Thursday, 27 February 2020

CWD Member Interview – Eric Skattebo



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: Eric Skattebo

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


  1. I love stories!  Especially, stories of faith and how God helps us overcome challenges of life.  And that’s why I love interviewing people about their faith on the radio programs, “The Story” & “Real Faith” on Vision Christian Radio.
  2. I am married to my wonderful wife, Jean, who is from St Lucia in the Caribbean.
  3. I am from Milwaukee, Wisconsin – the Dairy State – and am proud to be known as a “Cheesehead.” 


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


As a full time radio producer, the hardest part of my job is writing the radio scripts (i.e. introductions, conclusions etc.)  It is a challenge to write for the ear and try to capture listeners’ attention so they want to “lean in” to the radio and hear more.

Who has read your work? Who would you like to read it?


Technically, nobody “reads” my work (except for the program descriptions on the website – www.realfaith.org.au ).  But, hopefully, many people hear what I write.  I would like as many people as possible to hear what I write and be intrigued to want to hear the guest’s story and how God has worked in their life.  

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


I view myself as a “Packager.”  That is, someone who takes an experience of how God has worked in a person’s life and tries to “Package” them with words that make it as attractive as possible for a listener.  Hopefully, in doing this, the listener is inspired to want to know God more and get closer to Him.  The challenge is to write for another person and still make it sound conversational and comfortable, rather than formal and stilted.  I try my best to put myself in the listener’s place and ask if I would be able to understand it and enjoy it.

What are your writing goals for this year? How will you achieve them?


My goals for this year is to continue to capture listeners’ attention with compelling introductions and content.  Also, at the end of “The Story,” I write a mini-devotional to wrap up the program and give a Bible verse or spiritual truth for the listener to dwell on as the program closes.  My goal is to take this to the next level with spiritual insights that go beyond the cliché or the most popular verses.

How does your faith impact and shape your writing?



Well, as you can see above, bringing glory to God and nudging listeners’ hearts toward God is really central to everything I do.  I trust that God will bring me the right guests with the right information/testimonies that people need to hear to inspire them to take that next step in their spiritual journey to the Lord.  Obviously, I can’t do anything unless God works in peoples’ lives in amazing ways and we have something to make a program about.  The Good News, of course, is that the Lord never ceases to do amazing things in peoples’ lives and my cup runs over with fantastic guests with wonderful stories!


Eric is originally from Milwaukee, Wisconsin and became a Christian in high school when he attended a retreat led be international Christian speaker Ravi Zacharias. Shortly after graduating in 1983, Eric went to the West Indian island of St. Lucia to visit his brother serving in the Peace Corps and met his future wife Jean.
Jean had become a Christian when she was twelve years old. She was involved in her local church where Eric’s brother attended.
After their marriage in 1987, Eric finished his bachelor’s degree in Mass Communications – Radio and TV and they began to serve as missionaries at the radio ministry Jean had grown up listening to: WIVV FM located on in Puerto Rico. Jean and Eric served there for a year and a half and Eric hosted the afternoon children’s program, “Club BMJ with Uncle Eric.”
Later, Jean and Eric attended New Tribes Bible Institute in Waukesha, Wisconsin and this exposed them to missionaries from all over the world while learning God’s Word. After graduation, they served as radio missionaries with HCJB World Radio (Now Reach Beyond) in Quito, Ecuador before eventually relocating to Melbourne, Australia in 2003.
They have since served at various radio and family ministries – hosting and producing Christian radio programs heard on stations throughout Australia and internationally on short-wave radio.

Monday, 24 February 2020

The Selfless Self-Promotion Conundrum - by Ben Morton



Chances are, if you’re reading this, then you’re at least vaguely aware of the world of modern social media. It’s an ocean of voices constantly sharing opinions, tips, rants or whatever stray thought happens to coalesce. It seems like millions of people are crying out to the web to be noticed in the hope that the others will take a break from the same activity to listen for a bit. 


Chances are, you’ve been caught up in the drive to promote your own sense of style and worth - or your collection of favourite hobby-horses or soap-boxes - to build your public profile and show the world who you really are. We all seem to have the idea that it is important to make our online presence an extension of our own carefully crafted façade so that people around us can ‘get us.’


Chances are, you’ve heard that as a writer you need to ‘build a platform', ‘promote your brand', 'publicise your work' and post more content to garner more followers. And if you’re a Christian there’s a fair chance that thinking about this issue makes you feel just a bit icky. 


Yeah, me too.


What are we to do with the fact that the Christian faith is one where humility is prized, and the individual’s identity is found in belonging to the broader body of Christ and the self must give way to the life of Jesus? 


Photo by Joshua Earle on Unsplash
I’m not writing this as an example of someone who has it all figured out, or any kind of success story, but rather as a writer who has had this nagging issue in the back of my mind, and a sense that maybe the Holy Spirit is drawing my attention to something I need to learn. So I’m going to spend some time thinking and praying it through on this page and maybe you’ll benefit from it too.

Truth be told, I have never been particularly comfortable with self-promotion, and have occasionally sabotaged myself (possibly unconsciously) because of a desire to be humble and a distaste for self-glorification. As a teenager I struggled with the tension between a desire to pursue fame through my creative talents or to lay them down and serve Christ. I felt like there was no middle road. It was clear to me that the desire for my own recognition was attractive to me for the wrong reasons, and using my God-given talent to achieve it was a corruption of their purpose. I had a very long and painful struggle to let go of all that. People who aren’t believers would probably point to that moment as the reason I never achieved the great things people always predicted for me, but I can’t fault teenaged me for doing what I thought was right at that time, regardless of the consequences.

Photo by Gerd Altmann on Pixabay

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? 


I can serve Jesus by using my talents as he intended me to, and by using them to the best of my ability in a way that honours him. In fact, I must do this because they are a gift from him for that purpose. They are not to benefit me, but to serve Him and others. Diligence and faithfulness. Ouch, that hurts. I’m rubbish at those.


But how are people going to know about my faithful and diligent work if I can’t promote myself? I can speak the truth. I can talk about my work and I can talk about my talent, but not to showcase myself. It can’t be about me. God has called me to do this, and a servant doesn’t get credit for doing their work. If I have created something that I believe is likely to be of benefit to others, then it is good that I let them know about it. Not for my benefit, but for theirs.


I pray that for myself, and anyone else who is reading this, that we would know the difference between self-glorification and diligent, humble service accompanied by speaking the truth in love.

How do you navigate the humility / self-promotion conundrum? I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
Ben Morton AKA Morton Benning.



Bible verses I used





Some pages I looked at while thinking about this issue.
GoinsWriter - A Surprisingly Satisfying Alternative to Self-promotion





Ben Morton
Ben Morton AKA Morton Benning is an author, illustrator, editor, publisher and occasional lecturer in speculative fiction, as well as a fiction-writing coach who runs his own assisted publication business called Immortalise [helping writers become authors]. He is the author of Playing God, and The Tale of Alathimble Spaide and Other Such Nonsense (Stone Table Books) and creator of Morton’s Anglish Fictionary (Immortalise) and largely responsible for encouraging a lot of creative people to attempt things they weren’t sure they could (or maybe should) do. He and his lovely wife are members of Christies Beach Baptist Church and have almost three adorable girls.

Thursday, 20 February 2020

On thinking, writing, and thriving.

Mazzy Adams

It's close to midnight on the day before a new CWD blog post is due; there's no-one rostered on for a Meet our Members interview today because the members of the CWD team have all been pushing the limits of their endurance fulfilling the requirements of their respective 'day job' responsibilities; we'd push the panic button but, frankly, none of us have the energy even for that!

Never fear. If they're not too tired to think, the others will share their favourite writing tips with me sometime before morning so I can share them with you, our wonderful readers. Meanwhile, I've been thinking about ...

Thinking.

You see, no matter how well you learn the art of crafting words to create an impact, writing begins with ...

An idea.

But where do ideas come from?




In my 'day job' I work as a creative-and-academic-writing tutor and manager of our education consultancy. This evening, as one student arrived, I glimpsed a blaze of red as the sun departed over the horizon ... I stopped to take a photo.

My students often admit to having problems with punctuation, or sentence structure ... they need to improve their essay/feature article/narrative ... more often than not, in practice, this means they haven't a clue where to start, haven't done much research or gathered information, don't know how to develop a central idea and then develop that idea with evidence to support and explain it, let alone do so using persuasive speech, or applying appropriate genre techniques ... oh, and are they allowed to use 'I' in this situation?

Good writing requires a knowledge of writing techniques but ... is that all it requires?

Over the holiday break, I worked with a university student who is preparing to take the GAMSAT exam. The exam requires two responsive writing tasks - one persuasive, and one reflective - based on stimulus which may be visual, or something like a quote from a famous/successful person. There is an expectation that students will draw on their broader general knowledge and their personal experiences, responses and opinions to create a cohesive argument or contemplation, and that they'll write it spontaneously with some degree of fluency and competency.

At its fundamental heart, good writing starts with ... an idea. Or two. Or maybe three.

Despite the wealth of information available at the touch of a button, and the ease of access to opinion pieces (helpful and otherwise) on media and social media, if I were to pinpoint a common deficit I've observed which is hindering students in their development of effective responsive writing skills it would be this:

Many suffer from the habitual absence of 'thinking time' in their lives;
time to nurture inspiration;
time to contemplate, meditate, and follow a line of thought to its conclusion;
time to engage with a tangent and circle back;
time to explore themselves and their opinions;
time to develop and extend their thoughts and examine their patterns of thinking;
time to understand their positive and negative reactions to stimuli and, where appropriate, moderate or modify their responses by weighing up facts and ideas;
time to ask the big what ifs and contemplate the answers.

Ideas percolate when we take time to nurture inspiration.

Remember the photo at the top? I complained to the student about always having to dodge electric wires in the sunset photos I take from my front yard. She said, 'Sometimes you can make things like that work for you if you frame the photo right.' What a smart cookie! I thought about what she said, before I took that photo.

Then I repositioned myself ...
and took another photo, using the trees and the houses, and the cross-shaped aerial post to focus on the sky ... and wow! A stunning cloud formation emerged from its hiding place: 



Afterwards, I looked at the photos I'd taken. The next one prompted further contemplation ..




Notice how the shape of the bushy black tree tops peeking over the rooftops seems to mirror the shape of the clouds behind them? Was God simply doing his own abstract cloud painting, or was he sketching a still life in the sky? How long had he been looking in my direction? Was he watching me watching his creation? Did it make him happy that I stopped to watch and think about ... him?

So now it is morning, and my wonderful admin compatriots, Jeanette O'Hagan, Sue Jeffery, and Kirsten Hart have thought about, and provided us with, their personal writing tips:

Jenny says:
1. Make regular time to write that works for you (even if its only 100 words a day;
2. Listen to feedback without prejudice, but remember to follow your own intuition and find your own voice;
3. Understand and master rules, to understand when you can break them;
4. Don't be afraid to make mistakes.

Sue says:
1. Look after your health and fitness (especially your back and neck). Sitting takes a big toll on our bodies;
2. Mix deep work with timed breaks (eg the Pomodoro method);
3. Create strong characters. Your main protagonists need to have inner misbeliefs that drive the story. Lisa Cron's story genius is a good book to read on this.

Kirsten says:
1. Believe in yourself. Don't allow negative thoughts to keep you from writing;
2. Invest in learning new writing skills;
3. Allow yourself a break when you need it, but don't give up.

And, given today's contemplations, my (Mazzy's) writing tips would have to be:
1. Take time to think, and nurture inspiration;
2. Don't be afraid to reposition yourself occasionally; it might help you reframe a problem, or present a new vista to explore and enjoy;
3. Remember, God is always at hand, watching you, encouraging you, inspiring you, directing you, training you, and answering your questions as you seek to turn your creative ideas and hard-earned wisdom into effective, inspirational, functional, entertaining writing.

So, with God's help, think, thrive, develop your skills, practice, and write.
  

Mazzy Adams is a published author of poetry, fiction and creative non-fiction. She has a passion for words, pictures, and the positive potential in people.

Website: www.mazzyadams.com
Email: maz@mazzyadams.com




Monday, 17 February 2020

Introducing the 2020 Omega Writers Conference

Plans are well underway for the 2020 Omega Writers Conference, to be held from 23 to 25 October at Peppers Kingscliff, New South Wales (about twenty minutes from Gold Coast Airport and the Queensland border). Our main organising committee is Raewyn Elsegood, Narelle Atkins, and Andrea Grigg, but there is a team of behind-the-scenes helpers.

Andrea Grigg and I visited Peppers Kingscliff for lunch after the 2019 conference, and I didn't want to leave. Here's lunch:

Prawn and Watermelon Salad
Yum!

The resort is located right on the beach, but there is also a beautiful swimming pool for guests:


Our conference will be in the main conference room, which splits into three breakout rooms:


(That's set up for a banquet—which is what we'll be having on Saturday night, for the 2020 CALEB Award Dinner!)

We also have the Boardroom, for Hub appointments with editors and publishers (yes, Australian Christian publishers will be present):



Attendees can choose to stay onsite in either the Kingscliff or Mantra resorts (the Mantra is right across the road). The rooms are beautiful, and even include laundry facilities:



There are other hotels nearby, as well as a camping ground for those who prefer.

You're probably wondering how much this is going to cost.

Well, if you get a group together and share, it will cost the same as previous years. A standard hotel room shared by 2 people (including twin beds) and breakfast for 2 people is $185 per night. If you split the cost with a roomie, 2 nights accommodation including breakfast will cost $185 per person.

Or bring your family—there are plenty of local activities to keep them busy, from rental bicycles available from reception, to the famous Gold Coast theme parks less than an hour away by car. Or just the conference bookstore, then spend a few hours by the pool with a great book.

Peppers Kingscliff are giving us great rates for the conference: 2018 prices :) So get together with your friends and book now (there's no risk—the resort offers free cancellations up to 30 days prior). There will be a shuttle to and from Gold Coast Airport, although you could also rent a car or Uber.

You can book your accommodation now!

Use this form for Peppers: Omega Writers Conference Booking Form - Peppers Salt

Use this form for Mantra: Omega Writers Conference Booking Form - Mantra Salt Omega Writers Conference Booking Form - Peppers Salt

(Please make sure you pick the correct bed configuration: King/King means two King beds, while King/Twin means one King bed in one room, and two twin beds in another room).

Book via  salt.groups @ peppers.com.au or fax 02 6670 5111. Payment is on departure. Also, click here to join the Facebook group to find out what else is happening, and to find potential roommates.

In preparation for conference, Omega Writers are seeking a volunteer to help run the Omega website and get set up for conference. If you have general IT skills, WordPress administration skills and an aptitude for learning new software, and you'd like to be part of the Omega team, please contact Meredith Resce at president @ omegawriters.org.

And now, I'm delighted to introduce two of our speakers:

Susan May Warren

With books translated into eight languages, many of her novels have been ECPA and CBA bestsellers, were chosen as Top Picks by Romantic Times, and have won the RWA's Inspirational Reader's Choice contest and the American Christian Fiction Writers Book of the Year award.

Susan is also a nationally acclaimed writing coach, teaching at conferences around the nation and winner of the 2009 American Christian Fiction Writers Mentor of the Year award. She loves to help people launch their writing careers and is the founder of Novel.Academy and www.LearnHowtoWriteaNovel.com, a writing website that helps authors get published and stay published. She’s also the author of the popular writing method, The Story Equation, and the co-founder of Sunrise Publishing.

Susie is our keynote speaker and will lead our fiction stream. If you write fiction—especially romance or romantic suspense—then Susie is a must-hear speaker.

Amy Matayo

Not really. Not even her kids are afraid of her.

She graduated with barely passing grades from John Brown University with a degree in Journalism. But she's proud of that degree and all the ways she hasn't put it to good use.

She laughs often, cries easily, feels deeply, and loves hard. She lives in Arkansas with her husband and four kids and is working on her next novel.

Amy writes edgy contemporary romance that crosses over from "traditional" Christian fiction, and I'm sure she'll have great tips on writing great books and building a readership as a self-published author.

2020 CALEB Award

I'll be back next month to introduce more guest speakers, and launch the 2020 CALEB Awards!

(Check the Omega Writers website for the 2020 categories.)

Also, a portion of the proceeds* from the CALEB entry fee is donated to the Omega Writers Conference Scholarship Fund. If you'd like to donate to the fund and give a Christian writer the opportunity to attend their first Omega conference, click here to find out more.

And if you want to know why it's important that we offer scholarships to first-time attendees, well, I'll let one of the 2019 scholarship recipients tell you. Click here to read Adam Hickey's post.

(* FYI "a portion" broadly translates as "as much as the Treasurer lets me" :) )

So will you be at the 2020 Omega Writers Conference?


About Iola Goulton


Iola Goulton is a New Zealand book reviewer, freelance editor, and writer. She holds a degree in marketing, has a background in human resource consulting, and works as a freelance editor specialising in Christian fiction. When she’s not working, Iola is usually reading or writing her next book review. You can find Iola at her website, or on Facebook, Pinterest, or Twitter.

