Thursday, 28 January 2021

Book Review: Jessica Kate's Sassy Romances

 by Jeanette O'Hagan

I recently discovered a trove of book at our local library by CWD members, one of whom is Jessica Kate and her two recent rom com releases: Love and Other Mistakes  and A Girl's Guide to the Outback.  I powered through and enjoyed the light-hearted comedy, sizzling sweet romance and delving into deeper issues. Love and Other Mistakes tackles more gritty issues than Girls Guide to the Outback and could be seen as a crossover into Chic Lit, and I loved that about it, on the other hand I hands-down enjoyed the outback Aussie setting in the second book. Both well worth the read. 

Love and Other Mistakes

At first glance, Love and Other Mistakes looks like a light-hearted rom-com, but it delves more deeply than most rom-coms and I enjoyed it all the more for that.

Set in the US with a couple of Aussie secondary characters (Nat's dad & the Wildfire pastor, Samuel Payton), the story is about deep failures, second chances, and the healing broken relationships - and in many ways, it's also a story about dads (and moms).  Nat is desperate to live up to her dying dad's dreams. Jem gave up on trying to please his stern police officer dad years ago, but is willing to mend the relationship because he is now a single dad and wants his son, Ollie, to connect with his only living grandparent. While Jem's niece, discovers her pastor dad doing something he shouldn't and is caught between two her warring parents. In the middle of this, Jem and Nat get a chance of fixing what went wrong six years ago, when Jem fled the Charotteville days before his wedding to Nat.

The story is fast-paced, funny, witty, romantic, and moving, with all the different threads tying together, and ending with a dramatic and emotional bang.

A Girl's Guide to the Outback

A Girl’s Guide to the Outback takes the action to outback Queensland. Business whizz, Kimberley Foster has six weeks to convince former Wildfire pastor Samuel Payton to come back and save ministry.  The trouble is that over the last three years, he's rejected every idea she's had and sees her has his arch-nemesis. (We met both Kimberley and Sam in Love and Other Mistakes.) Sam returns to Australia because his sister, Jules, needs his help and he can't agree with Kim's expansion plans. In addition to the romantic sizzle between Kim and Sam, Sam's sister, Jules Payton, is desperate to keep the struggling family dairy farm going, even if means turning down the love of her life, vet Mick O'Reilly, a second time.


While each of the characters need to dig deep and deal with festering issues or old griefs from their past, A Girls Guide to the Outback isn't as gritty as Love and Other Mistakes and I would’ve liked a different balance in the outcome for Jules.  But, there are plenty of witty repartee, humorous moments and some heart wrenching ones as well as much wrestling with faith and God's will.  And I loved the setting for A Girl’s Guide to the Outback, a dairy farm on the Burnett River, west of Bundaberg, and 12 hours by bus from Brisbane, Queensland. We get full exposure to farming life (angry cows, snakes, spiders, farm machinery, puppies, floods, fire and cowpats), a teensy-weensy taste of the Gold Coast, and a Sizzler's buffet of Aussie customs and slang. 


Australian author Jessica Kate is obsessed with sassy romances.

She packs her novels with love, hate, and everything in between—and then nerds out over her favorite books, movies and TV in the StoryNerds podcast. When she’s not writing or discussing fiction, she’s hunting the world for the greatest pasta in existence.

Her debut novel Love and Other Mistakes released July 2019, while A Girl’s Guide to the Outback hit shelves in January 2020.

Jessica Kate did a MOM interview here.

Jeanette O'Hagan has 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. Jeanette lives in Brisbane with her husband and children.

Monday, 25 January 2021

40 Excellent Reasons to Write

I want to invite you to join me in this challenge for a new year. Once upon a time, I shared a blog post with six excellent reasons to read. Here's the other side of the coin, but this time I was motivated to come up with even more. I'd seen some other bloggers sharing 40 reasons why they like to write, but accidentally lost the links. That didn't stop me from having a try myself. If you skim your eyes down my reasons, perhaps they may coincide with some of yours, or even inspire more. 
Since I was brainstorming really fast, I just jotted these down as they came to me. There may be a bit of overlap between points, but hopefully you'll allow a few subtle differences. Also, I haven't arranged this into any sort of theme. Over the years I've written fiction, articles, essays, blog posts, reviews and lists. This isn't intended to elevate any form of writing over others, but just to celebrate writing in general.

The photos I've shared are to remind myself that I've always been doing this. If I had 10 cents for every piece of paper I've covered front and back, I'd be a millionaire.

Here are my first ten.

1) Words are such beautiful raw materials, I like the challenge to play around and create something expressive and attractive.
2) Reading the writing of others has always been a source of fun and comfort to me, so I appreciate the chance to pass it on.
3) If a sudden thought comes, I prefer to nail it to paper rather than let it escape.
4) It's an enjoyable challenge to try to get people feeling empathy, and even love, for somebody they disapproved of to start with.
5) Being able to put words in other people's mouths is fun. There's an element of passing the buck, and claiming that they are the views of the character or person quoted, and not necessarily my own.
6) Verbal communication isn't my strength, so I prefer to express my ideas in a way I feel confident and can take my time. Writing seems to tick the boxes.
7) It's nice to leave a record of how I felt and processed things at a particular time, so I can return to it afterwards and see what I learned.
8) It adds to the permanent records of what life was like during a particular time period. I know that museums and historical societies are fascinated by old diaries for good reason.
9) It may help other people laugh and be happy.
10) It's my way of reaching out and being social. We can influence people from our own computers or lounge chairs, without the need to travel if we don't have the means.

I was certain I could come up with another block of ten at least. The second lot flowed off the pen just as fast as the first. (That's me in my teens, writing in the diary I used to keep.) 

11) The chance to offer my own perspective on issues I feel strongly about is too good to miss.
12) The chance to express the admiration and love I feel for other authors' characters is also too good to miss.
13) I love art, but since I'm not skilled with pencils, charcoal, brushes or clay, words are the only raw material I feel confident trying to use.
14) The editing, polishing and straightening side has its own appeal. It's good to be able to present something and say, 'I feel that's my best.'
15) It helps introduce me to other people from around the world who I wouldn't have discovered otherwise. I follow blogs from places as far away as New York and Ireland.
16) As corny as this may sound, it extends my friendship base to people in the fictional world too. When you spend a lot of time in the heads of made-up characters, it's natural to think of them as part of your own friendship base.
17) It gives me the chance to figure out what I really think, when I re-read what I've scribbled.
18) It gives me the chance to try to lift my own mood, if I'm feeling blue.
19) I enjoy opportunities to broaden my own vocabulary, and re-acquaint myself with words I've known but have slipped out of my mind. Consulting an online Thesaurus for alternative words is fun, especially when I see one and instantly decide, 'That's it!'
20) It allows me to try and be a comedian, in my own low-key way, when I feel like it.

That was the halfway mark, and I was feeling more confident that I might be able to make it. (That's me in my early twenties, working on some essay. I don't remember what it was, but just that it was 'highly important'!)

21) It allows me to flex my generosity muscles when I get the chance to rave about other books and make recommendations.
22) It makes me feel I'm leaving a positive footprint.
23) It's my way of being a photographer with words instead of visual images, and taking snapshots of specific moments in time.
24) It's one of the best ways for introverts to communicate and feel we're part of things, since it's actually been scientifically proven that we're better with written words than vocal ones.
25) Because I've had so much practice over the years, it's too deeply ingrained to just drop.
26) Taking notes helps me form connections and make sense of the world. Lots of conclusions I've drawn come straight from my own writing.
27) It helps me look over what I've observed, and see connections I'd otherwise have missed.
28) It allows me to jump out of my own head and take a spell in someone else's for awhile.
29) It gives my imagination an anchor, instead of just letting ideas drift out like smoke rings in the ether.
30) It helps me hone in and notice minute, micro details I might have otherwise overlooked.

I was at the homeward stretch. I knew I could do it now. One more block. (That's me when I was living in the Hills, writing out on the hammock on a warm day.)

31) In social situations, I sometimes find it difficult to get a word in. Blogging and writing is an alternative.
32) I like the domino effect. One person's words has bearing on someone else, which effects someone else, and so on. Being a cog in a wheel, doing my bit, is a nice idea.
33) When you're on a low budget, it's basically the cheapest hobby.
34) Using words, like building blocks, to put somebody else in the picture, is a heady feeling.
35) Enabling others to take 5, put their feet up and read what you've written may be doing them a favour. Especially if they like what they find.
36) Debating club days at school are long behind me. It's fun to be able to follow a well-expressed argument thread and even add my two cents worth.
37) If I don't have pens and blank paper at hand to jot things down, I just feel jittery and stifled.
38) The deeper psychological and social aspects of sharing stories, either fictional or true, interests me.
39) If you're not always quick-witted, you can take time to be witty, and give the illusion that you're quick witted. A page of quick dialogue may give the impression it's off-the-cuff, while it's really taken several separate moments to put together.
40) It's possible, in my bad mood moments, to cheer myself up with something I've written in my good mood moments.

So do you enjoy writing too? Dare I challenge you to think of 40 reasons of your own? I found this well worth the surprisingly quick time it took, and may even print this off as a tangible reminder to myself of why I keep going.

Paula Vince is a former homeschooling parent and an author of award-winning fiction. She is rooted firmly in Adelaide, South Australia, and presently lives near the beautiful coast. Paula believes a great story has the power to touch our hearts in ways no other medium can. 

Thursday, 21 January 2021

All Righty Then.

 Being Right in a Contentious World

The following blog is an excerpt from a much longer chapter by Meredith Resce. To read more, see the appendix below.

I've posted it today in response to feedback I received concerning one of my recent characters. She is a normal 21st Century young woman who is overly opinionated about equality. The novel examines her ideas, and she clashes with others who are more conservative. The feedback I received asked whether some readers may close the book before allowing my character to go on her journey, simply because her outlook on life does not fit the usual conservative mold. A reader who bails early will not experience her development and understanding as it emerges. But is this a reason for me to change this character and her journey of understanding? After you've read the blog below, I'd be interested to read what you think?


    I like to be right. In fact it would be fair to say, I’m obsessed with being right. I certainly don’t like to be wrong, and just quietly, I have worked hard to make sure I don’t find myself in that place where I might appear to be without all the answers. And that is all well and good until some bright spark pops up with a truly deep and disturbing question, the answer to which I have not a clue.

Are you like that?    

When I do come to the awareness that I might be wrong, I like to be the one who comes up with the apology, as if it was my idea in the first place.

Are you like this?

It is at this point I realise I really need to look at my motivation.

Do I do what is right because I love God? Is it because I love other people, and want the best for them? Or is it more a case of I don’t want to look bad? Well, to be perfectly honest, I don’t want to look bad. Does anybody like looking bad? This often leads me to the place where I become addicted to being right all the time.

The older I get, the more I realise there are things I do not know. What person on this earth can possibly be right all the time? How can any one of us know all there is to know about everything—from the outer reaches of the universe to the inner worlds of macro biology, no one can know it all. And that doesn’t even take into account all the philosophical, emotional and spiritual questions that could be asked.

So these questions exist and they beg to be answered: What is right? What is truth?

I do not have a corner on truth and righteousness. Just because I want to do what is right does not always make me right.

[When I first wrote this paper] I was well aware of a number of contentious issues being highlighted in media and social media arguments. I wanted to know the RIGHT answers, and wished I could contribute from a place of some authority.  But I am not an authority on everything that needs to be examined—theology, psychology, philosophy, scientific research etc. I know stuff, but not everything there is to know.

I took out my notebook and began a list of contentious issues that are bound to raise hackles, if not passions. Twenty-two issues were written down. Over half of them were social issues represented by social justice groups. Now despite the fact that you might wish me to publish this list of contentious issues, I do not intend to, and this is the reason why:

Religious groups often feel they must take a firm and clear ‘position’ on these issues, which often throws fuel on the fire, and manages to end up burning not only the members of the religious groups, but also the folks affected by the issues. 

Let me draw a picture so we can have a look at what is happening in our current western society.


For the sake of the exercise, I am going to label the corners as follows:

·        Right winged, conservative, fundamentalist

·        Left winged, secular, liberalist

·        ‘I want to do what is right, but with so many arguments I’m not sure’ (uncertain)

·        The footy is on. Have you ordered the pizza? (indifferent)

From my observation of social media and some news reports, most of the issues I have written on my list are not only contentious, they are polarised. That is to say, extreme groups quickly form in opposite corners and are often angry, aggressive and sometimes violent. Including right-winged conservative Christians, who can sometimes use violent words. Folks in the uncertain group seem to stand on the edges, anxiously wringing their hands, wanting to make things right, not knowing how, thinking at best, they might avoid a fight. Folks in the indifferent corner get busy with whatever they have at hand to distract them.

That place in the middle is a war zone. This is a place where folks should be able to come to discuss and reason, but alas, you enter at your own risk. Some responses to blog posts and media reports that I have read have been ugly and vicious, and certainly make me think twice before offering an opinion.  I have observed that when an action or comment has been judged as offensive or insensitive by one group, the other group rises up in anger—lighted torches and pitch forks in hand to kill the beast.  The various news media groups replay certain words, pictures and footage over and over again, not to soothe the savage beast, but to infuriate and stir the issue. It sells papers and gets ratings—and it fairly burns in cyber world as the passions of social media users boil over and spew acid and venom.

Here is another little secret, I not only like to be right, I like being liked. I have opinions and ideas about various matters, but that place in the middle is not a stable or safe place to talk. People lose perspective quickly, and words are often said that become attacks on character. Sometimes I think it is safer to just watch the footy and eat pizza.

Self-righteousness is not a Christian problem.

Interestingly, over the years I have heard accusations against Christians that they are self-righteous, and I won’t contend with that accusation.  The point I would like to highlight here is that self-righteousness is not a Christian problem. It is a human problem. Self-righteousness seems to be a by-product of passion and commitment to a good cause. What a circus? Of course we need passion and commitment to good causes (and Christ is as good a cause as any other), but when, by default, we find ourselves sitting on our moral high-horse, looking down on those who have failed to meet the challenge, we have defeated the purpose of all that is good and right. This is what it is to be human. A vicious cycle of doing what is right, and finding out that righteousness doesn’t come that way. Righteousness only comes as a gift of Grace from God.

To read the full blog, see appendix below 

Meredith Resce - Author of the 'Luella Linley - License to Meddle' series

Meredith Resce has had work published in the Christian market since 1997, including the popular 'Heart of Green Valley' series, and many other titles. For more information go to her website.


Appendix (Continued) 

Come, let us reason together

I am traditionally conservative, but I have been hearing what some of the social justice activists have been saying (particularly if they use a reasonable tone). To stand in the uncertain corner, wringing my hands, seems like a cop out when the issues are often real and they need attention, action and resolution. So what can be done when many ideas and proposed actions are met with aggressive resistance?

