Friday, 28 November 2014


It’s been an exciting year. Many things have come to pass for me that, twelve months ago, I would have thought improbable, if not impossible. I was grateful for God’s favour extended to me and eagerly walked through every door that sprang open, but as the year gallops to its finish, I find myself thinking, “Maybe that was it. Maybe I presumed too much on God’s generosity. Perhaps I should quit while I’m ahead.”
            Is this the result of physical tiredness? The natural let-down at the end of a demanding race, having used up my quota of adrenalin? Or like Elijah - following the contest with the priests of Baal - is it the result of a battle in the spiritual realm? If it is, I’m determined to re-group, re-invigorate. I don’t want to settle, fearful of inadequacy, I want to build on what I’ve learnt, develop skills, extending upward and outward from seeds that have germinated in my life.
            In contrast to earlier in the year, the path I’m on now looks a little dry on the verges, but I’ve got my eyes on the road ahead. I can’t see what’s on the other side of the hill that rises steeply in front of me, but I’m determined to climb it. The scenery may turn out to be not so lush, the road surface rougher than before, or it may turn out to be a delightful roller-coaster ride in a run-up to another soaring hill.
            I’ll never know if I stop and camp, will I?

Saturday, 16 August 2014


My local library is in the habit of tossing out worn or under-used titles and selling them off at $1 each (until recently it was ten cents, but that’s inflation for you). Frequently, I come across an author I’ve never read before and find myself catapulted into unexpected reading pleasures.
            The latest gem to fall into my hands is Rohinton Mistry’s A Fine Balance. He writes a rich and colourful tapestry of India in the 1970s, following the fortunes of four characters whose lives inter-connect during a time of political upheaval. It’s a big book but I’m galloping through it because I can’t put it down. Without it being ‘preachy’, or it reading like a travelogue, Mistry has woven setting, characters and the political history into an enthralling read.
            If that wasn’t enough to make him well worth the $1, Mistry has introduced me to two delicious words that sent me scurrying for a dictionary: ‘horripilate’ is that goose-bumping of the skin from cold or fear, and ‘funambulating’ is walking a tightrope or high wire. This is the sentence he used the second one in: "On windy nights the (laundered) garments danced on the wire, friendly funambulating ghosts".  I almost hyperventilate at the sheer pleasure of repeating it aloud!
            If for no other reason, going to the dictionary for the meaning of new-to-me words builds muscle for those Face Book quizzes like, “How Many English Words Do You Know?” and “How Good is Your Vocabulary?” But nobody’s fooled…you all know I’d do it just for the fun of it.

Monday, 31 March 2014


When I was about nine, autograph books were all the rage at school. All the girls had one. Can’t remember if boys had them; I don’t think boys were on my radar at that age.  These small, hard covered books had timeless literary gems inscribed on their pastel coloured pages – mostly beginning with ‘roses are red, violets are blue…’ and ending with some variation of ‘…sugar is sweet and so are you', but I suppose we weren’t looking for originality, only acceptance.
            These immortal words were usually signed by a best friend or a doting aunt. I didn’t have either at the time, so I asked my Dad. I knew it was unlikely he’d pen anything of the ‘roses are red’ variety, but my expectations – actually, I don’t remember what my expectations were – all I know is Dad met none of them. He wrote:  It’s better to keep your mouth shut and be thought a fool, than to open it and remove all doubt.
            Neither I nor my class mates had any idea what it meant.  I was embarrassed. I really wanted to fit in with everyone and have Roses are Red all through my autograph book, but even then I must have had an appreciation for the pithy phrase and the road less traveled because I found myself reading it again and again. At some point it made sense and it became a landmark for growing up and the getting of wisdom.
            I’m usually more interested in the written word, but recently, I have been reminded of the wisdom, or otherwise, of the words that come out of our mouths. Spoken words are powerful – for good or for bad – to bring things into being in our lives. Even the heavens and the earth were brought into being by the “Let it be!” spoken by the Creator.  We, too, get what we talk about.  If we talk negatively about ourselves and others we create a negativity of hopelessness around us. Conversely, when encouraging words come out of our mouths we influence the whole atmosphere for good. The effect, either way, is palpable.

            I’m sure my Dad would relate to the ‘silence is preferable to bullshit’ poster doing the rounds on Face Book at the moment.  I remember he was prone to use the milder expression, ‘bulldust’, on those occasions when his patience was tried. In the manner of many Australian old timers he did not suffer fools gladly. We are fools to think we will get away with constant negative talk. Better to keep silent.  Self-bashing talk will influence our lives adversely. The choice is ours. 