Thursday, 13 February 2020

Omega Wrtiers Book Fair 2020


Just over four weeks away, the Brisbane chapter of Omega Writers will be open the doors to the fourth Annual Omega Writers Book Fair. We are hoping for another day of networking, displaying a wide range of books, connecting with readers and fun.




What happens at the Book Fair?


Each year we've had a different mix of authors with some perennial favourites. There really is something for everyone - from picture books to deep theological tomes. Books for children and teens, books for adults, books that celebrate disability and difference. We have memoirs, biographies, church history, self-help, fantasy, science fiction, mystery and romance.

While the majority of our authors come for South-East Queensland (Brisbane, Toowoomba, Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast), in previous Book Fairs some have travelled from further north in Queensland, northern New South Wales, even from Sydney or Victoria.

Not only is there an opportunity to get signed books by the author, but also to hear the authors reading excerpts of their works.

It's also a great opportunity to meet up with CWD & Omega Writer members such as Anne Hamilton, David Malcolm Bennett, Kathy Hoopmann, Lynne Stringer, Adele Jones, Nola Passmore, Jenny Woolsey, Judy Rogers, Raelene Purtill, Ruth Bonetti, Jeanette O'Hagan, Naomi Eccles-Smith, Nikki Rogers, Wendy Wood, Sally Eberhardt and many more.



In addition, this year we'll have a Colouring Contest (12 years and under, resident within Australia).

Simon Kennedy (co-creator of mini-series Safe Harbour) will give a workshop on Scriptwriting while a Panel with Kathy Hoopmann, Jenny Woolsey and Adele Jones will tackle Writing Disability and Diversity.

We'd love to see you - whether to browse the books, stock up your to-read pile, listen to book readings, join the scavenger hunt, learn more through the workshop or panel - or even have a display table of your own.

It's free to attend the event and to browse. Workshop & panel are $20 each.

Registrations are still open. Don't miss out.





Where and When?


Event Title: Omega Writers Book Fair 2020

Date & Time: Saturday March 14, 2020. 10am-2.30pm

Location: Hills Church, 79 Queens Road, Everton Hills

Script Writing Workshop with Simon Kennedy (10.30 – 11:15 am)


Movies, television, plays, and other dramatizations are a major channel for storytelling today. Have you ever wondered how writing a script is different from writing a novel or a memoir? Are you interested in finding out the tricks of the trade? Experienced script-writer and co-creator of the award-winning Safe Harbour TV min-series (screened in Australia in 2018) will share his experience and wisdom in his workshop On Screen Writing.

Simon Kennedy


Simon Kennedy is an experienced screenwriter, story consultant and writer for TV and film.

Simon Kennedy was the co-creator of International Emmy winning mini-series Safe Harbour (Australia in 2018 on SBS). He also co-wrote the story and several scripts on the upcoming TV show, Interface, a 10-part action series set in the near future, for Red Empire Productions. Currently, he is working with several Australian production companies to develop TV narrative and factual concepts for both adult and children audiences.

Simon's You-tube channel, Songs with Simon, has over 100 million views. Simon lives in Brisbane with his wife and children.


Find more about Simon https://www.linkedin.com/in/simonkennedywriter/



Panel: with Kathy Hoopmann, Jenny Woolsey & Adele Jones (11.30-12:15 pm)


Would you like to see more characters with disabilities included in the books you read? As a writer, would you like to include strong and engaging characters with a disability or who do not fit the norm, but are not sure of the best way forward? What trope and clichés should be avoided, what things should you keep in mind?

Three great writers will answer questions on writing disability and difference drawn from their practice as writers and personal experiences.


Kathy Hoopmann


Kathy Hoopmann is best known for her photo illustrated books dealing with Asperger Syndrome, ADHD and anxiety. The simplicity, charm and insight of these books has made them must-haves for children and adults worldwide.

She has also written over twenty books for children and adults, many of which have young heroes and heroines with ASD. Her books have been translated into seventeen languages and her work sells widely in Australia, the UK, the US and the Middle East.

She has won, and been shortlisted for many literary awards, including the Children’s Book Council of Australia Award and has four times been awarded a silver Nautilus Award (US) which is given to books that make a better world. Discover more at www.kathyhoopmann.com


Jenny Woolsey


Jenny Woolsey is a children’s author and motivational speaker on the theme, Be Weirdly Wonderful! Embrace your difference. She is an educator, blogger and advocate for disability equality, facial differences, Down syndrome and inclusive education. Jenny visits schools and speaks on diversity, facial differences, bullying, mental health and being kind to others. She encourages children to be their true selves. Jenny was born with a rare craniofacial syndrome and is visually impaired, and her children have disabilities. Diversity and difference are her life.

Jenny has written five children’s/YA novels and been included in six anthologies. Her stories have been sold internationally, received honourable mentions and been longlisted in competitions.

For more information visit https://jennywoolsey.com/ or jenny@jennywoolsey.com



Adele Jones

Adele Jones writes young adult and historical novels, poems, inspirational non-fiction and fictional short works, along with juggling family responsibilities and her job as a microbiologist (it’s the little things that count). She’s had a selection of short works and poems published, and in 2013 released YA novel, Integrate. This was the first story in the Blaine Colton trilogy: Integrate, Replicate, Activate, a series about a young man with a disabling genetic disease that permeates his life and challenges his perceptions of self and the world around him.

Adele’s writing explores issues of social justice, humanity, faith, natural beauty and meaning in life’s journey, and as a speaker she seeks to present a practical and encouraging message by drawing on these themes.

For more visit www.adelejonesauthor.com or contact@adelejonesauthor.com



Spaces for both workshop & panel are limited. Book now at https://www.trybooking.com/BHVHW

For more Information:

For details about the Book Fair, Colouring Contest or the Workshop & Panel, Check out https://www.facebook.com/Omega-Writers-Book-Fair-927852450757367/ , or email OmegaWritersBookFair@gmail.com

Organiser: Omega Writers supports and encourages Christian writers in Australia (www.omegawriters.org)


Omega Writers Book Fair Committee

Jeanette O'Hagan
Judy Rogers
Raelene Purtill
Ruth Bonetti







Monday, 10 February 2020

Route 2020

by Jeanette O'Hagan




Wallking along a bush track, surrounded by dense scrub or rainforest, we often can't see the how far we've come or how much further we need to travel.

We might feel the burn in our calves and in our lungs as we scramble up a steep incline. We might feel the hunger and the thirst and the tiredness. We might note the changing shadows and other signs of passing time, but we're still surrounded by trees, trees, and more trees.

And then, the trees open up and we emerge into a sudden burst of sunlight. From the edge of the cliff or the top of a tor, we can see the terrain spreading out before us. We can see the ground we've covered, where we are on the map, and how much fruther we need to go.



One of my favourite scenes in Tolkien's The Hobbit is when Bilbo and the dwarves are hopelessly lost in Mirkwood, until Bilbo climbs up a forest giant to the very top branches and looks over the canopy of dense, dark treetops. He feels the sun on his skin, breathes the clean air, wonders at the dance of the butterflies, and sees in the distance the edge of the forest, the end of their journey. Now they know which way to travel.

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.





I started writing again less than ten years ago, when I made the decision to enrol in post-graduate studies on creative writing. It's been a steep learning curve, especially as writing styles and reading preferences (for faster-paced, immersive narratives) had changed. It's been frustrating at times (Why can't I use adverbs? I thought I was showing, not telling! But I love proverbs and cliches, etc.) And it can feel like I've put in enourmous effort for minimal results. As year passed year, it seemed like I would never be published, and then (five years ago), in December, 2014, my first short story was published. Now I'm trying to work out how to reach wider audiences and to keep up and increase the momentum of sales, while still writing more books and juggling family and other responsibilities. It's not easy. It can be overwhelming.

Yet, I love writing and connecting with readers. This is what what I want to do. It's what I believe God has called me to do. And I need to trust Him - that He will make a way -  while celebrating what He has already done. And in the end, perhaps it's the journey that counts.



Things we could celebrate:

Making the decision to write
Finishing the first draft
Being brave enough to get feedback from other writers, editors etc (from people other than family and close friends)
Being willing to listen to negative as well as postive feedback
Learning to know when to listen and when to trust your instincts.
Finding your voice
Learning the 'rules', so that you know how and when you can break them and when you shouldn't.
Submitting your work
Getting your first rejection letter (yep, because it means you were brave enough to submit your work)
Submitting your work despite the knock backs.
Not giving up.
Writing your next story, and the next one, and the next one.
Growing in your writing.
Reading your writing to a live audience for the first time.
Having your work published
Getting a positive review
Getting a negative review (yes, because most likely means a stranger has taken the time to read your work).
A reader continuing to think about your characters long after they finished reading your story
Fan-art
An award
Hearing a reader has recommend your book to someone else.
Your first royalty payment.
A book signing
Having a book table at a convention or book fair.
Fans inpatient for the next story
Fans dressing up as one of your characters (maybe one day).
Helping another writer to start the journey or continue along it.
Someone writing to say that your story impacted them, encouraged, inspired or maybe even changed them.
Knowing you have done what God has asked you to do.


Whether you are at the beginning of the journey, or being travelling for years, maybe take some time of reflection at the start of 2020. Remember and then celebrate past achievements - no matter how small.  Thank God for them and for the road ahead. And don't allow the giants in the land scare you and prevent you from entering God's promises.

Photos c. Jeanette O'Hagan 2020  Rendered Realms photo by Wayne Logan


Jeanette spun tales in the world of Nardva from the age of eight. She enjoys writing fantasy, sci-fi, poetry, and editing.

Her Nardvan stories span continents, millennia and cultures. Some involve shapeshifters and magic. Others include space stations and cyborgs. She has published over forty stories and poems including Akrad's Children (Book 1 of the Akrad's Legacy series) & the 5 book Under the Mountain series.

Jeanette lives in Brisbane with her husband and children.




Thursday, 6 February 2020

Changes to the Christian Writers Downunder Admin Team



The dawning of 2020 will bring some changes to our hard-working team, including the stepping down of Paula Vince after almost 5 years on the job. 

Here is what she has to say.

"Being on the CWD Admin team has been a varied and interesting role which I'll always remember with happy nostalgia. I've been among the first to welcome newbies, read a countless number of encouraging blog posts, helped introduce new discussion points, and seen the increase of hundreds of new members. I've also seen authors, illustrators, editors, proof-readers and publishers connected with those whose skills they're seeking. We on the team are always delighted to see new friendships and working bonds form which wouldn't have been possible without the forum we help facilitate.

However, we all know life is full of different seasons. Halfway through last year I entered a new one as a student working toward a Master of Divinity. The workload is proving to be intense enough that a non-multi-tasker like myself will need to apply special focus. As I've never been great at spreading myself too thin, early 2020 seemed the perfect time to assess the limit I can manage.

Stepping down from the team sure doesn't mean leaving Christian Writers Downunder altogether. I'll always be a member who looks forward to staying abreast of what's going on. I'll definitely keep my eye on the blog and Facebook page. And I know that under the capable hands of Jeanette, Mazzy, Sue and Kirsten, the Admin team will go from strength to strength."



Over the course of 20 years, Paula has written nine novels, including contemporary drama for the New Adult market, a fantasy adventure trilogy, and Australia's first and only collaborated Christian novel, with three other ladies. She's currently working (slowly) on a biographical novel about her grandfather, who was a champion South Australian boxer, as well as studying at Tabor College. She hopes to venture into writing non-fiction at some stage.      

Thanks Paula. We have appreciated your wisdom, grace and dedication over the last five years we will miss you on the team. All the best for your Master of Divinity studies and the blessings and ministry that God has in store for you. 

The CWD Admin Team



Jeanette spun tales in the world of Nardva from the age of eight. She enjoys writing fantasy, sci-fi, poetry, and editing. 

Her Nardvan stories span continents, millennia and cultures. Some involve shapeshifters and magic. Others include space stations and cyborgs. She has published over forty stories and poems including Akrad's Children (Book 1 of the Akrad's Legacy series) & the 5 book Under the Mountain series. 

Jeanette lives in Brisbane with her husband and children.





Susan J Bruce, aka Sue Jeffrey, spent her childhood reading, drawing, and collecting stray animals. Now she’s grown up, she does the same kinds of things. Susan has worked for many years as a veterinarian, and writes stories filled with themes of suspense, adventure, romance and overcoming. Susan also loves to paint animals. Susan won the ‘Short’ section of the inaugural Stories of Life writing competition and won the 'Unpublished Manuscript' section of the 2018 Caleb prize. Susan is the editor of 'If They Could Talk: Bible Stories Told By the Animals' (Morning Star Publishing) and her stories and poems have appeared in multiple anthologies. Her e-book, 'Ruthless The Killer: A Short Story' is available on Amazon.com. You can check out some of Susan’s art work on her website https://www.susanjbruce.com/animal-art .


Kirsten (aka 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 writing a fantasy trilogy.






Mazzy Adams is a published author of poetry, fiction and creative non-fiction. She has a passion for words, pictures and the positive potential in people.


Website: www.mazzyadams.com
Email: maz@mazzyadams.com