Monday, 20 November 2017

Best of the ACW Archives ~ Creative Nonfiction Part 2

By Nola Passmore

It's Okay to Make a Scene

Novels and movies are typically made up of scenes: little stories or vignettes that progress the plot in some way. Perhaps it’s a glimpse into the protagonist’s character, the foreshadowing of a tricky situation, a skinny latté between friends or a phone call that sets off a rippling chain of events. The point is that something happens. However, scenes are more than the playthings of fiction writers; they’re “the building blocks of creative nonfiction” (Gutkind, 2012, p. 107).

Anna Elkins’ award-winning essay about her travels in Israel includes visits to thermal pools, a kibbutz and Roman ruins, but never reads like a travelogue. There’s peril, interpersonal encounters and deeper questions of life and meaning. She writes beautifully (e.g. “two contrails met in a calligraphy of white”), but another reason the story is so engaging is that it’s told almost entirely in scenes. If you have ten minutes to spare, it’s well worth reading Of Danger and Beauty. I count five major scenes. The first takes place in Tel Aviv where a missile is intercepted. The second involves Anna and her friend Tsach having a dip in the Dead Sea. Can you identify the other three?

Read more at the following link:

Friday, 17 November 2017

Researching & Writing Radio Programs

John Hills - Producer, George & Rita - Co-speakers

F18 fighter jets have a voice in the cockpit warning them of trouble. At times that voice will command, "Pull up!" Pull up!" or "Altitude! Altitude!" And they know to obey. Many a pilot says with gratitude that this voice had saved their lives.

As a co-presenter on FM Australia-wide program, Vantage Point, perhaps I speak with a different viewpoint from most writers. And the above is an example of one way we begin a program to catch listeners' attention.

I freely admit ACW, CWDU and ICFW blogs have been a great help in obtaining great material. Of course I have always asked permission from the original sources, AKA blog members. Happily they have all been willing for me to use their work which is credited. Rose Dee is a case in point. When I read her marvellous blog, 'Never Smile at a Crocodile' with her analogy equating the croc's habits with the devil, I wanted to use it. And we sent her an MP3 to listen to it.

Recently I also asked Deidre Blackmore for her material about honey bees and they way they work together to produce something so beautiful. It's amazing what writers write about that can be used so well in a program people listen to. Vantage Point is a Christian program but we always begin with the secular. The Lord Jesus Christ spoke this way to His listeners using familiar experiences then relating it to the spiritual.

I am hoping as you read this, my fellow writers, that you might see how you could be a part of this outreach to our unknown audience right across Australia. If you have ideas of anything that could be used as an analogy with Christian teaching then use your talent! We'd love to hear from you.

Unusual ideas? Send via email to (without spaces)  ritagal  @  optusnet  dot  com dot  au

BIO:    Indie Publisher, Rita Galieh has written a trilogy of historical  novels & also contributed to several US anthologies. She is now completing a third historical romance series. Besides her weekly blog, she can be found on Facebook and  

Rita studied art at the National Art School. After their marriage, she and her husband attended Emmaus Bible College, and were also involved with Christian Television on Sydney’s Channel Nine. She enjoys giving her fun-filled presentations of Etiquette of the Victorian Era in costume.

Thursday, 16 November 2017

Book Recommendation ~ Looking Glass Lies by Varina Denman

Book Description:
A poignant and relatable novel, Looking Glass Lies captures the war women wage against themselves, and the struggle to see beauty reflected in a mirror not distorted by society’s unrelenting expectations.
For most of her adult life, Cecily Ross has compared herself to other women—and come up short. After a painful divorce from her emotionally abusive husband, Cecily returns to her hometown of Canyon, Texas, looking to heal.
But coming home isn’t what she expects. In a town as small as Canyon, her pain is difficult to escape—especially with her model-perfect ex–sister-in-law working at the town’s popular coffee-shop hangout. With help from her father, a support group, and an old friend who guides her to see her own strengths, Cecily may have a shot at overcoming her insecurities and learning to love again.
The true test comes when tragedy strikes, opening Cecily’s eyes to the harmfulness of her distorted views on beauty—and giving her the perfect opportunity to find peace at last.
Narelle's Thoughts:
Wow. That's what I thought when I finished reading, and I read the book fast, within twenty-four hours. I've been a fan of Varina Denman's writing since I read her debut novel, Jaded, and Looking Glass Lies didn't disappoint.
The story opens with a prologue. We meet Cecily Ross when she's curled up in the back of her closet in her LA home, hiding away from the world and her emotionally abusive husband. Brett is addicted to porn and has shattered Cecily completely by wanting a divorce.
Fast forward eleven months and Cecily has returned to her home town of Canyon, Texas. She stays in her childhood home with her dad who's a widower and park ranger. Her father is worried about her and he asks the local therapist, Doctor Graham Harper, to call her.
Graham had a secret crush on Cecily in high school when she was dating her future husband, Brett Ross. Graham has overcome his teenage drug addiction and has a busy practice in town. He offers Cecily a receptionist job. Instead of providing counselling, he sets Cecily up in a women's support group with married mom of four Shanty and college student Nina.
Cecily meets with Shanty and Nina at Midnight Oil, the local coffee shop owned by celebrity sports star Michael Divins. Cecily struggles to deal with her gorgeous and perfect looking ex-sister-in-law, Mirinda, who works at the cafe and is dating Michael.
Cecily learns that to become emotionally healthy she needs to confront and deal with issues from her past. Secrets are revealed that rock the small community of Canyon and challenge them to face the lies they believe. Body image issues are a core theme in the story, plus the devastating effects of porn addiction and other emotional issues.
The characters are realistic and they deal with real world problems in the story. Edgy issues that may be uncomfortable for some readers are addressed, and the story has a Christian worldview with only a few references to faith.
The sweet romance between Cecily and Graham is complicated. A hero who's a therapist will, by definition, be cautious in his personal life. Cecily and Graham develop a friendship that is challenged by the events in the story.
I highly recommend Looking Glass Lies to readers who enjoy edgy and realistic Christian romance stories that deal with tough issues.
Many thanks to Waterfall Press and NetGalley for the Advanced Reader Copy.

A fun loving Aussie girl at heart, NARELLE ATKINS was born and raised on the beautiful northern beaches in Sydney, Australia. She has settled in Canberra with her husband and children. A lifelong romance reader, she found the perfect genre to write when she discovered inspirational romance. Narelle's contemporary stories of faith and romance are set in Australia.

Twitter: @NarelleAtkins

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Introducing Lisa Harris & her new novel Vanishing Point + Giveaway

Many romantic suspense readers have loved the NikkiBoyd series in the past couple of years. Lisa Harris, whom some of you know, is the author of this tremendous series.

The fourth instalment in the series launched a week ago and Lisa was kind enough to respond to a few questions I posed her about the series.

ACW: Vanishing Point is the 4th in Nikki Boyd series. Would you mind briefly summarising each of the novels.

Lisa: VENDETTA is the first book in the series where we are introduced to Nikki Boyd, her work as part of a missing person task force, and a possible romance with a close friend of hers. We also learn the motivation behind her career change—her own sister who went missing ten years ago--but it isn’t long before the connection between the case she’s working and her own missing sister collide.

MISSING, book two in the series, is a brand new missing person case Nikki and her team have to deal with involving a missing couple, but it also continues with a possible romance between Nikki and Tyler as well as Nikki’s continued search for her sister.

Book three, PURSUED, jumps into the action with a plane crash and a missing woman as her romance with Tyler continues to develop.

The last book in the series is really being marketed as a stand alone for a couple reasons. While the first three books are all told in Nikki’s point of view, VANISHING POINT is her sister Sarah’s story and is from the point of view of the investigators that first took on her case before Nikki was even a police officer. While it was really hard to write—the story stretches over ten years—I think it ended up being the perfect conclusion to the series and hopefully will satisfy readers who want to know what happened to Sarah.

ACW: I can’t wait to get my hands on it, Lisa. When you conceived the series, or did you conceive it as a series, how many stories did you have at the beginning?  

Lisa: I pitched it to my publisher as a three book series, though wouldn’t have minded writing more. :-) In the end, I was able to write this last story that really wraps up the series, which I loved being able to do.

ACW: I really like Nikki Boyd, she’s gutsy but vulnerable, is a fighter for the truth and loves the Lord. Was there someone you had in mind when you created Nikki?

Lisa: I’m so glad you like Nikki! She was so much fun to write. I really didn’t have anyone in mind when I created her, but I like writing about women who are like you said, gutsy, but vulnerable. Ordinary people who God can use in ways they never imagined. 

ACW: Your romance is suspenseful. Your stories always have great pace from the first page. For those of us who want to be able to write suspense what’s a tip you have for creating it and then maintaining it?

Lisa: It’s hard, I’ll confess. Part of it I think is writing until it feels right. Maybe that’s vague, but I always seem to know in my gut when something is off, even when I’m not sure what is wrong. And I always listen, which means working to fix what’s wrong—even if it means lots of rewriting. That’s not easy, but worth it. I also try to have every chapter end with a hook. I actually had someone give me a bad review because I do that, but that’s okay. If it’s suspense, there has to be a lot of twists and turns, right? I also love it when I’m writing and a twist comes up that I didn’t see. (My husband thinks that’s a bit crazy) But when I surprise myself, I figure I’ll also surprise my readers!

ACW: Is Vanishing Point the end or are there more Nikki Boyd stories in the pipeline?

Lisa: This is it. Part of me has been sad not writing anymore, because I spend a couple years writing her stories, but I’m on to something new which I’m also excited about.

ACW: As sad as I am that we won’t get to read more Nikki Boyd, I’m excited to hear more of your next project. You’re currently on furlough with your husband, back in your homeland. Besides your kids, family and friends, what's something you were hanging out to do when you got back to the US? And have you done it yet? 

Lisa: One of the best parts of being here has been having all my kids together under one roof with me, even if it was short. We’re all spread out again, but at least we’re on the same continent! So that is a family thing, but that’s really what I’ve been most excited about. :-) Other than that I have to say a few good Mexican meals are a must, and I’ve already enjoyed a couple.

Thank you so much for having me stop by, Ian! I appreciate it!

Thanks, Lisa. Enjoy these next few launch weeks.
We’re excited to be able to give a copy of Vanishing Point away to a lucky reader. Just leave a comment and an email address where you can be contacted. I’ll contact the winning reader early in the week commencing 20 November.
BIO: LISA HARRIS is a Christy Award finalist for Blood Ransom and Vendetta, Christy Award winner for Dangerous Passage, and the winner of the Best Inspirational Suspense Novel for 2011 (Blood Covenant) and 2015 (Vendetta) from Romantic Times. She has over thirty novels and novella collections in print. She and her family have spent over thirteen years working as missionaries in Africa. When she's not working she loves hanging out with her family, cooking different ethnic dishes, photography, and heading into the African bush on safari. For more information about her books and life in Africa visit her website at

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Birds and Bees by the Book by Patricia Weerakoon

13 - 17 November 2017

Australian Christian Readers Blog Alliance 

Is Introducing 

Publisher CEP, July 19, 2017

Book Description

People have been talking about the birds and the bees since Adam and Eve walked the earth. Yet the conversation hasn’t become easier! With so many messages about sexuality, gender and identity around them, our children need a safe space to learn about these topics now more than ever.

Designed for parents and carers to read with children aged 7 to 10, Birds and Bees by the Book has been created to help you to have these conversations at your own pace.

Written by renowned sex educator Patricia Weerakoon, the six books in this set are designed to be read in whichever order suits you and your child. They cover three foundational topics that help children to understand the family structures in the world around them, and how their body and brain are developing as they grow. There are also three extension topics that teach children what is involved in sexual activity, what it means to be a boy or a girl, and how to protect themselves against pornography if they stumble across it.

All of these topics are framed within the Bible’s message that children are unique creations of God, and that sex is a precious gift to be used carefully and wisely in the context of marriage.


Patricia Weerakoon is a Sexologist and Writer. She trained in medicine in the University of Sri Lanka.
She is an evangelical Christian. She is married to Vasantha. Her son Kamal is a Presbyterian minister.
As a Sexologist she has translated her passion to bring good holistic sexual health to all people into practical sex education, sex research and sex therapy.
Her writing and speaking brings together her enthusiasm for sex and her love for the glory of God.
The Christian framework of sex therapy she offers has enriched and empowered the sex life of couples and singles.
She has a recognised media presence and is a highly regarded public speaker and social commentator in sexuality and sexual health.

Patricia retired in 2011 after a twenty three year career as an academic with the Faculty of Health Sciences of the University of Sydney. The last eight years of which she was the director of an internationally acclaimed graduate program in Sexual Health.

Monday, 13 November 2017

Best of the ACW Archives ~ Creative Nonfiction Part 1

By Nola Passmore

If It's Creative and Nonfiction, Does That Mean We Make It Up?

I once went on a mission trip to Mexico as part of Youth With A Mission. Our first outreach in Guadalajara was organised by a group of Christian women who wanted to share the gospel in their neighbourhood. We performed some dramas to a crowd of about forty to fifty. Then one of the local pastors preached a short message and asked people to indicate if they’d like to receive Christ. The entire group came forward for prayer. It was an incredibly moving experience and we were full of praise and thanks to God.

Although everything I’ve just told you is true, it’s not presented in a particularly interesting way. The version I had published in one of the Aussie Stories books began like this:

‘It was hot and humid; the air so thick we got puffed just walking around. Our heavy black tracksuit pants didn’t help. Every movement was an effort. We were about to do our first street performance in Mexico.’

Do you think that opening is an improvement?

Read more at the following link:

Friday, 10 November 2017

FERNANDO AND ME by Karen Collum

Submitted by Jenny Glazebrook 

At the Omega Writers’ Conference this year I met a lady whose smile lit up her face.
Karen with her CALEB prize
She was the winner of the Childrens Picture Book section of the CALEB prize and also the overall runner-up, yet this wasn’t the source of her joy. She shared her story with me and it blessed me so much I asked her if I could share it with you, too.

This is Karen’s story:


By Karen Collum

There were so many reasons why I shouldn’t have gone to the Omega Writer’s Conference on the last weekend in October that I almost cancelled. In fact, less than two weeks before, I sent an email saying I couldn’t come and asking if my room could be sold to someone else…

You see, it had been a crazy few months since I booked for the conference way back in June. In June I wasn’t working full time. In June I hadn’t been sick. In June everyone was fit and healthy and fine and the thought of going away for a weekend with fellow Christian writers was perfect.

Fast forward to October and everything had changed. Full-time teaching, a week-long church camp for 300+ kids, a horrid bout of Influenza B that landed me in hospital and a serious medical emergency for a close family member had thrown a whole toolbox of spanners in the works. I decided not to go and sent the cancellation email. Then I prayed about it, asking God for affirmation of my writing, got the affirmation the very same day and sent another email cancelling the cancellation.

Still questioning my sanity, last Friday I got on a plane from the Gold Coast and flew to Sydney for a weekend of writing. And what a weekend it was! I am still coming to terms with the amazing, God-inspired events that unfolded during my time at my inaugural Omega Conference.

Narelle Atkins introducing Carolyn Miller and her workshop
The first of many amazing things happened in a workshop with author Carolyn Miller on Saturday afternoon. Carolyn asked us to think about our work in progress, which in my case, is a completed first draft of a middle-grade adventure novel. She asked us to write a synopsis in 25 words, then 10 words, and finally just one single word. The first two were easy for me as I’d been through this process before, but one word? That was more of a challenge. I pondered for a while and realised that the journey that my protagonist goes on centres on one quality: courage. I’d never pin-pointed that before so clearly and I was excited about what that would mean for my story.

Carolyn then asked us to think about a Bible verse that was related to our story. In an instant, the words, “Fear not, for I am with you!” jumped into my head along with the 80s worship song that I grew up singing. My young protagonist, Fernando, goes on a dangerous adventure in the wilderness, so the lyrics about walking through water and not drowning, and walking through fire and not being burned were such a good fit. Once again I was excited about the revelation. I tucked these epiphanies inside my heart and thanked God for his goodness. My novel was becoming so much clearer with all that He was revealing to me and I could see how this was going to strengthen my story in profound ways.

That evening, I spent some time in my room reading the Bible. I searched for my story verse and read it through new eyes:

“But now thus says the Lord,
he who created you, O Jacob,
he who formed you, O Israel:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
 I have called you by name, you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
 and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
  and the flame shall not consume you.
For I am the Lord your God,
    the Holy One of Israel, your Saviour.” Isaiah 43:1-3a ESV

In bed that night I was still contemplating the verse and thinking about how it related to my book. It was stunning to me that more than three years after the original idea and a year after I finished the first draft, I was only just realising what the book was actually about.

Three years ago, all I knew for sure – and I wasn’t even sure how I knew – was that the main character’s name was Fernando, he lived in an underground bunker with his papa, and he would have to go on a dangerous journey to save Papa’s life. Now, thanks to God’s grace and the Omega Conference, I knew the spiritual heart of my story.

“I have called you by name, you are mine…”

Sleep settled over me like the soft cotton blanket on my bed and the last thing I remember thinking was a question: I wonder what Fernando’s name means?

The next morning, I woke early and instantly remembered my question. I’d named Fernando three years ago, right at the very start of the creative process and yet I’d never looked up the meaning of his name. I grabbed my phone and googled ‘baby name meanings’.

That’s when I started to cry.

Staring at the screen, the complete goodness and graciousness of God was revealed to me in an instant. My heart was overflowing with thankfulness and awe and wonder at this God we serve. It was without a doubt, the most affirming, humbling and uplifting experience of my writing career. What was revealed proved to me without doubt that God intends for me to write. That this story matters. That Fernando’s story must be told and that I am the one to tell it. That three years ago God himself planted this book, this story, this character in my heart.

So what does Fernando mean?

Prepared to journey.

Isn’t God amazing?! Thank you, Omega Conference. Words really can change the world!

Karen’s book, ‘Small and Big’ was not only CALEB prize runner up, but also named a 2016 CBCA Notable Book for Early Readers. To learn more of the delightful inspiration behind this book go to her website: