Thursday, October 20, 2016

5 Reason Why I Write

In January 2011, South East Queensland was the scene of devastating floods.  A mother and her son drowned in floodwaters in Toowoomba, and a further 22 people met their end  in the Grantham area. There were horrific accounts of drowning deaths, and vivid descriptions of what survivors endured.  I was not personally affected by the flooding, and knew no-one who was, but the devastation and loss of life really  played on my mind and upset me.  I was shocked at what had occurred, and felt deeply for the many people who were so terribly affected by this unexpected disaster.  The morning of the flood, I had planned to go out with my children, but changed my mind when a friend rang, wanting to visit.  Had we ventured out, we were headed for the area that was severely and quickly  flooded. What if we had have been there when the wall of water hit? I thanked God for His protection, but the thought of what if…..made me sick to the stomach. The flood and it’s effects made me think of the enormity of loss and destruction that we often hear about overseas…..tsunamis, floods, earthquakes in which hundreds or even thousands of lives are lost.  The devastation is unimaginable.   Here I was,  struggling to come to terms with the loss of 24 lives in our area, whereas people in or near these overseas tragedies have so much more to contend with, in so many ways. What happened here made me more aware of the reality (to a small degree) that our overseas brothers and sisters have to live with. And that distressed me.

 I struggled for a few months with the effect that the flooding had on so many lives and communities.  Then I decided to write about it.  I penned a poem, trying to convey the devastation, horror, grief, heartache, sorrow, etc.  I could hardly believe that after expressing my thoughts and feelings through writing, the burden lifted.  I still felt for the victims, their families and friends,  but not with the same intensity.  I still empathized, but wasn’t distressed like I had been.  I hadn’t realised the strength of the cathartic effect of writing until that day.

 So, why write? For me, there are a number of reasons.

 One being the healing effect mentioned above. As I record my thoughts, feelings, heart, etc. my emotions are being released and expressed. And that is a necessary and healthy thing.

Another is to record what God is doing in my life.  I love to journal and enjoy being able to refer back to what I have written. I find this a great way to encourage myself in the Lord. It is a permanent testament to His goodness and faithfulness, and at times I need to remind myself of this.  

Writing also helps me to remember things. I am a visual person, not an auditory person.  While studying at  university, I made copious notes. This helped me to retain knowledge and information.  To this day, I take notes when I listen to a sermon, otherwise it literally goes in one ear and out the other. ( And, sadly, this is becoming more of a problem as I grow older…...)

I also write as an expression of my creativity.  If we have been gifted with creativity, we need to find outlets for this.  Mine come in varied form. As well as writing, I love to mosaic, and over the years have enjoyed patchwork, hand stitcheries, scrapbooking.  A feeling of great satisfaction accompanies these activities, especially upon their completion.

And last but certainly not least,  I write to glorify God.  My desire is to spread His message of love and hope, and to touch the hearts and lives of others for Him. The written word is a great vehicle by which we can spread the gospel.
I leave you with a question. Why do you write?

Janelle Moore lives in Toowoomba, Queensland with her husband and their two teenagers.  She enjoys writing devotions and short non-fiction works, often using her children and their antics as her inspiration.

Monday, October 17, 2016

We Need Each Other

The principle - no person can succeed alone - whether in their personal life, work life or, in this case, creative life, is one of the reasons that groups like Christian Writers Downunder exists. I think it has been demonstrated clearly over the years that fellowship and connection that takes place within a church community has many benefits to not just a person’s spiritual life, but also their emotional, mental and relational life as well. In the same way, the connections and friendships we make within Christian Writers Downunder contribute to each of us who identify as creative with the written word. 

We should not take this group, or other groups that provide resource and support, for granted. 

This last month, I have been in constant communication with the leaders of Omega Writers. Similar to this Face Book group and regular blog, Omega Writers seeks to provide help for writers, editors, publishers and other creative types. Omega Writers are the group who sponsor and organise our Christian writer’s conference – coming up next week. They are the group who sponsor and organise the CALEB award writing prize – winners to be announced next week.

