Thursday, 29 November 2018

CWD Member Interview - Iola Goulton

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're interviewing Iola Goulton.

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

My name is Iola Goulton, which is pronounced yo-la (not eye-ola). It's a Welsh name and means "valued by the Lord". I think that's a great reminder to me, and to all of us.

I was born in Wales - yes, there is a reason for the Welsh name. But my family immigrated to New Zealand when I was a small child, so I consider myself a Kiwi.

I live in Tauranga, which is a small coastal city around an hour from Hobbiton. If anyone ever does one of those around New Zealand cruises, let me know—Tauranga is usually one of the ports of call, and I'd love to take you for coffee (yes, after you've been to Hobbiton).

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

I'm a freelance editor specialising in Christian fiction (you can find me at

Why? Because I love reading Christian fiction, and I want to help pre-published authors be the best they can be. Kiwi and Aussie authors can match up with the best in the world (as proved this year, when Kara Isaac won the Romance Writers of American RITA Award for Romance with Religious or Spiritual Elements with her third novel, Then There Was You).

I do also write, but it's mostly book reviews and blog posts (on writing, editing, publishing, and marketing). I did complete a manuscript for a novella as preparation for a Margie Lawson immersion, and that went on to win a 2016 American Christian Fiction Writers Genesis Award.

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

I publish my book reviews at, and my editing posts at I'm also a regular guest at The Christian Proofreaders and Editors Network, at Australasian Christian Writers, and International Christian Fiction Writers.

So my work is available to anyone with an internet connection. But who am I writing for? The reviews are for Christian fiction readers (especially romance fans), while my non-fiction is for authors, particularly Christian fiction authors (whether published or pre-published).

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

As an editor, I want my work to be as good as it can be—no misspelled words or unfinished sentences (although I find I'm guilty of both when I re-read old blog posts!).

My basic process for a blog post:
  • Come up with an idea and mull on it.
  • Write the draft.
  • Leave it for a week (ideally longer).
  • Revise and edit.
  • Spellcheck.
  • Proofread.
  • Schedule the post, and create a shareable graphic.
  • Read six months later and find three glaring errors that weren't there when I proofed the post.
  • Sigh and move on.

I also reuse content where possible. For example, I'll update and reshare ACW posts on my own website or vice versa, and I'll take a popular post and shorten it to submit to the Christian PEN (which has a 500-word maximum for posts).

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

I can't pick just one!

The books I recommend most often to clients are:

I'm also a big fan of Margie Lawson's courses.

These cover all the basics of writing, revising, and editing. Then it's just (just!) a case of BISFOK (bottom in seat, fingers on keyboard).

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

The CWD admins, especially Jeanette O'Hagan. As an admin for Australasian Christian Writers and International Christian Fiction Writers I know how much work goes in behind the scenes of a blog like this. It's a lot more work than people think.

Paula Vince, for reaching out to me after I reviewed one of her books on Amazon and inviting me to be a part of the trans-Tasman writing community.

Rochelle Manners of Rhiza Press for inviting me to my first writing conference, and encouraging me as an editor by asking me to edit for her, and recommending me to her authors.

And all the members of the many online and offline writing groups I'm part of. You all inspire me at different times and in different ways.

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

Well, it's almost the end of 2018, so I'll say how I've done instead! I had wanted to get back into writing fiction, but that hasn't happened (yet. There's still a couple of months ...)

The Book Designer

In terms of non-fiction, I wanted to post weekly on my blog, and produce a regular monthly newsletter. I've achieved that, along with regular posts at Australasian Christian Writers, and two guest posts at Bad RedHead Media. I was also thrilled to be a Featured Blogger at Joel Friedlander's Carnival of the Indies with this post: A (Not So) Brief History of Fake Reviews.

I've also managed to keep to a regular schedule on my review blog. I have missed a couple of dates - sometimes it's so much easier to read the books than write the reviews!

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

I have been a Christian since I was about seven and my best friend lead me through the Sinner's Prayer one Thursday morning after Bible in Schools. Even as a child growing up in a non-Christian home it seemed obvious to me that there was a Creator, so it wasn't difficult to believe that was the God of the Bible, and that Jesus was the way to Him. I'm an introvert, so I'm not the type to stand on street corners and shout that at people, so I do what I can to point to Him through my writing and editing.

I write and edit for the Christian community for two reasons: I want to help build Christian writers and the Christian writing community to share the gospel and build up others, and I don't want to be forced to read or edit content that contradicts the Christian world view. I don't limit myself to only editing Christian works, but I don't want to edit anything that actively promotes an anti-Christian view. Fortunately, my chosen business name puts off those people who aren't my target clients :)

About Iola Goulton

Iola Goulton is a New Zealand book reviewer, freelance editor, and author, writing contemporary Christian romance with a Kiwi twist. She is a member of the Sisterhood of Unpronounceable Names (Iola is pronounced yo-la, not eye-ola and definitely not Lola).

Iola holds a degree in marketing, has a background in human resource consulting, works as a freelance editor, and has developed the Kick-Start Your Author Platform Marketing Challenge, an email course for authors wanting to establish their online platform.

When she’s not working, Iola is usually reading or writing her next book review. Iola lives in the beautiful Bay of Plenty in New Zealand (not far from Hobbiton) with her husband, two teenagers and one cat. She is currently working on her first novel.

Thursday, 22 November 2018

CWD Member Interview – Jo-Anne Berthelsen

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 is with Jo-Anne Berthelsen.

Question 1: Tell us three things about who you are and where you come from.
When asked who I am, I usually say I am a writer and speaker, but I have also been a high school teacher, a full-time mum, an editor, an office secretary and a pastor! I began writing in 2004 and my first novel was published when I was 59!

I live in Sydney but grew up in Brisbane. I have been married to my husband Lionel, a retired pastor and college lecturer, for almost fifty years and we have three children and four grandchildren.

Question 2: Tell us about your writing. What do you write and why?
I write both fiction and non-fiction and enjoy doing both. I have had six novels published between 2007 and 2013—Heléna (general historical fiction); All the Days of My Life, Laura, Jenna and Heléna’s Legacy (all general fiction); and The Inheritance (romantic fiction). 

As for my non-fiction, Soul Friend: The story of a shared spiritual journey was published in 2012, while Becoming Me: Finding my true self in God was published in 2016. I have also made it a priority to continue writing a weekly blog which can be found at

And why do I write what I do? Please see my responses below!

Question 3: Who has read your work? Who would you like to read it?
My six novels were aimed primarily at women aged thirty and above, but women—and men—of all ages have read them. Among these have been non-Christians, which I was delighted about, as I think novels can portray the love and grace of God in a wonderful, non-threatening way that can touch hearts and draw readers closer to God.

As for my memoir Soul Friend, this is aimed not only at Christians of all ages, in the hope that they will seek out a soul friend/mentor to encourage them in their own faith journey, but also at more mature Christians, in the hope that they might consider being a soul friend/mentor for those seeking to grow in their faith. Thankfully, a good number from both these groups of people have read it, as well as others who simply related to some of the challenges I faced in the period of my life covered in this memoir.

Finally, my most recent book , Becoming Me, is aimed at challenging younger women in particular to discover who God created them to be and to step into all God has for them in life. I included questions at the end of each chapter in the hope readers would reflect on their own journeys—and I know this has been helpful to quite a number.

Question 4: Tell us something about your process. What challenges do you face? What helps you the most?
My writing process falls somewhere between that of a plotter and a ‘panster’. I begin by planning out my chapters and writing a brief summary of what I hope to cover in each. Invariably, however, I find myself unable to stick to this outline and the number of chapters soon grows! When writing a novel, I also find it helpful to set up a file with notes about my main characters, including what they do at certain ages, when and how they connected with other characters and so on. This is particularly helpful if I have to put the novel aside for a period.

When I began writing in 2004, the only place I could find to write was at our kitchen table, in the midst of everyone and everything. It was a challenge to stay focussed, yet somehow, God enabled me to complete my first five novels at that table! Now, I have a quiet study in our new home where I can look out my window at the nearby trees and listen to the birds—bliss!  Also, with my earlier novels, I used to become so absorbed that I would write till all hours. But now I am a little older (!), I find I write best first thing in the morning.

Currently, my greatest writing challenge is lack of time, firstly because we mind our two youngest grandchildren a lot and secondly because of ministry commitments. Just this past week, we completed four months of supporting our church’s pastoral team while our senior pastors (husband and wife) have been on sabbatical leave. This was a great privilege, but meant that, to a large degree, I had to put my writing on hold. However, there’s always next year!

Question 5: What is your favourite Writing Craft Book and why?
I must admit I prefer books that deal more with the writing life rather than specifically with the writing craft, helpful as they may be. For example, I love Bird by Bird: Some instructions on writing and life by Anne Lamott and Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art by Madeleine L’Engle. When I first read this latter book in my early days of writing, I felt somehow vindicated in my whole approach, especially when I read how closely L'Engle linked writing with prayer, something which made complete sense to me. 

Question 6: If you were to give a shout-out to a CWD author, writer, editor or illustrator – who would they be?
I think I’d like to go way back to the beginning of my writing journey and honour Mary Hawkins, who introduced me to Christian fiction writing circles and encouraged me in general. However, I am also indebted to Carol Preston for endorsing my non-fiction and supporting me in this practical way.  

Question 7: What are your writing goals for 2018? How will you achieve them?
My goal in what remains of 2018 is to revise my outline for my current historical novel, then pick up the threads of those early chapters I have written already. In the new year, our grandchild-minding commitments will lessen a little, so I plan to try to complete this manuscript by the end of 2019.

Question 8: How does your faith impact and shape your writing?
Each of my novels has centred on a major Christian theme such as holding onto our faith in God, whatever happens; accepting God’s love and grace; using our God-given gifts; forgiveness; and dealing with bitterness and resentment. So my main aim in writing my novels is to have good, believable storylines and authentic characters who come to grips with the challenges they face in a way that touches my readers, impacts their lives and draws them closer to God. After my very first novel Heléna was published, a reader contacted me and explained how she did not feel God had been there for her in the hard parts of her life. However, she then wrote, ‘But maybe I should try God again.’ I remember saying to my husband, ‘But it’s only a novel!’ Yet her response confirmed to me that God can use good stories to touch readers’ hearts in ways non-fiction cannot.

As for my non-fiction, with Soul Friend I want my readers to experience the healing and encouragement God brought to me via my lovely soul friend Joy and to offer that healing and encouragement to others in turn. And with Becoming Me, I so much want to encourage others to allow God to remove those layers of self-doubt, perfectionism and anything else that holds them back from being all God has created them to be and to stand tall, ready to make a difference in this world. So my faith is intrinsic to all the non-fiction I write, including my blogs.

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 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, 19 November 2018

Pillow Talk – Sleeping Clean

This is not the blog I was preparing for today. I was going to bring my vulnerability and talk to some of those doubts we writers can wrestle. Instead, as I was reflecting on the content of my post, the wise words of a friend came to me: “Get some sleep before you make a decision on that.”

(You would be surprised how closely related my decision and the content of my blog were.)

It occurred to me that my greatest challenge recently has not been self-doubt, but sleep deprivation. Given my constant nemesis doesn’t appear to be going away, I thought I’d share some advice frequently dispensed by my also wise husband. Maybe we can all learn a thing or two about sleep hygiene while we’re at it. Somehow, I don’t think I’ll be the only writer out there in need of some reminders!

Tired Woman Computer_Photo Credit: Sutprattana
So here are some of the top hygiene tips frequently given:

1)      Turn off devices at least 1-2 hrs before bedtime

This is probably my greatest challenge as I have quite limited writing and computing time available at home. By the time the humans have been fed, homework down and small human put into bed, the night is gone. (The small canine is also somewhat time consuming, but rather less demanding most times!) Much of my writing happens at night. It’s also when my brain is most active. Sometimes the ol’ afternoon nap has been my saviour, but during the working week, this isn’t an option. Devices keep our brains active, so device-free time is pretty important for good sleep. (Another recommendation for improving sleep is trying to make a regular bedtime. This helps with the device off factor, as if you know when you're aiming to sleep, you have an actual time to aim for.)

2)      Avoid energy drinks, high caffeine or high sugar drinks after mid-afternoon

My husband and I have a little night routine where we stop for 15 minutes to reconnect over a caffeine-free drink—usually herbal tea. Not only is this relationally beneficial, it’s also a great way to calm the mind in preparation for sleep. Unfortunately, often my husband will go onto bed while I remain up doing things, but when I can go to bed, this is definitely helpful. (It’s also great when purchasing gifts, as there are so many wonderful tea blends out there, and you get to share the present night after night, for weeks.)

3)      Avoid having devices in your room

On this I am a TOTAL hypocrite! My phone is my alarm. To be fair, I do activate quiet mode and usually put the phone face down, so my sleep isn’t interrupted by texts or calls. On the other hand, I’m notorious for browsing online after bedtime, especially if I’m researching something for work or my writing. My peak brain time is 10pm to 2am, so often if I’m trying to figure something out this is when my brain’s working overtime on it.

In the pre-device days, when I was a university student, I used to manage this by working until around 1 or 2am, and if I could sleep in past 8am I was fine. (Not the best morning person!) In the workforce this is unsustainable, so it’s probably worth still having that hour or so of device-free time, just later. If I can print something out and read on paper, that is another way to avoid devices, but still glean the facts while my thoughts are clicking.

4)      If you can’t fall asleep initially (after 20-40 minutes) get up and sit in a quiet part of the house with no devices and low/no light, then try again

Sometimes this works for me, sometimes it doesn’t, but I figure it’s better to get up than lie on a bed with growing frustration over your lack of sleep. Unfortunately I’m one of those gifted souls who can do the get up, go back to bed, can’t sleep, get up etc routine for several days … well, nights. (It’s really annoying!)

5)      Try relaxation breathing techniques

Elaine Fraser gave this tip at one of the Omega Conferences. If you’re struggling to sleep, this can really help bring down anxiety levels and there’s probably a heap of resources out there on the most effective ways to use breathing to our benefit. (Maybe I should look them up. LOL)

6)      Sleep with a pen and notepad beside your bed

Whether you’re worrying about something or struck with a brilliant writing idea, keeping a pen and paper beside your bed means you can write it down. This helps get it out of your mind and aid in reducing anxiety. I’ve found this technique particularly useful over the years.

7)      When using devices after sundown (or within those hours leading up to sleep) activate the night-shield function or equivalent to reduce stimulating blue light exposure. (This is that orange-yellow tint you can activate on your screen.) Blue light suppresses the production of melatonin, which can really mess with our circadian rhythm.

8)      Stretch before bed

This one is my own advice. Because physical discomfort is a significant factor in my inability to sleep, I’ve found stretching with a physio roller or such a key way to relieve discomfort and enable a longer opportunity to get to sleep before the unsettling tossing and turning starts. (And if the stretching doesn't work, another thing I've found helpful is a hot shower just before sleeping.)
If you want to know more, there are heaps of resources out there on sleep hygiene and quality, including managing devices and sleep (they really are having a significant impact on our quality of sleep), but these suggestions are a good place to start. You might want to try essential oils or other ways to wind down. This is just a starting point. I truly believe the world would be a happier place if we all just got a few more hours sleep each week. I think our writing and family would also benefit. Let me know if you have any other great tips to add to the list!

Adele Jones is an award-winning Queensland author. She writes young adult and historical novels, poems, inspirational non-fiction and fictional short works, along with juggling family responsibilities and a ‘real job’ in the field of science. Her first YA novel Integrate was awarded the 2013 CALEB Prize for unpublished manuscript. Her writing explores issues of social justice, humanity, faith, natural beauty and meaning in life’s journey, and as a speaker she seeks to present a practical and encouraging message by drawing on these themes. For more visit or

Thursday, 15 November 2018


by Jeanette O'Hagan

In my latest release, Stone of the Sea, one of the characters thinks, "Waiting was all they seemed to do these days. Wait for food. Wait for to learn their fate. Wait for Baba to return and take back the realm.'

Sometimes being a writer can feel like that - waiting to finish a novel,  waiting for feedback, waiting to hear back from agents and publishers, waiting to be published, waiting for sales, waiting for reviews, waiting for traction in the market, waiting for... it doesn't seem to end.

When I launched back into writing about six years ago, I thought getting published was the ultimate goal. After a while, it seemed like that goal would never happen. Others achieved it, but I didn't.

So I was over the moon with when a few of my poems and a short story was accepted for publication in 2014. Holding a published book with my story in it was a thrilling experience. Yet, I soon discovered that with each goal achieved, there are others that loom ahead and the waiting begins again - and with it the uncertainty and the feeling that the new horizon remains beyond reach and the voices of doubt and discouragement multiply. It can be frustrating and demoralising.

What I've learned along the way is that waiting is part of the journey. It's part of the way of things. But it doesn't last for ever.

Things Happen While We Wait 

When I was seven, I decided to grow a pawpaw tree. Armed with a little knowledge and a great deal of enthusiasm, I separated out a single seed, found a gardening spade and marched out to the back garden. I dug a hole—probably about 30 cms deep—placed the seed at the bottom of the pit, flooded it with water from the hose, piled in the dirt, patted and shaped the resulting slurry until it was a hard  concrete dome (drawing on my uber-mudcake making skills, but that's another story).

I congratulated myself and sat back and waited for the tree to sprout and grow.

Next day, I checked my tree-in-the making. The mound looked just as I left it. Maybe, little drier under the baking Mt Isa sun. I added some more water. The next day—nothing, just bare dirt. The following day—well, you guessed it, nothing.

Frustrated and worried, I grabbed the spade and dug up the seed to see if it was growing yet. Nope. I buried it again. Dug it up the following day. 

Mum said, ‘Be patient, Jenny. Seeds take time to grow.’

My first venture into horticulture was, I confess, a huge failure, but it taught me something. That good things take time to grow. That patience is an important asset. And digging up seeds is not a great strategy.

Growing plants requires knowledge—what does the plant like in terms of soil, water, position, depth to plant the seed etc—and experience.

It also requires, active waiting. Passive or idle waiting is doing nothing and expecting something to grow. In active waiting, we plant, care for and tend the plant, but we don’t keep digging it up each day to see if it’s growing.

Looking back now, I'm glad my novel wasn't published immediately. It gave me time to hone my craft, become aware of current styles, grow a nework. I'm still not very good at waiting, but I can appreciate it's necessity.

God's timing matters

Six years on, and I have many short stories and poems published. I've published three novellas in my Under the Mountain series, a collection of short stories and my first novel, Akrad's Children.  I've seen sales and reviews, yet I'm still very much a small fish in this big pond.

I write because I love writing and I have so many stories waiting to be written. It's such a joy when others enjoy my stories as much as I do :)

I also write because I feel called to it and believe that God can speak through my writing, even though it is aimed at the general market.

I would love my writing to be sustainable - so I can continue to write and to publish. Sometimes that seems an impossible dream. This year I've been under some pressure to 'show results' and as the putative deadline looms, I've felt pressured and overwhelmed, trying to do everything with all the other roles, responsibilities and expectations. At the same time, sales took a dip, finding reviewers for my latest book met mostly deaf ears, and my campaign chest emptied. It seem an impossible task. Growth was slow or invisible.

In the midst of my frenzy- God has blessed me through the kindness of friends, through small encouragements (another great review, a fan asking about a sequel, an unexpected job, great sales and interactions at Supernova last weekend).

Most of all, He reminds me that He gives life, He gives the growth, He builds the house. I realised I was holding on too tight, that I needed to release my death grip on my dream, to give back to him the dream he ignited in me out of the ashes.

Once again, I'm learning to wait on Him and to trust him with the desires of my heart.

I don't know what the future holds, but I do know whose hand I'm holding as walk toward it. And that is all I need.


Jeanette started spinning tales in the world of Nardva at the age of eight or nine. She enjoys writing secondary world fiction, poetry, blogging and editing.

Her Nardvan stories span continents, time and cultures. They involve a mixture of courtly intrigue, adventure, romance and/or shapeshifters and magic users.

She has published numerous short stories, poems, two novellas and her debut novel, Akrad's Children and Ruhanna's Flight and other stories.

Her latest release, Stone of the Sea (the third novella) is now available. .

Subscribe (here) to Jeanette's monthly email newsletter for the latest on cover reveals, new releases, giveways, and receive the short story Ruhanna's Flight for free.

You can also find her on:

Thursday, 8 November 2018

Meet our Members–Elaine Fraser

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's interview is with Elaine Fraser

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

1. I’m a writer from the hills of Perth and live with my husband and golden retriever, Bear. 
2. I travel around the world with my photographer husband, Steve for about three months of every year. 
3. I used to be a high school teacher, but now write full time. 

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

I’ve always written and I taught English for many years. About twelve years ago, I gave up teaching to give writing a go. Since then, I’ve published five books and am writing a few others–two non fiction inspirational books and three YA novels.
I blog on my own website, as well as Kinwomen, Australasian Christian Writers, and Christian Writers Downunder. 
My husband is a landscape photographer and writer and I work with him on his books and articles as well. 
I write because of compulsion. There’s something in me that has always loved to write. I think it first came out of reading–reading and writing go together in my head. I taught English and loved teaching others.
 I also write to work things out. What I’m thinking, what emotions I need to process and so on. I also write to express ideas and thoughts in order to hopefully inspire others.

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

When I wrote my first non-fiction book in 2004, I never imagined that I would write fiction. I never imagined that I would write for Kinwomen. I never imagined that I would write the book I’m working on now, The Solo Traveller. I never thought I’d write a book about a girl struggling with her sexuality and faith. 
God has been leading me to write for people on the fringes of faith–people who perhaps used to go to church or may be spiritually searching. 
I’ve met all sorts of people through my travels and writing–people who live on the streets of Skid Row in LA, kids who have family members shot in the ganglands of the projects in LA, people who used to go to church and are now self-proclaimed atheists, people whose sexuality has separated them from family members for twenty-five years, people who call themselves spiritual, but don’t like religion. These are the people I have in mind when I write. 
The story is in the struggle and I grapple with issues in my writing. I question and study and wrestle with my beliefs and values.

I have to work out my own faith. If I write in such a way that depicts characters who seem to accept everything without questioning, then am I giving the reader what they need? Stories that show that faith isn’t black and white. That faith is something robust and challenging and worth working out. 

Because I don’t present black and white views on issues, the risk is that my stories may be seen as too liberal for some and too conservative for others. 

Being labelled too conservative by one end of the opinion spectrum or too liberal at the other is a risk I’m willing to take. 

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

One of the biggest challenges I face is developing routines in my writing. Because I travel so much, I tend to binge write, put my WIP down for a while and come back to it. This leads to some difficulties in continuity. 
I’ve just finished the final draft of a women’s fiction novel eight years after I first got the idea, five years after I submitted the first three chapters to my Oxford University tutor, four years since I first went to Tuscany and developed the novel further, a year on from finishing the first draft of 150 000 words, and four months after receiving feedback from an editor and an agent that I needed to rewrite parts and cut 50 000 words out of the manuscript. 
I've already published five books and this has been the most difficult one ever–a new genre, a new target audience, a parallel narrative, writing 50 000 words too many and having to cut them, lots of travelling and disjointed writing all contributed to a messy process.
I almost threw the book out because it got so difficult, but I persevered and learned so much. What helps me the most is community. I belong to a group of writerly friends who encourage and support each other–friends all over the world. 

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

I have a few key texts that I refer to over and over. I’ve been studying two texts that have helped immensely in editing my latest manuscript. (I wish I had these books before I began this book!) 
Firstly, Story Genius How to Use Brain Science to Go Beyond Outlining and Write a Riveting Novel by Lisa Cron

Story Fix: Transform Your Novel from Broken to Brilliant by Larry Brooks helped me to figure out where to cut 50 000 words from my manuscript and tighten up the story. 

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

I would like to honour Iola Goulton who has edited a few of my books and helped me immensely in getting my latest novel into shape. She Skyped with me, edited the manuscript twice and then took it back a third time.
Her sense of humour, knowledge, feedback, and professional approach has been invaluable in helping me not to throw my WIP out and give up. 
Iola is a RITA Romance with Religious or Spiritual Elements Winner for Kara Isaac’s novel, Then There Was You, along with Halee Matthews, and I’m so proud of her. 

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

As I write this, I’ve finished the final draft of my WIP and Iola is doing the final proof. My goal is to secure an agent and publisher for the book by the end of the year. 

I am 30 000 words into a YA novel and have enough material for two non fiction books, but I think I'll be finishing those in 2019. 

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

The more I write, the more I go out and speak, the more I interact with people in workshops, the more I realise that unless there is divine silence and divine interaction, my words are like a ‘clanging cymbal’
The space where faith, prayers, and pen on page meet is a divine interaction, a divine dance. 
There’s so much noise in the world. There are so many of us writing and promoting ourselves on social media and we contribute to the noise. In order to promote our work, we often seem to be shouting about it to the world. But, if we hear the whisper of God, if we listen to it, if we sit in stillness and whisper to God about our work, we will find that it is not necessary to shout. 
 I’ve found over the years, that trying to follow a pattern set by others, a formula, or trying to fit into a genre’s expectations, or peer’s expectations doesn’t work. 

If I listen to the whisper of God, He leads me and encourages me to find my own voice, my unique perspective. Sometimes he even leads me to be countercultural or to question things. 
 When I whisper to God about my work, I find my writing goes to places I never dreamed of and my soul is taken into new territory. 

Monday, 5 November 2018

Exploring Genre: Romance Novellas and Novelettes

By Narelle Atkins @NarelleAtkins

A romance novella can be defined as a short and complete romance story with a typical word length that ranges between 20,000 to 40,000 words.

