Thursday, August 27, 2015

C-O-N-N-E-C-T-I-N-G



Dianne Riley

When our son was young he was given a wonderful hand me down.  Two buckets of Lego - Duplo.  What enjoyment we had with him making endless configurations from the bits held within those two buckets.  Naturally he has become a Lego enthusiast.  He is 23 now and would be most disappointed if there wasn't some sort of Lego treat tucked into his birthday or Christmas presents.

All those little Lego blocks, little pieces when connected in a certain way can make amazing things. 

It's somewhat like writing.
I enjoy being told how someone has connected with what I have written.
When I'm reading I love it when the words, story connects with my heart and my mind.

Crafting words in a way to connect with people.  To make them laugh, feel inspired or lead them to a place of escape.  The thrill of a writer.

A friend recommended a book to me recently.  I haven't been so keen on the author but she was insistent I read the book.

So I did.
Albeit skeptically, at first.

In the end I was sobbing my heart out.

This story connected to a pocket in my heart I had kept bolted, barred and locked away with a 'no trespassing' sign hanging firmly on it.

Isn't it a joy my fellow Christian Writers Downunder?
Words
Connections
.....used by God.

Like Lego, words when put together in a certain way can make amazing things, to touch hearts and change lives.

May our pens and keyboards flourish under the inspiration of our great God.


The place you can find what I am thinking about or find interesting.  
Where you can email me to buy my book.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Try something new

by Charis Joy Jackson

All my life I've enjoyed writing, but I've never considered myself a comment writer. Preferring the relative safety of fiction.

That way, if someone gets upset about something, I can always blame it on one of the characters.

This year I started writing for PSI, a volunteer comment section of Christian Today. It's been a fun challenge to find things to write about. To find topics where I feel like I have something to say.

I'm still wet behind the ears but over the last eight months I've learned a lot and grown heaps. In a nutshell, not only have I learned I have a voice and something worth sharing, but I've also learned I do have opinions on more things than I thought. The biggest area of growth, surprisingly enough, is that I've learned I actually have an opinion in politics.

Anyone who knows me, will tell you how I mentally shut down when people bring up politics, but over the last few months, I've started to listen and not just that, but share my own opinions too.

Earlier this month I was invited to attend the annual PSI conference being held in Sydney.

During the award section of the conference I sat with the rest of my hopeful peers, never dreaming I'd win anything. After all, I'm still new to comment writing.

Then my name was called and I found myself walking to the front as my peers clapped. I took home the international "Most Outstanding" young writer award.


I was speechless.

But more than any award to be won, I'm glad I took the risk to write comment pieces.

It's pushed me past my comfort zone, helped me define my voice as an author and taught me the valuable lesson that my words do have power and all those jumbled thoughts that run through my mind can actually form coherent sentences on important topics.

Which leads me to my challenge to you.

If you write, try writing in another genre. If you write fiction, try writing non-fiction. If you write romance, try writing a crime thriller.

You may just find yourself being pleasantly surprised by the outcome.




Charis Joy Jackson is working as a missionary with Youth With a Mission (YWAM) a non-profit organization & is part of The Initiative Production Company. She loves creating stories & is currently writing a novel, which she hopes to create into a seven part series. 

Here's to a life lived in awe & wonder. 
Welcome to the adventure.





Thursday, August 20, 2015

Intensivesophobia

I found a new word today. Metathesiophobia. Even my spell-checker doesn’t recognise it, so if you do, I’m impressed. What does it mean? “Fear of Change”

Not just a normal fear of change, but one that is irrational and excessive and prevents a person living a quality life. To some extent, we all have a fear of change. I believe it comes from a fear of feeling out of control.

Am I allowed to make up a new word? In good faith that none of you have metathesiophobia I will take a leap and do it. Here it is:

Editophobia: “Fear of external input into your manuscript or current writing project”.

This refers to the people who fear changing their manuscripts; who fear critique and loss of control. And the consequences are that it prevents the person publishing a full, quality, life-giving manuscript in God’s control and not their own.

I’ve had editophobia, and none of my books were published until God took them from my hands, placed them in the hands of a very good editor and brought more than my own filtered mind and experience to the manuscript.

Now another word for you: Intensivesophobia. Yes, I just made it up in the hope that you might discover you have it, decide to fight it, and put your name down for the Intensives at the Christian Writers’ Conference in October this year.

I attended an ‘Intensive’ day with an author/editor a few years back. I arrived on the day with an expectant but cautious heart to be sat in a room with two other writers and my tutor. I was handed a flash drive to put into my laptop, which had changes to the manuscript I had forwarded to my tutor 6 weeks earlier. By the end of the day I had made very special new friends, I had learned to use track changes on my computer (I previously had technophobia), I had learned many new skills and knew how to make my manuscript publishable. Eager and inspired by my tutor, who had been coaching me through editing the whole day, I went home and cut, pasted and changed without fear until my manuscript was ready. Blaze in the Storm is now published and God has used it to change lives.

Why? Because He put it on my heart that it was okay to CHANGE it. It was okay to have someone else come alongside and edit. In fact it was NECESSARY!

If you are thinking about the Intensives on the Friday of the Christian Writers’ Conference this year I cannot encourage you enough to actually register and do it. To register, go to:

www.christianwritersconference.org.au/Intensives

If you are unable to attend on the Friday, there are also opportunities for 30 minute appointments with an editor during the actual conference. Appointment request forms are available on the Costing page of our website.

www.christianwritersconference.org.au/costingdetails

Let us not fear change and loss of control, but rather, fear our own limited knowledge and inability to change, which hinders the work of God in our lives, making Him unable to use us for His glory. Our God is all about change, renewal, rebirth and growth.

*****


Jenny is the wife of Rob Glazebrook and the mother of Micah, Merridy, Clarity and Amelia. They live in the country town of Gundagai with lots of pets. Jenny is the author of 5 published novels with the final 2 of her Aussie Sky Series due out this year. Jenny enjoys inspirational speaking, and is passionate about sharing her writing knowledge and experience and encouraging others in their walk with Jesus. To find out more about her and her books, go to www.jennyglazebrook.com

Monday, August 17, 2015

What about Fantasy? Part One

by Jeanette O'Hagan


What does Christian faith and fantasy have to do with each other? Should Christians write or read fantasy? Is it Biblical? Is it perhaps harmful or deceptive?

Supernatural tales have been around since the dawn of time (myths, legends, fairy tales, tall stories) and the 18th century novelists loved tales of Gothic thrills (ghosts, spooky castles etc), With advent of rationalism and modernism such romantic fantasies became less popular in the 19th and 20th century though arguably, in the mid-twentieth century, it is two staunch Christians, C. S. Lewis and J.R.R Tolkien, who did much to  reignite the interest in fantasy which the proliferation of the genre one sees today in books and film. It’s hard to deny the influence that Tolkien has had on modern fantasy – and it has been recently been cogently argued that Dr Who may (in part) have been inspired by Lewis’ Narnia (which makes the 2013 Christmas Special even more poignant). Both Lewis and Tolkien were influenced by George MacDonald’s modern fairy tales (another Christian writer). Many would argue (myself included) that Lewis’ fantasies strengthened their understanding of God and, in some cases, brought them to faith in Christ. Philip Yancy (an influential Christian author) credits reading Lewis’ fiction as part of his way back from atheism to Christian faith. In a world that often tries to exclude the supernatural, fantasy can whet people’s appetite for the transcendent.

On the other hand, when the Harry Potter phenomena was sweeping the world, turning reluctant readers into avid fans, many Christians argued that the books were harmful and should be shunned. To be honest, I had my doubts about them and resisted the pressure to read them when my daughter was young – though we have both since read the entire series. I was once told that the Narnia series shouldn’t be read because it ‘had witches in it.’

Some Christians would say that fantasy is harmful, perhaps even demonic, and should be avoided. Of course, some even argue against Christian romance – or any fiction at all because it is ‘telling lies’ or mere escapism. But fantasy (and certainly horror or paranormal fiction) seems to be particularly open to criticism because it pushes the envelope of reality and usually (but not always) includes supernatural beings and magical powers. After all, doesn’t the Bible enjoin truth telling? Doesn’t it say:

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Philippians 4:8 (NLT)

And doesn’t it also contain strong prohibitions against witchcraft and the practice of magic:

I will put an end to all witchcraft, and there will be no more fortune-tellers (Micah 5:12, NLT) or And do not let your people practice fortune-telling, or use sorcery, or interpret omens, or engage in witchcraft. (Deut 18:10, NLT).   (See also Lev 19:26, 31; Deut 18:14, Isa 2:6-8, 18, 20; 8:19-20; 47:9,12; Ezek 13:18-21; Acts)

Is fiction telling lies?


God does value honesty and the Bible is full of history — with a careful respect for the names, dates, locations (Genesis to Chronicles, the Gospels and Acts). However, both the prophets and Jesus used parables, some realistic and some more imaginative. God himself used symbolism in dreams — and the Apocalyptic books (much of Daniel and Revelation) revel in the use of symbolism and almost bizarre images to express God’s truth. An imaginative use of metaphor and story can engage our emotions and reveal truths we may not otherwise have understood.

Is fiction, and particularly fantasy, escapist?


Well yes, to some extent. Freud claimed fiction was ‘fantasizing’ – a form of egregious wish fulfilment. The hero always wins, the heroine gets her happily-ever-after or we can imagine ourselves visiting other worlds or having superpowers. Yet, as we have seen with parables, imaginative stories can help us see and deal with profound truths. In fiction we can use themes, metaphors and images to communicate realities that can touch the heart in the way a treatise or rational argument may not. Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin and Charles Dickens’ novels had a tremendous impact on 19th century social consciences. We can tell stories not only to sooth, but also challenge and inspire, to imagine other possibilities and other ways of dealing with the world’s problems. Science Fiction and Fantasy are particularly good at exploring the big philosophical questions as well as the personal. Moreover, fantasy (along perhaps with historical fiction) is genre where inclusion of the supernatural and/or religion is almost expected even in the general market.

Is it unsavoury?


Some Christians will argue that we should only read ‘clean’ fiction that doesn’t deal with difficult issues. Some object to any portrayal of dark or satanic forces or magic in Christian fiction.  However, it seems to me that the Bible itself is not a ‘clean’ read by these standards. Like God himself, His Word doesn’t shy away from showing life in all its grittiness or displaying the ugly, broken side of human nature, sometimes in rather earthy language. It also mentions spiritual forces and practices opposed to God. It includes demons, witches, sorcerers and magical practices (through a critical lens). What it doesn’t do is glorify immorality (calling bad good or good bad) and it always points to a way forward in God, sometimes boldly (Exodus, the Gospels) and at other times with more subtlety (Ruth, Esther).

It seems to me that we need to be careful to honour God in all the fiction we write and read and that fantasy is not isolated in this respect. Some time ago my husband and I decided to stop watching a heavy diet of crime shows, because the shows seemed to be getting grislier and more bizarre to maintain their shock value and this was giving a distorted picture of the world. Another friend stopped devouring romance novels because it fuelled a sense of dissatisfaction in her marriage when her husband did not come close to living up to the romantic leads. Does this mean it’s wrong to watch crime shows or that romance is not helpful? No, I don’t think so. What I think it means is that we need to be sensitive to the effect of what we read and watch has on us and that this will differ between different people.

This post has just opened the lid of this fantastical ‘can of worms’ J Next month, I will continue exploring the issues it raises:

Monday, September 7 Part Two — I’ll look at writing about magic/supernatural in fiction.
Thursday, September 10 Part Three — I’ll look at what’s helpful/beneficial in reading fantasy. 

For a more extended look at what fantasy  is - check out Fantasy and Faith: Part 1 & Part 2.

Fantasy Image: Jeanette O'Hagan © 2015 

Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2007, 2013 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.


Jeanette O'Hagan has a short story published in the general market Tied in Pink Romance Anthology  (profits from the anthology go towards Breast Cancer research) in December 2014 and two poems in the Poetica Christi’s Inner Child anthology launched in July 2015. She has practiced medicine, studied communication, history and theology and has taught theology.  She cares for her children, has just finished her Masters of Arts (Writing) at Swinburne University and is writing her Akrad's fantasy fiction series.  You can read some of her short fiction here

You can find her at her Facebook Page or at Goodreads or on her websites  JennysThread.com or Jeanette O'Hagan Writes

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Don't let the world squeeze you

by Anusha Atukorala

Recently we had the joy of having a beloved niece visit us. On the last day of her stay, we planned a full day’s celebration of her birthday. God blessed us with golden sunlight and blue skies and we revelled in a day packed with family frolic. After she left, there were a few cheery reminders of her visit. A chair in our family room had a little red balloon tied to it. I smiled to myself as I removed it, recalling the fun we’d enjoyed.

This little balloon was fast losing air. I squeezed it gently. It was transformed into an oblong shape, like a large brightly coloured Easter egg. I hadn’t realised I could change the contour of a balloon and was fascinated. I left it on the table and got busy with a few chores. Later, I saw to my dismay that its shape had changed. It now looked a sad, messy piece of rubber. As I looked at it, I was reminded of wisdom from the Word:
Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mould
Because of course when the world squeezes me into its mould – it offers me only temporary glory.

I don’t know about you, but I find that the modern world tries hard to mould me differently to what God intends. As a Christian writer – the present day lifestyle crowds into my God space – and into my freedom, demanding that I fill it up with many activities. Some of it is good. But a lot of it detracts from my calling.

What are ways the world can squeeze us Christian Writers into its mould?
1. It urges us to spend hours on numerous have-to-be-done projects – building our platform, networking, social media, blogging, marketing, self promotion – all which are good and right but could be at cost to other vital areas of our lives.

2. Counting the world’s standards of success as our yardstick. Success for us is not:
a. How many books we have published or
b. How many books we sell or
c. Doing what other writers do, because they are the done things or
d. Pleasing publishers and readers first rather than God

3. Filling our lives with good things but pushing out our relationship with God into the periphery.


The modern world is a very interesting place. We have numerous distractions which keep us happy. Technology has given us a leg up with great writing equipment, constant contact with other writers, computers, iPads, phones and a plethora of connections. Much if it is needed. But we can easily get swamped in the vastness of it all. And we can focus on the wrong things. Worse, we can even forget our calling.

What does success mean for you and me? What is the litmus test for us Christian writers? Success for me I believe is that I am faithful to my calling. Each of us has a different mandate within the larger context of being a writer. Perhaps it is a good practice for me to have a frequent check on my life?
Am I spending my time wisely?
• Am I being obedient to what God has called me to?
• Am I being a good steward of all the gifts He has endowed me with?
• Am I being faithful to what God requires of me to during this present season?
• Am I willing to give up what matters to me (even some of the ‘good things’) if God asks it of me?
• Am I bearing fruit that pleases Him?
• Is God being glorified in and through my life?


Romans 12 verse verses 1 and 2 shows me what to do each day.
“So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it.”

May you and I be faithful to our calling. When God greets us at heaven’s gate may He be able to say to each of us:
Well done my good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of the Lord.


Anusha loves life. She is passionate about Jesus and the difference He has made in her life. Writing is one of the many things she loves to do. Invigorating walks on cold winter evenings, connecting with family and friends, writing contentedly at her computer, connecting with people, singing and making music, sharing the love of Jesus – these are some of her passions. Her first book ‘Enjoying the Journey’ contains 75 little God stories about life. Do drop in at her website to say G’day – Dancing in the Rain. She’d love to connect with you.



Monday, August 10, 2015

Writing – Why Bother?

This is a question I have often asked myself over the last twelve months. At times I have felt as though I was pushing pens uphill rather than setting the world on fire with my words.

It’s been a hard slog, but I suspect it’s a slog that most budding authors have had at some stage or another. For those of us with hearts of lions and pocketbooks of change, becoming a recognized author can be a long process of perseverance and faith.

Thankfully, for Christian authors, faith has more to do with why we write than anything else. Writing is my ministry, my calling, my joy. When I find myself dispirited, or kneeling before the Lord with discouragement in my heart, I remind myself that my writing is the outworking of my faith. 

Having commanded the discouragement to get behind me, I forge ahead, placing my talent and resources in the hands of the One who gave them to me in the first place. With this application of service and faith in mind, I present to you the cover of my next release, Ehvah After. Watch out for it in your favorite online bookstore over the next month.

And in the words of Churchill (and my Dad, who frequently quoted this);

“Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never - in nothing, great or small, large of petty - never give in…Never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.” Winston S Churchill

And more to the point of my life:

“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
Colossians 3:17


Thank you, Lord Jesus, Father for the gifts you have given me, the heart to serve, and the resources to show your love. 

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 the Bookseller’s Choice award at the 2012 CALEB Awards, while A New Resolution won the 2013 CALEB Prize for Fiction.
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/

Thursday, August 6, 2015

The Unpredictable Evolution Of A New Adult Colouring Book


Sometimes when we inquire of the Lord; He gives the most unexpected answers. I always find it is a good idea to listen, no matter how strange it may seem at the time. Recently, I questioned if He wanted me to continue in publishing.  I was financially stretched and it was demanding too much time from my family. I was in conflict. I knew He had initially called me to it, but the expenses outweighed the meager returns and I was tired. Should I continue? I knew I was touching lives with existing books but it was the 11th hour in practical terms. I hoped God would unveil new secure work opportunities and continue to use the existing books. What I heard was strange.

He told me to play; adopt the idea of creative exploration with no itinerary for a season. I had a sense that I may not earn anything for a time - to let go and trust. You’d think exploring creativity more freely would have been music to my ears, but I was disillusioned by the result of my efforts. Never the less, C’est la vie - I began to celebrate His instruction, decline most invitations for work and began to play.

Knowing what gives us joy

I experienced a relief as the demand lifted and began to get excited. A few things animated me; patterns, sketching in ink, hand lettering and typography. I challenged myself and questioned why I hadn’t adopted it before now. Around the same time I began sharing my illustrated church notes publicly. I was incredibly reluctantly at first but, it became easier as I saw God using my notes-powerfully! I began to combine all these areas in a daily indulgence of heavenly bliss!
A new illustration style blossomed, replicating elaborate line art suitable for adults colouring book illustrations. Friends began suggesting I make my work more accessible and to create a colouring book for adults.

I then realised what God was doing. His instruction lost some of its mystery. He loves to turn our passions into something special. He is also more interested in obedience than sacrifice. I couldn’t see a kingdom purpose but I could see a people purpose and that was enough for me. I also felt loved by His blessing my down time.

I began creating a colouring book as a collaborative experience. This colouring book would encourage others by combining affirming words and illustrations. Apart from scripture, these are the kind of words I incorporate into my life and enjoy blessing others with. The whole process was playful, exciting and invitational to everyone no matter what faith.

His way is the best and blessed way

Thankfully I have been blessed with pre-orders. I’m yet to see how successful the book will be financially but already seeing the joy it’s will bring others. The excitement from the community already has been electrifying. Should this be financial success I am planning eye surgery. I’m open to a miracle for my sight but if the funds become available through this book, it is laser surgery for me! Either way, metaphorically, it’s open my eyes to many lessons and blessings.

It’s my hope that the audience from this book draws more attention to other wonderful Christian books. It’s good for community to know Christians love creating books that build the health of our community and are not all are bible stories.

Positively Quote Colouring Book is unique. It is the first to be printed in beautiful sepia lines for an authentic artistic finish. The colouring book is A4 so illustrations can be inexpensively framed as gifts to encourage friends or displayed as reflections to encourage your own family. I pray it blesses you or a friend more now you know a little about the creation of it. More details here: http://kayleenwest.com.au/portfolio/shop/crafts-and-activities/positively-quote-colouring-book/



Kayleen West is a children's book Author and Illustrator from Victoria. 
Her picture books include Adoptive Father, Without Me?, Better Than A Superhero and Celia and Nonna
Her portfolio can be seen at: www.kayleenwest.com.au

Monday, August 3, 2015

Camp NaNo Adventure


by Josephine-Anne Griffiths


Gone are the days when I didn’t even know what NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) meant. Last November I decided for the first time to take part in the big one. Yes, you got it 50,000 words, one month and me.

It was an awful lot of words, especially as I had never attempted anything that massive before.
50,000 words – what was I thinking? 1,667 words needed to be written on average per day, to stay on target. Well, that lasted a good couple of days. November 2014 came to a close and I had created 20,000 beautiful words – actually truth be told, I had in fact written a jumbled mess of heart wrenching emotions, which just happened to add up to 20,000 words. Hmmm, so why would I go ahead and do it all over again?

I think the thing that got to me the most during November was the loneliness. “No man is an island” they say – and how true that is. Yes writing is an extremely lonely existence, but why would one choose to work alone when you had the option to be part of a team? Having signed up at the last minute as my impulsive self usually does, I didn’t really understand how it all worked. My attitude was a fervent I don’t have time to have buddies; I must write, write, write!

Sometime in June this year I noticed that there was a Camp NaNoWriMo.  Once again it would be for a month’s duration, however this time you were free to set your own word count goal. No matter how large or small, you would be in control. Yippee! I also noticed that members of Christian Writers’ Downunder were joining up and forming a virtual cabin. Well cabins could hold just twelve campers, eagerly itching to write their story, poem or draft novel. I procrastinated like you just wouldn’t believe, not due to the anticipated pressure of having to write each day. No I pretty much had that under control; even if I only write 200 words, I do write something every day. No the problem is that I do have a reputation for biting off much more than I can chew, when it comes down to just about anything really. The word impulsive comes to mind once again.  Anyway after much dithering the cabin was completely full, but upon the suggestion of the cabin’s ‘Den Mother’ Jeanette O’Hagan, I opened a second cabin and consequently became its ‘Den Mother’ …. ‘Mummy Bear’ or whatever takes your fancy.

Oh dear Jo’Anne, now what have you got yourself into?

June 30th arrived and we had two cabins ready and rearing to go.  Cabin 1 was christened “S’mores, Snores and Word Scores” and after some discussion my cabin was named “Pensive Plotters and Pantsers Fuelled on chocolate”. With twelve campers in cabin 1 and eight in cabin 2, one of our campers, Naomi suggested forming a Facebook group to enable better communication between the two cabins, and of course double the fun and virtual mischief. So viola! “S'mores, Snores and Word Scores for Pensive Plotters and Panters”  was born; and as Brian Maunder said lol... I love the name of this little group.. A more original name there ne'er was.” 


Twenty Christian writers snuggled into our virtual cabins for the thirty one days of July. Each cabin load set their space up with equally appealing home comforts. Well I am certain the S’mores, Snores and Word Scores would have made themselves at home; as us Pensive Plotters and Pantsers had all the comforts a serious writer could possibly want. Our list wasn’t too long but did include indoor fires, cosy quilts, numerous soft cushions and bean bags, an endless supply of Tim Tams, chocolate coated shortbread, macaroons, chocolate, marshmallows etc.,  not to mention bottomless cups of coffee, tea and hot chocolate.
During the evenings the camp fire was stoked and roaring. With Brian plucking and strumming on his guitar, I managed to sing a couple of songs, with our fellow campers wishing that I wouldn’t. Most nights after the camp fire had done its best, we would retreat to our own cabins to curl up in front of the indoor fires which were awaiting us. Tim Tam runs were made between cabins, as well as chocolate and marshmallows depending upon who had treats to spare. All kinds of shenanigans erupted until the wee small hours of most mornings; it really is a wonder that so many words were written. Amazing isn’t it, just how much fun can be had in a virtual cabin with like-minded people.


  
Of course it wasn’t all play and no work. Twenty passionate writers wrote just over 470,000 words during July. What an achievement! Most campers either achieved or exceeded their word count goals, with those who didn’t coming extremely close. There were difficult circumstances for many, writing around family, full-time jobs, sickness, unexpected emotions, writer’s block etc. I think the most daunting moment for me personally, was when the flash drive that my work was carefully saved upon was misplaced. It was eventually found at the bottom of a large and well stuffed handbag. What a relief – around nine and a half thousand, precious words were at stake.

More so than word count and goals, the most valuable thing that I will take from this whole experience is the camaraderie, strengthening of confidence, and sheer joy of achievement. I am sure each and every one of the campers would feel the same. Three of our campers, Naomi, Mary and Cate, who live near each other managed to have a couple of writers’ get-togethers. I heard that they had an awesome time, talking, writing, making new friendships etc. I won’t steal their thunder, as I am sure they will have much to tell about their experience.  

NaNoWriMo July Camp, 2015 was a blast, and yes, I would do it all again.
  
S’mores, Snores and Word Scores – Jeanette O’Hagan (Den Mother), Nola Passmore, Adele Jones, Jo Wanmer, David, Charis Joy Jackson, Christina Aitken, Adam Collings, Cathie Sercombe, Sue Jeffrey, Kirsten Hart and T Pariss.
Pensive Plotter and Pantsers Fuelled on Chocolate – Cate McKeown, Naomi Edwards, Iola Goulton, Brian Maunder, Jacqueline Tasik, Melissa Khalinsky, Mary Jones and Josephine-Anne Griffiths (aka Mummy Bear).
Please do comment and add your experiences to our story.

What do you think? Fun or not?  Maybe some more keen writers will join in next year - we might even need a third cabin!

Author Bio:
Josephine-Anne Griffiths previously worked in the field of finance and administration. Once early retirement became necessary, and having always been an avid reader and passionate writer, the next step became logical. Josephine-Anne, also known as Jo'Anne is married to Leon. They have six children and five granddaughters between them.


You will find Josephine-Anne at:

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Writing for popular magazines - Melinda Jensen




Last week, I mentioned to a friend that I’d been writing short stories, hoping to sell them to popular magazines.

‘Yeah?’ (Imagine the raised eyebrow and sidelong glance. He’s my financial adviser. He questions everything I do.)  ‘How do you go about that?’

Now…we were in the middle of a meeting that involved copious paperwork, lots of rewriting, and fortunately, a couple of glasses of red wine. Explanations didn’t exactly roll off my tongue.  I’m pretty sure he questioned my ability to speak, let alone write. But he certainly got me thinking. So I searched through my notes, hoping to unearth an old notebook I’d once labelled (optimistically), ‘How to Write a Short Story.’ I didn’t find it...so I'm winging it. :)

 First and foremost, research your market

Every magazine has a unique flavour and specific audience appeal. Get to know your target audience intimately, and write specifically for their enjoyment. Virtually every publication has submission guidelines, available online. Some stipulate they will not accept stories on particular topics, like violence and murder. For instance, the ‘People’s Friend’, which is aimed at British residents in their golden years, is charry about stories that mention divorce. Most mags have rigid ideas about manuscript layout and mode of submission. Stick strictly to the publisher’s guidelines or you will be rejected, no matter how good your story is.



Target your audience

Read magazines in which you hope to be published. Understand the interests and preferences of your potential audience. Be aware of their age group.

Remember too, that most readers don’t have literature degrees. Popular magazines aren't looking  for literary fiction but, instead, for rollicking good stories their readers will love. (You may need to dumb it down...but shshshsh...I didn't say that!)

 Characterization

Unlike novels, short stories are challenged to create believable, lovable, and authentic characters, without giving a lot of background or dwelling on description. Ideally, include no more than two primary characters, who take the starring roles, and no more than two support characters, who add ‘meat’ to your tale. There’s simply not enough scope to introduce a larger supporting cast.

 Keep up the pace!

Your story should set a cracking pace from woe to go. Don’t attempt a life story. Short stories give a snapshot of your characters’ lives. Novels roll out the whole movie.

 It’s all about the plot

It just is. A strong plot is essential for the purpose of magazines. Your task is to entertain and engage, for a small slice of time.

‘Succinct’ - the catch-cry
 
With short stories, you have no time to meander. In 500 to 2000 words you have to hook your reader, engross her in your plot, get her to resonate with your characters, and bring that engrossing plot to a satisfying conclusion.

Descriptive passages and adverbs are YOUR ENEMY.

Eliminate everything that’s not essential to your story, whether it’s scene description or character development.

Chronological order
 
Scene switching and moving backwards and forwards through time can work beautifully in your novel, but stick to chronological order when writing for ‘That’s Life’ or ‘Take a Break’. Exceptions occur when characters exchange letters or look back through diaries, but it takes unusual skill to pull it off in under 2000 words.

 Don’t be disappointed

Exceptional stories, which meet all the above criteria, are often rejected.  It may be that the magazine layout was such that your particular story wouldn’t fit. Or your story may have landed on the desk of an editor whose tastes run contrary to yours. 


If you believe in your story and have polished it to perfection, then send it somewhere else.
Good luck! If you can crack it, the pocket money’s not bad.