Monday, 31 October 2016

Internal Supply by Elaine Fraser

When I’m not writing I can be found reading, thinking, learning, or travelling. My life is filled with spontaneous travel and spontaneous events. It wasn’t always like that and, I must admit, I found it easier to write when the discipline of a set schedule compelled me to keep working.

When I began travelling more, my scheduled life unraveled and I found both benefits and drawbacks.
A set schedule gave me the structure I needed to fit things in, and a random life led to the development of the ‘later virus’.

The biggest benefit of living without a set schedule is that my internal supply is refilled by new experiences and spontaneous trips to unexpected destinations. 

In order to write you need something inside to write about. What do you draw on that informs your writing?

I’ve developed a flow in my life that might not look like yours.

I travel for around three months every year. I book in for some sort of training, conference every year. I attend a writing group. I belong to a collective.

I pray. Meditate. Go to church. Listen to inspiring messages. Worship.

I read widely. I view widely. I listen widely.

Stuff swirls around in my head and, somehow, it is translated into writing. So when I’m not writing, I’m building my internal supply.

Despite this, my internal supply has been sucked dry. It’s been a big year and a couple of weeks ago I crashed—big time. Somehow my internal supply was dry. The travel, the reading, the inspiration factory of life, wasn’t filling the tank like I thought it should.

So, I retreated. I got quiet. I nestled into God and took some time to reconnect with Him.
I’ve been reminded that if my internal supply isn’t filled with God, then all the other things I try and fill it with are in vain.

This weekend I’m at the Omega Writers Conference in Sydney, as will a lot of you. As we fill up our internal supply with inspiration from speakers, worship, prayer, being still and having time away from regular responsibilities, I pray you too will have your internal supply restored, or at least topped-up.

He who kneels the most, stands the best. D.L. Moody

Thursday, 27 October 2016

What God Wants

by Lynne Stringer

My latest novel, Once Confronted, was launched on 1st October 2016, and in the lead-up to its arrival, I was running around madly, trying to make sure everything was in place. I managed to remember everything and both the online and physical book launches went off without a hitch.
Unfortunately, this proved a draining experience, especially given the personal nature of the story of Once Confronted, and the fact that I put my protagonist, Madison Craig, through an armed robbery, a scenario which I have also experienced. This meant that any vestige of energy I had left fled the moment the book launch was over. This was a bit of a problem because, as we know, the launch is only the beginning. The hard work goes on long after that.
It’s been difficult to find the energy I needed to keep going. However, one thing has driven me—the firm belief that God wants this book out there. There’s no doubt in my mind that God gave it to me for a reason.
Why else has He spent my whole life preparing me to be a writer? It was not my career of choice. Writing was something I did for fun when I was younger. I knew there was no point trying to make any money out of it. My father’s a writer too. I could see from his experience that it was not the path to a quick fortune.
Yet God trained me in every aspect I needed to become an Indie writer. He gave me jobs in two different bookstores so I learned how to sell books, then took me to the Baptist Union of Queensland, where I started writing small articles for The Queensland Baptist newspaper (The QB) to help out the editor. Some of the other staff encouraged me to do a journalism course, which I wasn’t too enthusiastic about. But I did it, and shortly after, the editor of The QB resigned. Who took his place?
I was the editor and chief journalist for The QB for seven years. Once I left that role, I started to write fiction again. I had already written the novel that was to become Once Confronted but other things had crowded it out, so it simply remained a file on a computer program.
After I wrote my first published novel, The Heir (the first book in the Verindon trilogy) in 2010 and Rochelle Manners of Wombat Books agreed to publish it, I thought of Once Confronted again. By this time, I was editing both fiction and non-fiction for Rochelle.
Once my trilogy was published, Rochelle asked me if I had an idea for a contemporary book.  Once Confronted, which had been waiting in the wings since 1998, immediately came to mind.
Perhaps it’s not this book specifically that God has plans for. But I’ve always felt that this one is special because of the prominent theme of forgiveness, as Madison has to decide whether or not she can forgive the men who hurt her. While I have no idea who my attacker is, if he ever seeks me out, desperate for forgiveness, I have to decide if I can offer it to him.
Perhaps this is why God wants it out there so badly. It’s a public statement of not only what I think it is a good ideal but a challenge to myself to go beyond what I might think I’m capable of. I hope it will challenge others in this way too.

Lynne Stringer has been passionate about writing all her life. She was the editor of The QB for seven years, and currently works as a professional editor and proofreader.
Lynne is the author of the Verindon trilogy, a YA science fiction romance. Her latest book, Once Confronted, is a contemporary drama set that was released in October 2016.
For more information on Lynne, her books and her writing, visit her website: 

Sunday, 23 October 2016

What They Never Tell You - by Buffy Greentree

Pug - You Feel Me.

Everyone tells you how hard writing is, but I really feel they give all the wrong reasons. So yes, there are the usual distractions - life, work, finding out there are eight seasons of The Good Wife on Netflix, and/or realising exactly how much editing a manuscript really needs. We all have those. But these have nothing to do with writing.

At the core of many of my writing struggles is my relationship with my main character. It is in a very real sense like having a child. There are times of excitement as they actually start to respond to you, so you don't feel like you're just babbling to yourself. Then there is the joy of leading them blindfolded into the roomful of presents you've been collecting all the way through their story. You can sit back with a cup of tea and watch while they run from one to the next with squeals of delight.

These are wonderful times. But then there are the teenage years.

First there's the sulky teenager: that finger-tapping dullness of a character who has no personality yet and refuses to be written into anything - would you like to do this? I dunno. What about this? Meh. 

Then at some stage this morphs into the rebellious teenager: the hair-pulling frustration of writing, scrapping, rewriting a scene that you'd carefully planned because the character has changed and no longer likes acting this way. But you always loved going to the park. Mum, no one goes to the park anymore, write me something better.

And finally there's the problem I'm currently stuck in - the 'I'm the centre of the universe' teenager. Basically, right now I don't like my main character very much. Of course I still love her, I just don’t approve of how she’s acting. I've been told that with real teenagers you're not allowed to slap them out of it. Luckily, writing's not nearly as considerate.

I'm currently trying to polish episode five of a twelve part serial. So far I've allowed Laurie to take control of her life and try to make it perfect. Unfortunately, she's making it clear that this just leads to complete self-absorption. She's so focused on getting what she wants that she doesn't even care about the other characters - I didn't even know one of them was married because it had never occurred to Laurie to ask. That came as a surprise to both of us.

By the end of the episode I get to pour cold ice down her back so she stops being a pain and realises she needs to change. However, until then I have 15,000 words of her not realising. That is to say, continuing to think she's the bee's knees and everything should go her way. If you've never been in this stage either with a character or a child, let me tell you - it's darn annoying and enough to make you want to pack them off to wherever it is they go to grow. Summer camp, maybe.

And then I have the audience to consider. I feel like that poor mother whose child is throwing a tantrum in the middle of the supermarket, while everyone else is judging. It's not my fault! I'm told they all go through this stage. She can be a real sweetie when you get to know her. 

So there is really only one solution. I'm just going to unwrap a chocolate bar and sit down in the aisle until it's over, past caring about all judgement. In writing terms, I'm going to stop trying to make my character appear better and more likeable, and instead push her out into the world just as she is.

Anyone else struggling with a character/actual teenager? Any good tips?

Thursday, 20 October 2016

5 Reason Why I Write

In January 2011, South East Queensland was the scene of devastating floods.  A mother and her son drowned in floodwaters in Toowoomba, and a further 22 people met their end  in the Grantham area. There were horrific accounts of drowning deaths, and vivid descriptions of what survivors endured.  I was not personally affected by the flooding, and knew no-one who was, but the devastation and loss of life really  played on my mind and upset me.  I was shocked at what had occurred, and felt deeply for the many people who were so terribly affected by this unexpected disaster.  The morning of the flood, I had planned to go out with my children, but changed my mind when a friend rang, wanting to visit.  Had we ventured out, we were headed for the area that was severely and quickly  flooded. What if we had have been there when the wall of water hit? I thanked God for His protection, but the thought of what if…..made me sick to the stomach. The flood and it’s effects made me think of the enormity of loss and destruction that we often hear about overseas…..tsunamis, floods, earthquakes in which hundreds or even thousands of lives are lost.  The devastation is unimaginable.   Here I was,  struggling to come to terms with the loss of 24 lives in our area, whereas people in or near these overseas tragedies have so much more to contend with, in so many ways. What happened here made me more aware of the reality (to a small degree) that our overseas brothers and sisters have to live with. And that distressed me.

 I struggled for a few months with the effect that the flooding had on so many lives and communities.  Then I decided to write about it.  I penned a poem, trying to convey the devastation, horror, grief, heartache, sorrow, etc.  I could hardly believe that after expressing my thoughts and feelings through writing, the burden lifted.  I still felt for the victims, their families and friends,  but not with the same intensity.  I still empathized, but wasn’t distressed like I had been.  I hadn’t realised the strength of the cathartic effect of writing until that day.

