Monday, 31 May 2021

Three New Tools for Writers

There’s always something new happening in the writing world. Some new tool or service that everybody is excited about. It can be overwhelming trying to jump on every bandwagon that drives past, but if we ignore them entirely, we can miss out on some great opportunities. Here are three things that have recently come onto my radar.

Atticus

One of the common questions writers ask each other (after checking whether you an outliner or a pantser) is “What software do you use to write?” The answer to this question tends to position you in a particular social circle (like the jocks and nerds in teen movies). There are the traditionalists who write in Word because it gets the job done. There’s the Scrivener evangelists who love the integrated environment, outlining, and research options, or just think the cork board is pretty. There are the collaborative writers who type in real-time with their mates in Google Documents. There’s even the old-school types who prefer a typewriter or pen and paper.

I’ve been in the Scrivener camp for a long time, and while the very long-awaited Windows release of Scrivener 3 has finally arrived, I’m being tempted by the arrival of a new suiter. It’s called Atticus.

Atticus is not only a writing program, it’s also a formatting tool (one of Scrivener’s weaker areas). Being web-based it can be used on any operating system with a web browser, including Windows, MacOS and Linux, making it a much-needed competitor to the Mac-only Vellum. I haven’t tried it myself yet (gotta get those bills paid before I get my copy) but from a quick look at some youTube tutorials, the formatting seems both simple and powerful. I’ve found most formatting tools very restrictive, making it difficult to do the most basic things. So I think Atticus is going to be a winner for that alone.

Of course, it’s still early days, and Atticus does not yet have many of the feature that people are wanting, but the developers are hard at work adding new things, so I suspect it will continue to grow and improve over time.

Kindle Vella

Amazon are getting ready to release their new serialisation platform – Kindle Vella. This will be based around ongoing stories that are released one chapter at a time. Just like the old magazines that first published Charles Dickens. Customers will pay for tokens, which can then be used to purchase episodes of a story. The author gets a cut of that money.

In many ways, this is Amazon’s latest attempt to take on Wattpad.

Many authors are flocking to Vella, hoping to make big money on this new toy. Some important questions to ask yourself if you’re considering jumping on this one are:

  1. Have you tried writing for other serialised platforms in the past, such as Wattpad? Did you enjoy that experience?
  2. Are you good at coming up high-quality content quickly on a regular basis (or do you have something suitable pre-written that you could drip feed out?) Amazon have said you aren’t allowed to use a story that is already published.
  3. Do you have a strategy for marketing your Vella story, so you can get readers to sample your first episode?

KDP Print in Australia

This is one we’ve all been waiting for. Amazon have announced that their KDP Print service will now operate in Australia. This means books can be printed locally (well, as local as can be for a country as wide and vast as ours). This will make it easier for Aussie writers to get author copies of their books and maybe even a small amount of inventory for hand-selling if they’re into that kind of thing. The prices will still reflect the reality that paper books are super expensive in Australia, but even Amazon can’t fix everything.

What about you?

Do any of these three new resources interest you? Will you be making use of them? Has anything else come up recently that has excited you that I didn’t mention in this article? Let us know in the comments.


Adam David Collings is a speculative fiction author from Tasmania, Australia. He draws inspiration for his stories from his over-active imagination, his life experiences and his faith. Adam is the host of the Nerd heaven Podcast where he discusses works of sci-fi and fantasy on the big and little screen. You can find him at AdamDavidCollings.com

Thursday, 27 May 2021

Omega Writers Book Fair (Brisbane) and Writing Competition




The Omega Writers Book Fair (OWBF) committee are thrilled to announce that the Book Fair is fast approaching. The event in March last year, held only days before the lockdowns, was such a great day. And we have another exciting program to offer this year, on 31 July at Hills Church, 79 Queens Road, Everton Hills (Brisbane). 

In addition, we excited to announce the inaugural OWBF Writing competition which is open to residents with Australia and New Zealand.

So, what can you expect?

An Opportunity to Network


For readers and booklovers, enjoy a rare opportunity to browse and buy personally autographed books by local authors, ranging from:

πŸ‘ children's and young adult books

 πŸ‘ adult fiction

πŸ‘ nonfiction

πŸ‘ special needs

πŸ‘ biography, memoir

πŸ‘ devotional

πŸ‘ genre fiction  

πŸ‘ and much more!


 


For Writers it's a great opportunity to connect with other writers and readers.

The fair includes author readings, door prizes, writing contest and a treasure hunt.

Workshop and Panel

A workshop by Anne Hamilton and a Panel on Marketing and Promotion is on offer. 

Workshop 1 The Deadly Duo (and how to defeat them) by Anne Hamilton  ( 10.30 – 11:15 am)


Disappointment and rejection are part of life. When we encounter them—or even when we expect to encounter them—most of us have unconscious habits that are at best unhelpful and at worst self-sabotaging. This session by Anne Hamilton is relevant to the publishing scene as well as life in general.


 



Anne Hamilton was a mathematics teacher for thirty years until she became the editor of Australia’s most widely read daily devotional, The Word for Today. She is the author of over 30 books—ranging from children’s picture books to highly awarded YA fantasy and prize-winning devotional theology.



Panel: Marketing and Promotion for Writers with Sally Eberhardt, Lynne Stringer & Jeanette O’Hagan ( 11.30am-12:15 pm)


For most writers writing the novel is easy compared the seeming insurmountable task of marketing and promoting it. Yet these days, both traditionally and Indie published authors are expected to promote their books. Our panellists, Sally Eberhardt, Lynne Stringer and Jeanette O’Hagan will give their differences perspectives and experiences of promotion and marketing from business, traditional and Indie publishing. Find out what works, what doesn’t work and strategies for the future.

On Our Panel:



Sally Eberhardt helps introverts uncover their superpowers so they can enjoy the many opportunities and benefits that networking brings. Author of 'Pain-free Networking for Introverts', Speaker and Connection Coach, Sally has experience in marketing, business and networking.





Lynne Stringer is a former journalist, an author and an experienced editor. She has five science fiction books in the Verindon universe published through a small traditional press, as well as short stories in a few anthologies. From launches, book signings and bling, Lynne has worked hard to bring her books to potential readers.


 

Jeanette O’Hagan has published ten books through her own imprint, By the Light Books —seven fantasy novels set in the world of Nardva, a collection of short stories and two anthologies. Many of her short stories and poems have been published in a range of anthologies. As an Indie author, Jeanette can vouch that marketing and promotion requires persistence, flexibility and a willingness to experiment.

Bookings for the workshop & panel at https://www.trybooking.com/BRQZA  

Author Tables


Tables are available for authors, editors and publishers to display their books and/or services.  One free lunch will be provided and more can be ordered. 

Bookings for the author tables and lunches available at https://www.trybooking.com/BRQZA  





Where, When & How Much


Event Title: Omega Writers Book Fair

Date & Time: Saturday July 31, 2021. 10am-2.30pm

Location: Hills Church, 79 Queens Road, Everton Hills


The Book Fair is free to attend and browse

Optional workshops cost $20 & include a $5 voucher to be spent at the Book Fair.

Tables are $60 (large) and $40 (regular) with a $10 discount code for Omega Writers members (posted on the Omega Writers FB Members group).




Inaugural OWBF2021 Writing Competition

NEW - This year, in conjunction with the Omega Writer's Book Fair, the Brisbane chapter of Omega Writers is holding a Writing Contest.

Stories (up to 1000 words) and/or poems (50 lines, including spaces) displaying the theme of HOPE.
All entries, whether written for a secular or Christian audience, must reflect language, themes and a worldview that are honouring to Christ.

The Three categories for OWBF21 Writing Competition are:


1. Published Writers –if you have one or more stories or poems published (or is the process of being published) in a print or ebook, enter this category.
2. Unpublished Writers – if your stories or poems have not yet been published.
3. Under 18 years – if you are under eighteen years of age.


Eligibility - People who reside in Australia and New Zealand. Entries must be the original and unpublished work of the author.

The entry fee is $5.00 for OMEGA members and $7.00 for non-members for each work.


You can enter UP TO THREE works (stories and/or poems) but an entry fee must accompany EACH ENTRY, i.e. $7 for one, $14 for two or $21 for three (or $5, $10 or $15 for Omega Writers. Members who can access the code through the Omega Writers Members Facebook page).

Copyright of submitted work will remain with the author.


Entries will close on midnight, 25th June 2021. Late entries will not be accepted.

Winners of each category will receive a prize of $50.00 and a certificate.

Winners will be announced at the Omega Writers Book Fair (Brisbane) on Saturday, 2:15pm, 31 July 2021.

Judges’ decisions will be final and no correspondence entered into. 

Details on how to enter will be posted soon.




More Information


For details and workshop bookings, check out

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/Omega-Writers-Book-Fair-927852450757367/

Facebook Event: https://fb.me/e/JQbaKSsf

Webpage: https://owbf.blogspot.com/

Or email omegawritersbookfair@gmail.com



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





Monday, 24 May 2021

When all you've got is an empty page - by Susan J Bruce

Photo courtesy of Deposit Photos


You need wise words. You must have some… somewhere. It’s your turn to blog, but your ideas don’t just fly out of the window. They do a full circle and smash into the glass, falling stunned on the ground below. Your body aches – the pain is persistent, your brain is tired, and the shop you needed that thing from closed just as you got there. You’re grumpy at your husband. No major reason, you just are. The dog is barking, the cockatiel is screeching and you wonder why it’s all so hard. 

 

A fruit rat clunks along the gutter outside your study window. Another - or possibly a very large mouse - scurries behind your skirting boards, changing direction with a clunk so loud the wall vibrates. You don’t want to put down bait – you have pets – so you shut your eyes and pray that the resident rodents won’t eat wiring. Then you survey your study and wish you could be rewired so you could have the energy to clean up the category-five-like devastation around you. With a deep sigh you check your bank balance and wonder if it’s time to give up writing and get a real job that pays the bills. 

 

Cute rodent photo by Svetozar Cenisev on Unsplash

You start typing but your words depress you. You want heart and hope to be part of your brand but it’s as if the H-words have grabbed their togs and towel and headed to the beach with a wave of a hand and a conspiratorial giggle. You tap your foot and stare at your watch: They were due back an hour ago, but they are out there somewhere cruising down the street in the little red convertible you know you’ll never own.

It’s been a while since you’ve had such a penchant for the pity-party (not to mention excessive alliteration) and the smallest smile invades your face. The corners of your lips twitch and a reluctant, wry grin reframes your countenance. You lift your gaze again. This time not to the rooftop racetrack of the resident ‘Rattus rattus’, or the cobwebs in the corner, or the dust on your desk-shelf, but you see the truth of who and whose you are. 

 

Hope pushes through the window of self-pity. Heart grapples with the gloom and casts out the word ‘can’t’. You cheer as truth squashes lies like flies. You are not alone.  


Photo by Kristopher Roller on Unsplash


There is a King. You are His.
There is a Creator. He made you in his image.
You are fearfully and wonderfully made. His. Works. Are. Wonderful.
You did not choose Him. He chose you.
You are part of his plan and purpose. 

You were bought with a price. 

You will live for eternity with him.
You are loved 
with an everlasting love.

He is with you to the end of the age.
And he can do more in your life than you can ever ask or imagine. You grin at that. You can imagine a lot.


Photo by Greg Rakozy on Unsplash

Sometimes the page before you is empty – but you are never an empty page. Eternity is written on your life with indelible ink, the colour of blood.

 

Remember.

Rejoice.

Write.

 


Reflect...


Genesis 1:27 

Psalm 139

Song of Solomon 2:16

Jeremiah 31:3

Matthew 28:20

John 1:1-5

John 15:16

1 Corinthians 6:20

Ephesians 3:20

Revelation 17:14

_______________________


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 worked for many years as a veterinarian, and now writes stories filled with mystery, suspense, heart and hope. 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.comYou can check out some of Susan’s art work on her website https://www.susanjbruce.com.


Thursday, 20 May 2021

(To) Launch in the time of COVID? Ruth Bonetti

 I’m awed by author colleagues who run online book launches. Such enterprise. So tech savvy! How do you do it? What were your challenges?


Digital is cheaper. How can indie authors afford wine, cheese and nibbles after the expense of publishing a book? Plus, (if we want a quality product, as we do!) paying trusty editors, designers, proof-readers, cover illustrators?


Endless thanks to my esteemed creative team for your staggered invoices. Annie, Beck, Peter, I’m looking at you.


Is a live launch self-indulgent...or masochism?

Why persist with live launches, even though it cruels the budget and mortgage? 

 

  • The PR Cookie Monster demands an Event.
  • Authors can splash photos on social media.
  • An Event may just attract a par in print media. (A few did survive Covid. Check the Queensland Courier Mail on 29 May.)

Events I made, pre-Covid.

NaΓ―ve moi hoped my first publication by a Big House, Oxford University Press, might warrant a contribution for a launch. They gave a grudging £50 to a mere minion. After all, I'd booked the then first lady of the state, Lady Flo. (Tip: Aim high and work down.)

 

Students played excerpts from Enjoy Playing the Clarinet. It was a great night but the catering cost. Queue lentils and baked beans, leftover delicacies and vino.  


 

To launch Taking Centre Stage, which later morphed into Confident Music Performance, I played demo clarinet in a slinky red dress (since donated to Vinnies when girth expanded).

 

In 1998, I steered Omega Writers to publish an anthology, Seasons of Giving. The so supportive Phil Ryan hosted its launch at his Paddington bookshop. Of course, my next book was launched at a Mary Ryan’s shop.

Hot tip: Find an audience and write/ launch a book to fit it.

Don’t Speak Out – Freak Out was a hectic rush to coincide with a national speakers’ conference.The first edition was ho hum, later improved, so it became a Good Thing.


Practice is a Dirty Word pitched to a national clarinet conference. I hoped delegates might move themselves to the State Library launch. We feasted on leftovers and wine for a week. But PR noise saved some of our bacon. 

 

The cost of a stand at a Music Teachers conference prompted me to launch another book, Sounds and Souls: How music teachers change lives. It was a lacklustre affair. With many competing options, sales were drab. But hey, I didn’t outlay food and vino!

 

To launch the first book of my Midnight Sun to Southern Cross trilogy, Burn my Letters, I enlisted a son’s gypsy band, Greshka, and Scandi delicacies from IKEA. 

For Midnight Sun to Southern Cross, a Finnish pastry cook provided delicacies, much appreciated by a live-alone relative. It broke the budget but we so enjoyed! 


(Memo: in future, delegate a minion to turn on the tea urn.)

The Art Deco Mansion in St Lucia: What drove the man who built it?  is the third book of my Midnight Sun trilogy. It will launch on 30 May at 2.30, St Lucia Uniting Church. Because my grandparents donated the organ, it will feature that in a performance of music by Dr Phillip Gearing and acclaimed singer Anne Fulton. Watch my FB space for an Illustrious Person invited to launch. (Hope and prayers!) 


Thanks to Covid regulations for ruling against food and vino. That saves my bacon!



Would you like to attend?

The launch allows capacity seating as long as I comply with COVID regulations. At the time of posting, there are still places. Please register with your name and contract tracing details to ruth@ruthbonetti.com


Would you watch a livestream?

COVID taught us to think outside our norm. If enough people express interest in a livestream, I will action and share a link.

Why a live launch when introvert authors are allergic to the spotlight? 

I’m a shy introvert released from my chrysalis by the need to promote books. (Midnight Sun tells of my transition to butterfly).


A book launch is an opportunity to 

  • celebrate all our hard work
  • thank those who helped us through the journey to print

Helpers and supporters deserve acknowledgement and thanks. 


A launch is an opportunity to thank supporters – and a stage to blow my own trumpet.



Ruth Bonetti is the author of a dozen or so books in her primary field of music which evolved into advice for confident performance of words and music. After a decade absorbed in the biography/memoir of her "Midnight Sun to Southern Cross" trilogy Ruth is tantalised by the prospect of writing in less demanding genres. The first book of her trilogy, Burn My Letters won the CALEB Nonfiction prize in 2017. 

ruthbonetti.com http://www.ruthbonetti.com/burn-my-letters/
http://ruthbonetti.musicabonetti.com



Monday, 17 May 2021

2021 Omega Writers Retreat

By Iola Goulton

As we all know, the 2020 Omega Writer’s Conference was cancelled as we all experienced the joys of working and schooling from home. Restrictions to international travel mean we can’t hold our conference as planned this year either.

But we know everyone is keen to meet in person and spend quality writing time together. Instead of a full conference, the conference committee have been hard at work, planning a weekend retreat from 8 to 10 October 2021.

The retreat will be held at the Peppers Salt Resort & Spa, Kingscliff, New South Wales, which is about twenty minutes from Coolangatta Airport. Attendees can choose to stay at Peppers, next door at the Mantra, or at other accommodation in the area.

Click here (https://www.omegawriters.org/conference/) for more details on the venue and to download an accommodation booking form. Peppers and Mantra are both offering great rates for the retreat dates, and for two days before and after the retreat.

The conference committee are currently hard at work developing a retreat programme and finalising costing. Registration will open in June, so watch this space for more details.


CALEB Award

The entries in the 2021 CALEB Awards are now in the hands and ereaders of our judges, and the scores are trickling in. The deadline for judging first-round entries is Friday 18 June, and we are planning to announce the finalists on 28 June.

Winners will be announced on 9 October 2021 at the Omega Writer’s Retreat.

Picture Book judges: your entries are now in the hands of Australia Post. Please let me (Iola Goulton) know if you haven’t received them by Friday.

Stories of Life

Omega Writers are proud to sponsor the 2021 Stories of Life competition.

This year’s theme is telling a faith-filled story. Tell your stories of life that point to evidence of God’s reality, and a time and place when you witnessed God’s grace in action.

Click here (www.storiesoflife.net) find out more about the 2021 Stories of Life contest. 

Entry to the Youth category (writers aged 17 and under) is free, and entry to the Open and Short categories is AUD 10 per entry. The top three entries in each category will win a one-year membership to Omega Writers, and there are additional prizes for the winners of the Open and Short categories.



Thursday, 13 May 2021

CWD Member Interview – Elaine Fraser


 

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

1.     I used to be an English teacher and began to write seriously in 2005. 

2.     I live in Perth, Western Australia in the hills.

3.     I just published my eighth book. 



 

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

I write non-fiction inspirational books, YA novels, blogs, magazine articles, performance speeches, and commercial women’s fiction novel. 

 

Each one of us has a purpose that’s beyond ourselves and we should use our gifts and talents to help others in any way we can. My books have a strong social justice theme and encourage kindness and compassion. 

 

Because of my teaching background, I always have a message in mind when I write. Every story, whether it’s non-fiction or fiction, expresses ideas about love, sacrifice, and redemption.

 

I hope that readers are left with the knowledge that God loves them beyond anything. No sin is too big that God can’t forgive. No problem is too small for God to be concerned with. God cares about every facet of our lives. 

I hope my readers relate to the characters in my novels. Relate to characters who may have the same questions they do and feel that they’re not the only ones who struggle. They’re not the only one who is still working things out. 

 

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

I started out writing inspirational non-fiction and fiction for young adult women aged 13+. 

In 2014, I began writing blogs for Kinwomen, a network of women bringing together women of all ages, cultures, education, abilities and passions to share life and wisdom.

 

My women’s fiction novel is written for women in relationships and recognises the complexity of why people stay or leave. 

 

Live Your Story Promise is my latest inspirational non-fiction book and it’s directed at a more general audience–both male and female. 





 

 

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

 

Last year, Covid threw me a little at first and my writing slowed up. I became a bit stuck. During the second half of the year, I got myself together and decided to finish all that I’d started. 

 

The best tip I can give is to never stop writing, even when you feel stuck or motivation seems to have disappeared. I kept writing little bits here and there and all of a sudden I had enough to publish. 

 

Even writing for fifteen minutes a day for two hundred days of the year at about two hundred words each session will add up to about forty thousand words. If you also include a few long days of writing, a retreat, and a few shut up and write sessions here and there, you could easily write double that in a year. 

 

Maths was never my strong point at school but numbers are helpful when quantifying your achievement or setting goals. 

 

 

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

I have a few key craft books, but the most helpful one is Lisa Cron’s Story Genius.  It will teach you how to frame your story using your character’s origin story. I used her model to plan my last two novels and it has saved me a lot of time. 

 

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

I have two editors from the group who I’ve worked with for several years. Nola Passmore and Iola Goulton. These ladies give so much more than they know. The confidence I get from the encouraging comments in between the corrections has been so, so helpful when I’ve felt like giving up. Iola Goulton and Nola Passmore have become my go-to editors when I need a professional and thorough edit that is both pedantic and encouraging. 

 

 

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

The first half of the year has been about getting three books out: Books Four and Five of the Beautiful Lives Series –Scarlett Love and Finding Joy and Live Your Story Promise–my latest non-fiction book. 

The second half of the year will see me doing yet another draft of a book I’ve writing for several years. It’s a women’s fiction novel and I really want to get it finished by the end of the year. 

 I’ve also got another book I’ve begun plotting and I’d like to make a start on writing it. 

 

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

How doesn’t faith affect my writing? My faith constantly informs my writing and reflects my relationship with God. I can trace my relationship with Him through my writing over the years. All the questions, the prompting of the Spirit, the challenge to be Christ-like, my prayers, hopes, and dreams are all found in my writing. 

 

Even my latest work in progress, a secular work, has a character named Joseph who loves a woman who has had a child by another man and he loves her as if she were the purest, most precious woman on Earth. I only just realised that Joseph had these Biblical qualities when I wrote the synopsis when I finished the latest draft. 

 

Even when I’m trying to write for another market, ideas of love, sacrifice, and redemption permeate my thinking. 



Elaine realised she wanted to be a writer at ten years of age when the words flew off the page during a creative writing lesson. 

 

She studied English and Education at university and went on to spend many years as a high school English teacher teaching others how to write.  

 

In 2005, Elaine took the plunge and began writing full-time. Since then she has published eight books and blogs at www.elainefraser.co

 

Elaine’s passion is to write about real issues with a spiritual edge. 

 

When she’s not travelling the world in search of quirky bookstores or attending writing retreats in exotic locations, she can be found in the Perth hills sitting in her library—writing, reading, and mentoring writers. 



Monday, 10 May 2021

Writing, Flights in the Spirit and ANZAC.

 

Late last year I had a fortuitous volley of writing inspirations that seemed to shoot me in a direction of character development and story telling that I simply didn’t want to go. Firstly I had come to a place in my long developed narrative where I had settled on all the core characters, plot development, character arcs and just wasn’t looking for another layer. Secondly the plot that seemed to find itself arising seemed at first antithetical to my crafted history. However I stuck to the creative process and subsequently discovered not just a fresh revelation within my storyline, I have encountered a personal witness that is still emerging within my rumination.

All this began on a flight I was taking to North Queensland. It was a ministry visit to train Chaplains and their teams to be prepared for responses in disaster scenarios. I had fallen asleep as the plane lifted off but awoke with a start as the first wave of inspiration hit. So I reached for my pen and paper and I wrote from the perspective of my main character:

The horse whisperer (his name is “cowboy”) was a quiet loner that remained a silent overwatcher in my childhood. Dad called him “ghost rider” because he seemed to always show up just at the right time. When Dad needed help. When Dad needed a mate. When I needed saving. He had  an Acubra hat, and in that hat he had a white cockatoo feather.

 


I arrived at my destination and stepped into the Chaplaincy training. To my amazement the first person I shook hands with at the training event was a quiet, unassuming man who appeared to have just stepped off a farm. He had stashed his dusty hat under his seat which I made a comment about. He smiled carefully as I asked him straight up what his nick name was. I was not surprised when he said his real name followed by “….but my friends call me cowboy”.

I had a confirmation that something was brewing. A physical manifestation of my fictional tale. There was a sense of a creative leading. But I sensed this was only the beginning. I was perplexed that this new fictional character had emerged and had materialised before my unsuspecting eyes and had become ensconced into my already developed narrative. His appearance seemed at first a rude interruption and yet also seemed so right. But I had a problem – a perception and meaning issue- in my mind a white feather seemed to mean something I wasn’t comfortable having an emerging hero-type figure having as an icon.

I wrote :

“In the memorial box they found a white cockatoo feather. How and why it was significant they did not know. It remained a mystery….”

To me a white feather resounded with meaning that represented cowardice or conscientious pacifism; as in A. E. W. Mason's 1902 book, "The Four Feathers". In Britain during the First World War it was often given to men out of uniform by women to shame them publicly into signing up for war service. In  the first-ever collection of Biggles stories (The Camels are Coming (1932)) Biggles (who is out of uniform in civilian wear) is handed a white feather by a young woman. She is later taken aback to find that he is one of the Royal Flying Corps' leading pilots.

I had a problem with this newly acquired problematic character and his white feather. In a narrative that was depicting heroism- especially in the light of bravery, self-sacrifice, mateship, and perseverance as core tenets of my synopsis that reflected ANZAC sensibilities I just couldn’t resolve this semantic difficulty. And then I flew to Canberra and visited the Australian War Memorial.

I had written several more aspects to this new character. This included a dream sequence that revealed a memory of my main fictional character:

“ His ruddy complexion reddened further as the exertions of moving with his mount increased. He rode on bravely as his horse flew down the smoldering mountainside. The rider wore a soldiers acubra. She was startled when she saw the white feather stuck into the hat. It was the “cowboy”. Then she realised she was there too. Drapped over his legs held by one of his big hands, as he held the reigns in the other. Then suddenly the bush exploded into flames….”

I was reflecting on all this and taking time out to honour our ANZACs as I sat at one of the outside memorials in Canberra. I prayed. I questioned. I wondered how this might be resolved. Then one of the noisy birds that frequent the eucalyptus flew down within reach of where I was seated. A sulphur crested cockatoo. He sat looking at me. Quiet. When he flew off he made one gentle sound. There where he had alighted, he had left a single, solitary white feather. I cried. And a fresh meaning came.

After visiting other ANZAC memorials, discovering other cockatoo feathers on several adventures, and having completed some research I have come to a powerful revelation. That the white feather rather than just being a symbol of cowardice, is expressed in some jurisdictions to signify extraordinary bravery, excellence in combat marksmanship, and self-sacrifice. It has been utilized by some pacifist organizations as an icon of abstinence from violence, but where this is the case, these references are usually towards a mark of justice and bravery in face of insurmountable threat. So I wrote about how my main character relayed what the white feather meant :

“Suffer like The Servant.  Ride like the wind. On the breath of the Creator. The wind of the Spirit . Go where the Spirit goes. Do what the Spirit does. Creator’s Love. His heart. Creator’s breathe. Sacrifice. No greater love has anyone than they lay down their lives for their friends. ”

As I prepared to write this article I served as padre at our local cenotaph dawn service for ANZAC day. A story was told of a local doctor who was captured in Malaya by the invading forces during World War II. He along with hundreds of others met their fate in the horrific events that became known as the Sandakan Death Marches. The thing that impacted me was how when he was afforded the opportunity to escape he chose to remain with his weaker and less able mates. He chose an act of love over his own freedom.  

Sometimes I pause to be thankful of the freedom we have that was paid with so great a price.

This causes me to not take my liberty for granted. To make it count. Perhaps even to aspire to some level of bravery within my life - even my writing craft.

Late last year my fortuitous volley of writing inspirations took me in a direction of character development and story telling that simply has been life changing. Firstly my long developed narrative has a deepening of its core characters, plot development, character arcs and a depth I had not anticipated. Secondly the plot that seemed to at first to be antithetical has actually become a meaningful  mythology that weaves many other aspects of my narrative together.

Finally, I hope to convey some inspiration for us all that sometimes as writers we just need to ride the wind of the Spirit. Follow His inspiration. Stick to the creative process. But most importantly let Creator’s inspiration breathe afresh on all we do.

 

There is a fresh revelation within my own storyline.  




By Shane Brigg. 

Author. Chaplain. Story empowerer

I hope you find this too.