Thursday, September 8, 2011

This will be the last aussiewriters blog. Thanks to all those who have participated. Due to family issues I need to take time out. I recommend for new author interviews and news of CALEB prize winners. The winner of Rosie Boom's book is Paula Vince of South Australia.

Today Chissy Siggee brings an important teenage issue into inspirational fiction—eating disorders: ‘Out of the Shadows: Jenna’s Secret provides just enough medical information to communicate how quickly and drastically an eating disorder can affect a young body.’

What convinced you to write about this issue?

While working as a volunteer Pastoral Care worker in Wagga Wagga Base Hospital for three years, I had contact with more than a few young people battling with eating disorders.

Tell us a bit about the story.

Jenna’s Secret is the story of a girl who, at the brink of going too far, learns from her mistakes and from seeing those who crossed the line.

Jenna wanted to change, and because of that, she accepted the help of others. Her determination to turn her life around is helped by a network of medical staff, social workers, her family and church family. Unfortunately, this is seldom the case, but through God’s grace, it can happen. This story is meant as an early warning cry to teens and parents alike. Jenna’s Secret also shows how this kind of tragedy can affect any family—in all social classes, even Christian families.

The story behind Jenna is one of a young girl who didn’t intentionally get herself into this position. No one sets out to be anorexic or bulimic, but the range of deeper psychological problems can lead to the development of more complicated and damaging symptoms of these conditions.

Tell us something about your writing journey and publication. That itself is an interesting story.

My first hand at writing was Out of the Shadows – Jenna’s Secret. I was almost 50. I had not even used a computer much before that, although I did a basic business course a few years earlier. In 2005, when I finally decided to seriously finish writing Jenna’s Secret, I joined This group of people became my family during the many months housebound and eventually bed ridden in 2007, due to Spondylolisthesis in my lower back. It’s probably the first time I even had a serious journal. I filled in many sleepless hours writing poems and devotional articles and late in 2008 I was encouraged to publish these too. I self-published ‘Glimpses of His Glory” as a result and sold out in less than six months. My chapter “Hope in the City” was also excepted in 2008 for the book ‘Delivered’ for Peculiar People. I was the only one of the 25 authors from Australia.

After sharing many of my marketing ideas with other writers, I also decided to write a basic, straight forward, Marketing Guide for the Self-Publisher.

Later that year I started writing for a Christian online newspaper. In 2009 I was given the fancy title of Manager of the Australian Bureau The Cypress Times, a position I take seriously and love the work I do. Book Reviews have become a specialty for the newspaper, which began with Australia books. I continue this work today, as well as publishing articles on a regular basis in the Faith Section, Gluten Free Recipes and even a few news articles from Down Under.

Recently, I was accepted as a regular writer for and these articles will be seen from January 2010. I look forward to a long term writing relationship with this ministry too.

These days, besides writing Resumes, I write Fiction, non- Fiction, Devotions and poetry. Many of my articles can be found on my blog page on my website.

What avenues have you explored in marketing the book?

Where do I begin?

I began with a book signing at a local book store. I then approached organisers of local and interstate church conferences where I had book tables. I went on from there to magazines and newspapers. Smaller magazines where easier to approach but finally I found courage to approach Accent and the Salvation Army magazines. Accent editor Daryl-Anne LeRoux took a liking to my book and wrote a complete book promotion. The Salvation Army promoted my book in their Pipeline Magazine before inviting me to speak at staff meetings in Brisbane. Reviews for both books were also written for the Australian Christian Woman.

I first approached Buy Australian books online, Dymocks and Australian Independent Book Stores, where Jenna’s Secret can still be ordered. Koorong was the last book store I approached. They set me up as a distributor and ordered books immediately.

My website has been the biggest sources of sales, especially from buyers from the America, United Kingdom, New Zealand, India, South Africa, and Russia. I lost count of International sales but would be in the vicinity now of 200 copies.

Where can we buy the book? and any of the book stores mention above.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Rosie Boom--Where Lions Roar at Night

THIS MONTH'S GIVEAWAYS are Picking up the Pieces and Where Lion's Roar at Night. THE WINNER OF Your Asperges Partner is Simone of Birkdale. TO BE IN THE DRAW, POST A COMMENT. For submissions for author interviews to aussiewriters, email Wendy Sargeant at aussiewriters (at) gmail (dot) com (without the spaces), but before you do, be sure and post a comment.

This month Rosie Boom is the last of the 2010 CALEB winners to be interviewed. Be in the running for the 2011 CALEB prize. See the Omega Writers website. Next month we'll be looking at blogs. If you've seen an excellent aussie/asia/pacific blog, let us know.

Welcome Rosie.

What inspired you to write your books?

For a number of years women asked me to write a book about what I was teaching them at different conferences. I suppose they were the ones who finally pushed me into actually doing it. The inspiration had been there for a long time--a God-given dream.

The inspiration to share our family's journey of life in the barn was also bubbling away inside for some time, but was translated into action by many letters from people who had read my emails about all the fun and dramas we were having: "You should write a book!"

It's all very well to have the inspiration, but at some point, you just have to start.

What do you find is your biggest struggle as an author?

That would have to be finding the time to get away from my busy life and write. I have so many ideas, so many books I want to write, but how on earth am I going to find all those extra hours in the day?? (I've already given up ironing...)

What were your favourite authors as a child?

C.S Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkein. I loved them!

What made you decide to become a writer?

My passion has always been to be a communicator and an encourager. I love to write songs and to speak, and the desire to write flowed very naturally on from that. I guess I have always been a writer for as long as I can remember, if you count keeping a journal. :) When I was an eight year old in New Guinea I entered a writing competition and actually won it! The prize was a first edition copy of Tolkein's new book, The Fellowship of the Ring!!! Dad read it aloud to us by tilley light in the evenings. What a cool prize.

Describe your journey to publication.

In 2000 my children and I wrote and illustrated The Happy Prince and some time later we were given the money to self publish it. This was later picked up by CMCA for distribution. Then in 2001 my husband paid for me to do a writing course with The Writing School--my requested birthday present! I think he only did it because there was a clause in there that said that they would refund the money if you hadn't been published by the end of the course. He was somewhat disappointed when I got my first story published in an American magazine at the end of the first year.

I sent many short stories off to dozens of magazines and received countless rejections. Not easy! I grew to dread opening the letterbox. But the acceptances began to trickle in from American magazines and then I had several articles published in the NZ School Journal. I was also offered a regular column in The Parenting Magazine--right up my alley.

I began writing The Gift of Values series and contacted CMCA to see if they'd be interested in publishing it. I was delighted when they enthusiastically said yes. And so began my connection with HSM Australia, who have gone on to publish both The Gift of Values series and The Barn Chronicles series.

What are the themes running through your work?

My real passion is to encourage parents in the somewhat scary but hugely rewarding task of discipling their children in Christian values. And I LOVE to write about the joy of family life.

How do you do your work and what medium do you use?

I type my manuscripts on my laptop, albeit with two fingers. (But I just recently read that Tolkein only typed with two fingers so I find myself in great company.)

Tell us something about your latest book.

My latest book to be published is the second in The Barn Chronicles series, called Where Arrows Fly. It tells of the continuing adventures and fun that the Boom family have had in their second year of living in their ancient barn. Milly is now aged 11 and has an ever growing collection of animals. But she dreams of having her own milking cow. However when the time finally comes, she discovers that training a house cow is not as easy as she thought it would be.

The story is full of family fun and dramas--an eclectic mix of bows and arrows, camping in Lantern Waste, canoeing flooded rivers, broken bones and stroppy cows.

"In a world bursting with shock-value and fast-paced cheap thrills, Where Arrows Fly is a simple piece of sunlit childhood." Emma Jelsma, Scene Magazine.

Thanks, Rosie.

See more of Rosie's books as .

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Louise Weston--Connecting with Your Asperger Partner

THIS MONTH'S GIVEAWAYS are Mothering Heights and Connecting with your Asperger Partner. TO BE IN THE DRAW, POST A COMMENT. For submissions for author interviews to aussiewriters, post a comment and email Wendy at aussiewriters at gmail dot com.

Louise Weston is our guest this week. Louise has a book signing on June 18th at Koorong, Brisbane. Get along to support her.

Connecting With Your Asperger Partner

Book blurb

Communication and intimacy can feel like a constant struggle in relationships where one partner has Asperger Syndrome (AS). For the neuro-typical partner (NT) in particular, this can be an endless source of frustration, misunderstandings, and tears.

Drawing on her own experience of being married to a man with AS, Louise Weston shows that the road to intimacy begins with letting go of expectations and looking after your own physical and emotional needs. She provides tried-and-tested strategies for relating to and connecting with your AS partner, as well as useful tips for coping with hurtful words and meltdowns, helping your partner to interpret emotions, and finding further sources of help and support. Above all, she shows that although your AS/NT relationship will challenge you beyond what you ever thought possible, by letting go of expectations and respecting each others' differences, this unique partnership really can be both happy and successful.

Brimming with stories and advice from other NT partners, this practical book will help NTs take positive steps towards connecting with their AS partners. It will also be a useful resource for counsellors and other professionals who wish to deepen their understanding of AS/NT relationships.

“My book is a self-help manual that takes the reader on a journey of self-discovery resulting in connection with their loved one with Aspergers.”

About Louise

Louise Weston is a Registered Nurse with a Bachelor of Nursing degree from Queensland, Australia. She was the former coordinator of a monthly support group for NT partners and spouses of individuals with Asperger Syndrome. Louise is happily married to her husband, Graham. After they were married in 1999, Graham was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome. His diagnosis was inspirational in writing this book.

What would you tell the parent of a child with Aspergers?

The highest priority is to look after yourself. By this I mean ensure you have enough sleep or rest to cope with the frequent misunderstandings and meltdowns that are common with Asperger’s Syndrome (AS). As well as enough sleep, it’s really important to do some relaxing or enjoyable activities to refresh you so that you can keep going. Another wise tip is to empathise with your child. My book has a whole chapter on “Entering into the Aspie’s World.” Once you “put yourself into the Asperger person’s shoes”, you start to understand what they go through and why they have certain behaviours.

Why do people on the Autism Spectrum have difficulty fitting in with others?

One man with AS told me that he thought he was an alien until he was 10 or 11. He was bullied at school and always had trouble acquiring and keeping a job due to “not getting things right” or not understanding the subtleties of body language. If you watch Big Bang Theory, you will know what I mean when you see how Sheldon is extremely rigid in his thinking. Not only does he have idiosyncrasies that he must follow, he takes things literally and has difficulty relating on other peoples’ terms. Problems with social interaction and communication are obviously difficult, making it a chore for someone with AS to make friends.

Why are friendships difficult to maintain for someone on the Autism Spectrum?

Friendship can be a strange concept for a person with Aspergers. One AS person commented. “Why do I need friends? They just use me or take time away from my Special Interest?” Interacting socially is not their first language; hence they are less likely to look to friends for support or comfort. Most have a few or no friends. Their “Special interest” consumes a lot of their time and is a comfort to them.

Tell us about sensory issues.

People on the Autism Spectrum can often have hypo or hyper-sensitivity when it comes to the senses. Sensory processing issues can bombard the AS person all day—to the point of sensory overload. The effort required by the person to be socially connected is quite difficult. If their job, school or study involves interacting with people all day, they can usually “hold it together” until they arrive home. This is safe ground so they can “let go” and often have a meltdown about something that may seem trivial to us. To recuperate they may require sleep or “downtime” away from people, usually relaxing in front of the TV or enjoying their Special Interest.

Where can we buy the book?

There are links on my website to Footprint books (NSW), Jessica Kingsley Publishers (UK), some Angus and Robertson and select stores like Open Leaves in Brisbane, Koorong online or order through Koorong Stores.

How do we find out more?

I talk about the “Four vital keys” to Self-discovery and Reconnecting with Your Asperger Loved One. You will have to read the book to find out what they are!

Visit my website to email me or to hear me speak:
♥ You-tube interview with Craig Evans from Autism Hangout
♥ Radio Interviews with the ABC and 96fives’ “Talking Life” show.
♥ She will also be a Guest on 101FM on Tuesday 14th at 1140am.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

10 Ways to Save $100 Per Month...

THIS MONTH'S GIVEAWAYS ARE Picking up the Pieces and Mothering Heights. TO BE IN THE DRAW, POST A COMMENT. For submissions for author interviews to aussiewriters, email Wendy Sargeant at aussiewriters (at) gmail (dot) com (without the spaces), but before you do, be sure and post a comment.

Our guest blogger, Simone Trinder has compiled these money saving tips we all need. Look out for the forthcoming series How to Thrive in Hard Times of which Simone will be a contributor. Welcome Simone.

1. Make a meals list before shopping and you are less likely to buy fast food or food that may go off, such as food with a short use-by date that you later forget.

2. Put your usual list of foods on an excel database and use it to shop. You are less likely to forget and have to re-shop during the week. Avoid using credit cards where possible. It is easy to overspend when you don’t have to pay up front.

3. One survey found the average person can save $300 a year by using only what’s in the cupboard and freezer once a week. Use all that you have bought, (condiments are an exception), that way you are less likely to waste forgotten food or let it run past the use by date.

4. If you are with a bank that is ruthless with unfair bank fees, to get these fees back, go to and .

6. If you live in the Sydney or Melbourne area, to save money on car maintenance, rego, insurance and petrol, sign up with or
(These are car share companies).

7. Refuse ATMs with high fees, (if you can't, start a fight-back campaign for bank fees through Facebook, and also change your bank to one somewhat better fees). For example, ING.

8. If you have to use a credit card, use one with reward points, (the small rewards are much better than nothing).

9. Grow your own fruit and vegies. Build up the soil nutrients with Alroc from, and plant, (go with, (for Tasmania residents).

10. You can reuse the seeds over and over, because they are not genetically modified, and you also can pass the seeds onto others. If you lack planting space, you can also use stackpots, these range from about $38 to $75. Or for hanging pots to grow herbs, etc. These range from about $38.

Thanks Simone. We look forward to more tips in the future.


Friday, May 20, 2011

Mothering Heights--Keitha Smith and Sue Brereton

THIS MONTH'S GIVEAWAYS ARE Picking up the Pieces and Mothering Heights. TO BE IN THE DRAW, POST A COMMENT For submissions for author interviews to aussiewriters, email Wendy Sargeant at aussiewriters (at) gmail (dot) com (without the spaces), but before you do, be sure and post a comment.

Liz Shelton is our guest blogger today. Liz has a book review on the winner of the Mom's Choice Awards for 2010 : Mothering Heights by Keitha Smith and Sue Brereton. Thanks, Liz.


Smith, K. and Brereton, S. 2009. Mothering Heights, Judson Press, Valley Forge PA.
The subtitle of this book is A novel approach for Christian Mothers. The book is beautifully structured and easy to read with each chapter using applicable quotes from classic novels to highlight the content of that particular chapter--novels such as Treasure Island, Wuthering Heights and Pride and Prejudice for instance. One chapter deals with the assumptions we make, some of them false, leading to trouble. Other chapters deal with the servant nature of Jesus or the need for fellowship with God’s people.
In the Introduction the authors talk about ‘intentional motherhood.’ They say that an intentional mother is a mother who is aware of the value and purpose of being a mother. A mother who uses biblical principles as the foundation for bringing up children. I was very impressed by the statement that an intentional mother knows that being a mother is a relationship, not just a task. This introduction leads to the chapters covering different aspects of our relationship with God and people and how this helps us be mothers fulfilling God’s purpose.
At the end of each chapter there are some questions in the section called ‘Bringing Wisdom to Life’. Not to be used as a test, but to make us think about our own views and beliefs about the subject of the chapter.
And in the chapter called 'Sense and Sensibility' there are some lists of hints and tips gathered from the authors and a group of mothers from their personal experiences over the years.
This book was a surprise; not what I expected at all. I didn’t find lists of hints and tips for getting children dressed, fed and tidied in time to be dropped at school. Or how to lead your children to the Lord. In fact, you don’t find very much about how to handle children at all. What you do find is mostly all about YOU the mother, and your relationship with God.
I feel that the approach taken by the authors of talking about our relationship with God first, as the most important aspect of our lives both as people and as mothers is certainly getting our priorities right. Because when we are right with God our relationships with our families and other people work better.

Liz Shelton

You can buy the book at

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Paula Vince--Picking up the Pieces

THIS MONTH'S GIVEAWAYS are Picking up the Pieces, and Aussie Stories or Heartland: A Parable. TO BE IN THE DRAW, POST A COMMENT and click 'Follow' in the bottom LH corner.


If you have a money-saving tip for writers, email me at aussiewriters at gmail dot com and you'll be in the draw for an aussiewriters book.


We welcome Paula Vince, another winner of the CALEB inspirational awards for 2010.

When did you start writing and why?

I’ve been writing stories since I was a small girl at primary school. I’ve always been an avid reader and hated coming to the end of a book that I enjoyed. I would make up extra stories about what might happen to the characters next until I could have filled a book as long as the original author’s. This is why I decided to write my own fiction books, so they would never have to end until I wanted them to. Whenever anybody asked me, I’d say, “I want to write novels.” I never really wanted to do anything else.

What are the issues in your book and what convinced you to write about them?

The issues Picking up the Pieces deals with include rape, teenage pregnancy, abortion, accidental injury and sexual harassment. This may sound a bit gloomy and heavy but that’s far from the truth. My intention is for the book to bring joy and hope to the hearts of readers as they see the triumphant way these issues are handled as characters turn to God.
At the time, I’d been reading dramatic fiction in which nasty villains commit crimes with no shred of remorse. I began to ponder what deeply-rooted unhappiness may inspire a person to commit a serious crime. It seemed very sad to me that already deeply troubled people must bear a load of censure and blame on top of whatever they’ve done. So I decided I wanted to write a different sort of story in which the criminal is handled with the same sensitivity and compassion as the victim of his crime.

Tell us about the plot.

My heroine, Claire Parker, begins as a naïve, sweet-natured girl with optimistic hopes for her future. My hero, Blake Quinlan, is a sensitive and introverted young man who succumbs to a terrible crime of passion which is totally out of character for him. They and their families deal with the aftermath of blame, bitterness and remorse. But seven years later, the two main characters meet each other again and find themselves in for several challenging and wonderful surprises.

Tell us more about the characters.

I enjoy delving into their hearts and motivations. As well as the two characters I’ve mentioned, the hero’s sister-in-law and two brothers each have interesting stories of their own. I love it when readers discuss my characters with me as if they have become real friends who have earned their affection. One of my favourite exercises is to take a character who may seem thorny or unlikable on the surface and convince readers to love him.
I wanted Picking up the Pieces to be a book to turn stereotypes on their heads. I wanted people to love my main man who had committed a despicable action and I wanted readers to come to the end of a book dealing with such serious themes with lightness and joy, rather than heaviness in their hearts.

What audience would read the book?

I’ve had good feedback from teenagers and adults alike. Although I’d tend to say women and girls in their late teens, males have also told me that the book has impacted them. I’ll always remember the 11-year-old boy who stated that Picking up the Pieces was one of his “all-time favourite books” which he’d read several times over.

Can you recommend other books on the subject that have inspired you?

I enjoy all sorts of contemporary or historical novels which combine a good, fast-moving plot with sound, thoughtful character development. I’ve come across novels which seem to major on one aspect at the expense of the other. Some have been jam-packed with action, but don’t delve into the hearts of characters or indicate what makes them ‘tick’. Others have oozed with characters’ epiphanies and reflections, yet I’ve turned pages, growing increasingly frustrated and wondering, “When is something actually going to happen?” I think action and reflection must complement each other and highly recommend any book which successfully does this.
Over the past few years, I’ve been pleased to read many new publications by Australian Christian authors which achieve this balance.

What avenues have you explored in marketing the book?

I feel as if the surface has just been scratched. All of my books are available from Koorong and Word, as they are essentially faith-building novels, and I also love to reach the mainstream market wherever I can. I have my website,, and also a fan page on Face Book which I’d love you to join. I also keep my own blog, I am always on the look-out for new ways to promote and market my books.
Where can we buy the book?

Here are the four easiest ways.
1) My website,
2) My publisher’s website,
3) Koorong and other good Christian bookstores.
4) Light the Dark Australian Christian party plan.

Thanks Paula. I look forward to reading the book.


Monday, March 21, 2011

Short Story Writer --Charles Fivaz

The WINNERS this month are Michelle E and Rita G. .

The GIVEAWAYS NEXT MONTH are a copy of Aussie Stories (an anthology of short stories published by Strand Publishing, 2009)
Heartland: A Parable by Charles Fivaz (BookPal, 2010.) and The Silver Poplar by Edmund Smith.


You were involved in professional theatre for a time. How did that experience inform your writing?

Yes, I spent a year singing, dancing and acting in a musical production. Drama is just another form of story telling, so I spent that year really soaking up that particular form of the art. Of course, drama is a very visual form, so that year presented me with a great opportunity to develop my visual imagination which is so essential to the craft of writing. I mean, readers want to see your story, visualise it, picture the characters and the setting, and they’re often disappointed when they see a film adaptation of a book because it doesn’t match their own picture-drama of the narrative. Theatre did also give me an appreciation of how the characters I was playing could best be presented. My initial ideas were often at odds with the director, so it was a marvellous learning experience about what works for an audience and what doesn’t.

Did you find the theatre a difficult place to maintain a moral stance?

Difficult? Now that’s an understatement! The world of theatre and film is notoriously amoral. It’s a world of “anything goes” – I suppose because professional actors and dancers are constantly having to put themselves into the characters they are portraying, dark or otherwise. Professionally they have to be indifferent to the morality of a situation they are acting out. It’s the world they live and work in and the line between on and off stage often blurs. But I have to say that when a performer does make a quiet, often unspoken moral stand (off-stage), everyone generally respects that. Even admires it. But it is difficult. To make it even more difficult, the show that I was in went on tour, which meant the cast were living in hotels and sharing digs in various towns. You couldn’t get a more blurry line than that! The trick was to be constantly aware of the blur, then be firm and constant in your spiritual life and in the integrity of your relationships.

How did you establish your contacts in the industry? I'm asking this to help authors learn about marketing.

Joining writers’ groups and attending writers’ festivals put me in touch with the industry. The Victorian Writers’ Centre for example runs year-round workshops, talks and panel discussions that involve the whole gamut of the industry. Emerging and established authors attend these events, along with editors, publishers, publicists, artists, journalists and so on. And you get to meet and speak to people in the know. Same with the festivals, especially the Emerging Writers’ Festival in Melbourne which is especially geared for getting new writers to come to grips with the market. I met a lot of handy people there. One other thing I did was to phone and write to other authors for advice; Sharon Witt for example, who had successfully self-published her books. I was amazed at how generous authors are in sharing their experience with newcomers.

It's notoriously difficult to get short stories published. Which markets did you explore? How did you go about it?

I didn’t so much explore as fall into one by sheer luck. I sent a short story to an advertised national competition that promised publication to prize winners. It was my first attempt and I was awarded third prize. I was astonished. I say “luck” because judges and editors look for different things at different times, and they have their own pet likes and dislikes. Your brilliant submission may be not quite what they were looking for in their publication. The next story I sent to a Christian publisher got no reply. Then a year later it was looked at again – and accepted. Writers and mentors always advise: be patient and persistent, and do have a good look at the publication to see if your story will suit its style and readership. The Victorian Writers’ Centre’s monthly magazine and online news bulletin regularly lists the competitions and publications that ask for story submissions. That’s where I got most of my marketing ideas.

What are the themes running through your work?

My stories are often about journeys of transition. About transformation. My characters have to face themselves, their past, their prejudices, and their attachments. They struggle to transcend their “stuckness”. Wanting to ‘have life and have it to the full’ is a painful process, and I want to show that. Having faith in dark times is another theme. Faith is the one thing that will carry us through life’s trials – faith working through love. Another favourite theme is humility: characters having to deal with their ego-centricity. We all have to do battle with our egos, don’t we?

Tell us something about your latest book.

Heartland. Well, first of all it’s a parable. Parables are like dreams. When you’ve had a significant dream what happened was you’ve told yourself a story! And when you tell someone else that story or write it down, you realise it’s about some real aspect of your life that needs attention right now. In telling the story you kind of get in touch with the problem; you say, ‘Ah! This means that, and that’s what I need to do here.’ The dream is a fiction narrative, but it is a “true” story. So: Heartland is a story about a runaway farm girl in search of her roots, looking for healing, and about her father who must let go of everything in his quest to find her. They’re on an emotional roller-coaster, journeying through farm lands and through their history. It’s a rite of passage for both of them, and when the farming community gets involved they too are challenged and transformed. An Indigenous tribesman plays a significant role as the heroine’s mentor. He tells her stories, using myth and fable to engage and encourage her. But what’s Heartland really about? Christian readers will have little trouble figuring it out. Even secular readers have told me they were moved by it and got a lot from it. A retired South African journalist called it “an enthralling read for anyone concerned about moving forward from the hurts of the past to a unified and forgiving future.” And they should know!

Link to my work: .
Thanks Charles,

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Edmund Smith --The Silver Poplar

THIS MONTH'S GIVEAWAYS ARE The Silver Poplar and Yellow Zone. TO BE IN THE DRAW, POST A COMMENT. For submissions for author interviews to aussiewriters, email Wendy Sargeant at aussiewriters (at) gmail (dot) com (without the spaces), but before you do, be sure and post a comment.

Edmund Smith's The Silver Poplar is the CALEB winner in the Biography section. As we witness the tragedy in Christchurch, New Zealand and think of those left without loved ones, Edmund's story as an orphan with a keen sense of the grace of God is a real witness for humanity. Welcome, Edmund.

The issues of adoption and fostering are pivotal to your work. What do you think of adoption, fostering and surrogacy now?

A. Fostering and adoption have undergone great changes since the times The Silver Poplar is set in, and in many ways for the better. More efforts are made to ensure compatibility between would-be adopters and children - even efforts are made quite often to match them for physical likeness. Foster mothers frequently find it hard to hand back babies after short care, but their love is such that many of them continue to foster other little ones. Love for abandoned children or ones not naturally your own by way of adoption or fostering is special.

At what point did you decide you would have to write this story down?

A. Although The Silver Poplar was only published in December 2009, it was written in a long form roughly 30 years ago--written out of a crying need to give way to emotion about my past as a bewildered boy in an institution for neglected children. The story was eventually shortened and set out to make more explicit the wonderful change the grace of God brought about in me at age 17, a year before I left the institution. What was initially designed for a secular publisher became one with a Christian one in mind.

How did your family and friends react when you made it public?

A. Some were surprised to learn of my past, for I had said little about it, feeling few would understand. Many have expressed admiration for my honesty and the ability I had to capture the spirit of the times in which I lived. Reactions have varied in terms of being saddened or amused by the book's content. One friend remarked my experiences "were full of an overwhelming sadness," and yet said it is written with grace and humour.

What do you say to people who experience depression and self doubt?

A. It is a difficult question to answer in a few words but, based on my experience, ultimately I seek to point out the need to rest in the grace of God through Christ. One friend, whom I knew well in younger days, wrote to me upon reading The Silver Poplar and said, "you have an incredibly strong spirit to have endured all that life has presented you," but I do not feel that way about myself. I often feel frail and fragile, even in knowing the grace of God is at hand for me in Christ. I can still get depressed and can be vulnerable to self-doubt, and for that reason can have empathy for those who suffer in that way. As I said, whatever help can be given, ultimately there is a need to rest in God's power and mercy.

Can you recommend other biographies that have inspired you?

A. If it means recommending what is still purchasable, there is no guarantee all the books mentioned can be now obtained. Life in Jesus by Octavius Winslow is a lovely book, to do with the author's mother who was widowed at 40 and then went to America, giving birth to nine children. I remember someone reading the book and being driven to kneel in prayer, when previously kneeling was not the thing to do. That is the kind of book it is.

Other books to inspire have been: Richard Wurmbrand's Christ on the Jewish Road, The Pastor's Wife by Sabina Wurmbrand, Augustine's Confessions, Arnold Dallimore's Spurgeon and The Heavenly Man by Brother Yun.

Tell us something about your story.

A. At the age of six I entered a country place in Victoria called The Sutherland Homes for neglected children. I entered there believing I was an orphan. The place was my home for 11 years. At the age of 15 I discovered I had a sister; we were separated from one another when I was four. In the rest of my time at Sutherland, we knew nothing of our parents.

In my late teenage years my guardians believed I had the ability to do Fifth Year at Eltham High. It was then 'Auntie Lil' sent me an unwanted Bible. I set out to burn it. How I did not is disclosed in The Silver Poplar, which ends by telling of how I discovered at long last much about my family history and the triumph I had at a family reunion in Tasmania in 2002.

Where can we buy the book?

A. It can be bought through Koorong, Word bookshops or QBD Or, it can be bought directly from me at a reduced price.
The email address is eksmith (dot) email (at) gmail (dot) com, should anyone wish to contact me and have the book posted.

Thanks, Edmund, for showing us how great tragedy can be turned around.


Sunday, February 6, 2011

Jan Dyer--Yellow Zone


1: What convinced you to write about this issue?
As far back as we can remember, disasters have been with us. The recent floods of eastern Australia were jokingly compared to Noah’s great flood. It was referred to by one politician as a flood of ‘Biblical proportions’. Disasters, whether they are naturally occurring or induced through war and poverty, have always been a part of our human condition. However, the question posed in today‘s society is whether disasters are increasing worldwide or are they being reported and documented more regularly since the advent of internet and satellite technologies. I take the view that disasters and the ferocity of them are an increasing phenomenon. Most scientists agree with this view, although they may differ from each other as to why they occur. With the world’s population quadrupling within one century, more lives are lost and more people are affected: Homes, businesses and infrastructure are destroyed while agriculture and natural resources experience severe setback and economic loss.
What convinced me to write about it? Since there is so much doom and gloom on the subject, I preferred, like many others, to take the positive viewpoint by seeing it from a Biblical perspective. Bible prophecy not only forewarns us of near future events and impending disasters, it provides us with a cause and reason for them. Most of all, it offers God’s help to a world in trouble; the Way to prevail and move forward through the midst of tragedy.

2: Tell us a bit about the story.
Without giving too much of the plot away; terrorist cells attack and destroy a large proportion of our civilised world and cripple the global economy. Political systems fall as the financial sector crumbles. The whole world is perplexed as one leader rises to world dominance. No longer is there a democracy or a voice for the common people.
A young man, Scott Ryan, and his teenage sister Sally are forced to live in Yellow Zone, a gated community set up to protect and shelter a large population. In time, Yellow Zone draws fear and cynicism from its people. Deadly secrets are uncovered and it is a race against time for survival.

3: What do you say to people who are experiencing devastation right now such as you depicted in the aftermath of a terrorist attack – whether from war or natural disaster, such as our recent Australian floods?
In general, I think when disaster hits a nation such as the recent floods imposed on our beloved country, people re-evaluate their priorities. Possessions are nice to have but human beings and relationships become a focus and are suddenly realised as more precious than things. Perhaps experiencing such enormity of devastation and loss as the floods brought, we either band together and share the grief and loss or we retreat into ourselves and attempt to ignore the pain and despair around us. Disaster and tragedy visits families all the time, but because it’s confined within small groups or happening on the other side of the planet, we can feel detached from it or insensitive. ‘Life goes on’, as the saying goes but tragedy picks on lives impartially and life deals with people unfairly. Eventually misfortune to varying degrees happens to us all.
What to do in the event of a disaster or crisis? Do we put our heads in the sand or do we become pro-active? It was so encouraging for me to see the thousands of people (many facing their own personal loss), going out and helping others in similar or direr circumstances. I felt in awe of these people. They were being the hands, feet and resources of God – the divine touch to a very human need. Another popular saying that encourages me is, ‘When God closes a door, He opens another.’ In the face of hardship, despair and uncertainty, God is the only constant One we can rely on. He comforts us by bringing resources and caring people across our paths to help us. He also opens other doors to new and deepening relationships.

4: Can you recommend other books on the subject that have inspired you?
Of course the first books that come to mind straight away are the Left Behind fiction series by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B Jenkins. These depict a world in chaos just prior to Christ’s return to earth to judge the nations.
Some other nonfiction books I recommend on this subject are: Storm Warning by Billy Graham; The Merciful God of Prophecy by Tim LaHaye, and Epicenter by Joel C Rosenberg. Unfortunately I’m not aware of many Aussie books on this subject. The great late Kiwi, Barry Smith had many books covering end-time prophecy which are worth looking at.
For personal grief: Bereavement, A Shared Experience by Helen Alexander and The Darkness and the Dawn by Charles Swindoll which covers Christ’s very personal suffering.

5: Tell us something about your writing journey and publication. That itself is an interesting story.

My journey as a writer began at an early age, as do so many others. My first real work (not published), was QT, The Quarter Ton Elephant who broke loose from his handler and created havoc down Queen Street, Brisbane. At ten, I was pen pal to an Indian missionary working in the Punjab District. I hope I was an encouragement to her as she selflessly worked with those precious people. I certainly was encouraged by her. That’s the marvellous thing about writing; no matter what our age or disability we can encourage, sympathise and comfort, teach and mentor people through the written word.
My first (self) published book was a collection of my plays and skits called, An Australian Christian Play, An Endangered Species. Like many first time published authors, I look back thirty years and understand why it wasn’t a top seller. And there’s still so much room for improvement.
Yellow Zone is my first publication through a royalty-based publishing house. Rochelle Manners of Wombat Books and EvenBeforePublishing has the difficult task of getting Aussie and Kiwi books out there to the general public and she works tirelessly for writers and readers alike.

6: What avenues have you explored in marketing the book?
No different to anyone else, I’ve taken part in radio interviews e.g. on 4GR, Voice 92.9 FM, Redlands FM and CVC Sunshine Coast. I had a book launch at my local church, Humeridge Church of Christ and book signings at Koorong. I’ve set up my own website (which needs updating), had interviews in the Chronicle newspaper and Gatton Star and co-manned our publisher’s bookstall at Easterfest in Toowoomba. I’ve had book reviews and my book was a focus in book clubs. I’ve entered writing competitions and have done workshops at Brisbane’s Word Writers’ Fair. Apart from these successful marketing forays I’ve written to many newspapers, contacted numerous radio stations and participated in mail outs to schools and bookstores. Marketing is not one of my strengths but certainly it is a necessary job. It is good to be part of a writers’ group which shares successes and failures, common to us all.

7: Where can we buy the book?
Probably the best place to go is online to my publisher ; my website, or . Teacher’s notes are available through the publisher and right now the old edition cover of ‘Yellow Zone’ is at the special price of $6.50 plus shipping and handling. Recommended retail price for new edition cover is $19.95. Thanks Wendy for giving me this opportunity to blog on your site and to offer a free book to one of your readers.

It was great to have you, Jan.


Sunday, January 16, 2011

Lessons from the Floods

THIS MONTH'S GIVEAWAYS ARE The Game and In Due Season. TO BE IN THE DRAW for our next giveaways, POST A COMMENT. For submissions for author interviews to aussiewriters, email Wendy Sargeant at aussiewriters (at) gmail (dot) com (without the spaces), but before you do, be sure and post a comment.

It's hard to belief that floods in Brazil have affected our weather patterns in Australia, but a great lesson for us all about how connected we all are. Extreme whether conditions such as Cyclone Yasi, the Brisbane Floods, the US snow storms and Brazilian floods are just the beginning of what is to come, if we don't act now, according to leading government expert, Ross Garnaut. (

When God created the garden of Eden it was perfect. Man chose to sully the planet when we first picked the forbidden apple.
From then it has been a story of massive accumulation of goods at the expense of Mother Earth and the planet has continually rebelled.

Now we have to learn to get back to a simpler lifestyle to protect the planet. For many, this rebuilding of a life after flood is a time to reflect on living with less clutter. The average woman has $100 worth of clothes in her wardrobe that she will never use!

There are things you can do to help prevent the global warming that scientists say creates bizarre weather patterns.

• Don’t leave the water running when you brush teeth.
• Use the environmentally friendly toothbrush. (Monumental Dental)
• Eat one meat meal less per week (Cuts down ¼ tonne of emissions a year.)
• Have 2 minute showers (Saves 1 tonne of emissions a year.)
• Walk more often instead of driving, e.g. to the corner store.
• Always repair leaking toilets, showerheads, taps immediately.
• Switch computers, lights, fans off when not in use.
• Swap regular light bulbs for energy saving bulbs.
• Organize a clothes swap with your organization at where you can learn to convert recycled clothes to your individual wardrobe.
Buy clothes at Endeavour.They offer all brand name clothes.
• Look out for tencel fabric, otherwise known as lyocell. Here is the info on this product…
• Plant a vegetable garden
• Recycle all household goods—food scraps in a compost, paper products with the council, printer cartridges, batteries with the council
• Join organisations like to learn more about saving energy.)

It has been heartening to see the flood relief effort going on in my home area in the Redlands. Donations have been pouring in to 91 Redland Bay Road where the council has set up a flood relief outlet. If you live in the area, more workers are needed each day this week to sort and pack donations which will supply the Brisbane families affected.If you are flood affected, spend a few hours respite in the Redlands with the amazing spiritual view of history by Leo Herreygers. This serene environment offers respite over a cup of coffee. The exhibition at the Grandview Hotel, Cleveland has extended to 22nd January. The painting on this blog is Leo's.



Sunday, January 9, 2011

Respite in the Redlands

THIS MONTH'S GIVEAWAYS are In Due Season and The Game. TO BE IN THE DRAW for our next giveaways, POST A COMMENT. For submissions for author interviews to aussiewriters, email Wendy Sargeant at aussiewriters (at) gmail (dot) com (without the spaces), but before you do, be sure and post a comment.

If you are experiencing floods our heart goes out to you. If you live near the Redlands and want a few hours respite, the next few days offers an amazing treat for the writer and art lover. The 1850’s converted home--once the Brighton Hotel, now the Grand View—houses an inspirational tour through time with the art works of Leo Herreygers.
You can sit in the upstairs sunroom and lounge, soaking up the old world ambience with a coffee and see Leo’s extraordinary surrealist spiritual tour of world history all around you. This is a free tour. Don't miss out on a chance to see the scene painter for Expo 88, QPAC, The Queensland Theatre Company, the Myer Christmas Windows, the Rocky Horror Show, The Twelfth Night Theatre, The Queensland Youth Ballet, Suncorp Theatre, to name a few.

Leo answered a few questions for us here:

What inspires you to paint?

I can get inspired by the smallest thing like a piece of rag hanging from a wire...but mainly i get inspired by historical events and human reactions to those events.

What do you find is your biggest struggle as an artist?

Recognition, and the battle with minimalist contemporary decorative art.

What are the themes running through your work?

History, religion and personal views.

How do you do your work and what medium do you use?

I have an easel that my father made for me[he was a fine artist] and i paint onto anything from board to canvas and use acrylic, oil and enamel paints on their own or combined.

Tell us about your favorite piece.

As I finish a new piece it becomes my favorite for the time being but from all my work I think' Gabriel' has the greater message, equality—which is something I believe in greatly--and our connection with the almighty.

You can contact Leo at