Thursday, 30 September 2021

CWD Highlights - July to Sept 2021


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 July to Sept 2021

Awards and Recommendations

OWBF Writing Competition

Congratulations to the winners or the inaugural writing competition

Helen Bishop with her poem Hope (Unpublished Writer), 
Warren Brooks with his short story Christmas Hope (Unpublished Writer), 
Joy Mal with her poem Waiting (Published Writer) and 
Hazel Barker with her short story Hope Springs Eternal (Published Writer)

And a big thank you to Helen Bishop who donated her prize towards the next Omega Writers Book Fair (most likely in May 2022). 

CALEB Prize Finalists

Congratulations to all the finalists of the CALEB Prize in the different categories. Many are CWD members -Kathy Hoopmann, Cecily Paterson, Jenny Glazebrook, Kristen Young, Nola Lorraine, Meredith Resce, Hazel Barker, and Rosanne Hawke.  You can see the full list of finalists here.

The winners will be announced at the on 9 October 2021 as part of the Omega Writers Zoom conference (see below for details).


While the last three months seem to have been quieter on the new release front - there has been a flurry of activity when it comes to Book Fairs and Writers Festivals. Rather refreshing after the 2020 drought. 

Omega Writers Book Fair (Brisbane)

After all the planning and high hopes, the 2021 Omega Writers Book Fair (Brisbane) went ahead on the 31 July 2021 even as the announcement of a lockdown for South-East Queensland was being made.

This year the OWBF had a smaller number of author tables - with sixteen authors with works ranging for memoirs, biography, devotional theology, diversity and difference, to works of fantasy, science fiction, historical romance and crime fiction (written by a paramedic). The workshop by Anne Hamilton and Panel on Marekting and Promotion for Authors were both well attended.  Scavenger hunts and door prizes were given out and the winners of the inaugural OWBF Writing Competition were announced. All it all, it was a good time of networking, interaction and, indeed, sales. 

CWD members present  included Anne Hamilton, Judy Rogers, Ruth Bonetti, Nola Passmore, Naomi Eccles-Smith, Lynne Stringer, Jeanette O'Hagan, Hazel Barker (who won the published short story prize), David Bennett, Sally Eberhardt, Raelene Purtill, Rebekah Robinson, Ray & Sue Woodrow and Marion Kilchester

Read more about the 2021 OWBF here.

Cooparoo Presbyterian Book Fair

Some weeks later, on 28 August 2021, the Cooparoo Presyterian Church held their inaugural Book Fair with a number of stall holders, including CWD members David Bennett, Lynne Stringer, Ruth Bonetti, Jeanette O'Hagan, Jeanette Grant-Thomson, Hazel Barker and Rebekah Robinson. It was fantastic seeing a local church get behind Christian writers not only in holding the event but in in making purchases from the wide variety of books present. 

Inaugural Logan Writers Festival

And there was more. A small contingent of CWD writers were present at the inaugural Logan Writers Festival on 9-10 September.  Nola Passmore (aka Nola Lorraine) presented a workshop on the first day, while Ruth Bonetti, Naomi Eccles-Smith, Lynne Stringer and Jeanette O'Hagan all had book tables. The event was held outdoors which presented some challenges. Workshops and presentations were held in a pavilion throughout both days. Live music added to the festival atmosphere and on the first day four or five buses with students from local schools arrived and checked out the workshops and the books. And, breaking with the OWBF tradition (which the last two years seem to have preluded a lockdown) this time a lockdown was avoided. 

Other News

Ruth Bonetti is gratified that her recent release The Art Deco Mansion in St Lucia drew the attention of the books editor of The Weekend Australian–and a par review in the Review column of 18-19 September, 2021.

A charming look at one man’s post-war dream to build a mansion in the Brisbane suburb of St Lucia, which was in the 1950s mostly open kangaroo paddocks. Most astonishing for a private home in the 1950s, it had an elevator, which made Bonetti something of a celebrity at her local primary school as “the granddaughter of the man who had a lift in his house” she writes, with warmth and pride.


Who says that Indie published books can’t attract mainstream press reviews? With features in QMag Courier Mail and Toowoomba Chronicle, this makes a trifecta.
The take-out memo: Be persistent. Be confident and determined.


Coming up - Don't Miss Them

The Omega Writers Conference is now an online Retreat

With the logistical challenges of lockdowns and border closures, the Omega Writers Conference has pivoted from a retreat at Peppers Kingscliffe to a Zoom Conference in a living room near you.  The sad thing is that we will not be able to meet face-to-face, the plus is that anyone can attend regardless of their ability to travel.  If you haven't participated in an Omega Writers Conference before, maybe now is the year. 

COST FOR THE SATURDAY PROGRAM: Omega Members: $50 Non-Members: $70

The Conference will feature:

Collett Smart (Psychologist)
Nicole Partridge – Creative Writing
Genre and Breakout Groups
Two Panels – Pathways to Publication, Pathways to Promotion,
And the CALEB Awards Dinner

Find out more information here.

Omega Writers Conference and the Toowoomba Chapter

The Toowoomba chapter of Omega Writers has booked a venue in Toowoomba where we can attend the Omega Retreat Zoom day together on Saturday 9 October. 

Taking daylight saving into account, the Toowoomba sessions will run from 8-4 (and we can continue to watch the CALEB awards from our own homes later). 

In order to come, you'll have to register for the conference on the Omega site first. We'll have an additional small door fee of about $10 in Toowoomba to cover the room booking. 

If you're interested in coming, please write a comment below (or in the CWD Facebook group post) to  Nola Passmore. The Toowoomba chapter will need to firm up numbers ahead of time in case it's necessary to alter the booking.

South Australia Chapter

Contact Meredith Resce (on the CWD Facebook post) if live in Adelaide and are interested in getting together to watch the Conference on Zoom.

Rendered Realms at Supanova and Oz ComicCon

Rendered Realms (Lynne Stringer, Jeanette O'Hagan and Adele Jones) plan to be at SupaNova Brisbane November 6-7, 2021 and Oz ComicCon Brisbane in December 11 - 12. 2021, both at Brisbane Convention & exhibition centre. Please drop in and see them at these fantastic events.

Did you have a new release or event or brag point that didn't make it to the Highlights Post? Keep an eye out for the next call for information from members - the next Highlights post will be in December.

Congratulations to all our members for your milestones and achievements. 

Monday, 27 September 2021

[Self] Publish or Perish? Pros and Cons – by Ruth Bonetti

Authors trudge rutted paths to print goalsRejections tempt them to secure incomes selling used cars or real estate. Or they learn to forge their own independent ways.

We polish manuscript until it gleams, then submit. And wait. Wait. We remind ourselves of big name authors rejected many times by publisherswho now regret that 



Do we give up too easily on mainstream publishers and media? 


Decades ago, I flinched when a writer’s workshop presenter blitzed scorn on self-publishing. This mentor’s advice and insights had propelled me along the crafting stages forward. But after enduring the slow process of submit–wait– rejection–regroup­ I tired of hiatus.


Have perceptions changed since? 

Platforms such as IngramSpark, CreateSpace, Amazon’s Kindle Direct, Smashwords  and iBooks make self-publication feasible options. I use the former. What experiences have you had with such sites? 




Indie Authors can manoeuvre through write–polish–beta reads–edits–design–cover–upload and print in a fraction of the time it takes a Big House to print and release. 

Tip: Outlay for professional editing and design. 


If authors outsource to beta readers, professional editors, cover designers and interior designers, yes. Savvy readers notice “self-pub” red flags: 

  • Sentences littered with adverbs and multiple florid adjectives.
  • Errant punctuation. Unnecessary commas. 
  •  Glacial pace, head hopping and self-indulgent parentheses. 


Literary Awards: Indie authors need not apply. Tell me it isn't so?

Writers Festivals: Ditto.

Marketing: We’re on our own. Apply ingenuity. 

Reviews: Mainstream media pages rarely give space to small press submissions. 

But wait...



I felt prompted to post a copy of my latest book to the Books Editor of the Weekend Australian, with my flyer and copies of features in The Courier Mail QMag and Toowoomba Chronicle. (These derived from personal relationships with the respective editors.) And–perhaps the clincher–a mouse pad showing the iconic elevator that made the Art Deco Mansion in St Lucia the talk of 1950s Brisbane. My cash splash on merch was put to good use. 

Tip: Create eye-catching PR. 

Last weekend, I was ecstatic to see my book cover in the national daily. 

As I wrote to the editor:

 "That par in the Weekend Australian has taught me to resist self-destructive sabotage that  whines 'Why send a review copy to the national Weekend Australian? They only give space to trad publishers, the kind who favour ghost-written footy jocks, ex-politicians, and Very Deep Novels.' What an injection of hope that this mainstream paper gave me space!

Thank you. I am very grateful!"

We all appreciate appreciation. It builds relationship. Which may prompt that review. 

(Watch the space: Will my response be published next issue?)

Memo to self: Don't let the tag “self-published” inhibit your words.

Have your words fallen victim to this self-defeat? 

Let's continue to put them out into the world!


Never mind a dozen or so publications, Ruth sees the formation of Omega Writers 30-odd years ago as the most significant seed she was called to plant. She feels awed by the publications that fellow authors have released. She thanks God for this rich harvest.




Read PR articles

Watch book launch

Thursday, 23 September 2021

Finding Inspiration



Normally, this time of year I’m travelling. Autumn in the northern hemisphere is my favourite time to travel. Italy, France, Norway, Finland, Vermont, Maine, and Canada are all beautiful in the fall. 


For the last fifteen years, I’ve travelled for at least two months of every year and every time, my mind was expanded as I experienced new languages, new places, and met new people. 


My writing is inspired when I am experiencing new things. 


My faith also informs my writing. Ideas that are God-breathed and God-inspired flow out of my soul like no other.


Things in everyday life inspire me–people I meet and things that happen all spark my creativity and inform my writing.


I guess we writers are like magpies. We collect inspiration in so many ways.  We catch snippets of conversation, enjoy art, watch movies, see plays, read widely, get intrigued by news items, laugh at, or thoughtfully consider, Instagram memes, and so much more. 


Sometimes though, we need to be intentional about inspiration. During the Covid-19 pandemic, the lockdowns, and travel restrictions, I found the well of my inspiration running a little dry. 


So, I’ve done a few things lately to try and inject a little more inspiration into my life. Here are four things that have been inspiring me: 

 1. Volunteer: I’ve begun a volunteer job at my local church in their community services department. In this role, I interview people who need emergency relief. The church provides food vouchers, help with bill paying, fuel vouchers, and referrals to others services if required. 


Of course, I didn’t just do this to inspire my writing. Writing is a big part of my life but doing something in my community to help others is something I love doing. I’m sure that a by-product of the experiences of working in this environment will inspire something in my writing. 

2. Attend A Workshop or Retreat (in-person or online): Recently, I attended a workshop on the topic of writing your story with self-compassion. During the day, I was able to write a new ending for a novel I've been working on for years. 

As we shared our writing in small groups, I was inspired by the other writers in the group. I was challenged when I shared my own work. I still feel nervous tension when reading my work aloud, but I love being challenged to keep stretching and dreaming.

The Omega Writers Conference is running an online retreat on October 8 and 9. Why not consider signing up and joining others to be inspired? 

3. Do Something Way Out of Your Comfort Zone: In August, I signed up for a songwriting course. I’m not a singer or a musician, in fact, I’m the only non-musician in the group. Why on earth am I doing this? 

I thought it might help me to look at writing in a different way. I think doing the course will help develop my writing brain in a new way. Perhaps it will help make my writing more poetic and rhythmic. Perhaps something will be sparked as I listen to other's stories, songs, and music.

The last week of the course requires us to perform the song we’ve written. I’m not sure how I’ll fulfil that requirement but there are some helpful people in the class who said they will help me. 


4. Study Something New: Next term, I begin Italian lessons. Since I can’t travel to Italy at the moment, I thought that I’d learn more of the language before I go back one day.


There’s so much that has been taken away from us during the Covid-19 pandemic but it doesn’t mean that we can’t still be inspired. We just have to find different ways to live a life filled with inspiration.


Do you need a creativity boost? Why not try doing something new that will push you out of your normal routines?   


What have you been doing that inspires your creativity lately? 





Monday, 20 September 2021

News from Omega Writers | September 2021 (and Introducing #FaithPitch)

By Iola Goulton

Today I'm sharing the news from Omega Writers, and introducing #FaithPitch, an online event connecting Christian writers with agents and publishers.

Omega Writers

If you are a current member of Omega Writers, you should have received an email with this information last week. If you didn't receive the email (and it's not in your spam or junk folder), please email membership [at] OmegaWriters [dot] org and we can check your membership is still current and forward the email. Bookings are open for the revised 2021 Omega Writers Retreat, which is now being held online (via Zoom). The cost is AUD 50 for members, and AUD 70 for nonmembers. Members, you will have received an email with the discount code. Click here to book. The weekend starts with the Omega Writers Annual General Meeting on Friday 8 October, at 7pm AEDT, followed by a general catch-up at 8:30pm. Everyone is welcome to attend the AGM, but only members are able to vote.

The retreat proper begins on Saturday 9 October.

This will include genre-based breakout sessions, and general sessions from psychologist Collet Smart on mental health and creativity, and Nicole Partridge on the writer’s life.

Introducing Collett Smart

Collett Smart is a psychologist, qualified teacher, speaker and internationally published author of ‘They’ll be Okay: 15 Conversations to help your child through troubled times’ (Hachette). She has also contributed chapters to a number of other parenting books. You might catch her on Channel 7 every Sunday morning, on a segment called ‘Wellbeing with Collett’, or on radio, where she chats about youth mental health and family relationships. She is the resident psychologist and monthly columnist for Mums At the Table magazine. Collett has delivered seminars around the world and is an Ambassador for International Justice Mission Australia and eChildhood. She lives in Sydney, with her husband and 3 children, aged 19, 17 and 12 years old. Find Collett online at

Introducing Nicole Partridge

Nicole Partridge is a freelance journalist and writer whose work has been featured in leading magazines and newspapers around the world, including: Marie Claire, The Guardian Weekend magazine (UK), Good Weekend, The New York Times, Readers Digest Australia and Europe, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, The Sunday Telegraph, Daily Telegraph, AAP, Grazia, Body and Soul, and Charisma magazine. In 2013, her feature story on the Hudson River Plane Crash, was reproduced in English textbooks as an example of how to write a first-person story. She has co-authored several books, including the best-selling, Heart of a Lioness and Lofty: My Life in Short – Harper Collins and managed the Australian publicity for the New York Times best seller, Heaven is For Real. Find Nicole online at


After lunch (well, lunch in AEDT), there will be two panel sessions: Pathways to Publishing, and Pathways to Promotion. The day will finish with the CALEB Award presentation in the evening, starting at 7pm AEDT. It's free to attend the CALEB Award presentation, but you will need to sign up to receive the Zoom link. Click here to book.

I'm signed up and looking forward to the retreat. Are you?

Introducing #FaithPitch

The lack of in-person writing conferences and retreats means a lack of opportunities to meet and pitch to agents and publishers. But #FaithPitch is still operating, and the next date is coming up soon: 30 September.

What is #FaithPitch?

#FaithPitch is the Christian version of #PitMad, a regular opportunity for authors to pitch their manuscripts to interested agents and editors on Twitter. It's free, which means there is nothing stopping you. It's only one day, which means interested agents and editors will make time to check out the hashtag (and Tweets aren't deleted, which means they don't have to check immediately). FaithPitch is hosted by Little Lamb Books, but is open to all authors, agents, and publishers working in the Christian market.

Do People Get Published from #FaithPitch?

A scroll through the #FaithPitch hashtag on Twitter shows that some participants do go on to get their manuscript published. Others connect with agents. Still more are asked to forward a proposal. I'm sure that's only a small percentage of participants, but it's more than nothing ... which is what will happen if you do nothing.

How Do I Participate?

Basically, you have to pitch your book in a single tweet (up to 280 characters ... characters, not words). The Tweet has to include the #FaithPitch hashtag (so interested agents and publishers can find you), and should also include age group and genre hashtags (e.g. #YA for young Adult, and #R for Romance). So that means you have around 260 characters for your actual story ... You can only pitch a complete, unpublished manuscript, and there are strict rules around Tweets. Find out more about #FaithPitch at: Also, check out the list of hashtags here:

Have you participated in #FaithPitch? What was your experience?

Thursday, 16 September 2021

Unbind him! And let him go!

by Julie Archer

We all know the story. 

            Lazarus falls ill in Bethany, the hilltop village a couple of kilometres north east of Jerusalem. Someone is urgently despatched to tell Jesus, who is taking a quiet break on the far side of the Jordan. 

            And Jesus, to everyone’s astonishment and dismay, does nothing for days. 

            Finally, he leaves the place where he has been preparing for his approaching suffering and death, and heads back to Judea, disciples in tow.

             As they trudge up the hill towards the village of little whitewashed houses, they are spotted. Someone runs to tell Martha, one of the bereaved sisters. 

            Out she comes, in a whirlwind of emotions, not knowing – as we wouldn’t – what to say to Jesus. So she blurts out, ‘Lord! if you had been here, my brother would not have died!’ 

            ‘I am the resurrection and the life,’ Jesus tells Martha. 

            And Martha, even in the depths of her grief, affirms, ‘I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who was to come into the world.’ 

            So she goes back to the house, and tells Mary that Jesus is here and asking for her. 

            Mary leaps up, and followed by the mourners sitting with her, hurries to meet Jesus. 

            And falls, weeping, at his feet. 

            ‘Lord! if you had been here, my brother would not have died!’ 

            The mourners, from the village and from nearby Jerusalem, are all weeping as well, and Jesus’ own grief is obvious to everyone.  

‘Where have you laid him?’ he asks, through his tears. 

So the crowd heads off to the tomb, those trailing behind whispering and muttering. 

            Through the village they go, past the drying clothes, and scratching chickens, the goats in the pen and donkeys tied in doorways. Past the solemn little children too young to understand, and the toothless elders sitting in the winter sunshine. 

            Over to the hillside where the tombs of village families have been for generations, each sealed by a heavy stone. 

            Jesus, still visibly emotional, stops outside the tomb that Martha indicates. 

            ‘Take away the stone,’ he says. 

            Martha, who had earlier given voice to a last shred of hope, seems to have lost even that. 

            ‘By now there will be a bad odour. He’s been there four days!’ 

            ‘Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?’ 

            So the villagers roll away the stone, and the cave holding the dead man gapes open. 

            Jesus prays out loud to the Father, then he shouts, ‘Lazarus! Come out!’ 

            And out came the dead man, says John, hands and feet and face wrapped up like a mummy. 

            Now follows the line that grabbed me when this story was read in church recently. 

            ‘Jesus said, “Unbind him and let him go!”’ 

            We who belong to Christ have also been raised from death to life. ( John 5.24, 1 John 3.14, Ephesians 2.5, Colossians 2.13).  

But are there things that still bind me, even though I am raised to life? Tangle me up in my walk with God?  

Hinder me from writing what and how Christ calls me to write? 

            Imagine Lazarus trying to walk or run entangled in those grave clothes!  

            No, ‘unbind him and let him/her go’, says Jesus. 

            It is for freedom that Christ has set us free,’ (Galatians 5.1) Let us write in the freedom Christ has given to us, write to please him, throwing off whatever hinders us. 

Julia Archer writes short fiction, mostly for Young Adult and Middle Grade readers. Her writing is influenced by almost twenty years lived in Asia, mostly in cultures not so different from that of the Bible. She now lives in Adelaide.

Monday, 13 September 2021

Write Amidst the Storm

 I need not remind Australians that for the majority of us, the past eighteen months have been a period unlike any other in our lives. That includes writers. Bookstores have been shut, many never to reopen. Sales have been down. Libraries have been closed, so no PLR. Publishers have been hit hard. Events have been cancelled, and re-cancelled. Gatherings have been forbidden by government edicts. Homes with children usually at school have been thrust into the realm of home schooling, and a pandemic of fear has seen panic buying and frenzied behaviour uncharacteristic of our usually “laid back” Aussie culture.

What’s a writer to do?

I know for a fact people have been very creative in their responses to this. Many have established online groups, often expanding their reach in innovative ways. (I’m talking to you, Tamika Spaulding, and your Tassie crew!) Others have managed to use this opportunity to get writing done and release more books. (I’ll confess a twinge of envy.) Others have got stuck into making promotional book videos (Meredith Resce). The list is impressively lengthy.

For myself, in addition to the whole “close the country” down thingy, I had my own “shut down” of sorts. This wasn’t as dramatic as it sounds and without boring you with details, essentially I had to pull back from pretty much everything I’d been involved with to that point—which was already reduced due to a crazy-busy three years preceding that. I’ve been gradually crawling out of my hole, but my productivity was downright lousy for most of 2020.

What can we do when writing gets hard? Here are a few tips from my “Top Ten Block Busters” presentation, shared at a recent visit with the Rose City Writers:

1) Embrace the season and cut yourself some slack:

Frustration is unhelpful and takes a lot of energy. Even social media can be exhausting during such periods, which makes promotion an even bigger mountain. Our goals might look completely unattainable. It’s okay to cut ourselves some slack and let things slide on occasion, but don’t give up the ideas that will occasionally filter in. Jot them down for another time, for seasons come and go. Swings and roundabouts, as my significant other would say.

2) Do what you can to keep the creative muscle alive:

It just happened that when this conundrum hit, a couple of Quirky Quills (our local writing group), Kirsten Hart and Nola Passmore, and I were regularly meeting to work through online writing development courses. Although things struck a bit of a snag, I already had accountability and something I could focus on to keep things creeping forward. Even when our meetings were sporadic and my motivation negative ten, we were still able to set little goals that were feeding our inner creative capabilities. And out of that, when an opportunity for a short story did arise, I was able to apply what we’d been working on and submit a short story to the recent “Crossed Spaces Anthology” released by Rhiza Edge Press.

Crossed Spaces Anthology, Rhiza Edge Press

 3) Something is better than nothing:

You’ve heard me say it before, but it’s true. Even ten minutes once a week will see you write more than nothing. And when those swings and roundabouts turn, you’ll have something to keep going with. This also gives you a chance to celebrate a little win here and there. And who knows, it might just turn into a submission opportunity when you least expect it.

So even if it your writing productivity currently feels like you’re swimming in a pond of slowly solidifying craft glue, be encouraged: seasons change and opportunity comes to us all. Eventually.

Queensland author Adele Jones writes young adult near-science fiction (that is, until reality catches up with her stories!) exploring the underbelly of bioethics and confronting teen issues that include disability, self-worth, loss, domestic conflict, and more. She also writes historical fiction, poetry, inspirational non-fiction and short fictional works, with themes of social justice, humanity, faith, natural beauty and meaning in life’s journey. Adele’s first YA novel Integrate (book one of the Blaine Colton Trilogy) was awarded the 2013 CALEB Prize for unpublished manuscript. As a speaker she seeks to present a practical and encouraging message by drawing on themes from her writing. For more visit or

Monday, 6 September 2021

The Cinderella Experience

Once upon a time, a beautiful young woman falls on hard times as a result of a tragic death in her family. She is forced into manual labour. Then a complete reversal occurs. She fortuitously meets a wealthy, well-respected member of the community who falls in love with her. They marry and she is rescued from a life of poverty and hardship. They live happily ever after. 

This is the basic plot of Cinderella, several other fairy tales and many fictional stories. Perhaps you have even written one yourself. It’s also the storyline of all our lives.

Our Cinderella Story

We were created ‘beautiful,’ made in the image of God. We have worth and value because we bear God’s image. We fall on hard times because we live in a broken world. Hard times take many guises. Cinderella experienced the tragic death of her father which changed the family dynamic. We may experience conflict in our family due to divorce, addictions, abuse, neglect. Or our hard times may come from unfortunate circumstances, illness, economic downturns, floods, fire. Or our hard times might be unseen, mental health issues, emotional distress, disappointments, broken dreams. None of us escapes difficulties, though the severity varies greatly. 

We are all faced with a choice, a call to action or adventure. Cinderella didn’t have to go to the ball. She could have stayed home and bemoaned her unfortunate life. Will we allow our hardships to define our lives or will we carve out a life of meaning and purpose outside our difficulties? 

Our opportunities to overcome physical difficulties may be limited, perhaps ill-health or financial restraints mean we’ll never achieve all we hoped for. Yet this doesn’t mean we can’t achieve something worthwhile for our family or community. We can change the lives of those we come in contact with through our kindness, by being a listening ear and by our prayers. Yet it’s a risk.

The risk of engagement 

Cinderella took the risk of becoming involved in the king’s affairs and the danger of being exposed if she was home late. Likewise, we’re called to take a risk, maybe not to go to a ball, but to take the initiative and pursue a course of action outside the expectations placed on us by others. 

Our course of action may simply be to abandon our plans and commit to God’s plans, not knowing where this might lead. Though it’s unlikely to lead to marrying into a royal family or even a family of wealth and privilege. Yet from a spiritual perspective when we commit to God, he welcomes us into his family and we experience spiritual wealth and privilege. Even as part of God’s family, we may not experience release from hardship in this world but we know we will in the next. By faith we know, we will receive our happily ever after ending.

The Cinderella of the Bible

Of all the characters in the Bible, the story of Ruth reads like Cinderella.

Ruth is still a young woman when the early death of her husband leaves her destitute. She travels with her mother-in-law to Israel, the birthplace of her husband and her deceased father-in-law (Ruth 1). She works in the fields, gleaning grain and meets Boaz, a wealthy, well-respected member of the community (Ruth 2). They fall in love and marry (Ruth 3 & 4). Ruth is rescued from a life of poverty and hardship. It’s a “rags to riches” story where God works unnoticed behind the scenes.

The complete reversal of Ruth’s circumstances comes about because she makes the decision to abandon her Moabite religion and puts her faith in the God of Israel. Her situation isn’t instantly improved as Ruth has to work long hours in the heat of the day gleaning grain, but she has hope in God and her faith is rewarded. She is blessed beyond expectation. 

Ruth was a foreigner, widowed and poor. Through her marriage to Boaz, Ruth joins his family and is released from poverty. Ultimately, she becomes an ancestor of Jesus (Matthew 1:5). Destitute Ruth is the Cinderella of the Bible.

Happily ever after?

Ruth’s story finishes with great blessing but also unanswered questions. Ruth marries an older man, will she be widowed again? Does she ever see her parents again or her sister-in-law, Orpah? 

In this life, we will always face uncertainties and disappointments but we have great hope in the God who makes Cinderellas of us all. 

Susan Barnes, writes insightful blog posts that 
encourage readers towards a more meaningful 
relationship with God. 

Sign up for her weekly devotions on her website: 
and receive a free chapter from her book, 
10 Biblical women who made a difference.

Thursday, 2 September 2021

Being Professional -- Marc Z Jeffrey

Photo by Oli Dale on Unsplash

Professional. It is a word we hear all the time: ‘He has turned professional. She needs to be more professional.’ The word has several nuances of meaning. Macquarie Dictionary (MacMillan Publishers Australia, 2021) lists ten. Three are: 

a) ‘someone who makes a business of an occupation etc., especially of an art or sport, in which amateurs engage for amusement or recreation,’ (noun), 

b) ‘following an occupation as a means of livelihood or for gain,’ (adjective), and 

c) ‘as would be done by a professional; expert,’ (adjective).

So, you want to make money from your writing; or have at least toyed with the idea? No? Then, am I right you want to communicate with your intended audience; you want to honour God, who put the desire to write within you? You want to do it well? Produce something that would please a professional? Then read on.

Being professional gives us credibility in a world that can devalue creativity. For a nation that loves story, Australians can sure be critical of those creating them. The statement, ‘You need to be more professional,’ may mask bias. Many writers and artists, especially those who are trying to make a living through their art, battle stigma. There is a prevailing attitude that unless someone traditionally employs you for what you are doing, then you are wasting your time. Income derived from what has the look of hard work can give much status. But doing a lot where there is no clear connection between effort and financial reward can appear ‘wasteful.’

Now, shake the negative stuff off. What does a professional writer do that distinguishes them from one writing purely for fun or personal fulfilment? What do we need to consider?

In summary, to be professional, we need to research the market, understand our readers, and be engaged with the writing community – which all helps us surf change whenever that’s needed.

First, a professional writer researches the market. The writer needs to understand what readers want and don’t want to read, as well as how and where they choose to access content. We might work our fingerprints off to create; but building our knowledge of marketing is just as important. How and when we sell or distribute our works is as important as the writing and editing them. Being able to judge whether it is time to reinvent how we are promoting ourselves rings true whether you have an agent or are self-publishing.

Second, if we explicitly or implicitly promise a reader something, we need to deliver. That might be as simple as not using cover art that suggests the content is a thriller, when you’ve written a romance. It damages our brand if we fail; and it could scuttle our business. A professional knows how to create an expectation and knows how to deliver on it. If we give the customer over and above what they expect, they are more likely to come back. 

Finally, writing can be a solitary occupation, but if you are a writer, you are a part of a community of people. Christian Writers Downunder is such a community. You can find us on Facebook or via this ‘blog spot’. 

Professional people take time to build their brands. Sharing knowledge is brand central for writers and creators. If you need to make a change in what you are doing, a little knowledge is invaluable in getting it right, so share yours. Sharing knowledge is not giving away trade secrets, it’s sharing what you know and what you have learnt. Knowledge is like the ocean, an open resource of facts; what you are doing is drawing attention to what you’ve found helpful in that ocean. 

Photo by Avi Richards on Unsplash

So, if you want to write for a living, or supplement your other job by writing, or just have fun with your words — then be professional because God calls us to be excellent in all that we do. That is: research the market and understand your readers, deliver on what you promise and engage with your community. Have a clear, well-thought-out plan of action and execute it. When things don’t work, rethink, pray. Then try again.

Marc Jeffrey is an Adelaide-based author and poet who loves to craft words in times when his beautiful wife and lively dog (Shih tzu cross Chihuahua) are asleep. He writes of hope and justice, depositing his characters in the nexus between the ‘what is’ and the ‘what if’ – while wondering if he can leave the house without waking anyone up. 

He is long-time member of the ‘Literati’ writing group, that grew out of the Tabor Adelaide Creative Writing program. When he’s not writing, Marc listens to his favourite music, which ranges from Cold Chisel to Claude Debussy