Thursday, April 24, 2014

The ANZAC Legend


ANZAC Day – the Legend
This last couple of years I have been studying a Bachelor of Arts/Education at University, and one of the subjects studied was Myths, Legends and History. It was a history subject and I absolutely loved it. We looked in depth at the Trojan War and the Arthurian Legends, but also touched on more modern legends: Robin Hood, Ned Kelly, Jesse James and, believe it or not, the ANZAC legend.

Now what were they inferring by calling ANZAC a legend. By definition a legend is something that has historical basis, but that has been enlarged and exaggerated. Perhaps this idea triggers a defensive response in you. I admit that I certainly had my defensive hackles raised when they began to look at this subject with insinuations that perhaps ANZAC is a figment of somebody’s imagination, but as we went along, I began to see what they were saying.
One hundred years ago, the diggers were just members of the British defence forces. They were commanded by the British and served on behalf of the British interests. They were young men and women who were a half a world away from their own homes and families. Today it is a common ideal that the original ANZACS (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps for our Northern Hemisphere readers) were heroes who fought for our freedom. The ideals of larrikinism, mateship, and irreverence seemed to have emerged as synonymous with Aussie (can’t speak for the Kiwi’s). These ideals, even if we don’t actively engage in irreverent acts of larrikinism, we almost certainly would laugh about it with some sense of cultural pride. But for all this, is that what Gallipoli was all about?

My grandfather was a Sergeant Major with the AIF during the Second World War, and on his return trip home he was put in charge of a prison ship. These were not prisoners of war; they were Aussie soldiers who were on criminal charges, including murder. The following is an excerpt from his diary:

“Well this is nice kettle of fish. I’ve been made a ships patrol and that means policeman and believe me she’s a great ship to be anything on. She’s got prisoners S.N.L.R. (Service no longer required) A.B.C. class men of whom a lot are just thugs and wasters. I’m afraid we are going to have a lot of trouble on board before we get home but still so long as I get home that’s all that worries me.”

From other excerpts in his diary he used other words to describe these Aussie soldiers including “Swine”. He was not impressed, and according to his diary they were violent and troublesome. This image of Aussie soldiers is in conflict with the legendary ANZAC hero. Our youngsters today are hearing about heroes. I bet in a number of cases the word hero is an accurate reflection. But it obviously wasn’t always the case. The lads who enthusiastically signed up for the First World War probably didn’t have any concept of what it was they were signing up for. They were feeling patriotic and up for an adventure, but when they were deathly ill with dysentery, or their feet were rotting with disease from being forever damp; when they were in fear for their life and fled from a call to charge and were subsequently convicted of cowardice; when they got involved with women in various foreign places and caught STDs or left fatherless babies behind. These men were human like the rest of us, but they answered a call to service. It is good to honour the sacrifice of those who died. It is good to honour the mental, emotional and physical price that returned veterans have had to pay, but it is also good to remember that these men and women were human and vulnerable to the weaknesses of character that is common to us all.

As we commemorate ANZAC day tomorrow, April 25th, the day that marks the ill-fated Gallipoli landing, let us honour the service both past and present of those in the armed forces, but let us keep in perspective that they were ordinary young men and women and that war was not then, and is not now, a glorious pursuit, but a terrible conflict of states that requires the blood of those who engage, whether voluntarily or by force.

Re-reading this puts in sharp relief what the subject was saying by ANZAC legend. We want to think of our heroes as above reproach, full of courage and honour, self-sacrificing and willing to die for the sake of others. I know that there were ANZAC heroes who did and do fit that description, but the thing that we can focus on now is that there is a hero who fits this description every time. Of course I’m referring to our Saviour, Jesus Christ, whose story of life, death and resurrection - also a story full of horror - yields to us everlasting hope.


Meredith Resce
Author of 'Mellington Hall' and 'Cora Villa'

www.meredithresce.com




Monday, April 21, 2014

Christian Writers' Conference Update

Thanks to CWD for the opportunity to bring an update on the Christian Writers' Conference. Plans are going well and we have confirmed sixteen workshops with another six on the waiting list. They cover the following topics:

Fictional Writing for published writers/unpublished writers; Non-fiction Writing; Publishing; Self-editing; Characters; Metaphors; Bible Stories; Freelance Writing; Motivation; Marketing; Rejection; Spiritual Obstacles; Time Management; Children's fiction; and Ergonomics.

There is more information about these workshops with presenters' bio's on the website: www.christianwritersconference.dx.am/workshops

We have also confirmed Rev. Dr. David Wilson as our opening speaker at the Friday night plenary session. I first met David when he was principal of Kingsley's College (the Wesleyan Bible College) in Melbourne. Since then he has worked as the Director of Sophia Think Tank with the Bible Society of Australia and in this role he wrote online articles for their website. He is currently the CEO of Urban Seed – an urban community development unit working with homelessness, substance abuse, and mental health issues.

In one of David's articles he made the comment: "Give me a piece of media, any piece of media on any topic and we’ll be able to find principles in the Bible that are relevant in their application." David will speak on this topic which I believe is relevant for all Christian writers regardless of whether they are writing non-fiction or fiction, overtly Christian or subtle Christian material.

Iola Goulton, Nola Passmore and Rowena Beresford have agreed to be editors at the conference. In order to get the maximum benefit from editors' appointments Iola and Nola will be asking delegates to send material in advance, up to a maximum of 20 pages – double spaced which is approximately 5,000 words. So if you would like to see an editor start preparing now!

Publishers Rochelle Manners from Wombat Books/Rhiza Press and Kris Argall from Acorn Press will also be taking appointments. More details about what to send and appointment request forms will be available on the website in August.

There will be an extensive Light the Dark bookstall with all the newest titles.

Check out our website for costs, timetable, venue and other details. Registrations will open in early May.

Hope to see you there.

*****


Susan Barnes likes to write devotional thoughts on Bible passages, book reviews and inspirational articles. She loves to challenge people's thinking and regularly blogs at abooklook.blogspot.com.au. She is also a librarian and pastor's wife.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Our Creative Natures By Buffy Greentree

There are so many places in the writing journey that we can get caught up and come undone. There are also various strategies we can put in place to combat these obstacles. However, today I want to look at just one simple idea which has saved me numerous times from problems in both the drafting and editing stages.


Your creative nature is not singular. 

The sooner you realise this, the sooner you will know exactly which door to knock on when you need help. So let's look at some of our options.

The Muse:

People talk of a creative spirit or urge, calling it a genius or muse interchangeably as if there were one unknown part of us that performs the creation. As a Christian, we really should acknowledge at least two, our side and God's. Those who have experienced a true creative flow, or have written a work that is so beyond what they thought they knew, must acknowledge that God inspires and helps form anything that we allow him to help on. How can we view anything except God as our 'muse'? Is not the creator himself the thing that inspires all further creation?

For me, the Holy Spirit directly and God's creation indirectly fulfill the ancient role of creative muse. It is the thing external to myself which inspires and encourages my creative work. This is a wonderful realisation, and constantly keeps me on my knees as I write. However, God does not do all the work. There is then the unconscious and conscious work that I must do in the creation of the piece.

The Genius:

A lot of my creation happens unconsciously. I may stare at a computer screen for hours on end, then finally get up and have a bath. Halfway through the bath, while humming along to some tune, a piece of dialogue suddenly jumps out of nowhere that is the perfect answer to my problem. Or I will wake up from sleep, and my character will be there, ready and waiting to tell me what happens next.

While some of this comes from inspiration, there is also the part of me that processes it all. This part I consider my genius. It is not external to me, as the muse is, but it is also not under my control. I cannot force my genius to write when I want to write. He is most secretive. I feed him scraps and ideas, and then leave him alone to digest it all. When he is ready, he will then open up a trap door and hand back out the diamonds he has created.

There are many things that you can do to encourage your creative genius, from the types of food you can feed him to the recreation that best allows him to process. I have found that when in doubt, give him a good meal of problems to solve and juicy words to mull over, then leave him in silence (ie. find a wordless activity to distract yourself with), and see what he churns out.

But your genius is really for when you get stuck. He is not something you can rely on for a steady flow of words. He does not write drafts, he only helps out a bit with the design. For drafting and editing you need your two conscious creative natures.

The Youth and The Elder:

These two aspects of our creative nature were first outlined to me in the wonderful book On Being A Writer by Dorothea Brande (if you haven't read it, it's out of copyright so you can download it for free, which I highly recommend you do right after you finish reading this). She argues that we have two natures that can either work together or against each other, very much like brothers.

First is the youth. He is the creative spark. He loves telling tall tales and playing with words. He is cheeky and a bit irresponsible. He doesn't care about grammar or spelling, and is easily distracted. If you let him have too much control, he will jump from one story to the next, leaving a mess behind him each time. On the other hand, if you restrain him too much, he becomes sullen and won't say a thing. He's a bit of a sulk that way. Without him you will never get through your first draft, but with only him, you will never get a complete book.

Second is his elder brother. He is much more interested in order and control, and he is fantastic at editing. He takes time over word choice, making sure that it is perfect. Then he considers the sentence structure. Did you break any important rules? He's big into rules. He's also pretty good at making sure his little brother sits down and stays on the same story all the way through to the end. Without him, your youth is likely to get overexcited and run off after butterflies. The elder, however, can make sure he stays in his chair until he is finished.

However, the elder can very quickly become overbearing. If you let him off the lead too much in the first draft, he will be watching over his little brother's shoulder, trying to correct the small mistakes or pausing his brother to find a better word. Under this sort of tyranny, any little brother would jack up and hide away.

So you need to balance these two as is appropriate to your stage in the writing process. If you feel you are being stifled or coming up dry in the first draft, it is generally because you are letting your elder creative nature crush your youth. But if you find you have lots of wonderful ideas but never get through them all, you might need to build up and encourage your elder a little, not let him be bossed around so much by his younger brother. Your youth needs to be disciplined just enough to get through to the end of the first draft. Then the elder can take over and brush up in the editing process. 

I find relying on these four aspects of my creative nature, identifying which one has been starved and which I might be trying to rely too strongly on, will get me through most problems. Though, I will admit it is an on going process to build them up and learn how to support them all. But that is part of the fun of being a writer.







Buffy Greentree was brought up in Melbourne, has lived in Japan and the UK, and now calls Brisbane home. She has a B.A. (Hons) in Classics and Archaeology, a Master of Divinity, and a Grad Cert in Business Management. Yes, she spent way too long at Uni. 
She now writes by day, and works as a boarding house supervisor corrupting young minds by night. So, life is pretty good. 
For a further discussion on creative natures and other ways to overcome your fears of writing, see her first book The Five Day Writer's Retreat, available on Amazon and other online retailers. Or follow her at her writing blog: www.100firstdrafts.com.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Lego Movie Inspiration.



I haven’t seen many recent mainstream movies with an underlying message of faith. I've seen movies that could potentially inspire the watcher to believe in themselves, in magic, in the power of ‘mother’ nature, or in the love of sisterhood, but I haven’t come across many that would inspire a belief in God. So it was with some surprise that I found a message of faith in Lego.
The Lego Movie was released in Australia last week. 
This is what I took away from the story:
If you believe in ’The Man Upstairs’ He can use an ordinary person like you to do extraordinary things.
In this Lego world ‘The Man Upstairs’ is a small boy who has created the story line and placed the Lego characters in their ‘save the world’ predicament. I won’t go into an extensive review of this movie, suffice to say the Christian message came through to me loud and clear. What struck me about this movie is that it is a story aimed at the mainstream market, and at its heart seems to be a message of faith. It made me think so much about my own writing. Can we, as Christian authors, bring a message of faith to the mainstream world? I think we can. I think we should. I believe that where God inspires the will, He will show the way.
So if it is on your heart to write a mainstream story with a message of faith, but you think you won’t find an audience, think again. If God has given you the calling, I know He will give you the audience.

Hey, If Lego can be used, we can too. :-)

Rose, who holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree, was born in North Queensland, Australia. Her childhood experiences growing up in a small beach community would later provide inspiration for her first novel, 'Back to Resolution'. 
Her novels are inspired by the love of her coastal home and desire to produce exciting and contemporary stories of faith for women. 
'Beyond Resolution', and 'A New Resolution' are the second and third books in the 'Resolution' series. 
Rose's debut novel 'Back to Resolution' won Bookseller's Choice at the CALEB Awards 2012. 'A New Resolution' won the Fiction prize, CALEB 2013. 
She has also released 'The Greenfield Legacy', a collaborative novel, written in conjunction with three other outstanding Australian authors. 
Rose resides in Mackay, North Queensland with her husband, young son, and mischievous pup, Noodle. 

Visit Rose at:

http://rosedee.com/





x

Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Bunny and the Lamb

In just over a week will be the Easter weekend. For most Australians, Easter means:

  • Hot Cross Buns - these days available in the shops shortly after Christmas. My family loves them - though my daughter only likes the nontraditional ones with the chocolate chips.
  • Easter Eggs - mostly chocolate but some of candy or other concoctions. The Supermarket aisles are stacked high with these spheres of chocolate coated air in glitzy coloured foil wrap.
  • The Easter Bunny - many children believe this bunny is the source of all those Easter Eggs. Normally portrayed as small white rabbit with fluffy tail and floppy ears though I had to chuckle at the 6 foot high Bunny with a boomerang in Rise of the Guardians that looked more like a macho kangaroo and spoke like Hugh Jackman.
  • That perennial favourite - an extra long long-weekend. Four days in which families often go camping or visit family.
  • And School Holidays.
For others Easter is the end of Lent and/or the celebration of Jesus' death 2000 years ago and his resurrection some days afterwards. 

I wonder what Easter means for you?

