Monday, 29 June 2020

Even when we're not looking...

For all of us, 2020 has been a strange year. In my family, not much as changed as I mostly work from home already and chronic illness has us 'social isolating' most of the time anyway. In many ways, 2020 hasn't been any stranger than the last few years.

It's been a few years since my last book was published. Life has been taken up with, well, life. Little did I know how God had been working in my life to make my dreams come true, even when I was just plodding away doing my thing.

Back in 2013, I was asked by my local library to run a group with young writers. This was a face to face workshop once a fortnight and it was the highlight of my week. I come up with a crazy writing prompt as well as give the teens an opportunity to pick my brains about all things writing. With covid hitting earlier this year, the group has moved to a weekly session via Zoom.

Over the last couple of years, I have known that my day job would be ending as my bosses were retiring. I tried many different things, but kept coming back to the business idea of working with young writers, basically expanding what I had been doing with young writers.

A few months ago, an opportunity came up to purchase a business that does exactly what I have been wanting to do. I can already see potential and possible growth with this business, freeing me up to write and publish more books.

This is also clearing the way so I have the headspace to get back to doing what I really love - writing!

In all of this, I can see God's hand at work, even when I wasn't looking or even asking specifically for help. Opportunities come along when we're least expecting it. In the chaos of 2020, it can sometimes be hard to see God at work, but He is there, working away in the background.

A little encouragement in these crazy times. Keep moving and remember, God is working, even if you can't see it at the time. Things will come together at just the right time.

Melissa Gijsbers currently has three middle grade books published and a picture book on the way in 2020. She currently lives in Gippsland, Victoria with her two teenage sons, their pet blue-tongue lizard, and baby budgie. She runs a weekly online writing group for young writers via Zoom.

You can find her at and on Facebook and Twitter.

Thursday, 25 June 2020

CWD Highlights - April to June 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 April to June 2020

New Releases, Acceptances & Cover Reveals

Lynne Stringer

Lynne Stringer released a new science fiction novel, The Verindon Alliance on 1st May 2020 (Published by Rhiza Edge). 

As Princess Vashta of the Vendel finishes her combat training, she hopes she will lead their forces into battle against her race’s deadly enemy, the Verindal. But when Brandonin, the heir to the Verindal throne, comes to see her father, it’s clear he desires peace, not war.

When a new enemy arises, striking at all who call their planet home, each race blames the other, even though the princess is sure this danger comes from somewhere new. She seeks Brandonin’s help in fighting this menace, but what can they do when both Vendel and Verindal refuse to work together? Can they defeat this deadly threat themselves or will it mean the end of life on Verindon?

The book (a prequel of the Verindon trilogy) is available here

Lynne Stringer is the author of the Verindon series of young adult science fiction romance books and Once Confronted, a contemporary drama.

Melissa Gijsbers

Melissa Gijsbers has released the first 4 ebooks in a series of writing prompts. The series is called LitPrompts.

Each ebook has 10 writing prompts on a different topic, starting with toilet paper!

The first ebook was published on April 23, with the other ebooks going live on Amazon during May.

All the details of the ebooks can be found here -  and more are on their way.

Olwyn Harris 

Reading Stones released the first of a 3-part Homes of Healing series by Olwyn Harris in April. 

The first book, Beachside Cottage is followed up with 2nd part, Petrea Downs, to be released on the 25th June.

These stories following the lives of Eliza-Beth and her sons and how they find healing through their connections to people, places and God.

Beachside Cottage is available here and Petrea Downs here.

Helen Brown

In May Reading Stones also released the 2nd Edition of Helen’s Book, Turning Water into Wine and the Revised Edition of 365 Glasses of Wine.

In Turning Water into Wine, Helen Brown takes 100 ordinary "water" moments and describes how God has used these to teach her valuable lessons about life and His love for her. Available here

365 Glasses of Wine from Helen Brown gives a daily "sip" of inspiration and encouragement. Each story is taken from her real-life experiences of walking, with God, through farming, drought, hardship, family life, and depression. Each story is designed to encourage others as they walk with God.  Available here.

June will also see the release of the 2nd editions of More Water into Wine and Conversations with Myself, by Helen Brown, these both being available after the 30th June.

Congratulations to our authors for their exciting new releases, revision and for all who have been working on their stories during the upheavals and challenges of the last few months.

Events & Opportunities

Omega Writers Conference Now 2021

A reminder that the Omega Writers Conference has been postponed to October 2021 due to Covid restrictions.

Due to the current Corona crisis, the 2020 Conference committee (Raewyn, Andrea and Narelle) have announced the postponement of the Omega Writers conference from Oct 2020 to Oct 2021 with no loss of funds.

Peppers Kingscliff is now rebooked for 8-10 October 2021.

Everything stays the same. Susie May Warren is happy to reschedule for 8-10 October 2021.

The next highlights post should be at the end of September. 

Sunday, 21 June 2020

Its a new era. Thoughts by Jo Wanmer

Covid 19, social distancing, demonstrations…..
We have entered a new era.

“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”
Isaiah 43:18-19 NIV

Throughout 2018 and 2019 this scripture was my word, my promise, my password.
As I reviewed 2018, I realised, to my surprise, I had closed many doors that year. Mostly in decrees and prayer. I had kicked out old mindsets, family strongholds and pulled down the enemy’s strategies, effectively forgetting former things.

We entered 2019 with great hope, expecting the new. And, yes it did manifest but not as I’d hoped or even expected. (God never does what I expect.) I watched as other areas of our lives closed, came to unexpected, uncomfortable endings.

The doors of our rented office closed and my lounge room became an office for hubby and two staff. Then the staff left, leaving just me to help him. This was definitely new!

A few months later my beloved church closed. But that pushed us beyond our comfort zone into a different place. The Lord led a remnant of us into an Acts-style, community gathering. Once again, very new, and exciting, ground for us.
Then this year Covid sent even our tiny Christian community onto Zoom. Another new beginning. I’m not a fan of Zoom, but we began praying together daily, gathering around our screens at 6.30am, still in our pyjamas. This has been happening since Passover. A wonderful new beginning.

The bible tells us that Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it lives alone. But if it dies it produces many seeds. (John 12:24)
Many of our dreams have dropped, lifeless, to the ground, but shoots of vibrant new life are pushing up from the dirt and devastation into the bright light of God’s Word and His amazing promises. New bigger dreams are birthing. I can see the beginning of the new and the promise it brings. I know there is a great crop of fruit coming. I’m excited.

By definition, anything new is seen, experienced or acquired for the first time. When awaiting the arrival of a new baby, despite today’s technology, we still don’t know what that baby is like, who she resembles or how she’ll behave until she has come. Our experience with a previous child may or may not help as she is new. Never seen or experienced before.

We are entering a new era. Many things I’ve experienced this year have never happened before in my 70 years of going around the sun. So I know things will never be the same again. My hope is settled more firmly on Jesus, our rock. My worship is deeper and simpler. My prayer life has grown and an excitement stirs in my spirit.

I watch the world trying to self destruct as lies, conspiracy and lawlessness abounds. As much as it seems the enemy is in control, I know this is the birth pangs of new life, the old ways being dismantled, as the new transitions into being. God is still on the throne…the wind and waves still know his name.

How has all this effected my writing? Like most other areas of my life…it is paused...waiting for the understanding of the new. To return to, or continue with old ways and old methods is risking missing the path into the fullness of the new. So I wait on the Lord. In His time I will rise up on wings like eagles. I will run and not grow feint. And I will write what he puts on my heart.

How about you? What is God saying to you about these unsettled times?

Jo Wanmer is writing this from a wonderful retreat at Noosa North Shore, where she has enjoyed three days break with Steve. At home her dog, Barclay awaits and her family, who have now made her a  great grandmother! She loves to write, but has been slow in production of late. Eight years ago her book 'Though the Bud be Bruised' was published and has helped many.

Thursday, 18 June 2020

CWD Member Interview - Ester de Boer

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.

Todays interview: Ester de Boer, Author and illustrator

Question 1: Tells us three things about who you are and where you come from.
I have always been creative and imaginative- I was drawing on every available surface from the moment I would grasp a crayon. And have always been a story teller. My parents were amazing story tellers, just able to make up stories on the spot. My siblings and I used to rewrite our favourite stories into plays or “radio” plays with sound effects, so stories were a big part of my childhood. 

One of my favourite pages in Raymund and the Fear Monster by Megan Higginson, which I illustrated.

I didn’t take my creative side seriously until later in life, so have spent most of my life squeezing myself into uncomfortable and ill-suited roles. (I think there should be a way you can have a doctorate in unfinished courses of study- kind of a PHD of ADHD??? I’d be a well-lettered person by now!)

Question 2: Tell us about your writing (or editing/illustrating etc).  What do you write and why?
I have three types of writing – my fantasy novel, which is a long-term project; my “no way I am going to show you this unless you’re my therapist” stuff (admit it- we all have some hidden somewhere!) and (I really don’t know how to categorise it) stuff I’ve written in response to a revelation by the holy spirit. 
The fantasy novel is eccentric and darkly comical, while the Christian-based writing is (and I am surprised, as the thought of “inspirational writing” makes me want to poke my fingers down my throat) um… inspiring, uplifting, without a trace of my usually sardonic tone. I kind of wrangled with that for a while, but I realise that they’re simply two parts of myself- not my “Christian” self vs my “dark side”. I’d feel untrue if I only did one and not the other. 

Question 3: Who has read your work? 
I have had many hapless victims, cornered in my home or at a coffee shop, forced to listen as I read my work to them. I do this as shamelessly as any grandma with gigantic albums full of grandkid photos- it’s the best way to proof read (and yes, they have to sit through that as well). 
In a more formal context, I have had three stories published so far in Stories of Life: “When Andy Met God”, “Three Dummies in a Dinghy” and “Under the Frangipani Tree”. 

Available at Koorong

Who would you like to read it?
Anyone who would be encouraged or inspired by it, I suppose. I don’t try to write these. They’re responses to, sometimes, really painful or difficult situations or struggles, and the writing is the product of coming through them. 

Question 4: Tell us something about your process. What challenges do you face? What helps you the most?
No matter what type of writing it is (and I mean this literally, whether it’s a fantasy novel or university essay) I always read it out loud. I do this over and over, to myself, to others… and sometimes I get others to read it back to me. I’m musical, and I put this in my writing. You can’t ignore rhythm, tempo, texture. I keep pruning and reshaping sentences to try to get the right flow. 
If I am writing from God-given inspiration, I feel a sense of responsibility to communicate it truthfully and also to critique it theologically as well. I may be feeling sparkly rainbow fuzzies from a wonderful experience, but I may also be way off mark theologically. I won’t put pen to paper without prayer and the Bible to refer to, so it ends up being part of my worship “process” which is really beautiful- I revisit the memories, the revelation, the breakthrough, that first brought me to the experience- and the final writing becomes a solidifying of this in myself. 

Question 5: What is your favourite Writing Craft Book and why? 
Gosh, I don’t have one! I do, however, constantly read, and I’m not passive in that process. I have writers whose style I admire, like Salman Rushdie, who uses amazing alliteration or Paul Theroux (I took so long to read the Mosquito Coast because I kept rereading paragraphs just to hear them again). I think the best writing lesson is being a reader of good writing.

Question 7: What are your writing goals for this year? How will you achieve them?
I have drafted out another autobiographical short story which I now need to edit. I also plan to complete the current section of my novel (a tough process of helping my protagonist escape capture by rabbit crime gangs, ride a pirate rocketship through a gushing ringbridge, and battle two-headed parasitic birds that nest in the shells of aged, retired planets- phew!) 
How will I achieve this? I think I need a few long plane or train trips! There’s nothing like the long, boring hours awaiting your destination surrounded by odd human specimens as wonderful character inspiration… I cannot write at home. 

Question 8: How does your faith impact and shape your writing?
When I was a new Christian, I went into a creative void, as I found myself going from being a little free-spirited bohemian chick to trying to fit in in a subculture that was so restrictive and suspicious in regard to imagination and creativity (I am first a visual artist). I was constantly told that God would probably require me to give up my art, though I never received any logical explanation why. As I’ve grown more in my relationship with God, I have gained a healthier understanding of my giftings as God-given. It’s actually a big story in itself, but it’s affected how much I have come to sit comfortably in my own skin as an artist, writer and creative person, through the eyes of the creator, not church culture. If I didn’t have that understanding, I think I wouldn’t have sense of peace or freedom behind my work. 

Ester de Boer grew up in Townsville, North Queensland and has gradually allowed gravity to pull her further down into the icy climes of Gippsland, Victoria. She is a creative writer, artist, children’s book illustrator, musician and all-round arty person. To support her art habit, Ester works as a special education teacher and on Sundays plays violin and sings in her church music team.  You can view some of her illustration work at 

Thursday, 11 June 2020

CWD Member Interview – Marc Z Jeffrey

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.

Todays interview: Marc Z Jeffrey

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

My mother is a published author and a librarian and my father was a prominent scientist in defence and a sci-fi book nerd, so writing was something that was always going to happen – it was just a matter of when.
I have had a number of careers, through ocean science and IT and I worked in the Australian Patents, Trade Marks and Designs Offices (now known as IP Australia)… So I was pretty exposed to crazy ideas. I am sure some of these have fed into my creative works

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

I write what I am interested in, usually in fictional form. I probably only started thinking about writing seriously when I heard about NanoWrimo in about 2001 and thought I’d take it on and write something of length. However, it was 2003 before I first actually took up the challenge. Before that, it had mainly been abandoned attempts plus short stories articles and articles for a staff magazine that I was editing – and usually ended up writing most of, as I got so few contributors.
Oh yeah. I edit too. Probably do way more of that. My skill is shooting down a wandering apostrophe at a hundred paces. My wife tells me I am a good copy-editor, too.

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

a) My wife, Susan J Bruce (aka Sue Jeffrey), who is an admin of CWD. Members of my writing group, Literati. Probably my day job bosses, though if they have remote access to my personal computers, I am officially worried. Anyway, in that case I hope I’ve entertained them thoroughly and taken their minds well away from digging for dirt.
b) Editors from major publishers, major movie companies. More realistically, the person who needs to dream more, to believe more and to act on their beliefs more. Other than me, that is…

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

What helps me most? Getting reminded mainly by my wife that I won’t remember much of my current office job when I retire; (I already know that).
Challenges. Finishing. Yep, probably finishing and knowing when to stop finishing and do something about publishing… But seriously, it’s not the sum total (think word count) of what I produce that matters most – (I say as I while away too many hours on silly word games) – but who I influence and what I do on the way. 
I prefer the writing process to be organic, but to be organic I need to be diligent in collecting and mulling over facts, thoughts and observations. I think faith works in a similar way.
Published books would be great but the process, not the product, is the thing of substance.

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

Stephen King’s ‘On writing’. One of the first books I ever read ‘on writing’ and it has stayed with me. It is short – good advice and to the point.

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

(Am I allowed to pick someone other than my wife?) Claire Bell. Author. She has a keen sense of how things are, not just how they appear to be, and is able to bring that out in prose.

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

A year. Well, it was a full year in January. I thought of it as a long time then. I told myself I would write something fresh – but I really want to knock into shape a trilogy that I started way back in 2007 (no, really) and has been waylaid too many times. Nearly half the year has gone without really starting, but who knew about COVID in January? We knew too much about bushfires back then. But the wet, cold weather has arrived – so no more excuses.