A novelette has a word count starting at 7,500 words. A story with a word count between 17,500 to 20,000 words may be defined as either a novella or a novelette.

Stories longer than 40,000 words are considered short novels.

Traditionally Published Romance Anthologies

Novellas and novelettes have always been popular in the romance genre. Pre-Kindle and the emergence of ebooks, romance publishers would often release trade length novella collections containing a number of stories. In 1997 Aussie author Mary Hawkins had a Christmas novella, Searching for a Star, published in the Christmas Dreams 4 story novella anthology by Barbour.

In 2017 Aussie author Lucy Thompson had her historical romance, Waltzing Matilda, included in a 9 story anthology The Captive Brides Collection published by Barbour. The stories are connected by a common theme: Can their captive hearts be freed to dream, to dare, to love?

Novellas that are connected to a series

A Tuscan Legacy is a multi-author contemporary Christian romance novella series that includes a family mystery plot. A Tuscan Legacy opens with a short novel length Book 1 - That's Amore.

My contribution to A Tuscan Legacy is Solo Tu (Book 7) set in Sydney, Australia. I've indie published four romance novellas and Solo Tu is my longest, coming in at just under 40,000 words.

Mary's Hawkins' Australia romance collection from Barbour included three short novels and a novella.

Nicki Edwards' Operation Mistletoe Magic and Operation White Christmas are part of her 'An Escape to the Country' rural romance series.

Novella Prequel to Book 1 in a Series

In recent years we’ve seen the rise in popularity of the romance novella being used as a marketing tool to launch a series. The prequel ebook novella is effectively a loss leader. It's often priced at 99c or free with the goal of funnelling readers into the new series. Alternatively, the prequel novella may be a 'reader magnet' and given away for free to readers who have subscribed to the author's newsletter. These marketing strategies are used in all fiction genres for both traditionally and independently published series.

Novellas in ebook multi-author boxed set series

Boxed sets started to gain popularity in the Kindle store in 2013 and they remain a favorite with readers. 'An Aussie Summer Christmas' was released two years ago. For a limited time we offered six ebook novellas for the bargain price of 99 cents. The novellas in the set included A Christmas Resolution, All is Bright, Falling for Maddie Grace, Melbourne Memories, Santa Next Door and my novella Seaside Christmas.

My Inspy Romance author friends have put together A Christmas to Remember - on sale for Christmas 2018.

Print book single author collections

Authors sometimes combine their books into one print book collection. Meredith Resce has included two novellas and two short stories in Four Short Stories: Falling for Maddie Grace; And Where There's Smoke.

Standalone Romance Novellas

Tips for writing a romance novella or novelette

Ensure the plot isn't too big and complex

There's only room to develop a single romance plot in the shorter length romance novellas and novelettes. The shorter the word length, the larger the focus of the story will be on the hero and heroine. The word length puts limitations on the amount of time the minor characters can be on-stage in the story.

Limit the point of view characters to the hero and heroine or a single viewpoint.

In a typical romance novella or novelette there isn't space to include a minor character point of view. An exception would be a romantic suspense that may include short scenes in the villian's point of view.

Shorter time frame stories often work well

A good example is Amy Matayo's romance novella Christmas at Gate 18.

Reunion romances are popular tropes

If the couple already know each other and have an established history, the romance plot can get moving at a faster pace from the start without losing plot plausibility with readers.

External conflict and forced proximity is important

The shorter the story, the more the balance between scene and sequel will skew toward shorter sequels. The external conflict is what pushes the hero and heroine to be on-stage together in the scenes.

Tight writing and fast scene transitions

Every word counts in a shorter length story. The tighter the writing, the more space the author will have to write the important sequels that allow the reader to take a breath and reflect between the fast paced action scenes in the story.

Any Questions?

Have you written a romance novella or novelette? Do you enjoy reading them? I'd love to hear your thoughts and experiences.

A fun loving Aussie girl at heart, NARELLE ATKINS was born and raised on the beautiful northern beaches in Sydney, Australia. She has settled in Canberra with her husband and children. A lifelong romance reader, she found the perfect genre to write when she discovered inspirational romance. Narelle's contemporary stories of faith and romance are set in Australia.

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Thursday, 1 November 2018

Omega Writers' Conference 2018 Highlights

Report by Paula Vince

Late October is the time for the annual Omega Conference, when writers from all over Australasia come together for a great weekend of fun, fellowship and teaching. This year we gathered at The Monastery, in Adelaide, South Australia. The tranquil gardens were a good backdrop for the buzz of energy and ideas flowing through the Hub and workshops. Then on Saturday evening, we all enjoyed the announcement of the CALEB Awards, and celebrating with the winners and finalists.

Here is my impression of the wonderful weekend, followed by those of several others I've asked to chime in, just to bring you a composite picture of how awesome it was. We hope it will inspire you to consider attending future conferences.

Paula Vince: As I sat in the sessions, I realised how rare it is to receive encouragement designed especially for people who love to write. My soul must have been hungry for it. The keynote speaker, Alex Marestaing, has a compassionate way of addressing the hurts and disappointments we may feel along the way. I love his reminder that when we write, there's often some deeper magic going on than we may even be aware of. And that self-confessed oddballs could consider ourselves 'Outside Voices' that God can use. I'm going to dust off a story I had freezing cold feet about and get back to work.

Carolyn Miller: I really enjoyed meeting so many new people (and catching up with other friends).

Penny Reeve: It was a privilege to to be able to pair up people with editors, publishers or specialists at the Hub. I loved seeing genuine connections being made, ideas launched and writers courageously seeking input into works in progress.

Rosanne Hawke: Omega Conference was a real mix of encouragement, inspiration and learning for all writers, whether they be beginners, emerging or mid-career. I found confirmation for my project and was able to mentor others as well. Great to meet writers who I've only met on Facebook. Hadn't seen Cecily Thew Paterson since she was 17. Great to catch up with publishers and to network. And to enjoy great food and atmosphere at The Monastery.

David Rawlings: It was great to meet the people behind the Facebook names. I'm connected to many other Australian writers, but being able to chat, share and get to know them in person was a privilege.

Marc Jeffrey: The worship on Sunday, along with the devotional about the jar of expensive perfume did my head in. In a good way!

Nola Passmore: I really liked the theme of the conference 'From a Whisper to a Shout' and it's amazing how that kept coming up in the different sessions. One of the things that resonated most with me was that we need to think differently about writing. We tend to think in terms of a whole book or a whole screenplay. But a Facebook post or an Instagram post can impact a lot of people. Don't spend years thinking about what God has whispered to you. Start writing and get it out there.

Adam Collings: Having been involved in Omega Writers for a number of years, I finally made it to conference. It felt like coming home. I was surrounded by friends that I knew, but had never met. The speakers were amazing, the worship was powerful, the food was fantastic and the location was inspirational. I have come home ready to be an outside voice for God and change the world with my words.

Sue Jeffrey: I loved the peace in the venue - beautiful gardens - and the professionalism of the presenters. I learned new things and was able to commune with God. The worship made me cry (in a good way)

Adele Jones: Inspirational. So great seeing people getting brave about shouting what's being whispered into their heart. The Omega Writers conferences always feel like a family reunion!

Kaye Johnson: As a newbie and not knowing quite what to expect I was so encouraged by the weekend. From getting insights into timelines for memoirs, and giving myself permission to feel vulnerable, to listening to God's whisper in my ear, and taking action to shout it from the rooftops! Allowing myself to be unravelled and renewing the affirmation that I am a child of God (thank you Steph and Simon for leading us in worship!) and learning about Outside Voices from Alex, all contributed to a huge learning curve for me. Thank-you everyone for your friendship and encouragement. You have certainly challenged me to put this into practice and just write!

We would encourage everyone to begin saving for next year's conference. They are so well worth attending, if you can possibly make it. And our thanks goes out to the hardworking committee team, everyone who ran a workshop, the publishers and mentors present, the caterers at the venue, and anybody else I might have missed. Not least are all the delegates who put aside a weekend to travel and attend, since rubbing shoulders with others and face-to-face communication is ultimately what makes a good conference great.

Paula Vince is a South Australian author of contemporary, inspirational fiction. She lives close to the beach, and loves to use her environment as settings for her stories. Her novel, 'Picking up the Pieces' won the religious fiction section of the International Book Awards in 2011, and 'Best Forgotten' was winner of the CALEB prize the same year. She is also one of the four authors of 'The Greenfield Legacy', Australia's first and only collaborated Christian novel. Her most recent novel, 'Imogen's Chance' was published April 2014. For more of Paula's reflections, you may like to visit her book review blog, The Vince Review.