Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Wandering Wednesday: I Have to go to Hawaii

by Jenny Blake | @ausjenny

I read Sisterchicks do the Hula and I said to mum I have to go to Hawaii and she said you’re not going anywhere. Background story. I was a carer for my mother and she was became very self-centred and controlling. Don’t get me wrong I still loved her, and I know she loved me in her own way. I didn’t let this deter me from dreaming of visiting Hawaii.

My opportunity came in 2008 when I was going to Canada for a retreat, I had 3 nights in Hawaii. I got a small taste of Hawaii and said I am going back. In 2011 I had 13 days in Hawaii. I got to also do 3 day trips to the other Islands.

In Robin Jones Gunn’s book she talks about a luau and I got to go to one both trips which were really good to see. On my second trip I went to the Polynesian centre for a trip round the centre and show. Also visiting Pearl Harbour was an experience. If you do go to Hawaii you need to go out of Waikiki to experience the real Hawaii. I heard so many Aussies say Its just like being on the Gold Coast to which I asked have you been out of Waikiki and they would say no. It made me sad to think they travelled that far but didn't experience the real Hawaii.

Haleakala on Maui

Maui at the ion needle

Pearl Harbour

Waimea  Canyon, Kauai 
Waimea  Canyon, Kauai 

Some dreams take a while before they come true. Best friends Hope and Laurie never made it to Hawaii during their college years. But when they're about to turn forty, the islands still beckon, and off they go - with an unexpected stowaway on board (Hope happens to be seven months pregnant). A little pineapple, a little sunshine, and a surprising little surfing lesson give these two sisterchicks all their crazy hearts could hope for - and more - as they enter the next season of their lives with a splash and with a beautiful vision of what God has dreamed up for them.

Wherever there’s chocolate, there’s sure to be a sisterchick celebrating, and this trip to Hawaii is no exception. Best friends Hope and Laurie are on an audacious mission to commemorate their fortieth birthdays in style. Surfing and sailing, sushi and snorkeling—these two macadamia nuts from the mainland sample it all, unhindered by a surprise little stowaway.

Have you ever wanted to visit Hawaii? If you have visited do you have a favourite memory?

JENNY BLAKE (aka Ausjenny) is an avid reader. When not reading she enjoys watching cricket, in fact you could call her a cricket fanatic, scrapbooking and jigsaws. Her health has means she isn't reading as much as she would like but she does what she can to promote books. Her book blog is where she reviews books and interview authors. Her goal is to help promote new books and encourage authors. Her blog is at, Twitter @ausjenny

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

One Year Published!

By Carolyn Miller @CarolynMAuthor 

Today marks one year since the publication of my first Regency novel, The Elusive Miss Ellison. Yay! (Since then I’ve also seen my second and third Regency novels release – double yay!!) For today’s Bookish Tuesday post I hope you’ll indulge me as I reflect on some of what I’ve learned over the past year of being a published author.

1. One story is never enough.

It's such a special feeling to receive feedback from readers, especially when they are wanting to know more about a favourite character. Readers love interconnected stories and finding out what happened next, and writing a series can be a great way to feed the reader’s need. The Elusive Miss Ellison released as the first in the Regency Brides: Legacy of Grace series (with The Captivating Lady Charlotte and The Dishonorable Miss DeLancey releasing in June and October of last year). I’d written TEME back in 2014, and thought it would work as a standalone, then wrote a couple of other Regency stories, all before any publishers had seen anything.

I’ll be forever grateful to Narelle Atkins for her talk at the Omega Writer’s Conference in Melbourne 2015 when she talked about the benefit of writing a series. Until Narelle’s workshop, I hadn’t thought about how to link these stories, but then I went home, wrote a NaNo project, and saw how the story world and ideas flowed so naturally from my previously written book that I knew it could be done. 2016 saw the writing of the second and third books of this first series – which would have been a lot easier if I’d written it straight after finishing TEME! – while 2017 saw the writing of the third book in my new series, which begins next month with the release of the first in the new Regency Brides: Promise of Hope series, Winning Miss Winthrop on March 27.

Moral of the story: keep your story world alive and write the next one!

2. Work, Rest and Play

I’ve had to learn to treat my days as work – no more lounging on the
couch for me! As my husband says, I’m a small business operator, so my time at work is important. I have four children, so when they’re at school it’s writing (or editing, or marketing) time; if I didn’t, then I’d stress out (even more!). And while this past year has been a steep learning curve, I’ve also learned that it’s important to balance out the grind of writing and editing with taking time to relax, and to be there for my kids, and to actually focus on my husband (instead of thinking about my next storyline), and occasionally even hang out with my friends!

Moral of the story: work hard, but not at the expense of that which is dear to you.

3. Marketing is Key

I don’t pretend to know much about marketing, so last year’s marketing challenge run by Iola Goulton was an eye-opener. I’m thankful to be an Aussie writer in today’s online world, especially when my target market is half a world away, but the sheer breadth of marketing strategies can seem overwhelming. I've had to limit myself to a few social media avenues, tempting as it is to want to try more. I’m constantly learning, and tweaking, and learning from my mistakes to ensure my hard work in writing my books can be seen by readers who will enjoy it.

Moral of the story: there’s always more to learn with marketing!

So there you have it. Three (of the many) things I’ve learned in this last year since being published. Now, I’m off to celebrate!

Do you have things you wished you could tell your newly (or pre-) published self?

About Carolyn Miller:

Carolyn Miller lives in the beautiful Southern Highlands of New South Wales, Australia, with her husband and four children. Together with her husband she has pastored a church for ten years, and worked part-time as a public high school English and Learning and Support teacher. A longtime lover of romance, especially that of Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer’s Regency era, Carolyn holds a BA in English Literature, and loves drawing readers into fictional worlds that show the truth of God’s grace in our lives.

 Connect with her: website | facebook | pinterest  | twitter

Friday, February 23, 2018

Devotion-Bold Faith

By Lorraine Goulton | @ICFWriters

Pressing in

"Have you heard about this man called Jesus? He’s coming now!! He heals people of their diseases!! He is coming up from the beach!!" "Thank you for telling me, my friend"- she replied excitedly- racing out the door; gathering her skirt above her ankles. I am going to touch Him-she said to herself. She pulled back the brocade curtain covering the doorway to join the crowd. My money is all gone. I have nothing to lose! Oh!! how wonderful to leave my prison of 12 years. There He is!!! There He is!! I am going to press in to touch the hem of his garment.

Audacious Confidence

Bold faith clings to a Person- refusing to take no for an answer while putting a demand on God.The woman in Mark 5 verse 24 to 34 had suffered much with a haemorrhage for 12 years and was no better. She had spent all she had. Now she was willing to go to the only One who carried her life in His hands. She had such audacious confidence in Jesus that she was willing to be buffeted by the crowd.

She reached out and touched the hem of His garment. There had to have been something very special about her faith that caused the virtue to flow out of the Son of Man that brought about her healing.

Unrivalled faith

How do we develop such a Faith? Is it a faith that proclaims I’m going after this and it is the only thing I’m going to do? It is faith that is unrivalled in its pursuit and passion. He wants you to flex the muscles of your faith and implore Him. Jesus knows the ripple effect her faith will make.

Jesus is looking for bold faith

God is after your confidence in Him… but so is the enemy. Somehow the enemy knows that if he has your confidence, the rest is easy. If you choose to have an unshakeable confidence in Jesus and in the power of the Holy Spirit, nothing is going to stand in your way. Verse 28 Amplified: She KEPT saying If I only touch his garments, I shall be restored to health. Verse 28 NIV: because she thought “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed” What are the things YOU keep saying? What are the things YOU think about in regard to your haemorrhage?.... that area of your life that has not shifted in 12 years; that painful event that has caused you to ‘bleed out’ all of your confidence?

Confidence equals faith

This unnamed woman was after a transfusion of healing and it came in the form of a Person- the Person who knew that her healing was never going to come from a pill, a potion or a poison but a Portion of the Healing Presence of Jesus. She positioned herself to be in the Presence of the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. When He saw her faith and her determined confidence; that He is who He says He is and He does what He says He will do; virtue flowed from Him.

Jesus knew that someone had touched His garment. He stopped and took the time to look for that some one. He will stop for you too. There is mighty power in having a faith and a confidence that touches Him. There was a great crowd around Him but there was only one that touched Him in such a way that moved Him. The same applies today. Many are following Jesus but are you touching Him with a boldness and a confidence that demonstrates your unshakeable faith?