But Omega Writers and all that it provides by way of resource and support doesn’t just happen. In my discussion with the leaders, it has become evident that we need to appeal to the greater Christian writing group, and see if they would be willing to help. I have written a piece, but rather than put it here in text form, I decided to stretch my skills in presentation, and have filmed, edited and uploaded a short piece. I’d love for you to click on this link and have a look. It has been endorsed by the Omega Writers leaders.

PS my skills in audio manipulation are not well developed, and I have discovered it sounds much better if you use ear-buds or ear phones. 
PPS the background music was written and recorded by one of my sons – used with permission. That definitely sounds better if you use ear-buds or ear-phones.

Meredith Resce has been published in the Australian Christian market since 1997. She has been part of Omega Writers since its beginning, and is still very much a supporter of Australian Christian writers.
To read more about Meredith Resce, visit her website –
That link again: Omega Promo Video

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Riding those writing waves - Jo-Anne Berthelsen

No, I have never been a surfer! But over the years, I have had to learn how to ride the highs and lows of those writing waves and the ever-changing, often choppy seas of publication and book promotion. I am so thankful to God for keeping me afloat, guiding me around those dangerous rifts and preventing me from being wiped out along the way!

Perhaps my current writing and speaking week will serve as an example of those ever-changing waters for me.

·         Last Saturday, I held the launch of my latest book, Becoming Me. I combined it with a visit to our church’s Art Installation, where a piece of my writing on the theme of solitude was on display. The waters I have had to navigate with this book were certainly quite choppy at times. Then organising the launch, preparing the food (not my strength!) and speaking as well caused a few more waves!  Yet in the end, everything flowed well and I truly enjoyed myself.

·         On Sunday, with the cancellation of the Sydney Book Expo, I instead met with the publisher of two of my previous books, along with other authors and an illustrator. It was so good to encourage one another and to realise we are riding similar, yet uniquely different waves.

·         On Monday, I spoke to around ninety men and women at a Probus Club about my writing journey and the joys and challenges of being published. What a privilege to address such an attentive group of older folk and later to answer their varied questions! Yes, I was tired, yet I felt God carrying me along on a lovely, warm current as I spoke and giving me strength.

·         On Tuesday, I met up with a friend who was unable to attend my book launch but couldn’t wait to buy my new book. And today (Thursday), I will be meeting up with some other old friends who likewise will want to hear all about my new book. I do not take this loving support for granted and am so thankful for it.

·         On Saturday, I am to speak at a women’s ‘Bookfest Breakfast’ at a church not far away. I am so looking forward to riding this particular wave. I don’t know where it will carry me—I have never met the women at this church—but I know I can trust God to navigate me in the right direction.

·         On Sunday, I will attend the 25th birthday celebrations of the NSW Writers’ Centre, where I will receive a book package and free membership of the Centre for a year! I am one of five winners of a writing competition in which we were asked to share something of our experiences at the Centre. What a great little wave to ride to the shore, where yet another interesting writing week will begin!

Of course, some periods of my writing journey have been much calmer, with little happening at all. Perhaps that is where you are at right now. Or perhaps you’re struggling in some muddy, turbulent writing waters and feel you are in well over your head. Yet whatever is happening, may you be aware of God’s gracious presence with you and experience God’s peace and strengthening to keep swimming—and writing!

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 two non-fiction works, Soul Friend and Becoming Me. Jo-Anne is married to a retired minister and has three grown-up children and four grandchildren. For more information, please visit

Monday, October 10, 2016

A Sunday School Song I love.....
(or a bit of encouragement from the Bible)
Dianne Riley

The best book to read is the Bible
The best book to read is the Bible
If you read it everyday
It will help you on your way
Oh, the best book to read is the Bible

I wonder if you know that little Sunday School song? Such an old fashioned song, but so true.

For some the Bible is the hardest book to pick up and read. 
I’ve always enjoyed reading the Bible and journaling. Over the years I have filled many fancy and ordinary books with my thoughts, ramblings, special verses and prayer lists.

Although I have to admit, as a teenager, going into my room and shutting the door to read was mostly an escape from my father’s smoking!
Reading is certainly an escape for so many. 
How thankful authors are for this!

As we know the Bible is a wonderful handbook for life. So many authors, so many different stories, topics, inspirations and real ‘page turners’. 
How about Haman, in the book of Esther? A really bad guy, plotting the downfall of Esther’s Uncle Mordecai, I love how the tables are turned! Who would have guessed?

What a wonderful opportunity as Christian writers to bring the flavour of love, victory and hope into what we write.

Whilst meandering through the Psalms once more, I came upon some real encouragement in chapter 37.
King David encourages his readers not to fret because of evildoers (v:1). There is also a reminder for us to trust in the Lord and to ‘do good’. To ‘feed on His faithfulness’ (v:3).

The world is full of despair. Fear, as terrorism seems to be everywhere in the media, showing atrocious acts of violence. God has given us the gift of wonderful imaginations to bring some goodness into the minds of those who have come to ‘our’ writing to escape.
May we ‘do good’ and lead others to the feast awaiting us in the ultimate escape – heaven.

I can be found in the Southern Highlands of NSW, recently relocating there to escape to the country with my husband. Having unpacked (well mostly) I am ready to sit at my desk find inspiration from God, the amazing view and write!

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Bibliotherapy and Transformative Writing

by Josephine-Anne Griffiths

Last week I received my October/November issue of Newswrite, a bi-monthly magazine published by the NSW Writers’ Centre.

I always enjoy reading their publication, but within this issue, there were two articles which took my attention. 
Firstly, the article titled ‘Do You Really Want to Be Published?’ by Jo-Anne Berthelsen, and secondly the article which discusses ‘Bibliotherapy’ where Eleanor Limprecht talks about her experience with this emerging form of therapy. I want to talk about Jo-Anne’s article, but will leave that for another post, as it has got me doing some serious soul-searching, and I need more time to ponder.

When I saw the word ‘bibliotherapy’ I knew what it was about, as I had seen numerous jokes around the subject. I guess I never realised how truly therapeutic reading is for the body, mind, and spirit. Well, I have always enjoyed getting lost in a book … but therapeutic is quite a powerful word.

Of course, I also enjoy writing … no arguments there. But why? 
If I may quote Julie Gary, the founder of ‘Stories Without Borders’ … Julie notes that:

"People who have experienced trauma in their lives, whether or not they consider themselves writers, can benefit from creating narratives out of their stories. It is helpful to write it down, in other words, in safety and in non-judgment. Trauma can be quite isolating. Those who have suffered need to understand how they feel and also to try to communicate that to others." 

So we are agreed that I love nothing better than to put the kettle on, make a nice warm cuppa, and sit for at least a couple of hours reading my latest treasure.

However, writing has always been a passion of mine.
It does relax me and make me incredibly happy … especially when the right words come onto the page. But therapy?

I have done a few stints as a patient and out-patient in a psychiatric hospital, well known as St John of God. There was a time when I would have been far too shy or inhibited to tell you that. But now I am at peace with myself, and it doesn’t bother me at all. I am quite sane (some may argue that point), and like so many people who go unnoticed, I just desperately needed someone to talk to … and someone to listen with compassion and understanding. I received all that at St John of God, and so much more. I could continue on this track, but I’ll save that for another day.

No matter what we write, or why we write, it will always be special. Whether it’s a short story, a poem, a blog or a journal … or indeed a letter that's been carefully written out in our best handwriting (whether for the eyes of others, or just our own) – It is, after all, an expression of who we are, and what we think and feel.

Writing has the power to transform us … body, mind, and spirit. ‘How is that?’ I hear you say.

We can talk to our heart’s content, but we are never going to unfold all of the creases within, by talk alone. Writing out our thoughts and feelings about past events, current affairs, items of general interest etc., helps us to process things more effectively. It may just be a matter of remembering to express gratitude for our lives, or it could be around coming to terms with some form of trauma. We are all unique, and as such, we have varying stories. The power of the pen, to heal, is often understated. In general, us writers can be closet introverts. Note, I did say ‘in general’.
I know with myself, it has always been much easier to write something down than to say it out loud. I am either extremely shy or incredibly depressed *winking and smiling madly*.

The other thing I want to mention is the importance of ‘whatwe read and/or write. If we have recently been attacked and robbed of our possessions, it probably would be a bad idea to read some fast-paced murder/crime/thriller.

Something classical and carefree may be more appropriate, or perhaps a lovely romance. 

During my school years, I wasn't fond of poetry. I don't know why. Maybe because we had to learn some really long poems off by heart, and when we made mistakes the teacher would whack us with a ruler. These days I love poetry. It often conveys what is deep down within our hearts, when ordinary words or prose just won't cut it.

So on that note, I would recommend jumping into and savouring the poetry of T. S. Eliot, "Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers."

John Keats, "A thing of beauty is a joy forever: its loveliness increases; it will never pass into nothingness."

Hans Christian Andersen, "Life itself is the most wonderful fairytale of all. "

or perhaps William Wordsworth, "Life is divided into three terms - that which was, which is, and which will be. Let us learn from the past to profit by the present, and from the present to live better in the future."

"Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart."

... and quite a few more ... and you shouldn't miss reading books such as "Anne of Green Gables" by Canada's beloved Lucy Maud Montgomery.

Of course in my view, the Holy Bible would most likely cover most of life’s circumstances. However, everyone needs some variety in their repertoire – we just need to be certain that the content is wholesome. How about an adventure in Middle-earth while reading J. R. R. Tolkien's 'Lord of the Rings', or voyaging back to 'Narnia' with C. S. Lewis ... or perhaps an 'Escape to the Country' with Nicki Edwards?

So ... I have come to the conclusion that not only can reading and writing be therapeutic for ourselves, it can also heal and transform others, and that is why we must be careful about what words we place on the page.

I am currently hooked on romances with happy endings, but I also like stories with a mysterious, suspenseful element. 

Do you think there is merit in the practice of Bibliotherapy?

What are you reading? What are you writing? Why?
I'd love to know ... please feel free to comment below.

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. She is continuing to work on a fictional memoir 'Charlie Dreams' and a small book of inspirations, yet to be given a title. She has tried her hand at short story writing and more recently poetry, in addition to inspirational, narrative non-fiction. Always loving a challenge, Josephine is planning to skill-up to enable the crafting of a short Contemporary Romance, in addition to a more personal memoir, which would concentrate on the life long issues around living with Bipolar disorder. Josephine-Anne, fondly known as Jo’Anne, is married to Leon. They have six children and six grandchildren between them. You will find Jo’Anne either lost within a book, behind her keyboard or in her garden day-dreaming.

You are also welcome to contact Jo’Anne via the following links:


Monday, October 3, 2016

Marketing your book in a boxed set

By Narelle Atkins

Boxed sets have proven to be a lucrative way for authors to market and sell their indie fiction ebooks. Check out the Amazon Kindle fiction genre lists and you’ll find numerous boxed sets among the top 20 bestsellers. 

Last year I wrote a 3-part series on indie boxed sets for the Australasian Christian Writers (ACW) blog. The posts contained information on how to publish a multi-author indie boxed set.

The Benefits from Indie Publishing a Box Set Collection 

How to Write and Publish a Multi-Author Indie Box Set: The Beginning  

How to Write and Publish a Multi-Author Indie Box Set: Preparing to Launch

I write contemporary Christian romance (CCR). In this post I’ll be referring to the CCR genre for examples of boxed sets purchased from Amazon Kindle. 

History of Christian Romance indie boxed sets

The indie author boxed set trend in the CCR genre kicked off in late 2014. The first Christian/inspirational romance box set to hit the Amazon bestseller lists in the CCR genre was Red Hot Squeaky Clean ROMANCE collection (Boxed Set): Ten Shades of Inspirational Romance, released in October 2014. The stories in this box set covered a range of Christian romance genres including historical, mystery, suspense, and contemporary.

Mistletoe Kisses (Inspy Kisses Box Set Book 3) was released in November 2014. It was the first Christian romance boxed set to hit the USA Today bestseller list. Four of the eight books in the collection are CCR. 

Love Brings Us Home was also released in November 2014. It hit the Amazon bestseller lists in CCR and contained full length novels that were previously published as individual indie releases. 

USA best-selling author Hallee Bridgeman was an author in Love Brings Us Home and Red Hot Squeaky Clean Romance. Hallee is our international guest speaker at the upcoming Omega Writers Conference in Sydney, October 28-30. 

Market research on boxed sets in CCR genre 

I put together a spreadsheet based on a sample of CCR multi-author boxed sets I’d purchased in the last 2 years. 

My research included: 
14 boxed sets in the CCR genre 
105 books (with only 1 duplicate title in 2 boxed sets)
45 authors – a combination of indie authors and hybrid authors who are traditionally published
7 titles by Marion Ueckermann
6 titles each by Kimberly Rae Jordan and Valerie Comer
I also sourced book release information from the Inspy Romance group blog (established in February 2014 for CCR readers)
My multi-author boxed sets I included in my research

SPLASH! (released in June 2015, retired in November 2015) 
Love Blossoms (released in January 2016, retiring soon in late October 2016) 
An Aussie Summer Christmas (new release in September 2016) 

Other CCR multi-author boxed sets in my Kindle account or on pre-order (minimum 6 books in each set) 

CCR boxed sets in my Kindle account that are no longer available for sale

Whispers of Love (USA Today Bestseller)
Home for Christmas
Summer of Love
Love’s Gift
Love Brings Us Home
Mistletoe Kisses (USA Today Bestseller) 

The boxed sets ranged in price from US0.99 to US2.99. I paid between US14.00 to US20.00 to purchase the 14 boxed sets (most were priced at 99 cents). As a result, the average price I paid for an individual book is between 15 to 20 cents. 

Is the price for boxed sets too low? 

The answer is yes and no, depending on your perspective. Traditionally published ebooks are often priced higher than indie ebooks.

If you’re a reader, bargain priced ebooks combined with the ability to subscribe to Kindle Unlimited (US9.99 per month to borrow an unlimited number of ebooks) is appealing. Avid readers can indulge their favourite past time without hurting their bank balance. For many readers Kindle Unlimited has replaced their use of public libraries (and free print book borrows).

If you’re an indie author and can place your book in the right boxed set in your genre, at the present time you can make a reasonable return on a competitively priced boxed set due to volume sales and page reads in Kindle Unlimited. Please note this strategy for success could change at any time due to the rapid changes that constantly take place in the publishing industry. 

The bestseller lists are your goal

For many readers the Amazon Kindle bestseller lists have replaced the physical bookshelf in stores as the place they browse for books. Book exposure on the bestseller lists and in the hot new releases lists is critical for reaching potential readers. Paid advertising, for example Bookbub, can help ebooks rise to the top of the bestseller lists. 

Boxed sets can help authors reach new readers who are fans of their co-authors in the boxed set. 

Bestseller lists provide both the platform for finding new readers and the visibility to gain ebook sales/page reads that generate income for authors. 

Successful authors place series books in boxed sets 

The large majority of books in the 14 boxed sets I researched were part of a series. If a reader falls in love with your writing, they may buy your entire backlist. 

Repeat books in multiple boxed sets

We need to think like a reader when we’re marketing and promoting our books. How would we feel if we purchased a boxed set containing repeat books we’d already bought and read in previous boxed sets? From my sample of 14 CCR boxed sets, the only repeat title was published in boxed sets with release dates of more than 12 months apart. 

Traditional publishers reprint their bestselling books and sometimes update the cover art. When I used to work in retail on the returns desk, the most common reason for customers returning print books was due to an accidental repeat purchase.

If you have a brand new story to place in a boxed set, it would be wise to seek a boxed set opportunity that will be marketed as brand new stories. 

Have you participated in a boxed set or anthology collection? Do you enjoy reading boxed sets? I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences.

This post is being shared on the Australasian Christian Writers blog and the Christian Writers Downunder blog.

If you’re looking to connect with writing groups online, you can join the Australasian Christian Writers Facebook Group and the Christian Writers Downunder Facebook Group.

Omega Writers Inc. provides helpful resources and membership benefits for writers who live in the Australasian region.

A fun loving Aussie girl at heart, Narelle Atkins was born and raised on the beautiful northern beaches in Sydney, Australia. She has settled in Canberra with her husband and children. A lifelong romance reader, she found the perfect genre to write when she discovered inspirational romance. Narelle's contemporary stories of faith and romance are set in Australia. 

