Thursday, 28 March 2019

Introducing the 2019 CALEB Award from Omega Writers

By Iola Goulton @iolagoulton

The 2019 CALEB Award will soon be open for entries. As the coordinator of the Awards, I'd like to encourage all members of the Australasian Christian Writers community to get involved. Today I'm going to share three ways you can be involved:
  • Entry opportunities
  • Judging opportunities
  • Sponsorship opportunities

Entry Opportunities

Entry to the CALEB Award is open to all Australian and New Zealand Christian writers (wherever they live), or writers living in Australia or New Zealand.

The 2019 Award is open to books with a 2017 or 2018 copyright date, subject to the book not having previously been entered. We will accept entries with a 2016 copyright date only if that title could not have been entered in the last two years because that category was not offered.

The Unpublished Award is for adult fiction across all genres.

We will ask entrants to state their genre so we're able to match them with judges who enjoy and feel capable judging that genre. We don't want to give a romance title to a judge who loathes romance, or a fantasy title to a judge who hates fantasy.

The Published Award will have the following categories:

Picture Books

Picture Books are generally books aged at children under the age of five, and are designed to be read aloud. The best picture books have a story that parents, grandparents, and teachers will willingly read aloud over and over and over. They will also have illustrations which complement the story and interest the child.

Young Adult Fiction

Young Adult fiction can include fiction in any genre, aimed at readers aged between 13 and 18 years old. As such, the language, content, and themes should be consistent with the issues faced by this age group.

Adult Fiction (Mystery, Suspense, Speculative, Women's Fiction)

Adult fiction is fiction aimed at adult readers (i.e. not young adults). Entries can be in any genre except romance or fiction with romantic elements.


Memoir and autobiography are both about the author. The difference is that autobiography tends to cover the author's whole life, while memoir focuses on a specific theme, and only relates events relating to that theme. Biography is written about someone else, and may be a whole of life book, or may focus on a period of their life, or on a specific theme. Books in this category are often referred to as narrative non-fiction, which follows many of the rules of fiction (e.g. showing the story from a single point of view, and avoiding telling).

To find out more and to enter, visit

The CALEB Award is run by Omega Writers although books don't have to be overtly Christian.

Some of our winners have been "defiantly Christian". Others have been great books by Christian writers with underlying Christian themes like love, honesty, or the importance of family.

While we do accept entries that aren't specifically aimed at the Christian market, we do ask that all entrants state their agreement with the Omega Writers Statement of Belief. We also remind entrants that we are judging books based on a Christian world view, so general market titles are unlikely to score well.

Judging Opportunities

Writing contests need entrants, but they also need judges. Some contests require entrants to judge in another category. We don't, but judging is a great way of giving back to the Australasian Christian writing community.
  • If you're entering the Unpublished award, then we'd love to have you judge the Published award—Young Adult or Adult fiction.
  • If you write fiction and you're entering one of the Published awards, then we'd love to have you judge the Unpublished award.
If you're not entering the CALEB, then we'd love to have you judge whatever category you like!

What qualifications do I need to be a judge?

You need to be a keen reader of the genre you're offering to judge. That's pretty much it.

No, you don't have to be a writer. No, you don't have to be a member of Omega Writers.

If you're applying to judge the Unpublished contest, then it would be great if you're also a writer, editor, or publisher, as we want to give our Unpublished entrants quality feedback.

Also, the CALEB Award is a Christian contest, so we do ask that judges agree with the Omega Writers Statement of Belief.

What do judges have to do?

First-round judges will have approximately two months to judge between three and ten entries in the category and genre of their choice (so if you hate reading young adult romance, we'll do our best to ensure you don't get any romance entries. If you can only judge three entries, we'll send you three. If you can judge more, we'll send you more).

The Unpublished contest is the first 10,000 words of the manuscript, plus a 1,000-word synopsis.

Depending on how fast you read, judging should take between 30 and 60 minutes per entry.

Those judging the Unpublished contest will be asked to provide written feedback to support their scores, and this feedback will be given to the entrants. Feedback is one of the main reasons to enter an Unpublished contest, so we do ask that judges give fair, considered, and prayerful feedback. Click here to download a draft score sheet.

The first round of the Published contest is based on the full book for Picture books, or the first 50 pages (or 25%) of the book for other categories (although you're welcome to read the entire book). Judges will be asked to complete a score sheet for each entry, but will not have to provide written feedback, and score sheets will not be returned to the entrants.

Second-round judges will have approximately two months to pick a winner from between three and five finalists. They will be asked to read the full book or manuscript (entries are capped at 120,000 words).

Click here to sign up as a judge.

Sponsorship Opportunities

If you or your business would like to sponsor a category of the CALEB Award by offering a category prize (of either cash or a service), then please click here to contact the Omega Writers Sponsorship team.

How are you planning on being involved in the 2019 CALEB Award?

Do you have any questions I haven't answered? If so, please leave a comment (or click here to email me via the contact form on my website if you'd prefer).

Monday, 25 March 2019

Trust and Obey

Saturday morning. We’d just moved into our new home and it was great having extra space to settle into. My husband and I agreed that our new home had lashings of magic in it. Cosy nooks and corners called out to us; picturesque walking areas outdoors greeted us with a warm welcome. I made my beloved his special Saturday brunch which he usually enjoys with a movie. Leaving him to it, I was about to take my own breakfast to our dining area, when I felt a nudge from the Holy Spirit to go out to our backyard instead. “Yes, Lord”, I whispered as I settled myself in a chair outdoors, sipping of a cool fresh autumn day.

I was soon lost in a good book as I tucked into my own breakfast of rice, scrambled egg and spicy sambol. The author mentioned the importance of getting up early to spend time with God. Hmm…. I'd always been a night owl, so waking up early was not an easy accomplishment for the likes of me. In our former home, fiery sunsets had tingled my senses each evening. But here in our new home it was different. A bold sunrise would flash its stunning smile at me every morning through my kitchen window. So perhaps it did make sense to get up to greet the dawn? Was I up to it? It was then I heard the sound. “Pitter patter Pitter patter” yelled the raindrops as they splashed joyfully onto our patio roof. Oh no! I had hung my washed clothes on the line. My husband looked up from his movie as I dashed past him in a hurry to get my clothes.

“It’s raining”. I rushed through our family room and towards the laundry.

Already?” Shan followed me and joined me in our yard, helping me bring the clothes in, bless him. If I hadn’t sat out in the garden, I’d not have heard the rain on the patio roof because my ears had ear buds stuffed into them with praise music on at full volume. My almost dry clothes could have been soaked. What a good thing I’d listened to God’s nudge that morning to sit outdoors!

Trust and Obey. A simple way to live—the only way really. Several years ago, I decided it was time I wrote a novel. I had published one non-fiction book and ten short stories in anthologies. Two manuscripts (one of which was a children’s fiction book), had made it to being finalists in two writing competitions. I was on a roll. I decided it was time delve into writing fiction. I got busy with a host of great ideas. What fun it was to figure out who my characters were! What joy it was to plot and dream! I found the perfect title and I created a believable story-line. I even found pictures on the Internet of what my characters looked like, pasting them in a file to delve into as I wrote. I was excited. I was ready.

The day had arrived! I made myself a cuppa and sat down at my computer. I felt my heart was beating a little faster than usual. Today was the day—the day the magic happened.  I poised my hands over the keyboard, and … and ….. and ….! What happened? When I tried to flesh out my story, nothing happened. No words. No words? No words. Writer’s block? I never have writer’s block! How could this be? I was sure I had it all figured out. I’d enjoyed so many fiction books for over five decades, that I was sure the words would flow out of me like a gurgling brook.

But each subsequent attempt at writing my special work of fiction did not bear fruit. I could not keep going. Gradually, the realisation dawned on me that writing a novel was my idea, not God’s. Oh? I had been driving along this road I had imagined God wanted me on. I now had to reverse and move towards a new pathway, because at last I had got it. And so, my tail tucked between my legs, I began to travel towards my first love, my calling. Non-fiction. Most of my life, I’d read mainly fiction. I'd tried my hand at writing a few children's books when I was a child. But in the previous 10 or 15 years, something had changed. Every time I browsed books at the library, I had found myself choosing a large number of non-fiction books. I had guzzled them down like a hungry puppy wolfing down a chocolate cake he’d found on the kitchen table. 

God wanted me to continue to write non-fiction. I knew that now. I’d taken a wrong turn, following my own desires. As understanding flooded my spirit, I slid the vehicle of my writing journey back into God’s highway—exactly where I needed to be. Hooray! I was back on track. I zoomed off into the sunset, happy as Larry.

Trust and Obey. That’s what it boils down to. God may still lead me to write a fiction book or two eventually and I hope He will. But for now, let me do what He calls me to, not what I think is best. Trust and Obey. How easy it is to make my own plans and to ask God to bless them or to mistake my plans for His. 

"Trust and Obey", God often reminds my wayward heart. Obedience is after all, what He calls me to in every sphere of my walk with Him.

What are your writing plans this year? Have you heard our Father's whispers? How has He led you? I'd love to hear all about it.

Have you learnt what it means to trust and obey?
I’m still learning. Come join me.

May the rest of 2019 see the fulfillment of your writing dreams as you follow God’s heart. Happy Writing and may God richly bless you.
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. Her first book Enjoying the Journey contains 75 little God stories that will bring you closer to your Creator. 

Her 2nd book ‘Dancing in the Rain was released in March 2018 and brings you hope and comfort for life’s soggy seasons.

Mortals make elaborate plans,but God has the last word. Humans are satisfied with whatever looks good; God probes for what is good. Put God in charge of your work, then what you’ve planned will take place. Proverbs 16:1-3 (MSG)

Thursday, 21 March 2019

CWD Member Interview - Meredith Resce

Each Thursday 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 Meredith Resce

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

Hello. Well I am one of those country girls who has lived in the city since I got married 35 years ago. But you know what they say: you can take the girl out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the girl. My place of origin, where I always drift back to, is Melrose, Southern Flinders Ranges South Australia. My parents still live on the farm there, so that is the place I still call home. However, I have not lived there since 1983. I’ve lived in Adelaide for 22 years in stints broken up by 6 years in Geelong, Victoria, 1 year in Bristol UK and 6 years in Melbourne, Victoria. Though I hate moving and hate being away from family, those years spent in other states and overseas has served to broaden my horizon, and I’ve found lots of places to connect with new story ideas. 

I’ve been married since 1983, have three children and two grandchildren. My husband and I have served in Christian ministry for the majority of those 36 years. My focus in ministry has been music, drama, writing and sharing the gospel through teaching and preaching—and most importantly, I have loved connecting with and encouraging people.

Personally, I love sport – playing and watching (though I stopped playing Basket Ball last year as I was getting too slow). But I’m a football (Adelaide Crows AFL) and cricket (Adelaide Strikers and Australian Cricket Team) fan. I hate shopping unless it is a bookshop, stationary shop or kitchenware’s shop. Clothes shopping makes me break out in hives (metaphorically speaking).

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

I prefer to write fiction. I’ve tried a number of genres. The most successful has been the historical romance Christian Fiction I originally published. I’ve also tried fantasy allegory, murder mystery, crime drama thriller, contemporary romance, and a couple of non-fiction titles. The market has changed dramatically in the twenty years since I was first published, and currently, I am writing contemporary romance for the Christian Fiction market, and am hoping to break into a new market in the US.

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


Over the years I’ve had people of all sorts of shapes and sizes who have become fans, particularly of my ‘Heart of Green Valley’ series.   I still get requests for the one book in the series that is out of print, as folks are still discovering them and enjoying the stories.
I’ve had readers from all age groups – teens through to ninety plus. That series has been my best selling series by far.
With my change in direction, I would like to broaden my reading audience. So far it has been mainly Australian, New Zealand and English readers. However, I am aware that if I am able to gain access to the American audience, I have to change from Australian spelling and language to US spelling and language, and that is a scary prospect.

