Thursday, 28 October 2021

Time to NaNo

 by Jeanette O'Hagan

With November fast approaching, it's that time of year again.  

No, not Christmas (less than two months away). 

Not Hot Cross Buns likely to be in the stores two days after Christmas. 

Not even Supanova Brisbane the weekend after next (6-87 November, where btw you can find Rendered Realms once again.

It's time to dust of your keyboard, bring out your latest big project, clear you calendar and go for it. It's time for NaNoWriMo!

What is NaNoWriMo, you ask?

NaNoWriMo (pronounced Nan-No-Rye-Mo) stands for National Novel Writing Month. It started as a simple challenge to write a novel (or at least 50,000 words) in the month founded by freelance writer Chris Baty in the San Francisco Bay Area in July 1999 (the shift to November came in 2000.)

NaNoWriMo is a non-profit organisation that ‘believes your story matters.’

The challenge is to write 50,000 words on a (new) novel during the month of November.

Or you can be a NaNo rebel  - by continuing an existing project or converting hours of say editing or planning or poetry into words (generally one hour = 1000 words). Shh! Don't tell anyone. No, not really. NaNo Rebels are a sanctioned tradition probably since the early days of NaNoWriMo.  

But Wait - Don' You Have to be a bit Crazy to do NaNo?

Hmm, maybe - but then you have to be a bit crazy to be an author.

So, why do NaNoWriMo? 
  • If you've always wanted to write a novel—or have stalled in the process of writing one, NaNo can give you a jump-start. As I said in 2015, NaNo coverts ‘someday’ into ‘today.’
  • Tangible goals and deadlines, for many of us, are good motivators.
  • It gives you an impetus to write daily or at least regularly over  a limited timeframe (30 days).
  • Writing fast without constantly stopping to edit and review helps you get into the ‘flow’, immerses you into the your story world, and allows your creativity to flourish.
  • There will be time after NaNo to edit messy drafts but you can't edit a blank page.
  • The NaNo goal is achievable—1667 words a day (less than two hours of writing for most people)— but it is still challenging enough to stretch you.
  • Even if you don’t manage 50,000 words, every word counts and you will probably write more words than you would have otherwise. 
  • NaNoWriMo provides support through buddies, groups, badges, write-ins, and events
  • If you finish NaNo, there are some nifty, tangible rewards, like discount codes on programs and services useful to authors. 

So you've decided to take the plunge. What next?

The first step- sign-up to Nano (at and set up your project. 

The next step - add buddies (of writers you know) and join a group (CWD has a Quirky Wordsmiths Downunder Group) where you can interact and encourage each other.

The third step - prepare (if you have time). What will you write? Do you need to plan? What about research?

The fourth step - come November 1st, start writing.  Write each day - or write is larger blocks on the weekend or a day off. Work out what suits you and your routine. Make it a date in your diary and write, no excuses. 

The fifth step - remember to record your word count (or convert your hours - for the rebels among us) on your NaNo project page each time you write. Okay, you can backdate numbers if need be - that is, up to midnight 30 November, but remember to do it. 

The sixth step - celebrate your win & collect your goodies

So Now I'm ready to Publish, Yay!

No, no, no. Not quite.  

What you have is a first draft.  

In other words, your newly birthed book baby isn't ready for University quite yet. 

Even NaNoWriMo recognises that the NaNo draft is not ready for publication. It encourages writers to make December the month of the Edit, and discusses the next steps budding authors can take, including the need for editorial services, and offers discounts on writing programs etc.

Have you done NaNoWriMo in the past?  Are you interested in joining us this November? Let us know in the comments below or on the CWD Facebook group.  Look forward to doing NaNo together :) 

Monday, 25 October 2021

Adult Literacy: Are We Part of the Problem or Part of the Solution?


Many years ago, I knew a woman who'd recently become a Christian. Her first Bible was written in a fairly easy-to-read translation, and she enjoyed reading it. She could understand it. Then one day, I was attending a Christian talk with her, and the speaker made a couple of throwaway comments about this particular version of the Bible. He didn't like it because of a couple of points in the translation. His talk wasn't about Bible translation. He wasn't aiming his comments directly at my friend. He simply dropped those couple of snippets and moved on. But they had an effect. My friend got the impression that she didn't have the 'right' Bible and that she needed to get a 'proper' Bible.

I was annoyed at the time, and I'm still annoyed more than 30 years later. Why? Not because of some finer points of Bible translation, but because this Bible was at a reading level that was comfortable for my friend. Many people have been blessed by this Bible, it sells millions each year, and I have a copy of it next to my bed that I read every night. It's not my main study Bible, but I enjoy reading it. Why put unnecessary barriers in front of people that would make it hard for them to read and understand God's Word?

When looking at children's literacy, we understand that there are a range of different reading levels, and there are different kinds of books that cater to this. However, when we see an adult, especially in Western culture, we assume they can read and do so at a reasonable level. 

My view of this was challenged recently when I watched an excellent SBS documentary series called 'Lost for Words'. Across three episodes, it followed eight adult Australians with literacy challenges. Two of them could only recognise a few sight words. The others could read a bit, but had trouble with a lot of everyday reading tasks that most of us would take for granted; such as reading a public transport timetable, sending an email or looking for ingredients in a supermarket. They were placed into an intensive reading program, and it was amazing to see their progress over the course of the series. If you're in Australia, you can watch the series on SBS On Demand

When we write for adults, do we assume everyone has a high reading level? Do we dig out the thesaurus to find fancy words? When writing Christian books, devotions and study guides, do we use Christian jargon that a lot of Christians wouldn't even understand? Do we see an adult reading a comic book and secretly think they should have left those behind in childhood? Do we inadvertently leave people out of 'the conversation' because they can't read it and understand it?  I'm talking to myself here as much as anyone. 

So What Can We Do?

  • Many people with reading challenges have been shamed in the past and have become adept at hiding their gaps in literacy. Let's watch our own attitudes, expectations and stereotypes and try to create an atmosphere in which people with literacy challenges feel accepted rather than further shamed or stigmatised. 
  • Think about our audience. Are they people with theological degrees? People who've successfully completed high school? The average person on the street? That 'average' person may be someone with a learning disability, someone who has English as a second language, someone who had disrupted schooling due to family trauma. How do we craft our words so that we don't exclude people?
  • By all means use a thesaurus to help you think of other words for variety or for different shades of meaning. But don't use a thesaurus to come up with highfalutin words that make you look clever without regard for the reader. (Actually, 'highfalutin' might be one of those highfalutin words!)
  • If you have to use an unfamiliar or technical term, use context to help the reader grasp what you mean. For example, if you're writing a book set in the 1800s, you might want to use the term 'portmanteau' rather than 'suitcase', as it's more historically accurate. However, you can help the reader by hinting at its use. For example, 'Helena packed her clothes in the new portmanteau she'd bought for the trip.' If you have a lot of technical terms, you could also consider using a glossary. It's not about 'dumbing down'. If we believe God wants us to share his love through our stories, memoirs, poetry, devotions and more, shouldn't we do our best to make our words clear? 
  • Think of alternative ways of presenting your material. For example, audiobooks are wonderful for people who find reading difficult. However, you still need to make the language accessible. Depending on the type of work you've written, summaries and recaps can also help. For example, mystery novels often have sections where two or more characters get up to speed on the latest clues or evidence.
  • Children's stories are often presented in different ways for different reading levels. For example, books featuring superheroes or the characters from children's films such as 'Frozen', have been produced as picture books, early readers, chapter books, comic books, graphic novels and junior novellas or novels. Could our work for adults also be presented in different ways? 

So what happened to the friend I mentioned at the beginning of this post? She did buy a different version of the Bible, and God obviously blessed her with his Word because she's still a Christian today and going strong with the Lord. In spite of all of our efforts, we need to remember that it's the Holy Spirit who helps us to understand God's Word in spite of human failings. May the Holy Spirit guide us as we seek to share the message God has placed on our hearts.

Further Reading

In a recent post about adult literacy for the ACW site, I included some further suggestions and links to literacy organisations and resources. You can read it here.

Photo Credits

Featured photo of alphabet by Monfocus on Pixabay.

Girl holding Bible by Tep Ro on Pixabay.

Comics from the author's collection. (Yes, she still reads comics!)

Author Bio

Nola Lorraine (aka Nola Passmore) has a passion for faith and social justice issues, and loves weaving words that inspire others with courage and hope. Her inspirational historical novel Scattered was published in 2020, and she has also co-edited the Christian charity anthology Glimpses of Light with Jeanette O’Hagan. She has more than 150 short publications, including fiction, poetry, devotions, true stories, magazine articles and academic papers. She and her husband Tim also run a freelance writing and editing business, The Write Flourish, from the home they share with their two adorable cavoodles in southeast Queensland, Australia. She’d love to connect with you through her website:


Monday, 18 October 2021

A Tree of Life

 by Anusha Atukorala

Have you seen my tongue tricks

When I was growing up, my family was often entertained by them—I could even touch my nose with my tongue! In fact, I still can! I stopped writing now to take a few pictures to prove its truth to you, but ... the photos didn't look decent enough to be aired before your little eyes, so I shall wait a bit longer to satisfy your curiosity.


Recently, a verse in Proverbs spoke to me.

"A soothing tongue is a tree of life." 

Proverbs 15:4


As I read these words, I pictured a sweet young Mum rocking her baby boy on her knee. He's fallen and grazed his knee and his loud wails fill the air. Gently, she wipes his tear-stained cheeks and washes the scrape on his knee.

“Shh… it’s all right. It’s going to be fine, Sweetie!” 

Soon … his sobs die down. One last gulp and then, the flash of an angelic little-boy smile! He has calmed down. Made whole  ... through a soothing tongue.


When I have been badly in need of them, gentle words uttered by family and friends have been like cool breezes fanning a sad heart, a soft shawl around my shoulders on a cold day or a gift that never stops giving. They’ve also been a tree of life. I am able to sit content under the shade of its leafy branches.


A soothing tongue blesses. And we writers have power—the power to wield our pen and our tongues for good, power to bring encouragement and hope to sorrow-filled hearts, power to entertain and bring smiles to faces (and even a tear or two), power to instil courage and joy into lives that are hurting, power to bequeath a renewed perspective of God and His world to enhance a reader’s life.

In Genesis and Revelation we see references to The Tree of Life. Now that is something worth waiting for, isn’t it? Meanwhile, as we wait, in Proverbs we find four comparisons to the tree of life, all life-giving commodities—
A longing fulfilled
A soothing tongue. 


We Christian writers need wisdom. Lots of it. Wisdom about life, wisdom about how to best use the language, wisdom about our readers and how they will engage with us, wisdom about how to write well. 

Wisdom is everything. 

Or is it?


" The fruit of the righteous is a Tree of Life.
Proverbs 11:30

This verse implies that in order to bear fruit in our writing, we need also to be righteous - holy - God breathed disciples. Jesus said that what is on the inside of us is what comes out of us. How can we share His words with the world if we are not walking in His ways and pleasing Him in our thoughts, words and deeds, seeking to become more and more like Jesus?

What then does a tree comprise of? Roots, a trunk, branches, leaves, flowers and fruit. Can we writers be trees of life? We can grow roots that go deep into God and His word, a trunk that stands tall against the enemy’s punches, branches that spread far and wide to share our good news with the world, flowers that bring pleasure to life-seeking hearts, leaves that bring healing to the nations and fruit that provides succour, strength, hope and nourishment to those who hunger for it.


The last reference to a tree of life in the Proverbs is about our dreams. Now, dreams are what we writers have plenty of—some obvious, like a lolly bulging in little girl’s cheek as she unsuccessfully tries to hide it from her Mum's watchful eye. Others nestling in our hearts as they are slowly birthed to life through our Master’s gentle touch.

"A longing fulfilled is a Tree of Life." Proverbs 13:12

What kind of longings are in your heart today, dear writerly friend? To publish a book? To sell your books? To be a good speaker? To write good stories? To create a blog? Or maybe you have many other dreams tucked in your beautiful heart that are waiting to be realised. 

May every longing in your heart see the light of day. 

May you be a tree of life, roots going deep into God, standing tall, providing rest and shelter to all who come under the branches of your life-giving words!


"A Soothing Tongue is a Tree of Life" 
Proverbs 15:4

Anusha’s been on many interesting detours in life, as a lab technician, a computer programmer, a full time Mum, a full time volunteer, a charity director, a full time job chaser, until one golden day (or was it a dark moonless night?) God tapped her on her shoulder and called her to write for Him. She has never recovered from the joy it brought her. She loves to see others enjoying life with Jesus and does her mite to hurry the process in her world through her writing and through her life. The goodness of God is her theme song through each season, as she dances in the rain with Jesus.

Her first book 'Enjoying the Journey' contains 75 little God stories that will bring you closer to your Creator. Her second book 'Dancing in the Rain' brings you hope and comfort for life's soggy seasons. Her third book 'Sharing the Journey' is a sequal to Enjoying the Journey also containing little stories that warm the heart. 

Thank you for sharing her journey by reading this blog today!

Do stop by at her two websites to say G’day! 

She'd love to connect with you.

Dancing in the Rain

Light in the Darkness


Dancing in the Rain: To purchase Book

Sharing the Journey: To purchase Book



Thursday, 14 October 2021

Can we be in unity in these tough times? Thoughts from Jo Wanmer


Jesus washed the feet of his betrayers. 
Not his accusers, nor his enemies but his betrayers-the ones he called his friends. The ones he walked with and talked with, explaining deep hidden meanings, and trained in the ways of the Kingdom. Those who planned to protect him, no matter what. Those who claimed they were willing to die for him, but left him.

Knowing who he was (King of Kings) and knowing where he was going (to the cross) Jesus took the role of a servant, the lowliest servant, and washed their feet. Not their clean feet. Not feet protected by socks, but dusty, filthy, road-weary feet. This, one of his last parables, was acted out, touching every man’s flesh and every man’s heart.

As he sat back at the table, he shared that one pair of those clean feet were going to betray him. Shocking! So shocking, He struggled with it. He was troubled in spirit, agitated and disturbed. But yet his pain hadn’t stopped him serving the betrayer.

He shared his bread, an act of deep intimacy, with Judas and sent him out to fulfil his act of betrayal. Turning back to the others, Jesus talked about the glory of God. In this setting he utters the famous words, ‘Love one another as I have loved you.’ His meaning must have filtered into their hearts as the water was still drying between their toes. ‘Love one another so much that you are willing to wash the feet of even the one that would betray you to death.’ What a powerful demonstration of unconditional love! Love is the way the Father’s glory is manifested.

In the same scene, at the same table, Jesus prays for His disciples, and for us, those that believe because of the disciples teaching. ‘Lord, make them one as we are one.’ His disciples were a varied bunch. Did he really expect a tax collector to be unified with a zealot? Or a fisherman? Or does he have a different idea of unity?

He had just given them a practical demonstration of love. He remained in unity, even with Judas. When love is practised, unity happens.

 As Christian authors and readers we write…not only books and short pieces, but emails, posts on social media, articles and blogs. Are we being known as Christians by our love that's displayed in our words?

In these difficult times, we don’t all agree on theology, politics, vaccines and other topics. How can we walk in unity when we see things so differently? Unity is not about total agreement, seeing things the same. It is about love and displaying that love unconditionally. We can still honour our brothers and sisters in Christ, even if we disagree with them. We can still walk in the spirit of love, joy, peace and patience, staying in unity of the Spirit. It is not our job to judge others, correct them or argue with them, but to pray for them and allow Jesus to do His work, (not our work) in their hearts. For each of us, it is our job to walk humbly before our Lord.

When we can stay in unity, even though differing in opinions, others will see God’s love because it will shine like His glory.

The enemy’s plan is to cause division. God’s heart is for unity. As always, we choose our response. May His grace be upon each one of us in these turbulent times.

Bible references: John 13, 17

Jo Wanmer lives in Queensland with Steve and Barclay, the toy poodle, who is begging for treats! Her published book 'Though the Bud be Bruised' was published in 2012. She also has articles in several anthologies. Her focus at the moment is listening to the heart of the Lord, though his written word, as times and churches are changing. 



Monday, 11 October 2021

2021 CALEB Award Winners

 Omega Writers are thrilled to announce the winners of the 2021 CALEB Awards for published books.

Adult Nonfiction

Sponsor: Sheree Chambers & Emma Biddle at Impressum

The winner receives their choice of website updates, a six-week social media calendar, or a cover for their next book to the value of $400.

The winner is: Sinned Against: Exploring the Scriptures by Valerie Wressell

Adult Biography or Memoir

Sponsor: Lisa Renee at The Collaborative Press

The winner receives a full wraparound cover for paperback and ebook, valued at $400.

The winner is: On the way: an Australian Doctor in Yemen and Pakistan by Michael Babbage

Children’s Picture Books

Sponsor: Christina Booth

The winners (author and illustrator) each receive a one-hour manuscript or illustration assessment via zoom.

The winner is: Grandma’s Treasured Shoes written by Coral Vass and Illustrated by Christina Huynh

Early Reader and Middle Grade

Sponsor: Marianne Musgrove

The winner receives a manuscript assessment of the first 10,000 words (plus three-page synopsis), plus a one-hour zoom chat.

The winner is: How Not to be Popular by Cecily Paterson

Young Adult Fiction

Sponsor: Nola Passmore at The Write Flourish

The winner receives their choice of editing services to the value of $400.

The winner is: Apprentice by Kristen Young

Adult Fiction

Sponsor: Iola Goulton of Christian Editing Services

The winner receives their choice of editing services to the value of $400.

The winner is: The Silk Merchant of Sychar by Cindy Williams

Barnabas Award

The Barnabas Award is a new award to recognise a writer who has gone out of their way to support and encourage other writers. Our winner received several nominations, and here are some of their comments:

Elaine's encouragement and praise were sincere. I am even more delighted to say that Elaine has become a dear friend who continues to give of her time and wisdom to me and many others.

Elaine will talk to anyone and give them guidance no matter where their writing project is. She has a gift of seeing where the gaps are in a project, and a gentle encouraging way of pushing those who come to her to strive for their best. She is an amazing encouragement to our writing community, giving confidence to those just starting their writing journey.

Elaine is well known in the Perth writing community for the level of support, encouragement, and skills development she provides others. I'm convinced there would be far fewer writers in Perth were it not for the love, support, encouragement, and teaching given so generously by Elaine.

Elaine Fraser, author of the Beautiful books, is from Perth, Western Australia.  For many years she taught English and Drama in secondary schools. Prompted by the desire to inspire young women to live the lives they were destined for, she encourages women to develop characteristics in their lives that create beauty. Beauty, according to Elaine, should be the whole package–body, soul and spirit. Kindness, love, joy, peace and strength build qualities into lives that transcend physical beauty.

Elaine wins a $200 cash award from Omega Writers.

Encouragement Award

This is for writers Omega Writers would like to recognise and encourage:

Jeannie Wood

Lockdown is hard enough, let alone with medical issues, and attempting to find a new publisher for an already published book, and trying to figure out whether to go down the self-publishing route and all the new skills that entails, at a stage of life in which most people would be daunted to do so. The mountain might seem high, but your writing has already encouraged so many people. In Christ's strength and at his feet, keep going Jeannie!

Raewyn Elsegood

Raewyn has served Omega Writers faithfully for many years as the conference organiser, and has started and led a successful Sydney group. Raewyn has organised the past few Omega Writers’ Conferences for us all in a truly creative and collaborative way, working hard behind the scenes to ensure everything has gone smoothly. Her enthusiasm for the task has been inspiring to see and she has dealt with any problems that have arisen in a gracious and competent way.

Jeannie and Raewyn each receive a free enrolment in the Kick Start Your Author Platform Marketing Challenge.

Congratulations to all our winners!

Thursday, 7 October 2021

Writing Place

 by Jeanette O'Hagan

What makes a fantastic story? Great characters? Snappy dialogue? A breath-taking plot? Fresh, powerful writing? Heart warming or heart wrenching themes?

Yes, all of these, but also, I would argue, a memorable setting.  Sherlock Holmes and the foggy streets of nineteenth century London, Anne Shirley and the picturesque countryside of Prince Edward Island, Harry Potter and whimsical magic of Hogwarts, Dorothy and the yellow brick road - is it possible to imagine one without the other? 

Ruhanna's Flight (Painting by J O'Hagan)

Setting - time and place - moulds characters and plot. It adds a sense of concreteness or reality to both people and events. 

Now, I've written about world-building before in Building Worlds, but today I thought I'd drill down from the broad horizons to the nitty gritty of place. How can we, as writers, recreate or create a place in time? How do we choose where our story happens? What tools can we use to do it?

Real or Everyday Places We Know

A common strategy is to write what we know. Jane Austen, L. M. Montgomery, Charles Dickens, Toni Morrison, Trent Dalton, Paula Vince or Rose Dee all use settings they know (or knew) intimately.  Memoir and travel writers like Alan Marshall, Ruth Bonetti, Hazel Barker also write of places they've been. 

There are clear advantages in choosing a setting that is familiar to you as you can draw on your own memories and experiences. And while such settings may seem mundane - they may be exotic or different to other readers, while people from that location can enjoy seeing their own place brought to life with all its quirks and idiosyncrasies. One of the clear attractions for me in watching the recent ABC series Harrow was seeing Brisbane brought to life on the small screen. 

Even so, it is necessary to do your research, to check on details you may not know or perhaps have forgotten. 

In an (unpublished) essay I wrote about my childhood in Africa, I describe arriving in Durban. I drew on clear memories as a ten-year old arriving in port, of a clock tower, of being rushed through customs so we didn't miss our berth on the steam train which would take us on the long journey to Zambia. What I didn't remember was the distance between the dock and the train. Looking at maps, old photos, and checking the details with my mother revealed a short rushed car ride to get to the station. 

On the other hand, Adele Jones set her near science-fiction in Brisbane.  She revisited the area and traced Blaine Colton's steps along Kangaroo Point and South Bank To get the timing right as he tries to avoid capture and find answers.

As well as visiting the actual places in your locale, you can make use of resources like local museums, google maps, photographs, local books and histories, memories of family and friends. 

If you are setting a story in an environment you know well, remember to bring the place to life, to capitalise on the unique character of people and place, the things that irritate you and the things you and others love about the place, the contrasts, the rivalries, and aspirations as well as weather, seasons and natural and architectural features.

Exotic and Distant Places 

But what if you want to set your story in a place you don't know well? Kate Morton, Di Morrissey, Meredith Resce, Amanda Deed, Nola Lorraine bring to life places that are distant to them either in time or place or both. This adds a whole new level to research. How do we recreate a bygone era or an exotic place we have never been or may only have visited briefly. Travelling to the setting would be ideal but that's not always possible. 

Reading books (fiction and nonfiction) and watching movies or TV shows set in the country can help. As can diaries and travel blogs. Geraldine Brooks read diaries and court transcripts to get the voice of her seventeenth century character is Caleb's Crossing.  When writing the sailing scenes in a couple of my stories (admittedly in my fantasy world), I watched you-tube videos of sailing craft to hear the sounds as well as drawing on my different sailing adventures in the past. Once again, maps, google earth, images, magazines, music, historical accounts, virtual tours can all be useful as can museums with everyday artefacts and re-enactments of events. Having beta-readers with some knowledge of the place or era might also be advisable, though in the end, you need to decide the vaule of any feedback you receive.

A reader criticised Night Witches by Mirren Hogan (a fictional story based on the female Russian bomber pilots in World War II) for the inaccurate timing of the train journeys, even though Mirren had based the journey on a detailed reading of the diary accounts of the actual women. The reader was basing her estimation on modern train journeys, not taking in account the wartime conditions and that the trains were often shunted aside to let more important troop transports to pass. 

World Under Construction - Glittering Caverns 

It is important to avoid glaring mistakes if at all possible, but also important not to allow the search for accuracy to suffocate the characters and stories. And remember, to avoid stereotypes or generalisations  that produce two-dimensional characters.  Drill deeper, look for exceptions or little know facts. Be creative.

Places We Make Up

And then there are imaginary places, like C S Lewis's Narnia, J R R Tolkien's Middle Earth, or Lucas' Star Wars Galaxy, or Lynne Stringer's Verindon or my own Nardva - worlds conjured up in over-fertile imaginations. 

Creators of such worlds draw on elements of the real world to bring them to life. Much fantasy draws heavily from Tolkien and Medieval European societies. There is a balance in making the world with significant differences (customs, language, magic or science) while being consistent enough to it's own rules and realities to maintain the suspension of belief. 

But, if we are writing fiction, even the most contemporary of books will have made up elements - the characters for one, perhaps a house, or a street or even a town or village. The question is, how do we bring these figments of our imagination to life. 

Work in Progress - Tarka

One way is to extrapolate from real life. To use real places as a stepping stone to the imaginary. For instance, George R R Martin's Westeros is roughly modelled on England and takes inspiration from the War of the Roses for its political machinations.  Umberto Eco, in Name of the Rose, used a real monastery for his fictional one, and even paced the rooms and corridors to ensure the dialogue matched with the time it took to get from one room to the other.  When I wrote my short story Maroon  Sanctuary (published in God's of Clay anthology), I set the story deep below the icy crust of an icy ocean moon - and spent many hours working out how that would work by gathering information on the icy ocean moons in our own solar system.

With fictional worlds, there are no maps, no building plans, no photos to draw on (except as inspiration). It helps to make one's own - even if they are but rough sketches. I used Minecraft to build the Golden Palace of Tarka (in the Akrad's Legacy series) and the Glittering Caverns (in the Under the Mountain series). It was one thing to imagine rooms or tunnels in my head, but it added a whole different dimension fitting these places together in 3-D. I'm currently painting characters and places from my stories, which again adds to my understanding of my world. 

Rough sketch of Golden Palace of Tarka

While we often make a separation between contemporary, historical and speculative fiction there are clear cross overs. In contemporary fiction we often make up places to supplement reality and in speculative fiction we draw from what we already know to make a new reality. 

I'd love to hear how important place is to the story you're writing and what research and tools you're using to bring that setting to life.

Images Copyright Jeanette O'Hagan. All rights reserved.

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, including the Under the Mountain Series (5 books), Ruhanna's Flight and Other Stories, Akrad's Children and Rasel's Song, the first two books in the Akrad's Legacy series.

Jeanette lives in Brisbane with her husband and children.

Sign up to the Jeanette O'Hagan Writes for news of her writing adventures 
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