Her latest novella release, Seaside Christmas, is available in An Aussie Summer Christmas boxed set from Amazon for 99 cents. 

Twitter: @NarelleAtkins

Thursday, September 29, 2016

What is in Your Hand

Sometimes we feel desperate for inspiration and try all kinds of techniques and courses to get creativity flowing again. While this approach can be successful to a degree, I’ve realised more and more that I must use what is in my hand.

In Exodus 4:2 the Lord commanded Moses to throw his staff on the ground whereupon it turned into a snake. In other parts of the Bible we read that Moses stretched out his staff to part the Red Sea and struck a rock with it to bring forth water. The staff would have been something he used in shepherding flocks – an everyday occurrence, but God used it for a variety of unexpected purposes.

As writers, it’s easy to confine ourselves to our favourite genre or topic and leave the rest for someone else. I’ve felt challenged to step out of my comfort zone this year and use what is in my hand. At heart, I’m a fiction writer and love weaving stories and creating characters. However, I decided to spend some time on non-fiction using my life experiences.

My first project was to write an e-book about packing wisely for an overseas trip. As a frequent flyer, this was easy to write and it’s been selling consistently. I’ve actually decided to make this a series and am working on book two which is about air travel and book three about choosing accommodation.

My second project is almost ready for release and this is a picture book about Rubinstein-Taybi syndrome (RTS) the rare genetic condition my sister was born with. With the help of a group of Kickstarter supporters and a gifted but affordable illustrator from Fiverr, the book has become a reality. Picture books were never on my agenda but I have intimate knowledge of RTS and discovered there wasn’t anything like it on the market. I used what was in my hand – what I had that could make a difference to others out there.

My question to you is what do you have in your hand? What skills, experience and passions do you have that you could turn into a book? The answer might surprise you.

Monday, September 26, 2016


Ever wanted to achieve great things while doing nothing for a day? Well, I hope you took your opportunity yesterday!
If you didn’t realise, September 25th was Australia’s ‘Stay in Bed Day’—and not just for any reason. ‘Stay in Bed Day’ is an initiative to raise awareness and fundraise for mitochondrial disease (mito), which is a disease that impacts the mitochondria i.e. powerhouses of our cells. You can find out more on the Australian Mitochondrial Disease Foundation (AMDF) website.
You might be wondering why I’m telling you this. (If you’ve read my books, you’ll already know. :-) ) You see, Blaine Colton, the main protagonist of my young adult trilogy is a mito survivor. And Activate, the final novel in this series, is being released November 1 by Rhiza Press! Blaine credits his survival of this otherwise incurable genetic disorder, to revolutionary gene therapy.

Sounds great, right? But things are seldom as simple as they first appear.
Firstly, my stories are fiction. Although these technical thrillers are based on a scientific framework, extrapolating proposed approaches that could offer a potential treatment for mito sufferers, they are still extensions of reality. This means despite significant advances in the understanding of this disease in the real world, a cure for serious cases, like Blaine’s, is a) invented and b) not likely to be available anytime soon.
Secondly, just like the ethical tangles that thread through my novels, there can be as equally challenging ethical boundaries to navigate for achieving real life cures through appropriate processes that uphold the value of human life at all stages. This takes some pretty big (and long term) thinking to navigate, especially where genetic manipulations are involved, and mito is a more prevalent disease than you might expect.

‘One in 200 people may carry the genetic changes that can cause mito, with one in 5000 people suffering from a life-threatening form, making it the second most commonly diagnosed, serious genetic disease after cystic fibrosis.’ (Stay In Bed Day, 2016)
This is where ‘Stay in Bed Day’ is working hard by putting heads on pillows to raise money for further research. If you missed your chance to sleep on it (ha!) it’s never too late to donate, which we’ve done through the launches for both Integrate and Replicate. You could also get on board for next year. And don’t forget you’ll need a good book to read while you’re snoozing for the cause. There are some topical ones I can recommend. ;-)

Adele Jones is an award winning Queensland author. She writes young adult and historical novels, poems, inspirational non-fiction and fictional short works, along with juggling family responsibilities and a ‘real job’ in the field of science. 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, and as a speaker she seeks present a practical and encouraging message by drawing on these themes. For more visit or 

