Monday, 10 December 2018

December 2018 New Releases

Three Dummies in a Dinghy Edited by Claire Bell, James Cooper and Mark Worthing (Morning Star Publishing, October 2018) 

Three Dummies in a Dinghy is the third instalment of the Stories of Life series.
In it, ordinary Australians share their extraordinary stories of faith and life. Some tales are humourous, others are entertaining and upbeat. But not all are happy stories. Many writers describe how they were found by a loving God in the midst of doubts and great suffering, and the circumstances don’t always get easier. But the message still comes through loud and clear that God is faithful, near and active in the lives of ordinary people.
We discover that there are unsung heroes of all kinds among us. With their encouragement we can open our eyes a little wider, see more clearly, and trust more deeply in the boundless kindness of our Lord.
Link to buy

Deadly Misdirection by R J Amos (independent release, 23 November 2018) 

Coffee, hot cross buns, and … murder?
The anticipation of a five day break and the unexpectedly warm Easter weather makes Alicia eager to get going on her home renovations, despite the fact that she has absolutely no experience and is more at home with a test tube than a paintbrush. She is determined to get ahead with her laboratory preparations so that she can leave early and make the most of the Easter break.
That is, until she discovers the dead body of a student in a car outside the chemistry building.
Now all she wants to do is find out why Eloise died and not lose her job in the process.
Come and join Alicia and her friends Jan and Nate as they solve another cosy mystery in the delightful small town of Kingston Beach, Tasmania.
Get it now.

Amazon link

Second Chances by Carol Ashby (Cerrillo Press, November 26 2018) 

Must the shadows of the past destroy the hope of the future?

In AD 122, Cornelia Scipia, proud daughter of one of Rome's noblest families, learns her adulterous husband plans to betroth their daughter to the vicious son of his best friend. Over her dead body! Cornelia divorces him, reclaims her enormous dowry, and kidnaps her own daughter. She plans to start over with Drusilla a thousand miles away. No more husbands for her. But she didn’t count on meeting Hector, the widowed Greek captain of the ship carrying her to her new life.

Devastated by the loss of his wife and daughter, Hector’s heart begins to heal as he befriends Drusilla. Cornelia’s sacrificial love for Drusilla and her courage and humor in the face of the unknown earn his admiration…as a friend. Is he ready for more?

Marriage to the kind, honest sea captain would give Drusilla the father she deserves…and Cornelia the faithful husband she’s always longed for. But while her ex-husband hunts them to drag Drusilla back to Rome, secrets in Hector’s past and the chasms between their social classes and different faiths erect complicated barriers to any future together. Will God give two lonely hearts a second chance at happiness?

Amazon link

Friday, 7 December 2018

The Richest of Foods

By Cindy Williams | @nutritionchic 

Last Christmas was special. My whole family gathered together at our childhood home – a place of great beauty, good memories and peace. We dragged the dining room table and chairs to the end of the lawn and sat under the red flowers of the Pohutukawa tree dining on the richest of foods.

Afterwards, we lazed on the lawn in the sunshine enjoying the satisfaction of a good meal, enhanced by our body pumping out endorphins, the natural opioids often called the ‘feel-good’ hormones. Our body and souls were satisfied.

The loneliest day

This Christmas, some will eat the richest of foods and yet still their soul will be starved: those who have wealth but no wisdom, fame but no faith; those who are grieving or lonely or in families of anger and abuse. For some, Christmas day is the loneliest day of all.

As authors we can suffer that dryness of soul – as we stare at a blank screen, as we read yet another rejection, as we resist that cruel thought: ‘You’re wasting your time.’

'My soul will be satisfied with the richest of foods' Ps. 63:5 

Psalm 63 gives the solution to all whose soul is in a ‘dry and weary land.’ It tells us to praise God, lift up your hands to Him, and sing songs of praise. In a time of distress, when we are awake with anxiety through the watches of the night, remember God and praise him - even if you don’t feel like it. It is not called a ‘sacrifice of praise’ for nothing!

If you set your mind to do these things, the word of God promises you will be satisfied as with the best Christmas meal ever.

May you be richly blessed this Christmas as we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.

 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.

Thursday, 6 December 2018

Book Review | The Making of Mrs Hale by Carolyn Miller

Review by Iola Goulton @iolagoulton

We first met Julia Hale in Winning Miss Winthrop, when Julia ran away to Gretna Green to marry Thomas Hale in defiance of her family's wishes.

But, as the old saying goes, "Marry in haste; repent at leisure." 

Julia is left destitute after her husband disappears. Six months later, she has sold everything she can and has no choice but to return to her friends and family in London and ask for help. They are pleased to welcome her home, believing she is either an abandoned wife or (possibly) a widow. They are less pleased when Thomas Hale returns home ...

This means The Making of Mrs Hale follows one of the lesser-used romance tropes: a married couple falling in love. Or perhaps they are rediscovering their love, as Julia clearly still has feelings towards Thomas and vice versa. But Julia has to fight to keep what she has—a marriage to a man she loves.

There is also an exciting suspense thread. Thomas is concerned his ending up in a Spanish prison may not have been an accident. This threatens him, Julia, and their attempts to rebuild their relationship while surrounded by disapproving family members.

I have always been a big Regency romance fan, and Carolyn Miller has established herself as a leading author in the Christian Regency genre. Her research is spot on, yet never gets in the way of the story (I wish this was universal, but I find there are more authors who think they can write authentic Regency than actually can).

In contrast, Carolyn Miller consistently comes up with realistic yet detailed plots. 

She fills her novels with realistic, complex characters facing issues that are true to the historic period, yet resonate with modern readers. Her novels are also definitely (and perhaps defiantly) Christian. They're not just "clean". Her characters are forced to evaluate themselves and their relationship with God, which is a refreshing contrast to a lot of the fiction being published by CBA publishers. Overall, I recommend Carolyn Miller and The Making of Miss Hale to anyone looking for genuine Christian Regency fiction.

Thanks to Kregel Publications 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, and currently works as a freelance editor. When she’s not working, Iola is usually reading or writing her next book review. Iola lives in the beautiful Bay of Plenty in New Zealand (not far from Hobbiton) with her husband, two teenagers and one cat. She is currently working on her first novel.

Wednesday, 5 December 2018

Hope Beyond Black Saturday

We are approaching the ten year anniversary of Australia's most devastating bushfire, Black Saturday. For the past six years I have been living in the community who faced the destructive beast that tore families, towns and countryside apart. The last couple of years around early February, I have noticed how survivors, who literally escaped the flames with the clothes on their back, have become emotional as they remember the horror of those months in February 2009.

Last year, I sat with one of my friends and she told me again about how they responded. Jan Graham, and her husband John, were not in the fire zone, but were on the very edge, and on the Monday of the fires, Jan went to the local relief centre. The streets were packed with people—emergency services workers, locals trying to find out if there was anything they could do, and survivors—all massed together in a sea of confused and hurting humanity.

Jan Graham asked the question: "What can I do to help?"
This question sparked a response that turned into a three year journey of relief work for her and her husband, as they literally walked with the survivors through the pain and grief of loss.

This year, I encouraged Jan and John to write this story.

Jan was adamant this not be another bushfire story, as, she said, there are many published accounts. Rather, she hoped this would be an account that helps Christians and community to understand how urgent is the call of the gospel for the broken, needy, widow and orphan.

I helped Jan and John frame their story, and added a few pieces of my own to investigate the biblical call to action on behalf of the least of these.

Hell on the Doorstep is available in paperback from Koorong Books or Amazon for $18.99
or you can download a copy for $5.99 to your table or reading device.

The key themes you will see coming through are: the answer has to be yes; and it will get messy.

As always, thank you for your support, and if you could find time to post a review from your purchasing website, we would appreciate it.

Meredith Resce is author of 18 fiction titles, including the popular Heart of Green Valley series.

Please read more about Meredith on her website:

Or follow her on facebook @MeredithResce

Tuesday, 4 December 2018

Tuesday Book Chat | 4 December 2018 | Iola Goulton

From Iola Goulton @iolagoulton

It's Iola here. Welcome to our ACW Tuesday Book Chat where we encourage book lovers to answer our bookish question of the week.

Today's question is: 

Hmm ... tough question. So many books. I want all the books. And I tend to buy them when they are released or on sale or when they catch my attention through the year, so I don't exactly have a Christmas wish list. Just a general wish list (and a wish that I could stop adulting long enough to read them all).

Join 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! 

Monday, 3 December 2018

Exploring Genres - Collaborative Writing

by Jeanette O'Hagan

We often imagine writing as a solitary pursuit - the writer huddles alone in his or her attic, putting words on paper (or computer file) with a big do-not-disturb sign on the door.

In fact, while there are long stretches when writing requires peace or at least lack of interruptions, producing a book most often calls for a team of people from critique partners, beta-readers, editors, proof-readers, graphic artists, formatters, publishers, booksellers, and publicists.

But there is another way, that writers can collaborate and that is in the actual writing itself in collaborative works. There are in fact quite a range of opportunities.

Types of Collaborative Writing

Ghost Writing

In ghost writing, an experienced and capable writer is employed or invited to write a story on behalf of someone else, often a celebrity or someone with a unique and fascinating story or both. This is most often done with memoirs, but can happen with fiction. In many cases the ghost writer is paid and his or her name does not appear on the cover or may appear but in a secondary fashion (eg Deva Star with Jane Smith).

Jeanette Grant-Thomson has done some ghost-writing, in addition to her own fiction and non-fiction.  For instance, Healing Song was co-written in connection with Merrilyn Billing and tells Merrilyn's story.


In picture books particularly, the illustrator contributes as much to the story as the writer. There are many wonderful examples of this synergy between image and word such as Wombat Books' Same by Katrina Roe and Jemima Trappel, Can God See Me by Penny Reeve and Shannon Melville, Do You Remember? co-written by Kelly O'Gara and Anna McNeil, and illustrated by Kelly O'Gara.

Though I do confess a particular affection for Colourful Memories, written by Catherine Bauer and illustrated by my daughter, Kathleen O'Hagan.


In some cases, a more established well known writer might partner with a newer writer with fresh ideas.

In other cases, two or more writers may combine together to write the one book or series of books.  In fiction, each writer may be the primary writer for one of the main characters.  Of course, the writers need to agree on a range of things like settings, the plot, the subject, the themes, characters etc and may need to write the other writer/s character in their own character's scenes.

Meredith Resce, Rose Dee, Paula Vince and Amanda Deed worked together to write The Greenfield Legacy together, each one writing one of the characters to produce a great story about the legacy of past decisions.


In anthologies, authors can contribute short stories and/or poems that may centre of a theme or subject matter, or genre, or setting.

Glimpses of Light (published in 2015, the International Year of Light and edited by myself and Nola Passmore), includes a range of short stories, non-fiction pieces, flash fiction and poems on the theme of light. Contributions were from both new and more established writers, including Jo-Anne Berthelsen, Jo Wanmer, Adele Jones, Lynne Stringer, Nola Passmore, Adam Collings, Paula Vince, Anusha Atukorala, Ellen Carr, Jeanette Grant-Thomson and others.

The science fiction and fantasy anthology, Medieval Mars, has stories set in a futuristic Mars conceived by Travis Perry, that is a Mars that has been terraformed, settled and then regressed to a medieval level of technology. Each story is set in different spots in the world and written by different authors, including Adam Colling's Lynessa's Curse. The stories were published both as the collection Medieval Mars and individually as short stories by the authors.

Book Bundles

In book bundles, multiple authors contribute their books (either full length novels or novellas) usually of similar genre, theme, or setting.

Narelle mentioned some romance book bundles in the November genre post.

I've participated in two - On the Horizon - which involved 22 authors writing sci-fi & fantasy set in low technology worlds. Akrad's Children was included in this and the aim was for volume of sales over a short period. Over 900 copies were sold over the three month period the bundle was available.  The boxed set continued in an altered form in Limited Horizon - with 12 Fantasy and Science Fiction Novels, Novellas, and Short Stories from 12 authors, including my Heart of the Mountain. Many of the authors in this series are secular, but write in the same or similar genres to me.

Book Series

This year, I was part of a group planning on writing a series of full length novels set in the same world. Initially we had maybe 10-12 people involved. Three or four of the authors got together and formed a premise, setting and timeline of the world. I wasn't initially that keen on some of the elements, but after much thought, come up with a premise for a storyline that fitted into the world & which I liked.

We set up a calendar of publication for 2019 on a monthly basis (I had May), with the idea that each author would bring out a novel set in the world (and consistent with each other's works). We started with a lot of enthusiasm and I was quite excited about the idea though I had other writing projects to finish before I could get started.

Then over time, one by one, people began dropping out for various reasons. Much to my disappointment, the main organisers decided to pull the plug on the project. I have still got my plot synopsis, which maybe one day I will write.

I think multi-author book series a great concept and would love have another attempt at something like this (novel or novella) again, hopefully with better success.

It has been done. Again, Narelle mentioned the Tuscan Legacy book series, romance novels with a common setting and plot thread.  There's also the Jane Austen project - in which various well established authors were invited to write modern adaptations of the different Jane Austen novels in a contemporary setting.