For me it is a time of reflection and wonderment - that the incarnated divine Son would die for me. It tells me how much God loves and values me. It reminds me that I have new life through Jesus, that He can and will mend the brokenness inside of me and that He is a present and powerful.

Easter is an intensely personal. It is both sobering as I think of Jesus on the cross on Good Friday - and exhilarating as I remember that He is Alive - that He has conquered sin (human brokenness) and death itself.

Easter has cosmic as well as personal implications.  It is the turning point of the Story of God and therefore the story of our world. Through the eyes of faith, we can see that Easter is the very crux of history. The Bible tells us that story. Yes, it tells many other things about history, morality, worship, spirituality and reality but running through its pages is a love story - God's love for his broken creation - for his broken people. 

It is a simple story - the eternal triune God created the cosmos. He created humans to care for his creation and to be his friends. But the very first humans rebelled against God, deciding to go their own way so that now they and their world became broken. Instead of destroying us and starting again, God decided to rescue us - through calling a people to show who He was and what he wanted. And then He came, the incarnated Son who died in our place. On the cross, the Son won a decisive victory against death and all evil. He has entrusted his people who believe and follow Him with a mission - of not just living lives worthy of Him in faith and love but of taking His message of freedom and love to the furthest corners of the earth - and to the person next door. One day He will make new the whole cosmos and make a home for His people. 
Easter is not just for me or you - it's for everyone.



The Lamb That Was Slain

A flower nodding in the crevice of a rock
New growth after rain.
The sun’s blushed fire climbing above the horizon
A Lamb that was slain.

Praise God who brings beauty, life and hope
In the midst of the world’s cloying darkness.
A world reclaimed at Golgotha, Skull Rock
By the Lamb that was slain.

Before the sun’s fire ignited and
Craggy cliffs rose above the ocean waves,
Before humanity’s ancient parents stumbled
And brother shed brother’s blood,
Father God planned a people reclaimed.

A new perspective, a life regained
Admitting failure, weakness and pain.
We take on His life, walking in faith
Receiving the Spirit’s renewing fire
Sent out by the Lamb that was slain.

The Lamb’s restored people join hands
In prayer and praise.
An emaciated child is given bread and hope
Broken lives are knitted together again
And a message of love and new life spreads like soft rain
Hands, Feet and Heart of the Lamb that was slain.

Earth trembles, nation wars against nation
Tribal enmities ignite, hate inflames
Tall towers and silvery screens pursue greed and fame
The lamb’s people divided, too often lead astray
Awaiting the coming of the Lamb that was slain.

Fruit redolent on the healing tree
Life giving water flowing through brilliant bridal city
Father’s noon-day light shining on pearl and diamond
Spirit healing, tears wiped and death disappearing
The Lamb as Lion victorious reigns.

Praise God who brings beauty, life and hope
In the midst of the world’s cloying darkness.
A world reclaimed at Golgotha, Skull Rock
By the Lamb that was slain.

Jeanette O’Hagan ©2002, 2014

Wishing you all a happy and blessed Easter.

"Easter Egg image courtesy of  sattva / FreeDigitalPhotos.net"
"Hand heart & cross image courtesy of  luigi diamanti / FreeDigitalPhotos.net"
Jeanette has practiced medicine, studied communication, history and theology and has taught theology.  She is currently caring for her  children, enjoying post-graduate studies in writing at Swinburne University and writing her Akrad fantasy fiction series.  She is actively involved in a caring Christian community. You can find her at her Facebook Page or webiste  JennysThread.com .

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Ideal Writing Conditions

Jennifer Ann at home, one of her ideal writing conditions


What are your ideal writing conditions?
Here are a few of mine.

EMOTIONS; Sometimes when I am a little on the melancholy side I feel as though my creative juices are really flowing. I will then write and write and in order to keep up with the ideas that are needing to be expressed. Because the writing has all come so quick and easily to me I naturally assume it must be good. Fortunately, I have learn't to never share that sort of writing until I have read it in the cold light of day. And guess what it tends to not be that great at all, lucky I don't show anyone but on the other hand it was cathartic for my emotions at the time.
I do write when I'm happy also but it just doesn't seem to have the same creativity attached to it, for for me anyway. Of course the best writing has been mulled over, again and again until the sentence and wording is exactly what you feel fits the essence of what you are trying to communicate. But how about you, which emotion when you write makes you feel at your most creative?

TIME; What time of day works best for you? I love the mornings, where my brain has not become tired and jaded with work and home activities. I am not an evening person but I know others who find that at 0:00p.m. till 2:00a.m. thay are doing their most creative work. Definitely NOT me but perhaps that is you?

PLACE; I have to write in a quiet place. Or at least be able to shut a door and only hear muffled noises. I know of others who cannot write if there is no noise at all and they need to have the radio switched on and loudly. I heard of a poet who sits down at the kitchen table and amidst all the hustle and bustle of children having breakfast and getting ready for school , he is able to write, no problems. What about you? Do like a quiet or noisy surround?

HOME; I have also discovered that I write best when at home, where all that surrounds me is familiar. I have taken writing work away on holidays with me and I become so distracted by the scenery or activities or the restaurants that I can't possibly think of putting pen to paper. Can you write when you are on holidays or away?

I do sometimes wonder that if I had no chance of writing under my ideal conditions, would I be able to write in the evening surrounded by noise, facing a heavy work schedule, if that was my only choice, could I write then? I think I would definitely attempt to but I'm not sure of how successful I would be.
So that brings me to my last point and that is how fortunate we are that we are able to at sometime during any given year have the ideal writing conditions that suit us because I am sure there are many aspiring writers in the world who write anyway knowing the ideal conditions will probably never present themselves. So as we are privileged by God to write at least sometimes under our ideal conditions let us keep writing the truths that God lays on our hearts.

Jennifer Ann  is the author of "Broken Pottery the Life of an African Girl available at;
Amazon kindle;   Amazon books
She has her own website at JenniferAnn.info
and her own blog, JenniferAnn/aroma of life

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Why Grace Works for Me by Hayley Solich


Over the past eighteen months I have been sitting under the ministry of Ps John Latta, who moved to our church from Tambourine Mountain.  John shifted my thinking about God, life and everything really when he started to share his concept of God and grace.  It changed the way I viewed myself and the way I viewed others.  When you look through the lens of grace and unconditional love, so many small things that previously were beacons of offense become way less obvious because instead of looking at actions you look at motivation and instead of looking at behaviour you look at the real person.  And you recognise that your words have power to create life or death, so you can choose to use them more wisely, more compassionately.

Coupled with John's ministry I have also gone through several of the Carefore LifeKeys training programs and once again received the bombshell of grace and unconditional love impacting my life. And also the impartation of skills for living life walking in unconditional love by better communicating and using words to build up rather than tear down.

In the Search for Life course, Alan Meyers' re-telling of the prodigal son's story was absolutely lifechanging to me.  The story of a father who saw his errant son afar off and against all of the rules of the time lifted up his skirts and ran to him.  He didn't wait for him to apologise, to grovel, to beg forgiveness.  No, this father ran to him.  He covered his shame.  He restored his dignity.  He restored his position in the father's household and his father wanted to celebrate with anyone and everyone who was willing to come.  He was willing to kill the fattened calf which was reserved for very specific celebrations, in honour of a son who had returned.  His words and actions changed his son's future.

As I listened to that story I recognised that God is like that with all of us.  He is not sitting in some distant place with a hammer ready to strike us when we err and we all err.  Regardless of how righteous we think we are, when we look at another with judgment in our heart we have erred, because we are told to 'judge not'.  We are not to be like the older brother, viewing the behaviour of others and making judgments about it based on how good we think we are.  He totally missed the point.

Today, as you go about your business I wanted to encourage you to see life through the lens of grace and unconditional love.

At times I feel trampled by people or life's circumstances and I want to pull out my claws and claw my way back but grace is wanting to teach me a better way, to teach us all a better way.  Grace is wanting me to not react, but to really assess why others have behaved the way they have because it is always a story about them that has led them to that behaviour.  Sometimes our presence is just a catalyst for another's healing.

My exhortation today is to look around you and when you see someone 'lying in their blood' -  Exekiel 16:6 - the image of the rejected person, even the image of the prodigal son - looking to all the world like the yukkiest or most unwise person on the planet, and probably behaving like one, challenge yourself to view them through the eyes of the Father.  The eyes of unconditional love.  For He says to all of us, 'I have loved you with an everlasting love and I have chosen you before the foundations of the earth."  They are not the words of a judgmental, vengeful God.  They are the words of a loving father.

And when you look at yourself, be kinder to yourself.  I truly believe that if we see God through the lens of the new testament, which is a new convenant, where our salvation is not dependent upon our works, then we can move from doing to being, from judging ourselves and others to loving ourselves and others and allowing God's abundant love to inhabit every aspect of our lives.  Then our works will have eternal value for all.

Monday, March 31, 2014

It's Not a Waste of Time by Nola Passmore



One of the reasons I write is that I want to change the world.  Okay, maybe that’s a bit lofty, but it would be nice to think our writing is having some impact.  If you’re like me, there are days when you really feel like you’re making a difference, and other days (maybe even seconds later on the same day), when you wonder if you’re just deluding yourself.  Is anything I’m writing really having an effect?  Is there anyone out there who feels challenged, uplifted, or entertained by the words I write?

If things don’t seem to be going well, it can certainly be an opportunity to consider whether you need to make some changes.  However, if we’re faithful to what God has called us to do, we have a guarantee.  Nothing we do in the Lord’s service is in vain.  I love the way Paul’s words to the Corinthian believers are translated in the Message Bible: ' ...don’t hold back.  Throw yourselves into the work of the Master, confident that nothing you do for him is a waste of time or effort' (1 Cor. 15:58).  That doesn't mean that we run ourselves into the ground trying to wring the last second out of each day, but if God has directed us towards a task, we know that it's worthwhile.  The famous missionary and explorer David Livingstone reportedly had only one convert during his 32 years in Africa, yet he sowed the seeds for the hundreds of missionaries who came later.  What if he had given up after a year because he didn't feel he was making an impact?

I've also been thinking of the value of a blog like Christian Writers Downunder, so I thought I'd share some statistics with you.  Since it started in July 2011, there have been 324 blog posts by more than 50 different writers.  The site has had almost 140 000 page views.  All of the blog posts attract comments.  Most have at least 70 page views, with many in excess of 100.  Rose Dee's post 'Who needs Minions when you have perspective' received 633 views and Paula Vince's post that likened readers to pickled onions received 530.  Imagine what could have happened if they'd written about Minions who like pickled onions!

If you have 10 minutes spare sometime, browse through the archived posts on this blog site or look for particular authors and themes using the search function.  There's an amazing array of different topics and viewpoints.  Truly something for everyone.  Thanks to the internet, those posts are a lasting legacy that can be read again and again, reminding us of Jesus' words in John 15:16a: 'You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit--fruit that will last' (NIV).

Please hear my heart.  I'm not mentioning the achievements of the group so that we can give ourselves a collective pat on the back.  Christian Writers Downunder is God's group first and foremost and we're just one of many Christian writers groups that are trying to make a difference (e.g., Omega Writers, Australasian Christian Writers and FaithWriters to name a few).  None of us is perfect and there are sometimes bumps along the way, but God can work through us to encourage each other, bless the wider community, and help advance His Kingdom.

Do you ever wonder if writing is worth it?  Commit it to God and you'll be amazed at what he can do with a heart submitted to Him.


Nola Passmore is a freelance writer who has had more than 100 short pieces published in various magazines, journals and anthologies (including poetry, devotions, magazine articles, true stories, and short fiction).  She and her husband Tim have just started their own freelance writing and editing business called The Write Flourish. She loves writing about what God has done in her life and encouraging others to do the same.  (Some call it 'nagging', but she calls it encouragement).

Thursday, March 27, 2014

What Could I Say?

By Dianne Riley


It is hard to write a book, much less get it published!

My friend’s eyes were sparkling as she told me about the book she was writing.  
We were in the food court at the local shopping centre and she believed our running into each other was a gift straight from God.  
It took some time to hear about the autobiography and I have to say, I was a good listener.  
Then the question came.  “So how will I get it published?”

My friend’s eyes were eagerly watching me, expecting.  
A thought ran through my mind 'Speak the truth in love'.  
Ever so gently I gave my friend some tips.  
It was her turn to listen. 
Everything I was saying seemed very hard for her to take in.

My friend’s eyes were darting from my eyes to my mouth, waiting for an opportunity.  Her responses were fast and frequent in coming as I spoke.  She didn't own or know how to operate a computer, her story was in long hand.  Her friend, who is a teacher, was good at editing.  Everyone she knows wants to read her book.
 
What could I say?
I encouraged her to keep writing, to get her story down, even in long hand.  
I told her to be careful not to over use the word ‘that’.  I encouraged her to go to the Library, to read lots and to have a turn of the computer there. (Particularly to look up Christian Writers Downunder blogspot)  
I encouraged her to keep writing, to never lose the enthusiasm for her story.

My friend’s eyes were still sparkling as we parted.  Her emotional tank was full and she felt truly blessed to have bumped into me…..a real author, with a real book.

I’m not sure whether her story will ever make it into book form but as Lucy Swindoll says ‘Nothing is wasted in God’s economy’.

My emotional tank was full too, I loved being able to share my writing journey and the experience I have gained over the years.


What do you think; did I give the right answer?


A self-published real author, with a real book.
Visit Dianne Riley's website

Monday, March 24, 2014

Who Are You Writing For? – By Natalie McNee



“Can you believe it?!” I screeched at my husband, “I didn’t even get a mention! Not even a thank you!” anger rang through my voice but hurt was etched across my face as I shook a book in front of him. I was holding the published work of a client’s book that I had spent many hours over a few months editing/rewriting pro bono as they couldn’t afford my services but I really believed in the message of the book and felt led by the Holy Spirit to help them out. I had just read the acknowledgement section which had listed everyone from family members to the illustrators and cover designers, listing their websites and contact details but there was no mention of my name or a thank you for my help anywhere on the page. My husband just looked at me matter of factly and asked, “Who are you writing for?” I stared blankly back at him, what did he mean who was I writing for? Again he asked the question and then the light bulb switched on – “For God.” I sighed. I didn’t mention the book or incident again.

Fast forward a few months - I was eagerly awaiting an email reply with a critique to a manuscript I had sent in, I was so proud of this piece of work, as a writer I am my harshest critic but this one I was actually satisfied with, I had first sent it to my critique group and they all loved it, I made a few edits according to their suggestions and then sent it off to the publisher. Not once did I have a nagging feeling that I should dissect and re-write it a million times (isn’t this what most writers do with their work?). The email finally popped up but WHAM it was like a whack in the face; “We suggest you tear this up and partake in some studies of your craft before you write another story again!”
 
“This has to be some sort of cruel joke.” I thought to myself. I’ve been writing professionally for seven years and some of the books I’ve ghostwritten have been number one bestsellers on Amazon within the Christian market and now I’m being told that I’ve got no talent! I’ve received rejection letters before – it comes with the territory but this time I burst into tears, again I ran to my husband, he listened sympathetically but when I told him I was quitting, that I had had enough he asked; “Who are you writing for?” I knew the answer first up this time, “God!” I sighed again. I sat quietly and asked God what He thought of my work, there was no denying His presence and I sensed His face smiling down on me.

I didn’t tear the work up and I didn’t quit writing, I went straight back to the keyboard and started on a new piece of work. As writers we are often told to write for the reader; publishers have specific requirements which pertain to their readers buying habits but through experience I have noticed that if you write from your heart and dedicate your work to the Lord there will always be readers who will genuinely praise your work for speaking into their lives and there will always be sales but even better than this you will experience the satisfaction of the Lord’s smile upon you. He has gifted you with penmanship, He will guide your work and His praise is far more worthy than anything received here on Earth. Be encouraged to follow your dream and write for God


Bio
Natalie is a freelance copywriter and ghostwriter servicing the Christian market. She is also the co-owner of Flowers To Remember. Natalie proudly supports Compassion through the Child Advocate Network and volunteers for the Street Chaplains in her free time. To connect with her on various social networks please visit her website www.nataliemcnee.com
 

Monday, March 17, 2014

A Cool Drink of water

The other day we had a family dinner & movie night - home-made pizzas and the Disney Pixar film The Incredibles. There is a scene early in the movie where two under-cover superheros are rescuing people from a burning building. Lucius Best AKA Frozone has the ability to create ice, from the water in his body, and the water in the air. In this hot burning environment he is too dehydrated, and there is no moisture in the air. The building starts to fall apart and they find themselves in a jewelry shop - mistaken for thieves.

Frozone is empty, he cannot use his powers. He has to take a quick drink from a water cooler to get back his abilities. This got me thinking. Often in life we can do things that empty us in some way, and need to re-fill. I thought about this in both spiritual and creative senses.

If we keep trying to "do stuff" for God, but never refill from his word and time spent with Him then we’re going to run dry and not be effective. In his post last week, Gregory Morris did a good job of talking about refilling and refueling from God’s word, and there’s certainly nothing more I could add to this.

In relation to our creative life, I think similar laws apply. In our writing, we are pouring out creativity but we need to refill our creative tank sometimes. I’m not talking about reading writing craft books and here, that is also absolutely vital, but I’m think of that as equipping ourselves with the right tools. I think we can refill our creative tank by consuming good stories.

I am trying to change the way I read stories. Traditionally, I've just become swept away by the story, but not thought too much about what the author is doing, and how they’re doing it. I am trying more and more to be a little more aware of what is going on around me when I read for pleasure. I’m not talking about full-on studying the text, but just having a greater awareness. Maybe other people are better at this and just do it naturally.

As example of this happened with me recently.. I’m currently reading A Cast of Stones by Patrick W. Carr. This Christian Fantasy has as its protagonist Eroll - a young drunk. He has no ambition or purpose in his life but to raise enough money for his next ale binge. There is nothing about him to make him a sympathetic protagonist. Contrast Eroll with another character - Liam. Liam is attractive, intelligent, kind and better than most with a sword. In addition to all of this, He is humble about his abilities and not at all stuck up. Everything about this character says we should love him - he is the perfect hero. The fascinating thing is that as we read the book, we identify strongly with Eroll, we care about him, and we quickly learn to dislike Liam. Why?

The author has done a very good job of making Eroll sympathetic to us. We stick very close in his point of view. We live through the danger with him as unknown assassins try to kill him. Then, we view Liam through the lense of Eroll’s jealousy. I was quite shocked at myself when I realised that I had resentful feelings toward Liam. That just shows what a good job the author did. Later in the book, when we find out why Eroll has descended into a drinking problem, we feel for him even more deeply because we already feel close to him.

I think this kind of observational reading can help recharge our tank, just like Frozone drinking that water, and I am going to try to more consciously do it.


Adam CollingsAdam Collings is a writer of speculative fiction and video blogger. He is actively working toward becoming a published author. He lives in Tasmania, Australia. Adam discusses books and movies on his youTube series Stories. You can find Adam on-line at collingszone.wordpress.com or his Google+ Profile

Influencers in the Business Realm

God champions the heart of business owners; we are called in God’s Kingdom to influence the business realm in its many varied forms.  One of my favourite stories in the bible is that of Nehemiah: God put on his heart a burden for a city and then took him and showed him the plan.  Nehemiah had to go to action and press on in faith when so much seemed against him. 

Yet in the midst of being told by outsiders that he was wasting his time (heck it was just a pile of rubble after all) and told by insiders (his colleagues as it were) that maybe he needed to just pull back a little and reshape some things because it wasn’t all going to a nice tidy streamlined plan. 

Oh I love the heart of God who places us as business men and women amongst a pile of rubble, puts a plan in our hand and pours out his favour and grace in measures way beyond what we understand.  In 52 days the city was rebuilt because of our incredible God who is so faithful to every word He has promised.

A couple of weeks ago I wrote the following poem.

IN THAT MOMENT

Glory, glory, I sense the glory
And I am brought to my knees
For His love is so intense
Yet so refreshing as He wraps around me

I bow my head in awe
As He reaches out to me
But who am I but a battle-weary soldier
As I kneel before my King

But in that MOMENT
All my fears and anxieties are swept out
His eyes of warmth and of fire still me.
He whispers close: “Warrior do NOT doubt”

For His glory as it rises
As it swirls, as it dances upon me
My soul knows well: I can be strong in the One I have found
For indeed I am standing on holy ground.

As a woman in business to find a moment can be one of the most challenging things to do.  There is always the juggling act; and yes we have to continually think about ways we can work smarter and not harder – what can I outsource, who can I train up, what are creative ways I can get some help?  We do need to literally diary those slow moments and sometimes we just have to toss the list out the window. 

My life can look somewhat hectic at the best of time and the good old guilt starts to creep in that I am not spending enough time with family, or that the windows of the house do need a good clean; or if I don’t put my name down on a church roster I may be considered a heretic – LOL! 

I am real, I am passionate and I know this that God has called me to do life through the vehicle of my business to the glory of His name.   I need Him to remind me to take deep breaths and to not shoulder the burden: for in Him I live and breathe and have my being.

Ask God to take your business [or your community initiative, or your book you are writing or the music you are composing and so on] and explode it upon the nations for His pleasure and goodwill.  Ask God to place a marketing plan [or book chapters or notes and lyrics] in your hand that will astound any social media marketing guru.  God delights in us and the filing cabinets of heaven are open wide to those who would call out to him in prayer – conversations as you drive the car on the school run, as you go down the grocery isle, as you walk in to the business negotiation meeting and so on.  

Soak yourself in the Word, listen to podcasts, read and study in the area of your business industry; be at the forefront of what is happening in your business sector.  Put the prophetic trumpet to your lips and blow it loud – take those ideas nestled in your heart and give it a go.  Apply wisdom, get advice, put it to prayer, but don’t hesitate, take action, take a step and then another step. 

Being in business as a women is not about filling in time because you can’t think of anything better to do; but it is the Father’s heart for you to minister to many through your business – ministering to people does not mean ending every sentence in thus saith the Lord, but it is the way in which you speak to your clients, the integrity of your products and services; how conflict is handled when it arises among employees and so on – these are just a few examples.  

Your business is forging a legacy, a path for the next generation to stand on.  You are building for the sake of the Kingdom and even though you will feel at times like that battle-wearied soldier, take that MOMENT to remember as you put together both faith and action – both the sword and hammer as it was in the times of Nehemiah - that momentum will build.  Many will marvel and will exclaim surely only the Lord could have done this.

To your business growth and success!


Maree Cutler-Naroba
Ideas 2 Propel U
Igniting Dreams | Evoking Action