When listening to Bible teacher, Shane Willard, I was impressed by the teaching he gave concerning Biblical Hebrew culture. The Scriptures were studied thoroughly, meditated upon, examined. Interpretations were debated and God’s thoughts on the matter were sought. The Hebrew elders would meet at the gate to discuss, but a hallmark of how they went about their discussion was that a debate should always involve loads of questions, and that it should challenge. They believed God spoke through Scripture, but that there were thousands of ways He might speak through one Scripture. It was considered good form to ask intelligent questions.   Author, Lois Tverberg, says in her book: ‘...debate was a central aspect of study—the rabbis believed that a mark of an excellent student was his ability to argue well.’[1]  Further, she adds: ‘...we are not called to...unquestioningly repeat whatever we learn from a favorite teacher...we are to exercise wisdom and discernment, continually asking questions, weighing answers, seeking understanding and grounding our beliefs within the context of God’s Word...’ This culture is the culture that Jesus was immersed in, and in which he operated. This was a culture that represented a meeting of the minds to determine what God’s mind was on a matter.

Somewhere in the dark ages, following the conversion of the Emperor Constantine to Christianity, the idea of asking questions and debating an issue got lost. It was the will of the Emperor or it was death. The known world of the time was established by brute force, and the Christianity that emerged from the 4th Century on was highly ordered, controlling and used fear of death to keep everyone in line. This did not foster a culture of debating an issue, and finding God’s mind. This fostered fear of being found a heretic and being tortured and/or burned at the stake. Dogma that emerged was inflexible, and Scripture was deemed to have one meaning, and that meaning was dispensed at the will of the clergy. Truth as decided by the clerical authorities was clearly written and proclaimed into the emerging Christian culture, and it was set in stone. This state of affairs continued for a thousand years before the period of enlightenment – the Renaissance and the Reformation.[2]

Hebrew culture was about asking questions. They seemed to be inspired by questions, not afraid of them.

Our western Christian culture, though having emerged from the time of witch-hunts and burning heretics at the stake, still at times seems to be afraid of questions. A curious mind is still somehow regarded with suspicion, and yet history has told us that if the many researchers and scientists (who were often men and women of faith) hadn’t been curious and asked questions, then new understanding would not have been gained, and we would still live in the dark ages. There seems to be a residual fear that if we don’t hold to a traditional position, we are somehow a heretic. Almost as if all that is to be known is now known, and there is nothing more to be gained by further investigation. With it comes this idea that I need to have a position, and I need to be right—I have to know the truth or that won’t look good for the Gospel.

Remember, the gospel of Christ is not a political campaign, where we canvas for votes, so that people will vote for Jesus, based on what our policies are.

Is this how Christ asked us to win the lost?

We are afraid of questions, but why? Why are we afraid of not knowing it all—of not having all the answers? After all, it is not possible for anyone to know it all. Not the most studied scientist or philosopher, not the man they say is the smartest man who ever lived, not the most educated theological professor. Not you, not me. No one can possibly know it all.

Once you come to a place where you can accept that you don’t know everything, and that you will never know everything, and that is OK, then you can relax. We can all relax and not be so quick to defend an idea, a position, or tradition.

When it comes down to it, in life we all have opinions and positions, and sometimes we do hotly defend those positions. It is called being dogmatic. But did God ever ask us to make sure we knew everything, and to make sure that we were always right?

Or did He just ask us to seek Him?

Psalm 105:3-4 ‘...let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice. Look to the LORD and his strength; seek his face always.’

Remember, when it comes to seeking truth, truth is not a what. Truth is a who. Jesus said: ‘I am the Way, and the Truth and the Life...’ John 14:6 (NIV)

I am forever grateful that while I speak and write and hope to encourage, that God is gracious. He doesn’t sit up in heaven and fume about all the things I don’t have right, or the things I’ve said that I have not understood correctly. He is pleased when we seek Him and love Him.  Just as when a small child draws a stick picture of mummy and daddy, and writes in messy writing, ‘I love you’, the parent doesn’t punish the child because the drawing doesn’t look as it should if a master painter were to have done the portrait. The parent just loves being loved, even if the picture looks ridiculous. This is what God’s love, grace and mercy is about.


How hard is it to give up being right?

John 13:35 does not say, they will know we are His disciples by what we approve of and what we disapprove of.

It does however, say:  “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (NIV)


God didn’t call us to be right. He called us to be kind.[3]

Colossians 3:12-15 (NLT)

” Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.  Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.  Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.  And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace... ”


[1] Spangler, A., Tverberg, L., (2009) Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus: How the Jewishness of Jesus Can Transform Your Faith, Zondervan, USA

[2] I have spoken of history in broad brush-strokes, coming from my own studies in history. I encourage you to look closer at the history represented here, and do your own research.

[3] This quote taken from Shane Willard during an audio recording of his teaching session.



Monday, 18 January 2021

Omega Writers | Making a Plan for 2021

By Iola Goulton

It’s a new year, and for many of us that means New Year’s Resolutions and planning for the upcoming year.

I recently listened to an episode of the Novel Marketing Podcast, where host Thomas Umstattd Jr and guest James L Rubart were talking about planning in a military context. If an operation is executed as planned, why have a plan in the first place? 

 Because having a plan is evidence that you had an objective and worked towards that objective, whether you succeeded or not. 

In a military context, having a plan shows you thought about your campaign objective, of how many troops would be required, how you would get those troops to where they needed to be, how you would feed and house them, and what they would need to do when they got there.

The military execute their plan, then review that execution against plan.

  • What went as planned?
  • What didn’t?
  • Why or why not?
  • How can they improve the plan to improve execution?
We can do the same for our plans aka New Years’ resolutions. Okay, so a lot of our plans for 2020 didn’t happen at all for reasons outside our control (Exhibit A: the 2020 Omega Writers Conference). Some of our plans had to change (Exhibit B: the 2020 Omega Writers CALEB Awards). But there were several other plans I had which didn’t come to fruition either (Exhibit C: write a novel and lose ten kilos).

That’s normal for New Year’s resolutions, right?

Why do we continue to make New Year’s resolutions when we don’t truly believe we’re going to achieve those goals? Why do we set ourselves up to fail? 

 Perhaps the answer comes back to the military example. The point of the plan isn’t to achieve the plan. The point of the plan was to show not just that we had a mission or a goal, but that we also had a plan, a considered step-by-step approach to follow that would move us closer to achieving that goal. 

Perhaps the point of the plan isn’t whether or not we meet our goals, but the process of thoughtfully and prayerfully considering what we believe God is calling us towards and how we’re going to achieve that. 
  • What steps is God asking us to take this year?
  • What do we want to achieve this year?
  • How can we translate the goal or achievement into a practical and doable plan?
  • What might we have to do differently to work the plan?
For example, I buy a new diary every year. I choose a diary that has three views:
  • A week-to-view for organising my day-to-day work and home life.
  • A month-to-view page where I plan my blogging schedule.
  • A year-at a glance where I (in theory) record big picture things like daily word count goals.

My 2021 planner is a little different.

As well as the usual three views, it has eight pages for planning goals for the year, and another twelve pages for monthly goals. Each annual goal has space to plan specific tasks that will move me closer to achieving the goal. These tasks can then be copied to the monthly and weekly planning ages to help get things done. 

For example, I can show you my goal statement from three or four years ago where I met exactly zero of my goals. I think the reason was there were goals with no plan, no list of step-by-step tasks that would result in me achieving an overall goal.

Let’s take weight loss as an example.

There is no way anyone can lose ten kilos in a week short of having a limb amputated. Instead, we lose weight a bit over time—losing a quarter of a kilo a week will get us to that ten-kilo goal with a couple of months to spare. But even that quarter of a kilo isn’t going to happen unless we plan how we’re going to lose that weight.
  • Are we going to eat less/better, exercise more, or both?
  • How are we going to change our eating and shopping habits to eat less or eat better?
  • How are we going to change our daily or weekly schedule to exercise more?
The same goes for goals like writing a book or creating a website or building a social media following. We don’t write a book or build thousands of social media followers in a day. Our goals should reflect that.

Instead of saying we’re going to write a book, we should say we’re going to write 500 words a day or edit for half an hour a day, and plan how we’re going to fit that into our schedule.

Penny Reeve, President of Omega Writers, touched on this in her last author newsletter. She asked five questions to consider in planning our writing for 2021. The one that hit home to me was this:
What has held me back this year?
This one's a little more reflective. It requires us to be honest - really honest. It's too easy to poke the finger and blame circumstance (or COVID, or...) but what has really stopped you writing? Once you identify what it is, spend some time with your planner/diary for the new year and consider how you may be able to address these road blocks practically and realistically. And then put these plans in place.

So today I leave you with Penny’s challenge:

Spend some time with God and your 2021 diary. Prayerfully and practically plan* how you can address roadblocks and achieve the small daily or weekly steps that will move you closer to meeting your goal.

Thursday, 14 January 2021

CWD Member Interview – TP Hogan

Each Thursday we will be interviewing one of the members of Christian Writers Downunder – to find out a little bit more about them and their writing/editing goals.

Today interview TP Hogan

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

  1. I’m Australian born and bred and have lived all of my life up and down the eastern states of the country. Most recently I’ve moved the to beautiful Atherton Tablelands near Cairns.
  2. I never thought I’d be an author. My year 11 teacher did. At the end of that year, she asked for my signature on one of my assignments because she wanted my first ever autograph. It was still, even years after that, when I started writing in earnest, and considering I might actually have what it takes to be an author.
  3. I’m the eldest of a set of twins. Fraternal. No swap-me-for-you shenanigans in our childhood…unfortunately. There were a few of my maths classes, I’m sure I would have loved her taking for me. (Fair is fair. I would have offered to take her English classes. Honest.)

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

Why do I write? To stop the voices in my head, mostly.

What do I write? I write Speculative Fiction. That’s an umbrella term which covers Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, Paranormal, Steampunk, Science Fiction and Horror. I have a Paranormal Romance (Shattered), an Urban Fantasy series (Nephilim Code), and the start of another Urban Fantasy series (Therianthrope Series) published. Currently I’m working on book two of the Therianthrope Series and an Anthology of Fractured Fairy Tales.

Why do I write what I write? When I first started writing, I thought I wanted to write Romance. I had contact / networks with other romance writers, and they were fantastic mentors, but I didn’t want to write a romance where the characters were great in the bedroom, but nothing else was strong about their relationship. So, I wrote Shattered. How do you ensure your characters can’t jump into the physical side of the relationship straight away? Curse him into a mirror.

After Shattered was published, I stared at a blank page and realised I didn’t want to write romance, at least not the romance my author friends were writing. I sat down and had a good hard think about what I liked to read and watch on TV. Without realising it at the time, I had written it into Shattered. I love things where there is a ‘hidden world’. Where the way things appear on the surface is not the reality of what is going on. That’s when I found Speculative Fiction was a thing, and I haven’t looked back.

This is also why the slogan for my stories is – Escape…and explore hidden worlds. 

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

I’d love for everyone to read my work. Doesn’t every author? 

I’ve had feedback emails from thirteen-year olds through to retirees who have read and enjoyed my stories. While they are classified as Young Adult, they seem they appeal to a wide audience. They wouldn’t appeal to anyone who enjoys gritty, hard-hitting, in your face stories, but I’ve been told they are great, easy-to-read stories, to wile away a Sunday afternoon. 

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

My writing process has changed over the last few months. I’ve actually outlined my next story. 

When I first wrote, I had no idea ‘outlining’ was a thing. I simply wrote as the story came into my head, and jotted bullet points for the story threads I wanted to follow. That was easy for Shattered. Not quite so easy for Nephilim Code. Zeph (book #3 Nephilim Code) needed nearly a complete re-write because nothing was plotted. I determined I didn’t want to do that again, so looked for ways to help not re-write so much…and came across outlining. I researched and attempted so many outlining methods. Oh, my gosh that was a struggle. Nothing seemed to get me knowing the next scene. I knew it had to be a better way, but I simply couldn’t get my head around it. It nearly took the joy out of writing. 

Then I came across Sarra Cannon. She has a Youtube channel called Heart Breathings where she has an outlining series of videos (not sponsored by her, just happy to recommend the outlining series) where she goes through her outlining process. For some reason, maybe the way she explained it, her method clicked with me. Using that, I’ve actually outlined book two of the Therianthrope Series and feeling confident about it. 

That’s the process and challenges answered, as for what helps the most? I’d say community. Having people you can talk to about writing – the craft and the motivation needed to get words on a page; talking about characters, about story threads, plot lines, backgrounds, the whole kit-and-kaboodle. 

When it is just you with a blank page, writing can seem to be a lonely and daunting challenge. Finding a community of like-minded people is perhaps the most helpful thing a writer can do.

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

It’s a series of Writing Craft books by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi. I call them the ‘Writing Thesauruses’. I’m not sure if the series actually has a ‘series’ name. It is a collection of writing guides teaching show-don’t-tell description within various situations. 

The Occupation Thesaurus

The Character Trait Thesaurus

The Emotion Thesaurus

The Emotional Wound Thesaurus

The Positive Trait Thesaurus

The Negative Trait Thesaurus

I’m sure there’s more but they are the ones I can remember. And no, I don’t own them all…but I want to.

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

Adele Jones

I first met Adele at an author event in 2014 (2015?) where I had attended as a ‘reader’ even though I had a book published and met the criteria of attending as an Author. Truth was, I was so lacking in confidence as an author, I didn’t think I was good enough to attend a – gasp – actual author event. 

I was wondering around looking at tables and taking notes of the things I’d need if I were to attend as an author (Stands, signage etc.) and attempting to ask authors questions about attend author events. Most of the authors there, when I spoke to them, told me…’sure, you’ll love attending as an author, go for it’, but were more interested in ‘spruiking’ their books.


When I walked up to her table, Adele seemed to instinctually know (or maybe it was simply her generous nature) I needed more than casual assurances. She spoke to me about her process, why she was attending as an author, what benefits she was experiencing, some of the ‘could-be-improved’ situations, what she’d do the same next time, and what she’d change. Also, in a sea of Erotic Romance Authors, she was an unabashedly Christian author who wrote Young Adult Science Fiction. And she didn’t ‘spruik’ her books once in the entire conversation.

About six months before the next Author Event was due, she contacted me to encouraged me to attend as an author. A few months later, she contacted me to see how my preparations for the author event was going. When I got there, she made sure to come over to my table to say ‘hi’, and that she was proud of me. Then when things got stressful (my assistant got food poisoning and I was at my table on my own – for my first event) she made sure I was okay, and met up for lunch with me to check in.

Since then we’ve kept a friendship. We live in different towns, and possibly don’t catch up as often as either one of us would like, but when we do…it’s like it’s only been a few days since we’ve met.  

(By the way, I have since purchased and read her Blaine Colton series, and I’m happy to ‘spruik’ them for her. You should go and check them out.)

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

I am currently writing the fifth story of a five book Fractured Fairy-tale Short Story Anthology. These stories will be published at the second half of 2021. (Yes, five books in one year – after a nearly two-year writing hiatus, let’s do this). I also have it scheduled to finish writing the second book of the Therianthrope Series, this year, for release early 2022.

Therianthorpe Series: Book 1

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

Without God, I wouldn’t be writing. It’s as simple as that. 

I don’t write overtly Christian stories (though some of my characters have a Christian faith or influences in their lives), but each of my stories has at least one ‘biblical truth’ as one of its themes. Some have more than one. To me, those themes are ‘seeds’ within the story. Some people may read the story, and not notice them. Some may read and notice, but take no further action. Some may read, notice, and be responsive. God is in charge of that. Not me. I don’t need to see ‘growth’ or a ‘harvest’ as a result of my stories. All I need to do is ensure I sow the seeds. He’ll take care of the rest.