Monday, 30 April 2018

The Power of Books

by Hazel Barker 

Books are a powerful weapon. There have been many instances of book-burnings throughout history. Some of the better-known conflagrations are the burning of Catholic theological works by Martin Luther in 1520, and the incinerating of English Monastic Libraries during the Dissolution of Monasteries from 1536-1541. Thousands of books were burned by the Communists in Russia. Books by Jewish authors and anti-Nazi books were burned by the Nazis in the 1930s and 1940s. The latest burnings to date have been those by ISIS in Iraq, Syria and Libya. Fear of their influence on people led to such destruction.

Books open our minds to knowledge, to understanding and to joy. There are millions to choose from, and were we to spend our whole lives consuming book after book, we could only read a fraction of them. For this reason, we need go to Book Fairs like the Omega Book Fair, which was recently held in March 2018. We need to visit good book stores like Koorong Book Stores. We need to be selective in what we read. We need to read edifying books. 

I enjoy reading memoirs and historical fiction. From memoirs I may learn how to avoid the mistakes others have made, or be encouraged to follow their examples. Reading historical fiction teaches me about the past, and I read them, bearing in mind the adage ‘History repeats itself.’ Books give me pleasure. Few joys give greater joy than relaxing with a good book. Ever since I learned to read from the age of four, I loved books. Later, even before I reached my teens, I longed to write – to be an author someday. 

Now that dream has been fulfilled. Book One of my memoirs Heaven Tempers the Wind. Story of a War Child and its sequel The Sides of Heaven, is available in all good bookstores. I assure you that men and women of all ages will enjoy reading it and will look forward to the third book. 


Hazel Barker lives in Brisbane with her husband Colin. She taught in Perth, Canberra and Brisbane for over a quarter of a century and now devotes her time to reading, writing and bushwalking. From her early years, her passion for books drew her to authors like Walter Scott and Charles Dickens. Her love for historical novels sprang from Scott, and the love of literary novels, from Dickens. Many of her short stories and book reviews have been published in magazines and anthologies.

Hazel’s debut novel Chocolate Soldier, was released by Rhizza Press in 2016. Book One of her memoirs Heaven Tempers the Wind was released by Armour Books this year. Both books are set during World War Two – the former in England and the Far East; the latter in Burma. Book Two of her memoirs, The Sides of Heaven, was released by Armour Books in February this year.

Thursday, 26 April 2018

Meet our Members . CWD Member Interview – Shane Brigg

Each Thursday in 2018 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 we interview Shane Brigg.

Shane Brigg enjoys good coffee, chats and a walk with friends and family


Question 1: Tells us three things about who you are and where you come from.
In our bedhead we have a bookshelf. Beside my mind all night long I have the key influential books of my life. It is as if the ink comes to life each night in my resting and dreams and visions and scoping for the day ahead. A little book with a faded cover is here. My Side of the Mountain by Jean George. I first read it as a young boy who loved nature, wanting to find my way in the world and seeking to know the Creator. I grew up in South East Queensland. My Mum and Dad instilled in me a love of nature.  I remember hours exploring the creeks and forests near our home. Perhaps this is what lead me to study Environmental Science. I love bushwalking, gardening, walks along our coastline and noticing the wonders of the world. This has not only meant exploring and studying wild valleys, forests, swamps, caves, mountains, deserts, animals, plants and landscapes worldwide. It has meant stepping through the open doors, gateways, arches, and homes full of human life in towns and cities across our globe.   I have an intense passion for the things of creation but particularly for the humanity our Creator died for to reveal His love.  

Adventuring in Life and Nature. Shane on top of Mount Cooroora

I love people. All sorts of people. Those environmental studies lead me into discovering more about humanity as anthropology and sociology was offered to me. Assignment work amongst homeless young people living on the streets of Brisbane, ministry amongst Indigenous communities, leading teams cross culturally into South East Asia have punctuated my journey.  A song that has become a theme for my life is “Rose Coloured Stain Glass Windows” by Petra.

When I first heard it, it moved me so much I cried. For me it was the story of my passion for seeing what I had discovered of a saviour who had stepped out of His position to save me and the world around me, and He wanted his people to do the same. Go into the world. Reveal His love. That is what defines me. I am a Chaplain of one of the largest schools in Queensland. Loving families from all walks of life. We live in the University of the Sunshine Coast precinct. Here our missional community reflects the more than 40 Nations represented. Each week we connect personally with dozens of new friends from many different tribes, many of whom are only just realising that the Creator is real and loves them intensely. We are blessed to call them family.

