Friday, 21 July 2017

Best of the ACW Archives ~ Let's Talk About Book Covers...

By Kara Isaac

It's been a crazy start to 2015 and I wouldn't change it for anything :) In between developmental edits, author photos, trying to draft Book#2, and a whole lot of crazy things that go along with your debut novel, in the last few weeks I've been providing some early thoughts to my publisher for the book cover. I'm one of the least visually creative people on the planet so I'm super excited to see what the team at Howard Books come up with for this story.

Close To You is a contemporary romantic comedy is about a disillusioned academic-turned-tour-guide and an entrepreneur who knows nothing about Tolkien who fall in love on a Tolkien themed tour of New Zealand.

Read more at the following link:

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Book Review - 'Our Mob, God's Story'

Official blurb: Our Mob, God's Story is an art book with a difference, with over 100 works in an exciting variety of styles and stories by 65 established and emerging Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. 

All proceeds from the sale of the book will go towards the publishing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Scriptures, as currently there is only one complete Bible. 

Published as part of the celebrations for the 200th anniversary of the foundation of Bible Society in Australia in 1817, Australia's longest living organisation. 

I went to the launch of this stunning book in Adelaide not long ago. It's a stunning project which took over five years in the making. Basically, the entire Christian Gospel message is presented through the art of 65 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists. From Genesis to Revelation, each double page has a fantastic colour painting or work or art in some other medium such as silk screen printing. There is a short bio of each creator, and a passage explaining in their own words why the scriptures that inspired them are so meaningful.

It's a moving experience just to slowly make our way through the book, turning the pages and pondering each image and the words that go with them. The introductory pages explain how the artists come from right across Australia, making it all the more impacting that their story telling, creative gifts and passion to share the Good News of Jesus have been integrated into this one book. It's a credit to the Bible Society of Australia for facilitating it.

The book is researched and edited by Christabel Mattingley, a prolific Australian author who has worked for over 40 years with Aboriginal people; and Louise Sherman, from the Bible Society, who delves deeply into research, discovering and touching base with the Aboriginal communities.

Because each of the artists still retain copyright of their images, although they've gifted them to this volume for free, I'll refrain from sharing any examples from within the pages. I'll just finish by repeating that taken separately and all together, they are a thing of beauty and it's one of the heaviest books I've purchased. Very well worth having a copy. I'm sure I'll be in the mood to take it out of the shelf several times in years to come, just for the sake of reflection.

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

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

How's Your MIDDLE?

By Rita Stella Galieh

Well, forget your particular middle, (unless it really needs attention,) I'm referring to the middle of your novel.

Many of us find the beginnings and endings are not too much trouble, but those troublesome parts in the middle can cause us some major problems.

Are we padding it out too much? Making it sluggish? Stretching out superfluous dialogue?
Overly long descriptions? And all to get a word count? Oh dear. That's enough to make your reader start 'ho-humming'. Worse still, pitch it aside.

Gotta confess I almost did that to the last novel by a well known author. I didn't care about a multitude of details she added just when I wanted to know what was happening between the main characters. Could it be she hoped for suspense? It didn't work as I simply felt annoyed. She did redeem herself with a great ending, but even good authors struggle with their overweight middles it seems.

This is what I am struggling with at the moment. I'm inclined toward more action where my characters have a hard time and their goals seem unattainable.

Easy to say...but difficult to fix. Actually I have come to a grinding halt, waiting for my characters to give me a clue. However, I think I'll just keep writing as it's a first draft and see what eventuates. Staring at my middle without feeding it with good words can cause starvation and eventually its demise.

Currently Rita co-presents a 5 min. Christian radio program with her husband, George. ‘Vantage Point’ is broadcast Australia-wide on local FM stations.
She has written six inspirational historical novels & contributed to several US anthologies. She belongs to writers’ organizations such as: Australasian Christian Writers, Christian Writers Down Under, International Christian Fiction Writers and Omega Writers. Besides her blog, she can be found on Facebook and

Do any of you writers out there experience similar difficulties with your middles? If so, how do you fix your problem? Take a break or turn to chocolate?

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Best of the ACW Archives ~ Called or an Offering?

Photo courtesy of foto76/

By Ian Acheson

I’ve always found the topic of “one’s calling” fascinating. We all wonder at times in our lives what our specific calling is and it’s a topic that has consumed many pages of books, blog posts, conference notes and so on. It’s often used in discussions around vocations and careers.

When I started to meet writers I was at times surprised and, often intimidated, by the fact that so many mentioned they were called to write. Because I didn’t and, still don’t, consider myself called to write. So thoughts of wondering I was less of an author quickly came to mind.

Read more at the following link:

Monday, 17 July 2017

Best of the ACW Archives ~ Let's Talk About Sex, Baby! (Part 2)

(Image courtesy of smarnad 

By Andrea Grigg

It’s almost two months since I wrote my first post on the, ahem, touchy subject of sex in Christian novels. If you haven’t read it or would like to refresh your memory, you can find it here. Thank you to everyone who commented on my question: When is realistic too much? Your thoughts were both insightful and intriguing.

Every fortnight, a group of us from a local church get together at Zarraffas (a Queensland coffee chain). These ‘Ladies of Reedy Creek’, as I’ve dubbed them, range in age from 30 to 70+, and are very accommodating when I ask them questions concerning writing. All I have to do is bring out my pen and little black notebook and they’re like meerkats on alert.

This week, I asked them what they thought about sex issues being addressed in Christian novels. (Picture a group of extremely alert meerkats). Not only were their responses unanimous (except for one who left to attend a doctor’s appointment – or so she said) but they were strongly felt.

Read more at the following link:

Friday, 14 July 2017

So you want to write a bestseller?

Photo courtesy of bplanet/
Yes? Of course you do. I know I do.
Now, there’s an algorithm that’s been created that can help de-mystify what it takes to produce one. Why did Fifty Shades of Grey sell so well when by all accounts it has many issues from a writing craft perspective? (That’s what I’ve been led to believe not having read it myself)
Well, a couple of people in the publishing/academic biz decided to find out if there was a DNA to what makes a bestseller. I stumbled across this book, aptly titled “The BestSeller Code”, the other week when I was reading the review section of Saturday’s paper. So I decided to investigate a little further.
The book was released September last year and the data used was taken exclusively from the New York Times bestseller list, which is as good a list as any I guess. The model has data supporting 20,000 titles captured over a five-year period. I presume the NYT picks up Christian fiction bestsellers, well those that compare in sales numbers to all other fiction. Do let me know if this is a poor assumption.
I read a number of reviews of the book both from Amazon and others in overseas papers and was a little surprised there wasn’t a nice little summary of what the key attributes were. I’m very happy playing in data (hey, I’m a Chartered Accountant by trade!) and hence the left side of my brain went looking for that nice summary that I could share with you.
A winning formula?
Judging from the various reviews I’ve read the book does not arrive at a formula. Which is no real surprise. If there was one the whole concept of bestseller would have to be redefined, however, by all accounts it does provide some interesting insights into some key commonalities that are typically found in those novels that top the charts. Here are a few that I’ve been able to discern:
  • A well-paced plot and engaging characters do matter, while the setting is less relevant,
  • A compelling inner struggle and closeness between the main characters are important,
  • Characters presented in unexpected and non-traditional ways who “make things” happen,
  • The use of everyday language and active verbs,
  • Consist of “shorter, cleaner sentences, without unneeded words”.

Nothing startling. I like how the review in The New Yorker sums the book up: “… there’s an awkward charm in watching an algorithm discern the things that humans appreciate instinctively.”
Oh well, back to what we know: write the best novel you can utilizing the “key tenets of craft and style.”
By the way, apparently our own Liane Moriarty and Graeme Simsion both rate exceptionally well according to the model.  
Anyone read a good bestseller recently?

Ian Acheson is an author and strategy consultant based in Sydney. Ian's first novel of speculative fiction, Angelguard, is available in the US, UK, Canada and Australia. Angelguard was recognised with the 2014 Selah Award for Speculative Fiction.You can find more about Angelguard at Ian's website, on his author Facebook page and Twitter

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Reaching our young Aussie writers

By Jenny Glazebrook

Tahlee Ministry and Training Centre, Port Stephens
Last month I spoke at a Christian High School Writers’ Retreat at Tahlee on Port Stephens. It was exciting to see the next generation of writers God is raising up in Australia. The passion, the willingness to learn and the young dreams all reminded me of my own heart and reason for writing.

In my time lecturing and mentoring, I encouraged the young people to see purpose in everything that happens in their lives and to use each experience for God’s glory. 

We talked about the fact that if we live the depth of this life, experience all the senses, enjoy the richness of both joy and pain, we have more to offer our readers, more to help us connect.

A student was able to put this into practice one afternoon as I sat mentoring her. We were discussing her writing idea when a mina bird landed above us. There was the sound of a plop, and there on her felt iPad cover was a huge bird mess. She gasped in horror and I raced to find some paper towel.
As I wiped it up as best I could, I reminded her that nothing in this life is wasted if we choose to use it.  ‘Can you use this experience somehow?’ I asked.
Her eyes lit up. ‘Yes! My characters are auditioning for a theatre production. Yes, something like this would fit really well!’

And in that moment the bird dropping on her iPad became an exciting idea rather than an inconvenience.

Imagine if we could live this way?

I try, but I admit I often fail.

As I wait in hospital rooms or in medical waiting areas I try to watch what is going on around
me. To feel everything, observe everyone, and soak up the moment. And in doing this, ‘wasted’ time becomes valuable. I grow to understand more about people and the world we live in. And in doing so I learn more about myself and God.

Not only is this good for my writing, it is good for my life. If I can let my life story be God’s story I know there is purpose in everything. When I spill toothpaste on my clean shirt, rather than become irritated and stressed I can see it as a valuable experience. If I truly believe God is in every detail, I can trust Him with it all. When tragedy strikes I can know that God is working out the story of my life for good.

The second thing that struck me anew in my time with the High School students is that if we want to be a writer we need to write! So many of the students told me about ideas floating around in their heads. Some of them were brilliant.
‘Have you written them down?’ I asked time and time again. Most hadn’t. So I couldn’t even have a look at their ideas and help develop them. If they’d at least written them down, even if they needed work we would have had something to work with.

It occurred to me that over half these students will probably never write a book. Are they capable? Absolutely. They are gifted, intelligent writers. But what good is a writer who never writes?

And so I came home and started the project I had been putting off. 

My prayer for each of those students, and also for us as adult writers, is that we will see God’s hand in every experience. That we will live the richness of this life, put it down in words, and connect with our readers. Above all, that we will connect with our God who valued relationship with us more than His own life. 

Jenny Glazebrook lives in the country town of Gundagai with her husband, Rob and 4 children along with many pets. She is the published author of 7 novels, 1 traditionally published, and 6 self published. She writes because words burn within her. She is an experienced inspirational speaker and loves to encourage others to walk closer with God and hear His voice each day. She has a Diploma of Theology and is a 3 times CALEB finalist. Jenny’s website is: