Thursday, 21 September 2017

Book Review: Jane of Austin, by Hillary Manton Lodge

Reviewed by Carolyn Miller

Just a few years after their father’s business scandal shatters their lives, Jane and Celia Woodward find themselves forced out of their San Francisco tea shop. The last thing Jane wants is to leave their beloved shop on Valencia Street, but when Celia insists on a move to Austin, Texas, the sisters pack up their kid sister Margot and Jane’s tea plants, determined to start over yet again.

But life in Austin isn’t all sweet tea and breakfast tacos. Their unusual living situation is challenging and unspoken words begin to fester between Jane and Celia. When Jane meets and falls for up-and-coming musician Sean Willis, the chasm grows deeper.

While Sean seems to charm everyone in his path, one person is immune – retired Marine Captain Callum Beckett. Callum never meant to leave the military, but the twin losses of his father and his left leg have returned him to the place he least expected—Texas. 

In this modern spin on the Austen classic, Sense and Sensibility, the Woodward sisters must contend with new ingredients in unfamiliar kitchens, a dash of heartbreak, and the fragile hope that maybe home isn't so far away.

Anyone who knows me knows I’m a big fan of Jane Austen and Austen adaptations, so when this book began getting some buzz I had to buy it to check it out. Jane of Austin is Sense and Sensibility set in contemporary Austin, Texas, and for those of you familiar with Elinor and Marianne Dashwood’s tale, you will enjoy seeing the nods to Austen’s original story.

I found the plot intriguing, the characters engaging (although I’m starting to wonder just how many wounded war veterans need to be glamorised as leads in romantic stories – where are the office workers and accountants?), and the use of recipes and the mention of various teas interesting. For a novel marketed as Christian I was surprised when I finished reading how few references to Christian activity I could recall, apart from the occasional prayer. It was enough to make me wonder about the ‘vanilla-isation’ of books marketed as Christian books to a Christian market, when there is little to distinguish it from a clean secular novel. Not that I’m necessarily advocating the incorporation of sermons, and do I understand this falls into the ‘rom-com’ category, but a little more wrestling with faith would be nice to see from Christian characters.

All in all, I enjoyed this book, and if you're looking for a modern adaptation of a Jane Austen classic, then you will probably enjoy it also.

Carolyn Miller lives in the beautiful Southern Highlands of New South Wales, Australia, with her husband and four children. A longtime lover of romance, especially that of the Regency era, Carolyn holds a BA in English Literature, and loves drawing readers into fictional worlds that show the truth of God’s grace in our lives. Her Regency novel 'The Elusive Miss Ellison' released in the US in February 2017, and is available at and Book Depositoryand her second novel ‘The Captivating Lady Charlotte’ released June 27 and  is available now.
Connect with her:                                  

Wednesday, 20 September 2017


My Son's GPS
Have you ever wondered how 
many satellites are circling our earth?

No? Neither have I. But they are there and even travelling out into deep space. One thing most are happy about is that amazing invention that's been around for some time, the GPS. ie. Global Positioning System.

A GPS is simply a guidance system. To take it to a personal, level, we know God's GPS has been around for thousands of years. And that's something we all need in life.

As long as we follow instructions, we can be sure of arriving where we need to be. Even if we make a mistake along the way and miss a turning, the GPS tells us  it's "recalculating," and sure enough it gets us back on track.

Sometimes we can make rash decisions in many of life's situations and relationships, and we head down the wrong way. Yet whenever we stop to listen, God will "recalculate" and set us back on the right road. We just need a willing heart to think of the others' needs before our own and to kind to each other.

My life verse is this from the Book of Proverbs Ch 3, verses 5 & 6: Trust in the Lord with all your heart and don't rely only on your own wisdom. In all your ways acknowledge him and He shall direct your paths.

Life can be hectic. Life can be confusing. We face so many choices and have to make so many decisions. Yet no matter where we are in life, we only need to keep our ear tuned to our ever-present GPS, or God's Positioning System, the Holy Bible. In it we will find unchanging truth. God's Word does not follow the latest of society's trends.

(Actually, I am my husband's GPS when we're driving. I love reading maps! I also love reading God's Word. The former gets us to where we're headed here on earth and the latter guides us both here and on to our eternal home.)

Currently Rita Galieh co-presents a 5 min. Christian radio program with her husband, George. ‘Vantage Point’ is broadcast Australia-wide on local FM stations.  As an author, she has written six inspirational historical novels, contributed to several US anthologies, and belongs to several writers’ organizations. 
Besides her weekly blog, she can be found on and Facebook. Together with her husband, she assumes the role of a governess, and gives a fun filled presentation of Etiquette of the Victorian Era.

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

The Power of Books to Influence - Cindy Williams

By Cindy Williams

What stories have influenced your writing?

Last weekend I did a prayer ministry course with Elijah House. As we learned the many ways in which we are shaped by our early childhood experiences I thought about our childhood reading experiences – how do they influence our writing?

My first favourite book was Dr Seuss’ The Cat in the Hat which, I am told, I could recite word for word. Even after fifty years, seeing the pictures and reading the words elicits a wonderful sense of security and delight.

A few years later I voraciously devoured every Famous Five and Secret Seven book I could find. My friend and I would roam the neighbourhood looking for suspicious neighbours and mysteries to solve. Mostly we just got in trouble for trespassing!

That sense of adventure continued with the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew series. I was so keen that I even entered a competition where a boy (yuk!) and I had to eat from each end of a chocolate bar faster than any other ‘couple’. The sacrifice was worth it – the prize was a Hardy Boys book!

As well as adventure I was drawn by the food of the Famous Five. Those picnic baskets filled with cold ham, sandwiches, cherry cake and homemade lemonade; and those cups of hot cocoa, crusty bread, hunks of farm fresh cheese and chocolate sponge cake after an adventurous night out: these too elicited warm, wonderful feelings.

Later, while writing (as a dietitian) about food in a far less evocative way, I discovered Francine Rivers’ The Mark of the Lion series. The main character inspired me with how to live as a Christian amongst those who don’t believe. The stories gave me guidance and hope – and plenty of action and adventure!

Then I found Frank Peretti’s books, This Present Darkness and Piercing the Darkness. These came along just as I was learning about the power of spiritual warfare, and both inspired and encouraged me.

I am regularly sent books to review for the Historical Novel Society and I have been wondering why I struggle to read many of them, often chiding myself that I am not ‘literary’ enough. But I have realised that what many of these books lack is a message of hope.

In recalling my favourite books from the past I realise that I am drawn to books that have adventure and challenge, and are uplifting and provide hope. I have written two novels that, at first glance, seem completely different. In fact they contain all the elements that I like to read about. Just as a prayer ministry course can provide insight into why we behave in certain ways, so this exercise has given me insight into what I am drawn to write.

Which books have shaped your life? What inspires you? The Lord has given each of us different experiences, different interests and different writing styles. The one thing we have in common is that as Christians we are able to bring God’s light and hope into a dark and needy world. When we are obedient to write what the Lord has laid on our hearts we can trust that He will use it to bless someone in some way. Embrace your uniqueness, refine your writing craft (perhaps by coming to the Omega Writers Conference) and pray that God’s will is done with whatever you write.

Monday, 18 September 2017

Understanding the Principles of Copyright

By Iola Goulton

What is Copyright?

In essence, copyright is the right to copy. (Sounds obvious, right?)

Copyright includes the right to reproduce, distribute, and display copyrighted works. It is a form of intellectual property, an asset that has monetary value. Copyright law is designed to protect the rights of those who create content.

What Does Copyright Cover?

Copyright covers original works, whether words, sounds, or images, and whether published or unpublished. This includes books and blog posts, but also includes music, lyrics, movies, TV shows, scripts, plays, speeches … it’s broad. Basically, copyright covers the creation of any original work, in any form.

Who Owns the Copyright to a Published Book?

The author (well, they should). The author signs a contract with a publisher which licences specific rights. This licence gives the publisher the temporary right to reproduce, distribute, and display copyrighted works (i.e. to print and sell the book).

A good contract will specify what rights are included, e.g. the format of the book, the language, and the countries the book can be sold. It will also include how the author can get those rights back (e.g. so the author can self-publish the work). Never sign a contract that’s for life of copyright. That basically means the publisher owns the book, not you.

If you want to know more about the ins and outs of publishing contracts, I recommend Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s blog.

Copyright is Automatic

Copyright is automatic for work first published after 1 March 1989. Works do not have to have a © symbol or notice of copyright to be covered. The law is more complex for earlier work, so it’s best to assume a work is covered by copyright unless you have evidence to the contrary.

Copyright is International

All countries have laws relating to copyright. While there are minor differences (e.g. the length of copyright, whether you need to register copyright), the principles are the same, thanks to the Berne Convention.

There is a legal concept known as the long arm of the law. I thought this a cliché used in Western movies, but it apparently is a real thing. Author and lawyer Courtney Milan says:
you can be prosecuted by a state so long as you have “minimum contacts” with that state.
Milan was talking about online giveaways, not copyright law, but my unlegal interpretation* of long-arm jurisdiction is that anything you publish needs to abide by:

  • The copyright laws where you live.
  • The copyright laws where you publish.
  • The copyright laws where your readers live.

So a blog post (like this one) published on a US-based website (like Blogger) that attracts readers from Australia, New Zealand, and the US needs to comply with US copyright law. And Australian copyright law. And New Zealand copyright law.

Copyright is Universal

Fortunately, most of the principles are universal, thanks to the Berne Convention. Where things differ by country, my suggestion is to abide by the most conservative. So if a work under copyright in country A but not in country B, I suggest you treat the work as if it was still under copyright.

Here are two well-known examples:

  • The King James Bible
  • Peter Pan

The King James Bible

Most American Christians will tell you the King James Bible is out of copyright. However, it is still under copyright in the United Kingdom—copyright is held by the Crown i.e. HM Queen Elizabeth II. King James Bibles are published in the UK by the Crown’s patentee, Cambridge University Press.

So if it’s reasonable to assume your book might be purchased in the UK, it would be appropriate to include the appropriate copyright statement. (Not that I’ve ever heard of the Queen suing anyone for copyright infringement over the King James Bible. But it could happen.)

Note that it’s not the original text of the Bible which is subject to copyright, but the translation. 

So all more modern versions of the Bible, including the New King James Version, are under copyright, because they are translations. Most modern translations allow authors to quote up to a specific number of verses without written permission as long as the follow specific guidelines. You can find up-to-date copyright and permission information by clicking on the relevant version at Bible Gateway.

Peter Pan

JM Barrie gifted the copyright to Peter Pan (the play and the later novelisation) to Great Ormond Street Hospital for Sick Children in 1929. That copyright originally expired in 1987, but the UK Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 includes a clause that specifically states GOSH has a right to royalty in perpetuity in the UK for stage productions, broadcasting, or publication.

But that doesn’t apply internationally. The novel is considered to be in the public domain in most countries, although the play version is still in copyright in the US until 2023 (so if Hollywood wish to produce a Peter Pan movie, the producers must licence the rights from GOSH).

Copyright Infringement

Copyright infringement is a big deal. It’s against the law in the same way as stealing is against the law. As an awkward object lesson, Abingdon Press have recently pulled a book from sale after finding numerous instances of plagiarism

Plagiarism is quoting other people’s work without appropriate attribution.

Strong for a Moment Like This: The Daily Devotions of Hillary Rodham Clinton by Rev Bill Shillady is a collection of 365 devotions provided to the former First Lady during her presidential campaign. Unfortunately, not all the material was original.

The plagiarism was discovered when CNN published one of the devotionals, and a pastor from Indiana contacted CNN, saying parts of the devotional seemed to be “inspired” by a blog post he published in March 2016. Despite the book having over 200 citations, there was more content that had not been correctly cited. The book was pulled from sale less than a month after publication.

It is estimated that 3,000 copies of Strong have been sold, from a print run of 80,000. The remaining books will be recalled and pulped.

Does This Mean I Can’t Use Copyrighted Material?

You can still use copyrighted material if you have written permission from the copyright holder (note that this may not be the original creator—Paul McCartney doesn’t own the rights to most of the 250+ songs he created with John Lennon).

You can also use copyrighted material without permission in certain specific circumstances, as outlined in the US doctrine of Fair Use.

I’ll be back next week to discuss Fair Use, and give some tips for using copyrighted material without getting into trouble.

Please note that I am not a lawyer, and this is not legal advice. There is a lot of great information about copyright on the internet, but none of it is legal advice. To get legal advice, you pay a lawyer licensed to practice in your state or country. 

About Iola Goulton

I am a freelance editor specialising in Christian fiction. Visit my website at download a comprehensive list of publishers of Christian fiction. 

I also write contemporary Christian romance with a Kiwi twist—find out more at

You can also find me on:
Facebook (Author)
Facebook (Editing)

Friday, 15 September 2017

Why we Write

Photo courtesy of KEKO64 at
For those of us who’ve started out on this writing journey later in life it’s often a result of that burning story idea that’s been bugging us for years. That was me 15 years (really has it been that long ago?). Or how many times have we met someone who says they really want to write their personal story because they believe their life has been sufficiently interesting that others would enjoy it? My dad’s one of those. And an elderly family-friend only mentioned it to me the other day. She said she had all these handwritten notes tucked away where she’d documented important moments of her life.
But so many of those people don’t get around to writing their stories. Why? A host of reasons I expect.
And then there are those many authors who consider the Lord has called them to write. I’m not one of those and have no qualms about not being.
A Seeker
“We do not write in order to be understood; we write in order to understand.” – Cecil Day-Lewis
It’s only been in the last few years that I’ve come to realise the above quote is true for me. I think many people write or desire to write (like those I mentioned above) because they seek to be understood. Having read many non-fiction books, memoirs and such (I read more of these than fiction) I’ve realised the ones I struggle to read are those that are focusing too much on sharing their story rather than universal truths that provide relevance for a reader. As I only read today from Wayne Jacobsen (one of the co-writers of The Shack):

Your story needs to be the illustration; your book needs to be about the life lesson that will help your order.”

I’ve found this a useful reminder as I type away with the non-fiction piece that I’m writing. Yes, I’m seeking to understand why intimacy with God is such a struggle for us that can also flow over into our relationships but I’ve found I’ve needed to first chart my own story of intimacy before discovering those pearls of wisdom that others may find meaningful.

But I write fiction

“All of my novels began with a question I was wrestling with. A doubt or struggle in my life that I wanted to explore in the context of story.” – Ted Dekker

We write stories to discover the truth. And in so doing we discover more about the Lord and ourselves.
As I mentioned in a previous post last year I had to wrestle with my own shadows to effectively write a story of the same title.
The Privilege of Writing
God is creative. The first thing we see God do is … create.
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1 NKJV)
We are made in His likeness. So we are ALL creative. We create because He did. “We were born to make art. Our artist identity is our birthright.” (Emily P Freeman)
And we get to create with our Creator.
Double Wow!
Doesn’t it blow your mind? For whatever reason we’re writing fiction or non-fiction, we get to do it with Him. And that’s the point.
Doing it with Him.
I’ve read books and unpublished manuscripts of varying quality recently; some have been great, some not so. But what I know is that all these authors had a story in them (some were their own personal stories) and it was important they be written. Not so that it gets published, not that it sells squillions of copies, or wins awards, but they created with their Creator. And in so doing they gave Him glory.
Dan Balow summed it up really well in his Steve Laube post the other day: “God does not need your book. But he loves it when you exercise your abilities for his glory and not your own.”
And then:
“God grants his children the privilege of joining his work, no matter what you do.”
What an honour it is for us authors. To write with Him. To co-create.
So stay close to Him when you turn up each day to the blank piece of paper. He’s there. In you. And He’s so excited that you’ve once again turned up to create something … together.
Grace and peace, my writer friends.

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

Thursday, 14 September 2017

Book Review - 'Every Job a Parable' by John Van Sloten


A Walmart greeter, a nurse, and an astronaut walk into a church. . . .

They each bring with them their own exhaustions and exasperations, their own uncertainty about whether and how their work matters to God. Good news: All work matters to God, because all work reflects some aspect of the character of God. God created the world so that it runs best when it mirrors Him, and we ourselves find the most fulfillment when we recognize God behind our labor.

John Van Sloten offers a fascinating and innovative reflection on vocation: Our work is a parable of God; as we work, we are icons of grace.

This is a great read for anyone who finds their daily grind a bit of a drag, or can't help thinking of their spiritual self as separate from their daily, nine-to-five self. John Van Sloten believes we can stretch our minds to think of any job or occupation as a parable for the way God works. After all, he's always made himself known through real people doing real work.

First, Van Sloten knocks down the vocational hierarchy we might have all bought into at different times. It simply doesn't exist from a heavenly perspective, where every humble job has its own dignity and significance. Throughout the book, he interviews and observes people in many different professions, and then has fun revealing their essential goodness to them. To mention just a few, there are astronauts, flyer-deliverers, psychologists, residential landlords, cleaners, electricians, automative repairmen, florists, language translators, geophysicists and hairdressers. It's great to think we're all on an equal plane.

We are urged to study God's signature moves, so we can more easily notice the way our jobs reflect them. Then we can pull our attitudes about them back into sync, in case they've been a bit off. There are three roles I've held; cleaner, writer and parent, which many people can probably relate to, and I enjoyed reading the thoughts about them.

Cleaners (including anyone who cleans or regularly tidies up messes) reflect God's heart for people to have clean and healthy lives. We remove unnecessary, used trash to make room for pristine new surroundings, which is what God does on a larger scale. Cleaners everywhere bear witness to his world-restoring power, whenever we leave anything better than how we found it.

As writers, we share God's heart for creativity, and attempt to figure out the way his world works through story telling, and clarity of expression. Pondering how we're going to form our sentences allows us to catch glimpses of God's own thoughts, and spread them, for the things we're passionate enough to write about are often the things he's passionate about too.

And needless to say, as parents we enter into God's heart to care, nurture and love each others with a giving, sacrificial love.

It's a mood-lifting book to read, with plenty of cheerful ways to regard the things we might not feel all that cheerful about naturally. John Van Sloten is aware that in our darker moods, this may all come across a bit platitudinal. He advises us to keep stretching our broader perspective muscles to go with it anyway. I think it really does work, and if you look for your own job, you'll be quite likely to find it in this enthusiastic and comprehensive book.

Thanks to NetGalley and Tyndale House for my review copy.

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.

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

September New Releases

Liana's Dance by Rosanne Hawke (Rhiza Press, 1 August 2017) 

Sixteen-year-old Liana Bedford lives in constant fear. Political tensions in Pakistan are rising and terrorist attacks are becoming an everyday norm.
As a Pakistani-Australian, she could be the next target. When her school friends are taken hostage by terrorists, Liana’s world disappears overnight.
Alongside her new teacher, Mr Kimberley, she must journey through rural Pakistan in a bid to find them and bring them home. But Mr Kimberley has a secret, and to save him and her friends, Liana must overcome her fears.
And dance for her life.
An unforgettable story about one Pakistani-Australian’s will to survive.
Liana’s Dance is a stand alone novel from Rosanne Hawke, inspired by a character from Rosanne’s Beyond Borders series.


Lizzy's Fragon by Melissa Gijsbers (Stone Table Books, 7 September 2017) 

When she finds an odd looking egg in the forest behind her house she decides to hide it in her bedroom in the hope that it will hatch into a lizard.  What she gets is ‘Bubbles’, the oddest, fastest growing lizard she has ever seen. It doesn’t take long for her annoying little brother to discover her secret pet. It also doesn’t take long for Bubbles to grow out of her room. Lizzy begins to wonder whether Bubbles is a lizard at all, or something even more amazing. But how will Lizzy keep Bubbles a secret? And what will happen to Bubbles if anyone finds out about him?

Where to buy.

The Warrior Lord's Trumph by Ray Hawkins

Fourth in the Warrior Lord series, this 31 day devotional leads us to an appreciation of the wonder associated with Christ's return.

As our world becomes more chaotic, confusing and being on the edge of catastrophe, these devotions offer Biblical insights birthing hope. History's climax has been outlined. We see the scenarios taking shape. Knowing Christ's return in Triumph as the Warrior Lord and King breathes peace into our soul.

Daily themes such as 'When God Sings Solo' gives us a sense of His joy for His people. Another insight is 'Heaven's Hallelujah chorus' highlight the music and songs in Revelation.

R.R.P is $11:95 (Aus.) paper back. Ebook price to be determined
Available in Christians books such as Amazon in Australia and overseas countries.


Jewel of the Stars by Adam David Collings (Tamar Publications, 31 August 2017)

The Cruise is Over

Haylee was more confident designing starships than raising an autistic child. She just wants a relaxing holiday with her family. But when Earth falls to an alien armada, she knows life will never be the same again.

Les was just a cruise ship captain. Now, he must rise up and become something greater, if he is to keep his crew and passengers alive.

Braxton never wanted to leave the space navy, but now, taking a cruise is the only way to feel the stars around him. This crisis may be his ticket to regaining the life he thought was gone forever.

Can they overcome their differences and save everyone on the ship?

If they reach unexplored space, they might yet survive, but an unstoppable enemy stands in their way…