Connecting with International Students inspires a global depth to Shane's Writing 

Question 2: Tell us about your writing (or editing/illustrating etc).  What do you write and why?
My writing reflects all this framework. I write about and for people. My writing expresses the needs these populations have. Most of my writing happens because it must. Communicating happenings, helps, honest musings and happy celebrations. Things like articles produced in magazines, school newsletters, newspapers, online platforms are a regular happening for me. Academic writing, helping students, training, resources for learning, coaching, empowering ministry tools are also prime to my writing.
More creative pursuits provide a personal outlet for me. I have several projects concurrently underway that many of the aforementioned writings take pre-eminence over due to real time constrictions. And yet a Trilogy that I started some 33 years ago continues to take shape. It started as random writings that seemed to come together miraculously and now has a reasoned synopsis, powerful authentic characters, and situations that are reflective of my own life journey expressed as a fictional pre-dystopian narrative. Other projects include a young adult Graphic Novel, a fun Aussie school-based reader for junior primary, and a fantasy novel that delves into the principles highlighted in the book of Ephesians. I have also written scripts and screenplays, with storyboarding and artwork to compliment.

Creating Narratives with a Challenge in mind for Young People

Question 3: Who has read your work? Who would you like to read it?
The primary audiences for what I have written have been those within the communities I have the honour of serving as Pastor, bible college lecturer, Chaplain, and friend. Students, families, readerships across entire regions in newspapers, our families of faith, deliberate, opportune and often nonintentional audiences. I look forward to watching how publishing my major creative works can impact lives as they are read by the young adults and children they are aimed at.

Question 4: Tell us something about your process. What challenges do you face? What helps you the most?
Much of my creative work is an expression of occurrences and real-life situations I have encountered. They are a sort of journaling on my behalf. But I write through the lenses of my key characters in a fictional world.  I am inspired by the works of Stephen Lawhead, Tolkien and various adventure and fantasy sci fi writers. Movies such as Blade Runner, Hacksaw Ridge, Lord of the Rings, Blood Diamond, and They Killed My Father motivate me to write to themes that move people to action. 

Creative Journaling is a foundation for Shane's Writing.
My Son Vietnam.

Question 5: What is your favourite Writing Craft Book and why?
I do not have a favourite writing craft book, but a major premise I gained from a book about
CS Lewis’s writing style has been very liberating. Truth does not have to be factual. What this means is that often Truth is discovered in unreal settings. For example, Aslan in CS Lewis’s writings is not a real entity but holds Truths about Christ. He is not a tame Lion.

Question 6: If you were to give a shout-out to a CWD author, writer, editor or illustrator – who would they be?
I have been blessed to reconnect recently with Nola Passmore. When I was ministering at the Uni she was lecturer at in the 1990’s, we prayed together with a group of academics, started a forum for students we called Catalyst, and now I am blessed to have her inspiring my journey as a writer.

Question 7: What are your writing goals for 2018? How will you achieve them?
The main goal I have is to create the structural framework around each of my works so that much of what is (at the moment) in handwritten form can be easily transferred into a digital format. I have about 3 archive boxes of handwritten material. sigh.

Question 8: How does your faith impact and shape your writing?
My faith journey is dynamically (if not overtly) reflected in everything I write. I aim to write from a point of authenticity and passion. I hope the love I have discovered in our Creator is revealed in humble expressions that bring my characters, plots, teachings and inspirations to life. Family is vitally important in my faith journey. Our own family is a huge inspiration. The family that we embrace within our faith journey brings light into a world that needs the brilliance of the Saviour’s love. This has a vital influence on my writing too.

Shane's Family. 

Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Redemption in the Valley

As Omega President, it is my turn to greet you Australasian Christian writers and readers. It is ANZAC Day, and in times past I've reflected on true stories from people who lived through those dreadful years of war 1914-1918. This year marks 100 years since Armistice and I'd like to offer another piece. This time, the reflection is a piece of fiction—an excerpt taken from one of my early novels 'Beyond the Valley'. When I wrote this book, I read many accounts of ANZAC soldiers and heard from people who had lived through the Great War. This excerpt (re-written for this occasion) starts at the time of Armistice, and follows the story of one young returned soldier, having left his mate behind—killed in action:

John didn’t want to put it off any longer. There was still one last issue that had not yet been laid to rest—to do with Charlie and Johnny, and only he knew about it.
He’d watched Charlie over the last few weeks, not sure if his attendance at church meant he’d given up atheism, or if he was there just simply to see his little girl. As a minister, John was used to reading people, but from Charlie’s demeanour he couldn’t tell what was happening in the young man’s heart. Charlie sat through the services, talked a little with Aimee at the finish and then went home with his parents. He showed no emotion either positive or negative. He showed no interest, neither in the sermon nor apparently towards life in general.
Then last week, the armistice had been announced. November 11th at 11 o’clock 1918. The whole valley had gone mad with joy. There was a public holiday and picnic. They held races for the children, and sang songs and cheered. It seemed that everybody in the valley had come into the school to attend, even Charlie. But Charlie didn’t cheer. Neither did he sing or engage in any way. And when they’d played The Last Post at the flagpole in remembrance of those who’d paid the ultimate price, Charlie didn’t cry. Nearly every other townsperson had wept for the Johnny, John most of all. His son would never come home. Charlie had stood impassively, his head bowed, no expression on his face. John was aware of his son’s best friend, and what he observed troubled him. It was time to pay a pastoral visit.
‘He’s probably out at the lookout.’ Charlie’s grandmother had answered the door. ‘He sometimes goes there to be alone. This melancholy takes a hold of him and he doesn’t seem to be much use to anybody for anything,’ Rose said.
‘It must be hard for you,’ John said.
Rose’s eyes filled with tears. ‘I’m glad our boy came back at least. Yours ...’
John swallowed back his own emotion. He’d cried nearly every day since he’d received the telegram. He doubted it would ever stop.
‘I’m sorry.’ Rose wiped her nose with her handkerchief. Try the lookout. I can’t think where else he could be.’
As John rode up into the hills, he kept wiping his own nose. His son had come up here many times with Charlie. They had been the best of mates, and Johnny had told his father about the plans they had talked about at the lookout. This wretched grief was going to dog him forever. Every place he went, there was something to remind him of his son.

Charlie’s head snapped up. Was that Johnny calling him? For that brief moment a surge of joy pushed him to his feet in anticipation. Then he remembered—Johnny was dead and buried somewhere in the desert in North Africa. When John Laslett rode from between the trees, it made sense. Johnny had always sounded like his father.
‘Grandma Rose thought I might find you here,’ the minister said as he rode up and dismounted.
‘I come here sometimes to think,’ Charlie said. That momentary burst of energy was gone and the weight was back pressing on his shoulders.
‘Do you mind if I sit down?’ John asked, and then tied his horse to a nearby bush. ‘I’ve been meaning to catch up with you. Some things we need to talk about.’
Charlie forced himself to nod. There was his adopted daughter to talk about. He couldn’t run away from responsibility forever.
‘I’m really grateful that you and Mrs Laslett have allowed Meg to take on Aimee.’
‘We’re grateful you’ve given Meg a chance to continue to do what she loves best. Having Aimee has helped her cope with leaving her missionary work. She would have been restless sitting at home with nobody to care for and love.’
Charlie hadn’t thought about it like that, and was relieved to know the Lasletts looked upon Aimee as a blessing rather than a nuisance.
‘It’s not Meg I want to talk about. It’s Johnny.’
Charlie felt a wave of anxiety cord his muscles. He wanted to get up and run into the bush. He had fought not to think about Johnny for nearly a year. He couldn’t think of his friend without the image of his body being hit by the shower of bullets and falling lifeless to the ground.
‘I don’t think I can …’ Charlie’s mouth had gone dry and his stomach had knotted.
‘You blame yourself, Charlie, I know that,’ John said. ‘You think it was all your fault that Johnny was killed.’
‘It was,’ Charlie said, ‘and I wouldn’t blame you for hating me for it.’
‘How was it your fault?’ John asked.
Charlie braced for John’s anger, but it didn’t come.
‘No one has ever told me exactly what happened. All we know is that he was killed in action.’
‘I don’t know if I can talk about it.’ Charlie was now fighting a wave of black spots that seemed to be clouding his vision, and a wave of nausea that made him want to spit out the pain boiling inside.
‘I can’t force you.’ John’s tone remained quiet and steady. He paused for a while before continuing. ‘You know Johnny wrote to me just before he died. He knew it was going to happen.’
Charlie squeezed his eyes shut and held his breath. He didn’t want to hear this.
‘He wanted me to tell you.’
Charlie became aware that John was waiting. He cracked his eyelids and saw the minister holding out an envelope, and recognised Johnny’s handwriting.
‘You need to know, Charlie, and I need to tell his mother and sisters, but not before you’ve given me permission.’
Charlie stared at the extended envelope. What was he saying? He was speaking in riddles, and Charlie didn’t want to understand. He began to shake his head.
‘Please,’ John said. ‘For Johnny’s sake and your own.’
After a long pause, Charlie eventually took the envelope. He didn’t want to do this. He didn’t want to hear from Johnny. He didn’t want to think about Johnny. He didn’t want to remember what he had done.
‘You need to read it,’ John pushed. ‘It’s important, Charlie.’
Heart hammering at an alarming rate and feeling dizzy with worry, Charlie withdrew the letter and began to read.

Please don’t show this to mother. If it all comes to nothing I wouldn’t want to upset her, but I felt I had to share my feelings with somebody, Dad, and I know you will understand.
All my life I have felt that God has something for me to do, and I said to Meg some time ago that it was something I must do alone. Lately I have begun to feel that I know what it is. It has to do with Charlie. I love him like a brother, Dad, and yet he lives his life as if it will never end. He refuses to acknowledge God and stands on the edge of blasphemy constantly. If only he knew that he was breaking his Saviour’s heart as well as my own when he talks like that. I pray desperately that he will not be killed in this war. Dad, you and I both know that if he dies his life will not end there. If I am to die tomorrow, I know that I will be welcomed into the loving arms of my Saviour, Jesus Christ, but if it is Charlie, I fear he will face a lost eternity.
Dad, if it comes to this, I will die in Charlie’s place. At least I will not be lost, but I cannot risk having him in everlasting torment forever.
Of course I pray that he will soften his heart and remember the things that we have all said over the years, but he becomes more reckless with despair as the days go by.
The other night, I read that Scripture: ‘Greater love has no man than he lays down his life for his friend.’ I don’t pretend to be anything close to Jesus Christ, but I will follow His example if it means Charlie has another chance to one day meet me in heaven.
This may all come to nothing, and if so, then I will rejoice in coming home again, but if something should happen, please tell Charlie that I loved him like a brother, and I plead with him, if there is still time, to give his life to Christ. I want to meet him in heaven, and know that we were brothers on earth.
As always, tell mother and the girls that I love them with all my heart and will see them soon, in this life or the next.

Your loving son

 Something harsh was scratching at Charlie’s eyes, and he stood trying to blink it away. His jaw has locked with tension and his throat hurt. The emotion was boiling in the pit of his stomach.
‘How did Johnny die?’ John asked softly. Charlie’s chin began to quiver. He needed to say it, but wasn’t sure it would come out right.
‘He died saving my life!’ The words were hardly out and the emotion came spilling out after it in deep gut-wrenching sobs. ‘Why did he do that? I’m not worth dying for!’ Following the sobs came wave upon wave of rage and Charlie felt a loud and angry cry come from deep within his being. He began to punch his chest with his fists until he fell to his knees and pushed his face to the ground.
‘Why did you do it, Johnny? I’m not worth it. You shouldn’t have done it! You should have let me die.’ Charlie was barely aware of how he must have sounded. His face was leaking—from his eyes, from his nose, from his mouth. ‘Why?’
Then he felt a hand on his shoulder. Why did Johnny’s father care so much? He should hate him.
Eventually the storm subsided.
‘How can you ever forgive me? If I hadn’t been so hard hearted, Johnny might still have been alive.’
‘You can’t know that,’ John said. ‘If it hadn’t been you, Johnny might have done the same for one of the other men. He might have been taken down in the charge on Beersheba. Johnny’s life was and is in the hands of God.’
Charlie shook his head. ‘He should have let me die. It was my own stupid fault, and I have nothing to live for any way.’
‘Eternal damnation is a serious business, Charlie. Please don’t waste my son’s sacrifice. You read what he said. There is still time. Give yourself to Christ. Meet Johnny again someday, and tell him yourself.’
‘It’s too late for me,’ Charlie argued. ‘I married a prostitute, didn’t you know?’
‘I know,’ John answered quietly. ‘And I know that you rescued Aimee from neglect and abuse.’
‘That hardly makes up for all of the wrong things I’ve done.’
‘Nothing makes up for our sin, Charlie, except the blood of Jesus Christ.’
‘I don’t understand it.’ Charlie shook his head. ‘When I studied natural science, they said I needed proof before I accepted anything.’
‘Do you need proof that summer will end and winter will begin before you plan what crop you will put in next year?’
‘Yes, but everybody knows the seasons will change, they always have.’
‘A lot of people know that God is real, and that He has sent His son, Jesus Christ, to save us from sin and death. He always has, and always will.’
‘Yes, but I can’t prove that.’
‘You can’t prove that winter will come either, and yet you plant your seed hoping that it will.’
Charlie stopped. He was spent, and couldn’t think of an intelligent answer.
‘You don’t believe with your head, Charlie. You have faith in your heart. You accept it without proof.’
‘Only fools do that.’
‘The fool has said in his heart, ‘there is no God’. There is a God all right, Charlie. You only have to look at the stars and the wonders of creation to see his fingerprints all over the world. And you only have to look at the example of your friend, Johnny, to know what Jesus has done in dying for you. Like Johnny, Jesus died for your sin, except His gift is eternal life. Johnny’s was only for a bit more of this mortal life, hoping you’d make the right choices now.’
Charlie sighed. He heard what Reverend Laslett said, and he desperately wanted to believe, but his mind kept getting in the way.
‘Is it possible to pray for my faith to grow?’ Charlie asked hopefully.
‘It’s more than possible.’ John smiled. ‘I’ll pray with you right now, and tomorrow, and every day after that, until your faith is enough to accept Jesus Christ as your Saviour. I don’t know if it is possible, but if it were, Johnny would be laughing in heaven if he knew you would do it.’
Charlie nodded. ‘He would laugh, and probably cry too. I miss him so much.’
The emotion welled up again, and Charlie saw it in John’s eyes as well as he grabbed him in a hug.
 ‘I’ll try it, for Johnny,’ Charlie said as he pulled away. ‘It really is the least I can do.’
‘Do it for yourself, and for Aimee, and for your parents, and for me as well.’ John said. ‘The angels in heaven rejoice when one sinner repents and comes home to the Father.’
Model photograph of Character, Charlie Shore

Omega Writers' President, Meredith Resce, has written and published 18 titles. This excerpt comes from her novel 'Beyond the Valley'—fifth novel in the Heart of Green Valley series.

Don't forget registrations for Omega Writers Conference will be coming up soon. Save the date: October 26-28th in Adelaide.

Monday, 23 April 2018

Is History Repeating?

What is it, to see history repeating? I suspect I recently stumbled across a personal example of this phenomenon. You see, I live in a little town called Mackay in North Queensland. Historically, Mackay was like most towns in this region. It relied on primary industry to survive. Cane farms, sugar mills, cattle properties—these were the town’s driving industries.

But by the year 2000, a mighty industry came to town. Mining. It wasn’t entirely new—the gold rush era of the 1800s had seen mining towns pop up, thrive, and die throughout our region. But this time it wasn’t gold that drove a new mining boom. It was coal.

My family and I lived through this coal boom. Housing prices rose sky high, new businesses popped up to support the mines, a mass of people moved into town, and the money rolled in. A lot of other ‘mining town’ elements moved in as well. The long-standing residents, who were mostly multi-generational conservative families, did battle against the establishment of strip joints, brothels, and the town suffered an increase in drug and alcohol related violence.

But like all mining booms, the frenzy eventually subsided, and in the last four years, the boom has become a bust for many. Falling coal prices and an international slowdown in demand has contributed to the downturn. Now the miners and their families have left town, many businesses have closed up shop, and we who were here before are left to make sense of the town once more.

I gained further perspective of this repetition of history when I took my son and step-daughter to Sovereign Hill in Ballarat, Victoria. This is a gold mining town reconstructed to 1800s gold rush-era standards. It transports the visitor back in time in an effort to experience what life was like back in the “glory” days of gold.

What I found most strange about our visit to this historic-themed town was that the rise and fall of Sovereign Hill was much like the rise and fall of my town, Mackay. The whiff of riches inspired many to flock to Sovereign Hill and to Mackay. They rode the wave of fortune, and rode the same wave out when the gold dried up. What they left behind were communities with an identity crisis, and residents who needed to develop a new state of normal. The glory days were over, and Sovereign Hill, like Mackay, was a small town again.

But we are a lucky town. There were plenty of towns that didn’t make it, like Mount Britton. In the gold rush era, this town was a big deal. When the gold ran out, the town died. It never recovered, and to this day, it’s nothing more than a flat piece of land, a few headstones, and street signs to nowhere.

History repeating doesn’t just apply to mining towns. As I study my Bible I see the effects of this phenomena of rising and falling. The mighty civilisations that were, then weren’t. I wonder at these great cities. I am sure that those who lived in them had a sense of security. Their money flowed, and their power increased as they won battles and fought wars. Like mining towns, they thrived. The people in them rode the waves of success. They thought themselves invincible, safe, secure.

So the question I ask you, reader, is this: are you living in a civilization in decline? Are you thinking peace, security, safety? Do you think we’ll never end? We have the weapons. We have the power. We have the democracy.

Or, like these towns that profit and fall, are we sitting pretty, waiting for the historic axe to fall? Is the big wheel turning and history simply repeating?

While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. 1 Thessalonians 5:3 (NIV)

I don’t want to indulge in doomsday prophecies, but I also can’t help but wonder what it is like to be in decline. What are the signs? Would we know them, even if we were living in the midst of them?

I wonder at our state as the moral fibre of our western culture is tested, stretched, and twisted, and the emphasis on lifestyle, money, and possessions is seen by so many as paramount to our happiness. I look back at history and I can’t help but wonder: are we in a constant state of history repeating?

What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun. Ecclesiastes 1:9 (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.

Thursday, 19 April 2018

Member Interview - Lynn Fowler

Each Thursday in 2018 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 interview Lynn Fowler

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

As well as being a writer, I’m a Christian preacher, and independent publisher. I currently live in a small country town in Gippsland, Victoria, but I have previously lived in NSW and Queensland (I moved down here from the Gold Coast 13 years ago - quite a culture shock!) 
One of my visitors when I moved to Victoria

I have two adult sons, and five grandchildren ranging in ages from 23 down to 11, but unfortunately my older son and his family live outside of Sydney and my younger son and his family live on the Gold Coast, so I don’t get to see them very often.

Keynote Speaker at Asian Christian Workers Seminar 2013

I’ve been a preacher since 1975, starting 6 months after I was born again. I’ve pastored small churches and travelled around eastern Australia ministering, and over the last 30 years have done short term missions trips to 15 different countries. Between 2005 and 2015 I led an international ministry based here in Gippsland. 

The publishing began with me self-publishing my own books, but who I am means that nothing I do ever remains just about me for long, so it soon expanded and I began running regular writing competitions and publishing the best entries in anthologies. (The current competition can be found at This year I hope to be publishing my first stand-alone book for another author. Why is my publishing business called Birdcatcher Books? Because my name is Fowler, and a fowler is a bird catcher.

Question 2: Tell us about your writing (or editing/illustrating etc). What do you write and why?

My Dad was a writer, and I couldn’t escape the gene pool. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t write, but I never wanted to “be a writer.” Through what was a difficult teenage and young adulthood I wrote poetry as a means of expressing the turmoil inside me, and rather to my surprise had some of it published. In my early 20s I landed a job in the publicity department of a TV studio. It was a great training ground for writing. Every week I had to produce a TV magazine of eight to ten articles. I also had to write the on-air promo for it (and, if I couldn’t con anyone else into the job, appear in the promo.) There were also other on-air promos for both TV and radio, press releases, and both in-house and client newsletters that were my responsibility. It taught me to write quickly and in a variety of styles.

In my mid 20s I was saved and called immediately into ministry, and from that point on much of my writing was an extension of my ministry. I had numerous articles and some poems published in Christian magazines in Australia, and a couple overseas. More recently I have self-published 3 Christian books: Called to Battle is a basic spiritual warfare manual, and is now only available as an e-book for my newsletter subscribers; Real, Radicaland Revolutionary is a challenge to the Church to be all that God has called us to be; and My Little Chats With God is a collection of brief, informal Bible meditations. I also have a book of my poems, Sonshine and Shadows, which is about half and half Christian and secular.

In 1990 I had a children’s picture book, A Crazy Alphabet, published through traditional publishers here in Australia and in the USA. It did quite well, but I found the whole process extremely frustrating, which is why I decided to self-publish my other books.

Over the years I have also written a small amount of fiction, and I had had the idea for a novel running around in my head for several years, so I finally sat down and put it together, and published Next Year in Huntsville last year, under the pen name of Grace L. Sutherland to distinguish it from my Christian non-fiction. At the same time, I released a small book of my short stories, Just Grace.

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

A number of pastors and leaders have read Real, Radical and Revolutionary and My Little Chats With God, and given them great reviews. I work a small circuit of Saturday markets with my books, and it is always a thrill when someone comes along and says, “I bought your book last time, and I loved it.” Who would I like to read my books? Lots and lots and lots and lots of people. In fact, everybody!

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

I am probably the most undisciplined writer on earth, possibly because, even with seven books and stacks of articles behind me, I still don’t really think of myself as a writer. Much of my writing process, if it can be called that, takes place in my head: and idea comes, it tumbles around in there for weeks, months or years, all the while gathering other ideas to itself like an unruly snowball, and eventually lands on paper. 

That said, I do use “mind mapping” to help me plot out the chapters of a book, and in the case of Next Year in Huntsville, because it was covering a period of 48 years and I wanted to get all the historical facts in the right places, I had a spreadsheet listing every year of the story and with columns for each of the main characters as well as world and Australian events. 

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

Like other members, I love Story Genius by Lisa Cron. I find people endlessly fascinating, and want to be able to explore that fascination in my fiction.

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

Jenny O’Hagan. I have been privileged to review two of her books, Heart of the Mountain and Blood Crystal, both of which I enjoyed immensely and which opened up to me a genre which I would not otherwise have considered reading. 

Question 7: What are your writing goals for 2018? How will you achieve them?

I have ideas for three Christian books and a novel running around in my brain at the moment. Which, if any, of them will come together and land on paper before year’s end? I don’t know. I guess my primary writing goal for 2018 is to actually make time to do some. So far, I am not making much progress toward reaching this goal. 

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

My Christian non-fiction and some of my poetry are directly shaped by my faith, but because my relationship with God encompasses all of my life, even my secular writing is influenced by my faith. Next Year In Huntsville, for example, though not a specifically Christian novel, has a subtle undercurrent of the search for faith and meaning.

Lynn Fowler had a children’s book traditionally published in 1990, under her then name of Lynn Cox. She has self-published three Christian non-fiction books and a book of poetry under her own name, plus a novel and a book of short stories as Grace L. Sutherland. Through her publishing business, Birdcatcher Books, she runs regular writing competitions and has published three anthologies of stories for adults and one of stories for children. 
Lynn can be found at,
and Birdcatcher Books at

Monday, 16 April 2018

I Need A Personal Bubble For My Writing Space

by K A Hart

A distraction-free writing space. Does anyone have one? I have lived in this house for four years and I still haven’t found the right spot. 

Somewhere that’s comfortable, but not too comfortable. A place with a view or inspirational pictures and famous quotes. Coffee, tea, a few snacks. Music. No music. A clean space, clutter-free. That’s what most writers suggest. 

So. Writing space. Where have I made my writing space? Where have I not?!

The Backseat

I live in a Queenslander and have previously had flatmates with some unique interests. Having a writing space in the house back then was far more distracting then my procrastination. For a while I used the backseat of my Toyota Yaris. It’s more spacious than you’d imagine. A throw, a few European pillows and I was set. The fact it was outside and I had to organise a coffee travel mug, a thermos with more coffee and snacks made it less desirable to utilise the space. Okay, I’m a little lazy and procrastination is my friend. If I made it to the backseat, a lot of writing was done. The amount of times I actually made it there is a little fuzzy.

The Desk

I bought a desk specifically for writing. Simple design. Small enough so it won’t get too cluttered but big enough for a laptop and an opened folder with my manuscript. I even went with the comfortable, but not too comfortable chair design. There is a little problem though. The desk is too high for the chair. My wrists tend to dig into the front of the desk if I sit there for more than an hour. So that means many breaks. Long breaks. My cat Aristotle used to help too. Sitting on the folder, on the laptop, on my arms. Cats can be very distracting.

The Armchair

I have a reading chair. I don’t actually use it to read. I don’t really use it much at all. Occasionally I’ve tried to write in it. It’s comfortable enough with a couple of pillows and the matching ottoman. But for some reason, my writing sessions don’t last long. Social media surfing tends to set in. Either the armchair is haunted or I don’t have enough pillows.

The Cafe

I know a few people who enjoy sitting in a cafe with a cappuccino and their laptop. I’ve tried it, though all the noise and people tend to annoy me too much to get anything done. If the cafe is quiet, has an outdoor area looking out into a garden or rolling landscape, I might thoroughly enjoy it. Finding that can be time-consuming and expensive depending on where you go and how many cappuccinos or long blacks you drink.

The Bed

Has anyone ever tried to write in bed? It’s great for a while. The comfortable factor is snooze-worthy. Though that’s the problem. Just when I get into a good rhythm, the yawns start. Time for coffee, I say. It all goes bad from there. The kettle’s boiling. I have my cup ready to go. I reach for my phone and three hours later it’s time for bed. Bed as in sleep. Sleep as in it’s now eleven at night and I have work tomorrow morning.

The Writers Group

Meeting up with my writing group is a great way to catch up on my editing. I can get in an hour of writing at a two hour get-together … on a good day. Sometimes we talk about issues with our manuscripts. Sometimes we critique each others scenes. And sometimes we talk about anything and everything else.

I haven’t found the best writing space yet, but I think I’ve figured out what I need in order to achieve a productive writing schedule.

  • Somewhere that is easy to get to - preferably in the house.
  • A chair with adjustable height and back support.
  • A quiet place where I can listen to music or hear the rain outside.
  • Snacks and coffee within reach.
  • No access to the internet UNLESS it is research day.
  • Praying before and after a writing session.

Tell me about your writing space. Where is it? What about it makes you productive?

K A Hart has had two short stories published. Stone Bearer, appears in Glimpses of Light and Tedious Tresses, in the As Time Goes By Mixed Blessings anthology. She is currently working on a fantasy novel.

Thursday, 12 April 2018

CWD Member Interview

Each Thursday in 2018 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 we interview Anusha Atukorala.

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

1.    I am firstly (and with deep gratitude) a child of God. My primary calling in life I believe is to lover of God and to love others. I’m also called to encourage and bless; to build the body of Christ through my writing and through my life.

2.    I come from the beautiful island of Sri Lanka—a pearl drop in the Indian ocean.  I am fortunate enough to have two places I call home—this magnificent Land Down Under (thank you for having us, Australia) as well as the enchanting Land of my birth. What’s more … I have a third place I call home – the heart of our Father. (Aren’t I blessed?)

3.    I’ve been married for 32 years to an exceptional man, Shan. We are parents to a another exceptional young man of 28, Asela. All three of us love to read. I’ve just counted the bookcases in our home—TWELVE!  Yes, books are our friends.

In Sunny Sri Lanka May 2017

Question 2 
Tell us about your writing (or editing/illustrating etc.).  
What do you write and why?

I grew up in a family of readers and writers. Mum was a journalist for seven decades years right until she left for heaven’s shores at the ripe old age of 89. My Dad was a Director of a Newspaper company in Sri Lanka. So it seems that writing was in my blood. I write non-fiction mostly though I’ve had a few short stories published in anthologies. It’s hard for me not to express all God’s done for me, so non-fiction suits me to a T. I’m looking forward to writing a novel one day, but for the moment, there’s plenty of non-fiction flowing from my pen and I can’t stop the tide. J

I’ve had two books published so far (and lots more in the pipeline).
1. Enjoying the Journey - 75 little God stories. (Back to the Bible Sri Lanka, June 2010)
2. Dancing in the Rain - words of comfort and hope for a sad heart. 
    (Armour Books, March 2018)

I blog regularly at my website which, (like my latest book) is called:
Dancing in the Rain’.

Writing is an act of obedience to the One I love. But of course it’s much more than that. I write because God has been so good to me that I can’t help but shout it to all the world. I write because my joy takes flight when I make sense of the world using the power of the written word. I write to encourage and bless others. I write to share Jesus with those who have yet to encounter Him. I write because God’s called me to share His love with His world. I write not because I have to but because I have to!

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

The short answer to your question Jenny is that my books are for ANYONE – of any age and gender.

As for the long answer …
When I wrote my first book I assumed it would be mainly women who’d be interested. I was surprised and pleased to discover that many parents used it as devotionals with their young families. Older people have expressed their appreciation of the book as well. I received a heart-warming message one day from a stranger across the seas—a Chinese man who told me how much the book blessed him. It made me very happy.

My second book was released just over a month ago. Dancing in the Rain was written out of life’s stormy seasons, to encourage others who needed comfort. I received feedback from a few readers recently who thanked me for the book, adding that it was exactly what they needed right now to help them through their difficult situations. I was so glad to hear it. 

About a week ago, I had an email from a stranger living in Victoria. She said she was very lonely. She had been about to give up on her faith when she read my website and my latest blog and said they helped her keep going. That for me is what it is all about. God is good, isn’t He? Because after all, it’s nothing to do with us. It’s the Holy Spirit who takes the words we write and uses them to convict, comfort, edify, teach and bless. All praise to Him.

