Thursday, 31 December 2020

CWD Highlights - October to December 2020



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 October to December 2020


Awards


CALEB Awards


Congratulations to the the winners of the 2020 CALEB Awards for unpublished authors.

The award ceremony was held in October

Adult Nonfiction

Susan Barnes for 10 Blessings of God


Young Adult Fiction

Jean Saxby for The Craving


Adult Fiction

Mindy Graham for To Dance in the Shadows


New Releases & Cover Reveals


Elizabeth Klein


Elizabeth Klein published another book in early November.


Self-published Symphony of Star Songs: eBook 4th Nov; paperback 11th Nov. through Amazon.





Evil hunts brothers Dougray and Robbie as they seek the invisible Citadel of Gallenbreigh for the next crystal. Traps await them and time is slipping away.

As the brothers separately embark on their quest to rid the world of evil, increasing perils are sent to stop them. Morgran is growing more powerful and is releasing deadlier demons from the Abyss to overrun Galfane.

Will Belle and the brothers find the Citadel in time and escape the poisonous hunter tracking them? Find out as the story escalates and races toward its riveting climax.

Buy linkhttps://www.amazon.com/-/e/B07ZBTVVX4


Besides having written many short stories, articles, plays and poems, Elizabeth Klein also authored 17 young adult and junior fiction books, as well as 4 educational books.


Reading Stones


Reading Stones released the 3rd part of the Homes of Healing series – The Writer’s Retreat by Olwyn Harris, back in August, It’s the story of how Tess, a romance writer, finds the story of Elizabeth and her family and God. 


Helen Brown’s 2nd Edition of Reflections was released in September, this is a devotional, from the memories of her father.





Buy link:https://www.amazon.com.au/Reflections-Australian-Stories-Fathers-Past/dp/0648893847/


My Name was Called, An Autobiography, by Graham Redman will be released on the 30th December.

This autobiography by Graham Redman takes a long hard look at life in Australia from the 40s through to today. A man who was raised in the Christian faith, who fell and failed, and yet, God picked him up, time and again, and proved His faithfulness through all of life's ups and downs. Come on a journey with Graham as he shares his failures and his triumphs and throughout it all, the never-ending love of God.



David Malcolm Bennett


In October, David Malcolm Bennett released his first volume of a biography of Catherine Booth




Catherine Booth: From Timidity to Boldness tells the story of Catherine Booth's dramatic early life, and how a timid young woman rose from a home damaged by alcohol to become a dynamic and popular preacher, campaigner for the rights of women and, with her husband, founder of The Salvation Army. Author David Malcolm Bennett has spent much of his life studying Catherine and William Booth and the early days of The Salvation Army. He makes significant and revealing use of the letters that Catherine and William Booth wrote to each other, the letters she wrote to her parents, and Catherine's diary and reminiscences. It is the first biography of Catherine Booth to make use of the complete transcribed editions of each of these works. In Catherine Booth: From Timidity to Boldness, Catherine is allowed to speak for herself and what she says is frequently dynamic and, at different times, insightful, deeply spiritual, and, occasionally, controversial.


David Malcolm Bennett has written over 20 Christian books, mainly biographies and church history. His book “From Ashes to Glory” was a joint winner in the CALEB AWARDS, biography section, and his “William Booth and his Salvation Army” was a finalist in CALEB. That book about William Booth has sold over 25,000 copies in its three editions, English, American and Australian. His book “Hudson Taylor and China” is a finalist in this year’s CALEB. His latest book Catherine Booth: From Timidity to Boldness was published in 2020.

Nola Lorraine


Nola Lorraine released her debut novel, Scattered in October. 




To lose her family was unthinkable ...
To find them will take a miracle.


While working in Europe, nineteen-year-old Maggie never dreamed that her family would be ripped apart and scattered across the sea, with her young brother and sister sent to Canada as part of the Home Children Migrant Scheme. Desperation sends Maggie on a search from England to Canada, with a harrowing shipwreck leaving her stranded on Sable Island. Eventually arriving in Halifax, Maggie is devastated to discover the trail to find her sister and brother has gone cold. An offer of help from industrialist Thaddeus Tharaday seems like an answer to prayer, but is the wealthy Tharaday her benefactor or nemesis? Set in Victorian-era Nova Scotia, Scattered weaves together elements of mystery, adventure, faith, and romance to take readers on a journey of hope and courage that will resonate with their hearts today.

Nola Lorraine (aka Nola Passmore) has had more than 150 short pieces published, including poetry, devotions, inspirational articles, true stories, short fiction and academic articles. Her debut novel Scattered was published by Breath of Fresh Air Press (https://www.breathoffreshairpress.com/)  on 20 October 2020. She also co-edited the Glimpses of Light charity anthology with Jeanette O’Hagan. When she’s not engrossed in her own writing, she’s helping other writers through The Write Flourish, a freelance editing business she runs with her husband Tim. She is passionate about faith and social justice issues, and loves weaving words of courage and hope.

Other News


Jeanette Grant-Thomson


Jeanette Grant-Thomson's true short story, 'That Wonderful Peace', was published in Stories of Life's 2020 anthology, The Swimmer, in November, 2020. It was also chosen to be read aloud ( by Jeanette with a croaky allergy-afflicted voice) for radio and online. It was published by Immortalise.

Jeanette says, 'The story is set in the beautiful Rabaul that used to be before the volcano buried it in ash in about 1994. I 'happened' to be holidaying there when my sister was flown in from another island as a medical emergency. God's peace preceded the news for me, to my amazement.'

Jeanette Grant-Thomson has been writing in various genres all her life and have had many works, long and short, published.


Elizabeth Klein


Elizabeth Klein's  Firelight of Heaven was picked up by Rambunctious Publishers for their Storymancers (fantasy books chosen for their UK readers) on 7th Nov and her short story: Carrot's Misadventurous Day was published by Storm Cloud Publishers in their Christmas Tales 5 Anthology on 1st Dec.

Stories of Life


Stories of Life anthology (Tabor) The Swimmers and Other Stories of Life was launched in November, including stories from a number of CWD members Anusha AtukoralaRhonda Pooley, Lisa Birch, Jeanette Grant-Thomson, Jo-Anne Berthelsen, Julia Archer and Esther Cremona



CALEB Awards 2021



The 2021 CALEB Award will cover books published during 2019 and 2020 in the following categories:

  • Picture Books
  • Early Reader and Middle Grade*
  • Young Adult Fiction
  • Adult Fiction
  • Biography and Memoir
  • Other Nonfiction*

Note that the categories marked *will also allow entries from books published in 2018, to ensure every book has the opportunity to enter once.  Entries will be opened in late March 2021

Omega Writers Book Fair (Brisbane) 2021


Despite to the disruptions of Covid-19 , the Book Fair will be held next year (God willing) most likely in early June (rather than March) 2021.


Congratulations to all our members for your milestones and achievements


Monday, 28 December 2020

Behind the Scenes: Catherine Booth by David Bennett

Today we go 'behind the scenes' as Jeanette (Jenny) O'Hagan interviews David Malcolm Bennett about his recent release of his biography, Catherine Booth: From Timidity to Boldness.



Jenny: Congratulations on your recent release, David. What inspired you to write Catherine Booth: From Timidity to Boldness?

David: It’s a long story Jenny, so I’ll just give the highlights. Our family church in London was close to Chalk Farm Salvation Army, which had a magnificent band that often paraded round the streets, with a string of children following. That impressed me. My working-class mum and dad had a great admiration for the Salvos, which I came to share. I originally wrote a small biography of Catherine’s husband William. Then some years later I wrote a two-volume biography of William Booth. I also transcribed, edited, and published the letters that they wrote to each other (and please believe me there are many of them), plus Catherine’s diary and reminiscences. Then years later I transcribed, edited, and published the letters that Catherine had written to her parents. At that stage, I had no intention of writing a biography of Catherine. I was preparing the tools for someone else to do it. But when that work was completed, I said to a Salvation Army friend “The background material is now all to hand, so it is time for someone to write a good biography of Catherine Booth.” He said, “You should do it.” So, I did. (Hopefully, it is “good”.)

Jenny: Can you tell us three less known facts about Catherine Booth?

David: She was a poor speller, and her punctuation was hopeless, but she was a powerful writer. Strange, isn’t it? When she felt passionately about a subject, say, women’s issues, evangelism, or the importance of the family, in writing or speaking she was brilliant. Powerful!

She and William had eight children, but they adopted two more, despite her (their) extremely busy lifestyle.

Middle class and wealthy people loved her, even though she spoke very boldly to them, and could be quite fierce in her denunciation of the wickedness of the rich.

  
Jenny: You recently edited an extensive collection of Catherine’s letters and have been involved in editing another collection of Booth letters. What other sources did you use for your biography and how did you combine them with what you learnt from the letters?

David: Yes, as I said above, I have had the privilege of transcribing the letters Catherine and William wrote to each other, Catherine’s diary and reminiscences, and Catherine’s letters to her parents, which, of course, gave me many valuable insights into Catherine’s life and personality. It is also now possible to get online access to many nineteenth century newspapers and magazines, including Methodist and Salvation Army publications, and even birth and marriage certificates. (The Booths were originally Methodists, hence the value of the Methodist mags.) These gave extra information, but they were also useful in checking and finding dates and discovering different opinions. It’s all very well finding out what the Booths said about an event, but what did others say? Listen to both sides of an argument (or event).    


Jenny: You’ve written an impressive number of biographies and theological books over the years. How did you get started as a writer and what keeps you going?

David: I was brought up to read and love books, and I was a bookseller for many years in England and Australia. This gave me a taste for writing. I read many wonderful books, but to be frank, some I read were poor, and the wicked thought came to me, “I could do better than that.” So I tried. Whether I have succeeded, others must judge. What keeps me going? I am nearly 79, and I am well aware that the party has to end sometime. But, I suppose, I am just passionate about writing on Christian issues. I love it. And it is easy to do things one loves. 

Jenny: Any tips on how to approach writing a biography or historical work?

David: I think with non-fiction history and biography you need to first have a passion about, or at least a deep interest in, a subject before you start to write about it. This assumes that you already know something about your subject. Also remember that because it is non-fiction doesn’t mean it’s meant to be boring. Non-fiction, even history (indeed, especially history) can be exciting. Present it that way.

I write two kinds of biographies. The first is what I call “dramatic”. These are usually fairly brief: 50,000 words perhaps.  With these I usually begin with an exciting incident in the character’s life, and then go back to talk about their birth and childhood. It is a strategy to get the reader’s attention. Draw them in with something exciting. In my biography of John Wesley, I begin with an account about when his home was burning around him and he had to be dramatically rescued. I then go back to tell of his family (more dramatic than you would expect) and his birth. After that I concentrate mainly, but not entirely, upon the exciting and the dramatic.




The other kind of biography that I write is more detailed, quotes a wider range of sources, and has footnotes, a bibliography and an index. While not ignoring the exciting (never ignore the exciting), with these I seek to present a fuller and more detailed account of the person’s life. My new book about Catherine Booth fits into this category and is the first of two volumes. I have tried to present the authentic Catherine Booth, something which I don’t think has been done before. Most of the earlier books about her have been “too adoring”. I have not rubbished her, but I have presented a “warts and all” account of her early life. 

With regard to historical research, bear in mind that not everything you read is true. With experience, you begin to get to know which authors write honestly and who is fudging the truth. And some things don’t quite add up; don’t sound right. So be careful. I usually like at least two seemingly independent accounts of an event before I regard it as true. (Isn’t it great that there are five contemporary and, at least partly, independent accounts of our Lord’s resurrection?) If I can’t find two independent accounts that say the same, or more-or-less the same, I would usually say, something like, “some say, …, while others say”. However, I remember finding two similar accounts of one event that I was thinking of quoting as authentic. Then I discovered that document “B” was quoting document “A”, so I was back down to one. I have only ever quoted that matter with caution. 

One last thing: avoid Wikipedia, or at least use it with extreme caution. Some of the articles are rubbish.


Jenny: Catherine Booth: From Timidity to Boldness, is book 1. What can we expect in the second book on Catherine? And will there be any more books after that?

David: Volume 1 takes Catherine Booth’s life from her birth in 1829 to 1865 when her husband began the Mission that became the Salvation Army. These were, mainly, her Methodist years, some of which were extraordinarily dramatic, and I found them exciting to write, so I hope they are exciting to read. Volume 2, “Catherine Booth: From Boldness to Glory”, will cover the years 1866 to her death in 1890. These are The Salvation Army years, though that Army was originally a mission led by William, and it did not become The Salvation Army until 1878. Catherine had considerable influence upon the development of that Mission/Army, making sure that women were regarded as equal to men, with rights to vote at meetings, and that suitable women were allowed to preach and lead Mission stations. Indeed, the work that some of these women did was remarkable and heroic. Catherine developed into a major and influential preacher and lecturer, and became the darling of the rich, who attended her lectures in London’s West End in the early 1880s. As with the first volume, I allow her to speak. I hope that volume 2, almost completed, will be published at the end of 2021.

