Thursday 7 December 2023

A Spiritual Practice For Growing Healthier Writers

by Charis Joy Jackson

 Earlier this Autumn (or summer depending on which side of the world you’re in) I found myself stuck. It wasn’t exactly writers block per se but a paralyzing fear that kept me writing a sentence only to delete it and start over again.

And again, and again.

I’d been asked to write an article for a magazine read by missions leaders around the world and the topic was close and heavy, and out of reach.

One of the founders, Loren Cunningham, of Youth With A Mission, the movement I’ve worked with for over 15 years, and been around since I was six, passed away and they wanted someone, a YWAM leader specifically, to write an article about him. How I was offered this incredible honour, only God knows.

Every time I went to write though all these thoughts kept intruding and had me deleting every five seconds.

Who was I to have the authority to write about him?

What if I didn’t have all the information that would be best for this piece?

What if, what if, what if?

When these questions have come in the past, there’s always some part of me that knows I’ll get the piece written because I always find a way. But this time, one of the deepest and scariest questions was: what if I don’t this time? What if I have to pass the job to someone else?

In the end, I went back to my leader and told him I wasn’t sure I was the right person for the job. The magazine was looking for someone who was a Leader, with a capital ‘L’ and right now, I have limited responsibilities as a leader. And even my past experience as a full-on leader, lower case ‘l’, I felt, was still not the right type.

What was my leader’s response?

He shrugged his shoulders, and said, “So. You’re a leader.” I tried to protest with my lower case ‘l’ and he said, “Would it make you feel better if we co-wrote it?”

The relief I felt at having his covering was palpable.

And. It helped me get the article written.

An article, I might add, I’m pretty proud and honoured to have been a part of.

I share this story for a few reasons. One, because that pesky fellow, Fear, seems to constantly gnat away at me and I want to continue to expose him for the Liar he is — capital ‘L’. Two, writing really does flourish when we’re able to do it with other people’s help/advise/feedback. And three, the only way to get the job done is to persevere.

I feel a bit like a broken record as “fighting fear” and “recognizing that we need people around us as writers” tends to be something I often write for CWD. Maybe it’s just me that needs to process it through the act of writing about it,  but I don’t think I’m alone with these struggles and if my vulnerability can encourage you to keep going than it’s absolutely worth it.

When my leader offered to co-write the piece with me, it was such a blessing. Not only did I feel covered by him but his surprise that I wouldn’t think I could be that capital ‘L’ leader was a real boost too. A few years ago, I’d probably have seen this interchange as a failure on my part but I’ve been learning something lately about how God created us. And realising that Fear often doesn’t allow us to see ourselves the way God sees us.

Have you ever heard of something called the Tension Examen? It’s a spiritual practice I’ve been exploring over the last few months.

Imagine a string with a knot tied on both ends and another right in the middle. Each knot represents the tensions we hold every day between areas of giftedness, areas of brokenness and in the middle our natural limitations.

Giftedness ——————— Limitedness ——————— Brokenness

Giftedness — areas where you flourish. Ex. Writing, singing, art

Limitedness — areas where there is a natural limitation. Sometimes lasting for a lifetime, sometimes just a season in our life. Ex. sickness, finances, gravity ;)

Brokenness — areas where you need to see healing. Ex. How you view yourself because of lies said over you

You see, I’ve always felt my limitations were areas of brokenness that needed to be fixed/healed. But the truth is, limitations are a gift from God. If we didn’t have limitations we would be like God and, I’m sorry, but you and I would be horrible at that ‘job’.

But it wasn’t just limitations that I struggled to have grace for, it was also giftedness. It felt prideful to say things like: I’m a good writer or I’m a great teacher, etc.

I thought I was being humble by not saying those things. Even though I’ve often said that humility is being known for who you are, the bad AND the good. But I wasn’t living like that.

Anyway, as I practiced the Tension Examen, and learned to accept the areas I’m gifted in, and the areas of Limitedness, the less shame had room to condemn me for things like the above story. Does that make sense?

I’d like to encourage you, my fellow writers, to take a week (or more if you can) to explore the spiritual practice of the Tension Examen. Take 20 minutes every day and write down what’s causing you tension in your day and then ask Holy Spirit to show you where you’re limitations are, where your brokenness is and where your giftedness comes to play in that tension.

For me, it’s helped free me of that pesky ‘friend’ I mentioned earlier. I’m not done, by any means, but Papa God has definitely used the practice to help me peal another layer of fear away.

Let me finish with this … About a month ago, I was talking on the phone with a good friend about how much I hated thinking and mulling over past hurts and painful situations. I didn’t want those things to take any more of my time or energy but they just don’t seem to want to relent.

We talked about the analogy of the peeling onion and how these were layers that needed to be dealt with. Then my friend said she hated that analogy because once you’re done pealing away, there’s nothing left.

“Have you ever heard of the rainbow eucalyptus?” she said, and then went on to talk about the stunning process of how it grows. “It sheds sections of bark in order to grow taller, and when the new bark of trunk is exposed to oxygen it reacts by turning different shades of greens and reds. Even blues and purples!

You have to admit it’s a better analogy of a life of continual growth — we outgrow the layers and though it may require a bit of perseverance on our end, think of the vibrant life you’re growing into.

All this to say, keep going. As we get ready to celebrate Christmas and then look back at what we’ve done this year and start planning ahead for those New Years resolutions, keep making room to sit with I AM and grow in your understanding of what you’re good at, what areas you need healing, and learn to have grace for natural areas of limitations.

This doesn’t mean we use limitations as the excuse for Fear to be victor, but rather, it frees us us from Anxiety/Fear. And we won’t be kept back from the thing we were gifted and created to do — tell stories, write.


Charis Joy Jackson works as a full-time missionary with Youth With A Mission (YWAM), an international Christian missions movement. Currently located in a village north of London, she spends as much time in the great wide outdoors as the weather will allow. In her spare time she spins stories of speculative fiction, capturing her crazy dreams in print. Literally. You can read them in her anthology Too Bright

She has also begun a new initiative on Instagram called A Minute Of Stillness, where she reflects on what God’s creation can teach us about being still and slowing down. Her heart is to see it be a moment of peace for those who happen across her reels, and hopes it will help people to stop the endless hours of scrolling in the wee hours of the night. A recovering scrolling addict, she found the few accounts that had reels telling her to stop scrolling and go to bed helped give that extra nudge to turn off her phone and either get outside, back to work or, indeed, go to bed.

C h a r i s     J o y     J a c k s o n
Instagram || Facebook || Amazon


Thursday 16 November 2023

A Writer's Resilience

by Claire Bell 

I said to a fellow writer recently that creative writing is my counselling room. As a long-time counsellor and a new writer, he got my analogy straight away. It’s not that I have had an especially hard life or a history of trauma. I considered myself a relatively even-tempered person, with some good coping strategies and a great God who is the foundation of all the wonderful support I receive from others. So how do I end up in this unexpected counselling room?

I've not had to work as hard at any other role in my life as I do in professional writing. I love writing; the act of writing is the easy part. Words flow out of my fingertips with ease. I was the student who had to learn editing early because my essays were always thousands of words too long, not because of waffle but all the ideas I wanted to include after extensive literature research.

The hard work of writing for me has been largely emotional. I have plenty to learn in the way of craft but I find that can be fun. It’s the emotional roller coaster that throws me. That was the inspiration behind my blog, The Character Forge – as I develop characters in story, I am having to develop character in myself. And I have a suspicion this might be one of God’s reasons for calling me to write…

It’s ironic, really. My first degree was in Psychology but my intention to become a counsellor faded as motherhood took my attention. When I took up writing in my 40s, having had a lifelong interest in it, I thought it was a creative channelling of my earlier desire to help others with their emotional challenges. But here I am, dealing with mine more obviously than anyone else’s!

Perhaps you don’t suffer the emotional reversals that accompany my writing journey. I know I am not alone, but I also recognise there are all sorts of people who write, each with their unique personal make-up. So let me list the triggers for my emotional flip-flops:

  • plotting. I love the internal experience of characters but working out how to make the external story work does not come naturally. It’s like opening a treasure chest and finding it empty.
  • finding beta readers. I don’t have good networks of readers who I feel I could ask to help me this way, especially the target audience of my YA novels.
  • finding publishers who are interested in what I write. I can’t even find suitable ones to attempt submission. All of us are discouraged when we submit and get no response or a rejection, and we have all had to find ways to manage those. It’s the battle to find someone to submit my manuscript to in the first place that stresses me more.
  • promoting my published work. This is the biggest trigger. It registers as an existential threat! With each book, I have pushed myself to try a new promotional platform (blogging, book talks, newsletters, Goodreads, reading and commenting on others’ blogs and reviewing their books). It’s exhausting, and takes so much of the time I set aside for writing. Putting myself out there is not something I feel at all equipped for.

What’s this all about? For me, the biggest answer is that God is teaching me resilience. I am having to learn to do what we learn in prayer: to ask and keep on asking, to trust when the answers don’t come or they come differently from what we had hoped, to be patient for however long it takes, to not lose sight of the goal (which is ultimately our relationship with God and serving his purposes). I am learning (slowly!) to dream big and manage disappointments; to keep on writing, submitting and promoting; to turn my sorrows, my fears and my sense of failure over to Jesus and to let him comfort and re-energise me; to step up to activities that stretch and threaten to overwhelm me.

When I let go of the dreams or shrink them to something that looks more achievable, it’s God who eggs me on to think big. He hasn’t given up on me in this writing gig even when I have given up on myself. I think he’s plotting something I haven’t seen yet!

We all face challenges as writers and, while you may not fall apart emotionally as I do, we’re all growing in craft and character as we pursue this crazy writing life. If you have a particular encouragement that helps you in your times of struggle, please share it in the comments.

