Monday, October 20, 2014

His Hand or His Face?

Photo courtesy of David Castillo/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

One of the things I pray a lot about is seeking direction; or for confirmation that I’m doing the right thing. Do you do that?

My work life tends to be lumpy. The life of a consultant tends to be like that, however, in recent times there have been less lumps, meaning less projects and less income. I’m continually seeking God for clarity regarding my career.

As most of us writers know there are very few of us who are earning significant enough monies from our efforts that we’re able to go without other employment.

And what about all the clarity we seek with our writing? Do I keep pursuing publication, but isn’t this my calling, do I go the indie route, why won’t this story come out the way it should, well that $7 royalty cheque sure makes it all worthwhile, and on on we can go.

Clarity 

A while back I read this story about Mother Teresa that provides some great perspective. Many of you may be familiar with it. It goes something like this:

John Kavanagh went to Calcutta to work with Mother Teresa. While there, he asked her to pray for him. “What should I pray for?” she asked.
“Pray that I may have clarity,” he replied.
Mother Teresa responded, “No, I will not pray for that.”
“Why?” he asked.
“Clarity is the last thing you cling to,” she said. Kavanagh then remarked that she always seemed to have clarity.
She said, “I have never had clarity. What I always had is trust. So I will pray that you trust God.”
Too often I’m got caught seeking His Hand, rather than His face.

If God always gave us the answers, we wouldn’t need Him. Yes, clarity is wonderful but sometimes when we have it we head off and start running the race by ourselves rather than leaning on the Lord. We can find too much comfort and security while trusting in God requires us to continually come to the Cross seeking Him.

He’s interested in the journey, teaching us more about Himself and helping us to better understand ourselves. We’re all probably familiar with the line or one of its many variants:

“God is more interested in who we are becoming than what we actually achieve.”

Many of us love the story of Abraham. God told him to up and leave his homeland without giving any instructions as to where to go. Yes, God gave him a wonderful blessing at the same time but he still had no clarity as to where he was supposed to take his little family.

As that great Proverb says:

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge Him,
and He will make your paths straight.” (Prov 3:5-6)

If you’re going through an unsettling season of change or indecision, may I encourage you to seek Jesus, seek to be in His Presence, not for what He can do for us.




Ian Acheson is an author and strategy consultant based in Northern Sydney. Ian's first novel of speculative fiction, Angelguard, is now available in the US, UK, Canada and Australia. You can find more about Angelguard at Ian's website, on his author Facebook page and Twitter

Thursday, October 16, 2014

A Tuscan Writing Retreat by Elaine Fraser


Creativity flourishes when we slow down for a while, take time out of our regular routine and responsibilities and focus on nourishing our creative souls.

In September,  I arrived at the Borgo Caiano to join The Art of Writing retreat. The other participants and I were seeking a place to pause, reflect and to be inspired.

We found it in the Casentino region of Tuscany, a place of meditation, historic farmhouses and medieval sanctuaries. Dante and Francis of Assisi found something special in this region too.




If you ever watched Under The Tuscan Sun and dreamed of running away to your own Tuscan adventure, you’ll know how excited I was to be in this fabulous place.

As we sat around the table and introduced ourselves on that first night, it was obvious that everyone had a story and something they wanted to produce—short stories, memoir, novels, blogs and poetry. 

We were here to pause for a while and concentrate on our writing, guided by our tutors Lisa Clifford, Jane Corry and Conrad Williams.


Each day was an exercise in creative growth. In this quiet retreat, we were far away from shops, cafes, traffic jams, jobs, family—anything that would draw us away from the reason we were there. It was a pilgrimage of sorts as we sought to unlock the writer within.


Our only excursion was to a castle and then a sheep farm. At the farm we milked sheep and watched as Lorenzo formed the milk into cheese. 

This was a welcome break from the tutorials and critique sessions. The richness of the surroundings and hospitality warmed our hearts and inspired our minds.



I think a few odes to tomatoes may have been written after dinner with the Cipriani family.



In this quiet pause, each person discovered something the story within, birthed something new, or discovered the courage to complete a work begun in their hearts and minds long before the retreat.

The fellowship between the participants was beautiful. It as if we had all been destined to be there at that particular time, with that particular group of people. It was meant to be.

In setting aside a week to be mindful in our writing, we also became mindful of our surroundings. Each moment became an inspiration, a spark and memory that will enrich our lives and creative work.

I’d like to think that I brought some of this mindfulness home with me. I’m trying to slow down, pay attention to the moments and see the miracles in the every day.

The Bible tells us to be still and know that He is God. Being still, unless we are asleep, is not a common state most of us live in. We are so busy rushing and doing, that we forget to just be.


I found that in this beautiful pause, I had time to be still and let the creativity in me flourish. Stillness and intentionality in our everyday, even in the shortest of pauses, is worth pursuing.











Elaine Fraser
Author at Beautiful Books
Find out more at: www.beautifulbooks.co

Monday, October 13, 2014

Take Every Phrase Captive by Jo Wanmer

I was pleased with the story. It met the criteria! It was different, unexpected. All I had to do was make sure it adhered to the 750 word limit. If not, I was confident I could cut a few words.
Wait! 1250 words! How did that happen? Last time I'd checked it was 350.

The first edit knocked out 150, the second another 50. There was still three hundred words to be eliminated. Sentences, assessed as essential in previous edits, disappeared. Even whole paragraphs. What was the criteria for deletion? 'Does the plot survive without this information?' When I submitted the story, it won a place in a book titled 'Mixed Blessings.' Forty percent of the words had been deemed unnecessary. In truth, the exercise had sharpened the entry.

The next day, I scanned the finalist list of the Caleb unpublished manuscript awards. My book, El Shaddai, was not listed. Firmly I reminded myself, 'You entered to get the feedback. You knew it wasn't in good enough shape to win.' A report,ten pages long, had arrived some weeks earlier. Excited, I had looked for critical feedback, any comment that would help to raise the standard of my manuscript.

What I found stunned me. The work, in the reviewer's opinion, needed a major structural edit as the climax was not near the end of the book. I grappled with the comment. Due to previous edits I knew there were very few pages after the climax. Flicking through the report I discovered the problem. The reader had missed the entire plot.

It took a week to interpret the learning I'd paid an entry fee to acquire. The plot, albeit unusual, was not written clearly enough. One of the subplots had jumped up and usurped the position. This work doesn't need a structural edit, but a strengthening of the story line. Yes, I received my money's worth and my pride will recover!

A week later I discussed this problem with my co-author, otherwise known as the Holy Spirit. I was driving at the time. It is one of those occasions when the particular roundabout will forever be burned into my memory.

'Just as you did with the short piece, take every scene, every sentence, every phrase captive and make it obey.'

Obey what? Scripture calls me to make my thoughts obey Christ, but what must this manuscript obey?

Then the penny dropped. I hadn't really defined the aim of this book. It had begun with a vague idea and developed into a great story.

Belatedly, I wrote a synopsis. It summarised the plot, but there was still something missing.

Why does this book exist? That was the question. What right does it have to find a place in the mountain of writings and novels flooding our bookstores, ipads and airwaves? Why should anyone choose to read this story?

I'm reminded I write to bring a message. At a 'Purpose Driven Life' seminar many years ago, my life was reduced to five words. 'I exist to inspire greatness.' It may sound arrogant, but I love to encourage people to higher levels of faith, love, achievement and joy. This phrase has become a yardstick in my life. My writing must be consistent with my purpose.

Likewise, my book needed a purpose statement. How does it inspire my readers to grow? Every scene, every sentence, every phrase must be taken captive and made obey that criteria.

Now I have the aim and the plot clear, it's time to start work. I'm excited. The 'Delete' box may need to be emptied a few times, but the manuscript will be sharper.

How do you sharpen your work? Any tips for this 'L' plate author?

Jo Wanmer loves the beach, but writes from a messy desk, looking over her backyard in the outskirts of Brisbane. Often her fingers are much slower than the ideas, rendering the manuscript a mess of red squiggles. Other times the fingers hang over the keys begging the right words to drop onto the page. To her delight her first book, Though the Bud be Bruised, is still bring healing and inspiration into lives. 'El Shaddai', and 'In the Shadow of El Shaddai' are still being forced to conform to publishable standards.



Thursday, October 9, 2014

THE NEXT CHAPTER by Rita Galieh

What will He write in the way of recording my life and yours?

My first chapter began at birth and followed my growing up years until I reached school age. Then followed fairly uneventful teens filled with longings I didn't fully understand.
Then I grew up only to discover the chapter of romance and love and being cherished in return. I also learned about conflict and resolution. A few years later I became a mother and found another love in my life. Then the chapters fly by and I believe there are more to be written, but I still wonder about the culmination of all that's been written in my final chapter.

