Monday, 19 March 2018

Why You Might Want to Re-think Your Publishing Plans

Those of you who attended the 2017 Omega Writers Conference will remember Rachel Sweasey, fiction editor at Rhiza Press. We got chatting at the conference, and she offered to write a couple of posts for Australasian Christian Writers to share some tips on self-editing before you submit to a publisher. (I say offered. It's possible I twisted her arm. But only a little!) 

I've heard people say they don't need to edit their books before they submit them to a publisher, because the publisher will edit them anyway. That's only partly true. If a publisher offers you a contract to publish your book, they will edit it. But you improve your chances of getting that contract offer if you've done the groundwork first.

Today Rachel is going to briefly share her top tips for getting your manuscript ready for submission to a publisher ... and address an even more important question about our writing.

Welcome, Rachel!

By Rachel Sweasey

I have a somewhat bipolar relationship with my role at Rhiza Press. I’m so chuffed and proud to tell people I’m an editor in a publishing house. But then, too often, I wish I’d been a bit more vague when answering that ‘What do you do?’ question.

The trouble is that everyone seems to know someone who’s written something they want to get published, and for the most part, the writing is not publishable at all. 

The question I want to ask is “Why do to they want to be published?” Is it because that’s the only way they can imagine sharing their story? Or do they really believe they are the world’s next J.K.Rowling? I hate to sound negative, but they’re not. There is only one of each of us and J.K. is taken.

Unless you’re already an international bestselling author, then before submitting to a publisher your manuscript has to be refined to within a hairsbreadth of perfection. Take a look at the refining process for gold. There are at least 10 steps in the process from mining, through grinding, leaching, and filtering before even the fiery furnace stage, and on to the final product. Imagine going to a Jeweller and being shown a grubby lump of rock. “That there’s solid gold missus.” Yeah, right. We want to see the shiny blingy things.

Our writing must be refined to the same extent if we’re going to produce gold-star quality writing—and that’s what every publisher is looking for. Even if you intend to self-publish, the refining process is still important if you mean to sell your books, rather than use boxes of them as expensive patio furniture.

So what are some of the steps in refining your work?

A. Read widely
B. Work out why you’re writing what you’re writing
C. Do some writing training, and then practice
D. Apply all your training to your Manuscript
E. Befriend a Beta-Reader (or three)
F. Apply the Beta-Readers’ feedback
G. Engage a Professional Editor to complete a Manuscript Appraisal
H. Apply the advice of the Editor
I. Re-engage the Editor to complete a full edit
J. Enter a Competition
K. Find a Publishing House

… And then, hopefully, you’ll hear back from one... In time.

But taking all that advice aside, the biggest question I really want to ask writers at this stage in their journey is ‘Why do you write?’ Because maybe, just maybe publishing doesn’t have to be the end goal.

Being called to write, and being called to get that writing published are two very distinctive calls. For me? I’m called to sing. I’ve had a passion to sing all my life and I’ve been blessed with some gifting and lots of opportunity to minister. But has God called me to become a professional singer, cut DVD’s, and sell my voice on Spotify? Absolutely not, no way, at all, ever. But I’m called to sing, and I will sing will all my heart until my lungs collapse.

And it’s no different with writing. 

 If you have a talent or even a God-given gift to write then you absolutely must do that writing. You should dedicate your spare time (or all your time if God’s blessed you that much) to perfecting your writing, to listening for leading about what you should write, or who you should write to. There might be a platform by which others can be reached and blessed by your writing but that does not necessarily mean having a book published.

And if writing is your gift, you can and should still apply many of the same snippets of advice I’d give to writers who are intent on being published. Start with the basics of working on style, structure and grammar and share your work widely to gain feedback and make refinements.

And if you are doing what God has called you to do, the work your heart longs for and your hands ache to do, you will be blessed. But possibly not published ;)

Thank you, Rachel! That's great advice. Rachel will be back next Monday to expand on her list. Meanwhile, what do you think? Are we all called to be published? 

What other ways could we fulfill our calling to write and be published?

