Monday, May 2, 2016

New Name, New (and old) Faces, Same Quality Conference.



The Christian Writers’ Conference is on again this year!
However, it has now come under the banner of Omega Writers and has been renamed the ‘Omega Writers’ Conference’.

We would love every single one of you to come. There will be something for everyone, for all genres, from beginner writers to multi-published authors.

WHEN:
Arrive: Friday 28th October at 3.00pm
Leave: Sunday 30th October at 1.30pm.
There is also the option of coming for certain sessions/days rather than the whole weekend.

WHERE:

Sydney.

Conference Centre at Mulgoa
To be specific: At the Edmund Rice Retreat and Conference Centre, 1315 Mulgoa Road, Mulgoa.

Transport Options: To make it easy for you to get there we will have a conference shuttle bus running to and from the airport. If you are a planner and want to book your flight, the bus will leave the Sydney airport on Friday at 1.30pm and arrive at the conference centre around 3.00pm (depending on traffic). On the return journey it will leave the conference centre at 1.30pm Sunday to head back to the airport. Once again, traffic can be unpredictable, but the journey usually takes around an hour and a half.

Naomi Reed (My Seventh Monsoon)
Special Speakers: We are excited to have Naomi Reed (best-selling author of ‘My Seventh Monsoon’) as our keynote speaker. We also have special guest, Hallee Bridgeman from the USA, coming to share insights with us. Hallee is a best-selling Christian author who writes action-packed romantic suspense.

WHY COME?

Fellowship – meet other writers, encourage one another, share stories, network, pray for one another.

Workshops - We have had 75 workshop proposals to choose from and will carefully select 25 of these from quality presenters who have valuable experience and expertise to share with us. 
One of the Bootcamp lounges
Bootcamp – What is this? 
This is an opportunity to come aside into one of the comfortable lounge rooms and put all you’ve learned into practice. Bring along your work in progress and enjoy some creative time writing. A variety of mentors and editors will be available throughout the day to provide assistance if required. Available all day Saturday, you can choose to join Bootcamp rather than attend a workshop/s.



Editor/Publisher/Consultant appointments – We have a variety of professional consultants available throughout the weekend. You can book appointments to speak with them one on one, receive advice and show them your work.

Worship – Sunday morning we will share in a special worship service together; a time of singing, sharing communion and listening to a message.

Bookshop - We have a well-stocked bookshop selling books by Aussie Christian authors. There will be opportunity to sell your own work through this book shop.

Inspiration – It only takes a spark to get a fire going, and when a group of God-inspired writers come together, we can feed off each other’s flame and go home on fire and ablaze with ideas, passion and direction.

Hear from Aussie authors during promotional book segments
PRICE
Cost will be announced when registration opens on 15th June. At this stage I can tell you the standard cost for an Omega member attending the whole conference will be $375.
(This is up $25 on last year but does include linen). Costing has been more complex this year as there are options for different types of accommodation at the venue. We also want to offer a complete breakdown of costs for any day visitors. Along with this there are other costs and price variations to consider, e.g. charter bus, editorial appointments, early bird discounts etc. This will all be made clear on the website once registrations open.

Registrations Open 15th June and will be taken through our website (this website will continue to be updated as we finalise more details).
For further updates, please also ‘Like’ our Facebook page: Omega Christian Writers’ Conference

This post was also published on Australasian Christian Writers, 2nd May 2016

Submitted by Jenny Glazebrook. Jenny is a conference committee member, author, inspirational speaker, wife, mother, school chaplain and above all else, a forgiven, adopted child of God.


Thursday, April 28, 2016

Shoes, Bare Feet and a Christian Book Fair

by Jeanette O'Hagan



You have probably heard the story about the two shoe salesmen sent to Africa in the early 1900's to scout the territory.

      One telegraphed back: "Situation hopeless. Stop. No one wears shoes."

      The other telegraphed: "Glorious business opportunity. Stop. They have no shoes."

Now, I’ve seen a couple of interpretations of this probably apocryphal story – most laud the second salesman for seeing opportunity. Some point out that modern marketing often exploits people by creating a yearning for false and even unhealthy 'needs' (the beauty industry, for instance), while one suggested that salesman A went back to Europe to a lucrative career while salesman B struggled to sell shoes to people who didn’t want them.