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

Process? Hmmm! I’m not sure I have one.

God prompts me often by what I see around me—so I carry around a little book (as most of us writers do) to fill in when needed. It is a most helpful tool.

My biggest challenge is my health. I’ve suffered from a chronic illness for about 13 years and it has unfortunately affected my productivity. I find it hard to be creative when my body is screaming in pain and fatigue. Often when I have a day free to write—my body doesn’t co-corporate so I can’t get much done. Having said that, I have to add that I have gleaned plenty of golden writing nuggets by journeying through fields of adversity—so I shall not complain. Life is good. And better yet, God is good.

The Holy Spirit is my Helper. I love the editing process.  For me, getting the first draft is the hardest part of writing. Once that is done—I really relish the task of going over my manuscripts over and over again in my attempts to reach perfection!

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

I hang my head in shame. I don’t have one. I’ve been borrowing books from the library over the years and continue to learn the craft through them, but no one book stands out.

But …  perhaps I can lift my head after all? I do have a favourite Writing Book. 

The Bible! The more I read it, the more treasures I glean from it. So even as I acknowledge that it’s not a craft book on writing—I can honestly say it IS the base of my writing journey. What I learn in His Word shapes me as a Christian writer, apart from the treasures of poetry, history, stories and adventure I discover in its pages. And with the Holy Spirit, the Word is my Guide in my writing adventures.

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

Thanks for the opportunity to do so, Jenny. The Bible points to 7 as a perfect number so let me acknowledge and thank 7 fabulous authors today!

1.    Nola Passmore – You are not only an experienced, gifted writer but you also never fail to encourage and help many of us on our writing journeys with your brilliant expertise and friendship. Thank you so much Nola. You are a trooper!

2.    Jeanette O’Hagan - You’ve used your gifts and skills to produce many lovely books (congratulations Jenny) – but that does not keep you from using those same gifts to expend much time and energy to help other writers. Thank you Jenny.

3.    Penelope McCowen – You have been a wonderful blessing in my writing journey and in my life. Thank you Friend. I appreciate you deeply.

4.    Jenny Glazebrook – Jenny, your blogs are always inspirational as are your talks. I’ve really enjoyed your books. I appreciate your passionate spirit and your lovely gift of encouragement. God bless you dear special friend.

5.    Elaine Frazer – You have always inspired and encouraged me by your excellent writing and your caring friendship. I love catching up with you at conference! I appreciate you.

6.    Paula Vince – You are a gifted writer and I’ve loved your books. It’s been so good to work with you on CWD and I look forward to reading your latest work.

7.    Anne Hamilton – You are a gifted writer with many published books that teach, inspire and bless the body of Christ. Thank you. A special thank you Annie for publishing Dancing in the Rain through Armour Books. It’s been great working with you and I am very grateful.

I’d also like to thank  Jeanette Grant-Thompson, Rhonda Pooley, Melinda Jensen, Jo’Anne Griffin, Lesley Turner, Jo Wanmer, Adele Jones, Mazzy Adams, Pamela Heemskerk and Janelle Moore for the special encouragement you have been on my writing journey. Thank you ladies. I appreciate you all.

Omega Conference Sydney 2016

Question 7
What are your writing goals for 2018? How will you achieve them?

As you know Jenny, we’ve spent the last 10 months on a challenging, exhausting, relentless rollercoaster ride of moving house so my writing had to be on the backburner during that time. But now, at last … I’m free to dream and to write again. Hooray!

So these are my goals for 2018:
1.    To Launch—my latest book ‘Dancing in the Rain’ on the 12th of May 2018.
I hope to see many of you there!

2.    To Write/Put Together 2 books
a.     Blessings on the Journey – A book created from my blogs.
b.    The Way that He loves – birthed out of our eventful house move and a God who surprised, led and blessed us way beyond all expectations. My faith muscles have been stretched and strengthened in the process and I have a story to tell of His faithfulness. He truly is an awesome God!

3.    To Find the right Publishers for two of my books
a.     A Frog by any other Name – (A Children’s Chapter Book)
b.    Little Lulu’s Lullaby – (A Children’s Picture Book)

How will I achieve them? I’m thrilled that God’s blessed me with a little den in our new home. I love it. Love it. LOVE IT! I’ve been writing in our family room for the past eleven years with too much noise and distraction around me (never can write with noise), and now I have a perfect quiet retreat to escape to! Yay! How blessed I am.

This new season, God has been calling me to:
1. Pray lots 
2. Write lots

May I be faithful.

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

I write because God has been good to me. Faith is the bedrock under the swirling oceans of my writing life. Everything I pen is a reflection of the amazing God who created me, loved me, saved me and gave me a new song to sing for all eternity. Need I say more?

Thank you Jenny for your interview and thank you my fellow writers for your support and prayers as we work together as Christian Writers to bring God’s Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. 

God bless you and (your writing) richly and always.

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. Please stop by at her website to say G’day to her. She’d love to see you there. Dancing in the Rain