About Rachel Sweasey

Rachel Sweasey is an editor at Rhiza Connect, the newly branded imprint of Rhiza Press dedicated to inspirational adult fiction for the faith-based market. She also edits the inspirational texts for Book Whispers, a consultancy that offers appraisal, editing, typesetting, printing, design, and marketing services. Rhiza Press also has a Young Adult imprint, Rhiza Edge. Rachel graduated from Griffith University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Literature and Composition. She lives in Brisbane with her husband and 3 children, has known Christ as her saviour since the age of 14, and serves in worship ministry in Wynnum Baptist Church.

Friday, 16 March 2018

Saying No

 By Jenny Glazebrook

I watch my 10 year old daughter lie on her bed and create stories, page after page of words and pictures as her imagination runs wild and she escapes to another world. 
And I remember when I used to do the same thing. 

Some of 10 year old Clarity's creations

I remember back to when I loved writing. Before I was officially an author.
Presenting a school writing workshop
I’ve been so busy helping others write the past few years that I’ve had no time to write. I’ve run workshops, mentored young writers, been on committees for writers’ festivals and conferences, done free proof-reading, written reviews, given inspirational talks … and in it all, lost my love of writing.

I have to ask myself, when did it become a chore? When did it become another ‘should’ in my busy world?

This year I felt that the Lord wanted me to pull out of all my voluntary roles. It started when I developed a painful condition of my wrist (De Quervain’s tenosynovitis) with associated radial nerve damage – a result of the type 1 diabetes I was diagnosed with at 8 years of age. I am waiting for surgery. I can no longer use a computer mouse without a lot of pain. But free-flow typing is fine.

My 'No!' button
I don’t find it easy to say ‘No’when people ask me to help. In fact, my mother bought me a ‘No’ button to help me with this issue. When you press it, a deep, masculine voice says ‘No’ in many and varied ways. My kids love it and have a good giggle when they use it to answer a question I ask them. And sometimes I get a shock when it’s buried under a pile of papers and I accidentally lean on it.

But I have to ask myself, why is it so hard to say ‘No?’

Is it because I don’t value my work and see other peoples’ gifts as more valuable than the one God has given me?

Is it because I have this warped idea that helping others will make them like me more?

Is it because I’m afraid to fail? What if I focus on my own writing but it’s not good enough?

Is it because my pride says I am able and more willing to help in these areas because I do the job properly, putting my heart and soul into it?

Is it because my default is to rescue others at my own peril?

Is it because I feel I have to prove my worth to the world, to prove I am valuable and deserve to be here? And that by pouring myself out for them I am making their lives better and therefore am valuable?

I have had a good, long, hard look into my heart and I believe it is actually a bit of all of these. Particularly, the last two.

But they are lies of the devil.

God does not need me to rescue people. That is His job and He does it way better than I do!
And despite the fact that I am on a government pension because of family health issues, I do not ‘owe’ it to the world to prove my worth.  God, the King of the Universe, has made me His child. And the government pension is not so that I can wear out my mind and body rescuing others … it is so I can care for myself and my family.

Pop in 2005
I recently spent a day with my 90 year old grandfather in hospital.
Several times he spoke to me of his regret that he didn’t write more down over his lifetime. He kept saying, ‘But Jen, now there’s just not enough time …’
And it struck my heart that I don’t want to be lying on my death bed regretting that I didn’t write more, that I didn’t do what I love and bless others through it. I wish Pop had written down the things on his heart, the lessons he’s learned through life, his spiritual insights. I wish it was here to hold onto when he’s gone. But now his memory is failing and at times he is too weak to even speak.

My time is now. The time to love my family, to live in the moment, to express my heart through writing, to sit at Jesus’ feet like Mary did and stop being a Martha. I am troubled by so many things. A couple of nights ago I went outside and sat looking at the stars while our dog laid his head in my lap and our pet goose made gentle honking noises, trying to get my attention. And I just breathed and soaked up God's presence as I remembered what it means to be alive.

And so, to regain my joy in using the gift of writing God has given me, to receive inspiration and strength from Him, this year I say ‘no’ to all the shoulds and instead,  I will enjoy being a wife, a mother, a writer, and most important of all, God’s precious, valuable child … just because I breathe, because He made me in His image and He loves me.

May we never lose the joy of using the gifts God has given us. May we never get so tied up in the business and responsibility of being an author that we forget to write. May our inspiration in Christ be endless, our imaginations set free and our love for God and others grow stronger with every passing day!

Much love to you all, my brothers and sisters, my fellow writers.


Jenny Glazebrook lives in the country town of Gundagai with her husband, Rob and 4 children along with many pets. She is the published author of 7 novels, 1 traditionally published, and 6 self published. She is currently working on her next series with publisher, Breath of Fresh Air Press. She writes because words burn within her. She is an experienced inspirational speaker, a chaplain, and loves to encourage others to walk closer with God and hear His voice each day.  
Jenny’s website is:

Thursday, 15 March 2018

What Dreams May Come Review

What Dreams May Come 
Review by Carolyn Miller @CarolynMAuthor

She's got her heart set on becoming a missionary. He's determined to recruit her for the job.
But is it possible to fall in love with someone you've never even met?

Susannah’s convinced that God has called her to the mission field. That’s why she’s serving him with single-minded focus in Orchard Grove, waiting for the day when she can leave her small town to take the gospel to the nations. Is falling in love with her missionary recruiter part of God’s plan for her life or a distraction from the real goal?

Scott loves his life. Traveling the globe, offering spiritual support to missionaries around the world offers enough excitement that the loneliness hardly ever gets to him …
Until he receives an application from a young girl with a heart for the mission field as large as his own, a young girl he finds himself falling for even before they get the chance to meet face-to-face.

Unfortunately, a promise Susannah made to her family may tear her and Scott even farther apart than the miles that separate them.

Book one in an inspirational sweet romance series by award-winning Christian author Alana Terry, who has won awards from Women of Faith, The Book Club Network, Grace Awards, and several others, What Dreams May Come is based off of the author’s own experiences falling in love with (and eventually marrying) her missionary recruiter.

I remember first hearing about this book on Carrie Booth Schmidt’s blog ‘Reading is my Superpower’ and being intrigued by the premise. When Bookbub recently had it on sale, the ‘Look Inside’ first few chapters were enough for me to snap it up.

It’s an interesting novel for a number of reasons. One, the plot follows the author’s own story of connecting with, and falling in love with, her missionary recruiter. To me, this added a sweet though slightly disconcerting element, as at times it seemed hard to separate fact from fiction. Maybe it’s just me, but when the hero says things like “You are the most compassionate, gentle-spirited person I know…there’s none as sweet or as giving or as selfless as you…” then it’s hard to read that without wondering what is fictional and what is (enhanced?) fact, which can feel a little intrusive.

Another interesting factor is how it progresses, with very short chapters told from alternating viewpoints, followed by a lengthy section devoted to emails as a form of flashback to fill in the details on what exactly happened in their relationship, then another section of action.

There is a great deal of introspection, with some chapters seemingly almost wholly consisting of characters questioning their motives and rehashing what happened, which, while helpful in understanding their thought processes, is not something I’m used to in contemporary fiction, and something that seems to fly in the face of ‘show, don’t tell’ writing advice we hear.

I’m not used to reading about such sheltered (almost Mary Sue type) main characters, so it was good to see characters like Grandma Lucy and Kitty add an element of grit and challenge. I’ve known ‘Grandma Lucy’ types, and enjoy the passion and directness they bring out in others, and the Kitty character was fully realised, someone I could see from my days working with special needs children in school.

Overall, this book appealed to me because I could relate to some of the heroine’s issues: the interest in missions, the questions about God’s call, and the doubts about relationships. This book is the first in ‘A Sweet Dreams Christmas Romance’ series, which sees Grandma Lucy return.

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. Her Regency novels include The Elusive Miss Ellison, The Captivating Lady Charlotte, and The Dishonorable Miss DeLancey, all available from Amazon, Book Depository, Koorong, etc
Connect with her: website | facebook | pinterest | twitter