Thursday, 28 June 2018

From the Archives: Tips for New Writers

collated by Jeanette O'Hagan

Since its start in 2010, Christian Writers Downunder blogspot has shared a up-welling fountain of encouragement, experience, wisdom about writing for writers.

Today we look at some tips for new writers from our bloggers.

Why Write? 

Passion, vocation, worship?

Many Reasons to Write by Anusha Atukorala

I pondered the fact that having reasons for loving things and loving people is great fuel. Take writing for instance. Why have you chosen to become a writer? Do you know?

I know why I write. It’s because inside this outer covering is a God breathed writer. I believe God has programmed me to write - perhaps there is a wee computer chip called ‘Writer’ embedded deep inside of me? Read more here.

Addicted to Approval? Writing with Purpose ... On Purpose by Josephine-Anne Griffiths

Have you ever questioned what your life’s purpose really is? I know I have.
What motivates me to write? What motivates others to sing or play an instrument?
What makes it worthwhile for each of us to awaken each morning, and do whatever we do over again? Maybe you are an accountant, or drive a truck – or you are a nurse or a teacher. Maybe you are the quiet, shy child at the back of the room, that no one has noticed yet. I am hoping that by telling you why I write and what motivates me, that perhaps you may start thinking about why you do what you do each day, why it is so important to you, and what makes it so motivating and relevant?  Read more here.

Make space and time to write

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?! Read more here.

Practice, Practice, Practice 

Practice Makes (Closer Approximations To) Perfect by Nola Passmore

In other disciplines like music and sport, we understand that practice is an important part of skill-building. Sometimes I wonder if we really understand this as writers. We learn the basics of writing at school—grammar, punctuation, vocabulary, spelling. By the time we’re adults, we’ve written essays, reports, letters, and sizzling diary entries declaring our love for David Cassidy and the Osmonds. (Oops – that may have been my diary.) But have we really spent time practising our craft? Here are some reasons why we should value the good ol’ art of practice. Read more here.

Accepting Feedback

Writers: constructive feedback isn't going to kill you by Cecily Ann Paterson

Writing is such a personal thing. We’re told to ‘bleed’ on to the page, in a popular writing meme. We’re told to write what we know, and put our hearts into it. We inhabit our words and search our souls for meaning.

And then we ask for feedback.

And we’re supposed to just sit there and take it. Read more here.

Coping with discouragement

D-Day by Meredith Resce

In recent months, I have faced more than the usual amount of disappointments in both my personal and writing life. I recognise that this has affected my level of positivity, and if we were looking at it on one of those mathematics graphs, it has dipped below zero into negativity a few times.

Read More Here,

Invest wisely and beware of the pitfalls.

Aussie writer on the journey: Publishing pitfalls for new fiction writers by Narelle Atkins

One of the smartest things I did as a new writer was to join professional writing groups and connect with other writers. I gleaned valuable information from writing organisation newsletters, email groups and critique groups that helped me to avoid some of the newbie writer mistakes. There are a couple of things I’ve learned about publishing that I hope will help any new writers reading this post. Read more here.

Don't Do it Alone

All for One, One for All by Jeanette O'Hagan

So most of us don't live in garrets and most of us are not literally starving - though we might be if we tried to feed ourselves from our royalties (if we get royalties). And being seen and heard in a noisy, crowded book market can be daunting. So the struggles of artists and creatives maybe haven't changed that much over the decades, but one thing we don't have to be is lonely.  Read more here.

So ... over to you

Are you just beginning your writing journey? Do any of these things resonate with you? What questions would you like answered?

Have you been adventuring for a while? What would tips would you give to new writers? What things do you wish you'd known when you first started out?

Tell us in the comments below.


Christian Writers Downunder is aimed at Christians writers (and those associated with writing field, e.g. editors, illustrators, reviewers and publishers) who live in Australasia. We have a dedicated team of regular and guest bloggers who share their experience and wisdom each Monday and Thursday.

Monday, 25 June 2018

Legacy and Eternity by Elaine Fraser

Through the mere act of creating something—anything—you might inadvertently produce work that is magnificent, eternal, or important. Elizabeth Gilbert

We don’t always set out to create something as a legacy or for eternal meaning. Creating comes out of who we are on a daily basis, even when we’re not aware of it. When we create, make or design something and release it to the world (or maybe just to our family), when it’s released, the effect it has on others is out of our control. We’ve let it go. 

Who knows where creativity can lead? The person who writes a story, paints a picture, creates an App, designs a website, sews an outfit may never know how their creativity blesses, pleases, changes, grows, or assists someone else. 
You can literally change someone’s life by what you create. How that happens is an ethereal and mystical process. Once we create something it is released to the world and where, and how, it is received is out of our control. 
Who knows where your creativity might take you
Who knows who your creativity might touch?
Significance comes when we put our creativity and ideas out into the world. God gives each of us a unique message that He wants us to communicate to others, then He uses that message to impact others. 
In Exodus 20:6, God tells Moses:
I lavish my love on those who love me and obey my commands, even for a thousand generations.
As we write today, let's give our creativity to the One who created us and allow our words to go where He takes them.



Thursday, 21 June 2018

Meet Our Members: Jeanette O'Hagan

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 – Jeanette O’Hagan

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

I was born in Mt Isa and spent my childhood in Mt Isa, Sydney, Kitwe (Africa), Melbourne and Hamilton (Victoria) – but mainly in Mt Isa and Kitwe, before coming to Brisbane to start Uni.

With my dad (1928-2018) and two brothers

My forbears were adventurers and immigrants; my grandparents came from three continents (Europe, Africa, Australia) and four countries (Ireland, South Africa, England, Australia). Nevertheless, after moving round so often, I am now firmly planted in Brisbane with my husband and two children.

My brother used to joke that I’m getting better by degrees (medicine, arts, theology, TESOL and now MA writing). I love to learn facts, knowledge, all sorts of titbits across the arts and sciences, but I’m abysmal at trivia about music and sports.

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

I mostly write fantasy (with a dash of sci-fi), poetry and blog posts. I fell in love with books early on and was a voracious reader as a child. About fourth or fifth grade I began telling myself stories, and these extended daydreams grew into a world (Nardva), with characters I loved having thrilling adventures. I write to bring that world and the characters and adventures to life.  It’s exhilarating, fun, a wild ride. I also hope God’s love and grace shines through my world and words.

With the poetry, it’s more an expression of life as I experience it — moments, strong emotions, reflections, cameos, events. While blogging is a way of musing about stuff and passing on the things I’ve learned along the way.

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

Who has read my work — my family, other writers and reviewers, and some keen readers – in Australia, New Zealand, USA, Canada, UK, maybe even France and Germany — still a fairly small and select circle at this stage, but I’m hopeful it will continue to expand.  I was thrilled at Gold Coast Supernova earlier this year when a couple of times, strangers stopped by to enthuse about reading my books and wanting more stories.  But even more special was when my mum asked me to read to Dad a couple of poems I’d written from experiences growing up – Thunderstorm & Floating (in Inner Child, Poetica Christi).

As to who would I like to read my books – I write for the general market, in the hope my books might seed the imagination with divine possibilities, to inspire faith, hope and love in my readers.  

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

Each story is different. My first novel started from a lucid dream and was completely pantsed (Finding Elene – yet to be published). Some I’ve daydreamed for months and years, allowing the characters a lot of freedom, before I’ve set out to write their stories (Akrad’s Children).  Other stories have I written from a theme, with the characters and plot emerging out of the setting or concept (eg Heart of the Mountain). I usually have some idea where I’m going – with major incidents or turning points or the ending in mind, but not always.

Challenges are getting time to write (not getting distracted) and sorting out the structure, especially with books that are part of a series.

What helps me most is writing consistently. I’m much more creative and in the flow if I write every day (or every other day). And second, getting feedback from critique partners, beta-readers and editors.

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

It’s hard to keep it to one. I think two of the most helpful and freeing has been Stephen James’ Story Trumps Structure and Stephen King’s On Writing.  I do appreciate the more prescriptive books and the insights they give, but I find it hard to be creative with strict formulas, I am suspicious of ‘one size fits all’ approaches (especially when touted as revolutionary) and I like to understand the why behind the rules so I know when I can bend them 😊 .

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

Without a doubt Nola Passmore (our illustrious former CWD coordinator) who has been a huge encouragement and who has wrangled me along to courses like Year of the Novel and Margie Lawson immersion, as well as been a great beta reader and editor. Plus, she is an amazing writer and I love her work. Though of course there are so many others, Paula Vince, Anusha Atukorala, Lynne Stringer, Adele Jones, Adam Collings, and many, many others. 

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

My goals for 2018 is to finish writing the last two novellas in the Under the Mountain series, edit the first draft of Rasel’s Song (sequel of Akrad’s Children), and start on a dragon novel (Dragonspite) and/or my cyborg trilogy (The Chameleon Protocols). I’ll achieve this by making time to write, keeping focus, and a big dose of God’s grace.

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

My faith is the bedrock and source of my writing. I believe God has given me the desire, the passion, the abilities, and this time, this moment, to write. I trust that He will continue to provide those opportunities, though He is sovereign, and I commit my plans and the outcomes to Him. Because I write for the general market and because I write fantasy, my stories aren’t usually ‘in your face’ Christian. But I believe they are consciously written from a Christian worldview, informed by Christian values, and threaded through with Christian themes and references, though perhaps subtly at times as in many of the parables. I’m grateful to my Maker in whose steps I attempt to follow.

Jeanette O’Hagan first spun tales in the world of Nardva at the age of eight or nine. She enjoys writing secondary world fantasy, science fiction, poetry, blogging and editing. Her Nardvan stories include a mixture of courtly intrigue, adventure, romance, and/or shapeshifters.

Recent publications include Akrad's Children—a Young Adult kingdom fantasy; Heart of the Mountain and Blood Crystal— the first two novellas from the Under the Mountain series; plus Ruhanna’s Flight and Other Stories. She has stories and poems in seventeen other anthologies, including The Quantum Soul, Tales From the Underground, Like a Woman and Futurevision.

Jeanette has practised medicine, studied communication, history, theology and a Master of Arts (Writing). She loves reading, painting, travel, catching up for coffee with friends, pondering the meaning of life. She lives in Brisbane with her husband and children.


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Thursday, 14 June 2018

CWD Member Interview – K A Hart

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: K A Hart

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

I’m happy to report, I’m only half crazy. One side of my family is 5 stars-wacky and the other, well, they didn’t get the memo. The most problematic issue I have currently is I’m living with the former. 

It doesn’t help when you reside in one of the most dangerous places on earth. Even the everyday gardening stories my family has accumulated over the years have ended with blown up trailers. Not to worry - every single green ant did not survive.

I’ve recently moved from Toowoomba, QLD back to Darwin, NT. I’m still adjusting to the flames. My personal sadistic enforcer of pain still trains me every week via FaceTime, but it’s not the same. He can now only glare at me when I stop at twenty burpees.

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

I write specks of ideas that have inevitably exploded beyond their tiny existence. Fanciful lands and space-skirmishes. Daring rescues and gasping torture. Heart-pounding hide and seek. Hold-your-breath moments of love and affection. It all sparks into life and irritates with consistency until it’s written down. Only then, can I rest.

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

No one famous. Oh wait, the Quirky Quills have. And a few I-could-start-my-own-library, book-hoarder family members - they’re not famous though.

I envision the perfect readers of my work to lie upside-down on their bed with their feet against the wall and their head hanging over the other side while they read. And Ted Dekker.

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

Well, the first thing you should have is an idea and then ... Well, first you need something to write with. They ... they know that. Well, obviously you need a writing instrument and you need an idea. I'm just not sure which should come first.
Bones, Season 1, Ep 11

There are those annoying, yet somewhat satisfying distractions like Pinterest, Facebook, life … life … more life. And then there are those procrastinations like … procrastination.

You’d think having a deadline would help with my writing process. If I didn’t have multiple alarm clocks on my phone every morning to get up for work, I’d be scrambling for the car-keys. It’s the same with writing. A deadline is great. Not having people hound you a couple times each month before the deadline isn’t helpful (no need for everyone to volunteer, I already have my Cheer Squad).

Visual cues like collages depicting my story (this is why I love Pinterest) and inspiring quotes are amazing slaps-in-the-face to keep me on schedule. I do wish they had an app to create your own storyboard collage though. It’d save on bluetac.

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

There are Writing Craft Books? Maybe someone could suggest a few in the comments. Books might help …

I have recently bought the Trait Thesaurus’ by Angela Ackerman & Becca Publisi, but have yet to really explore them.

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

Oooh, wow. Just one? How about a CWD, separate, individual group. The Quirky Quills. Mazzy Adams, Adele Jones, Nola Passmore, Janelle Moore and Sandra Troedson. These ladies are some of the most inspiring women I know. They all have unique strengths. All encouraging in their own ways. And all absolutely and beautifully crazy.

We may need to have a honourary Quirky Quills, though. Charis Joy Jackson. Such an amazing and gorgeous soul. Her first novel, The Rose of Admirias debuted in the On the Horizon ebook box set. She is a talented storyteller and I can’t WAIT to have that book in my hands, literally.

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

I plan to write … something. Woohoo! I just did. NAILED IT!

I would leave it there, except I now have the lovely Nola Passmore and Adele Jones whispering in my ear with sharp, hissing words. ‘Finish editing your novel. You need to send it to a publisher.’

So, there’s that. They’ll probably send strategically, worded texts to help prompt some of the editing.

I’ll Skype the Wright Write session that occurs every third Thursday of each month. We may do some writing. We may not. Depends …

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

My talent, the stories, they all come from Him. I cannot boast it to be mine alone.

He slips in silently and threads his way through the story. Unnoticed. Unassuming. He doesn’t hinder the true nature of the human or the depiction of a sinful world. He works through it and transforms words into sentences, into paragraphs, into chapters to entire stories. And I marvel at his creation.

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.