to speak through a donkey.

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How often do we think of ourselves as that donkey? I know I do. Lowly, unprepared, simplistic, without finesse, lacking in presence and ability.

How often do we think of others that way? I know I’ve been guilty of this, too. I’ve looked at someone and thought there was no way the Lord could use them. Sometimes our perceptions or prejudices get in the way. Like Balaam, who couldn’t see the angel for his anger at the donkey, we can’t see God’s own messenger because we’ve decided it cannot be.

But, as my wise friend told me, the Lord can use any old donkey.

You see, the donkey is an animal of servitude. And one thing I know for sure is that the Lord can use any one of His servants, no matter what church or denomination. It’s us who miss out if we can’t see or accept the message because of our prejudice towards the messenger.

The next Bible reference to the donkey that struck me was in Judges, where Samson:

Finding a fresh jawbone of a donkey, he grabbed it and struck down a thousand men. 
Then Samson said, “With a donkey’s jawbone
I have made donkeys of them.
With a donkey’s jawbone
I have killed a thousand men.”
When he finished speaking, he threw away the jawbone. Judges 15:15-17 (NIV)

That was one tough jawbone! I know Samson was a mighty man, full of supernatural spiritual strength, but I wondered at that fresh jawbone of the donkey. How did it not fall apart? For such an unremarkable creature, it sure had a mighty frame.

Again, the Lord used something lowly to bring about a mighty victory.

Finally, think of Jesus’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem, riding a donkey to shouts of “Hosanna.” This fulfilled the prophecy in Zechariah:

Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion!
Shout, Daughter Jerusalem!
See, your king comes to you,
righteous and victorious,
lowly and riding on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a donkey.  Zechariah 9:9 (NIV)

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There are all sorts of debates as to why Jesus rode on a donkey. I’ve read some interesting ideas as to the symbolism behind the donkey, but what strikes me is that—yet again—the common donkey rose to a mighty use.

I believe my wise friend was correct. The Lord can use any old donkey. Next time you think yourself unable to be used by God, or look at someone that way because you wonder if they are useful to the Lord, remember the humble donkey. Remember the mighty ways the Lord has lifted this animal up. It has been useful in service to Him far beyond the grand beasts of the world.

How much more useful to Him are we when we have a heart to serve Him. 

God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are. 1 Corinthians 1:28 (NIV) 

First seen in Book Fun Magazine. 

Rose was born in North Queensland, Australia. Her childhood experiences growing up in a small beach community would later provide inspiration for her Resolution series.
Two of the three Resolution novels have won Australian CALEB awards. She has also released The Greenfield Legacy, a collaborative novel highlighting the pain of Australia’s past policy of forced adoption, as well as standalone novel, Ehvah After. Her most recent release is the novella, A Christmas Resolution.
Her novels are inspired by the love of her coastal home and her desire to produce stories that point readers to Jesus. Rose holds a Bachelor of Arts degree, and resides in Mackay, North Queensland with her husband and son.
Visit Rose at: https://rosedee.com/