Claire Bell writes as Claire Belberg, and has published two short YA novels in a genre she calls ‘speculative realism’. She also writes poetry and is currently working towards industry engagement with her poems about the impact of her parents’ dementia (Unravelling: A story of dementia), yet to be published. She has had poems and short stories included in various anthologies, including inScribe, and in the independent Adelaide news service inDaily. She writes an occasional blog called The Character Forge loosely exploring the development of personal character through the act of writing. Claire lives in the Adelaide Hills and loves to watch birds wherever she can find them.

Thursday 19 October 2023

What did God say?

 by Anusha Atukorala

Recently, my phone seems to have a bumble bee buzzing blearily inside its bright blue bouncy bonnet! (A bee in its bonnet?) When its battery power falls below 50%, a red light starts to flash, warning me that my battery will soon be flat. My phone then switches into power-saving mode and its google chat function‘s background turns dark. In actual fact, there’s absolutely nothing to worry about. It can function very well for the rest of the day even with the charge dropping steadily.


When my phone was new, the warning was given only when its charge was below 15% which was of course the right time to give it. Now obviously, something in the phone's power circuit has gone awry. I decided to humour my phone. Each time it starts to flash, I recharge it and pretty soon it’s well above 50%, and stops its urgent summons.

My temperamental phone reminds me of us human beings who are often prone to sink into catastrophe mode at the drop of a hat. Or into worry mode. Or to dip our toes (and minds) in the murky pool of anxiety. My health issues with chronic fatigue and debilitating pain of many years caused additional problems. 

After 12 years of the illness, I discovered that I was unable to manage negative emotions – something I’d never had a problem with before. If triggered, I’d spiral downwards into a state of anxiety and fear, unable to think my way up again. Arrrgh! Thankfully … I was given an unexpected gift this year. From an unusual quarter too! Thank You God!

I was offered a place in a clinical trial conducted by the University of NSW. Researchers had discovered that the part of the brain that controls pain also controls emotional regulation. Now I knew why I’d easily sink down like a rock into the ocean and with no warning. It wasn't me. It was my little brain, depleted of its feel-good chemicals due to a large amount of stress hormones that chronic pain had unleased! Because I now knew what caused it, I could take action.


Eleven of us from all across Australia took part in the trial. We had 12 weeks of face to face Zoom meetings and were given an App to use daily to practice new skills– to help us manage our emotions better. They included mindfulness meditation (I turned it into Christian mindfulness), filling our emotional tanks using helpful activities, learning healthy ways of responding to stress and so on.

When my fear circuit gets activated, I am now able to use my new skills to reach a better place. Recently I decided that each time my brain goes into panic mode, to ask myself a simple question, the question being: ‘What did God say?’ 

Now, that was a good move … remembering God’s answers to my fearful thoughts is always soothing and brings quick relief -  like a storm tossed boat reaching quiet waters and finding safe harbour. 

God saysTrust me.’ 

God says I will never leave you nor forsake you. 

God says Don’t look at circumstances. Look at me.’ 

God says I'll work everything out for your good.' 

God says All is well’.

Such a simple question, but a powerful one. We Christian writers too are often hurt by words thrown at us from the world. Publishers tell us our work is not good enough, or our books receive negative reviews. Our own thoughts reprimand us, telling us that our writing is dismal. We might compare ourselves with other writers and feel we have little to offer. We may be sad at how few of our books are sold and assume we are failures. We hear the voice of the Enemy screaming lies at us, lies that we believe. We might even question our calling. ‘Did God really call me to write for Him?’


And so today, I ask you dear writerly friend, on days when life gets difficult, “What does God say to you?” About your writing. About your life. About your walk with God? The Enemy of our souls is present and active and clever at smearing our hearts and minds with murky unsubstantiated lies. Do not believe him. Believe God instead. His Word is true. It is the only truth we can depend on.


If God has asked you to write … go ahead. Write!

If God has said you are enough, you are. 

Of course, you are!

If God has said your failures are pillars of success – then, believe Him. You are a winner!

If God says ‘All is well’ then yes, all is well. You can rest!


If God calls you to write for Him ... He will use your words to achieve His eternal purposes.

And what could be more significant, 

more magnificent, more thrilling than that?


“As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is My Word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” 

The Lord God Almighty

Isaiah 55:10-11

Anusha’s been on many interesting detours in life, as a lab technician, a computer programmer, a full time Mum, a full time volunteer, a charity director, a full time job chaser, until one golden day (or was it a dark moonless night?) God tapped her on her shoulder and called her to write for Him. She has never recovered from the joy it brought her. She loves to see others enjoying life with Jesus and does her mite to hurry the process in her world through her writing and through her life. The goodness of God is her theme song through each season, as she dances in the rain with Jesus.

Her first book Enjoying the Journey contains 75 little God stories that will bring you closer to your Creator. Her 2nd book ‘Dancing in the Rain’ brings you hope and comfort for life’s soggy seasons. Her 3rd book, Sharing the Journey’ is a sequel to 'Enjoying the Journey'.

Do drop in on her two websites to say G’day! 

                            She’d love to connect with you.

 Dancing in the Rain

 Light in the Darkness

Monday 16 October 2023

Omega Writers | There We Were, Together!


By Jen Richards

The 2023 Omega Writers online retreat was a fantastic time of togetherness for Australia’s Christian Writers Network.

The 2023 Annual General Meeting…

The retreat started on Friday night with the 2023 Omega Writers AGM, where members gained updates on the business side of the network. President Penny Reeve announced she was stepping down midterm, which was a great loss to the network.

Thankfully, Meredith Resce is willing to step in as interim president, bringing with her a wealth of experience and a passion for supporting Christian writers, while the committee searches for someone to formally fill the position.

Members were treated to a walk-through of the brand new Omega Writers website by Cecily Paterson, who pointed out the exciting new exclusive members content. For those who were keen to kick on after the meeting, committee member Karen Roper ran a fun game of Scattergories.

A day of deep learning

The main part of the retreat began on Saturday morning when around 60 writers from across the country joined together via zoom for learning and encouragement. First up, participants broke into genre groups to get to know each other a little better, before hearing our keynote speaker Rosanna M White. Rosanna spoke on the importance of reading and living with authenticity and self-reflection so that we can inject that into our writing and ultimately write deeply and move readers with truth. Her talk would set the tone for the rest of the day.

In the second session, Meredith Resce and Tamara Wenham spoke on Christian writing in a post-Christian world. They explore the big picture of western culture and the role that a Christian voice has played in that over the last 2000 years.

After lunch, Meredith chaired a session on Hopes, Dreams, Expectations and Disappointments where she invited other writers, editors, and agents to talk about approaching the inevitable ups and downs of the writing life as Christians. The learning part of the day closed with a devotion from Karen Roper and genre groups.

In the evening, Iola Goulton presented the 2023 Caleb Awards. It was thrilling to see so many friends, new and old, learning, connecting and celebrating together across the day.

Thank you to the extraordinary team behind the scenes who made the day run smoothly and especially to Tamara Wenham who balanced calm, professional planning with the excitement of being nominated for the CALEB. Thanks to the work of tireless volunteers, Australia’s Christian Writers Network is going from strength to strength!

Save the date for 2024

A few years ago, the Omega Writers committee made the decision to move from yearly in-person conferences to having an in-person conference in even years, supplemented by an online retreat in odd ones. This approach allows us to hold a highly professional in-person conference but still provides an opportunity for interactive learning for writers at all points of the writing journey.

To that end Carolyn Miller introduced the 2024 Omega Writers conference.
Emerge: Connect, equip, inspire

Dates: Friday 20 to Sunday 22 September, 2024

The Metro Hotel, Newport | Sydney

Keynote speaker: Susan May Warren

Register your expression of interest and get early updates here.

Thursday 12 October 2023

CWD Highlights April-October 2023


Christian Writers Downunder is a diverse group of writers, editors, bloggers, illustrators. As a group we support each other through our Facebook page and blog.

Today's blog will highlight some of the achievements of our members from April-October 2023

New Releases & Launches

Elizabeth Klein

Dreamscape: Saving Mermaid Lagoon Book 3 

Dreamscape: Saving Mermaid Lagoon Book 3 on August 31st, 2023. Paperback on September 9th 2023.

Against his will, Sam Flynn is sent on a crazy mission by a bumbling fairy godmother to save a colony of mermaids. Instead, a group of pirates capture him and force him to become a member of their crew. To top off his bad luck, he’s snatched away in the middle of the night by a hideous Beast and carried off to its castle.

It’s a story that sounds all too familiar to Sam, except for the part where the daughter of a rose thief promised to the Beast falls in love with him instead. Will he survive the Beast’s wrath long enough to save the mermaids?

Buy Link:

Short story, The Invitation

Short story, The Invitation, was published in Short Tales 9 on 5th of May, 2023 by Storm Cloud Publishing.

Miriam accepts a mysterious invitation to a strange tea party in a meadow, along with white rabbits, a ginger cat with a huge smile on its face, an odd, long-necked bird and a man with orange hair and eyebrows that stick out and wiggle as he talks.


Short story, The Time-Keeper

Short story, The Time-Keeper, was published in Open House 7 on Wednesday, 16th August, 2023 by Storm Cloud Publishing.

Blurb: Lara is a Time-Keeper and her services are for hire, that is, if you can afford her. She locates people's traumas and then alters them for a different outcome. But if the government finds her, it's over for Lara.


Elizabeh Klein: Besides having written many short stories, articles, plays and poems, she's also authored YA and junior fiction books, as well as four educational books and has over 70 published works to date.

A Glimmer of Uncommon Fairy Tales anthology

A Glimmer of Uncommon Fairy Tales on April, the 26th 2023 and paperback on May 4th, 2023.

Edited by Elizabeth Klein - and with stories from Elizabeth and ten other authors, including CWD members Ann Hamilton, Linsey Painter, Sally Odgers, Debra Williams, Jean Saxby, and Jeanette O'Hagan

A collection of unknown, untold and retold stories that will stir the souls of fairy tale lovers everywhere. Each tale is carefully woven together with a silver thread of starlight and a sprinkle of magic, along with the golden melody from the Boy with the Nightingale’s Voice.

Buy Link:

Ian Blight

Book details: non-fiction, title: 'Singleness, Marriage & being God's Family', release date: 17 October 2023

This non-fiction book looks into the contemporary church, at a marriage and family focused culture, with the intent of working toward a better biblical understanding of where singleness belongs in God's family.

Ian Blight is from Adelaide, and has written this book drawing from a lifetime of experience as a single person and motivated by an acute sense of the need to delve into the topic of singleness within the church in Australia.

Dienece Darling

In Freeing Defeat will be available in December. 

In Freeing Defeat (available in December), a socialite and a poor clergyman wrestle with God over the inconvenient appearing of each other in perfectly ordered their lives.

In Pursuing Prayer (available now), a sister grapples with unanswered prayer.

Sign up here to get both of these books for free! Free Story | Dienece Darling

Dienece Darling, an inspirational historical author, is running a 2 for 1 deal. Sign up to Dienece's blog and receive a short historical story now and a historical romance novelette in December. Both set in England.

Accepted for publication

Stories of Life

The Stories of Life anthology is a ollection of true stories of faith will be launched on Thursday evening, 16 November 2023, at Tabor College, Adelaide. At the launch, prize winners in the Open and Short category will also be announced. The event will be live-streamed on Facebook. 

Congratulations on the CWD members whose stories weere among those accepeeted to be published in the 2023 Stories of Life anthology, inclulding:

Jeanette Grant-Thomson Piercing the Silence

Jenny Woolsey Dad and Jesse

Jo Wanmer Dagger in the Heart

Jo-Anne Berthelsen Dear friend

June Hopkins A God-Given glitch & Kisses for Me

Steph Penny Kindling

Hazel Barker Help from Heaven

RJ Rodda Praying for Princess

DJ Blackmore Home Remedy

Karen Roper The Voice

Barbara McKay Out of the ashes

Cherie Love ‘Let the Children Come to Me’ and God is Our Provider

Esther Cremona The Heart of a Midwife

Kylie Gardiner People Matter

Liisa Grace-Baun No More Tuna Mornay

Roslyn Bradshaw Learning to Ride a Bike and Classic Road Trip

Ruth C Hall Solo with God and Along for the Ride

CONGRATULATIONS on all who have had their story accepted. For a full list of stories check out the Stories of Life website. 

RWR Retreat antholoyg - A Spash of Love. 

A number of CWD members have had their stories accepted for the RWR anthology - including Raelene Purtill, Jenny Woolsey and Jeanette O'Hagan - the anthology will be released next year with the 2024 Rainforest Writers Retreat.


CALEB Awards

Congratulations to the winners of the CALEB Award announced last Saturday.  This year was the unpublished prize, as well as the Barnabus and Encouragment awards

Unpublished Young Adult fiction

The Winner is Julia Archer with  The Drone Guy Project

Unpublished Adult fiction

The Winner is Kate Mackereth with  Tradings Wings


Barnabus Award

The Barnabas Award recognises writers who give selflessly to support and encourage other writers in the writing journey. This award celebrates the invaluable impact of such encouragement and acknowledges the often unseen work these writers do to lift others up.

The winner this year was Jo-Anne Berthelsen for her "For for “showing an unserving commitment to encouraging other Christian writers."

Encouragement Award

Encouragement Awards are opportunities to celebrate emerging writers who Omega Members believe are worthy of encouragement and recognition for their commitment, attitude and development of their writing craft.

The joint winners were Jo Wanmer "who is always encouraging others. Keep writing!" and Carolyn Bourke "as she finishes her debut novel."

For the full list and statements about the winners and prizes check out the Omega Writers Website.

CALEB 2024

Entries for the Published CALEB Awards will open in the first half of 2024. Check the Omega Writers Website for or 2024 entry dates in 2024


May Retereat  5-7 May 2023

Toowoomba Omega Writers Chapter Retreat was held in May at Somerset Dam, South-east Queensland, with Guest speaker: Best-selling Australian Author, Meredith Resce, and publisher Rochelle Stephens practical workshops, time to referesh, write and/or network. Thanks for the Toowoomba chapters - Nola Passmore, Adele Jones, Kirsten Hart, Mazzy Adams and others who made this a inspiration time. 

Brisbane Omega Showcase  6-7 October 2023

Omega Showcase was two days of non-stop inspiration and fun with Judy Rogers as compere, a full program on a range of subjects plus some interesting workshops culminating with a dinner on the second day. A great way to network and to get the creative juices going. Big thanks to presenters including Simon Kennedy, Mazzy Adams, Rebekah Robinson, Nola Passmore, Rendered Realms (Lynne Stringer, Adele Jones and Jeanette O'Hagan), Raelene Purtill and especially to the organisers, especially Anne Hamilton, Judy Rogers and Ruth Bonetti.

Ruth Bonetti presented Anne Hamilton At Brisbane Omega Showcase the inaugural Founder’s Award to honour Anne Hamilton for her many decades’ faithful service. She shares my vision and ethos to support fellow authors in sharing Christ through our words.

Omega Writers Zoom Conference 6-7 Oct 2023

Omega Writers Zoom Conference was held online from Friday 6 Oct - Saturady 7 Oct , including the Omega Writers AGM and culminating in the CALEB awards. 

The next Omega Writers conference will be held in 20-22 September, 2024 in Sydney.

Margie Lawson Immersion on the Gold Coast

A number of CWD members including Andrea Grigg, Elaine Frazer, Jeanette O'Hagan, Kate Mackereth, joined in on the Margie Lawson Immersion at the Gold Coast last week. A fantastic of intensive learning and practice on powering up prose hosted by the wonderful host Andrea Grigg. Margie Lawson is awesome with a stack of resources and courses to help improve writing power.

Rendered Realms

Rendered Realms is a trio of Sepc Fic authors  - Lynne Stringer, Adele Jones and Jeannette O'Hagan. This year we've been to Gold Coast Supanova (April), Oz Comic Con (September) and, for the first time, Frazer Pop (July) at Maryborough.

Rendered Realms were invited to present a session at the Omega Showcase. We had fun talking about taking our books to pop-festivals and connecting with potential readers, including cosplaying as characters in our own books. 

Our next event as a team is at Brisbane Supanova on 11-12 November at the Brisbane Convention Centre.

Did you have a new release or event or brag point that didn't make it to the Highlights Post? Keep an eye out for the next call for information from members - the next Highlights post will be in end of December 2023.

Congratulations to all our members for your milestones and achievements.

Jeanette O'Hagan

Monday 18 September 2023

Omega Writers | Introducing the 2023 Online Retreat

 It’s that time of year!

Spring has sprung. The trees are blossoming, the bees are busy, it’s time to plant tomatoes, the agricultural shows are popping up all around the countryside AND Omega Writers’ Zoom Retreat is happening.

I read a lament – or maybe just an observation – that many people prefer face-to-face. It’s true. There’s nothing like getting away from the grind of daily routine, settling into an accommodation with writing friends, sharing meals together, and generally enjoying not only the input and teaching, but also the fellowship.

Omega Writers management committee had been considering cutting our conferences to bi-annual because of the enormous cost in terms of human resource (which is mostly volunteer), and also the cost of flying interstate (and for some, internationally). We felt if we had a rest year for the organisational committee that would give delegates time to save up over the two-year period.

While these talks were still in the pipeline, the pandemic hit, and we had to cancel the face-to-face conference scheduled for that year. Most everyone was barricaded in their homes from compulsory lockdowns and were going a little stir-crazy. In South Australia and Toowoomba we had opportunity to move about within our own communities, so it wasn’t quite as bad, but we couldn’t travel interstate. So COVID-19 and the rapid changes in technology offered, dare I say it, an opportunity.

Our president that year, Penny Reeve, decided to push forward with a Zoom Retreat instead. Those of us in Adelaide and Toowoomba met together in our chapter groups and dropped into the zoom together. It was cost effective and successful, and so it fit well with our plans of having the face-to-face only every other year. In line with this bi-annual pattern, it was decided that the CALEB award would split in two: Published work entered on the year we hold face-to-face, and unpublished on the year we hold Zoom Retreat. This also helped with the human resource situation where we need to find judges for the CALEB award.

And so, here we are in 2023, gearing up for the online retreat, and excited about the things we have lined up. You can make it true to the tag line:

Here we are, TOGETHER, by joining with your chapter groups and organising for locals to meet together. (To find your nearest chapter group click

Please make sure that you register for the Saturday (cost of $50 members/$70 non-members). You can also register for the Friday evening AGM and social session, and the Saturday evening CALEB awards. Different zoom links will be emailed to you from these registrations. There is no cost for the Friday or Saturday evening sessions.

Our keynote speaker is Roseanna White – author, publisher, graphic designer. She will be zooming in from the US (another benefit of having an online retreat), and will be speaking on the following topic:

Roseanna M White

WRITE DEEPLY, READ DEEPLY, LIVE DEEPLY – We all want to write stories that leap off the page and into the readers’ hearts, but how do we dig deep enough? Join author Roseanna White as she shares the secrets of writing that resonates… by starting the process long before you sit down to write.

While we are on the topic of in-person conferences, we have a conference committee already at work and well underway planning next year’s event. Conference 2024 – Emerge – Connect, Equip, Inspire - will be held in NSW this time, so all of us from out of state will know to save our pennies for flights.

One last thing that should be mentioned: Omega Writers – Australia’s Christian Writers Network, has been focused on growth this last year.