After that … I don’t know.

Jenny: Thanks for giving us a peek behind the scenes, David. I'm looking forward to reading Catherine Booth's story and whatever book comes after.




David Malcolm Bennett has written over 20 Christian books, mainly biographies and church history. His book “From Ashes to Glory” was a joint winner in the CALEB AWARDS, biography section, and his “William Booth and his Salvation Army” was a finalist in CALEB. That book about William Booth has sold over 25,000 copies in its three editions, English, American and Australian. His book “Hudson Taylor and China” is a finalist in this year’s CALEB. His latest book Catherine Booth: From Timidity to Boldness was published in 2020.

Thursday, 24 December 2020

Fifteen Great Picks from 2020


Throughout the year, our blog team share their insights and wisdom - it may be inspirational, a story of writerly struggles or triumphs; tips about the writing life and writing craft, or an interview of one of our members. Sometimes it's moving, or funny or thought-provoking or all three.. Always, it's the result of thought, research, experience, passion, creativity.

The CWD Admin team would like to give our blog team a huge thank you for your contributions throughout 2020 (and over the last decade).

As we near the end of 2020 which so many have called 'unprecedented', we thought we'd honour our bloggers' contributions with a pick of 15 blogposts that have inspired us this year (in no particular order). Out of over 100 posts, it wasn't easy to choose and there are many other posts equally deserving of notice. We have a wealth of information and inspiration on the blogsite - accessible on multiple subjects and themes.




1. Route 2020 by Jeanette O'Hagan


... In the Bible, there are moments of reflection on the way of what has been achieved (often marked by memorials) and bold promises about the tasks ahead. Mount Sinai, the crossing of the Jordan river, Joshua's declaration that he and his house would follow the Lord, and Jesus' call to follow him.

Sometimes I get so caught up with the day to day, month to month details of what I need to be doing as a Indie writer and become so anxious about what I haven't achieved, that I lose sight of how far I've come. At those times, the road ahead seems daunting, even impossble.

Maybe, the start of 2020 is a great time to tke stock, to remember and to re-group, to see the way ahead. ... Read more here.

2.  Writing Brave (Even if Your Knees are Knocking) by Nola Lorraine

Meltdown in Aisle 3

Last Thursday, I launched my author website with the tagline ‘Weaving Words of Courage and Hope’. I’d come up with that line last year and it seemed like a good fit for most of my writing. Rewind to last Tuesday, and I was standing in the toilet paper aisle at Woollies, fighting back tears because the lady in front of me had grabbed the last pack of toilet paper. ... Read more here.


3. Such a Time as This by Admin Team

“Frodo: I wish the Ring had never come to me. I wish none of this had happened.
Gandalf: So do all who live to see such times, but that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.”

― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings)

This is not the first time the world has been in turmoil (the spread of the Bubonic plague, the invasions of Genghis Khan, two World Wars, the Great Depression, the Spanish Flu, the year without a summer, the Cuban Missile crisis and so on). And it probably won't be the last either. Even so, I'm sure I'm not the only one who feeling we've accidentally wandered onto an apocalyptic movie set. ... Read more here. 

4. The Best Scoop of All by Anusha Atukorala


... Despite the hustle and bustle around me and my frazzled nerves within, the meeting went exceptionally well. Detour or not, sweet melodies now began to hum in my heart. Our local library was willing to organise the launch of my next book ‘Sharing the Journey’. I was delighted to hear how well they’d support me. They promised to even serve wine for my guests at no cost. Oh? Yes! Yes, please!


Afterwards I realised that perhaps my detour was a reminder that the year might not flow as smoothly as I hoped! Plan for detours, I told myself when I got home. Go with the flow, Anusha. Dream on but expect the unexpected. Don’t be fooled into thinking my plans won’t get messed up. I spent the next few weeks making goals and plans for 2020. ... Read more here.



5.  How to Keep Wagging Your Tail During a Pandemic. (By Nikita the ShiChi)



In these tough times of pandemic proportions one of the most encouraging and helpful voices on social media has been Pluto, a miniature schnauzer who has been 'breaking the internets' with her wisdom and humour. If you haven't met Pluto yet, I'll pop a link to her YouTube channel at the end of this blog. She is truely good for the soul. In honour of Pluto and the other dogs and cats encouraging us humans (or two-legs as Pluto calls them) on social media, I decided to invite my dog, Nikita the ShiChi, to guest blog on CWD today :). Over to you Nikita... Read more here. 

6. Life Answer for Sceptics by Julia Archer


... But here’s the thing. Can Christian writers learn anything from this story?

Well, first, that it is a story. A true story, included in Scripture for a reason. Along with all the other forms of writing in Scripture, an honoured place is held by stories. This validates our telling stories to share Christian truth, particularly stories of how God has worked in our lives.

Even fiction is included, unless you hold that the Good Samaritan and the Prodigal Son and his father and brother were real, historical people ...  Read more here.




7. Blast from the Past - The Lamb that was Slain


This Easter will be like none we've experienced in many decades, but one thing is certain: The DIVINE MESSAGE of love and hope it commemorates IS eternal, from yesterday, for today, tomorrow, and forevermore.


Six years ago, Jeanette O'Hagan asked the question:

"I wonder what Easter means for you?"

She went on to say:

"For me it is a time of reflection and wonderment - that the incarnated divine Son would die for me. It tells me how much God loves and values me. It reminds me that I have new life through Jesus, that He can and will mend the brokenness inside of me and that He is a present and powerful. ... Read more here. 

8.  The Selfless Self-Promotion Conundrum by Ben Morton


... But God gave me talents so that I could use them, not to bury them and wait for him to return. I need to work and my family need to eat. How do I navigate the issue of being a humble follower of Christ when my talent is the thing I have to sell and it seems unanimous that self-promotion is how artists ‘sell themselves?’ Can I actually sell myself when I belong to Christ? ... Read more here



9. She plays the guitar. He runs with the wolves by Kirsten Hart


How many of you spend hours and hours researching what vegetables commoners would be able to afford during winter in the 18th Century, or how bad the storm was in January of 1956, in Sydney? What about how long the average person can hold their breath?


As a writer, we are always researching something, whether you’re a romance author, historical-fiction author, non-fiction author or fantasy author. ... As writers, we need to go out into the world and experience as much as we can. I would never have known the satisfying pain of accomplishment you get in the tips of your fingers if I never started learning to play the guitar. Read more here.



10.  Eyes to See by Jenny Glazebrook



This is a long post, but I wanted to share with you some of the amazing things God has done in my life and my writing over the past few months in the hope that they will encourage you.


God took my vision so that I would see him again.


He slowed me down so that I would hear his still, small voice and work with him to achieve the supernatural, in his way, his time.


He showed me again that writing is worship when I do it with him and that is when he brings about supernatural ideas. He is my limitless inspiration. He is my strength, my life.  Read more here.


11. How to answer the biggest question writers get asked ... by David Rawlings


If you're a writer reading this, you've probably been asked this question as many times as I have.

What do you write?

It's a question that writers get asked because it's a way of connecting with our art; with our ability. It's a way to pigeon-hole what we do and get a sense of who we're like, helping others to understand what we put on the page. It's a way of picturing what we do as an output.

Over the years I've found that people's engagement with that question - outside of the infuriatingly common 'I'm going to write a book one day' - depends on my answer. ... Read more here



12. What Makes a Good Book Dedication? by Nola Lorraine



Over the last few weeks, I’ve been giving out gift copies and review copies of my debut novel. Some readers have told me they really enjoyed the book. However, a few people have also said they loved the dedication. I’m glad they liked it, because I put a lot of thought into it, but it got me thinking about other dedications I’ve read. What makes a good one? What things do you need to consider? Do you even need one? ... Read More Here


13.  A Good Yarn by Mazzy Adams


The notes of the Westminster chimes echoed down the hallway, subtly weaving their way into my sleep-sodden psyche, insisting I relinquish my cherished nana-nap. Before dozing off, I'd been researching the etymology of the word yarn. Though I'd discovered a miscellany of interesting facts, the art of spinning the various threads of thought into the fabric of an etymology essay had proved frustratingly elusive. Read More Here



14. Writing with Passion - Jo Wanmer



... My dad on the other hand only wrote occasionally. His short letters were eagerly awaited, even if his spider scrawl was hard to read. He died half way through year 12….and the letters stopped. The few I still had I kept for about forty years, and then I reduced them to a few quotes.

Mum’s letters detailed her daily life. Dad’s letters taught me how to live my life.

“If you have 40 men in a hut you have to be extra careful with money and other easily stolen things. But you can usually narrow the field down in a few weeks and in due course you know who it is.”

I can’t remember what I wrote to elicit this response but he used the occasion to teach me. As I recalled his writings after his death, I realized he was trying to prepare me. Did he know his time was limited?

The other author I honor today diid know his time was limited. He wrote with passion to his ‘family’, teaching and exhorting them, cajoling and rebuking them, loving them and discipling them. ... Read more here.




15. Pressing on To Meet our Goals by Ruth Bonetti

... It’s time to stretch my writing muscle.


What goals haunt the too-hard section of your mind and heart?


“I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:14 NRSV)

St Paul didn’t always know where he was heading, but trusted God’s driving directions. Read more here


...
 

We hope you've enjoyed this selective review of the many great blogs of 2020. And we'd like to thank all our active CWD members and bloggers who interact, comment and support each other and the group - and to wish you all a blessed and joyful Christmas as we celebrate the birth of our Saviour and Lord and a wonderful New Year in 2021.




Monday, 21 December 2020

Omega Writers | Looking Ahead to 2021




2020 is coming to an end, and I think we're all looking forward to 2021 and hopefully being allowed to leave the house whenever we want.

Despite the challenges, 2020 has given Omega Writers the opportunity to try new things:

  • We introduced our revamped two-yearly schedule for the CALEB Awards, considering published books in conference years and unpublished books in non-conference years.
  • We introduced a new category to the CALEB Awards, Unpublished Nonfiction.
  • We had our first online CALEB Awards ceremony via Zoom, having broadcast the ceremony online through Facebook Live for the last two years.
  • We celebrated our three winners, Susan Barnes, Mindy Graham, and Jean Saxby.
Click here to read the formal announcement.
  • We had our first online Annual General Meeting, which elected Penny Reeve as our new President.
Click here to read last month's post from Penny.
  • We had regular Omega meetings via Zoom, where members could discuss their writing and get feedback from other members.
We hope to keep these online sessions going in 2021. While Zoom doesn't give the same opportunity for connection that a face-to-face meeting gives, it does give members who couldn't make an in-person meeting because of time or place the opportunity to meet with other writers. 

 Of course, conference is our main opportunity to meet face to face. Our 2020 conference was postponed to 2021, and will now take place from 8 to 10 October 2021, at the Peppers Kingscliff Resort, near the Queensland/New South Wales border. 


Click here to join the conference Facebook group.

One of the highlights of conference is always the CALEB Awards night.

The 2021 CALEB Award will cover books published during 2019 and 2020 in the following categories:
  • Picture Books
  • Early Reader and Middle Grade*
  • Young Adult Fiction
  • Adult Fiction
  • Biography and Memoir
  • Other Nonfiction*
Note that the categories marked *will also allow entries from books published in 2018, to ensure every book has the opportunity to enter once.

We will open the CALEB Awards for entry in late March 2021 - watch this space for more information.

Finally, we can't run a contest without judges, so please prayerfully consider whether you could contribute to the Australasian Christian writing scene by judging first-round entries in May/June 2021, or finalists in July/August 2021.

Until then, best wishes for a restful Christmas as we remember the reason for the season.

Thursday, 17 December 2020

Making an Effort makes it Real

Jo Stanford 

A couple of weeks ago I thought of an idea for a new book. I am quite excited about this one. The idea is fun, silly and very marketable. It will be a kid’s novel, a chapter book, set around the adventures of a nine or ten year old boy. Oh, and it involves time travel.  

Of course, time travel means that you have to plan quite a few things from the outset. Unless you want to be doing some major rewriting down the track. I took out some fresh sheets of paper and my pretty coloured pens and began to plot things out. On another page I also began to write down any questions that came to mind about the story. “How does the time travel work?” “Does he tell his friends/family?” “Do they believe him?” I am basing the character on a nine year old boy I know, so I could well imagine what the answers might be. Then I thought (and this one came with a big “oh”) “why would a nine or ten year old boy do xyz?” Unfortunately xyz was rather integral to my plot. In fact, it was the entire premise of it. I was stumped. This could be a problem. Does it matter, I wondered? Would my readers notice? The boy I knew definitely wouldn’t do xyz, and in this case I knew most other boys would be the same. No, this was not a problem I could easily dismiss or ignore.


I thought for a moment, “what would make a nine or ten year old boy do xyz? …Perhaps if he had the character trait of abc!” Then I had to ask, “So what would that look like?” My “oh” went to “ohhh…” and suddenly my story got real deep.


This one character trait instantly tripled my research needed (in order to accurately portray him), but in doing to it also makes my story more complex and nuanced…more real. (Even if it is about time travel.) It was no longer just a silly story with a two-dimensional character, but is now a silly story with a (hopefully) real and relatable character, whose abc quirks will actually add more to the plot. 

Am I creating more work for myself? Yes…but it will be worth it. 


World building and character building; filling in those plot holes and smoothing out the creases is important. It’s tempting to take the “easy” way out: to think, “they won’t notice, and even if they do, it doesn’t matter.” However, you will know. I am reminded of a quote from Stargate SG-1, in episode “200”, where they have a bit of fun and totally spoof the idea of writing for the science fiction genre. (Okay, they have a lot of fun.) Lieutenant Colonel Mitchell says, “Never underestimate your audience. They’re generally sensitive, intelligent people who respond positively to quality entertainment.” 


That doesn’t mean you need to put every little scrap of information into your story. (You never want to info dump.) Your characters may not know. Your audience doesn’t need to know…But do you know? (Because the audience will know if you don’t.) 


Dumb action movies sell, and yes, they can be a lot of fun: but none of them have ever won an award for best screen play. Ironing out those kinks and finding the answers to the difficult questions gives your work a sense of authenticity and reality. I’ve always said, “It doesn’t have to be realistic. It just has to be believable.” Your brain will tell you, “well, that could never happen,” but if it’s written well, your heart will tell you, “it could.” 


A Few Examples (Good and Bad)


Two Dystopian Societies


        The Hunger Games is set in a society which has taken reality TV to the extreme. If you read the interviews as to how Suzanne Collins first thought of the idea, you can see how our world might (conceivably) reach that point. (She was flicking between reality TV and an Iraq war documentary.) However, the books themselves fail to shed light on the path society took to get there, other than there was a war and that they lived in a place that “used to be called the Americas.” I know this world can be pretty messed up, but in today’s society…I don’t see this future.


Compare this to the movie Gattaca. The only details we get are a caption at the beginning explaining it is set in the “Not too distant future”. Yet, the science that has allowed them to create their dystopian society is grounded in actual science of today. Whenever I see or read a news article on genetics, I think of this movie and the possibility of it really happening. Note too, that the lack of detail and a firm date of when it was set actually works in its favour. The movie cannot become outdated, because the “not too distant future” is always ahead of us…and may still happen. 


Two Brilliantly Built Worlds


D.M Cornish (one of our own and) author of Monster Blood Tattoo spent years journaling and world building before he even considered writing his novels – and it shows. He has created a brilliant world with its own histories and cultures and bizarre inventions which are otherworldly, but still so believable. It shows in the way he tells the story, gives motivations for characters and just makes the world he created so real. Even without reading about the detailed histories and descriptions in the appendix, or rather, the “Explictarium”, you know that the details are there.


J.R.R Tolkien created many of his own languages for his world of Middle Earth. He even created a Dwarvish sign language because the dwarfs could not hear each other speak in the noisy forges. (Now that is finding an answer to a problem!) Tolkien didn’t slap a few sounds and words together – anyone can speak gibberish — but he knew a good many “real” languages himself, and knew how language worked. He put in the effort and research, and that is why people actually speak his languages today. (And more of us wish we could, I’m sure.) 


Too Many Terrible Christian Movies


Christian movies all too often take the easy way out. (I’m perhaps more the harsh critic on these than I am on others.) They “preach” their message at the expense of the story; they can be cheesy and sometimes just plain unrealistic. The thing that annoys me the most, however, is that with just a little more effort, it could have been quite good – or at the very least, half decent. (Sometimes having a “writer’s brain” is just plain annoying.) The good ones, according to my review, are the ones based on real people and real stories…because the world is already built. It’s hard(er) to have a two-dimensional, unrealistic character when they are a real person.

 

This is one reason I am enjoying the TV series The Chosen so much. They fill in the back stories of the characters, while doing their best to honour the historical and theological accuracy of the gospels. (They put a lot of effort into research and have consulted experts from many different circles.) In fact, they’ve done such a good job that when I watch, I feel like I am back in Israel (I lived there for a year) and I keep on expecting the characters to speak Hebrew!


***


If can be frustrating when you encounter a problem in your story or world, but it can also be a lot of fun – and oh-so satisfying when you find the answer. Talk it over with your writer friends, they might help you find some answers… Or they might find more plot holes and create more problems for you, but hopefully they can help solve those too. Do a bit of thinking. Dive into the research. Embrace the challenge. 


A little bit of effort goes a long way, and in the end, regardless of your success, you can be proud of the work you created. After all, if you don’t have a questionable Google search history, are you even a writer?



Jo Stanford


Monday, 14 December 2020

Writing with Passion - Jo Wanmer




It’s a good idea to give yourself time to think.” 
F T Heywood 1966.

Old writings hold much wisdom. The above quote is stored in my memorabilia under the heading of ‘Quotable Quotes from the Letters of a Great Man’. A great man in my eyes, for he was my father and his letters became treasure after he died.  At the time I attended Rockhampton Girls Grammar as a boarder, enabling me to complete years 11 and 12. My mother wrote to me twice a week without fail. Everyone's letters were distributed after our evening meal. They were our only contact with our parents. A black  phone languished on the wall in the entry but we girls never dreamt of touching it. Letters were our connection and daily highlight.

My dad on the other hand only wrote occasionally. His short letters were eagerly awaited, even if his spider scrawl was hard to read.  He died half way through year 12….and the letters stopped. The few I still had I kept for about forty years, and then I reduced them to a few quotes.

Mum’s letters detailed her daily life. Dad’s letters taught me how to live my life.

“If you have 40 men in a hut you have to be extra careful with money and other easily stolen things. But you can usually narrow the field down in a few weeks and in due course you know who it is.”

I can’t remember what I wrote to elicit this response but he used the occasion to teach me.  As I recalled his writings after his death, I realized he was trying to prepare me. Did he know his time was limited?

The other author I honor today diid know his time was limited. He wrote with passion to his ‘family’, teaching and exhorting them, cajoling and rebuking them, loving them and discipling them.

But he didn’t write as I do from the comfort of an airconditioned room, office chair and keyboard. Or as my dad wrote from his messy office desk shoved in a tiny room, using the few minutes he could find in his busy life as a pastoralist and farmer.

Paul wrote from prison, shackled in chains. The only contact he had from his beloved people was by messengers bringing reports and letters. His eye sight was so bad that when he wrote in his own hand the letters were huge. He relied on a scribe. I’ve often tried to imagine what drove a man, who had lost his freedom, to write passionately about freedom that's available to everyone. How did he keep his mind on things above when chains and mud shackled his feet? ( image from adobe.com)

He dictated and his scribe wrote one copy. Paul didn’t safely file the original and send a copy. He sent the only copy and told his family to share his letters around. The first group couldn’t photocopy it so they either released it or someone sat down and copied it, maybe once, maybe twice. Somehow, nearly two thousand years later, there are millions of copies of those letters. they are important to our faith to this day. 

Why did Paul persevere under such heavy difficulty? Did he know his letter would be read for centuries? I don’t think so, but still he was used by God in an impossible situation to write words that minister to me today. What inspired him to rise above his circumstances and write?

Some say he was instructed by the Holy Spirit and I’m sure that's correct. But how did that instruction happen? Was it a still small voice in the middle of the prison clamour? A Dream? An angelic visitation? I don't think so. 

His writings make it clear he was a man like you and I. Often he was led by circumstances. In this case, he was bodily confined but his spirit was fired by his passion. The same fire that drove him to persecute early Christians, now drove him to call Christians to higher heights. The anger that killed Jesus' followers was now being used to destroy the religious spirit that wanted to remain, mixing and perverting the new way. A man that writes, ‘I wish you’d go all the way and castrate yourselves!’ is still a passionate man of zeal.

Passion.

I devoured my Dad’s letters for the same reason. He was a quiet man but passionate about pushing me to my best. I have just finished reading Pauls letters again for the same reason. This author calls me ever higher. His passion is contagious.

And I suddenly realise that passion for my message pushed my first book to publication standard and into print. I wanted the world to know what God did for me. It also explains why my other books languish, waiting. The passion isn’t strong enough to push me past the obstacles of publication. Or is it a fear of judgement of beliefs I hold passionately?

In a few blogs in the last weeks, some of our writers talk of the struggle to write this year - even though in a way we, like Paul, have been confined. Maybe we are in the hush before the storm, the rest before the race, the preparation before production? I believe God is working in each of our lives and He will bring forth a flurry of words in His time.

What about you? What makes you write and persist until the words are good enough to engage and delight a reader? What pushes you past the endless obstacles to get a book in print?

 

       Jo and Steve Wanmer live just north of Brisbane where they do   business, ministry and life together. They share their home with          Barclay, a lively toy poodle, who demands much love and many   walks.  Jo's award winning book, Though the Bud be Bruised, was published six years ago. Other manuscripts are either in rough draft, edited draft, on scraps of paper or in her head. It has been a quieter year for her, as for many - a time to reflect as she enters her seventh decade.

                                                       


Thursday, 10 December 2020

CWD Member Interview - Susan Barnes

Most Thursdays this year 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: Susan Barnes 

Question 1: Tell us three things about who you are and where you come from.
 
1. I was born in England and migrated to Australia with my parents in 1964 as Ten Pound Poms
2. I’m a writer and short-term interim pastor. I’m working towards getting my first book published
3. I’ve always been an avid reader, but I didn’t grow up dreaming of being an author

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

I write to teach, disciple and encourage Christians. Mostly I write devotional thoughts based on Bible verses but I’ve also written book-length manuscripts. My manuscript, 10 Blessings of God You Won’t Want to Miss, recently won the CALEB unpublished non-fiction award. Currently, I’m working on a manuscript where each chapter is a Bible character. I particularly like to write about obscure characters or difficult stories. For example, Priscilla, Lydia, Jephthah, Jonathan, Nebuchadnezzar, Abraham sacrificing Isaac etc. 

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

A lot of my devotions are online and I don’t get a lot of feedback. I know from the statistics that my website has always attracted more Americans than Australians, but I have no idea why. Perhaps because there are simply more of them. In the last 12 months, I’ve had a surprising increase in the number of hits from the Philippines. 

Of course, I’d like everyone to read my blog/website! But realistically, I hope my work is found by those who need a word of encouragement, challenge or hope. Link to my website.


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

Initially, my process for writing devotions was random but these days it’s highly structured. As part of my devotional times, I write about a verse that stands out to me. This means I have exercise books full of thoughts on Bible verses. When I want to write a series of devotions from a particular Bible book, I find the exercise book where I’ve written about that book of the Bible. At the moment, I’m writing devotions on Luke from notes I made in 2017.

When I’m writing a book-length manuscript, I look for a theme that I can break into ten chapters and as I approach each chapter, I look for one overall idea with three points.

My biggest challenge is not to rush. I’ve come to accept that it takes as long as it takes. If I rush the process the standard of my writing suffers. I loosely aim to write or edit 4,000 words a week for three weeks of the month. (The fourth week I write articles for my blog.) I hold this goal lightly and if it doesn’t happen, that’s okay. 

It helps me to have a routine. Most mornings I write or prepare sermons (which is quite similar). In the afternoons, I shop, exercise, read, socialise, do housework etc. It’s been difficult to explain to my hairdresser why I don’t like appointments in the morning!

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

My favourite writing craft book is Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott, not because it was brilliantly insightful but because it was so funny, despite the bad language. However, she did also share some useful thoughts, particularly about not taking yourself too seriously as a writer. I have trouble finding craft books that address the genre I write which is Christian living, but not creative non-fiction. I enjoy reading about other authors’ processes. The first one I ever read was Stephen King’s On Writing which was helpful, again, despite the bad language.

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

I like to give a shout-out to some writers I met at the beginning of my connection with Christian Writers who are still part of CWD particularly, Jenny Glazebrook, Jo-Anne Berthelsen, Nola Passmore and Penny Reeve. These writers have inspired and encouraged me by their faithfulness and persistence over many years. In the early days of Omega Conferences, I remember their willingness to run workshops for a pittance, yet they always came fully prepared. They shared not only their talents but their love of words and their heart for God. They have been good role models for me.

Question 7: What are your writing goals for 2021? How will you achieve them?

I have been given a place in the 2021 Graduate Certificate in Creative Writing and Communication course run by Tabor College. So my goal for next year is to complete the course! I also want to keep writing three articles a week for my blog. Every other writing project is going to be put on hold.

I’m looking forward to doing this course and curiously, I only felt confident to undertake it because of receiving the CALEB Award this year. In about June I received feedback on my CALEB entry from the first-round judges, which was mostly positive and the few negatives were things I could easily fix. When I received the feedback from the second-round judges, there were again lots of positives and a few negatives. However, this time I wasn’t sure how to fix the negatives yet I also knew they were things that needed to be fixed. Still, there were enough positives to give me the confidence to pursue further study. 

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

Without my faith, I would have nothing to write about! 

I started writing regularly when my husband became a pastor and he asked me to write a devotional article once a fortnight for the church newsletter. At the time, I thought it was a huge commitment and how would I ever find enough to write about? Three years later, we moved to a church that had a newsletter every week, but at least by then, I could recycle a few thoughts from the previous church. 

Over the years, I’ve felt a growing sense of my writing becoming a ministry rather than just a hobby.

Susan Barnes likes to write devotional thoughts on Bible passages, book reviews and inspirational articles. She loves to challenge people's thinking and regularly posts on her blog/website. You can receive her free ebook, 10 Things My Children Taught Me About God when you sign up for her newsletter.

Monday, 7 December 2020

Bookmark Marketing by Nola Lorraine

 



Back in prehistoric times when I was at school, there were no laptops, no mobile phones, no iPads or Kindles, no World Wide Web and no online shopping. If you wanted a book, you went into a physical bookstore and bought a real book with pages. Those pages needed a bookmark and I had dozens of them. Some with encouraging scriptures, some illustrated with my favourite Peanuts characters, some with tassels, some laminated and some made of leather that were too thick to actually use as bookmarks.

Although we tend to do a lot more electronic bookmarking these days, most of us still own, buy and borrow physical books. The humble bookmark still has its place and I decided to use it as one of my marketing tools for my historical novel Scattered. Using bookmarks for marketing is nothing new, of course, but there’s a lot to think about, especially if you’re designing your own.

 

Why Do You Want to Use Bookmarks?

Given that there are dozens of merchandising options you could use to advertise your book (e.g. flyers, business cards, magnets, postcards, pens, banners), why do you think bookmarks are a good choice? I can think of a few reasons (though some of these aren’t exclusive to bookmarks).

  • Booklovers love bookmarks. If you meet someone in a bookstore, a signing or a writing event, you know they already love books, so why not put your bookmark in their hands?
  • Bookmarks make great gifts. It’s easy to pop them in with a present, card or letter.
  • Bookmarks are great examples of ‘takeaway’ marketing. Someone might not buy your book at a particular event. But if readers take your bookmark away with them, it serves as a great reminder. Every time they turn to the page they’ve marked with your bookmark, they’re reminded of your book or brand, and you might get a sale down the line.
  • They’re great conversation starters. If you’re at a book event, it’s easy to approach people and say, ‘Hi, would you like one of my bookmarks?’ If they look like a startled rabbit, you can leave it at that. If they look interested, you can tell them a bit about your book.

 

 What Type of Bookmark?

If you decide that bookmarks are a good marketing choice for you, think about what you want on your bookmark. This might seem obvious, but it takes a lot of thought. Do you want it to showcase your books or one book in particular? Are you going to include the book cover? A book blurb? Info about where to buy the book? Do you want the bookmark to advertise you as an author? If so, are you going to include all of your social media links? Do you want to advertise services you offer? If you’ve written a book for the Christian market, do you want to include a scripture? Do you see your bookmarks as part of a broader ministry or are you focusing on one aspect of your work?

With so many potential inclusions, your bookmark could get very cluttered, which may take away from the visual appeal. You could have a double-sided bookmark, but that costs more money. What do you want to achieve?


Designing and Printing

Copyright and permissions - If you’re using any images on your bookmark, such as book cover images, check that you have permission to use them. This could mean checking with your publisher or anyone who has assisted with the cover design (e.g. your graphic designer or other service provider). If you designed your own book cover, you should have already checked that you had permission to use the images. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re free to use those images on other merchandise, so check any licensing agreements.

Budget Considerations – It’s good to have a rough idea of how much you want to spend on bookmarks. Do you have the skills necessary to design your own bookmark or do you need to hire a graphic designer? Do you have dozens of upcoming book events and need hundreds of bookmarks, or do you want a small print run? The more you order, the cheaper it usually works out per bookmark, but it’s no use having a thousand bookmarks sitting at home that you can’t get rid of. How fancy do you want your bookmark to be? Double-sided printing, higher quality card and different kinds of surfaces cost more. What do you definitely need and what are you willing to compromise on for the sake of price?

Designing the Bookmark – A full discussion of this topic is beyond the scope of this blog. However, I just want to mention a couple of tools I found useful. Some graphic design sites like Canva have bookmark templates to help you design your bookmark or you can create a custom design. I use Stencil for creating most of my memes. While they don’t have a bookmark template, you can create a custom design in any format. Whichever program you use, you can generate various designs and get a feel for which one works best. You can even post your designs on social media and do a poll to see which one grabs potential readers.

Finding a Printer – This turned out to be harder than I thought. Not all printers do bookmarks and some have certain stipulations regarding the size of the print run. You also need to take note of any special formatting restrictions they have and whether they can cater to your requirements  (e.g. certain fonts and colours).

I settled on a Melbourne company called CMYK Colour Online, as I could use special fonts and colours, and they seemed to have the best balance of what I wanted for the price. It was a bit of a learning curve using their templates, but they have some really detailed instructions. When you go to order, they also have an option where you can pay a bit more to have someone check the artwork. I decided to go with that option, so that I could be 100% sure the bookmarks weren’t going to have any nasty surprises like blurred images. When ordering, there were also a lot of pricing options, so it was easy to play around with it and find something that fit my budget. The bookmarks also arrived quickly and I was very happy with the final product. (Disclaimer: Although this company worked well for me, it may not be for everyone. Before deciding on a printer, see which company is a good fit for you and always check customer reviews. If you can get a personal recommendation from someone who’s used them before, all the better.)

Time is Your Friend – I was so busy leading up to my launch, that I left it a bit late to get cracking on the bookmarks. It turned out okay, but it did cause undue stress. Allow yourself plenty of time, as all the steps I’ve mentioned above take longer than you think.

 




How I’ve Used The Bookmarks

My novel Scattered was released in October. Since then, I’ve given the bookmarks out at my book launch, a book signing, and a writing workshop. I’ve also included them with any books I’ve sold directly to readers.

When I did a recent signing at Koorong, my local Christian bookstore store, I used them as conversation starters. It was easy to walk up to someone, offer them a bookmark and tell them that my book was on special in the store that day. Sometimes I just left it at that, as I didn’t want anyone to feel pressured. However, some people asked me more about the book and ended up buying one.

The manager of my local Koorong store was happy for me to leave some bookmarks on the counter. She’s since told me that a lot of people have been picking them up and some customers have then asked if the book is available in the store.

 

The Ultimate Aim

In one sense, the aim of any type of marketing is to boost sales, but it’s not all about making money. With such competition these days, very few authors make pots of money anyway. If you have a book God has laid on your heart to share, you need to think about how to get that book into the hands of potential readers and then leave the rest to God. Bookmarks are just one of many avenues available to you.


What about you? Do you have hoards of bookmarks stashed in books all over your house? What makes a good bookmark? Have you designed your own bookmarks? Do you have any tips you can share? I’d love to hear your comments.

 

Author Bio

Nola Lorraine has a passion for faith and social justice issues, and loves weaving words that inspire others with courage and hope. She co-edited the Christian charity anthology Glimpses of Light; and has more than 150 short publications, including fiction, poetry, devotions, true stories, magazine articles and academic papers. She and her husband Tim run a freelance writing and editing business, The Write Flourish, from the home they share with their two adorable cavoodles in southeast Queensland, Australia. 
Her debut novel Scattered was released in October 2020. It is available from a number of outlets including AmazonKoorong, and Breath of Fresh Air Press.

To find out more, please visit her author site: www.nolalorraine.com.au

She’d also love to connect with you on social media:

Facebook:    https://www.facebook.com/nolalorraine

Twitter:        https://twitter.com/nolalorraine1

Pinterest:        https://www.pinterest.com.au/nolalorraine1

 

 

 


Thursday, 3 December 2020

 Pressing on To Meet our Goals

by Ruth Bonetti

Procrastination – let me count some ways:

Day Job (as in, don’t give up...) 


I’m grateful that teaching music has allowed ongoing income, where others have gnawed fingernails in an uncertain 2020. Ouch, the challenge to conquer technology platforms and teach online. I progressed from “Moi? Tech and I are incompatible!” to “OK, work is bread and butter.” Each day/week/month/term I grew confidence, skills, tricks. Brain exhausted. But jubilant that I could communicate in another way.

 

Online, I was welcomed into homes, met dogs, cats, goats, fish–and parents. Some thrived with parents at their elbows, reinforcing. One girl logged in from her vista on a Noosa beach. 

(Memo: time for down-time!)


A lad appeared with a box on his head. Students emailed photos of playing Last Post in driveways.

Dear readers, I survived the year. Now it's time for writing. Flick switch in head. Clunk.

Self-doubt

Are my ideas useful, words worth reading? WORSE. Meet its ugly sister:

 

Self-sabotage

It’s so hard to get a book published, to find an agent. OK, self-publish.

I’m a shy introvert, I hate marketing! People must think I’m always pushing my barrow, blowing my trumpet in their face.

It’s HARD to tempt people to buy a book. Let alone write a review. 

My last book burned me out. I’m a resting author.

 


                        Without Vision the people perish.
                        Without Vision the writers languish. 

 

Set Sensible Goals

Mid-year (and what a year it was!) I announced I would publish Book 3 of my Midnight Sun to Southern Cross saga in October. Que? Crazy. 

Plus, a children’s musical story is underway. (Um, I’m a musician but a less confident composer).


Committing to another book, St Lucia and the Art Deco Mansion: What drove the man who built it?  cranked me from stationary lethargy into first gear. My revised goal is early 2021. February? 


Because music teaching dries up in December-January (as do incomes) I have time – and NO excuses – to hone, polish, finesse.

 

Set do-able goals

Last week a reputable publisher offered an online pitch for children’s book submissions. After wasting time in a new-genre funk, the deadline approached and whoosh! Write, rewrite, cull, revise, rewrite, edit, run past supportive writing buddies (thanks, Jeanette O’Hagan and Debbie Terranova!), rethink, rewrite, prune to word count, edit, proof. Press SUBMIT! 

Eyes blurred, dry yet watery, muscles creak, RSI wrist. 


I met the goal!


One-Step-at-a-Time Goals

A picture book will grow into a musical story. I’m heartened to see a need for social-distanced, small-ensemble performances, as in There’s a Sea in My Bedroom. A when-the-time-is-right-later goal. 

 
Way-Out-of-Comfort-Zone Goals/ What’s-to-Lose Goals

A mentor taught me a lesson that illumines my teaching and life. I dedicated Sounds and Souls: How music teachers change lives to conductor John Curro. In it (and again in Midnight Sun, so life-changing was this experience) I tell the story:
 
While at university, John Curro, conductor of Queensland Youth Orchestra, sees that I need a challenge. The Copland concerto is virtuosic but also allows me to express the instrument’s singing tone and lyricism. There are altissimo register and jazzy syncopated rhythms to conquer. And John knows that I will enjoy exploiting its introvert and extrovert qualities.
‘Why not?’
‘Because the next round performance is two weeks away and I have not learned, let alone played, the Copland.’
‘There’s nothing to lose. You can fall back on Weber. Just do it.’
How I practise. Never have I worked so. I climb a technical Mount Everest; slay dragons of my weaknesses; my rhythmic vagaries are drilled into precision, altissimo register runs conquered. Day and night for a month I live, work, sleep and finally surmount the Copland Concerto. My performance with the Queensland Symphony Orchestra is already a triumph; there is no apprehension about winningI did so already. This is my moment, charged with electricity. I shine, ecstatic. 


 

Last year, the day of my students’ concert, “Big JC” was elevated to conduct celestial orchestras. I dedicated to him their performance of a seat-of-pants Boogie. Did they nail all the notes in the right places? No. Was it a riveting performance? Did they learn improv? Do they now welcome challenges? 

 

                                                    It’s time to stretch my writing muscle. 

                                What goals haunt the too-hard section of your mind and heart?


 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:14 NRSV) 

                St Paul didn’t always know where he was heading, but trusted God’s driving directions. 

 


Ruth Bonetti feels she's written all she can say (famous last words?) about her fields of music, performance and pedagogy. She's nearly done with award-winning historical biography/memoir. Her grandchildren inspire new horizons of children's picture books. 

Memo to self: a blog is ages overdue. 

Facebook pages (See also Music, Presentation) get more airplay. As sometimes does the magical realism channelling of a long dead great-uncle.