Thursday, 30 December 2021

CWD Highlights - October to December 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 October to December 2021

Jeanette O'Hagan & the Admin Team


2021 Omega Writers CALEB Awards

The winners of the Omega Writers CALEB Awards for published books were announced at the Omega Writers Dinner conference in October 2021 and included CWD members. The winners were:

Adult Non-Fiction - Sinned Against: Exploring the Scriptures by Valerie Wressell

Adult Biography of Memoir - On the way: an Australian Doctor in Yemen and Pakistan by Michael Babbage

Children’s Picture Books - Grandma’s Treasured Shoes written by Coral Vass and Illustrated by Christina Huynh

Early Reader and Middle Grade - How Not to be Popular by Cecily Paterson

Young Adult Fiction - Apprentice by Kristen Young

Adult Fiction - The Silk Merchant of Sychar by Cindy Williams

Barnabas Award  (which recognise a writer who has gone out of their way to support and encourage other writers.) - Elaine Frazer

Encouragement Award (for writers Omega Writers would like to recognise and encourage) - Jeannie Wood and Raewyn Elsegood

New Releases, Pre-orders & Cover Reveals

The Craving by J F Saxby

The Craving is a split-time YA Christian romance, by J F Saxby. What happens when two people long to be together but are worlds apart? A music concert accident results in a coma and a breath taking journey. With themes of isolation, hardship, and a search for meaning in life, this is a novel for today.

Winner of 2020 CALEB Award for unpublished YA, The Craving J F Saxby was published by Ironstone Press November 18, 2021. 

Watch the book trailer HERE and you can buy a copy HERE  

Bio: Jean is a teacher, blogger and award-winning author of fiction and non-fiction, including inspirational stories and well-being content.

Mirror by Elizabeth Klein

Where there’s always darkness; never daylight.

Does magic still linger in the mist-shrouded places of Scotland? With his aunt’s untimely death, Ash Wood inherits her cottage and becomes the next custodian of a mirror she always claimed belonged to Snow White’s evil stepmother.

The truth about his aunt soon becomes far darker and more tangled than anything Ash is prepared for. The hidden world of faery waxes very real and terrifying when fae creatures invade the cottage and he becomes trapped inside the mirror’s shadowy world with no way back. Who can he trust when each decision could be his last?

Mirror was published on November 9th and paperback on November 10th.

You can buy it HERE 

Elizabeth Klein also has a short story, Dragon Gift, by Storm Cloud Publishing in their anthology Christmas Tales 6 - A collection of Christmas stories for kids 8 – 12 years. Christmas Tales 6 was published on December 1st 2021

Elizabeth Klein has written 20 books and countless short stories, plays and articles, and lives in a caravan with her husband.

Poetica Christi's Silver Linings

Jeanette O'Hagan was thrilled to have two poems published in Poetic Christi's latest anthology, Silver Linings. 

Time’s Lathe reflects on the her dad's journey with Alzheimer's while Time Reformed is a palindrome on the revolution of time. 

Silver Linings has many other wonderful poems from a wide range of fabulous poets.  It was launched on 12 December 2021. You can order a copy HERE

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. Jeanette lives in Brisbane with her husband and children.

The fabulous cover image for Silver Linings was taken by CWD member  Eric Skattebo.

Grace Across the Miles by Christine Dillon

How can you belong when you don't know who you are?

Gina Reid is surrounded by people getting married or having babies. She's under pressure to settle down but how can she do that when she doesn't even know where she came from? Since the startling revelation that she was adopted, it's felt like there is something missing. But fear has kept her from searching for her biological parents.

What if learning the truth is worse than not knowing?

Now an overheard comment has propelled her into action. Can Gina find out who she truly is? Or will she discover that some secrets are best left undisturbed?
Grace Across the Miles is Book 6 in the Grace series (final)

Released 15 December 2021. Links in the Chain Press.  You can buy it HERE.

Christine Dillon is a Bible storyteller and trainer who works in Asia and Australia. Her book, Telling the Gospel Through Story: Evangelism that keeps hearers hungry for more (IVP, 2012) has inspired many to start telling the greatest story of them all.

Blinding Revelation by Donita Bundy

What if the Unseen was more blinding than the Seen?

The crew have survived the chaos and hardships of Sodom to arrive in Laodicea’s lap of luxury. A city ahead of its time: beautiful, pristine and enemy-free. It is the perfect place to rest, recover and regroup.

But all is not what it seems.

Something sinister lurks beneath the sterile exterior of the golden city.

How will the refugees from Sodom adjust to life in this foreign city?
With no common enemy to fight, what will hold them together?
Is this place heaven on earth, or is it the threshold of hell?

Blinding Revelation by Donita Bundy is Book 2 of the Armour of Light series. Published 12 December 2021.

Donita Bundy lives in the Somerset Shire (Queensland, not England) with her husband, two boys, her socially inappropriate cat and irrepressible red dog.

Find out more at

Untruth: Exploring truth in a post truth world by Ruth Embery

This book comes with a warning. If you are looking for answers or proofs for set positions, either theologically or socially, you may not find them here. Rather, the purpose is to prompt the questions we often fail to ask; to create a place where aspects of faith and culture we take for granted as truth, or are prescribed to us as truth, are opened up for discussion and examination to determine whether they actually stand up to close scrutiny.

We live in an era where many seem to be throwing out much of what we have believed as truth or culturally acceptable in the past in exchange for something new and progressive. When there are so many voices shouting that their way is the only right way, it is vitally important that we reassess our foundations. Are we really standing on what we think we are? And are these foundations actually stable or sufficient for the way ahead?

Untruth explores these questions and others to help open the way for conversation, greater understanding and increased certainty around what we do believe is truth and, more importantly, why we believe it is truth.

Publication Date: Dec 2021
Publisher: Voice in the Dark Publishing

You can buy it HERE

Ruth has a background in teaching and is passionate about shalom healing, wholeness and restoration in individuals, communities and the world as a whole.

New releases and pre-orders for Carolyn Miller

Reclaiming Hope by Carolyn Miller

“Opposites can attract, but can they last?”

Reclaiming Hope, published December 7 by Celebrate Lit, short blurb:  You can buy it HERE

The Breakup Project by Carolyn Miller

“What happens if her personal Mr Darcy is her twin brother’s off-limits best friend?”

The Breakup Project, published December 29.  You can buy it HERE 

Carolyn Miller's Pre-orders

Love on Ice, out January 27

“She wants gold; he wants to lose the player tag. Can a fake relationship come something real?” 

You can pre-order it HERE

Checked Impressions, out February 24

“Sparks fly when a hometown hockey hero meets a classy art-loving museum guide hiding a secret…”

You can pre-order it  HERE

Carolyn Miller lives in the beautiful Southern Highlands of New South Wales, Australia, with her husband and four children. Together with her husband she has pastored a church for ten years, and worked as a public high school English teacher. A longtime lover of romance, especially that of Jane Austen, Georgette Heyer and LM Montgomery, Carolyn loves drawing readers into fictional worlds that show the truth of God’s grace in our lives. Her contemporary romance series includes the Original Six hockey romance series, and the Independence Islands series, and her historical series include the Regency Brides and Regency Wallflowers series.

Diamonds in the Dirt by Sara Powter

Sara Powter has a new release coming up in January, on 26th, currently available on pre-order. Diamonds in the Dust is book 3 in her Lockleys of Parramatta series.
This one covers the discovery of Diamonds in NSW, but is also more about the growth of the town of Parramatta and how one family of faith can change a town.


but there’s much more to life.

Luke, the youngest Lockley son, has completed University, and his life has no direction. No job, no money and no love. Desperately alone, he prays for guidance, and his brother Wills turns up with a suggestion. Reverend William Clarke needs assistance on a Government Mineral Survey. Would Luke be interested in joining the expedition? The challenge, adventure and their finds are life-changing for many. However, it gives Luke meaning, purpose and direction.
How can Luke trust God has a plan for him if he can’t even work out how to get a job? He does the only thing he can… he prays.

Within a week, life has changed... oh how it has changed! The condition of his heart problems also takes a turn. Can he walk away?

Diamonds in the Dust is available for pre order on Amazon and for order in all good bookstores in Australia from Woodslane Press. ($20)

Available on pre-order HERE

Author of two new Australian Colonial Series all set in Parramatta from 1792 to 1902.
Born and raised on NSW Central Coast, Sara loved learning about the faith of her ancestors and now weaves them into these delightful stories.

Sara Powter

Other News

Power to Change Short Story Competition

Power to Change Australia has a vision to help people encounter Jesus today, impact Australia tomorrow and reach the nations for eternity. In a rapidly changing nation with such rich diversity this vision finds many different expressions.

Power to Change Australia is asking writers to enter a compelling short story into their 2022 Short Story Competition. The judges are looking for a fiction or fictionalised story with a link to Christian mission in contemporary Australia that reflects the theme “power to change”.

Theme: “Power to Change”

Closes: 31 January 2022

Word Limit: 3,000

Entry Fee: Free

Prize: $1,500 for first place. Writers will receive $150 for each story selected for publication.

Winners will be announced in Power to Change Australia’s ChangeMakers email, and contacted directly. First place and nine other stories will be published by Power to Change Australia in an anthology.  Find out more HERE.

Rhiza Press Short Story Submissions

Rhiza Press is looking for interesting explorations of biblical fiction, including aspects of historical fiction, and encourage participants to write about the more ‘unusual’ parts of biblical history to create unique stories.

What do you have to do?

Write a creative and exciting story that engages with our theme. Word count to be between 2000 and 5000 words.

These stories are to be fictional and appropriate for teens through to adults to read (12+ stories). This means limited swearing, stories that will be able to sell to schools. Please age and voice your characters appropriately.

Up to 17 stories will be shortlisted and included in the anthology Through Their Eyes. Successful entrants will each receive a complimentary copy of the book at publication and a $50.00 credit with Wombat|Rhiza.

Entry fee: there is none!

This year’s Rhiza Press Short Story Submissions are free entry. All we ask is that you please adhere to our requirements and terms and conditions. Entries for the Biblical Fiction theme close on September 1st, 2022. You can find out more HERE.

Congratulations to all our members for your milestones and achievements and wishing you all a Blessed Christmas and a Joyful New Year.