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

Getting ideas is the easiest part of the process. Turning the ideas tap off would be helpful if I knew how, so as a result, I have more story ideas than I can manage to develop. Writing is a fun process. It used to absorb and drive me twenty years ago. Now I need to be disciplined about making time to write, but I always enjoy the way the story develops, and particularly like reading it after I finished. 

My main challenges are finding time, and working against the injuries that develop from a static lifestyle. I have to get more active as writing is hurting me. Doing the recommended stretches is great, when I remember.

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

Can’t say I have one, though recently I was recommended:

They provided some help on some recurring writing faults.

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

Editor – Iola Goulton (I never feel totally settled until Iola has cast her discerning eye over a manuscript. She’s brutal, but the product is always so much better for her honest edits.)

Writers – Paula Vince (my first Australian Christian Fiction writing buddy); Amanda Deed and Rose Dee (we collaborated on a title ‘TheGreenfield Legacy’, which I believe is an excellent piece of writing); AndreaGrigg, Narelle Atkins (we contributed to a Christmas Book set that turned out to be a lot of fun)

Question 7: What are your writing goals for 2019? How will you achieve them?

I am planning to finish the ‘Luella Linely: License to Meddle’ series. This trilogy is based on popular Regency Author, Luella Linley and her busy attempts to match make her adult children. Her novel characters are much easier to manipulate.
Ideally I would like to find a US publisher to take this series, and so I will need to think American, which may prove a challenge, given I am very Australian, and quite proud of it.

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

My faith underpins my writing in the sense that I believe God has given me the ability to communicate through writing, particularly through writing fiction. I love sharing about God, faith, hope, healing, salvation and deliverance, but I do not like to have my characters behaving in an odd way, so they don’t usually express any religious ideals unless the situation calls for it.  Much like the way I move through life. I am open to God at all times, but I don’t go all super-spiritual, religious jargon in everyday situations. Neither do my characters. My motto for my writing has long been: to encourage and inspire.

Monday, 18 March 2019

Where is God in our writing? by Jo Wanmer

 “My name is Prince Charles. My Father is the King. I have an older brother, Jesus.” 
Some years ago a guest in our church introduced himself this memorable way. We were taken aback, but then caught the profound truth he shared.
In those few words, we understood this man knew God intimately. 
Does our writing convey such truth?

Imaged taken and owned by Jo Wanmer
As Christian writers we show our characters, we don’t tell about them. We show the reader what they are doing, how they are feeling and what they are about to do.

Does this maxim include God? Is He a character in our books? If not, is He part of the background?  The setting? Is He inanimate, or animate? Or is He excluded from the story.

In many Christian fiction stories God is completely absent. There may be a Bible verse, or church attendance, or even prayer at the table but no reference to God himself.  The characters talk about Him, but rarely show Him in the plot or allow Him to feature as a character.

If God was to appear in our books, what would He be like? I’ve been musing on a character sheet for him.

Character’s name: God, Jesus, Holy Spirit

Unique characteristics: He has three parts, yet He is only One.  He can be present without being seen. He can speak without being audible. He is like the wind – no one knows where it comes from or where it goes.

Imaged taken and owned by Jo Wanmer
Appearance: He is light, too bright to look at. Or He could appear in a different form. He appeared as men to Abraham and a man to disciples walking the road to Emmaus. Gideon saw him as an angel. He spoke out of a storm to Job.

Family: God is original family. Jesus is God’s son. God is His father.

Siblings: Numberless, but for the sake of our story, we will only consider Jesus’ brothers who feature in the current work in progress. You are one of his brothers. So am I.

Address: Heaven. In the hearts of men. Omnipresent.

Occupation: When on earth, Jesus was a carpenter, the Messiah and leader of men.

Occupation now: God, enthroned on high. Yet he is my refuge, wings under which I can hide, wisdom of the ages, creator of the universe, and father to the fatherless. Jesus, seated at the right side of the Father. My intercessor, passionate lover of His bride…

Ok…I’ve run out of words to describe He who is the Word. 

God is beyond description and understanding. Yet He is close, intimate, personal. This may mean the aspect of God you know and love may be different from mine. He is so big He can be everything to me. He can be a lover or a warrior, my defender or my enabling grace, a father who either disciplines and/or pours out extravagant love upon me….

As authors - we write the characteristics of God we know best. If we know Him as a stern judge, that is who we will write. If we know Him as rescuer and redeemer, we will tell of His grace and power. Perchance He is our best friend, our constant companion, our source of all help, it becomes difficult to think of a story where He is absent.

Many protagonists cry out to God for help, and He answers them circumstantially, as He answers us in our everyday lives. But He also speaks in one of His many voices – through the Bible, an impression, a dream or vision, a friend or an acquaintance. Or often the still small voice.
Some years ago I wrote a novel where God speaks to the protagonist directly, obtusely, profoundly. Can I share a snippet?

Imaged taken and owned by Jo Wanmer
“The contractions woke Milly in the middle of the night.
It’s too early God. I know I’m big, but it’s not time.
~~~Be still~~~
Not a time to be still God. Obviously You’re never given birth.
~~~Only to creation~~~
You birthed creation?
~~~What do you think of the work of my womb~~~
A gripping contraction distracted her. As it faded, she climbed from the bed and wrapped a blanket around her shoulders. She shut the kitchen door behind her so she wouldn’t disturb the rest of the house and flicked on the light. It shone a pale yellow. The generator would need to be run today.
Fading embers glowed in the stove. Shivering, Milly added kindling to the coals, praying it would flare and warm the kitchen.
Leaning on the kitchen table, she breathed through the next contraction.
They seem close, Lord. Is my baby ready?
~~~Be still~~~
Milly stopped pacing. Be still. Why do you say that at the most ridiculous time?
~~~Be still in your soul. Calm your worries and fears, your anxiety and questions~~~
Not my body?
~~~Your body will move of its own accord. When I created you, I programmed the birthing process in you. Allow your body to do its work. Focus your mind on me~~~”
Excerpt taken from ‘El Shaddai.’

So what you do think? Should God get a larger share of the action in our books? Would you like to read more of God in this style? Or maybe you don’t like it? I’m looking forward to reading your comments.

Jo Wanmer lives with family in Brisbane, Queensland. Her first book, 'Though the Bud be Bruised', a Caleb prize winner, was published in 2012. Her work also appears in a few anthologies. The book 'El Shaddai' was written in 2014 and with the feedback of many fine writers has been edited multiple times. It still remains unpublished due to life circumstances. Two others in the same series are written. One day soon they will be released. 

Friday, 15 March 2019

Great Expectations

Being writers, I would hope that most of us are familiar with the story of Pip, his infatuation with Estella and misplaced hope in Miss Havisham (sorry to those reader’s who’ve not read this Dicken’s classic).

 After Pip has reached the pinnacle of society, is dressed as a gentleman and mixing with all the cream of high society, he discovers that the person who has funded his education, has paid all his bills and who has promised him the great expectation of a fortune to live on is not Miss Havisham. It is the dirty, violent convict from his childhood—the man who forced him to steal a pie and an iron file. Miss Havisham has only ever designed his torment. The convict—who made good in the colony of New South Wales, running sheep—is the one who has felt kindly towards Pip. The convict is the one who has sacrificed all for Pip’s benefit. When Pip discovers this shocking truth, he is not only disappointed, he is disgusted. This is not what he expected. This is not how he’d planned for his life to turn out. At this point, Pip loses his hope, his joy and his peace.

I’ve been pondering on this idea of lost hope, lost joy and lost peace. How often have we misplaced our hope, thinking our joy and our peace will come if only we can get that certain job; if only we can marry; if only we can have children; if only our children will give us grandchildren; if only we have that house, or that car, or that overseas holiday; if only our book will be published?

Honestly, I’ve probably been in that place of believing my joy will be complete when one or all of those things come to pass. And I’ve also been in that place where those things have come to pass, and yet, things don’t always turn out how we plan. Things go wrong. Relationships go south. Kids get annoyed with their parents. Books don’t always sell.

Do you recall the Israelites at the foot of Mount Sinai? Moses was up on the mountain seeking the face of the Lord and the people began to fidget. Where’s Moses? What’s taking him so long? They come to Aaron and suggest they build a golden calf whom they can worship. And Aaron—who knows what’s going on in his head?—gets all the gold and makes a carved idol. Then they stand around singing, feasting and dancing and saying that this dumb statue has brought them up out of Egypt. How dumb can you be and still breath? Where were they when the plagues were raining down, and the angel of death passed over the land? How quickly did they forget who their Lord and deliverer was?

Dumb idols. Bread and water that doesn’t satisfy. 

Do we do the same thing ourselves? Where is God? What’s taking him so long to bring healing in my family? What’s taking him so long to help me achieve my purpose? When will I ever be financially comfortable so I can sit on a pool floaty and drink a pineapple cocktail?
At this point, we sometimes make idols of ourselves, or our jobs, or our family, or our feelings.
But the Bible is clear:

Psalm 16:11  (NKJV)
 “You will show me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”

 Romans 15:13 (NLT)
 “ I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.”

There are loads more Scriptures that clearly express how our hope, when placed in the Lord, will yield both joy and peace. I encourage you to do a word search and you will be encouraged by the Scriptures that come up. 

Disappointment is going to come in life. We do have great expectations—our society, media and education promotes these pictures of just what we can expect to fulfil our every desire. But when it boils down, while one person is digging in and insisting on their rights to be happy, that right will come at someone else’s cost. The culture of personal rights is OK, but it isn’t what brings joy and peace.

Even in the midst of suffering, a person can find joy. Remember, the Apostle Paul, who wrote a heap about the joy of the Lord and the peace that passes understanding, was not writing poolside at the Hilton. He was in prison, suffering beatings, knowing that the church members were being persecuted by the despot, Nero—thrown to the lions and burned as human torches. These were the conditions from which he encouraged us to rejoice in the Lord always. The only way to be able to achieve this is to make sure that we haven’t got our expectations set to the standard of the current social status, and that we don’t build dumb idols of our career, family or stuff that we own. 

Put your hope in the Lord, and pursue him, and in Him, you will find the fullness of joy and the peace that passes understanding.

Even in grief and disappointment, take those feelings to the Lord, and rest a while in His comfort. There you will find peace.

Expectations are exciting, but it is when we build up expectation based on a commercial or Hollywood image, and wait for those things to bring us satisfaction that we realise our hope is misplaced. I have been practising this way of giving my family a break. I don’t rely on them as the source of my joy. I have been practising finding that joy in the source of life itself—in Christ alone—and so disappointments, when they come, don’t have the ability to defeat me, as they may have done in the past. And what I expect of others is no longer so high that it’s a burden to them. They shouldn’t have to bear the weight of making me successful, fearing my disappointment when they can’t meet that expectation.

It is a freeing place to be. Once Pip began to understand who his benefactor was, and he stopped idolising Miss Havisham and Estella, he began to appreciate what he had been given, and the man who had given it. 

God bless you as you take stock of your expectations, and as you seek the source of joy and peace. You won’t be disappointed.

South Australian Author, Meredith Resce, has been writing since 1991, and has had books in the Australian market since 1997. 

Following the Australian success of her “Heart ofGreen Valley” series, they were released in the UK and USA. 

‘Hell on the Doorstep’ is Meredith’s 19th published project, the second non-fiction.
Apart from writing, Meredith also takes the opportunity to speak to groups on issues relevant to relationships and emotional and spiritual growth.
Meredith has also been co-writer and co-producer in the 2007 feature film production, “Twin Rivers”.
With her husband, Nick, Meredith has worked in Christian ministry since 1983.
Meredith and Nick have three adult children, one daughter and two sons.