 So, why write? For me, there are a number of reasons.

 One being the healing effect mentioned above. As I record my thoughts, feelings, heart, etc. my emotions are being released and expressed. And that is a necessary and healthy thing.

Another is to record what God is doing in my life.  I love to journal and enjoy being able to refer back to what I have written. I find this a great way to encourage myself in the Lord. It is a permanent testament to His goodness and faithfulness, and at times I need to remind myself of this.  

Writing also helps me to remember things. I am a visual person, not an auditory person.  While studying at  university, I made copious notes. This helped me to retain knowledge and information.  To this day, I take notes when I listen to a sermon, otherwise it literally goes in one ear and out the other. ( And, sadly, this is becoming more of a problem as I grow older…...)

I also write as an expression of my creativity.  If we have been gifted with creativity, we need to find outlets for this.  Mine come in varied form. As well as writing, I love to mosaic, and over the years have enjoyed patchwork, hand stitcheries, scrapbooking.  A feeling of great satisfaction accompanies these activities, especially upon their completion.

And last but certainly not least,  I write to glorify God.  My desire is to spread His message of love and hope, and to touch the hearts and lives of others for Him. The written word is a great vehicle by which we can spread the gospel.
I leave you with a question. Why do you write?

Janelle Moore lives in Toowoomba, Queensland with her husband and their two teenagers.  She enjoys writing devotions and short non-fiction works, often using her children and their antics as her inspiration.

Monday, 17 October 2016

We Need Each Other

The principle - no person can succeed alone - whether in their personal life, work life or, in this case, creative life, is one of the reasons that groups like Christian Writers Downunder exists. I think it has been demonstrated clearly over the years that fellowship and connection that takes place within a church community has many benefits to not just a person’s spiritual life, but also their emotional, mental and relational life as well. In the same way, the connections and friendships we make within Christian Writers Downunder contribute to each of us who identify as creative with the written word. 

We should not take this group, or other groups that provide resource and support, for granted. 

This last month, I have been in constant communication with the leaders of Omega Writers. Similar to this Face Book group and regular blog, Omega Writers seeks to provide help for writers, editors, publishers and other creative types. Omega Writers are the group who sponsor and organise our Christian writer’s conference – coming up next week. They are the group who sponsor and organise the CALEB award writing prize – winners to be announced next week.

But Omega Writers and all that it provides by way of resource and support doesn’t just happen. In my discussion with the leaders, it has become evident that we need to appeal to the greater Christian writing group, and see if they would be willing to help. I have written a piece, but rather than put it here in text form, I decided to stretch my skills in presentation, and have filmed, edited and uploaded a short piece. I’d love for you to click on this link and have a look. It has been endorsed by the Omega Writers leaders.

PS my skills in audio manipulation are not well developed, and I have discovered it sounds much better if you use ear-buds or ear phones. 
PPS the background music was written and recorded by one of my sons – used with permission. That definitely sounds better if you use ear-buds or ear-phones.

Meredith Resce has been published in the Australian Christian market since 1997. She has been part of Omega Writers since its beginning, and is still very much a supporter of Australian Christian writers.
To read more about Meredith Resce, visit her website –
That link again: Omega Promo Video

Thursday, 13 October 2016

Riding those writing waves - Jo-Anne Berthelsen

No, I have never been a surfer! But over the years, I have had to learn how to ride the highs and lows of those writing waves and the ever-changing, often choppy seas of publication and book promotion. I am so thankful to God for keeping me afloat, guiding me around those dangerous rifts and preventing me from being wiped out along the way!

Perhaps my current writing and speaking week will serve as an example of those ever-changing waters for me.

·         Last Saturday, I held the launch of my latest book, Becoming Me. I combined it with a visit to our church’s Art Installation, where a piece of my writing on the theme of solitude was on display. The waters I have had to navigate with this book were certainly quite choppy at times. Then organising the launch, preparing the food (not my strength!) and speaking as well caused a few more waves!  Yet in the end, everything flowed well and I truly enjoyed myself.

·         On Sunday, with the cancellation of the Sydney Book Expo, I instead met with the publisher of two of my previous books, along with other authors and an illustrator. It was so good to encourage one another and to realise we are riding similar, yet uniquely different waves.

·         On Monday, I spoke to around ninety men and women at a Probus Club about my writing journey and the joys and challenges of being published. What a privilege to address such an attentive group of older folk and later to answer their varied questions! Yes, I was tired, yet I felt God carrying me along on a lovely, warm current as I spoke and giving me strength.

·         On Tuesday, I met up with a friend who was unable to attend my book launch but couldn’t wait to buy my new book. And today (Thursday), I will be meeting up with some other old friends who likewise will want to hear all about my new book. I do not take this loving support for granted and am so thankful for it.

·         On Saturday, I am to speak at a women’s ‘Bookfest Breakfast’ at a church not far away. I am so looking forward to riding this particular wave. I don’t know where it will carry me—I have never met the women at this church—but I know I can trust God to navigate me in the right direction.

·         On Sunday, I will attend the 25th birthday celebrations of the NSW Writers’ Centre, where I will receive a book package and free membership of the Centre for a year! I am one of five winners of a writing competition in which we were asked to share something of our experiences at the Centre. What a great little wave to ride to the shore, where yet another interesting writing week will begin!

Of course, some periods of my writing journey have been much calmer, with little happening at all. Perhaps that is where you are at right now. Or perhaps you’re struggling in some muddy, turbulent writing waters and feel you are in well over your head. Yet whatever is happening, may you be aware of God’s gracious presence with you and experience God’s peace and strengthening to keep swimming—and writing!

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 both 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, 10 October 2016

A Sunday School Song I love.....
(or a bit of encouragement from the Bible)
Dianne Riley

The best book to read is the Bible
The best book to read is the Bible
If you read it everyday
It will help you on your way
Oh, the best book to read is the Bible

I wonder if you know that little Sunday School song? Such an old fashioned song, but so true.

For some the Bible is the hardest book to pick up and read. 
I’ve always enjoyed reading the Bible and journaling. Over the years I have filled many fancy and ordinary books with my thoughts, ramblings, special verses and prayer lists.

Although I have to admit, as a teenager, going into my room and shutting the door to read was mostly an escape from my father’s smoking!
Reading is certainly an escape for so many. 
How thankful authors are for this!

As we know the Bible is a wonderful handbook for life. So many authors, so many different stories, topics, inspirations and real ‘page turners’. 
How about Haman, in the book of Esther? A really bad guy, plotting the downfall of Esther’s Uncle Mordecai, I love how the tables are turned! Who would have guessed?

What a wonderful opportunity as Christian writers to bring the flavour of love, victory and hope into what we write.

Whilst meandering through the Psalms once more, I came upon some real encouragement in chapter 37.
King David encourages his readers not to fret because of evildoers (v:1). There is also a reminder for us to trust in the Lord and to ‘do good’. To ‘feed on His faithfulness’ (v:3).

The world is full of despair. Fear, as terrorism seems to be everywhere in the media, showing atrocious acts of violence. God has given us the gift of wonderful imaginations to bring some goodness into the minds of those who have come to ‘our’ writing to escape.
May we ‘do good’ and lead others to the feast awaiting us in the ultimate escape – heaven.

I can be found in the Southern Highlands of NSW, recently relocating there to escape to the country with my husband. Having unpacked (well mostly) I am ready to sit at my desk find inspiration from God, the amazing view and write!

Thursday, 6 October 2016

Bibliotherapy and Transformative Writing

by Josephine-Anne Griffiths

Last week I received my October/November issue of Newswrite, a bi-monthly magazine published by the NSW Writers’ Centre.

I always enjoy reading their publication, but within this issue, there were two articles which took my attention. 
Firstly, the article titled ‘Do You Really Want to Be Published?’ by Jo-Anne Berthelsen, and secondly the article which discusses ‘Bibliotherapy’ where Eleanor Limprecht talks about her experience with this emerging form of therapy. I want to talk about Jo-Anne’s article, but will leave that for another post, as it has got me doing some serious soul-searching, and I need more time to ponder.

When I saw the word ‘bibliotherapy’ I knew what it was about, as I had seen numerous jokes around the subject. I guess I never realised how truly therapeutic reading is for the body, mind, and spirit. Well, I have always enjoyed getting lost in a book … but therapeutic is quite a powerful word.

Of course, I also enjoy writing … no arguments there. But why? 
If I may quote Julie Gary, the founder of ‘Stories Without Borders’ … Julie notes that:

"People who have experienced trauma in their lives, whether or not they consider themselves writers, can benefit from creating narratives out of their stories. It is helpful to write it down, in other words, in safety and in non-judgment. Trauma can be quite isolating. Those who have suffered need to understand how they feel and also to try to communicate that to others." 

So we are agreed that I love nothing better than to put the kettle on, make a nice warm cuppa, and sit for at least a couple of hours reading my latest treasure.

However, writing has always been a passion of mine.
It does relax me and make me incredibly happy … especially when the right words come onto the page. But therapy?

I have done a few stints as a patient and out-patient in a psychiatric hospital, well known as St John of God. There was a time when I would have been far too shy or inhibited to tell you that. But now I am at peace with myself, and it doesn’t bother me at all. I am quite sane (some may argue that point), and like so many people who go unnoticed, I just desperately needed someone to talk to … and someone to listen with compassion and understanding. I received all that at St John of God, and so much more. I could continue on this track, but I’ll save that for another day.

No matter what we write, or why we write, it will always be special. Whether it’s a short story, a poem, a blog or a journal … or indeed a letter that's been carefully written out in our best handwriting (whether for the eyes of others, or just our own) – It is, after all, an expression of who we are, and what we think and feel.

Writing has the power to transform us … body, mind, and spirit. ‘How is that?’ I hear you say.

We can talk to our heart’s content, but we are never going to unfold all of the creases within, by talk alone. Writing out our thoughts and feelings about past events, current affairs, items of general interest etc., helps us to process things more effectively. It may just be a matter of remembering to express gratitude for our lives, or it could be around coming to terms with some form of trauma. We are all unique, and as such, we have varying stories. The power of the pen, to heal, is often understated. In general, us writers can be closet introverts. Note, I did say ‘in general’.
I know with myself, it has always been much easier to write something down than to say it out loud. I am either extremely shy or incredibly depressed *winking and smiling madly*.

The other thing I want to mention is the importance of ‘whatwe read and/or write. If we have recently been attacked and robbed of our possessions, it probably would be a bad idea to read some fast-paced murder/crime/thriller.

Something classical and carefree may be more appropriate, or perhaps a lovely romance. 

During my school years, I wasn't fond of poetry. I don't know why. Maybe because we had to learn some really long poems off by heart, and when we made mistakes the teacher would whack us with a ruler. These days I love poetry. It often conveys what is deep down within our hearts, when ordinary words or prose just won't cut it.

So on that note, I would recommend jumping into and savouring the poetry of T. S. Eliot, "Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers."

John Keats, "A thing of beauty is a joy forever: its loveliness increases; it will never pass into nothingness."

Hans Christian Andersen, "Life itself is the most wonderful fairytale of all. "

or perhaps William Wordsworth, "Life is divided into three terms - that which was, which is, and which will be. Let us learn from the past to profit by the present, and from the present to live better in the future."

"Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart."

... and quite a few more ... and you shouldn't miss reading books such as "Anne of Green Gables" by Canada's beloved Lucy Maud Montgomery.

Of course in my view, the Holy Bible would most likely cover most of life’s circumstances. However, everyone needs some variety in their repertoire – we just need to be certain that the content is wholesome. How about an adventure in Middle-earth while reading J. R. R. Tolkien's 'Lord of the Rings', or voyaging back to 'Narnia' with C. S. Lewis ... or perhaps an 'Escape to the Country' with Nicki Edwards?

So ... I have come to the conclusion that not only can reading and writing be therapeutic for ourselves, it can also heal and transform others, and that is why we must be careful about what words we place on the page.

I am currently hooked on romances with happy endings, but I also like stories with a mysterious, suspenseful element. 

Do you think there is merit in the practice of Bibliotherapy?

What are you reading? What are you writing? Why?
I'd love to know ... please feel free to comment below.

Josephine-Anne Griffiths previously worked in the field of finance and administration. Once early retirement became necessary, and having always been an avid reader and passionate writer, the next step became logical. She is continuing to work on a fictional memoir 'Charlie Dreams' and a small book of inspirations, yet to be given a title. She has tried her hand at short story writing and more recently poetry, in addition to inspirational, narrative non-fiction. Always loving a challenge, Josephine is planning to skill-up to enable the crafting of a short Contemporary Romance, in addition to a more personal memoir, which would concentrate on the life long issues around living with Bipolar disorder. Josephine-Anne, fondly known as Jo’Anne, is married to Leon. They have six children and six grandchildren between them. You will find Jo’Anne either lost within a book, behind her keyboard or in her garden day-dreaming.

You are also welcome to contact Jo’Anne via the following links: