Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Chin up! Forward focus! I’ve got your back!

by Meredith Resce

At our last Omega Writers National conference in October, I invited the marketing manager from Koorong Books to come to meet some of the established Australasian authors, and to conduct a session based on a whole heap of questions that I had sourced from various authors around about. To boil it down, the main theme of what we as authors were asking is: What on earth is going on with the Christian market!?#@?!

No, we didn’t really swear, but if tension could have been measured, and swearing was appropriate in a Christian context, you could well have heard some colourful language. 

Frustrations are high amongst Australasian Christian writers. Very few are doing well. Nobody is doing really well (and yes, I know I’ve used an adverb). Given that the Australasian Christian market used to support a title to the tune of at least 3,000 copies, some considerably more, today’s gauge of doing well is to the tune of 300 copies. Generally, a modest order of fifteen for online sales from the warehouse seems to be a starting point, and if they don’t move out in the first two weeks, the book is not considered worth re-ordering. (This reflects the performance of fiction, from my own selling experience).

Most of us are well aware that the eBook phenomenon has seriously affected the bookselling industry. Some of us have converted to reading eBooks (hiding my face in shame, but it’s so convenient and cheap). Personally, I’ve had two publishers and one well-established printer go out of business in the last ten years. All three companies were more than 30 years in the industry, and while I saw each one try to convert to digital, and try innovations, like the Titanic, they just couldn’t change course quick enough. 

Having been 20 years in the market, I have experienced the hay day, and watched confused as it changed, and now sit powerless and frustrated as I see the Christian bookselling landscape reduced. Where once there were five major Christian bookselling chains, plus numerous solid independent Christian bookselling shops in major towns, and even more small volunteer-run church bookshops around the country, there is now only one major Christian bookselling chain, and the independent shops are either closing or struggling. The small volunteer-run shops are dwindling as their aging volunteer base is no longer able to serve.  And none of them are taking the risks on Australian, small and independently produced titles like they were able to 20 years ago.

So when the young man from Koorong bravely set his foot on Omega Writers’ territory, I was well aware that I might need to fend off an angry mob. Really, I wanted to be part of the angry mob, and demand attention and answers, but I invited the poor fellow, and felt sorry for him. To his credit, he was the one who was willing to open the lines of communication, and come to meet us and hear our stories. He presented a very informative session that addressed most of the questions we asked.

 The fiction market particularly has dropped dramatically. Koorong, the last Christian book chain standing, are struggling to get foot traffic in store. Even their online eBooks struggle to compete against the likes of the fire-breathing, monopolising giant, Amazon.

I, like many in that room, wanted to shake him and make him understand that our books can’t sell if they’re not on the shelf. From his research, and what the state of the market is, it appears they might not sell, even if they were on the shelf. 

Of course I want to take this as a major offense—that my writing has been rejected. I’m sure I’m not alone.  But that is a fruitless and ridiculous hole to fall into.

So, what’s to be done?

If there is anything that we as Australasian Christian writers can do, it’s support each other. If we want a physical, bricks and mortar Christian Bookshop presence in Australia, then we are going to have to support them. At least order the paper back from them as opposed to major international discount sellers. Our intrepid friend from Koorong marketing watches the clicks. He’s a digital man. If you’re clicking on Australasian authors just to read the blurbs, leaving reviews, and best of all, ordering their books, it gives him confidence to venture out a little more next time. We have to do it, folks. If we don’t get each other’s backs, then we won’t have a Christian market in Australia.

So my encouragement to you, today, as president of Omega Christian Writers is: use the Koorong website regularly, read the reviews, read the blurbs, and when you have a mind to buy, consider them first.
Or if you have a small independent Christian Book shop in your town, make sure you pop in there and try to use their services.

Onward and upward, friends! Chin up!

Author Meredith Resce, is the president of Omega Christian Writers Australasia.

Friday, January 19, 2018

CWD Member Interview - Adam David Collings

Each Thursday in 2018 we will be interviewing one of the members of Christian Writers Downunder – to find out a little bit more about them and their writing/editing goals.
Today's interview: Adam David Collings

Question 1: Tells us three things about who you are and where you come from.

  1. I was born and bred in Tasmania. I've lived all my life in the beautiful city of Launceston, in the north of the state. Launceston was settled by Europeans in 1806, making it one of the oldest cities in Australia. We have the oldest underground sewers in the country (1860) and the third oldest in the world. Launny was also the location of the first medical operation under anaesthesia in Australia (1847)
  2. I make my living as a software developer for an engineering company. When I'm not writing code, I'm writing sci-fi and fantasy stories, or scripting videos. There's actually a lot of commonality between my day job and my writing. In both worlds I create videos, and crafting a story is surprisingly similar to crafting a piece of software.
  3. I imported my wife from New South Wales, who I met online, before the days of social media. We have two kids. Our daughter is heading in to high school this year, and our son has a superhuman ability to recall dates.

Question 2: Tell us about your writing (or editing/illustrating etc). What do you write and why?

I write speculative fiction, which includes science fiction, fantasy, superhero, and anything else weird. Some of my stories are written for the Christian market, others for the general market. My primary focus at the moment is a space opera series called Jewel of The Stars. This is a long-term series of novellas structured like a TV series. I wrote book 1 very much as a "pilot episode". It follows the adventures of the passengers and crew of a cruise ship in space on the run from an alien armada after Earth is invaded.
I also have a superhero project in the works. This one will be set in Australia. After all, why do all superheroes have to be American?

Question 3: Who has read your work? Who would you like to read it?

Who has read my work? Well, not many people yet, to be honest. Although, my work has generally been received very well by those who have read it. I haven't done any hard marketing pushes yet. I just don't have enough published content in the world to make it worthwhile. Baby steps. As for who I'd like to read it? Maybe some big name celebrity in the geek world, who will subsequently sing its praises for all to hear. Seriously, I would like my work to be read by those who love fantastical stories. I hope my work entertains them as well as makes them think a little.

Question 4: Tell us something about your process. What challenges do you face? What helps you the most?

I'm a heavy plotter, so a lot of "writing" takes place before I actually begin the first draft. First, I spend time thinking about the story, and "dreaming it out". This is a great thing to do while walking. Then I produce a detailed outline, drawing on the principles of story structure and scene structure. Then I flesh each scene out into a first draft. After that, I'll read through and do the first-pass edit myself, before passing it along to my editor.
The biggest challenges I face at the moment are time and finance. It takes a lot of both to produce a book, and they're often in short supply. I've found the best time for me to fit in writing time is to do it before work. That way all my energy hasn't been sapped away by the day job. Working from home can be helpful in this, as the time usually spent traveling becomes writing time. I'm moving house next month (no wonder I'm busy) and the new house will have a dedicated "office" for me in the garage. Having a space where you can go to be free from distractions is a big plus, so I'm looking forward to seeing how that will help.
As for finance. Well, there's no easy answer to that one. It just comes down to prioritising, and putting aside something for writing expenses when you have it.

Question 5: What is your favourite Writing Craft Book and why?

I'm a huge fan of Structuring Your Novel: Essential Keys for Writing an Outstanding Story by K.M. Weiland. The concept of story structure (which I first learned about in another excellent book - Story Engineering by Larry Brooks) revolutionised my world. It really made the story-telling process come alive for me. K.M. Weiland's book delves into the nuts and bolts of how stories are structured, even down to the scene level.

Question 6: If you were to give a shout-out to a CWD author, writer, editor or illustrator – who would they be?

I'd like to give a shout-out to my editor Iola Goulton. Without her, I wouldn't have my work out there in the world. I'll also shout out Charis Joy Jackson. She recently finished a book called The Rose of Admirias, which will be released as part of the On The Horizon boxset. I read a little bit of an early version, and am looking forward to seeing how the final product turned out.

Question 7: What are your writing goals for 2018? How will you achieve them?

At this stage, I aim to publish episode two of Jewel of The Stars during 2018. I also want to publish my superhero project. There's not a lot I can achieve toward these goals until I move house in February. After that, it's dedicated slow and steady work.

Question 8: How does your faith impact and shape your writing?

My faith impacts everything I write, mostly on a thematic level, regardless of what market I am writing for. My stories deal with issues that I am thinking through at the time, or facing in my life. For example, in my superhero short story Chronostream's Father I explored some of the challenges I was facing in my parenting, and how my faith imformed how I'd approach it all. In Jewel of The Stars episode 1, I deal with the theme of risk. When is it appropriate to take risk? This lead to me thinking about the links between risk and faith.

Adam David Collings is an author of speculative fiction. He lives in Tasmania, Australia with his wife and two children. Adam draws inspiration for his stories from his over-active imagination, his life experiences and his faith.
Adam is a great lover of stories, enjoying them in books, movies, scripted TV and computer games. Adam discusses these on his own youTube show – Stories with Adam Collings.
Find him at or sign up to his email list for a short story.

Monday, January 15, 2018

The Manifold Wisdom of God

Next Sunday I start a new job as the part-time, interim pastor of Euroa Baptist Church. It will be my first experience of being a solo pastor. Though I have been a pastor’s wife for 25 years.

This wasn’t the career path I was imagining for myself ten years ago. At that time I was managing a library and loving it. I expected to remain in that type of role for the rest of my working life. But God had other ideas. I was cleaning the house one day when I was struck by a thought. Though ‘struck’ is too mild, smacked, whacked or walloped would be better. It came completely out of the blue with great force, and it was, “You’re going to be a pastor.”

I didn’t initially realize that this was from God and I was about to burst into hysterical laughter, because I thought the idea was so unlikely and so ridiculous. But the next thought that popped into my head was, “Remember Sarah.” I remembered that Sarah laughed when God told her she was going to have a baby and God wasn’t pleased. So I didn’t laugh.

It took a while for me to get my head around the idea of being a pastor. I had started some theological studies 12 months previously to obtain a diploma, now it seemed like a good idea to continue. Four years later I had a degree in Christian ministry. Even then, going into pastoral ministry seemed unlikely. We had lived mostly in rural towns and generally these churches didn’t encourage women to preach.

Then about 18 months ago, my husband and I were asked to be joint interim pastors at Wangaratta. I thought they probably only really wanted my husband and I would just tag along. However, the church gave me lots of opportunities to be involved in pastoral ministry. And so from there, I was asked to take up the role at Euroa by myself.

I was wondering how my writing would fit into this new role. I like to write Christian living material and I have found that I have been able to turn some chapters of my (unpublished) books into sermons. I’m also discovering that I can turn some sermons into chapters of future books, though this is a lot more work. It takes me about 8-10 hours to write a 4,000 word sermon. From a writing perspective, I preach first drafts, because for me to polish a sermon to a publishable standard, would take more time than I can justify, given that I have other responsibilities as a pastor.

It leads me to wonder about all the preachers in small country churches throughout Australia writing sermons every Sunday. Some are producing the equivalent of four books a year for about thirty people. Then I think about all the other unseen Christian writing. People writing Bible studies, children’s material for Kids Church, youth talks, yet they will never be published and may only reach a handful of people.

Why do we do it?

Because God’s plan is to make his manifold wisdom known: “His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his eternal purpose that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Ephesians 3:10-11).

How do we do that?

We do it, by living by faith. We do things that don’t make sense from a human perspective, like writing book length material for thirty people or less. Living sacrificially, using our resources to help others, devoting our time and energy to our local gathering of believers, worshipping God, learning to adopt godly attitudes.

As we do these things we are announcing to the heavenly realm that we believe these are worthwhile uses of our time and resources. The outworking of our faith makes a powerful statement to the spiritual forces that would oppose us. It’s what the book of Job teaches us, living by faith defeats our spiritual enemies.

It’s a mind-blowing concept.

Mostly we are unaware of what is going on in the heavenly realms. Yet your life and mine are making a statement to rulers and authorities who are watching to see if we live out our calling.

Our goal in life and in writing, is to make known God’s manifold wisdom.


Susan Barnes likes to help people to trust God more deeply, by writing devotional thoughts on Bible passages, book reviews & inspirational articles. She loves to challenge people's thinking and regularly blogs at

Receive her free ebook, 10 Things My Children Taught Me About God, by signing up for her monthly newsletter via her website.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

CWD Member Interview - Lynne Stringer

Question 1: Tells us three things about who you are and where you come from. 

My name is Lynne Stringer and I was born in London but am now an Australian citizen. We moved to Australia in 1973. My mother is Australian and my father English. They met in the bookshop where they both worked while she was on a working holiday. Isn’t that romantic?😊

Question 2: Tell us about your writing.  What do you write and why?

I write because I have stories knocking on the inside of my head, demanding release. They have to come out. I write mainly for the young adult market and more for the secular market than the Christian one, although my stories are, of course, influenced by my Christian faith.

Question 3: Who has read your work? Who would you like to read it?

My books are written mainly for young adults and I find that many are drawn especially to my debut novel, The Heir (Verindon #1). I’ve also found that people of all ages, even ones who don't like science fiction, usually love it once they've read it. 

I think the most exciting encounter I've had with someone who loved my books was the day I was walking my son to school when I was wearing a t-shirt dedicated to The Heir. I knew that the school’s book club had read my book and one of the high school students came up to me and said, ‘Are you Lynne Stringer, the author of The Heir? I loved it so much!’ It was very exciting!

I’d love my books to be made into movies so if anyone with industry clout read them I would be happy.

Question 4: Tell us something about your process. What challenges do you face? What helps you the most?

Because I’m also a professional editor, I find there are times of the year where I become exhausted from reading and writing and need to take a break. That might sound strange but that’s the way it is. I usually find it kicks back in again after I’ve had a holiday but sometimes writing can feel like work. 

However, as I once worked as a journalist, I’ve learnt how to write in spite of that. For example, I know that if I really need to write and can’t think of what to say I just write complete and utter rubbish, knowing that, sooner or later, I’ll find my way and then I can go and fix up the rough parts later. It’s hard but it’s a great way to break through something like writer’s block.

Question 5: What is your favourite Writing Craft Book and why?

I don’t really have one. I usually find I don’t learn well from what I read in instructional books. I'm more of a 'hands on' person.

Question 6: If you were to give a shout-out to a CWD author, writer, editor or illustrator – who would they be?

Can I say two? Jeanette O’Hagan and Adele Jones. Both are fantastic writers and they’ve become good friends. We go to events together and complement each other well in what we write.

Question 7: What are your writing goals for 2018? How will you achieve them?

I am hoping that my latest manuscript will be published and perhaps another as well. I’ll be trying one with a new publisher so that will be an adventure. I have also just started writing a new manuscript. I hope it will be my best work yet.

Question 8: How does your faith impact and shape your writing?

Everything I write is written with the idea that the God I worship has a high standard. However, I’m also writing about people who will never meet that standard, so I walk the line between honouring God and writing realistic scenarios in speculative fiction settings. It’s an interesting mix.

Lynne Stringer has been passionate about writing all her life, beginning with short stories in her primary school days. She began writing professionally as a journalist and was the editor of a small newspaper (later magazine) for seven years, before turning her hand to screenplay writing and novels. She now works as a professional editor and proofreader.

Lynne is the author of the Verindon trilogy, a young adult science fiction romance series released in 2013. The Heir was the first in the trilogy, followed by The Crown and The Reign. Her latest novel, released in October 2016, is Once Confronted, a contemporary drama. Visit Lynne's website for more information.

You can follow Lynne on:

You may also enjoy the following sites:
Wombat Books
Rhiza Press