Pros and Cons


Writing in partnership with other writers may spark imagination and creative energy. It may draw on the strengths of each writer and add depth to characterisation or setting. Plus it builds in feedback and editing on each other's writing.

Sometimes the more established writer/s brings visibility and connection with a larger fan base while the newer, up and coming author can bring new ideas and inspiration and a freshness to the stories or a particular insight (if, say from a particular demographic or culture).

In much collaborative writing, authors can be introduced to the fans of the other authors. While readers, attracted by an author they know and love, may discover new authors with similar writing styles, themes or genres.

Different forms of collaborative writing often enables authors to pool or share marketing efforts, thus allowing a bigger splash or more impact per buck.


With partnerships, the partners may have different understandings of what needs to happen or want the story to go in different directions. So there is a potential for disagreement which may derail the project.

Logistics may be a problem; for instance, finding the time to plan, to share segments for feedback or  different writers may write at different paces etc. Finances, copyright, royalties, costs must all be worked through and agreed upon and then held to.

The bigger the group, perhaps the more likelihood that either the project may take a long time or fall apart altogether.

There are pitfalls to consider in collaborative writing, but such projects can be both fun and worthwhile.

Have you ever been involved in such a project or considered doing so? What advantages and disadvantages did you find? Would you do it again?


Jeanette started spinning tales in the world of Nardva at the age of eight or nine. She enjoys writing secondary world fiction, poetry, blogging and editing.

Her Nardvan stories span continents, time and cultures. They involve a mixture of courtly intrigue, adventure, romance and/or shapeshifters and magic users.

She has published numerous short stories, poems, two novellas and her debut novel, Akrad's Children and Ruhanna's Flight and other stories.

Her latest release, Stone of the Sea (the third novella) is now available. .

Subscribe (here) to Jeanette's monthly email newsletter for the latest on cover reveals, new releases, giveways, and receive the short story Ruhanna's Flight for free.

You can also find her on:

Collaborative writing, ACW-CWD Crosspost, exploring genre, Jeanette O'Hagan, Book Bundles, collaborative book series, ghost writing, co-writing,

Friday, 30 November 2018

Accidental Grace and Creative Divinity

Recently, I held a retreat at my home. Each day we took time to do Morning Pages (as per Julia Cameron’s example) and allowed the writing to take us places we never expected.
Over the weekend, each person had a moment of creative divinity—a point where the pen, the past and the present collided with the divine.
The documentary Iris tells the story of Iris Apfel, the flamboyantly dressed nonagenarian who has had an outsized presence on the New York fashion scene for decades. One story in the movie spoke to me in particular. 
When she was twelve years old, Iris found a little shop in the basement of an 'old rat-trap building' that was run by 'a little old man who was very elegant'. There, she fell in love with a brooch with filigree and rose-cut diamonds.

She lusted after the brooch and saved and scrimped. Sometime later, she went back. She haggled for the first time in her life and bought it for the huge sum of sixty-five cents. 
This moment of creative divinity in Iris’s life led to even more creative moments and a career in fashion and interior design. 
 Inspired by an excursion to a heritage-listed house when I was ten years old, I found myself writing a story. I have never forgotten the feeling of words flowing from my head, through my body, through the pen onto paper. 

I have never forgotten the physical mark of the pen on my hand. I’ve never forgotten the mark on my soul. I’ve never forgotten the day I first dreamed of being a writer.

We often ask, ‘What’s my purpose?’ and when that purpose is not clear to us at the outset we get frustrated. However, as Elizabeth Gilbert alludes to in Big Magic, sometimes our purposes are found in accidental grace

Curiosity will take you places along the way and you may even wonder what it is you’re meant to do. 

Detours can take our story off on tangents, but can actually start to make sense when things collide in one of those magnificent moments that causes you to say, ‘This is what I was made to do.’ 

I taught English for many years. I encouraged others to write. I read other writers’ work. I wrote academic papers. I wrote. But, I was on a major detour. One I don’t regret at all, but there was another story to be written. 

Ten years ago, I sat in my office and wrote a letter of resignation. It was time to honour the story promise of my life.

It’s not about one moment of divine creativity. If you’re curious you might just have those moments throughout your life. Maybe, like Iris, you may even get to still have them in your nineties. 

We all have creative divinity in us because we all have a touch of the Divine Creator and it’s our gift and responsibility to follow our curiosity. 

Iris said, ‘I never really knew what I was doing. I just followed my curiosity.’

That’s accidental grace. That’s creative divinity. 



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 at

Elaine’s passion is to write about real issues with a spiritual edge. 

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.