Monday, October 23, 2017

Pinterest : A Thousand Words

by K A Hart

Sometimes I wish I’d pursued the art of painting or drawing earlier in my life. Now, don’t get me wrong. I can whip up a beautiful and intricate landscape of rolling hills or a spring garden brimming with colourful flowers and doting bees. My talents even extend to the chaos of war where hundreds of warriors clash for their king’s victory. 

There’s just a small problem. 

I’m the only one who can see it because it’s all in my mind.

As a child, my best friend and I lived mostly outdoors. We had overactive imaginations. We’d gallivant across the yard and play elaborate games, saving animals from bushfires and cyclones. Our bikes were shape-shifters. They’d transform into any animal we required for our daring rescues. Hay castles. Tractor monsters. Everything we could imagine was possible.

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 Pinterest. Finally, some place to collect pictures, ideas, and information all into one place.

I can search through Pinterest and find almost any picture, article or website related to a keyword. I’ve then been able to set up files or boards where I can save them as pictures around a particular topic. As I’m a visual person, I’ve found it beneficial to set up boards for my novel ideas, character development, even possible locations. This has given me the ability to find pictures that look similar to my hero/heroine and the possible settings of their adventure (this has been invaluable as my WIP plays out in desert, forest and mountain scapes). I used to become stuck on how an action scene might look like. Not any more. 

I have to laugh at some of the things I’ve searched for on google. Who knew there were so many creative ways to drown someone … Maybe that’s why I like Pinterest so much. I can have a public board where anyone can see what goodies I’ve filed away or I can have secret boards. Every story I have written is hidden away from prying eyes. Even those I haven’t written yet. NO SPOILERS. I can always change them later to be public, so readers can see the thought process behind the novel.

When I’m not sure where to go with my story, I can add a friend to the board to help collaborate the obstacles my hero/heroine has to overcome. If I ever have the opportunity to co-author a novel, this would be a great way to correlate our ideas.

Writing can be very lonely and isolating if you let it. Most days I like it this way, though sometimes I’ve needed some guidance. I’ve joined a writing group of talented ladies who have encouraged, on an occasion nagged and for the better part, inspired me to reach beyond what I thought possible. If you haven’t yet joined one, now is the time to do so. But when we’ve all said our goodbyes and I sit back down at my laptop, I have those odd doubts as to why I’m doing this at all. There are so many inspiring pictures and words I’ve been able to capture, which help to remind me of this amazing gift God has given me.

There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.

1 Corinthians 12:4-6 (NIV)

It’s great to be able to keep all my favourite blogs in one place. All those insightful ideas on how to enhance my writing and the words of encouragement from those who have travelled before me. 

I’ve found myself up at one or two in the morning, surfing the web for information about something vital to the success of my hero/heroine’s journey. Moon phases and their meaning have been a particularly sore subject for my WIP. I’ve been able to find quite a few articles and pictures around this subject. The ease in which I linked these to my chosen board for perusal later was amazing. No more keeping a tab open or saving the website to favourites - what if I didn’t like it?

I’ve never been short on ideas - I have enough novel outlines saved on my computer to last me at least a decade. Short stories however, aren’t my strong point and when I have writers block (yes, it’s a thing), Pinterest has been a great resource to help spark my imagination again.

I’ve said it before. I’m a visual person. I now have an entire wall filled with pictures I’ve found on Pinterest. It depicts the storyline of my WIP and helps me stay focused on the big picture. If you ever come to visit, I might just show you.

Still hesitant? Come and have a look at my Pinterest page kahartauthor. They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Find fifty you like? You might just have a novel.

If you already use Pinterest, how has it helped you in your writing journey?

K A Hart's first short story, Stone Bearer, appears in Glimpses of Light and another soon to be released in one of the Missed Blessings anthologies. She is currently working on a fantasy novel.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

The Honey Bee

by D J Blackmore

What is the only insect that produces food eaten by man? You guessed it, Apis Mellifera. Or as we often know it, the honey bee.

But did you know that the worker bee makes only a twelfth of a teaspoon of honey in its entire short six week lifetime?

Or that honey is the only food that contains everything necessary to sustain life, including minerals, vitamins and enzymes?

It is the one food that contains Pinocembrin, an antioxidant that is associated with accelerated function of the brain.

The hives only queen lives for up to five years. Without her, the hive loses all sense of meaning. The hive needs her to continue existence. Their selfless work is for her mother of all and for their community. They work tirelessly. So much so that a hive of bees will actually orbit the earth three times, or 144,840 kilometres, just for the production of one kilogram of honey.

The worlds most expensive honey is produced in Turkey and costs 5000 euros a kilogram. Thats as much as it costs for a small car.

The work of honey bees pollinates a third of all world food. Thats about one in every three mouthfuls that sit on your plate.

In ancient Egypt bees were seen as a symbol of royalty and power. Druids looked at bees with a sense of celebration and community. Christian monastic communities associated bees with selflessness, cleanliness, courage, sociability, wisdom and spirituality.

Pharaohs took it with them to the afterlife. Honey never spoils, and just as it was esteemed in ancient times, the worth of honey is rising once more.

The book of Judges teaches us about Deborah, prophet and judge. Deborah has been called the mother of Israel. Her name also happens to mean bee.

When Samson killed a lion with his bare hands, he went back the following year to discover that a colony of bees had made their hive inside the lions empty carcase. The pleasure at finding combs full of honey and not so pleasant stinging worker bees would have been considered an incredible bounty in those times.

In Judges 14:14, Samson tells a riddle:

Out of the eater, something to eat;
Out of the strong, something sweet.

The great power of a single lion had been defeated. In its decay there was nothing lovely, nothing clean and yet bees had made from it something sweet, an abundance of something good.

When we create loveliness out of the everyday, begging the beautiful out of the mundane, it is the sweetness of our efforts that is like gold. Our tireless work from continued routine is what makes us strong.

Yet as writers, it can often be a struggle to continue to push past indolence, flagging sales, rejections, not to mention writers block. For all that writing is by its very nature a lone undertaking, it is togetherness and community which can build and strengthen the individual and the team.

In encouraging, listening, being willing to share, we are a hive of many working in togetherness to make something sweet in His name, and thats powerful.

My newest work is Folly, the conclusion to Charter to Redemption. It has been an endeavour which was only made possible through the help of others, and Im indebted to all those whove been part of the process. Im thankful to the team at Rhiza Press regarding the release of Central to Nowhere in 2018. Im currently writing my second contemporary novel, Rising Son, as well as looking forward to starting a guest author blog in the near future. Thank you for the encouragement Ive found with Christian Writers Downunder; it is gold.

Author Biography:

I have milked cows and made cheese. I have reared babies, border collies, and kept bees. I bartered my Gouda for wine at a boutique vineyard near our home in the Hunter Valley, New South Wales. A short stint with horses saw me falling off and breaking my best arm. Now I steer clear of animals of the equine persuasion. Being mother to five is my highest achievement, but writing comes a close second. After all, it has been my friend for so many years, we two are inseparable.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Why Anthologies?

by Jeanette O'Hagan

I was asked recently, 'Why contribute to an anthology?' 

Six years ago, when I dusted off the novel I wrote decades ago and started writing again, anthologies were the last thing on my mind. I struggled writing short fiction and my focus was on writing novels. My experience of reading short fiction was limited and often disappointing.

This month, I was thrilled to launch my first published novel, Arkad’s Children (a prequel to the first one I wrote). I still love writing my epic novels – but in between I caught the anthology bug, with stories and poems published in over a dozen of them. I now enjoy writing and reading short stories and love the anthologies I’m featured in.

What is an anthology?

An anthology is a collection of works by a group of different authors. It can be fiction or non-fiction, short stories or poems. Anthologies are often themed. For instance, the theme of the Futurevision anthology is on visions of the future, while that of Christian Writers Downunder's Glimpses of Light is on the glimmers of light (and hope) in the darkness. Some anthologies are genre specific. For instance, Like a Woman is restricted to speculative fiction (including horror). 

In contrast to an anthology, a collection is by a single author though again, often themed (for instance, Neil Gaiman’s Trigger Warning).

What are the Advantages?

Anthologies can:

Offer an opportunity to be published

Publishers and editors of anthologies are often actively seeking new authors. They usually give a theme to write to and a deadline to motivate.

Broaden your reach as an author

An anthology has a range of contributors — from a few to many — some of whom may be more well-known than you. Ideally, all the contributors will promote the anthology to their fan base and your story (or poem) will be read by new readers. Perhaps, these fans will fall in love with your writing. At the very least, you are now known to a wider community of writers (who, after all, are mostly readers too).

Are fun to be part of

Having your work accepted, edited, published and promoted is fun. Well, okay, editing may not be – but the buzz that surrounds bringing an anthology together and launching it into the world is. The recent Futurevision launch was wonderful event and our publisher gifted each contributor with a story-based poster. Tales from the Underground and Quantum Soul also have some fun promotional materials, including a trailer for TUG.

Build up your portfolio

Anthologies give an impetus to write and, even when the pieces aren’t accepted, you have a growing portfolio of stories, which may be submitted elsewhere or which can be published as stand-alones stories or in a collection, or which can be used as giveaways and free offers in conjunction with your email list or at launches.  If these pieces are linked in some way to your novels, they can act as a funnel to your work.

Provide you chance to give back

With charity anthologies, your story can help support a worthy cause. In collaborative anthologies, authors help each other with editing and feedback and  promotion.

Give writing creds and experience

Each publication adds to your bio and may catch the attention of a publisher or agent.  For me, writing shorter works and poetry has honed my skills, increased my knowledge of the ins and outs of publishing and given me the confidence to publish my novel, Akrad’s Children.

May pay, but not always

With charity anthologies (such as Glimpses of Light, Like a Girl, Like a Woman), the profits go to the designated charity. Other anthologies give prizes to place getters (eg Poetica Christi, Crossroads anthology), but otherwise offer a free copy to contributors.  Or, the publisher may offer the anthologies at a discounted price which contributors can sell for a profit (as with 1231 Publishing anthologies like Obliquity and Futurevision). Or the anthology may give royalties, like Quantum Soul or Tales From the Underground. How many royalties will depend on the success of the anthology and the split between contributors. Others anthologies will pay an upfront fee for their stories, for instance Chicken Soup for the Soul.

Overall, I think the other benefits are more important.

Questions to ask:

Are you happy with the overall aims and values of the anthology?

For instance, if it’s a charity anthology, is it supporting a cause you believe in. Or, what does it exclude or allow writings and genres you or your readers might be uncomfortable with.

Is it a good fit for your writing?

Short fiction is a great place to experiment and maybe try out new genres or ideas. On the other hand, if you wish to attract new readers to your longer fiction (or non-fiction), then choosing anthologies that focus on related themes and/or genres make sense.

What rights and exclusions are they seeking?

One anthology I decided not to enter, sounded attractive until I realised the publisher was asking for ‘all rights’ of the story. That’s a carte blanche which means I would have lost all control of the story forever. No thanks. 

Generally anthology publishers seek the right to publish the story in print & e-book and may ask for a period of exclusivity. For instance, Quantum Soul has a 12-month exclusivity from the date of publication so they can enrol the anthology into Kindle Unlimited. I can live with that. But would hesitate if it was any longer.

Always read the contract and ask for advice if needed.

What have you got to lose?

Well, maybe time and effort. Perhaps, focusing on anthologies will distract from writing the novel or other projects. Would I have published Akrad’s Children earlier if I hadn’t been involved in writing for anthologies over the last 2-3 years? Perhaps, but I think I’ve learnt much writing those stories and being involved in their publication that I’m sure my debut novel is the better for it.

Where are the Opportunities?

Are you aware of any other opportunities? Have you been part of an anthology? Yes? What were the advantages and disadvantages? If not, think about the possibilities.


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 stories and poems in over a dozen anthologies
, including Glimpses of Light and Futurevision with three anthologies coming out this month - Redemption anthology, Tales From the Underground, and Quantum Soul.  She recently released her debut novel Akrad's Children - the first in the Akrad's Legacy series

Find her at her Facebook Page or at Goodreads or on Amazon or on her or Jeanette O'Hagan Writes . if you want to stay up-to-date with latest publications and developments, sign up to Jeanette O'Hagan Writes e-mail newsletter.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

From tiny seeds...Omega Writers grew – by 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.
A dozen in a monthly circle shared writing to encouraging nods. We photocopied a scissors and glue newsletter. Guest speakers enlightened but the prime focus was support.

Our recurring plaint: ‘How do we find a publisher?’ was answered. Publisher Rochelle Manners rose through our ranks, while other Christian houses faded.

In 1994 God gave another vision: performances to showcase members’ words coloured with dance, rap, my husband’s Brisbane Symphony Orchestra. Pro Hart sent paintings for an adjacent art exhibition. I illustrated my poem with a slide show in the dark ages before Power Point. Two performances Gallery attracted 1000 people. Nail biting? Yes. Faith? Yes.

In 2000, God sent another vision. Help people into print with an anthology Seasons of Giving. It came to pass. As did my energy.

Lyn Hurry took over. She and Anne Hamilton mounted another visionary exploit: Alpha2Omega Conference of Literary and Dramatic Arts drew authors across Australia, to present knowledge, experience and books across multiple rooms.

Next president Annie Hamilton urged authors to review each other’s books on Her visions initiated a digital magazine Zaphon, CALEB book awards and conferences.
STILL TIME! Apply NOW for Omega WritersConference in Sydney 27-29 October.
“A great place to get together with like-minded people for learning, sharing, networking and encouraging.” – Nola Passmore

Initially Omega’s only local writing group was based in Brisbane. but expanded to Toowoomba, Gold Coast, other capitals and New Zealand. Locally based and genre specific online writing groups budded.

President Simon Kennedy updated the website to small screen friendly with capacity to pay memberships, advertise and process events online–like Toowoomba Chapter’s caring, infectious annual weekend retreats and a Book Fair.

“Last year’s Book Fair was made possible with bookings done online and covering the event with insurance. We hope to repeat it in March 2018.”–Jeanette O’Hagan.

Enterprising and passionate Australian authors have produced quality books, ranging from children to school children and young adult, romance, historical novels, memoir, theology and devotionals, drama, poetry and illustrations. write in a wide range of genres, suitable for all your Christmas shopping–and Mothers’ Day, Fathers’ Day and birthdays.

They live similar lives to ours: snatching time to write between nursing the baby or toddler naps or home schooling teenagers or minding the grandchildren. Professionals juggle deadlines to cadge windows of writing time.

“Omega Writers has encouraged me to see my writing self as part of a bigger picture with a greater reach. One small puzzle piece does not a picture make. One brick does not a building make. But stacked and fitted together, we strengthen the integrity and impact of the Ministry of Christians as writers.”–Cathie Sercombe

 “I didn’t know I could write until I joined OMEGA. The friendship and nonjudgmental critiques give me confidence to develop my talents.” –Judy Rogers.

When output shrivels in desert times, groups like Omega Writers support and encourage. Branches online encourage many members (as well as Omega’s groups, CWDU has 935; Australasian Christian Writers 540).

We’re heartened and inspired to see how the Head Gardener nurtured small seeds sown in 1991 to a thriving community of Christian authors who are published or developing skills towards that goal, clear in their vision to use their God-given gifts to further the kingdom.

After a dozen publications in her primary field of music and performance practice, Ruth Bonetti was especially challenged by memoir/historical biography. She values support of Omega Writers friends to see into print her recent books "Midnight Sun to Southern Cross" and "Burn My Letters" (shortlisted for CALEB nonfiction award).