Wednesday, 26 October 2016

NaNo Re-run

Yes, it's that time of year again.  In a few short days, writers from around Australia and New Zealand - and indeed the world - will be clearing their desks and schedules to once again write 50,000 words on their current WIP.

It's Novel Writing month and it's not too late to join.

What is NaNo?

What is NaNoWriMo, you might ask? NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. NaNo (for short) is a global and voluntary program in which millions of writers band together on the interwebs and encourage each to write 50,000 words or more. Here's a fuller explanation.

Why do NaNo?

Here's what a number of past participants have to say:

" It motivates me and then as I push myself to bang out the necessary word count my creative brain blocks the picky editor brain and great words and ideas are released."   
Jo Wanmer

"Nanowrimo is a great incentive to begin or complete a project but we have to remember that Nano is made for us (like the Sabbath 😊) we are not made for Nano! Use it as a tool to focus your writing but don't feel miserable if life gets in the way and you can't finish.
Sue Jeffrey

"NaNo provides a great motivation to get that first draft written. One of my polished NaNo stories ended up winning my category of ACFW's 'First Impressions' contest, which ultimately got me a US agent and my publishing contract, so you could say I'm a fan of NaNoWriMo!
Carolyn Miller

But is NaNo really any good?

Some people will warn you not to do NaNo for a variety of reasons. 

  • Writing fast (and without plans) results in unholy mess.
  • The pressure of a deadline is too stressful.
  • I can only write when the muse calls.
  • I'd rather be editing, writing poetry, a graphic novel or have a smaller word goal.
  • You can't really write a novel in a month.

Yes, can be, hmmm, fair enough, yes - true.

Here's the thing. I think writers often misunderstand the goal of NaNoWriMo and maybe in part that is because of its name. NaNo is about first drafts - and first drafts by their nature are messy - that's why manuscripts usually go through several drafts.

So yes, when December 1st comes around, it's not time to upload the result into KDP, Smashwords or Draft2Digital. This is just the start of the journey, not the finish line. Still, having 50,000 words (or even 20,000 or 10,000 or 60,000) is probably more than you would have had and once you get into the flow, you may be surprised at the words, ideas, scenes and plot twists that emerge.

Benefits of NaNoWriMo:

  • It helps discipline - by getting into the practice of writing daily, and writing even when the muse is being coquettish. Sometimes just sitting down and writing ignites creativity. (It may take a day or a few.)
  • Writing fast encourages the internal editor to take a short break while your writing brain gets the words down on paper - and that is often a good thing.
  • Having a messy draft is better than having no draft at all.
  • Plan to prepare in October (plans, character profiles, etc) and edit in December (or maybe January/February)
  • It's a wonderful feeling hitting 'validate' and knowing you've finished. Yippee, congrats, Winner!!! 
  • And there is always the option of being a NaNo rebel (yes, that's allowed too.)

So if you haven't done NaNo before - maybe this could be your year.  

If you have done it before, why not give it another go? 

Think about it, pray, take a risk.

For more reasons to do NaNo check here.

How to prepare for NaNo.

  • Decide on a project (though you can change this if you want to)
  • Sign up  - here
  • Plan - if you are a plotter work out your outlines, character profiles, setting etc
  • If you are a panster do research, find inspiration or just relax
  • Clear your schedule as much as possible
  • Tell people you are doing NaNo
  • Connect with NaNo Buddies online or the local meet-ups to be encouraged and inspired
  • Believe in yourself, you can do it
  • And remember, even if you write 10,000 words not 50,000 - you are still a winner.

To connect up with others doing NaNo - there are two Facebook groups you can join ACW-NaNoNauts  and S'mores, Snores and Word Scores

Looking forward to doing NaNo with you this year.  :)

For more information - ACW 2015 series on NaNoWriMo:
Part Three: Preparing for NaNo   5 October 2015 
Part Four: Ready, Set, Go  2 November 2015

Image of Ant's To Dos courtesy of SweetCrisis at
Image of Slippery Surface Sign by Jeanette O'Hagan c 2014

Jeanette O’Hagan first started spinning tales in the world of Nardva at the age of nine. She enjoys writing fiction, poetry, blogging and editing. 

She is writing her Akrad’s Legacy Series—a Young Adult secondary world fantasy fiction with adventure, courtly intrigue and romantic elements. Her short stories and poems are published in a number of anthologies including Glimpses of Light, Another Time Another Place and Like a Girl. She has recently published her short novella, Heart of the Mountain and a flash fiction 'Space Junk' in Genrellly Speaking anthology.

Jeanette has practised medicine, studied communication, history, theology and, more recently, a Master’s in writing. She is a member of a number of writers groups. She loves reading, painting, travel, catching up for coffee with friends and pondering the meaning of life.  Jeanette lives in Brisbane with her husband and children.

Sign up to Jeanette O'Hagan's Newsletter here:
Facebook page:
Twitter: @JeanetteOHagan
Instagram: @bythelightof2moons

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

So long and thanks for all the fish!

This will be my last post as president of Omega Writers. I may be referencing The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy in my title but unlike the exceptionally intelligent dolphins of his books, I won't be abandoning Omega Writers to the bureaucratic terrors of a Vogon construction crew. I'm happy to hand over but I also intend to hang around to help out the new team. As always, there's a lot to do!

Jesus called us salt and light. With or without my involvement, I pray that Omega can continue to help Christian writers to grow in their craft and their understanding of creative business. One day, I hope to see writers from among our ranks penning truth-filled, grace revealing best-sellers that set millions of readers on a search for the light of the world. I long to see our writers tell prophetic stories that challenge corruption and oppression with their authenticity, power and reach.

The pen (or in our age, the keyboard) can win hearts in ways that swords (or bombs) never can. And we know from countless biblical references and our experience that we will achieve more together.

Here are some of the ways you can contribute:

  • Wait on God. Let Him lead you to the stories only you can tell, the ones He wants the world to hear through your unique voice.
  • Become the best writer you can be so that the excellence of your craft enhances your God-given stories.
  • Learn everything you can about the business of writing to maximise the chances of your stories cutting through the noise.
  • Find a way to help other writers on the journey.
The new (and soon to be confirmed) Omega Writers management committee has a number of roles for people to fill, both small and large. Or maybe you have an idea and would like Omega's help to see it become a reality. Why not contact them and have a chat? Check out the website or send them an email: Together, our words can change the world.

Simon Kennedy is the outgoing president of Omega Writers. He is stepping down from the role to spend more time helping out with his kids' school and extra-curricula activities, and to pursue opportunities in television and film. His YouTube Channel, Songs with Simon, has over 20 million hits and if the finances come through one of his TV show concepts will be on Australian screens next August.

Monday, 24 October 2016

Four Things you Need to Know About Twitter

By Iola Goulton

Last week, I talked about why authors need to be on Twitter. I promised I'd be back this week to discuss my favourite Twitter tools ... but realised there were a couple of things I needed to cover first.

So today I’m going to give you a little background to three important Twitter topics: hashtags, mentions, and lists. And an important Twitter Tip that you'll need to remember before you even think about automating any Twitter tasks. I'll be back next week to talk about Twitter tools and automation. Promise!

About Hashtags

You’ve all seen hashtags—they’re all over social media. Things like #amreading or #amwriting or #amediting … basically, anything preceeded by a hash symbol (#, which is what Americans call a pound key).

Hashtags are important because they are how people search for topics on Twitter (and Instagram). You want to find millions of Trump haters? Search for #dumptrump. Want the latest Game of Thrones gossip and spoilers (or to vent about the current episode)? Try #gameofthrones or simply #got. Looking for a book to read? Try #amreading or #christfic #inspy or #romance or #bookworm. Using #cr4u (Clean Reads for You) will always get you a lot of retweets.

You can even invent your own hashtag, for a book, a series, a genre (like #cr4u), or an event. For example, the Omega Christian Writer’s Conference is this weekend, so I was wondering what hashtag we could use so you can all find our posts to read and share (hint hint).

#Omega2016 was my first choice, so I searched for it on Twitter. There are already a number of tweets using that hashtag—it seems to have been used by a missions trip to Thailand, and a Spanish-speaking graduating class, as well as other odd tweets. Perhaps not a good choice.

#Omega16 looks like a better option: only a handful of tweets, and none recent. Yes, it’s that easy.

And you can use the same hashtag on Facebook and Instagram (Instagram loves hashtags. Facebook … allows them, but not everyone uses them proprerly #soyougetlotsofwordsjoinedtogetherwhichdontmeanmuch.

#Omega16 it is.

About Mentions

These are called @-mentions (at-mentions), because of the @ key which comes in front of your Twitter name (so I’m @iolagoulton). If you want someone to see your Tweet, you tag them with an @-mention. This also means your tweet will show up in the Twitter feed of all their followers … so it’s not something to abuse.

But it is considered good Twitter etiquette to @-mention someone if, say, you’re linking to a blog post about them. For example:

Or if you're reviewing their book:

Or interviewing them:

(This relates to my post last week, about why you need to be on Twitter. Why would you want to miss out on knowing when people are being nice about you?)

Twitter Lists

Once you’ve been on Twitter a while, you’ll find you can’t actually scan every tweet from every person you follow (and you wouldn’t want to, especially not if some of the people you follow are the spam-every-six-minutes types). But that doesn’t mean you want to unfollow them …

Twitter lists are the answer to this dilemma. Group similar accounts into a List, and you can just review tweets from that list. Sometimes I add interesting people to a list, then find out they are tweet-every-six-minute spammers. The solution is simple: take them off the list.

(As an aside, this is why you shouldn’t be a tweet-every-six-minute spammer. It’s possible no one will notice if they follow hundreds or thousands of active accounts. But if they put you on a list, spammy behaviour is easy to spot and difficult to ignore.)

The way they achieve this annoying omniscience is through automation. They’ll use a tool to preschedule hundreds of tweets each week, each promoting themselves or their books. This behaviour gives automation a bad name.

But there is a better way to use automation. I’ll talk about that next week.

Meanwhile, here’s my big #TwitterTip (hey! See the hashtag!):

Twitter is not all about you.
If you spend any time on Twitter (or read blog posts about Twitter or other social media), you’ll come across some variation of the Pareto Principle, also known as the 80:20 rule:

No more than 20% of your posts should be about you.

Most of your posts (80%, or four out of five) should be posts from or about other people, such as retweets of interesting blog posts. That is, blog posts which are interesting to your target reader … which may or may not be people like you. Not blog posts you liked because they had useful writing or editing tips (unless your target reader is a writer).

If you can focus on this 80:20 principle, focus on providing content that your readers will find interesting, you’ll get interaction with readers and you might even find you come to enjoy using Twitter.

But if you make it all about you … Yeah. You might get nothing but tumbleweeds. Not so good.

About Iola Goulton

I am a freelance editor specialising in Christian fiction. Visit my website at to 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, 21 October 2016

Why do you write?

Last week, my writing and edits were starting to get on top of me. I was stressed. I felt that my edits were no good, my book would fail, my marketing wouldn’t do any good, etc.

Then I thought to myself, why do I write?

What drives you to put pen to paper?

I write for two reasons,
  • I enjoy it
  • I really think God wants me to.

Now, do either of those things have anything to do with things like…
  • Getting published right away
  • Selling truckloads of books
  • Fame to rival Richard Castle? ;)


There’s nothing wrong with aiming for commercial success, and I certainly hope to achieve it.
But it’s not my number one goal.

And when you think about it, why would God want me to write? It’s not like He can’t think up His own words. No, God doesn’t need me to write at all. But He wants to take the journey with Him. And He wants me to learn to trust Him.

And what do I define success as, anyway? A relationship of love, trust and obedience with God. That may include a great writing career, a mediocre one or none at all.

My job is to simply do my best, and walk with God through it all.

What about you? What motivates you to write? How do you deal with pressure?

Join the conversation below!

Jessica Everingham is a 25 year-old Australian writer. She prefers the term writer because it’s too hard to say ‘journalist, online training developer and author’ in one sentence.

She loves connecting with readers and writers via FacebookTwitterGoodreads and her blog.

Her unpublished novel Hating Jeremy Walters was a finalist in the 2015 Frasier Contest, run by My Book Therapy, and runner-up in the 2015 Australasian Christian Writers Contemporary Romance Contest.


Thursday, 20 October 2016

Review: The Story of With by Allen Arnold


"Through allegory and invitation, Allen Arnold ushers us into a journey of imagination, insight, wonder, and wisdom...Read The Story of With!" New York Times Bestselling Co-Author of Captivating, STASI ELDREDGE
"This is your invitation into deeper identity, intimacy, and imagination with God. Like finding the place you've always longed to be. The moment you finish this book, you'll race to grab one for a friend. Highest Recommendation!" Bestselling Author of The Long Journey to Jake Palmer, JAMES L. RUBART
- From the Foreword -
"You are not alone. Whether you’re a free spirit, an office exec, a writer, musician, college student, or tired parent—your soul, like mine, knows life is meant to go beyond rat races and rare applause. This book speaks to that belief. And if you’re not careful, you may find tears warming your eyes as you read because finally someone is naming your weariness, your striving, your questions of why you just can’t quite make it, or the emptiness that hit because maybe you did. It is into those places The Story of With reaches—fusing allegory with application—to offer fresh perspective, restored hope, and a rebirth of creativity.”
—From the Foreword by Mary Weber, Christy & Carol Award-Winning, Scholastic Pick Author of the Storm Siren Trilogy.

My review

I was fortunate to attend Allen’s all day workshop at this year’s ACFW Conference where he outlined many of the principles he outlines in “The Story of With”. The book released a matter of days after the conference so it was a wonderful way to recap the workshop so soon after attending.
The gorgeous Dotti Adamek and I
awaiting the start of Allen's workshop

This book should be mandatory reading for everyone who attends a Christian college. Using allegory Arnold demonstrates how the God of the universe desires intimacy with us in all that we do. This isn't just a book for creative types but everyone as Arnold reveals the Lord's heart for walking with us throughout our day.

The allegory is easy to read and Arnold provides some explanation at the end of each chapter that adds clarity. It all comes together beautifully at the end when Arnold outlines the 4 Vials that Mia in the allegory collected: Be Expectant, Awakened Heart, Know Your Identity and Do it Together. Walking through each day conscious of these 4 elements has really opened my eyes to approaching life from a completely new and fresh perspective. Yes, I'm not in charge, God is which is wonderfully freeing.

"Stay with God" (Psalm 27:14a) - Yes, indeed. Pursuing Him and running with Him on His adventure is really the most exciting life to live. This excellent book provides a guide map to how to catch Jesus' slipstream and join Him on His quest.

I can't recommend this enough. Just buy it. You'll want to read it again and again.

Ian Acheson is an author and strategy consultant based in Northern Sydney. Ian's first novel of speculative fiction, Angelguard, is now available in the US, UK, Canada and Australia. You can find more about Angelguard at Ian's website, on his author Facebook page and Twitter

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Love is ......

By Keona Tann

Love is…..

Almost 12 months ago all I wanted to do was withdraw from a loved one. They had wounded my heart and offended me. To protect myself all I wanted to do was COMPLETELY sever ties with them. BUT God showed me that He loves that person and He asked me to love them too. Rather than withdraw I reached out, prompted by God, and maintained a relationship. How did I do that? Well it was only possible through God’s strength. He reminded me of a study that I had been wanting to do based on 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. The verse talks about all the characteristics that love should and shouldn’t be:
“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” This is the New Living Translation.

I broke the verse down into the following aspects and prayerfully considered each.

Patience: How easy is it to have a 'short fuse' to lash out and get easily annoyed?! But God wants us to wait, to count to 10, say a brief anything except be annoyed and anxious. We must make it a habit, catch ourselves in the act, recognize situations that we react to and RESPOND as God wants us to. Lay it down, ask Him for help and accept the need to change.

Kind: It's hard to be generous, it's not in our human nature to always be such, but it is in Gods character! How many chances has He given us?! Numerous, too many to start to count or list! So we should reciprocate that to those around us, be generous in our smile, our manners, our time, our patience, our forgiveness.... Consider your actions and the consequences of them, ask yourself about the actions you are taking or the words you are saying, ask are they things that will build or destroy?! Is it kind? Is it thoughtful? Is it how Jesus would respond?

Not jealous: How easy does jealousy come! Your neighbours pulls into their driveway with a brand new car or your friends on Facebook head overseas to a sunny destination, while you sit shivering on your couch with a nasty cold! So many times during the day pangs of jealousy can attack our heart. We can sit and wonder when it will be “my time to shine” or how much more sacrifice will we have to make for it to finally be “our turn” to have a nice holiday away etc. We need to stop ourselves as soon as those feelings arise, before those thoughts spiral out of control, and instead replace the negative by saying “Lord bless them”. Pray and celebrate that their hard work has paid off, that they worked hard at saving or received a bonus from work.

Not boastful or proud: Human nature is prideful. We can achieve something difficult and sometimes forget about the pain, heartache and hard work that has gone into it. We pray continuously for breakthrough and then in the good times tend to forget to be thankful. James 1:17 reminds us that “Every good and perfect gift is from above” therefore we need to continually thank God.

Not rude: It is so easy to be rude, to react harshly to something said to us and it can be a vicious cycle. Proverbs 12:18 “some speak rashly like the cutting of a sword, but what the wise say promotes healing.” Remember how impacting your words and actions are on those around you. Take a deep breath when something hurtful has been said to you, say a quick “help me Lord” prayer and respond with words of life.

Does not demand: Sometimes it is not what we ask for but the tone we use that can offend others. Asking for something without manners or kindness can sound like a demand rather than a request and ‘put people’s back up’. So be thoughtful in your requests of others.

Is not irritable: To be on the receiving end of a request, if we have a negative feeling already towards that person, can sound like a demand. No matter what is said we can be annoyed and easily angered. With God’s help he can enable you to let go of past hurts and hear with new ears.

Rejoices over the truth: When we see injustice we need to decide if it is something that God needs us to stand up against or to quietly pray about. Micah 6:8 states “….what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”. Ephesians 6:14 (ESV) also remind us to “stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth…..” when tempted to speak ill or unsure of something being spoken imagine that belt, buckled in God’s truth, surrounding you and ask Him to help you speak and hear His truth.

Remain hopeful and allow God to give you the endurance you need! Stand strong in God and allow Him to love your family and friends afresh today.

Please note: There may be some relationships that you need to put strong boundaries on or even walk away from. Seek God and ask Him for wisdom!

I have not been a victim of domestic abuse or violence but if you are then PLEASE seek professional help. Violence against any living creature is NOT ok!

You can get information at 1800 737 732 (1800 respect) or Lifeline

Keona Tann has lived most of her life in the beautiful Australian state - Tasmania. She has been married to her college sweetheart for over 20 years. Keona and her husband consider themselves extremely blessed to be raising 2 wonderful teenagers. They have also been long time child sponsors with Compassion. Keona's working life has seen her develop over 15 years of customer service experience. Health issues have plagued her for 28 years and over the past 2 years have been severely debilitating. Seeking direction from God her passion for writing was recently reignited. Writing the following mission statement: "I desire to impact the world through the words I share. I long to enrich, empower and encourage others whilst delivering my stories with empathy and understanding." she hopes to launch her new career soon.

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Getting to know you with Christine Dillon

Today we are introducing Christine Dillon. Thanks Christine for telling us a little about yourself.

1. Can you tell us a little about yourself?
Although born in Australia, my missionary parents returned to Asia soon after I was born. This meant that I only lived in Australia every fifth year until I was 17. I attended primary school in Malaysia and high-school in the Philippines. At 17, I returned to finish my schooling here and then studied physiotherapy. After working as a physiotherapist and Bible College, I returned to Asia in 1999. I work as a church planter in Taiwan. I now write on my airport forms that I’m a ‘storyteller’ as we introduce people to Jesus through Bible storytelling. I also train others in this area.
2. When you were a child did you have a favourite book or books?
I was a real bookworm and was limited to ‘two books a day!’ Enid Blyton books especially the ‘Adventure’ series; Silver Brumby books; Narnia; LM Montgomery especially ‘Anne & Emily’ series and “Blue Castle"  (Jenny here. I also love Enid Blyton and did love the adventure series also the Narnia books.)

3. Do you have a favourite Genre to both read and write?
Reading - I like crime, thriller and historical or biography.
Writing - I haven’t written enough to have a favourite. I did think if I ever wrote that I’d most likely write biography. That hasn’t happened yet. I certainly never thought I’d attempt fiction.
4. Did you have favourite authors growing up who have influenced you?
I read many books but not too many stand out. I wasn’t reading to learn about writing, I was just enjoying reading. 
The books mentioned in Q2 + DE Stevenson and Neville Shute - their gentle characterisations. 
5. When did you know you wanted to be an author?
I’m not sure that I ever wanted to. Having ‘been’ one for seven years  (in terms of having something published), I’m still not sure I want to be one. It’s a heavy responsibility and I don’t like how it changes the way some people treat me. 
6. How did you go about becoming an author?
My first book was about 1-to-1 discipleship. It was written for several reasons. One was frustration because the course about it wasn’t receiving much interest. I decided to write the course information down. I originally planned just to give people the file if they asked me questions. It wasn’t my idea to have it published - the OMF editor, suggested we try for a publisher. 

Looking back though I can see that there was a practice book (for Taiwanese) that I self printed about 200 copies, three volumes of poetry (thank you gifts to prayer supporters). In between, 1-2-1 discipleship (Christian Focus) and Telling the Gospel Through Story (IVP), there was also another non-fiction that hasn’t been published. 

In terms of fiction - I wrote two ‘practice’ Biblical novels before the one I’m working on. I thought that the Biblical ones combined my oral storytelling with practicing dialogue, plotting ...
7. If you were not a writer what would you like to be?
I’ll happily stick with being a storyteller (oral Bible stories), trainer and introducing others to Jesus.
8. Outside reading and writing what do you like to do?
Hiking, photography, stamp collecting and genealogy (love history and the detection that is needed)
9. Do you have a place you love to visit?
Many places - but mostly places linked with history (like Europe) or hiking (New Zealand, Australia, anywhere really…)
10. If you could have a meal with 3 living people who would you choose and why?
Living people is hard. I’d like to talk with Christians who have suffered but remain contagious in their love for Jesus. Someone like Helen Roseveare. They’d probably all be missionaries. Or someone from a totally different background who has been faithful under persecution - a Muslim background believer or someone like that.
Finally can you tell us about your current books and/or any that will
be coming out soon. Also where we can find you on the web.
Been working on a novel for about 4 years. Learning the craft and also educating myself on marketing, editing ….along the way. It is currently called, “Grace in Strange Disguise” - daughter of successful prosperity preacher is diagnosed with cancer, aged twenty-eight. 

Hoping it will be ‘out’ by late 2017. Am delaying it by about 12 months because I want to actually be in Australia for a physical book launch (at least for this first one). for all things Bible storytelling. Facebook also has a ‘closed’ group (you have to ask permission to join) for those interested in getting in to storytelling ‘storying the scriptures’

New author website for things literary -