Whichever way we look at the story, sometimes I feel that being an Australian or New Zealand Christian author is a little be like trying to sell shoes to barefooted people. We often struggle to interest people in our books.


Why is it so hard?


Now, partly that’s because Australian is a small market. We have a smallish population 22 million compared to 320 million in the US. And, hard as this is understand, not everyone is a reader and, if they are, not everyone reads fiction. A successful book run in Australia is 500 copies.

Then too, the percentage of people who not just vaguely identify themselves as Christian, but are actively involved in their faith in some way, is a much smaller percentage of our already small population – maybe 7-30% (depending on how the measurements are done).

But the problem goes deeper than this – I know many avid Christian readers who aren’t interested in reading ‘Christian’ fiction. They prefer the big name secular titles (yes, mostly US and British authors). Some may have read Christian Fiction in the past and not liked it (it might have been too sanitised or maybe the quality of the writing was the issue or the themes didn’t interest them).  And those who do read Christian fiction tend to read the big US names – Jeanette Oke, Francine Rivers, Dee Hendersen etc. rather than say Mary Hawkins, Meredith Resce, Paula Vince, Carol Preston or Jo-Anne Berthelsen. In part, this is because the big-chain Christian bookstores have often promoted US (& UK) authors and when they stock Aussie Christian authors, those books don’t always sell.  Why – because readers are spoiled for choice and they often don’t want to waste their time on a bad book, so they stick to the authors they know and love or follow the recommendations of friends. So you need to be popular to become popular.

And, to be frank, many of my avid reading friends don’t know about Aussie Christian authors except for the fact that I’ve mentioned them (at which point their eyes begin to roll).

So what do we do?


We can be Salesman (or Saleswoman) A

  • We can give up on the Australian market and address our works to the overseas market, such as the UK or USA. But often, these readers may not interested in reading about Australian location or Australian protagonists (this is not always the case of course). And the Christian market in USA has it problems.
  • We can aim for the general market in Australia or overseas – though again the gatekeepers in this market may be wary of books with obvious Christian content or may expect certain problematic content (like gratuitous explicit sex scene in some romance titles).
  • We can decide that it doesn’t really matter if anyone buys our books, because it's more important that we are obedient to God in writing them.
  • We can sell our books to our fellow authors, friends and family; who will enjoy reading them.

 All these can be valid and realistic responses. I’m not critiquing them (in fact, I think there are good arguments for writing 'crossover' fiction or aiming for the general market  – but what I do ask myself is, are there other opportunities we are not seeing? What would Salesman (or woman) B do?


What would Salesman B do?


In other words, how can we give Aussie & NZ Christians greater choice – so that they are aware that there are many good Aussie Christian authors and books available? Which they might enjoy if they knew about them?

I’m thankful for our pioneers – our ‘veteran’ authors who have been writing and publishing for decades, for the writing groups like Omega Writers, Christian Writers Downunder, Faithwriters and Australasian Christian Writers. For Christian publishers who often struggle to stay afloat and have a passion to have books of quality and influence published.  For efforts to get Aussie Christian writers in bookstores or to reach new readers (through Book Fairs, Light the Dark, Books in Stock etc).

One thing I’m sure of is that this is something we can do together – as we promote to our friends and fans not only our own writing, but work of our fellow Australasian authors that we read and enjoy – or think they would enjoy.

By encouraging, promoting and helping each other we ensure that our books are not lonely little pin points of light struggling against the wind of indifference – but a bonfire that is visible for kilometres around.

Here some ideas:
  • Taking time to read, enjoy and review Aussie & NZ Christian books
  • Give Aussie & NZ Christian books (that you enjoy) as gifts at Christmas or birthdays or as giveaways
  • Participating in readers groups like book clubs, Goodreads, reading challenges etc,
  • Being active on Goodreads and/or Booklikes – review books, add them to lists, recommend them to friends
  • Author talks at schools, libraries, bookclubs – maybe even churches and youth groups?
  • Have a book party
  • Have a book fair
  • Joint ventures like anthologies, boxed sets etc where fans of one author may discover another author to love reading
  • Joint book launches


Perhaps you have some other wonderful ideas or stories – I’d love to hear them.

Christian Book Fair


There is one thing that Raelene Purtill and I are planning to do (under the umbrella of Omega Writers). In early September, we will be running a Christian Book Fair in Brisbane – with stalls from authors, booksellers and publishers. Others like editors, illustrators, cartoonists etc. are also welcome. The Fair will be run in conjunction with workshops run by Omega Writers. 

However, our primary focus will be on books and readers – as we aim to reach a wider audience for all our books. We (the organisers) will be promoting the event as wildly and as targeted as we can. However, I think this will be a success if we all own it. The best promotion is word of mouth.  And of course, we appreciate your prayers – for unless the Lord build the house we labour in vain.

The story about the salesmen reminds me of some other scouts - twelve to be exact; ten of whom looked at the giants in the land; two who saw the promise and had faith in God.

More information on the Book Fair coming soon. (And if you live too far away to come to the Book Fair this time round  – maybe this is something you could think of for your own local area :) )

Image source: Jeanette O'Hagan

See also What is Christian Fiction?  and Saints, Seekers and Sleepers or Cecily's Paterson's What is Christian Fiction?

 Jeanette O’Hagan enjoys writing fiction, poetry, blogging and editing. She is writing her Akrad’s Legacy Series—a Young Adult secondary world fantasy fiction with adventure, courtly intrigue and romantic elements. Her short stories and poems are published in a number of anthologies including Glimpses of LightAnother Time Another Place and Like a Girl.
Jeanette has practised medicine, studied communication, history, theology and, more recently, a Master of Arts (Writing). She loves reading, painting, travel, catching up for coffee with friends, pondering the meaning of life and communicating God’s great love. She lives in Brisbane with her husband and children.



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


Tuesday, April 26, 2016

What's your Klout?


by Simon Kennedy
"We're no longer looking for proof of concept. We want to see proof of audience."
About a month ago, I attended the National Screenwriters Conference thanks to a grant from Screen Queensland. Dozens of veteran writers and producers from the Australian film and television industries generously shared their time and experience with emerging writers like myself. One of the hot topics was the rise of webseries.

Like in music, publishing and photography, the technical and financial barriers to producing and distributing film have diminished. Now all you need is a smart phone and a connection to the internet and you can upload your own YouTube video. With the threshold for entry so low, the traditional gatekeepers - record labels, publishers, film studios - are often bypassed. The audience has become the new gatekeeper.

One of the conference speakers summed it up like this: "We're no longer looking for proof of concept. We want to see proof of audience."

In this age of rankings, it's not surprising to discover that alongside books, movies and businesses, it's now possible to rate a person's online influence. According to this article in Forbes, people in certain industries are hired and fired based on their "Klout Score". You may not have Brarak Obama's Klout of 99, or Justin Bieber's impressive 92, but in the interest of understanding your online platform and profile, how big is your Klout?




But hang on! Aren't we meant to make God famous, not ourselves? Is all of this important?

It is if you want your message to be heard above the clamour of voices shouting for attention. I believe the danger lies in the quest for personal fame becoming the end rather than the means.

What do you think?


___________________________


If you want to join a discussion about the intersection of writing and faith, why not consider being part of an Omega Writers group, either online or in your local area (if you don't see a group for you, we're happy to help you start one!). We also hold retreats and an annual national conference to help you connect with other writers, learn the craft of writing, and build your Klout. Members receive discounts on all of these things but you don't need to be a member to be involved. Pop in and say hi!


___________________________


Simon Kennedy is the current President of Omega Writers. His YouTube Channel, Songs with Simon, has over 14 million hits and one of his TV show concepts has recently attracted development funding from an Australian network.



Cross-post with ACW

Monday, April 18, 2016

Exploring the Tangible Terrible & the Magical, Mystical Mystery

By Charis Joy Jackson  

 

"If we discover a desire within us that nothing in this world can satisfy, also we should begin to wonder if perhaps we were created for another world."
-C.S. Lewis



The first time I found this quote, by one of my favorite authors, I longed for some portal that would transport me to this other world I knew I was really created for.

Could I be like Lucy Pevensie and step into some magical wardrobe where all the Daughters of Eve were revealed in their true form to be Princesses and Queens? Where could I find the ship that would carry me to the shores of Middle Earth or Faerie?

My desire for this other world was so strong I decided to start breaking it down. What was it about those places that seemed more real than this place called Earth?

Here's some of the things I learned...

The Terrible Tangible

We have so carefully wrapped ourselves up in dreams and bubbles. We've shut the world out and live safely behind hidden screens of computers, TV and video games.

None of these things are wrong in proportion, but when most of our lives consist of us hiding behind these things we forget how to interact with the world outside our door.

We fear like Bilbo or Frodo Baggins that once we step onto the Road there's no knowing where we will be swept away.

Strangely enough, this is exactly what excites us about Narnia, Middle Earth and Faerie.

There's nothing to hide behind in those worlds. In those worlds the protagonist is forced to deal with the terrible tangible they find themselves in. Their fingernails are caked with dirt, the laugh lines on their faces are smudged with grime that won't come away.

To me this sounds beautiful and terrible. Terrible in the "totally awesome" sense. However, stick me in the middle of the forest and I'll start freaking out about all the little bugs that happen to cross my path. This is mostly because I like many others, spend a lot of my time, hiding behind the computer or TV.

I want this to change. I want to embrace life around me.

I want to get dirty.

Cultural Wells

Another vast difference I've seen about these other worlds is their traditions and the deep wells of culture that permeate every part of life.

Living in this modern time things like Common Sense are not common anymore. We live in an age where we can do what we want, when we want and we don't have to worry about how it will affect anyone else.

We get tattoos for the sake of getting a tattoo, we pierce our ears because everyone else is getting their ears pierced. We have trends that last for a moment and then we're forced to keep up with the newest and latest thing.

Unfortunately, these things sometimes mean the depth of our culture is lost. Why else does this current generation go looking for typewriters or old books, or suitcases from the 1920's?

We are searching for the depth of our culture, because what we have today only lasts for a moment. We're the microwave generation and demand everything now.

But, in these other worlds things take time- sometimes years.

People in these worlds still get tattoos, but they're given with a purpose. They're used to identify who they are or the call they have on their lives. People in these worlds still get piercings, but it's done for the sake of the life they lead.

Common Sense not only exists, but there's also the unspoken Rules of Conduct. Like the Welcome Cup, which whether you like the person or not, you will offer to them, because of common courtesy.

Men in these stories care more about honor than their own lives.

Have we fallen short of something key to our society in this?

Journey = Story, not Blip

When I look at people traveling in these other worlds it takes time to get anywhere.

With modern conveniences of cars and planes, our stories have started to lose some of their depth because we count those times in the car or on planes as the blip in the timeline, instead of counting them as big parts of the story.

If we counted the journey of Frodo and Sam as the blip to when they get to Mount Doom so much of their story would be gone and Sam's love and sacrifice would lose almost all of it's poignancy and depth.

So maybe our story is really in the journey and not the destination.

Magical, Mystical Mystery

I think one of the things I love more than anything is the Great Mystery permeating these stories.

Only in fantasy is it possible for many people to experience that magical mystery of a Creator, or Someone higher than them.

It's through these stories that we see more of what Love looks like in the flesh.

Aslan is a perfect example of this. Aslan is full of Majesty. He screams of mystery and magic. With one breath he turns stone into living flesh, with one growl he can scare the most evil witch. Even the massive water god waits for a small nod of approval from him before the god can wreck havoc on the bridge that's stopped its flow.

And the more you get to know him, the bigger he becomes because we can comprehend more about him.

Perhaps there is something about the idea of Magic that helps us come a little closer to the One who created us all. It's almost like magic opens a hidden door for us to experience more of His character.

My words fail me for the perfect description of the awesome, raw, amazingness of His Mystical Mysterious Self.

There's so much I could say about Fantasy awakening in us something unique, but I will leave you with this quote and let you mull if over for yourself. For if I gave you all the answers, then there would be no adventure and thrill of discovery for yourself. Not that I have it all figured out myself...

"...Stand by the ways and see and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is, and walk in it..."
-Jeremiah 6:16 


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, an independent film company. Where she gets to make movies for a living.

She loves creating stories & is currently writing a novel in her spare time, which she hopes to publish in the next year.

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

 

Thursday, April 14, 2016

The Holy Spirit: Author of Scripture

"First of all you must understand this, that no prophecy of scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation, because no prophecy ever came by the impulse of man, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoken from God." - John Piper

WOW. Think about that. Powerful stuff. I've been praying for God to inspire my writing, my poetry, my words. I expected this to happen right away. I even wrote an earlier post on it. And so I waited.

And waited.

And waited.

Nothing.

No word from Him.

Nothing.

And so

I threw a pity party. Poor, poor me. Cue the violin music. Turn it up. Louder. Louder!

Ahhhh, now it's a REAL party.

And so

I sulked.

And dropped more pity on poor little me.

And then

He spoke to me. And this is what He said.

"Robyn, you are not listening to Me. You're so consumed with self pity that you don't SEE what's in front of you. Have a seat in front of your computer. Now type Psalm 138:3."

 "In the day when I cried out, You answered me, and made me bold with strength in my soul."

I was ashamed. He reminded me of all He's done in my life. How could I forget so easily? All I could do was sob at His feet.

My writing? I'm writing poetry and revising the middle grade. I have just cut 160 words from a picture book.

And so

I will never forget the day of my awakening. The day when I really understood that He listens and cares even about the little things. Like the day last week when my Mac's battery passed away. :-) I was worried I'd lost everything. The computer would not turn on. I was told it should as long as it was hooked to the charger. The battery arrives today (the 13th here in America). I'm not concerned. I know He has this. I learned a valuable lesson. He cares about our words. If it matters to us, it matters to the Great Author of the universe.

I started this post with the words, First of all you must understand this.
I end with the words, know He listens to your smallest concerns. He cares about your writing. He really does. Make Him proud. I know I intend to. No more pity party. (Well, maybe not.) *wink*

My heart talked with the Maker
of life
My eyes saw what my soul
cried to see
A prayer had been answered
but not
no not
as I dreamed it should be.
The God of Heaven
came down
And with Radiant glory
He spoke to me.

(Rhyme not intended.)

Have you ever experienced what I did? Please tell me in the comments.
Love you all,
Your honorary Aussie friend.

P.S. I never put my photo up. I might break Blogger. 


Monday, April 11, 2016

Decluttering My Life by Nola Passmore



I walk into my home office and sit in front of the computer.  Everything I need is at my fingertips—neatly arranged trays containing current work, drawers housing stationary items in nifty little containers, a filing cabinet with everything sorted into sensible categories, and a bookshelf that would put the Dewey Decimal System to shame. Then the alarm clock goes off and I shake myself out of my dream. Dang! My office is actually the one in the picture above.  At least I had the good sense to move the bra off my desk before taking the photo!

As you can imagine, having an office like this doesn’t lead to an efficient writing life.  I know the old adage about ‘a place for everything and everything in its place’, but that assumes you actually have a spare spot where you can shove things as you find them.  I have no spare spots.  I have cupboards and bookshelves that have overflowed onto every available surface, like a lava flow from a volcanic eruption. 

I started sorting, with a view to throwing things out and making room.  But that’s when I hit another snag.  What do you do with a Super Bunny toy someone knitted you twenty years ago?  Where do you file a letter that gives instructions for your TV appearance on Jeopardy in 1976?  Should I keep the piece of embroidery I started in 1990 and never finished?  Where do I begin?



Over the last few months, God has shown me that my problem isn’t primarily one of being messy or lazy.  Okay, well maybe a little bit messy and lazy.  It also isn’t the result of being overly materialistic.  It goes deeper than that.  Why do I hang onto these things in the first place?

Two books have had a huge impact on me as I’ve navigated these issues.  One is Bill Hybel’s book Simplify.  As he notes, ‘simplified living requires more than just organizing your closets or cleaning out your desk drawer.  It requires uncluttering your soul.’ (p. 3)  Whether it’s taking control of your schedule and finances, making peace in your relationships, or finding work and recreation activities that feed your God-given passion, a simplified life enables you to become the person God intended you to be. 

However, as much as I love Hybels’ book and highly recommend it, I found I was still thinking of decluttering as a set of steps to be followed.  The message had gotten into my head, but not fully into my heart.  That changed when I read Lessons in Letting Go by Australian comedian Corinne Grant.  It’s a memoir that details how she developed a hoarding addiction, hit rock bottom, and eventually took back control of her life.  ‘Well this will be a bit of fun,’ I thought.  ‘She’s a comedian after all.’  I wasn’t expecting it to hit me between the eyes.

She talked about how she’d emotionally booby-trapped her house with things that didn’t reflect who she was or who she wanted to become.  I could relate to that.  I’d kept a lot of memorabilia of good times, but had also held onto things that weren’t good for me due to a mix of misplaced nostalgia, wanting to please others, and not being able to move on from regrets … and that’s just for starters.

After a day of sightseeing in a barren, Middle-eastern country, Grant offered this reflection:

… a part of me wanted to know what it would feel like to live in a place as empty as that all the time.  I imagined my flat back in Australia completely empty. No more hoarding, no more stuff, nothing there but me.  And I imagined myself, fearless in the face of regret, fearless in the face of what other people thought of me.  I lay on the bed and listened to that little voice deep inside me as it whispered, ‘Go on, jump’. (p. 166) 

That really resonated with me.  I’m not the same person I was thirty or forty years ago.  I don’t want to be the school kid who hardly answered any questions on Jeopardy because she was afraid to buzz in quickly and be heard.  I don’t want to be the Uni student who shoved her poetry collection in a drawer because a close friend didn’t think it would be published.  I don’t want to be the person who steers clear of certain topics in her writing because it might upset some friends and relatives.  I want to be able to jump fully into the life God has for me.

So, as I’m cleaning out my office, I’m also trying to let God clean out my heart.  To date, I have one tidy bookcase, two organised drawers, and one shelf in my cupboard that proves I never have to buy another notebook as long as I live. The heart stuff might take a little longer.  Just as well we’re all ‘works in progress’.



And for the record, I kept Super Bunny, took a digital photo of my Jeopardy letter before tossing the original in the bin, and donated my half-finished embroidery to my craft-maven mother.

What about you?  Are there things holding you back from being the writer God wants you to be?  I’d love to hear your stories.




Nola Passmore is a freelance writer who has had more than 150 short pieces published, including devotionals, true stories, poetry, short fiction, magazine articles and academic papers.  She and her husband Tim have their own freelance writing and editing business called The Write Flourish.  You can find her writing tips blog at their website: http://www.thewriteflourish.com.au


Thursday, April 7, 2016

Magnify the Creator


Number 10 book has arrived! It is always exciting to receive the long awaited box of books, whether it’s the first novel or the tenth. I’m definitely planning to celebrate, and am grateful to my readers, publisher and editors, as well as to my ancestors and the historians who have recorded so much interesting and important Australian history, all of whom have been crucial to my writing.

However, I’ve been reminded recently in my quiet time, that the greatest glory must always go to God. 

Max Lucardo puts this so well:
“God endows us with gifts so we can make Him known. Period. God endues the Olympian with speed, the salesman with savvy, the surgeon with skill. Why? For gold medals, closed sales, or healed bodies? Only partially. The big answer is to make a big to-do out of God. Brandish Him. Herald Him. “Each of you has received a gift to use to serve others. Be good servants of God’s various gifts of grace … so that in everything God will be praised through Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 4:10-11). Live so that power and glory belong to Him forever and ever. Exhibit God with your uniqueness. When you magnify your Maker with your strengths, when your contribution enriches God’s reputation, your days grow suddenly sweet. (From Cure for the Common Life).

So, as sweet as it is to see the finished product after months of writing and all that goes into a published book, the sweetest thing of all is to trust that in this story and all my others, I have in some way magnified my Creator, the One who enables and inspires me to write. I pray there has been a character, a phrase, an event, a choice, that has turned my readers’ minds to God. Have I heralded 
Him, brandished Him? Does my story magnify God, enrich His reputation? This is my greatest hope and my deepest joy.

This has been a timely reminder as my mind turns to further writing. If there’s to be another novel, then I want to ponder not only the plot, the personality of the main characters, the intrigue I might devise, the romance I can develop, the suspense I could create, or the perfect ending. I want to think very carefully and prayerfully about the character I will weave into my story, who is the Father figure, the Godly figure, the disciple figure; the one who points the way to God, whose choices are based on faith in God, whose life is guided by God’s spirit. However subtle or overt this is, it needs to be present, like yeast in bread, like a seed planted which will bring forth fruit in the right season.

I think I’m describing a parable. Do we use our gift as writers to create parables? Should we? Jesus’s parables were so clever. The message was often hidden from the hearer, at least for a time. It took a searching heart, He said, to understand the real meaning. When the time was right for the hearer, their spiritual eyes would be open to the truth contained in the stories He told. And yet for those who were ready, the message was clear, cutting, life changing.
I want any future stories I write to be such parables.  The prospect excites me.

So after the celebration of Beyond the Fight, I hope I can look forward to more sweet days where I can give glory to the One who enables me to serve Him, where I can magnify my Creator, enrich His reputation in whatever aspect of my life He calls me to do so.

May your days also be sweeter for the same reason.

It does not belong to us, Lord. The glory belongs to you because of your love and loyalty.            Psalm 115:1

Carol


Carol writes historical novels based on her family ancestry in Australia from the First Fleet. They include the Turning the Tide series; Mary’s Guardian, Charlotte’s Angel, Tangled Secrets and Truly Free. Her earlier novels Suzannah’s Gold and Rebecca’s Dream have been re-released by EBP. Next of Kin, was released last year by Rhiza Press and her latest novel, Beyond the Fight, has just been released. You can see more about Carol and her novels on her website, her Amazon author page or FB author page .



Monday, April 4, 2016

Calling Australian and New Zealand Christian Writers!

by Iola Goulton

Entries for the 2016 CALEB Prize are open









Omega Writers have announced that they will again be running the CALEB Prize in 2016. The CALEB awards were inaugurated under the leadership of Anne Hamilton, who said:

CALEB is an acronym: it stands for Christian Authors Lifting Each other’s Books. That’s why Omega Writers sponsor the CALEB Prize. It’s about giving all entrants a higher profile for their books, regardless of whether they win or not . . . Promoting excellence, for the glory of God, so that the highest quality books are given that little bit of extra ‘oomph’.
Simon Kennedy, current President of Omega Writers, says:
Omega Writers exists to educate, support and inspire Australasian Christian writers towards excellence, impacting society with grace and truth. We want our words to change the world.
There are three categories for the 2016 CALEB Prize for faith-inspired writing:
  • Published Children’s Picture Book
  • Published Fiction
  • Unpublished Manuscript
It is hoped that more categories can be added in future years . . . but for that to happen, Omega Writers needs volunteers to organize and judge categories. I’d encourage you to prayerfully consider this—I’ve found judging competitions is a valuable help to my own writing and editing.

Who can enter?

Residents and citizens of Australia and New Zealand with books published during the 2014 or 2015 calendar years (so, yes, missionaries based overseas are eligible to enter).

Can self-published books enter?

Yes, as long as the book was produced as a paperback or hardcover. Digital-only ebooks aren’t eligible (but if you want to enter your self-published ebook, you do have time to publish paper copies via CreateSpace or IngramSpark).

Does my entry have to be Christian?

No, but it does have to be inspired by some aspect of your Christian faith, and it must reflect language, themes and a world view that honour Christ. The motto of Omega Writers is Words that change the world: that’s probably a clue as to what the judges will be looking for.

Will I get feedback on my entry?

All entrants to the Unpublished manuscript category will receive feedback on their entry.

When will I find out if I’ve won?

There will be two rounds of judging. A shortlist for each category will be published in September, and the winners of each category and the overall winner will be announced at a Gala dinner to be held at the Omega Writer’s Conference on 29 October 2016.

What are the prizes?

Category winners will each receive a cash prize of AUD 250, and an engraved trophy. The overall winner will receive an additional cash prize of AUD 500, an engraved trophy, plus AUD 300 towards the fees for any Omega Writers conference or workshop over the following 12 months.

If I win the Unpublished prize, will my book be published?

It’s a possibility—that decision isn’t up to Omega Writers! But at least two Australian publishers of faith-inspired fiction are expected to be present at the awards dinner, so who knows?

How much does it cost to enter the CALEB Prize?

AUD 50 for members of Omega Writers, and AUD 60 for non-members. You can join Omega Writers for AUD 52 per year.

When do entries close?

Monday 18 April 2016. Additional information and entry instructions are on the Omega Writers website: http://www.omegawriters.org/events/caleb-prize-submissions/

Omega Writers Conference

The conference will run from 28-30 October, and will be held at the Edmund Rice Retreat and Conference Centre in Sydney. Further details will be announced once program details have been finalized—applications to present a session, lead a workshop or participate as part of a panel are open until 16 April. An Expression of Interest form is available on the Omega Writer’s website, at http://www.omegawriters.org/conference-2016/.

For those organized types who are already on the lookout for cheap earlybird airfares, there will be a shuttle bus from Sydney Airport to the venue on Friday afternoon, departing at 1:30pm. A return shuttle will go on Sunday afternoon, leaving the venue at 1:30pm and Omega say “it is expected to take about an hour to reach the airport” (if Sydney traffic is anything like Auckland traffic, that should probably read “at least”. I look forward to being proven wrong).

Are you planning to enter the CALEB Awards, attend the conference or both?


Do you have any questions about the CALEB Awards? 


Simon Kennedy, President of Omega Writers, has promised to drop in later today and answer any questions, so now is your chance.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

7Ks and Beyond



Are you presently grappling with a writing project? Do you feel you’ve hit a patch of resistance and wonder whether the work’s ever going to gain momentum? I’m in the process of readying my third YA manuscript, Activate, for professional edits. You might think by this stage of the YA series, the creative process would have great traction, but I must confess there’ve been many points of wrestling along that manuscript development path.
When contemplating some early revision challenges, I was reminded of a conversation I’d had with a friend who’d been doing a lot of long distance running. (Think half-marathons.) They mentioned how the 7Km mark still hurt, each and every time they hit it. (Personally, I think the 1Km mark is more where things start to bite ... but anyway ...) No matter how many times they ran longer distances, there was still a point where they had to break through fatigue and bodily resistance, before they’d find their rhythm and settle into their run.

I believe we’re called to share words that move hearts, change lives, and bring hope into a world where things don’t always seem hopeful. Resistance is a given. But my friend’s comment got me thinking. Maybe some of that grappling we experience when developing a manuscript beyond the initial raw draft, is a little like finding our writing rhythm.

A decade ago I began studying creative writing at a post-graduate level. This involved writing to set criteria, including submitting a proposal at the outset of a project, along with providing a sample of a VERY raw early draft. I swiftly learned that once I’d settled onto an idea, there just wasn’t time to mess about changing my mind if it seemed things weren’t working. Another valuable lesson was that I couldn’t edit nothing.

Often when we hit resistance in life, we’re tempted to jump out of the process; to change the topic; to run in the opposite direction. Our writing habits can reflect this general response. (Anyone else out there with half a dozen or more ‘first chapters’ hidden in a folder somewhere?)

As you might remember, I’m a great believe in timing, and resistance may also be an indicator that the timing isn’t quite right for a certain project. Yet, there is an element of discipline we must apply to our writing. I’m beginning to suspect that in every writing project, not matter how many writing years are under our belt, we’ll encounter a ‘7Km mark’ (or few!), where it can be tempting to give up and start something different. But just as sticking at a task eventually sees progress, I believe we grow as writers when we persist in the face of manuscript development challenges, especially when working to set criteria or topics.

Granted, there are times we need to put work aside for a season. To move forward, it’s also important to connect with other more experienced writers, seek feedback and invest in our craft. But if you feel you have a story to share and it’s just not coming together, maybe you’ve met your 7Km mark. Don’t give up. Your rhythm might be found just another kilometre away.

Queensland author Adele Jones writes young adult and historical novels, poetry and short inspirational, fiction and non-fiction works. Her first YA novel Integrate was awarded the 2013 CALEB Prize for unpublished manuscript. Her writing explores issues of social justice, humanity, faith, natural beauty and meaning in life’s journey. For more visit www.adelejonesauthor.com or contact@adelejonesauthor.com