Monday, 27 December 2021

Fifteen Great Picks from 2021

Throughout the year, our blog team share their insights and wisdom - it may be inspirational, a story of writerly struggles or triumphs in a pandemic world; tips about the writing life and writing craft, or an interview of one of our members. Sometimes it's moving, or funny or thought-provoking or all three.. Always, it's the result of thought, research, experience, passion, creativity.

The CWD Admin team would like to give our blog team a huge thank you for your contributions throughout 2021 (and over the last decade).

As we near the end of 2021 which felt far too much like a 2020 sequel, we thought we'd honour our bloggers' contributions with a pick of 15 blogposts that have inspired us this year (in no particular order). Out of close to 90 posts, it wasn't easy to choose and there are many other posts equally deserving of notice. We have a wealth of information and inspiration on the blogsite - accessible on multiple subjects and themes.


1. A Story of Life by Meredith Resce  (Sometimes God has other ideas)

I have a real-life story of my own I’d like to share. It is about the love of God in a difficult situation.

It’s a true story, a little bit funny, a bit sad, but it’s an inspirational story. It started Easter 2015, on Good Friday to be exact.

As is often the case on Good Friday, I found myself part of the Good Friday church service. I was playing the piano, and my husband (the pastor at that time) had arranged, among other things, that I would play the old hymn ‘When I Survey the Wondrous Cross’ as a background accompaniment while three people read pieces of Scripture. I needed to get a scanned copy of the music as I couldn’t find my old hymn books. I had it all sorted and I’d practiced it, and it was all good. The service went along as planned, and it was inspirational and a little bit stirring, as all Good Friday services should be.


At the end of the service my husband did one of his special spontaneous moments that he is famous for, and announced to the congregation that he would get his wife (that’s me) to come back to the piano and sing ‘The Old Rugged Cross’. I’m sort of used to these surprise put-you-on-the-spot ideas that pop up from time to time, and I can usually fumble about and make something happen, but I honestly hadn’t played ‘The Old Rugged Cross’ in years. I couldn’t remember half the words, was not sure which key ... Read More Here.

2. Never Give Up On Your Dreams by Nola Lorraine

Sally Funk was one of the Mercury 13, women who trained in the 1960s to for space but never got there.  That is until decades later when something amazing happened, but what has that got to do with writing? Read of Nola's Post Here.

3. Resistance is Futile! by Susan J Bruce

This week I’ve had the Borg catch-cry in my head as I’ve pondered a different, but very futile kind of resistance: resistance to writing.

I suffer from this resistance a lot—even though I love writing. Do you? I know I’m not alone.

To create a world and immerse yourself in the lives of your characters is a thing of joy. You get to know these make-believe people, torture them in some diabolically cathartic way, then cheer them on as they overcome the obstacles you throw before them. What’s not to like? Writing can be so much fun, so why do we resist sitting down and filling empty pages with our words.

Resistance is weird ... Read More Here

4. A Bag of Goodies! by Anusha Atukorala

Anusha contemplates the aha moment for using a treasured but unused bag, and the metaphorical bags writers can carry with them, stuffed full of unhelpful or helpful attitudes.  To find out what they are Read More Here. 

5. Feeding the Reservoir (aka Soaking up the View from my Window) by Mazzy Adams

A writer’s inclination to observe people and places is common, if not intrinsic, as it informs the character characteristics and settings we create for our readers. But for months, opportunities to casually watch passers-by while sipping a caramel latte inside a coffee shop, or freely travel to another place just to see what’s there, have languished in the realms of wishful thinking. Whether introvert or extrovert, opportunities to top up our creative reservoirs have taken a hit.

It’s not surprising that, as global conditions have created compelling reasons to stay at home, innovative online groups have created new ways for people to connect and explore the world.

Last year, I joined a group called ‘View from My Window’. Precious glimpses into the daily lived experience of folk from across the globe have broadened my view of the world and the people in it. ... Read More Here.

6. Transformation Stories - Our friends or foes? by Paula Vince

In his book, 'Waking the Dead', John Eldredge makes the following observation.

'The phoenix rises from the ashes. Cinderella rises from the cinders to become a queen. The ugly duckling becomes a beautiful swan. Pinnochio becomes a real boy. The frog becomes a prince. Wretched old Scrooge becomes "as good a friend, as good a master and as good a man as the good old city knew."'

Wow, stories of transformation really are prolific! If we live and breathe this sort of literature, if we were brought up on it, has it really been good for us? Doesn't it convince us, in a very palatable and surreptitious way, that we need to become something completely different in order to be acceptable? ... Read More Here

7. The CPU of Marketing and Beyond by Jeanette O'Hagan

We all would love to discover the formula to instant success in becoming a block-buster, best-selling author. Unfortunately, that formula probably doesn't exist - but in this blog, I share three Cs, two Ps and the U that can help us power towards publication and and finding our readers. Read More Here.

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

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

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


Do we give up too easily ... Read More Here.  

9. Behind the Scenes: In Want of a Wife by Meredith Resce

Today we go 'behind the scenes' as Jeanette (Jenny) O'Hagan interviews Meredith Resce about her rom-com contemporary romances featuring author and match-making mother, Luella Linley. Read More Here

10. Keeping the Joy in the Call by Helen Carr

The process of entering the Caleb Awards had a truly positive effect on me, and not just because it pushed me to finish my novel! Deadlines are something I work well to, and often having the pressure to get something finished is the motivation I need to stop binging Netflix, or reading someone else’s novel, and work on mine. That being said, I do recall having a bit of a chat with God about the awards, after becoming slightly cranky with him about the pressure to get things ready before the first deadline. It was a very short conversation, and went like this…

Me: I don’t know how to fix this part! It’s too hard, God, why did you ask me to enter the awards?

God: I never asked you to, Helen.

Me:….. {awkward silence}

He was right, of course. I had made the choice to submit my manuscript, not once stopping to ask God if it was the right timing or something he wanted. I returned to God, repentant, and humble, and asked him, “Lord, do you want me to enter the awards?”

His answer was so beautiful - “Yes, enter them if you want to, but not lose the joy of writing.” Read More Here

11. The Story of Us by Shane Brigg

The hero archetype is generally defined as an individual protagonist who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities. A hero protagonist's traits help readers to understand them, connect with them, or follow their actions and understand why they do what they do.

I have been asking myself - like Papa (2016) - if the Hero’s Journey is “the chief organizing story” of human civilization and stories are the most powerful communication technology, to what extent might the Hero’s Journey be responsible for where we are at today?

Where I am at today? (“Gulp”)

How might the conceptualization of the Hero’s Journey be contributing to what we are experiencing on all scales of society, development, world issues, good things, bad things, personal vexes and maybe even sin?

What could happen if we told our hero stories differently?  ... Read More Here.

12. Write Amidst the Storm by Adele Jones

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?

... 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 ... Read More Here

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

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?  ... Read More Here.

14. Do We Write on Human Hearts? by Janelle Moore

Who else wants their words, their writing to challenge, inspire and bring life, just as God's words do?

Who else wants their writing to be an extension of who they are, just as God's words are?

2 Corinthians 3:3 tells us that " are a letter from Christ...written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on human hearts". Read More Here.

15. Mentors, Godparents and the Writing Thing by K A Hart

‘Me? She really asked if I would consider being her mentor?’

I was flabbergasted. Me. A mentor? I don’t know anything. I’m barely able to work through my own issues in life and someone wanted me to be their mentor? And what was a mentor supposed to do?

Would you believe me if I said I looked up the definition?

A wise and trusted counsellor or teacher. [Pft! Wise? I’ll probably have to look that up in the dictionary too, but I know I’m neither old enough or experienced enough to be wise.]

An influential senior sponsor or supporter. [Ha! I should never be left unsupervised, let-alone influence anyone.]

I checked the thesaurus, maybe there was a better fit than mentor — adviser, coach, guide, instructor, trainer, tutor, counsellor … maybe not. ... Read More Here.

We hope you've enjoyed this selective review of the many great blogs of 2021. And we'd like to thank all our active CWD members and bloggers who interact, comment and support each other and the group - and to wish you all a blessed and joyful Christmas as we celebrate the birth of our Saviour and Lord and a wonderful New Year in 2022.

Thursday, 23 December 2021

Christmas Blessings


With Christmas just a couple days away, the CWD admin team wishes you a blessed and joyful Christmas and God's richest blessings for the New Year. 

We do not know what 2022 will bring, hopefully not a repeat of 2020, but we do know that God goes before us, beside us and behind us. Our trust is not that the road may be smooth, but that God will never leave us or forsake us. 

In that vein, we share some of our Christmas memories and Christmas wishes for our CWD family.

A Christmas to Cherish - Kirsten Hart

Christmas of 2016

When I was little, my dad’s family would get together for Christmas dinner every year. There would be presents for the kids; and we’d all bring something to share - roasted ham, chicken, and pork. Numerous salads and sides all sitting around an ever expanding table.

Over the years, as my cousins and I have grown up, gone to uni, travelled interstate and started families of our own, that table has gotten smaller. While most of my cousins are married and some have children, a lot of us can’t get together for Christmas dinner like we used to and some of our family have passed away.

One of the last Christmas dinners I’ve had with the family was back in 2016. We are all a bit crazy as you can see in the photo. Full of, well, food by this time. I don’t get to see much of these amazing people since moving to Queensland and with the current circumstances, but the memories and photos remind me of the fun we had during those precious moments.

Take time to Connect

Take time this Christmas to connect with family and friends. We as writers tend to spend a lot of time by ourselves. Even with the lifting of restrictions, some of us still don’t have the ability to see family this Christmas. Take Christmas off from writing. Don’t write a word and make memories with those you love. This is a moment to cherish.


K.A. Hart is a born and bred Territorian who moved to Queensland and had no choice but to stay after her assimilation into Toowoomba's infamous, collective known as Quirky Quills.

The Blessing of Connection – Mazzy Adams

 The Christmas of 1999

For me, 1999 was a year of unexpected opportunities, a clear highlight being a three-month outreach trek with Wheels of Fire Ministries, travelling from Toowoomba to Uluru to Darwin to Broome and back again with many stops and detours along the way. Thirteen thousand kilometres in an aging Toyota Coaster (top speed 70kph downhill with a tail wind pushing the luggage trailer), sleeping in church halls, on school room floors, in tents (including the huge Tent of Promise marquee), or on a tarpaulin under the stars of a glorious outback sky. 

It was a wonderful time of connection and reconciliation with Indigenous and non-indigenous Australians from all over. My three children proved themselves capable thespians, puppeteers, musicians and singer, clowns, and communicators. I learned how to make puppets, paint faces on a plethora of eager children, accept instant mashed potato powder as a legitimate food source, and pray without ceasing. To my absolute joy, my youngest, (who was nine at the time) gave her heart to the Lord on that trip.

That Christmas, as they had done in previous years, my children volunteered for a huge combined churches event entailing three weeks at a nightly Christmas lights display in our city’s heart as live performers, portraying ‘Christmas, the Full Story’ in a series of interactive vignettes—another valuable opportunity to connect with our local community and share the love of Christ abroad. A few weeks later, we learned our eldest son had met a very special young lady at that event who, to our delight, would later join our family as his wife. Another truly blessed connection.

 These experiences and connections still inform my journey as the Holy Spirit connects the dots of my calling as a writer within His plan for my life which has led to more wonderful connections with fellow writers and readers.

 A Christmas Blessing

Christmas is the ultimate celebration of connectedness because Jesus, Immanuel, God with us, chose to leave His heavenly home and trek Earth’s ground, unleashing His matchless, superlative message of love and hope for everyone. Through faith in Him, we can connect with our Heavenly Father and His whole family of believers world-wide.

 Whether through written words or face-to-face opportunities, expected or unexpected, may you be greatly blessed this Christmas with the love and hope and joy of divine and divinely arranged connection, and reconnection.

 Love, Mazzy.  


Mazzy Adams - Author, Genre Rebel. Intrigue and Inspiration with an Upmarket DownUnder Vibe

A contented Aussie wife, mother, grandmother, business manager, creative and academic writing tutor, and encourager, Mazzy maintains her passion for words, pictures, and the positive potential in people.

Website:  Email:  

A Faraway Christmas - Jeanette O'Hagan

Christmas far far away and a long time ago

We arrived in Zambia just as I turned ten. When we first arrived our family attended  the local Baptist church, mostly attended by expats and whites who became uncomfortable when my parents invited our neighbours, all local Zambians, along to the service. Keen to have a church where locals were welcome, my parents teamed up with a Southern Baptist missionaries, founding the Kitwe Baptist Church. Often on a Sunday, Dad would cram the seven of us in the station wagon and as many of the neighbours he could fit in, doubling and sometimes tripling the seating and filling the area behind the seats with as many young people as would fit.

Christmas in Zambia meant daily thunderstorms, long summer holidays and days of exploration and adventure. One year Mum took us to buy a real pine tree which we placed in a red tin bucket and decked with tinsel. We made decorations out of crepe paper. Mum baked Christmas cake, plum pudding with foil wrapped ngwe (coins), perfect home made custard and baked dinner while the Bwelpe family next door got a whole pig (and not a small one) to cook for their Christmas dinner.  Wrapped presents appeared under the tree and on Christmas morning a pillow full of small gifts and yummy treats appeared at the bottom of our beds. Then there was the Christmas day service. And always a nativity scene plus a Christmas play, as the baby Jesus, Mary and Joseph, the shepherds, and wise men played by my siblings, myself, the Moss kids and our young Zambian neighbours. Mum and Mrs Moss wrote and directed the play, fashioning costumes out of sheets and tea towels, and finding props and choosing Christmas carols to sing -  Away in the Manager, Silent Night, While Shepherds Watched, Gloria in Excelsia, and my favourite, We Three Kings of Orient are.

Christmas celebrations, I find, change as our family and circumstances change. As a child, Christmases seemed big, even when we didn't travel to spend them with uncles, aunts and cousins.  Then, as we grew up and scattered out across the miles, they shrank. Then kids came along, and the noisy, food-laden and present-filled merriment expanded again. Now, as our kids grow older, and our parents grow old and frail, and, in the case of my dad & mother-in-law, get promoted to heaven, Christmases are shrinking again, perhaps sooner than I expected. It's easy to become nostalgic, to mourn the Christmases past. 

Yet I'm reminded, that despite the shepherds and angels and despite the visit of the magi (probably some months later), the first Christmas was simple affair. A young couple, a baby, a makeshift space to stay far from home and, perhaps family. With or without the trappings, Christmas is a lit flame in the dark, a spark of hope, and the first step on the road to Golgotha. And because of that baby wrapped in swaddling clothes, we never need be truly alone again,

A Christmas prayer

Whatever your circumstances, however you plan to celebrate Christmas this year,  I pray that you may know the true joy of Christmas, the peace of His presence, the blessings of giving as well as receiving, the message and promise of hope. And I pray that you will be truly blessed in both the connections you have with those around you - family, friends, strangers - and in your writing. 


Jeanette spun tales in the world of Nardva from the age of eight. Her Nardvan stories span continents, millennia and cultures. Some involve shapeshifters and magic. Others include space stations and cyborgs. Jeanette lives in Brisbane with her husband and children.

Sign up to the Jeanette O'Hagan Writes for news of her writing adventures
and receive a free short story, Ruhanna's Flight.

Monday, 20 December 2021

The End of Another Year: News from Omega Writers for December 2021

2021 has been a year.

Apart from the obvious, things have happened, especially here at Omega Writers.

  • We celebrated the best of Christian writing from Australasian authors with the 2021 CALEB Awards. Click here to find out more.
  • We hosted our first online writing retreat (after being forced to cancel the in-person retreat for the second year running). Click here for the highlights.
  • We have an excellent monthly member newsletter sharing tall the news and newly released books from members. Join us to make sure you don't miss out!
  • Our regional chapters have held a range of in-person and online meetings (and shout-out to Tasmania for inviting everyone).
  • The 2021 Omega Writers Book Fair did go ahead as planned (the day a snap lockdown went into effect). This included announcing the winners of the Book Fair writing contest. Click here to find out more.
All things considered, it's been a great year.

So what's the plan for 2022?

Our plan is for more of the same:
  • A monthly member newsletter
  • The CALEB Awards (the 2022 Awards will focus on unpublished authors, so get writing and polishing those manuscripts!)
  • More meetings - hopefully in-person (online is better than nothing, but in person is better).
We may even get our planned writing retreat at the beautiful Peppers Salt Resort & Spa, Kingscliffe in northern New South Wales.

Those are our plans. They have been prayerfully considered, but they are still our plans.

God may well have different plans.

Our job is to be open to listening to Him and adjusting our plans accordingly. No matter what comes, we can have confidence that God is in control.

Meanwhile, on behalf of Omega Writers, I'd like to wish everyone a safe and healthy Christmas, and a restful summer with plenty of time to meditate on God's plans and our plans.

What plans do you have for 2022? How is God part of those plans?

Monday, 13 December 2021

FIRSTS (We all start somewhere)

Mazzy Adams

Like any worthwhile endeavour, becoming a writer begins with firsts.

Lots and lots of firsts.

First sentence, first rhyme, first story, first chapter, first re-write, first risky reveal, first rejection, first encouraging response, first submission, first blog post … 

(Speaking of which, have you considered joining the CWD blog roster yet? Note: I’m smiling sweetly, dusting my ulterior motive as a member of the CWD Admin team with optimistic innocence. 😊)

Firsts. We all start somewhere.

Strangely enough, becoming a confident writer begins with …

More firsts. Lots of ‘em. 

And the willingness to embrace those frustrating, fiddly, finicky, fickle, sometimes foolhardy, but always brave, seconds, fourths, fifths or fiftieth factors and phases which facilitate and finesse one’s development as a writer. I acknowledge that confidence will always be an elusive beast—it’s in the nature of writers to doubt and second guess themselves and their work—but please don’t let that stop you because, ultimately, the rewards are amazing and often unexpected.

For some of us, the first of our writing firsts happened way back when we were children.  

I wrote my first truly memorable sentences in Year Five: 

Montague Meringue was a quiet but intelligent fellow, small of stature, with an olive complexion and hazel-brown eyes. Around his oval face was a mop of shiny black hair, and his button nose was just like that—a button.
I use the term ‘truly memorable’ because, fifty years later, I can still remember those two sentences verbatim. I doubt my year five teacher gave them a second thought once she’d left her tick at the end of the story—which my ten-year-old self considered a masterpiece of ingenuity when, after numerous failed attempts, Montague, my intrepid scientist discovered the cure for hypervitaminosis after a storm smashed the window of his laboratory and blew a Moreton Bay Fig (the fruit, not the tree) into his test tube. I’ll admit my conclusion lacked plausibility but, at 2:55pm with the school bell about to ring, I needed a quick exit strategy for both story and me.

We all start somewhere.

My first brief flash of poetic brilliance arrived when I was in Year Seven:

Rushing, like a fiery dragon,
Tongues of flame leaping from its mouth,
Stronger than Orion with his mighty bow and arrows,
Conqueror of Leo the Lion,
Swallowing the stars and the moon,
Chasing the darkness away,
Dawn has come.

With some trepidation, I showed this to my older sister. Rose had, for years, thrilled me with her own creative writing (my favourite being a scripted ‘radio play’ where the listener’s faulty radio randomly flipped between channels, creating a hilarious compilation of absurd sentences like … ‘My heart bleeds for / Parsley.’ 

Given my undisputed admiration for her writing skills, receiving her tick of approval was a massive encouragement. Sadly, my secondary school writing efforts produced more spurious, ignominious results. 

 Compilation of StockUnlimited Images ID2047567 and ID1891056 (Licensed)

Like the day we had to write a song parody and an epitaph during a Year Nine English class; I came up with:

How tasteth that froggy in the dinner? (Croak Croak)
The one with the waggly chin, (Croak Croak)
To put that dear froggy in the dinner, (Croak Croak)
Is little better than a sin. (Croak Croak croaked!)


Here lies my English teacher.
Before she died, she had the hide
To ask me to write an epitaph. 

Not my finest work, or hour, I admit, though my English teacher (whom I adored) did stifle a grin. When it comes to spontaneous creativity, my first drafts (then and now) have been decidedly hit-and-miss. I choose to see my firsts as steppingstones; the shakiest ones invite a dunking, but others lead me (even precariously) towards a delightful destination.

We all start somewhere.

James A Michener, author of over forty books, said, “I'm not a very good writer, but I'm an excellent rewriter.” Considering his first book, Tales of the South Pacific was adapted as the popular Broadway musical South Pacific, by Rodgers and Hammerstein—one of my all-time favourites—I’m glad he kept writing, and rewriting, many firsts. 

It took me decades to discover I had a knack for writing song lyrics, drama skits and puppet plays which opened opportunities to rope in and nurture budding performers of all ages within our church. 

When an acquaintance from the local Speech and Drama Teachers Association pressed me to compete in a local bush poetry competition to boost competitor numbers, I agreed to have a go, had a lot of fun, and met an affable, genuinely encouraging group of Aussie bush poets from all walks of life who welcomed me into their fold. Even the most competitive among them took time to befriend, encourage and nurture the newbies. When you’re starting out, a little derring-do, and a spark of encouragement, can ignite a roaring fire if you’re willing to give it some passion, time and nurture. To my surprise, later that year, the Australian Bush Poets Association included Welcome to the Brotherhood—a poem I’d written commending the good-humoured camaraderie of the writers and performance artists I’d met—in their magazine. Literary larrikins one minute, serious purveyors of powerful words the next; those contemporary balladeers continue to break new ground whilst keeping the Aussie spirit alive.

Like I said, we all start somewhere. Even when we doubt our own preparedness to put our words out there, God can, and does, use our willingness to try, to bless others. Yes, we need to hone our skills, but the sharpest sword, if left in its scabbard, remains ineffective. Edward George Bulwer-Lytton has been called “one of the worst writers in history”*, his most notorious example being the opening line, “It was a dark and stormy night ...” Yet we're inspired by his (oft-quoted) line from Act II, Scene II of Richelieu: “The pen is mightier than the sword.”
More than a decade after my bush poetry dalliances, I started formal degree studies in creative writing externally through Tabor Adelaide. The encouragement of Christian lecturers cemented my passion for literature and creative writing. In 2012, my submission to Tabor’s “Christmas Tales” anthology (Pantaenus Press) was accepted and Twelve Miles to the Sea, a rhymed and metered ballad inspired by my eldest sister’s recollections, was published in a hold-in-your-hand, real life print anthology. That was an exciting first.

Then in beach clothes dressed and ready and excitement high and heady
‘n Grandad driving, slow and steady, they’d set out upon their way,
though the road was dirt and dusty and the car was old and rusty
and the springs of that old trailer had seen brisk and better days.


So they splashed and sploshed and spluttered while the beach umbrella fluttered
with the Grand-ums and Aunt Lottie perched precariously underneath,
wearing long sleeves, hats and stockings, (was it melanoma mocking?)
in the tradition of the English, never minding Queensland’s heat. 

(From Twelve Miles to the Sea; Stanzas four and six of twelve)

Thanks to sporadic but timely early encouragement, the ongoing, mutual encouragement of writerly friends, several slightly more forceful and persistent nudges from a true friend, and the often-dull-but-daily decision to nurture the call and persevere, I'm still tackling firsts. And fiftieths. My novel edits have probably exceeded that number; blurb is still a first to be facilitated. Firsts are still scary. But …

Start here. Go there. We all start somewhere! Or we go nowhere.

While it’s exciting to hold a printed book in your hand, online opportunities give writers other ways to reach an ever-increasing audience. Our CWD blog roster provides opportunities for both guest bloggers and regular contributors who are active, engaged members of the Christian Writers Downunder Facebook group to make a positive difference. (Nudge, nudge.)
I added my first tentative contribution to this blog, Writers are Artists, in November, 2013 (before I adopted my pen name). As a naïve newbie daring to join bloggers with greater skills and experience and wisdom and knowledge than I, I needed a solid nudge. I’m glad Nola Passmore (who was, at that time, a CWD co-ordinator) nudged, because it is a privilege and a blessing to contribute to this encouraging writing community. It’s a privilege to share words that inform, inspire, and encourage others to grow in their writerly gifting and pursuits. It is a grace empowered by the knowledge that it is not our perfection (or lack of it) that matters most, but our heart’s desire to diligently pursue our God-given calling to write and be a blessing to others. 

Is this a privilege, a blessing, a grace you’re ready to receive and use? If so, please let us know by commenting below or in the Facebook group; we really do want others who share the vision and values of Christian Writers Downunder to join our blog roster as guests and regulars. 600 - 1000 words. That's all it takes. No need to be longwinded (as I've been today - reputedly one of Bulwer-Lytton's worst faults). 

As for those ‘firsts’, anyone else dare to share some of their famous, or infamous, writerly blunders and beauties in the comments? Go on. After all, we all started somewhere. 😉

* see

Mazzy Adams
Author, Genre Rebel
Intrigue and Inspiration with an Upmarket DownUnder Vibe
A contented Aussie wife, mother, grandmother, business manager, creative and academic writing tutor, and encourager, Mazzy maintains her passion for words, pictures, and the positive potential in people.

Monday, 6 December 2021

CWD Member Interview – Sara Powter

From time to time we interview one of the members of Christian Writers Downunder – to find out a little bit more about them and their writing/editing goals. 

Today’s interview : Sara Powter 

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

Recently retired, Ministers wife. We live on the NSW Central Coast and are waiting to see what project the good Lord has for us next. 

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

I only started writing Sept 2020. One of the ‘duties’ I had during the 1st Covid lockdown was being a person, locked down and lonely people could ring. Calls were often long. During one such call which lasted over three hours, I was flicking through my computer and saw a story that mum had written and given to me before she died. ( I had already had 3 of her books printed and knew she had another one part written. I had intentionally never read it.) So, to see if I could one day finish it, I decided to write one myself. So, I started ... ‘Hands Upon the Anvil’ was born.
I write Australian Colonial stories. And they are Sagas- so all over 100k words:- Bk 1 is 150k; Bk 2 is 170k words and the co-authored one is 110k. 

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

If you like Australian History, like Eleanor Dark’s the Timeless Land; or EV Timms, Forever to Remain; Catherine Gaskin’s Sara Dane or Marcus Clarke’s, For the term of his natural life, then that’s what mine are like – but with a Christian Flavour, then hopefully you’d love there. 

They are a step back in time sort of story, but with a touch of romance. I have given copies to some of our parishioners and friends. Although they were only proofs they loved them, I’m now to this become my passion – I’m on to #9 

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

 My stories ( now on book 9 – and yes I finished mum’s book) are often inspired by our family histories. I have four convicts in my family and Hubby has three. And then there are all the free settlers. Finding a story line is not hard. Stopping writing is! My biggest challenge is slight dyslexia, but for some reason writing these stories just seem to flow. My spelling is abysmal, and my grammar is worse, but I manage. Finding a professional Editor who knows what she’s doing has been great.

Question 5: What is your favourite Writing Craft Book and why? I don’t what that is? 

If you mean who triggered this? Then it was when I was reading Carolyn Miller’s books, I realised I could tell a series of stories. As to who I refer to – then being dyslexic – I’ve battled with words most of my life. Reading aloud is a killer, though I found reading helped with writing. I now devour books. I don’t have a reference set of books, but I have found that my editing is still dismal. Grammarly Pro is my 2nd help. I have to often look up what things like Syntax are. I’m learning. My novels actually include a bibliography as they are historical novels, and so I use TROVE and the online Biographical Dictionary a lot. 

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

 I’m loving so many of them, but Carolyn Miller is great. I have all of her historical ones. There are others too, but she’s been a great encouragement too. 

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

I have three books already out. My first two and the co-authored one with mum. I have four more backlogged at the editor, one more in the pre edit stage and another partially written. 2022 will see at least four more out- possibly even more. I do all the graphics, covers and lay out myself. Until I get a multi-million movie deal, I don’t think I’ll be making much money out of it. But I love writing the stories.

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

 So much of our colonial history is told from either the Government or ‘bad’ convicts point of view. Mine are told from the view of those wanting to make something of their lives. They have normally come from squalor and are determined to help others. This is in fact what my family did. Faith has always been vital to their lives. Even before their arrival in the colony they were trying to make a difference. My faith is interwoven into many if not most of my characters. I am today who I am because of them. Their faith was strong, and they taught the importance of a firm belief in Jesus.

Thursday, 2 December 2021

Shut Doors, Open Doors – by Ruth Bonetti

The times are a-changing sang 70’s folk singers. Fifty years later, we're buffeted by tidal waves crashing mayhem into our lives. How can we ride them rather than flounder and sink? 

Writers can express words of hope for the many who struggle around Australia, the globe. 

Fellow authors encourage

Did you sign up for NaNoWriMo? Did you meet the goal to write 50,000 words? For the uninitiated, like-minded writers group in a digital ‘cabin’ to encourage each other, joke, support and share emojis of chocolate and coffee. 


November is the cruellest month for tired teachers drowning in end of year concerts, student exams, reports. Plus their own performances. So I knew there was slim chance I’d meet the word count but hey, I enjoy the friendship. This year, I produced a teensy 670 words. But so what? Just to articulate a project prompts subconscious planning. My WriMo version can evolve over the next two months when teaching and performing halt. 

Other writing counts

There are many forms of writing besides that novel or screenplay. Emails to politicians, letters to the editor of a newspaper. Heartening messages to uplift those who share their despair on social media. Many dread uncertain futures. How can we reassure them–ourselves–that even as doors shut, others will open? 

The Light of the World William Holman Hunt

Active vs. passive shutting

As I clear out my teaching studio for the year (maybe forever?) I'm heartened by a gospel spiritual that never seemed appropriate for primary school students:

Shut de door, keep out de devil

Shut de door, keep de devil in de night.

Shut de door, keep out de devil

Light a candle, everything’s alright. 

The Light of the World

The Holman Hunt painting reminds us to open our heart and life doors to Christ. 

One opening door is opportunities to share Christ's light with hurting, fearful people. To encourage those facing doors slamming on their career, business, mortgage – and life. 

Edicts from our rulers threaten that those who resist will be barred from public buildings. 

Was my November performance with Noosa Orchestra my last ever? The program included The Lark Ascending for solo violin and orchestra. I poured my heart into the supporting clarinet solos. 

The lark circles higher, soars, surmounts the ugliness of the present world. 

So, also we must lift up our hearts. 

'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.' (Jeremiah 29:11)


Keep looking up. 

ABOUT Ruth Bonetti

Ruth's many earlier books give practical support for confident performance of words and music, drawing on a lifetime of experience as a musician and educator. Her Trilogy Midnight Sun to Southern Cross has won awards including the CALEB Nonfiction prize. In coming writing, Ruth is open to a genre transition...

Blog (occasional!)