Jesus sought her out; her faith undaunted by the crowd pressing in on Jesus. He made eye contact with her. Her faith in Jesus activated her intrinsic identity when Jesus acknowledged her. He confirmed her true identity when He called her Daughter; no longer unnamed. She had been unclean and imprisoned by her bleeding. No wonder she could leave Jesus presence in peace; freed from her suffering and commended by Jesus for her faith. Her faith was like a passport-giving her authority to go to a new destination in Christ. I wonder if your "faith passport" need updating?

About Lorraine Goulton
Lorraine is a novice writer living in Masterton, North Island, New Zealand. Frequently seen in the company of one of her 13 grandchildren, she works 4 days a week as a Psychogeriatric Nurse Specialist. Her husband Colin-a retired Pastor-keeps the home fires burning. Lorraine is working on a book about Our Identity in Christ as she has a desire to see Christians walk in the fullness of their identity in Christ. Very soon, she will start work on a regular blog. She loves writing and making up silly stories and songs for her Grandchildren. This is her very first public post !!
Lorraine Goulton is on Facebook

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Bookish Tuesday | Death at Thornburn Hall

Review by Iola Goulton | @IolaGoulton

Drew and Madeline Fathering are back. They are visiting Drew's distant relatives, Lord and Lady Rainsby of Thornburn Hall, and planning to watch the Open at Muirfield, Edinburgh. They are not the only guests—there is also a married couple, and a Russian artiste seeking his muse.

Death at Thornburn Hall is the sixth book in the Drew Fathering series. Each book is a standalone murder mystery, which means you don't have to read the earlier books first (although there are some plot threads that trail though the series). It follows the pattern established in the first book, Rules of Murder.

  • Drew arrives somewhere (Thornburn Hall, in this instance). 
  • There is a death (sometimes there is more than one). 
  • Drew investigates. 
  • The local police force don't appreciate Drew's efforts.
  • Drew solves the crime with help from Nick and Madeline.

It has almost has a Scooby-Doo feel, albiet in a different time and place, and without the inevitable, "and I would have gotten away with it, if it wasn't for you meddling kids." Yes, there is humour in here:

There is plenty of witty banter between Drew, a member of the British aristocracy,  Madeline, his American wife, and Nick Dennison, Drew's best friend and the son of the Fathering Hall butler (a friendship that continues to raise eyebrows).

And Carrie is back: Madeline's American best friend, who Nick would like to persuade to stay forever ... However, Carrie is not stupid. She's realised the same thing the rest of us have realised:

Drew Fathering attracts murder. Murder attracts risk and danger. 

But that's the fun! Well, that's the fun for me, as a reader. Carrie doesn't see it quite the same way ...

The writing is excellent, as usual. There is a cast of characters ranging from mysterious to suspicious. Some things are not what they seem, and there are plenty of genuine clues scattered among the red herrings. The ending is satisfying on several levels (well, satisfying to the core characters. The murderer, as usual, is less than satisfied with being caught by Drew).

I love this series because it is so British. It reminds me of driving through the English countryside, of camping in Scotland under the shadow of Ben Nevis, of taking the train to Edinburgh and disembarking at Waverley Station.

The Drew Fathering mysteries are an echo of England in days gone by. 

They remind me of childhood favourites such as The Famous Five, and Swallows and Amazons, and of Agatha Christie, Ngaio Marsh, Georgette Heyer, and other 1930's murder mystery writers.

But it's also an echo of the England I lived in ... because I've visited many of the places Drew and Madeline visit—Winchester, Beaulieu, Edinburgh. The beauty of England is that it is old, and a modern visitor can see many of the same sights as Drew and Madeline see.

Thanks to Bethany House and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review. You can find out more about Julianna Deering at her website, and you can read the introduction to Death at Thornburn Hall below.

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.

Monday, February 19, 2018

International Christian Fiction - New Releases | February 2018

Wishes on Wildflowers by Valerie Comer

Jasmine Santoro’s relationship with her older brother has never been great, but when she discovers he’s contracted Nathan Hamelin to help with their new family venture, she’s furious. She’s never forgiven her former boyfriend for dumping her and fleeing to L.A. eight years ago.

Nathan thought he was well over Jasmine. They were only kids back then, clearly too young for a committed relationship. Now his hopes to turn animosity to friendship blossom into more when he finds himself falling in love with Jasmine all over again. But when problems heat up with her brother, Nathan must decide if he’ll expose his past and risk losing her for good.

Are Jasmine’s growing feelings strong enough to remind her grace is needed for life and love?

Available at

Keturah by Lisa T. Bergren

In 1772 England, Lady Keturah Banning Tomlinson and her sisters find themselves the heiresses of their father's estates and know they have one option: Go to the West Indies to save what is left of their heritage.

Although it flies against all the conventions for women of the time, they're determined to make their own way in the world. But once they arrive in the Caribbean, proper gender roles are the least of their concerns. On the infamous island of Nevis, the sisters discover the legacy of the legendary sugar barons has vastly declined--and that's just the start of what their eyes are opened to in this unfamiliar world.

Keturah never intends to put herself at the mercy of a man again, but every man on the island seems to be trying to win her hand and, with it, the ownership of her plantation. She could desperately use an ally, but even an unexpected reunion with a childhood friend leaves her questioning his motives.

Set on keeping her family together and saving her father's plantation, can Keturah ever surrender her stubbornness and guarded heart to God and find the healing and love awaiting her?

Available at

The Lost Castle by Kristy Cambron

Broken-down walls and crumbling stones seemed to possess a secret language all their own.

What stories would they tell, if she finally listened?

Ellie Carver arrives at her grandmother’s bedside expecting to find her silently slipping away. Instead, the beloved woman begins speaking. Of a secret past and castle ruins forgotten by time. Of a hidden chapel that served as a rendezvous for the French Resistance in World War II. Of lost love and deep regret...

Each piece that unlocks the story seems to unlock part of Ellie too—where she came from and who she is becoming. But her grandmother is quickly disappearing into the shadows of Alzheimer’s and Ellie must act fast if she wants to uncover the truth of her family’s history. Drawn by the mystery surrounding The Sleeping Beauty—a castle so named for Charles Perrault’s beloved fairy tale—Ellie embarks on a journey to France’s Loire Valley in hopes that she can unearth its secrets before time silences them forever.

Bridging the past to the present in three time periods—the French Revolution, World War II, and present day—The Lost Castle is a story of loves won and lost, of battles waged in the hearts of men, and of an enchanted castle that stood witness to it all, inspiring a legacy of faith through the generations.

Available at

Light on the Hill by Connilyn Cossette

Seven years ago, Moriyah was taken captive in Jericho and branded with the mark of the Canaanite gods. Now the Israelites are experiencing peace in their new land, but Moriyah has yet to find her own peace. Because of the shameful mark on her face, she hides behind her veil at all times and the disdain of the townspeople keeps her from socializing. And marriage prospects were out of the question...until now.

Her father has found someone to marry her, and she hopes to use her love of cooking to impress the man and his motherless sons. But when things go horribly wrong, Moriyah is forced to flee. Seeking safety at one of the newly-established Levitical cities of refuge, she is wildly unprepared for the dangers she will face, and the enemies--and unexpected allies--she will encounter on her way.

Available at

A Refuge Assured by Jocelyn Green

Lacemaker Vivienne Rivard never imagined her craft could threaten her life. Yet in revolutionary France, it is a death sentence when the nobility, and those associated with them, are forced to the guillotine. Vivienne flees to Philadelphia but finds the same dangers lurking in the French Quarter, as revolutionary sympathizers threaten the life of a young boy left in her care, who some suspect to be the Dauphin. Can the French settlement, Azilum, offer permanent refuge?

Militiaman Liam Delaney proudly served in the American Revolution, but now that the new government has imposed an oppressive tax that impacts his family, he barely recognizes the democracy he fought for. He wants only to cultivate the land of his hard-won farm near Azilum, but soon finds himself drawn into the escalating tension of the Whiskey Rebellion. When he meets a beautiful young Frenchwoman recently arrived from Paris, they will be drawn together in surprising ways to fight for the peace and safety for which they long.

Available at

Love In Three Quarter Time by Rachel McMillan

A romantic waltz through a city filled with music, passion and coffee.

Evelyn Watt fell in love with Austrian marketing director Rudy Moser the moment he stepped into their Boston firm. With his ice blue eyes and chocolate-melting accent, he is as refined as she imagines his home country to be. When Evelyn finds herself unexpectedly unemployed right before Christmas, she is left with an unknown future until Rudy steps in with a job appraising, assessing and cataloging heirlooms, lending her American vernacular to the translated descriptions to give each item international appeal. Evelyn will live in Vienna for the months leading up to a grand auction at a party held in conjunction with the Opera Ball—on Valentine’s Day.

Vienna is a magical blend of waltzing, antiques, and bottomless cups of Einspanner coffee at the Café Mozart. When a secret from Rudy's family's past blows in with the winter chill, Evelyn is forced to confront how well she knows the object of her affection. Her café tablemate, the gruff and enigmatic Klaus Bauner might be the only person who holds the key to Rudy’s past. But could that key also unlock her future? In the days leading up to the Opera Ball, Evelyn finds herself in the middle of the greatest romance of her life…as long as she doesn’t trip over her two left feet.

Available at

A Passionate Hope by Jill Eileen Smith

Hannah and her husband, Elkanah, share a deep and abiding love, for each other, for their God, and for his tabernacle at Shiloh. Greatly disturbed by the corruption of the priests, they long for restoration and pray for a deliverer. But nothing changes as the years pass. Years that also reveal Hannah to be barren.

Pressured by his family to take another wife, Elkanah marries Peninnah, who quickly begins to bear children. Disgraced and taunted by her husband's new wife, Hannah turns again to prayers that seem doomed to go unanswered. Do her devotion and kindness in the face of Peninnah's cruelty count for nothing? Why does God remain silent and indifferent to her pleas?

Travel back to the dusty streets of Shiloh with an expert guide as Jill Eileen Smith brings to life a beloved story of hope, patience, and deliverance that shows that even the most broken of relationships can be restored.

Available at

The Sea Before Us by Sarah Sundin

In 1944, American naval officer Lt. Wyatt Paxton arrives in London to prepare for the Allied invasion of France. He works closely with Dorothy Fairfax, a ÒWrenÓ in the Women's Royal Naval Service. Dorothy pieces together reconnaissance photographs with thousands of holiday snapshots of France--including those of her own family's summer home--in order to create accurate maps of Normandy. Maps that Wyatt will turn into naval bombardment plans.

As the two spend concentrated time together in the pressure cooker of war, their deepening friendship threatens to turn to love. Dorothy must resist its pull. Her bereaved father depends on her, and her heart already belongs to another man. Wyatt too has much to lose. The closer he gets to Dorothy, the more he fears his efforts to win the war will destroy everything she has ever loved.

The tense days leading up to the monumental D-Day landing blaze to life under Sarah Sundin's practiced pen with this powerful new series.

Available at

Across the Blue by Carrie Turansky

Set in Edwardian England and ideal for readers who enjoy Julie Klassen novels, this romance about an English aviation pioneer and the girl who falls in love with him is filled with adventure and faith.

Isabella Grayson, the eldest daughter of a wealthy, English newspaper magnate, longs to become a journalist, but her parents don't approve. They want her to marry well and help them gain a higher standing in society. After she writes an anonymous letter to the editor that impresses her father, her parents reluctantly agree she can write a series of articles about aviation and the race to fly across the English Channel, but only if she promises to accept a marriage proposal within the year.

When James Drake, an aspiring aviator, crashes his flying machine at the Grayson's new estate, Bella is intrigued. James is determined to be the first to fly across the Channel and win the prize Mr. Grayson's newspaper is offering. He hopes it will help him secure a government contract to build airplanes and redeem a terrible family secret.

James wants to win Bella's heart, but his background and lack of social standing make it unlikely her parents would approve. If he fails to achieve his dream, how will he win the love and respect he is seeking? Will Bella's faith and support help him find the strength and courage he needs when unexpected events turn their world upside down?

Available at

Friday, February 16, 2018

Walking In Faith

Lorraine Hossington | @lorrainehossing

Faith is stepping out when you are not sure what is going to happen. Making the decision to trust in God no matter where it may lead or what consequences may occur. But knowing that he will show us the way. In Hebrews 11:8 (NIV) it tells us that Abraham obeyed God in faith and went, even though he didn’t know where he was going.

It sounds so simple until it comes to ourselves. Last year I moved from the city to the countryside. For a few years I had felt God speaking to me about moving and had a sense that it wasn’t the right time. Then last year I moved knowing it was the right time and everything fell into place. I had a lot of decluttering to do which stopped me putting my property up for sale straight away. Ten years of hoarding seemed to take ages to sort out, but finally I managed to get rid of it all. And I will be honest and say it was not an easy thing to do as there were lots of memories that had to be dealt with, some were good, others quite painful. But through this process God had a plan for me. I realised that as I was decluttering the physical, God was helping me to declutter the spiritual. I felt a cleansing and a renewal in my life that was just the start of what he had planned for me.

There have been times when I’ve felt a bit like Peter walking on water. (Mat 14:25-31 NIV) He was bold enough to get out of the boat and walk toward Jesus, then he became frightened and began to sink. That has been me, looking at The Lord, then for whatever reason I lose focus and start sinking. But when we seek him he is always there to hold us up.


Faith can sometimes be a difficult road to walk. We start out okay, everything is fine. Then out of nowhere comes the trials which can be frustrating and at times painful. When I’ve been going through these times I’ve cried out and said, where are you God? Yet at the end of a difficult time I have looked back and realised that he has been with me all the time. But by going through these times it gives us the strength and perseverance to go carry on our journey.


We have testing times that we have to go through. A few years ago I went through a dark time in my life. I suffered with depression and wanted to end my life. It was so hard, yet God stepped in. I was in the bath and thought this is the end. Then God spoke to me, not through scripture but with a worship song. It was by Gloria and Bill Gaither called God sent His Son. The chorus of this song tells about facing tomorrow because Jesus lives. I had only heard this song once, but God used it to speak to me. I went to my Gp who recommended counselling. I’m a different person from who I used to be. There is no more depression in my life and I feel so filled with joy and free. In John 10:10 (AMP) it tells us that Jesus came so that we may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance. Going through this trial has helped me to help other people. What the enemy used to try and destroy me God has taken and used for his Glory. These trials have helped me to walk in faith because I know through personal experience that God has never left me alone but has always been with me.

Are you going through a hard time? I want to encourage you to hold on, God is with you. Joshua 1:9 (AMP) be courageous and do not fear. He is with you.

Lorraine Hossington lives in the Gower Peninsular in Wales. She writes contemporary Christian Fiction. And loves nature and being able to see the wild ponies and sheep on the hills in the area she lives in. As she used to live in the city, but loves where God has put her in the country.
Twitter @lorrainehossing Facebook Lorraine Hossington

Thursday, February 15, 2018

My story is being written while I write my story

By David Rawlings (@DavidJRawlings)

I’ve just done a blog post for Almost An Author talking about how I got my agent, which is a story in itself.

So I’ve been reflecting on my journey as a writer, as early in the piece as it is. It turns out that while I’m writing a story, another story is developing. A story with its own twists and turns, plot developments and characters that sweep in and out of it.


While I write, there are things happening that I will look back on and read like a novel.  Like the time the protagonist (me) took the plunge into writing with no guarantees of anything being published. Or the days the protagonist nearly shelved it because it wasn’t working.  Or the joys of that last thread from a Conference turning into a key partnership with someone who would prove very important later in the story.

On Day 1 of my fiction writing journey, I decided to journal as I went, noting key events or dates when significant events happened. I wanted to be able to see how my writing developed. And reading it back, with the benefit of hindsight, I’ve found a couple of things that might relate to your own writing journey.

A well-written story has ups-and-downs. So does my writing story. As much as I don’t like it, there are times when I’m in a down phase, where the words aren’t coming, the connections aren’t connecting or I feel like I’m wading in quicksand. But the downs are usually followed by ups.

I have as much knowledge of what’s coming as my protagonist does. When I write, I deliberately hold back key information until Act 3, leaving my protagonist in the dark. In my own story, that’s no different. I left a key ACFW Conference with 10 leads to connect with a publisher or agent. One by one they dropped off until there were none left … but one Facebook message lead me to a mentor, who lead me to an agent. But I didn’t know that as the last lead was snuffed out.

Bad things may not be bad in the long run. That rejection I got from an agent was soul-crushing. But I now know it wasn’t the right opportunity. I know that … now. But I didn’t then. And it lead me to write something else, which is attracting more interest than I ever thought.

I can see God’s hand weaving through my story, like a conductor’s baton ducking softly at times and cutting swathes through the air at others. But at the time, all I could picture was playing that one note or stanza. And I was wondering why I was playing it softly. Now I know how that quiet stanza fit into the wider song.

I would encourage you to track your own story too. We’re on quite a roller-coaster if we’re writing, and I can now see how taking a longer-term view of things helps to put each moment in perspective. It's helped me see that the individual moments we have need to be treated as if they're part of a larger story.


Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Wandering Wednesday: Auckland, New Zealand

By Cindy Williams @nutritionchic 

Land of the Long White Cloud

The greenness of New Zealand surprises me every time I return, and then I remember… green means rain. Aotearoa - The Land of the Long White Cloud - is rarely thirsty.

‘Buy a raincoat,’ my friend advised me, when after twelve years overseas I moved back to Auckland. ‘If you want to stay fit, you can’t wait for fine weather.’ That raincoat had a good workout for the year I lived there.

A Prophetic Vision 

Most mornings I jogged around the waterfront, past the trendy cafes of St Heliers, Kohimarama, Mission Bay and up steep steps tucked into the hillside of Bastion Point. Finally at the top, the dew laden grass dusting droplets on my shoes, I would stop to catch my breath and drink in the scene before me – islands, sea and sky - tinged in Monet tones. 

Over two hundred years earlier, the Maori prophet, Titahi, stood on this same hillside and saw a vision of three nautilus shells sailing up the Auckland Harbour. He foretold they would bring both good and trouble. Several years later Captain Cook sailed up the harbour, indeed fulfilling the prophecy. The characters in ‘The Pounamu Prophecy’ are from the same tribe as Titahi, and live on the same land. They too experience the good and the trouble from the arrival of a new people. 

Auckland of a hundred lovers 

The Maori name for Auckland is ‘Tamaki Makaurau’ or ‘Tamaki of a hundred lovers’. Situated on a fertile isthmus, where the Manakau Harbour on the west is little more than a kilometre (3/4 of a mile) from the Waitemata Harbour on the east, it was highly strategic. Tribes fought over the land until, in a move to prosper and protect themselves, the Ngati Whatua chief invited New Zealand’s first British governor to site the capital there. It was 1840. 

Over the next fifty years dubious government deals whittled away their ownership of the land until all that remained was a small village at Okahu Bay. In 1951 the government burned down the houses to 'tidy up'. The novel opens with this scene.

City of Volcanoes

Auckland sits on over fifty dormant volcanoes. The experts say the area could erupt again but no-one seems too worried. Across the lower slopes of these hills houses cluster, sheep graze, people picnic and stroll. 

The last eruption was 600 years ago. It formed Rangitoto Island, which features on the cover of ‘The Pounamu Prophecy’. Mere describes it as she digs kumara to feed the protesters who in 1977 camped on Bastion Point for 506 days to protect their land against the government’s plan to subdivide this prime piece of real estate. 

How much longer would this go on? I wiped a calloused hand across my forehead and rested my wheezing bulk on the rusty garden fork. My gaze swept across the panorama below. To my left stood the city centre – short, squat and tall sleek buildings sandwiched together, their stainless steel and glass shimmering in the afternoon heat… 

Across the harbour entrance was Rangitoto Island. Like a stretched out triangle, perfectly symmetrical, it looked so close I could almost touch it. In front of the island a ferry cut a white trail through the deep blue of the harbour. A light scatter of yachts and fishing boats dotted the sea in between distant green islands of rich farmland and native bush. This was the view that the thieving government was trying to get its dirty hands on. This was why I was digging kumara in the scorching afternoon heat and not greeting the kids with pikelets and raspberry cordial when they arrived home, hot and tired after school. 

Gateway to New Zealand 

Auckland boasts wonderful beaches, bush walks and cafes but there's so much more. Within a few hours you can be floating on a rubber tube through underground glow worm caves, rafting over waterfalls, eating corn straight from a steaming thermal hole in the ground, walking on a live volcano, or strolling along an almost deserted beach. Take your raincoat and enjoy!

 About Cindy Williams

With degrees in Nutrition, Public Health and Communication Cindy has 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 is currently editing her second novel about a woman who had five husbands.

Cindy grew up in a culturally rich part of New Zealand. Now she lives in Sydney with her husband and son, writing stories of flawed women who battle injustice... and sometimes find romance. 

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Bookish Tuesday: Rome, Paul, and Success

By Nathan D Maki | @NathanDMaki

What does success look like? 

What if you’re a Christian, does the definition change? What if you’re a Christian writer?

In December 2016 my wife and I splurged on a trip to Rome to celebrate our tenth wedding anniversary. We walked the ancient cobblestone streets and craned to look up at pillars and palaces, arenas and theatres, made all the more thrilling for me because I had researched and written about these places but never actually seen them, touched them, experienced them. At that point I’d written the four books of my War Within series and was in the process of finishing the first draft of my now soon-to-be-released novel The Keeper’s Crown.

I left Rome even more determined to bring that ancient world to life for modern-day readers and believers. To raise the fallen pillars in their mind’s eye, smooth the cracked and heaved pavement, restore the mosaics to vivid color, and bring those long-dead saints and tyrants to life again so their stories will never die.

Paul walked those stones. Those pillars once cast their shade over him. There, just across the Forum was the dungeon where he spent his last days before Nero dragged him from that hole and marched him out to be beheaded.

The Keeper’s Crown began as a quest to answer questions about Paul’s later life.

Why did Luke end the book of Acts so abruptly, simply saying that Paul spent two whole years under house arrest with a soldier that kept him? What would it be like to be that soldier, chained to the Apostle for two years? What happened after those two years were up? Was Paul executed then? Or was he released for a time? What sudden emergency caused him to leave his precious books and parchments behind at Troas, leaving so quickly that he didn’t even have time to grab his cloak? What was his thorn in the flesh?

Yet even as I delved into the pages of the Pauline Epistles, records of early church historians, and the histories written by experts on the Apostle Paul to answer these questions, a deeper question imposed itself on the novel.

What does godly success look like?

About Paul

Paul began his life as the son of a prosperous Jewish businessman, a Pharisee living in the intellectual and influential city of Tarsus. He was both a Jew and a Roman citizen. He was sent to Jerusalem to be schooled by Gamaliel, one of the foremost leaders and thinkers in Jewish society and one of the 70 elders who made up the Sanhedrin, Israel’s highest governing body.

By the time the Early Church began, Paul had risen to prominence in Jewish society. Evidence suggests that he could even have been a member of the Sanhedrin himself. Paul wrote to the Galatians that he “profited in the Jews religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers.”

Fast forward to the time of his execution. Paul was penniless, relying on church charity to sustain him during his imprisonment. He was all but friendless, writing to Timothy that only Luke was with him and all others had forsaken him. He was broken physically, the result of his thorn in the flesh and innumerable punishments and hardships. And ultimately he was beheaded by the Emperor Nero outside the walls of Rome.

Yet Paul wrote to Timothy just before his death and said this: 

“I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord the righteous judge shall give me at that day, and not to me only but unto all them also that love His appearing.”

Paul obviously viewed himself as a success despite all outward evidence to the contrary. He turned his world upside down. He founded churches across the Roman Empire, preached to the foremost thinkers of his day, and testified before governors, kings, and even Emperor Nero himself. And now, almost 2000 years later, we still read the words God inspired him to write. His epistles have shaped the direction and theology of the church perhaps more than any other writer.

No Christian, and few others, would ever argue that Paul was anything less than a world-changing success.

So what was his secret? 

At the end of the day, it’s very simple. Paul did what God called him to do, no matter the cost. No matter the result, that qualifies as success.

God has called me to write, and so I offer The Keeper’s Crown, the story of the great Apostle’s final sprint to the finish line, as seen through the eyes of the young soldier chained to him for those final days. In Quintus I see myself, struggling for success by the world’s standards only to come to the challenging realization that true success, lasting success, is something quite different entirely.

I hope you will too.

About Nathan D Maki

Nathan Maki lives in Prescott, Ontario, Canada with his wife Rachel and son Alexander. In his rare spare time between pastoring a small, rural church and managing his own landscaping business, Nathan has squeezed in the time to write The War Within series, four novels about the Early Church period in ancient Rome.

His latest book, The Keeper's Crown, a stand-alone novel about the Apostle Paul will be released later this month. Nathan likes to say he pastors to touch souls, writes to touch hearts, and landscapes to keep food on the table.

You can find Nathan online at