Tuesday, 14 August 2018

Tuesday Book Chat | 14 August 2018 | Iola Goulton

It's Iola here. Welcome to our ACW Tuesday Book Chat, where we encourage book lovers to answer our bookish question of the week. I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

Do you read books recommended by friends?

I do—even though I have more than enough books on my to-read pile already. But if a friend recommends a title, it's hard to say no.

Please join in the conversation in a comment on this post or in a comment on the blog post shared in our Australasian Christian Writers Facebook Group. Or, if you're feeling wordy (like me), write a blog post and link to it in the comments.

Let's chat! Do you read books recommended by friends?

Monday, 13 August 2018

August 2018 New Releases

Jenny Blake | @ausjenny

The Pharaoh's Stone by Nick Hawkes (Rhiza Connect, 1 August 2018)

A young man hiding from his past in a London prison. A body found hanged from a bridge over the River Thames. An Egyptian code that holds the key to an international scandal …
Peter has served his prison sentence trying to be nameless. But on his release, Peter becomes entangled in the life of British Museum professor, Alex, whose brother was found hanged under Blackfriars Bridge.

Investigations into the death lead them into the secret world of Freemasonry and its passion for collecting ancient Egyptian artefacts. Alex calls on Beth, his finest student and an expert in Egyptian hieroglyphics.

From London to Paris, New York and the ancient temples of Egypt, they lead a frantic race to uncover the clues. As Peter and Beth get closer to solving the mystery of the murder, death stalks their every move. To survive, Peter must discover qualities about himself he never knew he had … and learn to trust once more.
Website link

Grace in the Shadows by Christine Dillon (LinksintheChain Press, 1 August 2018) 

Physiotherapist Esther has survived cancer, but wounds within her family remain unhealed. Is her revived faith the reason for the rift or could a simmering secret be the root cause?
Cosmetics consultant Rachel buried her past - and her father’s God - but the past refuses to stay buried. Will she continue to run or is confronting her pain the way to freedom?

Two women. Two different lives. 
One collision course with truth.
Can God’s grace shine even in the darkest of shadows?

Amazon link

Friday, 10 August 2018

You never know...

By Melissa Gijsbers @MissieK

One of the two major supermarkets here in Australia is having a promotion where they are giving away mini versions of some of their most popular products for every $30 you spend. When I saw this, I thought it was a pretty silly promotion, although I know a number of people with small kids who are loving these as they play shops.

I wasn't going to worry about taking an of these as I have teenagers, and we don't need any more things cluttering up the house. That was until my 16 year old came with me to the supermarket! He wanted to collect them!

What has this got to do with writing? I hear you say.

You never know what is going to appeal to someone. I never expected that a bunch of mini plastic products would appeal to my 16 year old son. He has also recently discovered the books of Charles Dickens and this has got him reading again.

The story that you think is a bit 'out there' or has been done a thousand times, or it's an issue that you haven't seen others write about before - this might be the story that someone loves. You never know what story will appeal to someone.

Thursday, 9 August 2018

Book Recommendation - Then There Was You by Kara Isaac

Book Description:

RITA Award 2018 Winner - Romance with Religious or Spiritual Elements

Paige McAllister needs to do something drastic. Her boyfriend can’t even commit to living in the same country, her promised promotion is dead on arrival and the simultaneous loss of her brother and her dream of being a concert violinist has kept her playing life safe and predictable for six years. Things need to change. A moment of temporary insanity finds her leaving her life in Chicago to move to Sydney, Australia. There she finds herself, against many of her convictions, as a logistics planner for one of Australia’s biggest churches, and on a collision course with her boss’s son.

Josh Tyler fronts a top-selling worship band and is in demand all over the world. But, in the past, his failed romantic relationships almost destroyed both his reputation and his family. He's determined to never risk it happening again. The last thing he needs is some American girl tipping his ordered life upside down. Especially one who despises everything he’s ever worked for and manages to push every button he has.

When Josh and Paige are thrown together to organize his band’s next tour, the sparks fly. But can they find a way to bridge the differences that pull them apart? Or will they choose the safety and security of what they know over taking a chance on something that will require them to risk everything?

Narelle's Thoughts:

I finished reading Then There Was You with a smile on my face after shedding a few tears toward the end of the story. We first meet Paige McAllister in Chicago at her nineteen year old sister's wedding. Paige's absent and commitment phobic long term boyfriend shows up late to the wedding and she takes the bold step of breaking up with him. She impulsively declares that she's moving to Australia and staying in Sydney with her cousin, Kat.

Josh Tyler is the lead guitarist and singer in an internationally successful Sydney megachurch worship band. His parents are the founding church pastors and the media delight in giving his family bad publicity by creating fake news. Josh is aloof and wary of strangers, especially women. He's over thirty, living at home with his parents, and single for a reason after making bad relationship decisions in the past.

Paige and Josh first meet when they catch the same flight from Chicago to LA, en-route to Sydney. Josh's first impressions of Paige stay with him and give him an interesting perspective on her character. His belief that his parents always make wise decisions as leaders of their church is challenged when his mother employs Paige as a logistics manager for their upcoming women's conference.

Josh and Paige are forced to work together on the church campus in suburban Sydney. Josh comes across as a bit full of himself and entitled. He lives in a tight knit megachurch bubble where he spends his time recording music and travelling the world with the worship team. He makes some big assumptions about Paige without checking his facts.

Paige is seemingly on a mission to make decisions that will make her life more miserable. For example, she picks the job at the megachurch despite her horrendous past experiences as a volunteer worker at a US megachurch. A few Google searches could also have made Paige's life easier. Paige is carrying a truckload of emotional baggage that's hinted at early on in the story but not fully revealed until later.

Josh and Paige develop a sort-of-friends romance where the emotional barriers stay up for a large chunk of the story. Once I got to know Josh and Paige and understood why they behaved in certain ways, I wanted to see them overcome all the obstacles in their romance to achieve their happily-ever-after. They are both challenged to take risks and grow in their faith during the story.

Then There Was You also has a connection to Kara's previous books. Paige's cousin, Kat, who travels the world as a makeup artist, is Allie's best friend who we first meet in Close To You. I recommend Then There Was You to contemporary romance readers who enjoy the movie 10 Things I Hate About You style of romantic comedies with poignant moments.

Tuesday, 7 August 2018

Tuesday Book Chat | 7 August 2018 | Iola Goulton

It's Iola here. Welcome to our ACW Tuesday Book Chat, where we encourage book lovers to answer our bookish question of the week. I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

Do you read seasonal-themed books?

I have to say I mostly don't ... because most of the seasons are out of sync with us Down Under! That's one reason I enjoyed the Aussie Summer Christmas novellas so much—they were set in summer.

Please join in the conversation in a comment on this post or in a comment on the blog post shared in our Australasian Christian Writers Facebook Group. Or, if you're feeling wordy (like me), write a blog post and link to it in the comments.

Let's chat! Do you read seasonal-themed books?

Monday, 6 August 2018

Exploring Genre: Steam Punk and Gaslight

by Alison Stegert

Historical Fantasy Sub-Genres: Gaslamp and Steampunk

Gaslamp (Gaslight) fantasy and steampunk are atmospheric sub-genres of fantasy that exploit historical features and foibles of the 19th century, particularly in Britain and its colonies.

A Bit of Background…

The European Enlightenment of the 17th and 18th centuries exalted Reason above all else, a focus that both ignited scientific enquiry and spawned revolutions. At the same time, the Enlightenment calcified the imagination. Two centuries of constrictive rationality created a hankering for escape and a hunger for whimsy. In other words, at the turn of the 19th century, the world was ripe for fantasy.

The Nineteenth Century

Welcome to the Romantic Era, the age of sturm und drang—intense emotion, when fairies flitted in gardens and mad scientists cooked up monsters during electrical storms. This shift of focus to emotions and intuition, myth and magic provided fodder for creatives of all types, not least writers.

The 19th century in England was a time of incredible social change. Starting in Great Britain, the Industrial Revolution (1780 – 1840) heralded a new urban lifestyle, featuring a working class, advances in trade and business, and the mechanical manufacturing. The power of steam was harnessed for transport, textiles, iron production.

The Royal Circus

A series of formidable monarchs ruled during the 19th century. George III’s chronic illness and mental health issues came to a head when his youngest daughter Amelia died in 1811. His intense grieve left him unfit to rule, so his son, the Prince of Wales, ruled as regent from 1811 - 1820 (aka, The Regency Period).

The Prince Regent made a right royal mess of things, running up debts, flagrantly spending, and generally behaving immorally. Upon his father’s death in 1820, he was crowned King George IV, dying ten years later after a prolonged illness.

His brother William IV took over, ruling for seven years, during which he did not produce a legitimate heir. His niece Alexandrina was next in line, ruling as Queen Victoria from 1837 to 1901. The British Empire grew during her long reign, and she, dour and indomitable, left an indelible mark on history.

Her son succeeded her, reigning from 1901 to 1910 as King Edward VII.

Historical Fantasy Genres

Both gaslamp/gaslight and steampunk occupy the above piece of historical real estate, Regency to Edwardian eras, but they use the space differently.

Gaslamp (or Gaslight)

Gaslamp fantasy is historical fantasy with magical possibilities. The setting is usually Regency, Victorian or Edwardian, and usually it’s placed in Britain or its (former) colonies. The name refers to the ambiance created by the gas lamps that lit the streets of the time. The nomenclature derives from the comic series Girl Genius by Kaja Foglio.

Gaslamp Hallmarks

The tropes of gaslamp differ from those of straight fantasy (e.g., Tolkien) or straight Faerie (e.g., MacDonald). Victorian times saw a spike in curiosity about the spiritual world with many people dabbling in seances and other occultic practices. These themes sometimes make their way into gaslamp fantasy. Similarly, there was a resurgence of interest in fairies and other fey creatures and folklore.

Gaslamp explores fantastical possibilities and supernatural elements, time-slip, alternative histories and parallel worlds. Its tone can range from broodingly gothic to ‘swashbucklingly’ adventurous. A librarian from the New York Public Library described gaslamp fantasy as: “Jane Austen or Charles Dickens meets Harry Potter.” It can include mystery, boarding schools, pirates, monsters, spies, and manners.

Classic Gaslamp Examples

The gaslamp classification didn’t exist at the time these works were published, but they fit. Consider:
Peter Pan and Wendy by JM Barrie – Victorian, magic, parallel worlds, magic, mythical and fey characters
Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll – Victorian, magic, portal, time-slip
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens – Victorian, time-slip, ghosts, eerie ambiance
Dracula by Bram Stoker Victorian, mythical character, magic, eerie ambiance

Contemporary Gaslamp Examples

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clark
The Prestige by Christopher Priest
The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker
A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray
The Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman (Australian author)


While gaslamp plays up magical possibilities, steampunk emphasises the technological possibilities afforded by 19th-century advances in steam power. Some argue that this focus on technology pushes it more toward science-fiction than fantasy. Often the technologies are anachronistic, for example, steam-powered robots or androids; or they can be ‘retrofuturistic’, for example, a reimagining of a blimp as a family vehicle or a war machine.

The punk aspect of steampunk refers to the tone of the genre, which can be irreverent, brash and disaffected. There’s a vague or overt sense of dissatisfaction with the state of affairs, often an anachronistic callousness, and sometimes a lack of optimism about the future.

Steampunk is not only a literary genre, it’s also an aesthetic. Costumes and settings are Victorian but amped up, for example, women wearing corsets as daywear or men donning thick goggles as eyewear. Clockwork and steam engines of all sizes and descriptions abound.

Variations on a Theme

Some steampunk incorporates supernatural elements such as vampires, werewolves, and witches. Although usually set in Victorian times and generally in Britain (or its colonies), a strong off-shoot of steampunk is ‘weird west,’ usually a wild west setting with gadgets and horror elements. More recent additions to the steampunk canon include non-British settings and POC protagonists.

Image Credits: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:1889_Verne_poster.jpg   

Classic Steampunk Examples

Consider the following works as forerunners to the steampunk genre. Again, the classification of steampunk didn’t exist at the time of these authors, but their works nonetheless fit:

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
The Time Machine by HG Wells
Twenty-thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne

Contemporary Examples of Steampunk

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen by Alan Moore
Leviathan by Scott Westerfield
Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger
The Tremblers by Raquel Byrnes (Christian steampunk)
Maiden of Iron: A Steampunk Fable by Edie Melson (Christian steampunk)

 Other images: Upslpash


Ali Stegert writes gaslamp fantasy adventure for children. The Temple of Lost Time, book one of The Whitherworld Chronicles trilogy, is currently in submission. Set in London’s theatre district in an alternative 19th century, cheeky theatre child Toby Fitzroy must find his long-lost father or end up in a notorious Workhouse for Wayward Children. But his search intersects with the dying, magic-addled king’s quest for the time elixirs of the mythical Temple of Lost Time and sends him to another world…

Writing gaslamp fantasy gives Alison a playground in which to indulge in her passion for Victoriana, fairy tales, and history. A former school counsellor, Alison now cares for her elderly father-in-law and writes books for children. She lives near the beach in Australia with her husband and two naughty dogs. Find out more on her blog, Spilling Ink.

Friday, 3 August 2018

The Pen is Mightier than the Keyboard by Elaine Fraser

Writing is just having a sheet of paper, a pen, and not a shadow of an idea of what you are going to say. - writer and novelist Françoise Sagan

Do you write your notes and drafts in a notebook or do you use a laptop? 

Do you have a stationery fetish? 

Is there a particular pen you to write with?

I’ve written a few books now and I’ve always handwritten them. I used to pay someone to type up my drafts, but my husband kindly bought me the Dragon program. Now I can read my draft aloud while it’s being typed into my computer and edit as I go along. Bonus!

I have two types of notebooks on the go at any one time. A4 size for manuscript drafts and an A5 one in my handbag. 

I always divide my A5 notebooks into the front and back. In the front, I have notes from sermons, conferences, or books I’ve read. 

In the back, I have what I call  ‘inspiration jottings’. I must admit that I can often be sitting through a sermon, go off on a tangent of thought, and jot an idea in the back of my notebook for a blog or scene in a novel or just something that occurred to me. 

An A5 notebook and pen live in my handbag as a permanent fixture. 

Now, I don’t have to justify why I love notebooks so much, but here are seven reasons why I think the pen is mightier than the keyboard.

1. Writing with a pen brings both sensory and cognitive processes into play with each other. This fires the brain and helps creativity to flow.

2. This is not true for everyone, but my brain flows at a faster rate than my typing speed, whereas I can handwrite much faster.

3. Writing with a pen or pencil on a piece of paper is becoming an infrequent activity, yet despite this, many people still have a stationery fetish. Notebooks are so pretty now and can cost a lot of money if you go for designer styles, however, some of the large retail chain stores have excellent ones from about two dollars. 

4. I like seeing all my notebooks lined up on my shelf. I have hundreds of them filled with my scribbles. I also buy them obsessively, so I probably have just as many empty notebooks lying around the house ready and waiting to be filled. It’s a history of notetaking that may not mean much to others but is a tangible reminder of my writing history.

5. I find that writing longhand I can enter a zone of comfort I find hard to achieve when sitting in front of a screen. I can take my notepads and pens everywhere I go; which means I can write anywhere I want, when I want. I can sit in a corner of a café unnoticed and write to my heart's content. 

6. Writing by hand slows me down — in a good way. The old-school feeling of writing like Hemingway did in a café in Paris makes me savour the moments and enjoy the experience. 

7. The pace of longhand and the scratch of pen on page reminds me that writing is a craft. 

Do you love writing in notebooks? Do you write your manuscript drafts in a notebook?

Elaine realised she wanted to be a writer at ten years of age when the words flew off the page during a creative writing lesson. 

She studied English and Education at university and went on to spend many years as a high school English teacher teaching others how to write.  

In 2005, Elaine took the plunge and began writing full-time. Since then she has published five books and blogs for several sites, including Australasian Christian Writers, Christian Writers Downunder, and Kinwomen

Elaine’s passion is to write about real issues with a spiritual edge for those who linger on the fringes of faith. 

When she’s not travelling the world in search of quirky bookstores or attending writing retreats in exotic locations, she can be found in the Perth hills sitting in her library—writing, reading, mentoring writers, and hugging her golden retriever.