His Word, the Holy Bible, was written by His scribes. Even so He is the Author. No one can add or take away from this precious book. It stands for all time unedited.

He is my wise all-knowing Heavenly Father. He is also the lover of my soul who is always there to listen to me...ME! The wonder of this never ceases to amaze me.

He allows things to happen I would never choose for myself. But when I look back I can see the purpose. Sometimes a case of correcting, sometimes a time of learning. Often the special training for patience because He knows I hate waiting. Yet everything, yes, everything is for my good. And only a loving father does that.

My name is already written in His BOOK of LIFE, but there are still many chapters to be written and I cannot read between the lines. And being human with a free will, I can make a host of mistakes. That is why He took the trouble to give us HIS STORY which is even more than mere history. We are privileged to read the Manufacturer's Directions every day... if we choose. And so many genres! Poetry, history, love songs, praise songs, prophecies, guidelines and more ... it's all there.

What will my next chapter be? I can plan a rough outline of my life, but desire His will not mine. He knows best as I've proved so many times in my life. And He wants the best for me ... and you. To think He loves us so much He gave His only Son, Jesus as a sacrifice to pay the penalty for all those sins of ours!

Oh yes, my Lord is a God of variety creating us to fulfil His purposes. And best of all, following Him is NEVER DULL. Our lives can be real page turners when He is in control.

What will be the next chapter in your life? 

*  Rita Stella Galieh is a scriptwriter and co-speaker on Vantage Point,   a 5 minute program broadcast throughout Australia. She is now with the
Living Word Literary Agency and at a "waiting state" for a publisher to accept her manuscript. As a contributor to several US Anthologies by
Adams Media, she has two Historical Romances published by Ark House Press. Each year she and her husband minister in Buddhist Government schools, prisons, hospitals, shopping malls, and churches in Thailand.

http://inspirationalromance.blogspot.com  
Follow me on Twitter  @RSGalieh

Thursday, October 2, 2014

What is CWD's Mission Statement? by Nola Passmore




Christian Writers Downunder (CWD) started in mid-2011 as a way of connecting Christian writers.  As the name suggests, most of our members are from Australia and New Zealand, though we also have some from further afield.  Through the CWD Facebook page and the bi-weekly blog, we seek to encourage each other, provide tips, share prayer points and circulate news relevant to Christian writers.  However, I’ve been thinking lately about our aim. 

I was asked to take over the coordination of the group at the beginning of 2014. Anusha Atukorala is also an administrator.  In thinking about our purpose, we considered how we might fit within the broader spectrum of Christian writing groups.  Obviously there will be overlap among groups as we all seek to serve the body of Christ and the wider community.  However, we should clarify our main goals. 

The following is a draft CWD mission statement.  We’d be interested in hearing your feedback. (N.B. Although we’ve used the word ‘writers’, we also mean those in related fields such as editing, publishing, and illustrating.)

  • To glorify God with our writing.
As Christian writers, we seek to put God first and honour Him in our writing.  This doesn’t necessarily mean that every piece we write has a specific Christian message.  However, the fact that we are Christians means that everything we write is imbued with a Christian worldview; whether we’re writing a non-fiction book for the Christian market, a mainstream novel with more subtle faith themes, a ‘how-to’ article for a magazine, or a personal blog.  As it says in Colossians 3:17, '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'.

Honouring God in our writing also means that we endeavour to live a life that is consistent with His Word (e.g. demonstrating a servant attitude, ethical behaviour, love, forgiveness, patience, perseverance, generosity, gratitude).  In this way, we will not bring discredit on the message He has given us to share.

  • To develop our God-given creative gifts.
God has given each of us gifts to be used in building His Kingdom, including creative gifts such as writing.  However, we still need to hone our gifts to be the best we can be at our craft.  The Apostle Paul reminded Timothy to ‘fan into flame the gift of God’ that was in him (2 Tim. 1:6).  Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Commentary describes it this way (p. 1611):

The desire to discover, develop, and deploy our specific spiritual gifts should be like a fire blazing within us.  The constant struggle of Christians is to be diligent about our work for God and not to slacken our pace in the spiritual race.  We need to make a conscious effort to exercise our gift for the common good of the body of Christ.

If we apply this admonition to writing, it doesn’t mean that we’ll be perfect.  Even the world’s best-selling authors still need to sharpen their skills.  However, whether we’re a beginner with no publications or a seasoned professional with many books under our belt, we can all strive for excellence in what we do.  This may involve finding a critique partner, joining a writing group, doing a course, reading writing books and magazines, or attending writer’s conferences.  The point is that we’re seeking to develop our gifts.

  • To encourage other Christian writers.
In 1 Thessalonians 5:11, we’re instructed to 'encourage one another and build each other up'.  For writers, this could include providing constructive critique, reviewing a book, praying for other writers and writing groups, mentoring a less experienced writer, and providing support in practical ways (e.g. helping with marketing).

Encouraging others also implies that we value each other's gifts and genres.  We want to create an atmosphere where everyone feels welcome, whether novice or pro, full-time writer or dabbler.  Perhaps you love science fiction or fantasy novels, but don't have as much affection for romance or historical fiction.  Maybe you prefer biographies to poetry, or children's books to screenplays.  In spite of our preferences, we can still lift each other up and spur each person to be all they were created to be, for the glory of God the Father.

Encouraging each other doesn't just mean focusing on positive things or patting each other on the back. We should be free to give honest feedback so that 'iron sharpens iron' (Prov. 27:17). However, we do it in the context of relationships such that we are 'speaking the truth in love' (Eph. 4:15).

The goal of encouragement doesn't just apply to individuals, but to our support of other Christian writing groups.  We all have a part to play, just as Paul and Apollos each had different roles in partnering with God (see 1 Corin. 3:5-9).  Let's work together as a community of Christian writers, editors, publishers and illustrators; knowing that we can achieve more together than alone.

As noted earlier, this is a draft mission statement.  We would love to hear your honest feedback, whether you agree or disagree.  Have we left out anything important?  Are there some things in the list that we’ve over-emphasised?  We look forward to your thoughts and suggestions.



Nola Passmore is a freelance writer who has had more than 120 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).

Monday, September 29, 2014

Dealing with Diversity by Jo-Anne Berthelsen

I’m going to say it up front. I think authors are a courageous lot! In fact, any creative person who risks putting his or her work out there for others to peruse or assess or admire or love or tear to shreds deserves a huge dose of heartfelt encouragement, in my opinion.

In recent weeks, the first draft of my second memoir has begun the rounds of my three manuscript readers/editors. In conversation with one of these good people, I saw again how diverse our reading preferences are, let alone our approach to life in general.

‘I would never want to be as open about things as you are,’ she told me, ‘but if you’re fine with it, then that’s all that matters. I guess that’s one reason I don’t like the whole genre of memoir very much. I prefer to live in the moment and get on with things rather than dwell on the past and think about everything in such detail.’

‘That’s okay,’ I told her. ‘We’re all different. But I would still value your comments. And I’m happy for you to mark any sections where you feel I've been too introspective or made too much of certain incidences in my life. After all, I don’t want to bore anyone too much.’

Later, I remembered the reception my first memoir, Soul Friend, received two years ago. Many faithful readers of my novels loved it. Some encouraged me to write more non-fiction. Some did not give me any feedback—and their silence spoke volumes. Some did not buy it because they prefer novels. Those who never read fiction were delighted I had finally come up with a memoir instead of yet another novel. I gained a whole new group of readers—but I lost some as well. And through this experience, I decided there was little point in trying to please everyone.

Then, in preparing my memoir writing workshop for the Christian Writers’ Conference next month (see http://www.christianwritersconference.dx.am/), I decided to read a few more books on memoir. Lo and behold, I discovered thoughts about memoir I had never even considered when writing my own—let alone agreed with. As well, I read a variety of memoirs and, in the process, found myself quite bored with several of them. They were far too inward-looking, even for me, with one or two almost becoming bogged in that mire of introspection and description of minutiae. Yet some had received glowing reviews. And some had even won prestigious awards. In the end, I realised again that, even within one reasonably narrow genre, we cannot hope to please everyone.

So, what’s to be done? First and foremost, let’s make sure our security lies in who we are in God and not in what anyone thinks of our work. Yes, we need to listen to all those writing critiques, take on board what we need to and improve as much as we can. But let’s remember we will never please everyone. Second, let’s learn to listen well to God’s Spirit, the Encourager, speaking to us in that still, small voice every moment of the day as we write. And third, as faithful companions on this crazy writing journey we have undertaken, let’s keep on encouraging—that is, ‘putting courage into’—one another in whatever familiar or diverse way we can.


Jo-Anne Berthelsen lives in Sydney but grew up in Brisbane. She holds degrees in Arts and Theology and has worked as a high school teacher, editor and secretary, as well as in local church ministry. Jo-Anne is passionate about touching hearts and lives through both the written and spoken word. She is the author of six published novels and one non-fiction work, Soul Friend: the story of a shared spiritual journey. Jo-Anne is married to a retired minister and has three grown-up children and four grandchildren. For more information, please visit www.jo-anneberthelsen.com.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Combining the Creative Strands




Many of us creative types would realize that we are often blessed with creativity that runs deeply in several veins of our lives, whether it be music, dance, writing or art. We may not practice all of these things, but certainly we can have a love for several.

I, for one, have a passion for the Arts in several areas - music, film, visual arts and creative writing. However, my talents lie in creative narrative and visual art. So how can I successfully cross-pollinate these areas of my life to shine out what I want to share with the world? With some of us, it comes naturally; others have to learn to manage and balance.

I found for me that what I work on creatively comes and goes in seasons. I sense where I’m at within myself and I don’t try to force it. (And often you have to allow yourself space to do this.) If a commission job comes in, I find motivation to work on it, but I still allow myself the freedom within the correct time-frames to work in a way that allows me to keep it fresh and inspired. Whilst working on my current novel, I will surround myself with images and music that reflects the themes and time periods without distracting the flow of my imagination.

In both writing and painting, I find the best way to condition myself into the correct mindset is to do some warm-up activities. If it's writing, I will open a blank document, pick a random object or the first thing that pops into my head and simply write whatever comes to mind…in painting, I will grab a blank canvas or paper and just draw – without a reference image or video camera set up. Just to loosen myself up and at the ready.

Which ever way you chose to get yourself inspired ready to work, know that it’s an individual thing and that we’re all wired differently. Don’t be too hard on yourself, but allow yourself plenty of time. If your project is stressing you, move away from it and do something else. But ultimately, I’ve found that having the ability to both enjoy and engage in more than one creative discipline helps rather than hinders the creative flow in my life. Currently, I work on my novel during set times of the day, but when I enter into the evening, I find relaxation in pulling out the canvas and paintbrushes.

If you would like to see some of my current projects, please feel free to visit my website and YouTube channel. I always love hearing feedback for my artwork as well as my writing, so feel free to share and/or leave comments.

Skye Elizabeth Wieland

Website:

YouTube Art playlist:


Monday, September 22, 2014

Stylish me...........
Di Riley


I am a conservative sort of girl. 

Fashion styles come and go, but mostly, I stick to what I know suits me.
(Fashion designers would go out of business very quickly if they were relying on me!)

I know many join the throng of hopping into what's 'on trend' with what 'somebody-out-there' declares is fashionable for the season.
Thankfully we are created differently.  
Thankfully there are many styles to suit us all, whether it is in the fashion arena or at the book store.
I read with great interest the recent post by Adele (Intergalactic Avian Mutants on the Prairie) on reading outside your own genre and indeed reading a wider variety of books.

A friend asked me, just before she headed off on an overseas holiday, what I would recommend for her to read to pass the hours away on the plane.  
(Poor girl got half an hour of me talking up our great Aussie authors)

My friend and I have, over the years, enjoyed many of the same authors.  As our conversation went on, we ended up discussing writing styles and why we had 'gone off' one particular author from overseas.

Our discussion (and the CWD post) got me thinking and marveling again at how great God is.

God's creation with the stars in the heavens declaring His glory.

The lavender in my garden and their touch from God's imagination, of such a delightful perfume.  

Even the strange bird who comes back to a nearby tree each Spring and sings at 4 am.
All are fearfully and wonderfully made by God to add to our world's rich textures.
The pinnacle of God's creation - us, we are alike, but oh so different.

The style with which each of us write, gifts given by God to bless others.

Our toil is not in vain regardless of your style or mine.

(I am sure the author my friend and I have left behind, has found a new audience to bless with her different style).

As Christian Writers Downunder the Lord is glorified and many are blessed with the words we write

May we continue to serve the Lord with zeal, and the style we are inspired to write with.

 You can find out more about me and my thoughts www.dianneriley.com.au 

Thursday, September 18, 2014

A tribute to Stealth Authors and Artists


 A geocache we discovered. A perfect example of anonymous generosity, in the spirit of stealth gardeners, writers and artists. 

I visited Great Britain when I was a University student. It was a holiday with my parents, and we visited a countless number of breathtaking churches and cathedrals. The abundance of stone craft and marble work amazed us. There were Biblical heroes with finely-honed facial expressions, and anatomical details, such as veins and Adam's apples, which we would never have imagined could be chipped into stone. A little creepier were the models on top of tombs and crypts of the people who lay beneath; kings, queens and statesmen staring up at us. What intrigued me most was the incredibly high quality of these works of art.

We all associate the Statue of David with its creator, Michelangelo, to the extent that both names are paired together instantly all around the world. But these long ago British craftsmen, whose work had just as much of a Wow factor for me, remain anonymous. If we looked closely enough, we might have seen tiny initials etched into the clay or stone, but just as often we couldn't. It would seem the artists were working solely for love of it, and to bring God glory. It was simply their calling. Being unacknowledged didn't seem to enter their heads or detract from the standard of their work.

I wondered whether writers would be equally happy to remain unnoticed, for even the most self-effacing author knows that his name will appear on the cover of his book, along with the title. Since I asked myself that question, excellent modern authors, who don't mind reminding anonymous, have been drawn to my attention everywhere.

My husband is a musician trying to build a repertoire of old songs, as he plays for senior citizens in nursing homes. He and I have been listening to the free Pandora radio station on our Ipad, especially interested to read the histories of the bands and solo artists who are being highlighted. There are pages and pages of well-written information, including great descriptions, fantastic imagery and impeccable research. Yet the authors don't sign their names. They make me think of the thousands of people who spend painstaking hours editing information on Wikipedia, not to earn a name for themselves but because they are passionate about the topics.

You might have heard about Stealth Gardeners. Their hobby is also known as Guerilla gardening. They creep out at night and beautify ugly patches of land and other eyesores, at the risk of being arrested for trespassing. Personally, I'd welcome them anytime they wanted to visit my place. I guess the Wiki editors and other people who write content for websites may consider themselves Stealth Writers. 

I find these people such an encouraging example. When we're working at fulfilling our calling, there is no rule that says we always need our name connected to it? If that's necessary, we may be working in the wrong spirit. Those of us who have written books and articles may consider their anonymous examples. Some of our work, although not completely secret, may be more hidden, such as blog posts that disappear into cyberspace and book reviews which join hundreds of others. If we're tempted to skimp and not put as much TLC into these things as we do for our more visible work, perhaps we should consider our motivations. Even our smaller bursts of writing may be little geocaches, which may be discovered by anyone at any time.


I take my hat off to big-hearted people everywhere, who are simply committed to making the world a more beautiful place through their passions, even if it's anonymously. Just below is a photo taken last week at the beach. The work of art sitting beside me is a good example of what I'm talking about. Although the plaque is there near my feet, who bothers to stop and read plaques? Not me apparently, for I cannot tell you the name of the fun artist, but I enjoyed his (or her) input.


Paula Vince is a South Australian author of contemporary, inspirational fiction. She lives in the beautiful Adelaide Hills, with its four distinct seasons, and loves to use her environment as settings for her stories. Her novel, 'Picking up the Pieces' won the religious fiction section of the International Book Awards in 2011, and 'Best Forgotten' was winner of the CALEB prize the same year. She is also one of the four authors of 'The Greenfield Legacy', Australia's first and only collaborated Christian novel. Her most recent novel, 'Imogen's Chance' was published April 2014. For more of Paula's reflections, please visit her blog, It Just Occurred to Me. You may also like to visit her book review blog, The Vince Review where she also interviews other authors.


Monday, September 15, 2014

Thankful Times Ten


With the way things are in our world and all the trouble going on in various places, it is very easy to become despondent. Instead of being despairing and negative, it makes me thankful for the country we live in and the freedom we have in this land. Being an island has its advantages.

The almost constant rain we have experienced recently is another bone of contention for a lot of people at present. I admit rain affects my equilibrium very quickly. So instead of complaining about our world and the rain which was pouring as I typed this, I decided to praise God for a warm dry house that has not let in one drop of water during the onslaught.

The reality is it’s always easy to see the negatives instead of the positives. So I decided to make a list of some positives in my life.

First is having a relationship with the living God and knowing that no matter what happens He is always in charge. Even if I don’t understand what is happening or why, God knows and has a perfect plan.

The second positive is having a husband who shares that faith.  I can’t imagine how hard it must be in a marriage where one is a believer and the other is not. It would be like being pulled in two different directions.

My third thing to be thankful for is a son and a daughter who are following the Lord and serving Him. They married Christians and are now bringing up the next generation to believe in God and follow Him. As I talk to some Christians whose children have walked away from God and His teaching, I realise how blessed we are.

Fourth is living where we live on the beautiful south coast of New South Wales.

Just to go for a walk along the bay is such a blessing. To see that bay at sunrise and know God has given us another day is something to be thankful for. This was the sunrise last Christmas morning. What stunning colours. Like a special Christmas gift from God.   

Living where I am, may mean that I am not living as close to family as I would like,  or that sometimes I can’t travel to get to events or that shopping for certain items is difficult but despite the negatives I wouldn’t swap it.

Fifth is belonging to a church where God’s Word is faithfully preached.

Sixth being involved in that church and being able to serve the Lord as part of the music ministry. Music is such a blessing in life and I don’t only mean church music but lots of different kinds of music. Just as I can’t imagine a church service without music, I can’t imagine a world without music.

Seventh, I’m thankful for eyesight to be able to see the wonders of God’s creation around us, whether that is the scarlet and blue rosellas, the king parrots, the kangaroos that inhabit our area or a flower in the garden or maybe one in a pot indoors.


Eight is the gift of friends who care about us, who spend fun times with and who will pray with and for us.

Ninth is the gift of words- whether we are using them to write a poem, devotional, novel or to share the gospel truth with another person in conversation.

Tenth is books. To be able to read firstly God’s Book and learn more about him. But also to be able to read novels, poetry, biographies, articles.

It would be easy to keep going of things to be thankful for. But this is enough for now. What I would like though is to hear one or two things you are thankful for.
Dale writes fiction, poetry and children’s fiction, and has written bible studies and Sunday school lessons. As well as writing and reading, Dale loves to sing. She is involved in the music ministry at her church. More information about Dale can be found at www.daleharcombe.com or on her Write and Read with Dale blog http://www.livejournal.com/users/orangedale/
 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Support an author when you have no money to buy books

I am a single mum with two kids and I love books. As much as would love to buy all the books my writing friends publish, I just can't afford it (and I'm rapidly running out of shelf space!). I know I'm not the only one out there in this situation.

There are a lot of authors talking about the only way you can support them is to buy their books. There are other ways.



Here are some tips to support your fellow authors if you have no money:

Request the book at your library - I am a member of my local library and have become good friends with the librarians. If there is a book I want to read, or my kids want to read, we request the book at the library and they purchase it for us. There is a program by the government called "Lending Rights" so authors who are registered don't miss out on royalties and the books are available for other library members to read.

There have been a couple of times I've suggested the library get in books that I have purchased and loved. Because I know the librarians, I usually drop them an email with the details of the book so I don't have to reserve it, and they often get these books in.

Buy a gift - I know that even if I have no money, I do have money set aside for gifts. I've been known to buy books from my author friends as gifts for friends and with either read the book before I give it, or give the gift with a request to read the book after they have read it! This still gives the author a sale and I get to read the book.

Add to your wish list - my birthday is coming up in October and already I'm getting family asking what I want as a gift. I'm prepared with a list of books I would love to read and own. This is one of the easiest ways to get a new book and support some of your favourite authors - ask people to give them to you as gifts for your birthday, Christmas, or other gift giving occasion.

Spread the word - If you've heard good things about your friends books and you don't have the money to buy a copy, you can still shout it from the rooftops that there is a new book out there. You can participate in blog tours, interview authors or characters on your blog, share the links through your social media channels, and simply talk about the books and authors.

These are just a few ways to support authors and their books when you have no money. Do you have any ideas you can add to this list?



Melissa Gijsbers is a Melbourne based author and the mother of two boys. She has had flash fiction stories published in anthologies and her first children's book, Swallow Me, NOW! is due for publication in October 2014.
Follow her writing journey at www.melissawrites.com.au and visit her website at www.melissagijsbers.com