Monday, 30 September 2019

Writing a variety of books

I currently have three middle grade books published, and am publishing a picture book next year. As well as writing for children, I also have a few novels on the go as well as short stories and other pieces of writing that are for an as yet undetermined age group.

Even with the three books I have published, one is a fantasy and the other two are issues books set in the real world.

In short, I'm not an author who fits neatly in the box as a 'children's author' or 'fantasy author' or whatever.

Listening to podcasts, reading articles, and attending workshops left me feeling a bit flat, almost as if I was doing something wrong in my writing career because I don't fit neatly in a box, and that made branding myself a challenge (according to experts).

I have never been good at sticking with just one thing - I get bored. I do all sorts of different crafts, listen to all sorts of different music, even at work if I'm doing the same thing too often, I need to do something else for a while. I have tried to just focus on writing for children, but there are so many great stories for grown ups in my head - I want to write a romance, a murder mystery, historical novel, non-fiction and so on. I can't just write for children. I don't fit in the box.

Last week, I posted the following on Twitter:

#WritingCommunity How many of you write in more than one genre/age group (eg picture book, MG, novel for grown ups)? If you write in just one, what made you decide on that age group or genre?
 I didn't get as many responses as I was hoping, but one from Jackie French stood out:

I write in most genres. I don't eat just one food, or read just one genre, or love one kind of music, so why restrict my writing?
I must say, Jackie French is one of my writing idols and I love the way she thinks about this. It has helped me feel so much better about the path I'm following and what I'm writing. It's a reminder that I don't have to fit myself into a box to make it easier for others to find me or put me in their own boxes. I can write whatever I want and publish a wide variety of books for different people to enjoy.

I may be at the start of my journey to become a full-time author, and I know I have a huge pile of half finished manuscripts just begging for me to finish them. I am feeling so much better about being a multi-genre author.

The lesson I've learned here is that none of us need to box ourselves into just one genre - unless that is where we really want to be.

Melissa Gijsbers currently has three middle grade books published and a picture book on the way in early 2020. She currently lives in Gippsland, Victoria with her two teenage sons and their pet blue-tongue lizard. She travels to Melbourne every fortnight to run a writer's group for teenagers and writes all sorts of different stories.

You can find her at and on Facebook and Twitter.

Wednesday, 25 September 2019

CWD Highlights - July to September 2019

Christian Writers Downunder is a diverse group of writers, editors, bloggers, illustrators. As a group we support each other through our facebook page and blog.

Today's blog will highlight some of the achievements of our members from July to September 2019


Christie Awards:

Congratulations to David Rawlings - Christy Award finalist for The Baggage Handler in the First Novel category. See more HERE

CALEB Awards:

Congratulations to the CALEB Award finalists including our CWD members - Kirrily Lowe, Katrina Roe, Nikki Rogers, Rosanne Hawke, Penny Jaye, Cecily Anne Paterson, Phillip Cook, Christine Dillon, Hazel Barker, & David Malcolm Bennett. 

  Winners will be announced at the Omega Writers Conference Oct 11-13, Edward Rice Centre, Mulgoa (near Sydney)

Check out the full short list here HERE

New Releases & Cover Reveals:

Christine Dillon - Grave in Deep Waters

Christine's Dillon's third book in the Grace series -  Grace in Deep Waters - was published in August.


William Macdonald is at the pinnacle of his career. Pastor of a growing megachurch and host of a successful national radio programme. Clever and respected, he’s a man with everything, including a secret. His wife has left him and he can’t risk anyone finding out.

Blanche Macdonald is struggling. Her once rock-solid marriage is showing cracks. She promised to love her husband for better or for worse, but does loving always mean staying? Blanche desires to put God first. Not William. Not her daughter. Not herself.

When is a marriage over? When do you stand and fight?

You can buy it HERE

Bio:  Christine is from Sydney but lives in Taiwan where she squeezes in writing novels around her telling of Bible stories to anyone who will listen.

Leanne Woods - The Belonging

Leanne Woods has published a Christian novel The Belonging on 1st August, 2019


The Belonging is a story for adults and young adults. It’s a journey of understanding that deals with issues most can relate to; death, confronting personal problems and coming to understand yourself.

You never know who, or what, will change your life until it happens. 

After the death of his wife, home health care worker Robert Jackson must re-evaluate his life in Sydney. Facing an uphill battle with grief, he contemplates suicide. 