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Never underestimate ...

by Mazzy Adams

As part of my Creative Writing studies, I completed numerous ‘Quick Writing’ exercises based on various verbal prompts and images. Here’s one of those prompts and my response to it:

Every day of the week, between 7:00 am and 8:00 am, Vince and Jack arrived at the park bench with their newspapers.  Every day they grunted a greeting, sat, and read. Every day, between 8:00 am and 9:00 am, as one finished reading his newspaper, he would fold it, tuck it under his arm, stand, mumble a farewell and leave.

Sometimes Jack left first. Sometimes Vince left first.

Jack didn’t know Vince was an inventor whose ingenious creations languished for want of entrepreneurial investment. Vince didn’t know Jack was a lonely millionaire who intended to bequeath his millions to an animal shelter because he had no family and no friends.

Vince could have become like a brother to Jack. Jack could have enabled millions of people to benefit from Vince’s inventions.

Could have, should have, would have … didn’t.

All because of the one thing they did share … a failure to communicate.

Never underestimate the value of a good discussion.

I sat down intending to write this blog on a totally unrelated topic (to do with ‘the individuality of your voice’) when the memory of this particular writing exercise sat down beside me, tapped my heart, then rapped me over the head like a rolled up newspaper and suggested I use it instead.

So, I suspect that, for whatever reason, someone out there needs another kind of prompt: my gentle encouragement to connect.

Perhaps there is someone you’ve wanted to chat to for ages and, for whatever reason, you haven’t managed it yet. Why wait? Pick up the phone and call them. Better still, invite them to join you for coffee, or a walk in the park.

Perhaps you need encouragement to connect with like-minded people, or, say, to attend a writers’ conference. That can be a great place for good discussions. (It just so happens that the Omega Writers Conference is on in Sydney in October. Have you booked yet?)

Perhaps there is a letter you’ve been meaning to send. One that will break the ice so your writing/publishing/networking boat moves forward? Today might be the right day to put pen to paper, or fingers to the keyboard and make that connection. (Preaching to myself here!)

Perhaps you need encouragement to connect with someone who can help you in some other way. Honestly, I find it so difficult to ask for help. I’ve been more thoroughly inculcated with the message that it is ‘more blessed to give than to receive’ than the one that says ‘ask and you will receive’. Perhaps that underscored the problem I created for Jack and Vince in a moment of quick writing madness back in 2012.

Back then, I needed encouragement to find and join a writing critique group. Back then, someone I had never met in person invited me to come along and join in regular discussions about writing. And back then … I did it. I went to meet five strangers … and received five wonderful friends. (Thanks, Nola, for initiating that connection.) I’ll never underestimate the value of creative, fun-filled shenanigans again!

There is no doubt in my mind that discussing the pros and cons of my writing with other writers has helped me hone my craft. Doing the same for them has … helped me hone my craft! (‘More blessed to give than receive’ still rings true.) There is immense value in the mutual support offered by groups like Christian Writers Downunder. Being connected really does help.
I think I’ll finish this post with a ‘homework’ exercise our writing critique group tackled in April, 2014, one that I’d filed beside my story of Vince and Jack. Our prompt was, ‘What does your writing group mean to you?’ Perhaps you could share your response to that question as a comment below. Here’s what I wrote:

Quirky Quills is
larger than individual idiosyncrasies;
the sum of corporate wisdom;
the strength of forged metal alloys;
the flexibility of seasoned allies;

a cohesive, healing ecclesia;
a hug for brain and heart;
a canvas prepared for inspiration;
brushes dipped in holy ink;

a catalyst for action;
a treasure-trove of friendship;
a creative, vocal ensemble with
an infinite, lyrical repertoire;

and the heartbeat of my social redemption.

So ... why not try to make that new connection? (And if you happen to connect with a millionaire called Jack who has money to bequeath struggling authors, please, by all means, feel free to introduce us.)

Mazzy Adams is an Australian wife, mother, grandmother, creative and academic writing tutor and published author with a passion for words, pictures and the positive potential in people.