Thursday, 31 May 2018

CWD Highlights March--May 2018

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.

Anne Hamilton at Omega Writers Book Fair

Today's blog will highlight some of the achievements of our members from March to May 2018


Congratulations to Simon Kennedy, Phil Enchelmaier and everyone else involved in the making of Safe Harbour for the nomination for a logie award for most outstanding miniseries or telemovieSafe Harbour is a Four-Part Drama developed from based on an original concept by Simon Kennedy and Phil Enchelmaier and screened on SBS.

Simon shared about the process from concept to final production at the recent Omega Writers May Retreat (Toowoomba). 

Old secrets come to light, relationships are shattered and lives are put in danger. One question hangs over it all – who cut the rope? 
Friends on a sailing holiday discover a struggling fishing boat overloaded with asylum seekers. Deciding to tow the refugees, they wake the next morning and find the fishing boat gone. Who cut the rope between the two boats? 
Did they know it would end with tragic consequences?

Simon Kennedy is an award winning writer who loves discovering stories that will move people's hearts and challenge their minds

New Releases

Charis Joy Jackon's debut novel Rose of Admirias has been published as part of the On the Horizon Book Bundle.  Connor Sassmannshausen's first novel From the Ashes was also included in the Bundle. Find out more here .

Anusha Atukorala launched her non-fictional inspirational book Dancing in the Rain. Find out more here.

Other News

Valerie Volk: has had several poems published in Polestar Writers’ Journal (April, 2018) and The Mozzie (April, 2018) but had the special recent pleasure of having words from three of the poems from her first book, In Due Season, used as the text for a new requiem by composer Rachel Bruerville. This lovely piece of music, which was commissioned by the Adelaide Chamber Singers, was premiered over the weekend of May 5 and 6, first at a concert at the Ukaria Cultural Centre in the Adelaide Hills and next day at a concert in St Peter’s Cathedral, in central Adelaide. 

The book, which since first publication in 2009 has sold over 1800 copies, is available from the order page of Valerie's web site It is given often as a condolence book to people who are facing grieving or loss, or just as a gift of love.

Elizabeth Klein has had two short stories accepted into two separate anthologies. 

The Landing was accepted by Storm Cloud Publishing for inclusion in their Short Tales 4 anthology on 13th April. 

The Landing:

When Quill's world is devastated by tree wars followed by alien invasion, the Elders of her planet seek to save a handful of young people by sending them into space. Quill is just one of them who lands on Earth. She is discovered by a missionary and one of the invaders of her planet. Now her very existence depends on how well she can hide in the jungle. 

And The Slaying of the Green-Eyed Monster was accepted into The Australian Pen collection #3, The Evil Inside Us anthology by 1231 Publishing on May 8th.

Slaying of the Green-Eyed Monster:

The woman at the rear of the block of units likes to watch people as they collect their mail and drive past. None of them suspects who she really is. The odd thing is, neither does she until the media screams of the deaths occurring in unsuspecting suburbia.

When Elizabeth Klein isn't writing, she is usually travelling about in her caravan with her husband, Malcolm.

Hazel Barker had the opportunity to talk at the Moreton Bay View Club and at the Writers’ Fair  about her latest book, The Sides of Heaven.  Read more here.

Hazel with Diana, Moreton Bay View Club 

Omega Writers Book Fair on 6 March brought together over 25 authors, editors, publishers with a diverse display of books. Gary Clark gave an inspiring workshop on finding humour. And a number of happy readers went home with their arms full of books.

Lynne Stringer, Adele Jones and Jeanette O'Hagan had a blast at Gold Coast Supernova in April, connected with hundreds of spec fic fans, sold some books and enjoyed the fabulous cosplay.

Congratulations to all our members for your milestones and achievements.  

Monday, 28 May 2018

Confessions of a Genre Butterfly - Susan J Bruce

Photo copyright Susan J Bruce

The author platform. Do these words fill you with confidence? Do you say I know who I am as an author and I know who I want to reach? I know what my brand is?

Or do you think, ‘Eerk!’

Earlier this year I realised as I belonged to the second category, I really should do something about it. So I enrolled in Iola Goulton’s appropriately titled course, Kick-start your Author Platform Marketing Challenge. The first few days were fun and I was filled with a sense of purpose. They led me to rethink my author name (that’s another story for another time) and gave me confidence that I was going to succeed. I would make a good website. I would build a social media platform around my brand as an author.

But then we came to the question of genre.

We were given an exercise where we had to identify our genre and find websites of authors who write the same kind of books. The idea was to see what website elements (images, fonts, etc.) are consistent with our genre. If we write romance we want the reader to get a romancey vibe when they visit our website or look for us on social media. If we are a science fiction aficionado we might depict spaceships soaring through nebulae, boldly going where no one has gone before. It makes sense. People should see our name and associate it with our brand so they can know if they will like the kind of books we write.

But what if we don’t write in just one genre?

I know. All the publishers and marketing gurus have crashed to the floor in a dead faint at my words. It makes absolute marketing sense to write in one genre, at least initially. But what if our writing doesn’t fit this pattern?

What if we are a ‘genre butterfly’? What if we flutter from genre to genre like a butterfly flits from flower to flower, collecting all kinds of nectar as it goes on its way.

Our group discussions showed that I was not the only one with this particular affliction, but that didn’t solve our problem. How do we develop an author brand if our writing doesn’t naturally fit one genre?

It must be possible.

Tim Winton comes to mind as a brilliant proponent of literary fiction: stories that are generally more serious and have deep artistic merit. Then there is general fiction. General fiction tends to be more accessible than literary fiction. Some general fiction authors are, I suspect, latent genre butterflies. They gather nectar from different genres and meld it into a new story. The success of a huge number of general fiction authors means that those of us who like variety need not despair. And then there are age-defined categories like young adult (YA) and children’s literature, which can contain multiple genres.

But what if we like to write different types of genre fiction? What if we want to write a cozy mystery followed by a science fiction novel and a love story between two dragons? Can we do that and build our brand as an author? What do we do? There are several options:

1.                  Embrace our eclectic nature. Write what we like, when we like. The catch is that we will probably find it hard to build a brand and to sell books unless we are so prolific that we quickly build up a backlist of several books in each genre.

2.                 Become a genre blender. You like three different genres? Mix ‘em together! I recently read Kerry Nietz’s, Amish Vampires in Space. This science fiction author blended Amish fiction, science fiction, vampire fiction and Christian fiction together to create an excellent space opera with great characters. In his case, merging genres made for excellent marketing. It led me (and many others) to read the book and because I liked it, I bought the sequel (which was great too).

3.                 Establish a unique brand of our own. Genre is a handy way of categorising our writing but it isn’t the only way. We can look at the heart of what we write, find the common themes and build our brand around those themes. 

I wish I wrote contemporary romance or cute cozy mysteries set in a bookstore. Branding would be simpler. But just because branding isn’t simple it doesn’t mean it’s not doable. I’ve chosen to take the third route above. Just about all of my stories, short or long, have themes of overcoming. Many have strong romantic elements, or themes of belonging, and are set in an environment of adventure or danger. Nearly all my work contains animals. Some stories contain deep issues. After a lot of thought I developed my working tagline: Stories of the human spirit – and sometimes other species. If I can write stories that fulfil that promise to the reader, and promote my books accordingly, I’ll be doing well. And should my writing evolve and take on a more speculative bent, I can always change it to Stories of the human spirit – and sometimes alien species J.

My name is Susan J. Bruce and I’m a genre butterfly. How about you?

Go on. Confess in the comments. You know you want to! How do you approach branding as an author?

Edit: Since writing this article I've added some mystery to the mix. The mystery novel is going to happen after all. Check out my website by clicking this link.

Susan J. Bruce, aka Sue Jeffrey, spent her childhood reading, drawing, and collecting stray animals. Now she’s grown up she does the same kinds of things. Sue works part time as a veterinarian, writes stories filled with themes of overcoming, adventure and belonging, and loves to paint animals. Sue won the Short section of the inaugural Stories of Life writing competition and her stories and poems have appeared in various anthologies including Tales of the Upper Room, Something in the Blood: Vampire Stories With a Christian Bite and Glimpses of Light. Her e-book Ruthless The Killer: A Short Story is available on  You can check out Sue’s animal art on Facebook.

Thursday, 24 May 2018

Meet Our Members: Charis Joy Jackson

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's interview Charis Joy Jackson

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

I am a missionary filmmaker, author, and actress. I am from the US and grew up in several places, but have lived in Australia for ten years - which is actually the longest I’ve lived in one place my entire life.

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

I love to write anything in the speculative genre. My novel, The Rose Of Admirias, is a fantasy. But I also have several sci-fi and dystopian books in the works too.

I've also started a little blog called The Dreamcatcher's Journal, where I capture all the crazy adventurous dreams I've had. I started it because I used to show up to work and tell everyone about my dreams. They couldn't believe how well told the stories were - like full novels or movies, so I thought, I've got to start keeping these written down somewhere. 

Question 3: Who has read your work? Who would you like to read it?
Friends and family that I know of, but my novel was just released at the beginning of this month as part of a limited release of 22 novels in an ebook box set called On The Horizon. Besides the fact that I’d love EVERYONE to read my novel ;) I’d love for two of my favorite authors to read it. Robin Hobb and Stephen R. Lawhead. These two have really inspired my own work and I’d love to get their feedback on my writing because I want to keep growing as an author.

Question 4: Tell us something about your process. What challenges do you face? What helps you the most?
I’m the worst when it comes to having a process. Each story I write seems to have a process of its own. Most of my stories I know where I want my characters to end up, but I don’t often write out a whole process of how they’re gonna get there. I have a vague idea of where I’m going, but there are a lot of things that happen along the way that surprise me and that’s my favorite. If I can surprise myself, then hopefully I can surprise the audience.

Because I am one of those writers who doesn’t plan a lot this can sometimes be an obstacle I need to overcome. I’ve written myself into holes I don’t know how to get out of, but thankfully I’ve always been able to find a way out in the end. I think a big reason for that is that I am co-creating my story with the Creator or story. With God there’s no such thing as writer's block - instead, they are the adventures we get to find our way out of. 

I think it was C.S. Lewis and Tolkien who said they wrote what they wanted to read. I’m the same, I write what I want to read and that is the thing that helps me the most. It keeps the passion of the story alive and I hope that translates better to the reader too.

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

I really enjoyed Stephen King’s On Writing. While it didn’t cover as much story craft as I thought, it actually opened my mind up to more stories and possible adventures in the future. It taught me a lot about living the life of a novelist and not just dreaming about being one.

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

There’s several I’d like to give a shout out to - but Jeanette O’Hagan is definitely someone I want the world to know about. Her books are phenomenal. Excellent storytelling and amazing world building. She’s a huge inspiration to my own writing and has been one of my champions. My novel wouldn’t be published yet if it hadn’t been for her. It was because of her encouragement that I finally finished The Rose Of Admirias after writing it for four years! Please read her books. You won’t regret it!

Buy all her books!!!

Question 7: What are your writing goals for 2018? How will you achieve them?
My writing goals for the rest of 2018 are to publish The Rose Of Admirias as a paperback. I’d love to write the sequel this year and also finish up the novel I’ve been writing based on the film I produced in 2016 called Out Of The Woods.

Question 8: How does your faith impact and shape your writing?
As I mentioned earlier it’s a huge factor. I consider every story I’ve written to be co-written by the ultimate Creator. When I get stuck, I talk to God about how to get the character out of a situation. Sometimes, the best ideas come to me during a time of worship, so I often bring a journal so I can write them out. My passion, tenacity, and creativity are a gift from the Lord and I want to honor him by using it to the best of my abilities.


Charis Joy Jackson is working as a missionary with Youth With a Mission (YWAM) a non-profit organization & is part of The Initiative Production Company. She loves creating stories & her first novel, The Rose Of Admirias, was released this May in a limited release box set called On The Horizon - 22 authors, 22 novels.

Here's to a life lived in awe & wonder.
Welcome to the adventure.

Monday, 21 May 2018

Called to be Different

by Anusha Atukorala

Thank you Lord for our Dream Home

In May 2017, I thought it would be brilliant if I could sleep for a year, waking up to find our house sold and the three of us settled comfortably in a new home. And guess what! The miracle happened—I did wake up today in my new abode. Yay! However, I must whisper in your ears that those twelve months were not spent in sweet slumber. They involved plenty of hard work and plenty of stress. Thankfully as we look back, my beloved and I agree that it was all worth it. Every bit of it—the stress, the slog, the wondering if it would all work out.

Our gracious God has now brought us to our promised land and our cup of joy has over-flowed. What an awesome God He is! Being a nature lover, I’ve been delighted to see flowers of different varieties in our new surrounds. Delicate white roses adorn our front yard. More rose bushes grow in the little garden patch outside our kitchen window. For a long while there were no signs of blooms on those shrubs. My husband watered our new garden often to make sure it would remain green and lush in spite of the hot weather.

One morning we discovered that the extra watering had woken up the sleeping rose bushes. A gorgeous yellow rose beamed at us. Every time I looked out of my kitchen window, I was enthralled. Before long we had the pleasure of basking in an abundance of yellow roses. The bush in the middle though had not yielded any flowers. Shan watered it some more.

And then it happened. One day we spotted a little bud starting out on that middle rose bush. Exciting! BUT … surprise, surprise. It wasn’t yellow. It’s petals were painted a bright joyful red, with streaks of perky yellow creating a beautiful contrast. Wow! A queen of roses it was and it bloomed for weeks on end. With boldness it declared: 
I’m different and I’m glad to be different’. 
It brought joy to my heart in a way no yellow rose had done.

That striking red rose pointed me to a God of wonder; a God of beauty; a God of surprises. And more. It prodded me with a call to be different. God asks you and me as Christian writers not to merge with the world—but to stand out. To be as conspicuous as that enchanting rose in a manner that will glorify our Creator

But what does different mean?

 I believe that most importantly it has to be the inner me that’s different as I grow in intimacy with God. I am called to a life of purity and integrity, reflecting the beauty of Jesus. We Christian writers are called to write from the depths our walk with God, leaning on the Holy Spirit to guide us. Not necessarily doing what brings in material benefits but primarily being obedient to Him. The world’s way is to squash one’s competitors. The acronym CALEB (as used in the prize offered in our annual Omega Writer’s competition) stands for something unique: “Christian Authors Lifting Each other’s Books”. Isn’t that beautiful? What a contrast to doing life  according to the world’s modus operandi! I love it.

Jesus calls us not just to entertain our readers but also to help them to reflect on the deeper issues of life. He calls us not just to thrill and enthral but also to bless and build. We Christian writers need be different by standing up for the downtrodden and the weak, by giving a voice  to those who don’t have one. We are called to be salt and light. To flavour the world with our writing. To point to the Saviour.

Some of us write only hints of the reality of God and the reality of heaven. Others of us are more explicit. Whatever we write, we can be different to the world in the way we approach our craft. By praying before we write. By saturating whatever we do with His presence. By listening to the nudge of the Holy Spirit. By giving away a free book to someone who needs it, even if it means that we don’t make as much money.

We are called to be different because what propels our writing is not self-ambition and self-interest but the love of Jesus. We are called to be evangelists even if our writing is not explicitly so. The stamp of our Creator needs to be on each book we write—a stamp that may be invisible, true—but one that bears His heart within.

We are called to be different because the reward of our hard work might not always be obvious. Instead of world’s understanding of ‘success’, it’s in the joy of being obedient to God, the thrill of finding our writing has reached a reader’s heart, the knowledge that our words have encouraged someone and given her hope, the wonder of leading a stranger to Jesus. Being different might often cost us. But oh the joy of walking close to Him and writing as he leads. After all ... we are called to be different so we can make a difference in the world. 

But then ... I am preaching the choir aren't I? Celebrating each of you today knowing you have chosen to be a red rose amidst a hundred yellow roses today. Well done fellow-writers on your faithful writing. Cheering you on and joining hands with you. Let’s continue to saturate the world with books inspired by the Holy Spirit so we will fill the earth with books stamped by the cross of Christ, and are whispers of God’s heart to His world. 

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 Dancing in the Rain to say G’day. 
At the launch of Dancing in the Rain - 12th May 2018

Her first book Enjoying the Journey contains 75 little God stories that will bring you closer to your Creator. 

Her second book  Dancing in the Rain was released in March 2018  by Armour Books and launched recently on the 12th of May. It offers you hope and comfort for life’s rainy seasons. 

Available from: