Thursday, 27 January 2022

Crystallising or Crysalis?

 by Jeanette O'Hagan

January is traditionally a time for looking back at how last year went and what we would like to achieve in the new year. 

As writers, goals are important. Without them, we can flounder about aimlessly achieving little. As the saying goes, if you aim at nothing you will probably achieve it. 

There are writing goals I would like to achieve for 2022 - new books written and published, new readers, a sustainable career.  Yet, to be honest. I have been chasing these goals for ten years and I am weary.

It's not that I haven't achieved many of them. In fact, I feel blessed to have seven books and a collection of stories published already, to have poems and short stories published in over twenty anthologies, to have a small (very small) group of enthusiastic readers. It's been a blast selling books at book fairs and Cons (like Supanova and OzComic Con), to read the occasional glowing review or sell the occasional book online. I've also enjoyed being part of running the Omega Writers Book Fair (since 2016), and coordinating the admin team for Christian Writers Downunder (since Jan 2016). The sustainable career ... well, not so much, yet - and maybe never. 

But, like for most of us, the last two years have been like a wrecking ball - with the constant changing situation and uncertainty and no let up. Plus there have been personal and family challenges - the death of my much loved father four years ago, medical emergencies for my mum, plus transitioning her into an care home in middle of lockdown in 2020, parenting challenges I never expected and the loss of long-term friendship. I'm sure we can all relate because life is full of such challenges. I'm a glass-half-full kind of gal, always looking for the positives and believing things will get better, but I am weary. 

Goals are important, but so are priorities. Knowing what is important, where one should invest one's time and energy. We can't be everything to everyone. Doing so can stretch us too thin. For me, this January, I'm holding my goals lightly and I'm planning on spending time in God's presence searching for the bigger picture of what He wants to achieve in me, where my focus needs to be. 

While a natural optimist, there are times when I feel the weight of so many people's expectations or disappointments in me, a flawed, fragile human being. I feel stretched thin. I feel a failure - the secret pessimist overriding the optimist and, with her seductive voice, finding all the brokenness in my life. (Okay, so I might be melancholic in temperament.) And I can tell you, the last couple of months, shattered relationships and lost energy have given me cause to listen to that dark, seductive voice that whispers, failure, failure, failure in the early hours of the morning. This season, when things seem to be falling apart one by one, I'm left wondering what remains. And I am weary. 

Recently, as part of Month of Poetry (something I do with a group of wonderful, talented poets each year), we were given the challenge of writing a poem with two-word lines on becoming. This was my effort:

something different
blank cocoon
apparent stasis
hiding mystery
inside deconstruction
dismantling order
disrupting function
hijacking reforming
replacing remaking
ordered chaos
designed disorder
changes everything
until time
splits open
silk walls
new emerges
moth, beetle
or butterfly
no longer worm
radically different
yet same
a continuity
shared history
brand new.

 Jeanette O'Hagan 22 Jan 2022

moth, beetle or butterfly

Writing that poem, I am reminded that each ending is a new beginning.  That sometimes, when God takes us through a process of deconstruction, it's because He is building something new, something beautiful to make of our lives and the lives of others. That I don't have to be perfect or even good enough, for He accepts us as we are, broken, fragile and failing. That the burden doesn't rest on me alone, for He carries our burdens with us. That my role is to trust (though I think He might need to help me with that). 

Trust - Priorities - Goals

And whatever 2022 brings - I know I am in His hands. 

What about you? Where are you on that journey?

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 has practised medicine, studied communication, history, theology and a Master of Arts (Writing). She loves reading, painting, travel, catching up for coffee with friends, pondering the meaning of life.

Sign up to the Jeanette O'Hagan Writes for news of her writing adventures
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Monday, 24 January 2022

Are You being Wooed?

 by Anusha Atukorala

The business from whom I buy travel insurance sent me an email.

“It’s been a while since you travelled with us. We have a very special offer to welcome you back. Buy now and save 10%* on your travel insurance. Let’s go somewhere.”


Let’s go somewhere? What a novel idea! But … with covid rampant? 

Hmm ... I don’t think so!


I have not been overseas or interstate since THE virus entered my world in January 2020. Fortunately, we’d enjoyed a fabulous vacation in Sri Lanka just before we were grounded, so it hasn’t been the least bit difficult for us to stay put. In fact, I feel I am on holiday when I’m home—peaceful mountain views serenade me all day long, I have a little den where I can write to my heart’s content, and our lovely backyard brings me into God’s sweet presence.

The world calls out to us on a daily basis. Advertisers seduce us to do things we don’t want to do, to buy things we do not need. Who gets our attention? Whose voice sounds loudest in our ears?


God woos us. Time and time again. Like children following the Pied Piper when he played his flute, we too are summoned to follow our Creator. He will lead us into a road off the beaten track, to creative paths, to scenic locations and also into rough and tough terrain, where we’re forced to learn more of Him as we lean into the unforced rhythms of grace.

Where is God calling you to this season? More breathing? More being? More reflection? More writing? More living? More doing? The call of that advertisement to ‘go somewhere’ made me think of places I can spend time in, even during covid times.  


The first place God woos me is into His loving heart. He calls me to become a worshipper, to spend time with Him, to know Him more and to grow in my love for Him. The next place He woos me into is into character growth. James 1:2-4 reminds us to consider trials as joy - as pure, unadulterated joy! But … how do we find joy in hard times? Perhaps the way forward is by focussing on heaven’s perspective, and not our own! Colossians 3:1-4 is a great place to start.


The third place God woos me into, is to bless others. Covid may have made us a little more selfish – we’ve been forced to care for ourselves and to keep away from others. This Christmas, I felt guilty that it was a self-centred kind of season. But then, as I sought God, He showed me what I could do. I could care for one person at a time, in any way possible. It opened my eyes and my heart. I was blessed as He led me and it was a rich season, as I connected in varied ways to reach and touch others.


The fourth place God woos me is in my creative journey. My writing has taken a backseat in the past few years. But this year is going to be different! I will be more disciplined. I will WRITE! Every. Day. Does that sound familiar? Will you join me?


The final place God woos me into is a place of rest. A little girl trusts her Daddy when he leads her into difficult places, full of the unexpected and the unknown. I too likewise am learning to trust Him in the rough moments and seasons. Like a baby learning to walk who falls time and time again, I have often failed! But the beauty life with Jesus is that He never condemns, only encourages us as I get up and try again.


To what kind of places and spaces has God been wooing you? I’d love to hear of your journey. Like a row of skittles being struck down by a great black bowling ball, Covid has thrown us all helter skelter! However, even if you have been sent reeling into a dark corner, be assured that God has not abandoned you. From that place, He will woo you into godly spaces. He woos us gently into learning to live from the heart, to discovering more of His goodness, His grace, His love and most of all that He is enough, because He alone is the All Sufficient One. 

He alone is the One our souls thirst for!


Come join me as we follow the Heavenly Pied Piper into the adventures of a New Year. 

Wherever He leads us is the best place to be! 

May 2022 find us writing well, living well and loving well.

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 2nd book ‘Dancing in the Rain’ brings you hope and comfort for life’s soggy seasons. Her 3rd book, ‘Sharing the Journey’ is a sequel to 'Enjoying the Journey' and was released in March 2020.


Do drop in on 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:

Sharing the Journey:


Thursday, 20 January 2022


 In the cinematically spectacular movie musical, “The Greatest Showman”, a song “Never Enough” is featured in a scene with opera star, Jenny Lind. Re-watching this movie whilst seeing in the New Year enabled me to consciously connect the lyrics with the character’s own plight of never quite being enough. This started a spiral of related thoughts around living life in the shadow of our self-inflicted comparisons and how by doing so, we can never quite match up. That can include our writing.

Photo Credit: Pixabay Startup, Start-up People Silicon

I remember being disheartened after a writing conference one year when a guest speaker confidently assured every person they could apply the techniques being modelled and write as brilliantly as the examples they had stepped through. Meanwhile, my head was in a muddle as I realised with startling clarity I did not (and never would) approach my creative process in the way they recommended for achieving “next level” penmanship.

Was that it? The “never enough” moment? Was it possible that no matter how hard I worked at my writing, it would never quite pass muster?

Have you ever been there? Ever felt you’ve been weighed and measured as an author and found wanting? Have you ever been tempted to knock off those infuriatingly persistent characters and put the pen down permanently?

Yeah, funny thing that …

Have you also found stories you’ve determined to abandon forever have this annoying way of prising their way back into your life? Characters you thought you’d discarded somehow keep popping up with new challenges for you to unravel? I know just what you mean.

But is it enough?

Despite the bumps and bruises of disappointment and insufficiency acquired along the way, I have come to realise that even though I may never be a Pulitzer Prize winner, not one of those authors could ever be me. (They might be heaving a sigh of relief at this, lol, but it’s true.)

I’m not suggesting we should stop investing in our craft or honing our skills. It’s important to receive constructive input, pursue learning, and reach for excellence. But if we’re constantly measuring ourselves against other authors, we can all too easily focus on what we are not, and get in the habit of rehearsing our failings and dismissing our strengths.

But speaking of writing conferences … at another event a guest speaker reminded attendees of the importance of being faithful with the writing gift given to them—whatever that gift and its purpose looked like. 

If our primary goal is to emulate or “meet the standard of” a particular writer, we will never be enough, because we will only ever be ourselves. But the thing is, we’re not just in this writing gig for our own gratification, and that should make a world of difference. Through Him, our voice IS “enough” to pen the creative works we alone have been gifted to write. Our voice. Our purpose. Breathed to life in the “now” timing of the Holy One. 

Photo Credit: Pixabay Comfreak, a-book-landscape-nature-wind

So wherever this post finds you in your writing journey, I’m officially giving you permission to reflect on and rehearse your strengths, your writing wins (big or small), and remind yourself that it is through your voice the words you carry will be birthed into this world. Embrace it.

Rehearsing the wins (with Mazzy Adams)

Adele Jones writes fringe and near science fiction for young adults, historical fiction, poems, inspirational non-fiction and short fictional works. Her YA novel, Integrate, first book in the Blaine Colton trilogy, received the 2013 CALEB Prize for unpublished manuscript. As a speaker she draws practical parallels from social issues, faith and humanity, for meaning in life’s journey. For more see 

Monday, 17 January 2022

Omega Writer | Why Enter a Writing Contest?

Happy New Year! I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas a restful New Year, and is now looking forward to the challenges 2022 will hold.


Writing challenges, of course!

Here’s a challenge for writers who have not yet published a book: enter a writing contest.

Why? I can think of several good reasons:

Honest Feedback

Writing contests are a great way to get honest feedback on your writing, and we all need honest feedback. Feedback is a gift which can show us what we’re doing well, and where we need to improve on.

Feedback from Writers

But it’s important to get feedback from the right people. We can ask family and friends for feedback. While they might give encouraging feedback (You’ve done a great job! Keep it up!), it might not be accurate. Family and friends will be proud of you for having written a book, and may be able to tell you what they enjoyed and why, but they probably can’t tell you what needs to be improved (unless they happen to be successful writers who know your genre).

In contrast, contest judges are fellow writers, usually people who write in the same genre. Some will be fellow unpublished authors, some will be published authors, some will have won awards. All are willing to give up their time to help other writers improve their craft.

Targeted Feedback

Because they are writers (or editors, or agents), they know what good writing looks like, and they will judge accordingly. Most contests use a score sheet which looks at different aspects of the writing, such as the opening, the characters, the plot, and use of point of view or showing vs telling. Entering a writing contest will show you if you have issues in some of these areas.

Finding out you’re not using point of view well may be painful, but it’s better to find out from an anonymous contest judge early in your writing career than to polish the manuscript for months (or years), submit to a publisher and be rejected because of your point of view. (And point of view isn’t your opinion on a subject. If you’re a fiction writer and don’t understand what I mean by point of view, you need to learn).

Anonymous Feedback

Judging in unpublished contests is blind, which means the judges don’t know whose entry they are reading and judging. Most contests for unpublished writing ask writers to say who has read the entry so the contest organiser can avoid assigning the entry to a judge who may be biased. In addition, judges are encouraged to notify the organiser if they have seen any entries before so they can be reassigned.

Blind judging means judges can give feedback without worrying about that feedback potentially affecting a relationship (as can happen if you ask family or friends to critique your writing).

Bragging Rights

Finalling in or winning a contest gives you bragging rights aka a line in your query or proposal to an agent or editor. Many well-known Christian writers credit contests with helping them land an agent and/or publishing deal.


But how do you find a contest to enter? Well, Omega Writers has the deal for you …

The 2022 CALEB Awards.

The CALEB Award is run by Omega Writers although books don’t have to be overtly Christian.

Some of our winners have been “defiantly Christian”. Others have been great books by Christian writers with underlying Christian themes like love, honesty, or the importance of family.

While we do accept entries that aren’t specifically aimed at the Christian market, we do ask that all entrants state their agreement with the Omega Writers Statement of Belief. We also remind entrants that we are judging books based on a Christian world view, so general market titles are unlikely to score well.

The 2022 CALEB Awards will include unpublished manuscripts in up to three categories (depending on the number of entries):

  • Adult fiction (any genre)
  • Young Adult and Middle Grade fiction (any genre)
  • Nonfiction

Entries will open in March, so now is the time to start polishing your first fifty pages and writing a synopsis.

Click here to find out more about the CALEB Award.

ACFW Genesis Awards

If you write fiction and are seeking a traditional publisher, then I would also recommend entering the 2022 Genesis Awards run by American Christian Fiction Writers. this covers adult and young adult fiction across a range of genres, and many winners and finalist have gone on to be published by big-name Christian publishers such as Thomas Nelson and Bethany House.

To enter, you’ll need a one-page synopsis (single-spaced), and the first fifteen pages of your manuscript (double-spaced).

Click here to find out more.

Will you accept the challenge to enter a writing contest in 2022?

Thursday, 13 January 2022

CWD Member Interview – Marion Kilchester


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

Todays interview: Marion Kilchester

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

Way back, my heritage includes a convict woman and a soldier from the second fleet. Never knowing my mother, I was blessed by several mothers. Growing up on a small mixed farm in Tamworth, N.S.W. I became a music / piano teacher/examiner/composer. Mostly I am a mum and grandma who loves to garden, travel and take photos.

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

I wrote my first book, Though the Storms Rage Yet Will I Dance, to give hope to people going through tough times. It is my story, a story of hope. My next book is about two strong women who survived great odds to succeed in their lives. I have also published two books of piano music and recorded them, Reflections Books 1 and 2.

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

It has surprised me that a wide cross section- men, women, old, young, and in-between; across denominations and ethnic groups have read and gained from reading my book. I also have a webpage and blogs of encouragement, 

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

 I use pencil and paper, sitting at my dining-room table, looking out at my garden and birdbath. I write a section, then put it onto my laptop, where I refine it. Technology is my huge challenge.

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

 My favourite writing craft book is a person, Nola Passmore who edited my first book. I wrote all, of her suggestions out and still use it as my check-sheet. I have also built a library of books on similar topics to my writing. 

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

My favourite CWD people who have really encouraged me are Nola Passmore, Anusha, Mazzy and Ruth Bonnetti. Thank you to all of CWD for your deep insights and encouragement. 

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

I have set a goal of 20 hours writing a week. I know that I won’t always achieve that but I figure it is better to aim high. I would like ti complete Ludmilla’s and Charity’s story this byear and keep up with my webpage/ blogs. Will be 75 this year but have just read a book by Eddie Jaku, written in his 100th year, so it is never too late.

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

Hugely. Everything I write is filled with hope. God is my strength, my motivation and my guide. I couldn’t do it without Him.

Monday, 10 January 2022

Author and Perfecter

Marc Jeffrey

Paul the apostle, described Jesus as the author and perfecter of faith (Hebrews 12:2, NASB). When I first read that, I got the impression that Jesus had ‘written’ the perfect draft in heaven, which he published as perfect faith into people when they believed. But, of course, life is not like that, and writing is rarely perfect on first draft.

Faith builds and strengthens as we make attempts and learn from our mistakes, talk to others and read how others dealt with situations. Sometimes we learn by putting a difficult situation aside for a while, then re-engage with new perspective. I use that one a lot, usually after I say that I have no intention of ever going back to it.

Most of my writing up until about ten years ago, was in the context of work or University studies. Like most students, I started a writing task an insufficient length of time before the deadline. My record for a term paper at Uni, was submitting with four seconds to spare. I don’t recommend that!

Photo by Anton Malanin on Unsplash

Much of my longer form creative writing has stayed in the form of first draft. It is only as I have sought to beat some of my stories into something a little more reader-friendly, that I’ve realised the benefit of a time gap between the first draft and final product. That, and good advice. The gap allows me the distance to recognise where the imperfections are in my stories, so I can address them. That distance allows me to see my draft more as a target reader would.

However, the gap is only useful to me if I use it wisely, otherwise I may end up with an over-edited, disassociated mess. Usually, I need a complete break from that work. I could take on the overgrown garden, reinvigorate my secret bird-watching hobby (oh-oh – the secret’s out), or learn more about word-craft. The choices extend these, of course! When the time comes, I am better equipped to recognise and address the deficiencies in my writing.

Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

Let’s digress to music. I’ve been in a few bands. Of the hundreds of songs I started writing, only three or four were ever finished to the place where I could perform them without cringing. Songs need words that grow an idea or tell a story, but they also must fit seamlessly within the beat and timbre of the music, so it ‘gets you’. The listener no longer hears the components—the huskily breathed words, the synchronised strings, the gentle counterpoint of the piano keys—but is taken on an emotional journey as they respond to the whole song.

I am aiming to engage my readers with longer form writing as well. It is not just words, but how I craft them. It’s also understanding what my target readers expect. For me, that means researching what people expect to see in the thriller genre. Whether I write to a market, or for specific readers, I do not want to lose them looking around for the next literary bus when they are halfway through my story. 

For instance, I do not want to create an expectation that all stories in that genre have, then fail to deliver on it. I want my readers to travel with me through the bends of the story and see the signposts they expect and love the ride. And to do that well, I need space from my created work before I re-engage with a critical mind. A few beta readers will help me to see what I’ve missed.

Photo by Maarten van den Heuvel on Unsplash

So, the authoring has happened. The ‘perfecting’ may involve reforming the structure and story beats to meet the target readers’ expectation. The learning, I think, is to not shirk the gap between authoring and the version you unleash. Space between first and final drafts is good for your writing. Your thoughts?

Thursday, 6 January 2022

Faith and Possibility for the New Year

by Elaine Fraser


New Year's Day. A fresh start. A new chapter in life waiting to be written. New questions to be asked, embraced, and loved. Answers to be discovered and then lived in this transformative year of delight and self-discovery. Today carve out a quiet interlude for yourself in which to dream, pen in hand. Only dreams give birth to change.

Sarah Ban Breathnach


Reflection and dreaming are the hallmarks of this first month of the year and it’s easy to just recycle last year’s goals and dreams. If 2021 was an especially tough year, it may feel too hard to dream fresh dreams. 

I love this Bible verse: 

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; 
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.

Lamentations 3:22-23 ESV

A new year brings new mercies–a reminder that God’s love never ceases. 

As a writer, a new year brings many new chapters waiting to be written. Chapters that we perhaps have never dreamed of. Chapters that will be inspired by God. 

Last year, I didn’t make as much progress as I would have liked, but I still published three books. Last year, I wasn’t able to travel overseas but I began to learn Italian. Last year, I couldn’t teach in France as planned but I began a new volunteer job in my local church. 

Mistakes, loss, family separations, physical challenges, and other challenges that are hangovers from the last couple of years, don’t all miraculously disappear or become resolved. 

Our lives are not perfect but if we can keep hope alive and keep dreaming and working towards our goals, we will see progress. Each day is a gift. Each day is a fresh start. 

God’s mercies are new every morning. That is something to be eternally grateful for. Finding joy in the everyday, trusting God, and living out our purpose (even if it’s a shadow of what we dream of) is honouring the story promise of our lives. 

God sows what we need into our lives each day. God is a creative spirit–The creative spirit. 

Everything is continuously being re-created. Acknowledging this and allowing God to recreate us is a marvellous way to look at our lives and the world around us.

A new year brings a new perspective. Who knows, we may not be exactly the same person at the end of the year that we are now. We will grow, we will create, we will live this life of ours in the coming year. 

We have been gifted with another day, let’s make it a day of abundant life. 

Let’s ask God to show us new mercies, to help us to recover a sense of faith and possibility for this new year. 

 What are you dreaming about this year? 

 What new projects are you hoping to begin?