Thursday, December 28, 2017

Fifteen Great Picks from 2017



Each week on Mondays and Thursdays, someone from our faithful CWD blog team uploads a blogpost - sometimes it's inspirational, sometimes a story of writerly struggles or triumphs; sometimes it's funny, other times it's serious or both; sometimes the post reminds us why we write and for who, other times it gives practical tips - on writing, marketing or getting published. Always, it's the result of thought, research, experience, passion, creativity.

The CWD Admin team would like to give our blogteam a huge thank you for your contributions throughout 2017 (and over the years).

As we near the end of 2017, we thought we'd honour our bloggers' contributions with a pick of 15 blogposts that have inspired us this year. Out of over 100 posts, it wasn't easy to choose and there are many other posts equally deserving of notice. We have a wealth of information and inspiration on the blogsite - accessible on multiple subjects and themes.

We hope you enjoy this selection from a rich smorgasbord of offerings.

1. Like Waiting for Rain in a Drought - Paula Vince

... Julia Cameron, who helped several creative people break out of their non-productive ruts with her book, 'The Artist's Way.' She suggests that longing for fame feels a bit like waiting for rain in a drought. 'We keep squinting toward the horizon, jealous of our luckier neighbours and dissatisfied with our own condition,' she says. Her words gave me funny images of Elijah asking his servant, 'Can you see anything yet?'

Can you imagine this? After several fruitless looks, the young man replies, 'Yes, there are a couple of new reviews on Goodreads and a slight increase in your Amazon sales ranking.'  Read more ...

2. Confessions of a Frustrated Reader - Jo Wanmer

I've read more books this year than in any other year of my life. Exhausted, I've looked for easy, light reading. I've dropped every free women's christian fiction ebook onto my kindle. I've read, or partially read most of them.

Confession 1. My phone is my favoured reading tool. (See pic on right) It's light, portable and convenient. It saves the page for me when I fall asleep. Read more ...

3.  So Many Writers, So Many Stories - Jo-Anne Berthelsen

I remember attending my first ‘writery’ event at the NSW Writers’ Centre in 2004 and wondering what I was doing there. How did I ever think I could write a book worthy of publication? Everyone seemed so much more knowledgeable about the whole writing endeavour. Everyone seemed so much more confident and talented. Everyone seemed so much ... er ... well ... younger! Read on ...



4. Pinterest: A Thousand Words - K A Hart

... As I’ve grown older, it’s become harder to create those worlds. Worlds need to make sense. They need to have a purpose and I’ve become limited by my own experiences. I now need to write things down or the ideas become lost in the everyday rush and often, those thoughts written into words don’t fully capture what I’ve imagined.

That’s when I discovered PinterestRead more ...

5.  The 'Do Unto Others' of Marketing - Nola Passmore

Corrie Ten Boom ...  thanked God for these wonderful hosts, but also credited her parents with planting the seeds of generosity. All throughout her childhood and into adulthood, their home was open to anyone. There was always an extra place at the table, a word of encouragement and an open ear. Corrie later reaped the benefits of her family’s hospitality. Read more ...

6. From tiny seeds...Omega Writers grew –  Ruth Bonetti

Once upon a time, back in the past millennium, a publisher scattered seeds amongst Brisbane writers. Offering a free seminar–with lunch– to attract new authors, Open Book’s John Pfitzner was swamped by responses. Intrigued by familiar faces there I wondered: What if we got together on a regular basis to encourage and support each other? I sent an open invitation to meet in my garden and discuss.

This 1991 mustard seed of Omega Writers has rooted and bourgeoned strong branches. Read more ...



7. Benefits of a Writers Group - Janelle Moore

... As well as being part of this large body of writers [like Christian Writers Downunder], I am also a member of a small local gathering, Quirky Quills which consists of seven of us. For any of you that aren’t connected with a small group I would encourage you to join one if at all possible.

I joined Quirky Quills almost a decade ago, and without these ladies, I certainly wouldn’t be where I am today. In fact if it weren’t for the Quills, I still wouldn’t have put pen to paper. Read more ...


8.  Cheese Hunting - Sue Jeffrey 

I recently read one of those Facebook memory posts. You know the type. Here's something you posted two years ago; why don’t you repost it?

I chose not to repost. Not because it wasn’t relevant. It was very relevant. In fact I could have written it this week. I didn’t post it because a) no one would want to hear it again and b) I found it confronting. Read more ...

9. The Writer's Triathlon - Jeanette O'Hagan

'Everyone has a book inside them' or so they say.

Yet most people don't write a book and many who start one never finish it. Finishing a book - a creative non-fiction memoir or self-help book, a novel or a book of poetry - writing or typing 'The End' on the last page of your magnus opum is a great achievement, a wonderful feeling.

Yet in many ways, that is just the beginning. Rather than a sprint, writing is more like a marathon, a mountain climb or, to be even more accurate, a triathlon. 'How so?' you ask. Let me explain. Read more ...



10. Treasure in Unlikely Places - Anusha Atukorala

One cold wet Monday recently, I opened my front door to a lean, lanky young man. “Come in” I said with a smile. He walked inside, his arms laden with shopping bags.

As he strode past my bookcase, he turned, glancing at its contents with hungry eyes.
“What an interesting house!” He placed the shopping on my kitchen bench top.
“Could I have a look at your books?” Read more ...

11.  "Tall Poppy Delusions," by a disgruntled daisy - Helen Curtis

So, this isn't my finest moment perhaps, but I need to confess something: I am a text book tall poppy cutter-downer. Shocking isn't it! It gets worse, though; nothing makes me want to reach for my rusty secateurs more than talent show videos. I know! I'm awful! But, I really reallydislike them. As in, I literally GOL (groan out loud) and roll my eyes when I see them on my FaceBook feed. Read more ...


12.  Fighting Discouragement - Jenny Glazebrook

How is your writing going? Are you discouraged? I find discouragement slips in so quickly and easily.

I've been trying to work out why.

And I got to thinking that if Noah treated his project of ark building the way I sometimes treat my writing project, he would have become discouraged and never completed building the ark. Read more ...


13. The feedback I value the most - David Rawlings

... Writers live in a bubble. We disappear into a world of our own creation all times of the day or night at our characters' beck-and-call. We pull the strings in that world, making characters' lives easier or harder with a keystroke or wish scenery into existence with the stroke of a pen.

We live it. We breathe it.

Allowing someone else into that world can sometimes be difficult Read more ...




14. Get Real - Adele Jones

In my writing workshops, I often discuss character weaknesses and how we writers can use these vulnerabilities to engage our readers. By ‘reader connection’ I don’t mean a collective whole, rather a ‘this could be me or my best friend’ type of significance. But how? Read more ...

15.  Keeping that Focus - Pamela Heemskerk

I’ve been through three computers in the last three months - enough to make any writer remove their hair in handfuls!! So I’ve turned on today and gone back through the last few CWD blogs. And I am blessed to know so many people who write from the heart in ways that have changed my life. Thank you.

I know many who had a difficult 2016 – my annus horribilis was 2015. So last year I was confronted with all the baggage from the year before. (Such fun!) My relationship with God deepened last year, and He gently and persistently placed my reactions, thoughts and feelings from 2015 to the forefront of my life to sort them through from His perspective. Read more ...




I hope you are as blessed, inspired, challenged and informed by these CWD posts (and others) as I have been.

Next year we will move to a slightly different format - with our inspiration and practical blog posts each Monday, a cross post between CWD and ACW on first Monday on the month, continuing with the theme of genre - and on Thursdays we will be starting a series introducing some of our 900 plus members.

And for a touch of nostalgia - you could scroll through the great picks from 2017

Jeanette O'Hagan

Images c Jeanette O'Hagan 2017

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Neighbours

by Jeanette O'Hagan



Christmas Day is fast approaching - the official birthday celebrations of Jesus of Nazareth - born to be King, born to die, born to give us new life, born that we might be adopted into the family of God.  What does Christmas mean to you?

For today's post, I thought I'd share a story I wrote for the Faithwriters challenge. It's not a Christmas story—or maybe it is.


Neighbours

Joe sank into the plump leather armchair and flicked the foot rest up. He cradled his slug of aged brandy. The ice cubes chimed against the frosty glass and a contented sigh escaped his lips. The den was his well-earned refuge after a frenetic day at the office. His wife, Simone, knew better than to disturb him until after his half-hour of news. He reached forward, picked up the remote and flicked on the TV.

Several minutes later he jerked awake, his heart pounding. An ad for a slick red sports car flashed across the wide-screen on the wall, crowded with dancing long-legged models and a smirking windswept hero. He frowned. Surely it wasn't the cliched classical music blaring from the surround sound speakers that had disturbed him. His eyes narrowed as a deep beat seemed to vibrate the floorboards beneath the plush carpet. Throaty 90s lyrics drowned out the now dulcet tones of the weather presenter.

His neighbour; it had to be.

He stormed out of the den, ignoring the inquiring look from Simone juggling steaming saucepans in the kitchen and the twins excited calls of “Daddy, daddy.’ Stalking through the living room, he slid open the glass doors and stood on the deck, arms akimbo. Beyond the outdoor entertaining area and gleaming water of their pool, on the other side of the high fence, Matt Dodger’s yard was lit up like a Christmas tree. Swaying coloured lights zigzagged across the untidy backyard.  Matt stood at the barbie turning sizzling sausages and hamburger patties. A boom box belted out popular tunes. Tammy in white bikini and skimpy sarong wrapped around her ample figure plunked down food on a trestle table—large bowls of salad, bread rolls, heaped up plates of watermelon and two oversized pavlovas drowned in cream and fruit. A huge battered blue icebox overflowed with crushed ice and cans.

This had been a quiet neighbourhood until the Dodgers had moved in last year. Rumour had it that that Matt was a cars salesman and Tammy ran a beauty parlour in their downstairs room. When they had first arrived, Simone had dropped in with home baked cookies and a brochure for their church, but Matt had made cutting remarks about hypocritical Christians and churches only interested in his money. It was a lost cause really.

Simone came to stand behind him. “I've put the twins to bed. I hope they settle with this noise.”

Joe nodded and continued to glare into his neighbours’ back yard. The sounds of cars pulling up at the curb and the excited calls of guests intermingled with the jocular greetings of Matt and Tammy. The kids ran around with the new arrivals in some wild game, adding to the general cacophony. Soon adults and children alike piled food on their plates and pulled open cans of drink. Knives, forks and table manners seemed the only scarcity. Laughter and rowdy music spilled out into the night.

Joe snorted. It was disgusting how some people stuffed their faces with so little self-restraint.

Simone’s sigh was like a feather on his cheek. “Will you come and say good night to your girls?”

Joe stiffened as a tall bearded figure strolled down the concrete pathway to be engulfed in a bear hug from Matt.

“Isn't that the new pastor up at New Kingdom? What’s his name? John, no…Joshua Davidson. Reverend Kaifas says he’s attracted huge crowds with his high-powered trickery. He’s worse than that fire and brimstone preacher they used to have at the Jordan chapel.”

Davidson accepted a glass of punch from Matt. ‘Hey, kids,’ he roared, ‘Who wants a treat?’ He handed out candy canes and white Christmas. The children mobbed him and soon he was settled in an old garden chair, both children and adults listening to his flamboyant storytelling.

Joe allowed Simone to pull him inside. After kissing the sleepy twins good night, they sat down for dinner.

As the sounds of the party next door wound down, Joe and Simone moved out on the deck with mugs of pod coffee. The last guest called out a boisterous goodbye and the neighbours’ backyard plunged into darkness, except for a neon star over a battered nativity scene.


Joe savoured the rich brewed flavour. “I wonder what Pastor Davidson wanted with Matt.” He chuckled. “If he expected a donation, he’s in for a disappointment, but who would have thought that New Kingdom’s pastor would mix with that bunch of losers.”


When God our Savior revealed his kindness and love, he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.    Titus 3:4-5a  (NLT)


New Living Translation (NLT)

Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.


.......................................
Jeanette started spinning tales in the world of Nardva at the age of eight or nine. She enjoys writing secondary world fiction, poetry, blogging and editing. Her Nardvan stories span continents, time and cultures. They involve a mixture of courtly intrigue, adventure, romance and/or shapeshifters and magic users. She has published numerous short stories, poems, two novellas and her debut novel, Akrad's Children. Find her on Facebook or at her webpages Jeanette O'Hagan Writes or Jenny's Thread.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Will I notice?

by Josephine-Anne Griffiths

One Sunday I arrived at Church after several weeks of absence. I was pleasantly surprised by the topic ‘Who is your neighbour?’ I was running late that day, but at least I got there in time to hear our pastor’s wonderful sermon. Ps Peter’s sermons usually strike a chord with me, but that Sunday it made the bells chime!

I always thought that those in society who are financially well off, or indeed extremely wealthy, would find it a lot harder to find peace and ultimately achieve paradise, with our heavenly Father. I was wrong on two accounts.

Firstly, being rich need not necessarily mean having vast amounts of money in the bank. We can be rich in so many ways, whether it is our good health, our beautiful family, friends, a flower garden we have the joy to tend each day or a myriad of other things. Some people are born blind or have lost their sight, and are unable to see the perfect creations in the same way that many of us can. Some people are deaf and can never hear a sound … like the trickling and tinkling the rain water makes as it cascades down from the gutter, or the early morning greetings we receive from the persistently chirping birds. But did you know that these are often the people that show the most gratitude, are the happiest, and the most generous?

Secondly, just because many of us are rich, doesn’t mean that we are not expected to enjoy these riches. Whether it is money or good health, a beautiful home, wonderful friends, an amazing talent, or any number of things, we must show gratitude for what we have by thanking the ultimate source of our wealth … then paying it forward. We must share with others.

There were five discussion points around healthy and sincere sharing.
Eat: We all need to eat. Jesus loved to eat. He was always breaking bread with
someone. When He went to people’s homes He didn’t immediately break into a full-scale sermon and bible-bash those present into submission. No, He ate and drank with these people in their homes, and got to know them.
Yes Jesus was a real foodie. Ah, we have so much in common. In the same way, we need to open our hearts and homes to others and share our gifts. Truly get to know the hearts and minds of our neighbours so that maybe one day they will think ‘what is it about these Christians, why are they so generous with their time, and why are they so impossibly happy? There must be more to this.’


Listen… really listen. We all love to talk, but there are times when we must just
zip it, and listen carefully, whether it is to others or just being quiet and still, listening to what is taking place around us.


Tell our story. When people are ready to hear about our Jesus, they don’t want
to have Bible Verses quoted to them, or perhaps be encouraged to learn specific prayers off by heart. No, they want to hear our story. When did we feel a calling? Have we always been ‘just Christian’ and never given it much thought? Are there any difficult life challenges through which we’ve been assisted by prayer? Tell our story without becoming religious. Real people want to know about people who are just the same as themselves. Once we share our stories, they may feel safe enough to share theirs.

“Teach those who are rich in this world not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which is so unreliable. Their trust should be in God, who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment. Tell them to use their money to do good. They should be rich in good works and generous to those in need, always being ready to share with others. By doing this they will be storing up their treasure as a good foundation for the future so that they may experience true life.” ~ 1 Timothy 6:17-19 (NLT)

Celebrate! That’s right jump for joy, sing whatever song is in your heart, and
enjoy the beautiful gifts and life that God has given us. Get into party mode … but remember to share the joy.



Relax. This maybe one of the most important points.  Often we are so busy doing life that we forget the importance of rest, let alone having the energy it would take to listen, eat, talk, and share generously and graciously with others.

“If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” ~ John 15:10-12

It’s so easy to walk by without noticing. Will I notice when my heart is needed most? Will you?

hhh
“We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop.” ~ Mother Teresa
As we bustle through each day between now and Christmas, getting organised, getting everything just right, let's try to remember that Christmas is about love and sharing, and not about always getting it right, or being right.

I’d love to hear from you. Please comment below and share some thoughts with me. God bless, wishing everyone a joyful and blessed Christmas.

PS: Josephine-Anne hopes you won't mind that she's recycled this post from a Christmas past. Life takes over sometimes, however she felt this post was worth resurrecting. 

Thursday, December 14, 2017

UNIQUE YOU

With apologies to Picasso
Yes, that's you.
(Not the 'Picasso'!)                                     

Think what a remarkable, and miraculous thing it isto be you!Of all the people who have come and gone on the earth, since the beginning of time, not ONE of them is like YOU!

No one who has ever lived or is to come has had your combination of abilities, talents, appearance, friends, acquaintances, burdens, sorrows and opportunities. If you did not exist, there would be a gap in history and something missing from God's plan for humankind. Nowhere ever in all of history will the same things be going on in anyone’s mind, soul and spirit like yours.

No one’s fingerprints are like yours. No one prays
about exactly the same concerns as you do. No one is loved by the same combination of people that love you
 – NO ONE!
No one before, no one to come. YOU ARE UNIQUE! You do not have to pretend in order to seem more like someone else. You weren’t meant to be like someone else, you were meant to be different.

No one can reach out to others in the same way as you. No one can speak your words. No one can convey your meanings. No one can comfort with your kind of comfort. No one can bring your kind of understanding to another person.No one can be cheerful in your way. No one can smile your smile. No one else can bring the whole unique impact of your way. No one can smile your smile. No one else can bring the whole unique impact of you to another human being.

This gift of yourself was given you to enjoy and share. YOU ARE UNIQUE! (Original writer Anon)
                                                                                     
BIO: Rita Stella Galieh, has written a trilogy of historical novels, Indie published, and also contributed to several US anthologies. She is now working on a third historical romance series, Resilient Women

A member of ICFW, ACFW, CWDU, ACW and Omega Writers,
connect with her on , Twitter, Facebook and her website: www.ritastellapress.com 

Rita studied art at the Sydney National Art School then joined the family ceramics studio. After their marriage, she and her husband attended Emmaus Bible College, and were also involved with Christian Television on Sydney’s Channel Nine. 
Currently she co-presents Vantage Point, an Australia-wide Christian FM radio program. She enjoys giving her fun-filled presentations of ‘Etiquette of the Victorian Era’ in costume.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Moments of Recognition by Elaine Fraser



It is interesting how one word can spark memories that one believes she has buried beyond recognition. 
Mandy Nachampassack-Maloney  

'Is this scene about you?' Lisa's brows furrowed into worry-worn grooves. 'Did this happen to you?'

My writing tutor, Lisa had just read a scene from a manuscript I'm working on about a woman who has an incident with her husband while on holiday in France. It was a nasty, cold, violence-infused moment.

'No. It's based on something I overheard in Aix-en-Provence and I've laced it with all the emotion I've ever felt when my husband and I have been at odds. It's also got elements of other situations I've heard of that happened to friends. It's sort of an every-woman experience.'

'Wow. It's so real I got goosebumps,' Lisa's tone carried the relief that she wouldn't have to counsel me to seriously reconsider the relationship I was in.

When we read something that resonates, when we read something that we recognise, either in ourselves, or in others, something powerful is sparked within us. It's the universal  experience of humanity.

While my story is about a fictional character, it's also a conglomeration of every woman I've ever known who has struggled to find her place in her own relationship. Where there's an imbalance of power, a subjugation of needs and wants, and a sense of shame there are women everywhere who can relate, even if they haven't been in that exact scenario. A fictional character or situation can viscerally remind us of a real someone or something in our own lives. 

That is the wonderful thing about great writing, or acting or music, or art. Art makes emotions and experiences recognisable. In that moment of recognition, it's not about art, it's  about recognising ourselves.

The challenge is to create art that is powerful enough to spark recognition. 

In this challenge, we mirror the Creator. When we read His book, we recognise His hand in the world. We recognise His character. We recognise His understanding of humanity through Jesus. 

When people read our blogs, short stories, poems, and novels do they recognise something of God's character? Do they recognise His love for them? Do they see something that gives them hope? 

Blessings, 

Elaine 






Thursday, December 7, 2017

Review of 'Playing God' by Morton Benning (Sue Jeffrey)


Last week I was asked to review the newly released publication, Playing God, by Morton Benning. It was a fun and thought provoking read so I decided to post the review here.


Playing God
Morton Benning
Stone Table Books $24.95

Playing God follows the story of Keenley Turnshoe, an apprentice cleric in the medieval fantasy world of Utopia. One day Keenley attempts to use the prayer glass in the clerical school’s library to ask the Great God Avatar a question. But something goes wrong. The God doesn’t respond as Keenley expects and the prayer glass goes blank. Keenley is terrified he’s broken the Great God.
What Keenley doesn’t know is that his world is virtual, created to be the play-thing of Jeff Masters, a spoilt rich-kid. Through the Deus Interface, Jeff acts as the God of the world, the interface a form of ‘answering machine’ for the prayer requests of the people. 
The problem is that the Deus Interface has decided that it is the Great God Avatar and perceives Jeff to be a threat. It strands the self-absorbed Jeff in his own virtual world where he is forced, to his disgust, to live by the rules of the world. Jeff joins forces with Keenley and his friends in a quest to return to his virtual throne room and fix the problem. Meanwhile Paley, the creator and coder of the virtual world must race against time to rescue Jeff. Failure has real-world consequences. If the Deus Interface cannot be defeated, not only will Keenley and others of the world be ‘killed’, Jeff and Paley may die.
Playing God is an entertaining tale that bridges the genres of science fiction and fantasy. I especially appreciated Benning’s humour which is, at times Pratchett-esque. In describing Keenley’s friend, Miyako, Benning writes: ‘She was the only one of her race many people in this part of the world had ever seen but she was so unassuming her teachers would often mark her absent by mistake.’ Later in the story, Jeff’s attempts to assert his Great God-ness are ironically contrasted with his impotence. ‘ “I’m God. This is my world. I’m in charge and I decide when it stops.” After a moment Jeff looked at the others and said, “So what’s the plan?”’
The story draws to a tension-filled conclusion where the two realities collide and a temporal twist raises the stakes even further. 
One of the benefits of writing in different worlds is that an author can explore issues and ideas out of their normal context. In Playing God, Benning considers the question ‘why is it that people want to be God, or be their own God, yet are really bad at being God?’ This subject has been dealt with frequently in pop culture, such as the iconic 2003 movie, Bruce Almighty. In this film, Jim Carey plays a down-on-his-luck news reporter who tells God he’s not doing his job properly. God, in response, gives him the job, with disastrous results. While Playing God is set in a completely different genre than Bruce Almighty, a similar truth is conveyed.  The self-centred Jeff’s extreme lack of God-like character has, at times, dire consequences for the people who live within his created world.
Playing God is an enjoyable read and I would recommend it for gamers, science fiction/fantasy aficionados, and anyone else willing to take the leap into Benning’s thought-provoking and entertaining virtual world.

Playing God can be ordered from all good booksellers or directly from the publisher, Stone Table Books.


Sue Jeffrey was born in Scotland but moved to Brisbane, Australia with her family when she was just a wee lass. After a childhood spent reading, drawing and accumulating stray animals, Sue studied veterinary science and later moved to Adelaide where she worked as both a vet and a pastor. After a sojourn of several years in the Australian Capital Territory, Sue returned to Adelaide with two dogs, a very nice husband, and a deep desire to write. Sue has a MA in creative writing and her short stories and poems have appeared in several anthologies including Tales of the Upper RoomSomething in the Blood: Vampire Stories With a Christian Bite, Glimpses of Light and A Chicken Can Make a Difference. Sue won the 'Short' category in the inaugural Tabor Adelaide/ Life FM 'Stories of Life' award and her e-book, 'Ruthless The Killer: A Short Story,' is available from Amazon.com. Sue also paints animal portraits