However, his wife’s best friend Shirley won’t let him give up. But how well does he really know this caring neighbour? And what about the eccentric recluse and the pretentious middle-aged woman whose path he is destined to cross? Appearances can be deceiving. 

The Belonging is a story of four broken souls thrown together by chance and one man’s journey to discover the truth and meaning of his own existence. 

You can buy it HERE.

Leanne Wood is a poet, an avid reader and the author of five novels, with an extensive background in business, law and psychology, Leanne said goodbye to her corporate career and has spent the last five years devoted to writing stories about life and on subjects’ people can relate, stories that evoke emotion and take readers on a journey.

Cate McKeown - Memphis Grace

Novel: Memphis Grace by Catriona McKeown
Releasing October 2019 through Rhiza Edge
Available in all good bookstores or through the publisher at

Memphis Grace is the second Young Adult novel by Queensland author, Catriona McKeown.

Graceland was named after the King of Pop’s mansion by her Elvis- obsessed mum. But she’s not rich, not famous and definitely not noticeable.

She’s always just been Mikaela’s best friend.

That is, until Mikaela leaves school without explanation and Graceland finds herself noticed by Cooper Dally. Popular boy and Mikaela’s ex-boyfriend. Now she’s the centre of attention: big parties, new dresses and girlfriend to Cooper. Graceland is finally changing her stars.

But Cooper has expectations Graceland can’t meet. And when the truth behind Mikaela’s leaving comes out, Graceland realises Cooper might not be the guy she thought he was. Worse, it could cost Graceland more than she’s willing to give to be noticed.


Hannah Currie - Heart of a Royal

Hannah Currie's debut YA novel, Heart of a Royal, will be published by WhiteSpark Publishing (a division of WhiteFire Publishing) 15 October 2019. 


Brought to the palace as a newborn, the royal life bestowed upon Mackenna Sparrow was never meant to last forever. With Princess Alina engaged to be married, Mackenna’s presence as companion is no longer required and, like it or not, she must return to the birthright which should have been hers – that of a commoner.

But not everyone at the palace wants her gone. When the truths she’s based her life on start crumbling as fast as her future, will she find the courage to trust, both herself and the prince she’s fallen in love with?

You can buy/pre-order it HERE.

Bio: Aussie author, Hannah Currie, loves God, family, people (in small numbers, let’s not go crazy here!) and writing. She and her husband live with their three adorable kids in Queensland, where it really is beautiful one day and perfect the rest. Except during heatwaves. They're not so fun.


Also, Faith Oxley's book “Blessed is. Psalms of faith” will be release on Amazon next month 
And Jan Morris has a beautiful new release coming next month. Heaven's Journal's has poetry from my book Heaven is all about Him as well as places to write with special areas for your prayers and wonderful scriptures tying it all together....all on a background of meadow flowers.

Events & Opportunities:

Wombat Books Conference

CWD members Penny Reeve, Rosanne Hawke, Katrina Roe, Kathy Hoopmann & Cecily Paterson will be among the speakers with other Wombat Children's authors & featured author Kate Forsyth at the Wombat Books Conference this weekend (26-27 September 2019). Find out more HERE

Other News:

Rendered Realms at Oz Comic Con

Rendered Realms - Lynne Stringer, Jeanette O'Hagan & Adele Jones - had a fabulous time at Oz Comic Con (Brisbane) this year - interacting with fans, selling books & enjoying the cosplay.  
(Top photo taken by Wayne Logan).

David Malcolm Bennett

David Bennett has had Catherine Booth: Form Timidity to Boldness, a biography of Catherine's Booths early years and ministry, accepted for publication. Due for release in 2020

Helen Brown

Helen Brown, Wendy Wood and Olwyn Harris recently formed a great team to publish and release a book “Matt’s Boys of Wattle Creek”. 

Olwyn has been writing for over 20 years and has finally taken the plunge into publishing. Helen Brown and Wendy Wood have started an Author support business called Reading Stones Publishing. Matt’s Boys of Wattle Creek was released on the 4th September and is available on Amazon in both Paperback and Ebook HERE.

Boys of Wattle Creek  tells of the spiritual journey of Matt’s three boys as they enter into adulthood and how the rest of the small town gets to learn about the grace of God.

Helen also had a phone interview with Cooloola Christian Radio which can be accessed on her Still More Water into Wine page at her website.

Elizabeth Klein

Elizabeth Klein is celebrating a number of wins over the last couple of months:

1) In July, Five Senses Education contracted Elizabeth for four more non-fiction textbooks titled:

Comedy Theatre for Lower Primary Teacher's Resource Book,
Comedy Theatre for Lower Primary Student Book,
Comedy Theatre for Lower High School Teacher's Resource Book,
Comedy Theatre for Lower High School Student Book

Elizabeth says, 

"Having taught in the classroom and as a tutor for almost three decades has taught me that children enjoy humour. From libidinous references to belches and farts, to wicked names that conjure up ridiculous characters and situations, children love surprise and shock. What’s more, they like to express humour in their own flamboyant exuberance.

The purpose of this book is to provide children with a collection of quirky, nonsensical plays which they can read and perform in the classroom or as an end-of-year activity. As an educator, I have seen even the most reluctant child blossom in confidence through drama. My hope is that teachers utilize these plays to motivate and encourage their students in creativity and reading skills."

2) Storm Cloud Publishers included Elizabeth's short story titled Max's New Book in their Open House 3 Anthology also on Monday 22nd of July.

Blurb: Max the mouse is writing another book after being rejected (yet again) by Sally Squeaker, publisher of Grey Whiskers Publishing Hole. His new story is called Mouse in Boots and sounds even quirkier than a pirate grandmother going to sea with a crew of meerkats which has nothing to do with the story whatsoever! However, this time Sally Squeaker enjoys Max's tale so much she is pleased to publish it. It's the story of a writer's travail and failed attempts to find the perfect home for their novel, ending in success.

3) Elizabeth did a book signing at Collins Bookshop in Sale, Victoria on Saturday, 7th September.


Elizabeth Klein:




Intrepid explorer

Seeker of wondrous realms

Wanderer and sky gazer

Eater of chocolates

Lover of God and life

You can visit Elizabeth at

Save the Date:

Omega Writers Book Fair 2010 - Save the Date

Save the Date: Omega Writers Book Fair 2010 will be on Saturday, 14 March 2020 Along with a range of local authors, scavenger hunt, book readings and a colouring competition, Simon Kennedy will present a workshop of Script Writng & Kathy Hoopman, Jenny Woosley & others will be on a panel Writing Difference and Disability. 

Congratulations to all our members for your milestones and achievements

Monday, 23 September 2019

How's the writing going?

You’ve all heard the question before. Every writer has. Maybe you’ve anticipated it and given a well-thought-out, succinct answer. Maybe you were just excited someone asked and prattled on and on about how it’s all going; your voice rising an octave while your hand gestures increasing dramatically, all the while telling the poor, unsuspecting person the plot of your amazing story in intricate detail. Or maybe … just maybe, like me, you cringed inwardly and stumbled over some excuse about not having the time, life getting in the way, your busy schedule, etc, etc …

So, how’s the writing going?

Mazzy Adams wrote a post the other week about her muse. Mine got lost somewhere between Darwin and Toowoomba. Either that, or he went on long service leave, flew to one of the islands close to the Bermuda Triangle and got lost.

Last year I moved back up to Darwin. It was the wrong move. Right for various reasons, wrong for my creative flare and so-called muse. I decided to move back down to Toowoomba to the delight of the Quirky Quills and started a small part time job. Perfect. More time to sit down and write, learn the guitar and perhaps even get my motorbike licence. That’s what I wanted. God had other plans.

The job has turned into a full time Store Manager position which takes up most of my time. I’ve been sick multiple times this year with a few injuries in between. I bought a guitar, but it sadly sits on its stand, hardly used. I did complete my motorbike learners licence, however I’ve only been out on my bike once. To top off the first half of this year, I’m having to watch what I eat because my body seems to be disagreeing with something I have yet to identify.

I had so many plans this year. To write, to read, to learn new things, but EVERYTHING has been turned upside down by ‘life happens’.

So, how’s the writing going?

It’s funny. When life happens I get so caught up in feeling guilty for the simple fact I’m not writing. My creativity seems tapped out, bled dry from all the mind-numbing ‘happenings’ of my day-to-day life. I get to the end of each day having put a hundred percent into everything I did and all I can do is sit down and breathe. There is nothing left, but I still feel guilty.

All those memes telling me to write. All those blog posts of encouragement and helpful tips. All those writers telling me I should write everyday regardless of how I feel. Even if it’s a small journal entry of what happened that day. Get into a schedule, girl! Most of those I can ignore, but when someone who knows I like to write asks how it’s going, I cringe.

I cringe because of all the good advice I’ve been given. I’m surrounded by a writing community and see everyone else pursuing their dreams, publishing books, writing, editing, creating their worlds. I wonder what’s wrong with me. Why don’t I have the same passion at the moment? The same discipline. The same drive. Why aren’t I pushing myself to write regardless of whether I have the mental capacity to do so? Why have I let life happens get to me?

So, how’s the writing going?

‘There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: … I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. He has made everything beautiful in its time …’
Ecclesiastes 3:1-11 NIV

I’m looking at this all wrong. This is not my season to write. Life does happen and there is a time for everything. Your time to write might not be now either. You may be experiencing a similar situation. Your muse may have met up with mine. You don’t have to feel guilty because you’re not pursuing a particular part of your life. Other things may be happening at the moment which need the extra creative energy. You’re still using your creativity, you’re just using it in a different way. It could be problem-solving, brainstorming new ideas, character building yourself, not your stories.

We all go through hard times. Some more than others. Those times we need to focus our energy elsewhere to grow and learn. If you’re working through some big things at the moment, don’t be so hard on yourself if you don’t have the energy to write and you sit at your computer and stare blankly at the screen. Your season will come. Focus on what’s happening now. Experience it. Live it. Lean in and allow the breeze to direct dictations.

K.A Hart is a born and bred Territorian who moved to Queensland and had no choice but to stay after her assimilation into the Toowoomba's infamous, collective known as Quirky Quills.

Since then, 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 in life happens stasis.

Thursday, 19 September 2019

Book Review: Writing Vivid Settings

Review by Jeanette O'Hagan


Title: Writing Vivid Settings: Professional Techniques for Fiction Authors (Writer's Craft Book 10)

Author: Rayne Hall


 "Do you want your readers to feel like they're really there—in the place where the story happens?

Whether you want to enrich stark prose with atmospheric detail, add vibrancy to a dull piece or curb waffling descriptions, this guide can help. Learn how to make your settings intense, realistic, and intriguing.

This is the tenth book in Rayne Hall's acclaimed Writer's Craft series."

Available as Kindle, Print, Audiotape.
Published December 27th 2014 by Rayne Hall
You can find it here.


Rayne Hall writes fantasy and horror fiction, some of it quirky, most of it dark. She has also written a number of best selling books on writing craft, including  Writing Fight Scenes, The Word-Loss Diet, Writing Short Stories to Promote Your Novel, Twitter for Writers, Writing Deep Point of View etc.

After living in Germany, China, Mongolia and Nepal, a small Victorian seaside town in southern England, and she now lives in Bulgaria. Rayne holds a college degree in publishing management and a masters degree in creative writing. Over three decades, she has worked in the publishing industry as a trainee, investigative journalist, feature writer, magazine editor, production editor, page designer, concept editor for non-fiction book series, anthology editor, editorial consultant and more.

Contact Rayne Hall on Twitter
@RayneHall follows back writers and readers.

Jeanette's Comments

This is another gem from Rayne Hall and ranks along aside my all-time favourite of hers, The Word Loss Diet.

In Writing Vivid Settings, Hall breaks down different ways of including the setting into scene without bogging down the pace or producing long slabs of description that the reader duly skips. She looks at ways on including smells, sounds, light, colour, weather, telling details, similes, symbols and discusses the use of effective word choices. She explores how to research and to include the setting through the senses of the point-of-view character.

Hall then applies all these techniques to the challenges of writing specific scenes - such as the opening scene, climaxes, action scenes, at night, etc. with plenty of examples. She also demonstrates many of the techniques in a flash fiction at the end of the book.

As with her other books in the For Writers series, Hall gives many examples, tips on things to avoid and exercises to follow at the end of each chapter. She suggests building up a Setting Description Bank by journalling actual places you visit on a regular basis.

Modern fiction is often sparse of description and modern readers often skip lengthy paragraphs of heavy with description. Still, giving a sense of place through judicious description will make a more immersive and engaging novel. For fantasy and historical genres, setting is particularly important.  However, these techniques can apply for fiction of all kinds as well as creative non-fiction.

While not a particular fan of her dark fantasy, I can highly recommend Rayne Hall's Writing Vivid Settings.

Jeanette spun tales in the world of Nardva since the age of eight or nine. She enjoys writing secondary world fiction, poetry, blogging and editing. Her Nardvan stories span continents, time and cultures. Many involve courtly intrigue, adventure, romance and/or shapeshifters and magic. Others are set in Nardva’s future and include space stations, plasma rifles, bio-tech, and/or cyborgs. 

The last four years have been a whirlwind, with the publication of her Under the Mountain series (Heart of the Mountain, Blood Crystal, Stone of the Sea and Shadow Crystals, Caverns of the Deep) and her debut novel, Akrad's Children (in the Akrad's Legacy series),  as well as short stories and poems in over twenty anthologies. 

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.

You can find her on various social media, including here:

Monday, 16 September 2019

What’s in a Theme?

What’s in a Theme?

Julia Archer

What life theme might drive a hero – real or fictional?

‘For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain,’ wrote the imprisoned apostle Paul to his friends far away in the Greek city of Philippi.
                  As a theme for a life, it’s hard to beat.
                  Fiction writer and teacher James Scott Bell may not share Paul’s theology, but he is just as passionate that life-or-death stakes must drive your fictional hero.
                  ‘The stakes have to be death physical, professional or psychological’, he writes at the outset of His lively and instructive book Conflict and Suspense. A successful novel, according to Bell, is ‘the emotionally satisfying account of how the Lead Character deals with imminent death; the character must realise, with full force, before the midpoint, what the stakes are & spend the rest of the novel in a full throttle attempt to avoid death’.
                  J S doesn’t mess about, does he?
                  Of course, there’s a lot more advice in Conflict and Suspense than that. But right there on page two of the first chapter, Bell more or less states his thesis, and the rest of the book either proves it, or doesn’t. Read it and decide for yourself.
                  It is at the least highly entertaining and packed with illustration.
                  My current story certainly improved with edits inspired by careful reading of the whole book.
            But his take on theme and conflict proved to be the most helpful to me. Set your theme early, he said, and make the lead character’s conflict inherent in it.
                  So I thought for a few days, and came up with a working theme.
‘Battle to win respect and take your place in your community v quit and remain an outsider.’
                  Surely this is the theme of countless stories since the dawn of time, but it also grew out of the story I’d written so far. I didn’t impose it.
                  However, once I had the theme, I read my work with different eyes, asking different questions. Does this scene power the theme forward? Can I rewrite that subplot as a variation on the theme? Does this page have conflict-in-dialogue that expands the theme?
                  Never mind does it show Our Hero in a ‘full throttle attempt to avoid death’.

“Nepal girl runs away of wild horse” ID 8319007 © Koscusko |
                  This is not to suffocate the story in a straitjacket, but to give it coherence and a constant drive forward to a satisfying conclusion.
                  I am still working out the implications of having a clear theme for my story, but I also wondered, does it apply in real life?
                  The apostle Paul had a life theme. In fact, he writes a few variations on the one quoted at the top of this post.
                  But he is not the only biblical character to have one – stated or implied.
                  Often displayed in Christian homes is the punchline of Joshua’s farewell address to the Israelites, summing up his long and adventurous life; ‘As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.’
                  Ruth’s theme burst from her lips in a scene of high emotion. To her mother-in-law Naomi the young Moabite woman vowed, ‘Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried.’ That theme governed the rest of her lovely and gracious life.
                  Job, we are told, made his life choice – his theme – to be “blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil.”
          The Letter to the Hebrews, in its great eleventh chapter on faith, gives us a wonderful list of life themes of the ancient Hebrew heroes.
                  ‘By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family.’
                  ‘By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.’ 
                  Moses ‘chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin.’                 (All quotations from NIV translation of The Bible.)
                  The apostle Peter said to Jesus, “We have left all we had to follow you!”
                  And quoting a hymn of the early church in his letter to the Philippians, Paul describes the theme of Jesus’ life, as best a human being can describe it.
                  So, in each work of fiction we create, in our devotional pieces, our memoirs, poems and other writing, what theme are we building with our words?
                  What theme might describe our lives as servants of Christ?
                  Though chained in a prison cell Paul wrote, “I press on towards the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
                  “Full throttle”, as J S Bell would say.


Thursday, 12 September 2019

Meet Our Members – May-Kuan Lim

Most Thursdays in 2019 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 May-Kuan Lim

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

  1. I grew up in Malaysia, but travelled to Melbourne as an international student when I was 17.
  2. Working as a newsroom engineer for a short stint in the 1990s made me realise that I would rather write stories than broadcast them. In 2007, a journalist friend offered me a parenting column with the Borneo Post and I eagerly took up this opportunity.
  3. I now live in Adelaide where I teach English to speakers of other languages (TESOL), run writing workshops and record oral history.