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

As I write mainstream, I will borrow an analogy used by website developers when determining how to make the site easy to use; be able to access information and submit forms without problem. The analogy used is ‘baking in’ those features that make the site easy to use in the initial style templates, long before the developers get to play and ‘pretty it up’. 
Similarly, I don’t intentionally go about inserting faith blueberries into my story right before it is sent off to beta readers. That would be gauche. The flavour will be there in the mix to start with and be ‘baked’ into the finished product. The story will be faith-flavoured regardless of who is going to read or assess it.

This is my editing website, launching soon. Special introductory rates will apply for members of Christian Writers Downunder 
Work in Progress: Watch this space.

Monday, 8 June 2020

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.

Some of our rescue birds
A little over 3 months ago, I was beta reading, proof reading, and editing for other people, trying to finish adding layers to one of my manuscripts due for publishing in July, painting wardrobe doors for my daughter’s room, visiting my dying grandfather and offering support for my mum who was caring for him, caring for injured birds, taking groceries to fire-hit areas nearby and visiting those affected, helping out at two local churches with kids’ talks, prayer and messages, taking my children to appointments in our nearest city an hour away 2 to 3 times a week and trying to keep up with housework.

I wanted to slow down but everything I was doing seemed so important.
God knew me. He knew my heart. He knew I didn’t know how to stop. I’d been so driven for so long that I couldn’t find the brake.

I woke up Monday morning, 17th February, noticing my eyesight wasn’t right. There was a kind of shimmering at the edge of my vision. I drove one of my daughters to school and realised my eyesight was so bad I shouldn’t be driving. I had to cancel everything I had on that day. And the next.

Over the next few days it got worse. My GP sent me for a cat scan and to see the eye specialist in Wagga, an hour away. We were so busy as a family that we had to ask a community care driver to take me.

Me in hospital
The eye specialist determined my field of vision was very small but there was nothing visibly wrong with my eyes so it was a neurological problem. She looked at the cat scan results and said there were signs I’d had a stroke. I had to go straight to Emergency.

From there, the stroke pathway emergency plan went into action. Blood tests, neurological tests, MRI … and I felt completely alone and gripped by fear. Having type one diabetes meant that it was more likely I’d had a stroke, even though I’m in my early 40’s. My vision was like a kaleidoscope with bits missing and shapes jumping all over the place. As I lay alone in the hospital bed that night attached to heart monitors in the stroke ward, not knowing the future, I reached out my hands, asking Jesus to just let me touch the hem of his garment. He was all I had. My husband was working an hour and a half away and our local pastor was looking after the children.

There was so much time to think. I couldn’t see the TV. I couldn’t see my phone properly. I couldn’t see out the window. I had nothing to distract me and keep my mind occupied.

And I realised that this was very real – I might not have long left on earth as the doctors were concerned another stroke was imminent. But in those long hours of the dark night, it wasn’t my writing and all the ‘doing’ I was worried about. Foremost in my mind were my husband and children. And my friends who don’t know Jesus. Suddenly I saw what was important.

From there, I was delighted when my MRI came back showing what they’d seen on the cat scan wasn’t actually a stroke and that my temperature was from an ear infection. They thought maybe I had nerve damage causing the vision problems. After more tests and antibiotics I was allowed home to see if my eyes would heal on their own. At that point I was just thrilled I hadn’t had a stroke.

My children decorated patches for my eyes. 
But my eyes didn’t get better. They got worse. And I got weaker. I hoped and prayed but there was no change. The neurologist diagnosed me with an auto immune condition called myasthenia gravis which was stopping my eyes focusing together. He put me on medication which allowed me to see for a few hours at a time each day. He said my symptoms and the fact that the medication helped, proved I had the condition.

Throughout this time, I was forced to stop. I couldn’t do much at all. I could see better with one eye covered, but my depth perception wasn’t good and I was so tired and weak all the time. My kids would come and sit on my bed as I lay there, and they’d talk about anything and everything. I enjoyed talking with them. And I would reach out to God. And I would plot my novel and think about adding more layers. I could see the computer screen for short periods at a time with one eye covered so I wrote while I could in the mornings before the myasthenia fatigue overtook me.

And if I’m honest, it was a relief to have a reason to say ‘no’ to all that people asked of me and to not feel guilty about it.

In this time, everything else also slowed down drastically due to Covid 19.  Schools closing meant the kids were home. I learned to just be. To listen. To have my spiritual eyes and ears opened while I couldn’t see the world around me. Often we just talked, my husband and children and I. We cancelled appointments and my husband, Rob, stepped in, slowing down his own work to do everything that needed doing.

My eyes kept getting worse. I wasn’t getting better. The neurologist said he wanted to look into stronger medication plus the option of major surgery or having protein infusions in hospital 3 days each month.

I felt this wasn’t what God wanted. He had been showing me I needed to be here for my children and being in hospital wasn’t being here for them. One had even commented that he liked that I had slowed down and was just ‘there’ for them. And so I prayed again, desperately, for healing.
The neurologist wrote a script for stronger medication.
But for the first time I felt God’s whisper in my spirit that he wanted to heal, and so I said to the neurologist, ‘I don’t know if I’m in denial, but I just can’t believe I have myasthenia. Before we arrange new treatment, can I go off my medication for 3 days and just see what happens?’
He agreed but said that my eyesight would deteriorate to the point it was before medication (missing gaps of vision, unable to focus both eyes, double vision and dizziness). And once that happened, we’d start the treatment.

So on Wednesday morning, 13 May, 3 months after I’d first lost my vision, I stopped my medication and asked my friends and family to pray for healing.

The next morning, I woke up fully able to see. I mean, complete vision. And for the first time in 3 months, my vision stayed for the whole day.
And the next. And the next.
My Pop who passed
away 14th May, 2020
It was a beautiful and difficult time, because that same day my Pop went to meet Jesus. But in it I could see beauty and know and see God's presence and goodness more than ever before. I could truly see in every way possible!
The neurologist can’t explain what happened. He says he doesn’t need to see me anymore (kind of ironic, that now I would actually be able to see him, he doesn’t want to see me.) The eye specialist said, ‘You must be possessed or something.’ I just laughed, but in my heart I know I am filled with the Holy Spirit and God miraculously healed me.

I’ve now had my vision for over 2 weeks and it’s still like looking at a new world. I keep looking around, checking I can still see, just making sure. It feels surreal. I understand if you have trouble believing it, because it’s happened to ME and I’m still trying to believe it. And It's a beautiful world. I see God in it. In the faces of my children, in the love of my husband, in the beauty of the birds we care for, beauty despite their injuries.
And I see beauty in being able to say ‘no’ to all the things this world says I must do.
At first I found myself searching for medical reasons for why I can now see again, but then I realise it is futile because this really is God. I asked for a miracle and he gave one. Why is that so hard to believe?
There are no answers as to why. Except that God, in his mercy, chose to heal me.
Me with my family just before
God restored my vision.
There are other medical conditions in my life God has chosen not to heal. But I believe with all my heart that if it is for my good, he heals. Just to show he is real, he is all-powerful and he delights in every one of us he created. And sometimes, he allows us to suffer the results of this fallen world to remind us we need him and that he is our true strength when we are willing to call out to him.
I believe this was all about God getting my attention; reminding me to slow down, to breathe, to dim my physical vision so I’d focus on my spiritual vision and hear his voice again amidst the craziness of life.
Book due out July
Since that day in February when I lost my vision, I have completed two 90,000 word novels and am onto my third. As I write, it feels like worship. I am fully alive, seeing, hearing God in every word and every new idea. If I had not lost my vision, I would not have had this depth of knowledge of the wonder of God and I would still be crazily trying to ‘do’ all the things I ‘should’ in this world.  I would not have had the time or head space to write and develop ideas.
I’m wondering if, for each of us writers, maybe that’s what this Covid 19 is about, too? Reminding us to slow down, to remember to listen to our hearts; listen to God! If we look for him, we will find him!

“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13

He is the God of miracles who heals the blind, restoring their sight and even more importantly, opening their spiritual eyes.

My prayer is that each of us will take the time to hear and see him and to enjoy writing with him. And may we not only see his hand, but see his face! May our vision in 2020 be 20/20 spiritual vision!

P.S. Guess what I’m currently writing into book 4 of my Bateman Family novels? Yes, a girl who loses her vision. And I can write with so much more depth and empathy because I’ve been there! As God’s writers, nothing is wasted. No tear, no struggle, no night alone in the dark … He is here, working it all for our good and drawing us back to himself.

Jenny Glazebrook writes inspirational YA Christian fiction. She lives in the country town of Gundagai with her husband Rob, four children and many pets.
Jenny is the author of the Aussie Sky series and the Bateman Family novels (currently being published by Daughters of Love and Light, an imprint of Elephant House Press).

More details about Jenny's books can be found on her website:

Thursday, 4 June 2020

CWD Member Interview: Willow Banks/Elizabeth Chapman

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.

Todays interview “Willow Banks” 

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

  • My name is Elizabeth Chapman. The pseudonym “Willow Banks” grew once I established indie publishing business Elephant House Press (and imprint D.O.L.L.). I wanted to keep my own craft separate. The name “Banks” was on my husband’s side of the family and “Willow” comes from my favourite childhood film.
  • I live in South Australia with my amazing husband and our beautiful newborn son. My husband has always been incredibly supportive of my writing, which now gives me the freedom to carve out time in our new life for it. I’m so blessed that he values it as my calling. 
  • I have completed a Graduate Diploma in Arts majoring in Creative Writing at Tabor Adelaide and last year began a Master of Divinity, which I’m in no rush to finish (especially now with our little man!). I hope to use this newfound knowledge to season my writing. 

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

I currently write Christian contemporary women’s fiction. I have dabbled in fantasy, suspense, and even children’s writing over the years, but ultimately I feel drawn to women’s stories and to connecting with a female readership. I hope my work inspires them on their faith journey. 

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

Authors Jeanie Wood and Jenny Glazebrook were kind enough to read and provide endorsements for my debut novella The Battle for Harenburg Hill. Poet Elizabeth Snow (aka Jade Wyatt, my kindred spirit) has been my go-to person for all my writing adventures, in fact the third book of my fantasy trilogy Shamira - Trinity (published under my maiden name) was dedicated to her. As for who I would like to read my work… anyone for whom it will make a difference. If it encourages just one person on their faith journey, then that is enough. 

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

I’m a morning writer and I prefer long sessions of writing than short stints. Of course, that has completely changed since becoming a mother. Now, I just have to take what I can get. My greatest challenge at the moment is having the mental capacity and focus for writing due to sleep deprivation. However, what helps me the most is keeping the focus of my work on the Lord. The Battle for Harenburg Hill was a completely different process for me. It is the most faith based work I have ever written. It took two weeks of brainstorming and five whirlwind days of writing and being in God’s Word (pre-baby, of course). I keep a journal for each of my projects and this one was filled with passages of scripture and hymn lyrics. I also create a soundtrack for each of my projects so this one involved beautiful worship music. By the end of the writing and editing process, I could see the Lord’s fingerprints all over it. There was no way I could have written that way without Him at the heart of the project, so I’m looking forward to seeing how He adapts my process with our new life. 

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

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert. I really identify with her approach to creativity. Some of her spiritual speculations have to be taken with a pinch of salt, but reading it through the lens of faith, I learnt a great deal. I have the audio book as well as the paperback and listen to it repeatedly. 

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

It would have to be Jade Wyatt. She has been my companion on this journey for the last six years. We fall in love with each other’s characters and hers is the opinion I trust the most when it comes to my work. Also, I highly respect her writing. Her poetry is exquisite. As a novice to poetry myself, her natural expression absolutely inspires me. 

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

My writing goals are to finish editing my manuscript The Watson Women, inspired by my late Gran, and to learn to balance writing with motherhood with a new project. The only way I’ll achieve them is to be intentional in setting aside time for my writing and to remain in prayer and seeking God’s direction. 

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

My faith has become the heart of my writing. It’s the reason I write. I believe God has called me to this vocation.