Monday, 22 October 2018

Five Tips to Getting the Most out of Conference

By Iola Goulton @iolagoulton

Last week I offered some tips for those of you who aren't able to make it to the Omega Writer's Conference, which is being held this coming weekend. We have over 80 people registered, including over 30 first-time attendees, which is fantastic.

This week I have some tips for those of you who are attending the conference, especially first-timers. We want you to enjoy the experience, learn a lot, and come back next year!

1. Believe in Yourself

Many of the people at the conference are Real Actual Published Authors. You know, with books you can buy from the bookstall*. It can be intimidating. That voice inside you might say you're not meant to be at the conference with all these real actual published authors because you're not a published author. The voice will tell you you're not a proper writer (it took me three conferences and hundreds of blog posts to admit I was a writer).

Don't listen to that voice.

That voice is lying to you.

You need to believe in yourself and believe in God, who has put you here and made it possible for you to attend conference.

True story: I wasn't going to attend conference this year. My son turns 16 on Thursday, and I wanted to be home for his birthday. I checked the flights to Adelaide, and I was going to have to leave on Thursday afternoon in order to get to Adelaide in time for the conference bus. I didn't want to do that.

Then Raewyn asked if I'd speak. I said no, and told her about the flights. She said she'd pray something would change that would make it possible for me to attend.

I checked the flights again ... and found Air New Zealand had added new flights to their schedule which mean I can leave home on Friday morning and arrive in Adelaide in time. I can only conclude God wants me at conference this year.

Yes, this is a Christian conference. Most attendees will be Christians. Including you. If you're a Christian and you've signed up to attend a Christian writing conference and you have the time and the money to attend, then I'm going to take a leap of faith and say you asked God about whether you should sign up for conference.

You did sign up and the world hasn't yet ended. I'm going to take that as a sign God wants you there. You should as well.

And if God wants you there, you need to ignore whatever that other voice is telling you and focus on God's voice. He wants you there. Why? Who does He mean for you to connect with? Who does He intend for you to encourage? What does He intend for you to learn ... and apply?

*Yes, there is a bookstall. Bring money :)

Now let's move onto some of the more mundane things ...

2. Pack Right

If you're wondering about what to pack, then I'd suggest reviewing the post I wrote last year: Omega Writer's Conference Packing Tips. The only thing I'd add is that I'm not sure what the weather will be like in Adelaide, so it might be a good idea to plan to dress in thin layers so you can regulate your temperature.

3. Meet Your Host Group

We will again be having host groups, with an introductory session on Friday, and host group sessions on Saturday and Sunday. The purpose of the host groups is to enable you to connect with other writers in your genre for fun, fellowship, and support. I'll be leading a host group, and my list seems like a mix of first-time and previous attendees.

Do attend your host group meetings. It's a great opportunity to meet and connect with others in a smaller group.

4. Embrace Your Introvert

You might be an introvert. Many writers are. I am ... although you might not believe that when you meet me. I can't speak for everyone, but this weekend is my one chance each year to meet face-to-face with people I normally only see in a Facebook thumbnail. I spend the weekend laughing and talking and extroverting, then come home and hide in my cave until Christmas (when family commitments require I extrovert again).

Don't let the faux extroversion put you off. Many writers are introverts. We have more than our introversion in common—we're all writers, we're all Christians, and (I hope) we're all readers. So if you're stuck for something to talk about, talk books.

(And if you want to talk to me, please do. Interrupt me if necessary. I don't bite.)

And if you are an extrovert? Great. Get out there and talk books with the introverts.

5. Ask Questions

If you have any questions, ask. Ask the presenter. Ask your host group leader. Ask one of the people in the attractive Omega t-shirts. We're here to help!

Or leave a comment below and I'll find the answer!

About Iola Goulton

Iola Goulton is a New Zealand book reviewer, freelance editor, and author, writing contemporary Christian romance with a Kiwi twist. She is a member of the Sisterhood of Unpronounceable Names (Iola is pronounced yo-la, not eye-ola and definitely not Lola).

Iola holds a degree in marketing, has a background in human resource consulting, works as a freelance editor, and has recently introduced an Website | Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest | Twitter

Friday, 19 October 2018


By Suzane Avadiar | @suzaneavadiar

On the night Jesus was betrayed and arrested, Peter struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his right ear. Despite knowing the horrific events that awaited Him that night, Jesus FIRST took the time to reach out to heal and restore the servant's ear and reprimanded Peter for his action (Luke 22:50-51).

Truth be told, Jesus had a bigger fish to fry that night. He was just hours away from fulfilling His biggest Commissions – to complete what He was sent to do. The night was just getting started for Him but Jesus always did what He saw His Father do (John 5:19).

Even in the midst of conflict and turmoil, God will always restore relationships and heal wounds; that is simply the kind of Father He is. That is how important restoration is to God.

It is never God's will to bring His plans and purposes to pass by creating discord because He believes in unity and love.

We cannot effectively accomplish God’s work with fractured relationships all around us or when our soul is bruised. That is why God spends time working in us, as much as around us, before He sends us out to accomplish His work.

Restoration before Commission.

There are times when I have looked back at my life and wonder if I will ever regain all that I’ve lost… All those years robbed by disappointments, loss, bad choices, rebellion, pain… All those years that I spent fruitless and away from God…

But, in Joel 2:25, God promises: “I will restore the years that the locust has eaten.” It’s a powerful promise made to His people, who suffered a complete destruction of their harvest to swarming locusts, and I believe that our lost years are not unlike those “locust years” in the Old Testament.

God did indeed restore their loss - over and in abundance. He reminded his people He was in their midst and said, “I am the Lord your God” - Joel 2:27.

That's who God is; He can use every destruction in our life and turn it around because "God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them" - Romans 8:28

Psalm 23:2-3 says “He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.”

It is God who finds us the green pastures to lie on and it is He who gives us the peace of the Holy Spirit. When God begins to restore our soul, He does not want to merely piece us back together again.

God wants us restored and transformed inside out so we begin to live a life that mirrors Jesus Christ.

It is for this reason that God never gives up on any of His children. He will lead each of us away from our prodigal paths and back to Him - restored to be holy and righteous as He made us.

Jesus said, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28). His invitation is for ALL of us to come to Him. That invitation is found repeatedly throughout scripture.

Why is God always coaxing His children to come closer? Because above all, He wants to first restore the intimacy that was lost in the garden.

God wants to walk shoulder to shoulder with all His children again, just as Adam once did. The key to this restoration happens in the quiet; simply “draw near to God, and He will draw near to you [James 4:8].

It is only when our intimacy with God is restored can we fully step into what He has called us to do. We cannot fulfill our commission without God leading the way.

Restoration before Commission.

Jesus died so that we can have intimacy with God again. When He died on the cross, the veil was torn and the intimacy, which was stolen from us because of sin, was restored.

Initimacy with God is your portion. You belong to God. You were created to walk closely with Him, as Adam and Eve did in the Garden of Eden.

Nothing “can seperate you from the love of God that is in Christ” (Romans 8:38) so it’s time to claim back your inheritance!

Restore that Perfect Fellowship; He’s longing for YOU!

Suzane Avadiar is a writer, blogger and avid traveller from Malaysia. Over the last 18 years, she has written extensively for various publications in the global marketplace. Writing is not only her passion but also her instrument of worship. 

Suzane has a deep desire to reveal the Father’s heart through her writings so that every reader cultivates a deeper intimacy with Jesus and steps into their God-given identity. She believes Intimacy strengthens Identity! 

Suzane also writes devotions on social media for her church, Destiny C3 Subang. She recently completed her first book, Sent To Journey – Devotions for the Traveller, and is pursuing publishing opportunities. Contact Suzane through her website at or on her Facebook page.

Thursday, 18 October 2018

Book Review | Write Smart Write Happy by Cheryl St John

Review by Iola Goulton @iolagoulton

I thought Write Smart Write Happy was going to be a book about writing—and it is. And it isn't. It isn't what I was expecting (which was something about how to write better). It is about writing, but it's not about the craft of writing. It's more about the mindset behind writing—what it takes to be a successful multi-published author. One of her big points is to focus on what we can control.

A publisher declining your manuscript is out of your control. But there are two things you can control:
  1. The quality of your work
  2. Your attitude and strategy in selling
I listened to a podcast last week where the author said she made $3,500 in book sales in August, and wants to be making $5,000 a month before the end of the year. That, according to St John, is not a good measure of success because it's out of the author's control (I also read a blog post today that points to more weirdness in the Kindle store, and I've seen many reports of authors seeing a huge drop in Amazon income from August to September. So this author's $3,500 in August may well be a happy blip, not an upward trend).

We can't control whether an agent will take us on or whether an editor will acquire a manuscript. 

If we traditionally publish, we can't control how many books we sell or know what marketing activities result in sales. (Self-published authors have a little more control in that they can see their daily sales and therefore make a connection between daily sales and marketing activities).

Defining our success by matters outside our control is only going to lead to stress and unhappiness. Instead, we should focus on what we can control: how much we write, how many submissions we make to publishers, how many books we write (and self-publish, if that's our chosen path). St John says:

We only fail when we neglect to set goals and work towards them.

St John goes on to say:

Saying I want to write and traditionally publish a bestseller is like saying I want world peace. If we set goals that are nearly impossible to obtain, we're setting ourselves up for disappointment and frustration.

We can't rely on external factors for our writer happiness. That's not smart and it won't make us happy. Instead:

Our self-esteem must come from a job well done and having given our best.

The book is also full of inspirational quotes from other writers, such as this line from Ann Landers:

Opportunities are usually disguised as hard work, so most people don't recognise them.

St John is full of handy tips to write smart, and write happy, such as changing the font colour to white if we want to write freeflow without the internal editor getting in the way. Clever.

Being a successful writer is work. Hard work. 

There is no Secret Handshake, no secret key to success, no information that the successful published authors are withholding. But there are blogs and books like Write Smart Write Happy which share many valuable tips (e.g. all the different types of editing a traditionally published novel goes through).

If you're looking for a book about how to write better, then Write Smart Write Happy isn't the book for you. But if you're looking for some encouragement in your writing journey, or tips on how to be a more consistent and productive writer, and how to set (and achieve) realistic goals, then Write Smart Write Happy might be right for you.

Thanks to Writers Digest and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review.

About Iola Goulton

Iola Goulton is a New Zealand book reviewer, freelance editor, and author, writing contemporary Christian romance with a Kiwi twist. She is a member of the Sisterhood of Unpronounceable Names (Iola is pronounced yo-la, not eye-ola and definitely not Lola).

Iola holds a degree in marketing, has a background in human resource consulting, works as a freelance editor, and has recently introduced an Website | Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest | Twitter

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

Dealing with advice

By Melissa Gijsbers @MissieK

I can remember when I was newly pregnant with my older son. Almost as soon as we started telling people, the advice started to come. Advice on everything from what to eat while pregnant to breastfeeding, to tips on how to handle a teenager! The advice would come from everyone, including people who had never had children.

One piece of advice that has always stayed with me came from my godmother. She said "Listen politely, smile, nod, and say thank you, then go and do whatever works for you." This is something that has stayed with me over the past 17 years.

I found something similar happening when I started writing. Everyone would give me advice on the 'right' way to write a book, especially when they had never tried to write one themselves! There is also a huge number of blog posts, podcasts, YouTube videos, books, conferences, workshops, and more that give us advice. Many of these are from fellow writers sharing their expertise and what has worked for them.

When I was starting out, I would follow every suggestion and idea, even if they were contradictory. I soon got myself into a mess and wondered if I should have even started writing! Then, I remembered the advice from my godmother.

I now look at the advice - whether in the form of a book, workshop, blog post, or whatever - and then continue to do things the way I know works. I will often pick up some useful information that will help my writing and my writing process become even better. I no longer try to do things that I know just don't work for me.

Along with my godmother's advice, I have one more piece of advice for you - there is no right or wrong way to write a book. Just do what works for you.

Melissa Gijsbers is an author located in Gippsland, Victoria, and has two teenage boys. She currently has three middle grade books published.
You can find out more about her and her books at

Tuesday, 16 October 2018

Tuesday Book Chat |16th October 2018 | Narelle Atkins

Narelle 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.

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.  

Let's chat. Which lesser known Christian author do you wish more readers knew about?

I'll start the conversation by saying I think there are dozens of local authors in our part of the world who are yet to be discovered by local and international readers.

Rose Dee and Andrea Grigg write amazing contemporary romances. Amanda Deed writes fabulous historical romances. Meredith Resce is a talented author who writes in multiple genres. Mary Hawkins has published both historical and contemporary romances over the last few decades. Jeanette O'Hagan has a new fantasy ebook releasing at the end of October.

Kara Isaac is an international award winning author of contemporary romantic comedies. Carolyn Miller now has nine lovely regency romance novels either listed for sale or on pre-order at Amazon. We have two debut Aussie authors, David Rawlings and Jessica Kate, who have multi-book contracts with a large US publisher and debut books releasing in 2019.

My list could go on and on. Who is on your list? 

Monday, 15 October 2018

Six Tips to Upskill Yourself Without Attending a Writer's Conference

By Iola Goulton @iolagoulton

Registration has now closed for the 2018 Omega Writer's Conference to be held in Adelaide from 26 to 28 October. For those of you who are going, it's going to be a great weekend (and I'll have some tips for you next week).

But for those of you who can't make it ... does this mean you miss out on the opportunity to learn, to upskill yourself? Not at all. Here are six tips for upskilling yourself without going to a conference:

Reading In My Genre

Reading in my genre (Christian romance) enables me to observe genre trends. It also means I can suggest comparable titles for clients to include in contest entries, proposals, or in developing their own marketing plans. I tend to focus on debut authors (because that shows me what publishers are buying) and new-to-me authors.

Reading Outside My Genre

Reading outside my genre expands my genre horizons, and often teaches me something new about writing craft. For example, I have been heard to say I don't enjoy reading fantasy. Yet I've recently read and enjoyed Fawkes by Nadine Brandes. What did I enjoy? What can I learn from that? (Click here to read my review).

I've also recently read a couple of Christian romance novels I didn't enjoy. Why not? What can I learn from that? And was it the book ... or was it me? (Sometimes it's that I didn't care for the characters. So what can I do to put more emotion in my writing and editing?

Reading Craft Books

I also read writing craft books, and I often quote respected writers such as James Scott Bell, Janice Hardy, Randy Ingermanson, and Orson Scott Card in my editorial letters. Reading experts helps me edit to a higher standard by showing me areas in which I (and my clients) can improve, and giving me a language to describe both what needs work, and how to fix it.

Many popular writing instructors and speakers also write books on writing craft or offer online courses. Some of their books are based on their courses or conference presentations—so if you can't make the conference, buying the book will give you the main content.

For example, I've recently purchased Verbalize by Damon Suede after hearing him speak at the 2018 Romance Writers of New Zealand conference. I've also bought books by Michael Hauge and James Scott Bell after hearing them speak. The books don't replace listening, but they are a great aide memoir for all the notes I didn't take (Damon Suede makes the Engergiser Bunny seem slower than a sloth).

Read Blog Posts

There are dozens—hundreds—of great writing blogs. Most are written by writers for writers, although some are written by editors (or people who both write and edit). Some of my favourite writing blogs are:
Of course, I should also mention my own blog, Christian Editing Services, where I share a weekly post on some aspect of writing, editing, publishing, and marketing.

Online Courses

Many writing instructors offer online courses either through their own website (e.g. Margie Lawson and Lawson Writer's Academy) or through online platforms such as Teachable or Udemy. If you aren't able to hear Michael Hauge in person, then his Udemy course is a great substitute (and it's sometimes on sale for as little as USD 10).

Some courses are delivered via email or an online classroom and give students the opportunity to submit writing samples, receive individualised feedback on their writing, and interact with other students. These are generally more expensive, as students are paying for the instructor's time. They also operate over a fixed timescale (e.g. one month), so it's only worth enrolling if you will be able to make time to complete the assignments, as that's how you get the best value.

Other courses are delivered via email or through online audio or video platforms, and students can work through the course material at their own pace (my Kick-Start Your Author Platform Marketing Challenge is one such course). This can be an advantage and a disadvantage: it's easy to sign up for a work-at-your-own pace course, and it's just as easy to not complete it because life gets in the way. These courses require more self-discipline than the classroom-type courses.

Conference Recordings

Some of the bigger writers conferences record the teaching sessions and make the audio recordings available for members to purchase for as little as $10 each. Conferences which sell audio recordings include:
So there you have my six ways to upskill yourself without going to a writing conference (or to keep learning throughout the year between conferences).

Will you be attending the 2018 Omega Writer's Conference? Of not, how do you plan to upskill yourself in 2018 and 2019?

About Iola Goulton

Iola Goulton is a New Zealand book reviewer, freelance editor, and author, writing contemporary Christian romance with a Kiwi twist. She is a member of the Sisterhood of Unpronounceable Names (Iola is pronounced yo-la, not eye-ola and definitely not Lola).

Iola holds a degree in marketing, has a background in human resource consulting, works as a freelance editor, and has recently introduced an Website | Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest | Twitter

Friday, 12 October 2018

How Well does the Bible use the Five Senses?

By Cindy Williams | @nutritionchic 

How well does the Bible use the five senses? Being written by God, it should do pretty well, and from the very first chapters, it does!!


Genesis 1 is full of seeing. Six times ‘God saw that it was good.' Actually, on the final day he ‘saw all he had made, and it was very good.’ Most authors write the seeing sense without effort. Often we use this sense exclusively and it makes our writing one dimensional – just as life would be if you could only see and not hear, smell, taste and touch.


Genesis 3 gives us touch and taste. Eve tells the serpent that God had said they must not touch the tree in the middle of the garden or they would die. Great tension – will they touch the tree? We know the answer!


Eve sees the fruit is pleasing to the eye and she eats it. We can imagine how delicious it tasted – no cold room storage, no pollution, no pesticides! There’s a lot of talk about eating the apple, and then a line when God tells the serpent that from now on he will eat dust. Not quite such a good taste!


Adam and Eve hear God walking in the garden. I wonder what that sounded like? God calls to Adam and he answers that he heard him in the garden and he was afraid. Why? If you don’t know you will have to read it for yourself but here’s a hint: it sends every kindergarten scripture class into fits of giggling.


In Genesis 2 God breathes into Adam’s nostrils but it’s not until God smells the pleasing aroma of Noah’s burnt offerings that we get the first reference to smell. For the rest of the Old Testament it’s pretty obvious that burnt offerings are God’s favourite smell. (Not for the same reason as we slaver over the BBQ!)

What about the New Testament? What is God’s favourite smell here? We are! To God we are ‘the aroma of Christ’ and through us ‘he spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of Jesus.’ 2 Cor 2:14-15. Have you ever thought of your writing as a beautiful fragrance?

The Winner

And now for the winner of funniest smell reference in the Bible: Jesus tells them to roll the stone away from the tomb where Lazarus has lain dead for four days. Martha, in her anxious, practical way, says, ‘By this time, he stinketh.’ (Jn. 11:39 KJV). Love it!

What's your Favourite?

Throughout the Bible there are calls to ‘taste and see that the Lord is good’, to hear his voice, to touch his hands and feet. There are flashes of lightening, rumblings and peals of thunder’; there are golden bowls full of incense which are the prayers of the saints’; there is honey sweet to the taste

God made us with five senses and He has made sure to use them all in His amazing book. Do you have a favourite ‘sense’ Bible verse?

 About Cindy Williams 

With degrees in Nutrition, Public Health and Communication Cindy worked for many years as a dietitian for sports teams, food industry, media, and as a nutrition writer and speaker.

Her first novel, The Pounamu Prophecy, was short listed for the 2016 Caleb Prize. She writes stories of health, history, food and faraway places at

 Cindy lives in Sydney with her husband and son, writing stories of flawed women who battle injustice... and sometimes find romance.