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

For my column, I used to interview all sorts of people such from teachers to speech therapists and psychologists. My nine-year column was really an excuse to ask questions that might answer my private parenting dilemmas. Through this, I developed a habit of trying to understand the world through interviewing people and writing. I mostly write other people’s stories, in the form of narrative non-fiction. 

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

My early articles in the Borneo Post were for the general public – parents, educators, people interested in Australia. (I moved to Adelaide in 2005). In 2013, I self published my dad’s memoirs, Fish in the Well, set in Malaya, which was sold at his church and given to family members.

My latest book, Refuge, is a collection of refugee stories since the Vietnam War. My hope is that anyone touched by migration, displacement or war will read it. For this reason, I am publishing it serially online for free. The book is now at Chapter 5 Iraq, which is the story of a playwright who fell in love with his leading lady. I publish a new instalment every Friday and anyone can subscribe.

I am also adapting the stories so that they can be used as an English teaching resource. As my Port Adelaide TAFE students inspired the book, I like to think that the stories are coming full circle. 

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

My Facebook page is The Curious Scribbler. My process starts curiosity: something piques my interest or puzzles me.
I try to find out everything on the topic, whether through the library or by talking to people. Then I ask myself – what jumps out? Where is the energy? In other words, I listen to my heart. Finally, I put on my writer’s hat and try to find the voice to tell the story and the structure to contain it.
I love this quote by poet and writing teacher Mark Tredinnick: ‘How a piece of writing becomes a work of art – a plain but unforgettable thing –has everything to do with the integrity and humanity of its voice and the elegance of the work’s composition.’

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

The Little Red Writing Book by Mark Tredinnick because it is a pleasure to read. It is also organised into sensible chapters such as Lore (On voice, music, care and thrift), Grace (On style, economy and poise), and Shapely thoughts (On thought, planning, structure and paragraphs). I also love the memorable one-liners, for example: ‘Write to please yourself; make yourself hard to please.’

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

Megan Higginson. I first came across Megan’s work via her contribution to the 2018 Stories of Life anthology, Three Dummies in a Dinghy. I then heard about her work organising teen street libraries in her area. What a brilliant idea – generous and practical. Wouldn’t I have loved such a library when I was a teen? Megan has a lovely engaging reading voice and went on to read several stories for the Stories of Life. Megan and Ester de Boer are also about to launch their picture book Raymund the Fear Monster. I hope that it will help me stare down my own Fear Monsters. 

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

I have just finished reading Rosanne Hawke’s book, Riding the Wind, on how to write for children and young adults. In line with her advice, I have started keeping two notebooks: one for story ideas and another for my response to other books. Instead of gobbling up words like a glutton, I am trying to read more slowly, to savour the way the words go down, to pay attention to technique and even to copy down exceptional sentences.
I am also experimenting with other genres. To my mind, the challenge to diversify was best put by vet and budgerigar expert Bob Donely: A real doctor treats more than one species.

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

Rebecca Solnit’s words made a deep impression on me: ‘We are our stories, stories that can be both prison and the crowbar to break open the door of that prison; we make stories to save ourselves or to trap ourselves or others, stories that lift us up or smash us against the stone wall of our own limits and fears. Liberation is always in part a storytelling process: breaking stories, breaking silences, making new stories.’
While I don’t think that we can save ourselves, I think she makes a good point about breaking silences, and about storytelling being bound up in the process of liberation. It was for freedom that Jesus set us free. Let us talk and write then about how he set us free. Thinking along these lines motivated me to become part of the Stories of Life team, a team that encourages Christians to write their true stories of faith and testimony.
Jesus is not only liberator of those in chains. He is also light in a dark world. As his follower, I therefore try not to shut my eyes to block out dark and frightening things. Cover-ups and silences don’t please or glorify the God of truth. If I can bear to look at a thing honestly and dig deep, my faith assures me that there is no darkness beyond his redeeming power.
Having said that, I often find myself wrestling with how my ancient and invisible faith is to be lived out in this visible and contemporary world. For me, reading and writing seem to be part of this wrestling. Words seem to be the medium through which I sense God’s heart, and the way I offer back something to him.

May-Kuan Lim is a member of Writers SA and Oral History Australia SA/NT. She is also the administrator for the Stories of Life writing competition. Her website is