We have gone through the process of rebranding and launching a new website; adding regular masterclasses which can be accessed from home; and increasing our online presence through social media.

I’m sure it is obvious that none of these new things, or any of the old things facilitated by Omega Writers, happens by magic. There are no fairies who pop in to do all the work necessary. Yes, there is a solid team of volunteers, people who don’t get paid and who take very little credit.

If you have a heart for the writing network that is Omega Writers, and have skills you think might be useful to us – particularly administration or IT - please let us know.

Don’t forget to book in for our Zoom Retreat and get ready to be blessed.

Click here for more information and to book

Thursday 7 September 2023

Learning to Listen and Love through Research. by Shane Brigg

 I have always enjoyed inquiring deeper about topics of interest to me. When I was in primary school I signed out every book about dinosaurs I could get my hands on. Then I learnt all those latin names of the well-known extinct species like Tyrannosaurus Rex and also obscure ones like Ornithomimus (which means bird-like). Then I made my own stories, picture books and notes about them. I did the same with World War 2 history, bush tucker, survival techniques, Sci-Fi, and other topics. This turned from little childhood projects into major writing projects (some for formal education, most for personal interest). I guess I was just a keen learner. I loved research.


Research is useful for writing. In writing non-fiction, it is expected that our writing flows out of research. In fictional writing, research is often undervalued but necessary. In both occurrences some authors are effective at their research. Some authors, are perhaps, less effective in their research. I thought I would share a few simple thoughts about research that I have gleaned over many years of formal research (I studied my Bachelor of Environmental Science in 1987-1991 (this included Anthropology) and completed my Masters in Ministry (with loads of research) a few years ago) and a life time of learning and how to learn.


It is interesting to note that much scientific and social research (at least formatively) was designed by Christian's seeking to understand and write about creation and people God had called them to (examples of Scientists such as Nicholas Copernicus (1473-1543), Sir Francis Bacon (1561-1627), Johannes Kepler (1571-1630),  Galileo Galilei (1564-1642), Rene Descartes (1596-1650), Isaac Newton (1642-1727) who were instrumental in helping to design the scientific methodology and contemporary Anthropologists such as Kraft and Holloway who reflect a 'scientific' methodology).



Research is useful as a means of critical reflection and a source to evaluate the reliability of our written material, so that when we write we write from a point of clarity, reality, integrity and wisdom. Wisdom might be seen by some as how we take different information, data, insights and theories, how we understand them, test them, and create an interpretation that informs our narratives, communications and potential informing of practice (Anderson 2001).

A basic premise that I use when weighing diverse information or ideas for use is that often the best insight is that “it is not either or but both”. Perhaps this is similar to the Kantian/Hegelian concepts of the process of  Hypothesis, antithesis , synthesis.




A thought is affirmed which on reflection proves itself unsatisfactory, incomplete of contradictory ...

which propels the affirmation of its negation, the antithesis, which also on reflection proves inadequate ...

and so is again negated ...

but a potential combining of different ideas to make a thought that is new and different from the items considered separately



There is an abundance of information in books and online about how to actually do research. Many books on writing only discuss the topic peripherally. There are mentions of research in chapters examining the craft of writing, or planning. However, there is little ‘sagely wisdom’ for writers to access ideas for reasonable research.  Considering that reasonably integrous research requires the interplay of thoughtfulness, theoretical interpretation, and wise judgement it is good to briefly consider a trusted proponent of this research acumen who is an esteemed Christian thinker and author on the subject.



Richard Osmer described the importance of research (in the framework of practical theology) that is useful for us as writers to consider. The material that Osmer presents is useful as an introduction to this field. I have found his material to be empowering and useful for further discussion in considering the use of social and scientific enquiry and evaluation within a Christian writer’s context. Osmer notes that research is vital for Christian practitioners to gain knowledge and skills to help confront the challenging situations they encounter with sensitivity, creativity, and confidence. The overflow of this thinking in our writing is that as authors, we too might be more sensitive, creative, and confident. Osmer develops a unique treatise to make sense of any situation by focusing on four reflective questions and then taking action (Osmer 2008:4):



Osmer outlines four tasks (with four questions) that are useful for us to employ as researchers and writers:


1)   The descriptive-empirical task which asks “What is going on in a given context?”

This requires us as authors to discern any patterns or dynamics in episodes, situations or contexts. It requires “Priestly listening”. This begins with a willingness to humbly understand lives, actions and practices of peoples and situations. As an author this may include investigating a specific situation, with a specific context, or it may be less formalised listening and communicating of what is discovered with compassion and empathy.


2)   The imperative task asks “Why is this going on?” It is based on wise judgment guiding people to potentially consult any theories, ideas from others, even considering other disciplines. In our own research this is a useful proposition : listen, look and learn from outside your usual (maybe comfortable) worldview or perspective.


3)   The normative task asks “What ought to be going on?” It uses a framework and understanding that is prophetic in nature (spiritual discernment). It focuses on hearing God’s Word for specific situations to construct ethical norms and learning for humble empowerment, communication, and encouragement of ‘good practice’. As Christian writers this is a salient reminder : Consult God. Pray. Seek His heart and will and understanding.


4)   The pragmatic task asks “ How might we respond?”. How someone might shape the context of various situations to better embody Christian witness and mission? It requires a transforming service that creates strategies  supported by values of servant leadership (Osmer 2008:28-29). As writers this is where the ‘rubber hits the road’ or the ‘pen hits the paper’. Be encouraged : Your writing is a transformative service that is important because this task has the power to bring influence and empower action.


Core to Osmer's thinking is Jesus' priestly, royal and prophetic mediation of salvation with daily reliance on Holy Spirit’s leading. Osmer helps determine a mobilisation of servants to help people become more like Jesus. That is you and I as writers too. Simply put Osmer encourages us to be learning to listen and love through research.



One of the best resources for ensuring wise interpretation of our research are our colleagues. This is what Brookfield (1995) suggests is a key critical reflection tool for ongoing personal and professional development. For Brookfield and others (like for example, Cartledge (2003)) research is seen to occur primarily in a community setting. Our support systems and social capital have valuable input potential into the interpretation task. Having other people who help you work through issues is vital to a writer’s effectiveness and survival. As writers we must be willing to have qualifying conversations with our colleagues or peers.



In my own context I frequently allow myself to be challenged about preconceived assumptions of thinking, research, ministry practise and ideas or narratives I write about. I do this within the framework of reflection conducted in accountable relationships with my work colleagues, friends, godly peers, study mentors, and my wife (the greatest leveller). I keep Journals and Diaries that date back to 1986 to self-review as well. Some things I wrote and practiced years ago, I would never do again, but other things that I do now have become 'best practice' in my ministry delivery and writing, that is constantly being honed. I have discovered that this humility in yielding our assumptions to a broader reflection process with others is vital to effective research and writing.


The type of research we utilise as writers must be determined by what is appropriate and useful to evaluate a particular idea or situation. Both Osmer and Cartledge give several examples of how research and evaluation and methodology link with theology useful for Christians. Cartledge explained the actual methodology he used in his practical research, which consisted of participant observation, study of documents, interviews with and surveys of people, and analysis of data.



Osmer discussed six specific types of research that are useful for us to consider using as writers:

(a) narrative research: telling individuals’ stories;

(b) case study research: studying a small number of cases in depth;

(c) ethnographic research: describing a cultural or social group;

(d) grounded theory research: developing a theory related to the context of a phenomenon;

 (e) phenomenological research: seeking the essence of an activity or experience for a group of people; and

(f) advocacy research: contributing to social change (with an explicit agenda).



With all the above said, it is sometimes claimed that research is a poor substitute for what you have experienced yourself. Perhaps a better way to consider this idea is that writing through direct and indirect experience, is a valuable mechanism for research.


Direct experience is life experience. Direct experience means to take your situations, happenings in your life, your memories and create the basis for a piece you are writing (like creating the inspiration for your narrative in a novel), you can begin by looking at your own unique past. You may have gone places and done things in your life, engaged with people, experienced challenges, resolved situations, and this is researching your topic through direct experience. This is the basic idea that anthropologists utilise in participant observation for researching ethnographic material (Babbie1986). If you have direct experience, you begin transcribing those experiences and making them interesting, coherent, and structured enough for the reader to receive in story form. Novels created from direct experience can be unique, personal and intimate.


Shane with team Sea of Galilea

Where direct experience is not possible, indirect experience can be accessed. This can mean you may delve into the descriptions of what and how others experienced the situations of life during a specific circumstance, time in history, or theme.


A few basic ideas of how direct and indirect experiences have fuelled my research and created authenticity in my writing include beginning with reading copiously. Spend time Listening: Interview, if possible, to derive from firsthand experiences of people. Communicate with others who know about your subject. Travel, seek out experiences, sit in other’s spaces, walk in other’s shoes.



Good research lends credibility to your work and gives the reader the feeling of direct experience. Imagine your readers feeling that they have lived the life of your characters as they read your narrative in a novel and have therefore had a direct (maybe God inspired) experience. What about that for a writing goal?



I have found that experience linked with intentional research is a potent mix for catalysing creativity in my writing. It brings joy to me and others as integrity of material and insights meld with wisdom and a richness of authenticity to produce a valued work. Research helps the reader trust your work. For us as authors, research is learning. Research is listening. Research is loving.


I hope you discover this joy too.







 Anderson, R. (2001) The shape of practical theology: empowering ministry with theological praxis . InterVarsity Press, 2001: Downers Grove.

Babbie, E (1986) The Practice of Social Research. Wadsworth Publishing Co: Belmont California


Brookfield, S.D. (1995). Becoming a Critically Reflective Teacher. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.


Cartledge. [2003] Practical Theology: by Paternoster Press.


Osmer, R.R. [2008] Practical Theology. An Introduction. Grand Rapids, Michigan:William B Eerdmans Publishing Co.