Monday, 17 March 2014


Perhaps your Christian background was similar to mine. We were taught how wrong it was to be presumptuous. So we waited for permission to serve, to go, to do. Then we waited to be told how it should be done. Then of course we waited for ‘God’s timing’, and spent a lot of time getting trained. Finally we waited for God to put cold, hard cash in our hands to do whatever it was, all the while hoping we weren’t blowing our own trumpet when we shared our dreams.
            I worried that I was presumptious in thinking I could write. I worried that I was too old to make a go of it without long years of writing experience behind me. I hoped God would just zap me and I’d find myself writing in a cloud of effortless glory.
            A couple of inspirational quotes had a strong impact on me. They are not Bible texts but both reflect biblical principle. The first one is from Andre Gide, the French novelist from the 19th century. I’ve never read his work and this quote is all I know of him, but it speaks to me.  He said, “We do not discover new lands unless we’re willing to push the boat out from the shore.”  Pause and meditate.
            The other one is from that wonderful teacher and father in the faith, Bill Johnson. He says, “God loves risk-takers. It shows you’re willing to trust Him.” Not everyone is called to the foreign mission field; not everyone is called to write a book. But everyone is called to act on what you have a passion for – because that passion was planted in you before you were formed in your mother’s womb. It’s a passion God wants you to run with to extend His Kingdom on earth and promote His glory.
            In putting that passion to work for God and His kingdom, a strange thing happens. We die to self. This happens because it’s impossible to fulfil the drive of that inbuilt passion unless we put God’s kingdom and His righteousness first. When we acknowledge the drive in us, and accept we won’t fulfil it in our own strength, it becomes something effective and powerful.  What’s important is not what form the passion takes, but whether it’s harnessed to the kingdom and His righteousness! Baking cakes, knitting or driving a bus are just as likely to glorify God and serve His purpose as being a doctor or designing a church. We can make a business, a ministry, from anything and carry the love of God to the world.
            A final quote, this time from a fellow member at Christian Writers Downunder, Maree Cutler-Naroba.*   “Put the prophetic trumpet to your lips and blow it loud – take those ideas nestled in your heart and give it a go.”


Sunday, 9 March 2014

My Writing Process Blog Tour
Melissa Gijsbers Khalinsky invited me to My Writing Process blog tour. Link to her at

What am I working on?
At the moment I only have time for short story writing because I’m busy making a platform of speaking engagements to showcase my book Cambodian Harvest which will be released from April 1st. I’m looking forward to getting back to working on my novel which has an historical premise. You can read my latest short piece, A Day at the Beach, on Rhonda Pooley - Writer   

How does my work differ from others of its genre?
In terms of the biography, Cambodian Harvest, I have aimed for a journalistic approach which is not common among Christian biographers. I particularly admire Peter McSimons’ style (although not necessarily his politics!). My short stories and novel might be termed ‘literary fiction’ by some, but they aren’t so high falutin’ as that - trust me!

Why do I write what I do?
I’m interested in how the past impinges on the present - for better or worse – and how people handle that. My stories reflect this even when I haven’t set out with that consciously in mind. I write from a biblical world view, but with a non-Christian audience in mind.

How does my writing process work?
Slowly! And I’m a very linear sort of fiction writer. I like to start at what I think is the beginning and then work with a particular ending in mind. But in practice it rarely works out like that. Achieving a good ending is always the hardest thing for me.

Next week you will meet Anusha Atukorala on the My Writing Process Blog Tour. Anusha is an accomplished public speaker as well as a writer of encouragement and warmth. Visit her at ‘Dancing in the Rain’: 
I have invited two more writers, but haven't had confirmation and information from them yet.

Saturday, 8 March 2014


I might have missed this Adelaide Festival of Arts event if I hadn’t been given tickets as an early birthday present:  I would have missed a brilliant and rewarding piece of theatre.
            The Shadow King, an adaption of Shakespeare’s King Lear, set in an Aboriginal community in outback Australia and combining traditional indiginous languages, contemporary English and phrases from the original text, was a triumph at every level. The original story of greed, jealousy, power-play and madness was interpreted with originality by reflecting present Aboriginal conflicts over land ownership and mining royalties.
            The revolving set was alternately an intimidating mining rig or a corrugated iron dwelling, variously back-lit with projections of outback landscapes or interior views of the house. A three piece band to the side of the stage set the mood with music ranging from snippets of rock and popular song, to tribal chant. The cast joined in at times, often providing humorous relief.
            Stand-out performances by Tom E. Lewis as Lear, and Jimi Bani as the villain, Edmund, were unforgettable. Bani at times seemed to dance, his movements around the set were sheer fluid athleticism.       Watching his performance I couldn’t help thinking, ‘Watch out, Idris Elba!’

            In all sincerity, I could see it all again immediately.

Friday, 21 February 2014

Pt 2: What I Learnt While Writing a Book
(or: what I won’t do next time)

I let myself be distracted too readily.
            When I’m working on a big writing project it is just too easy to say, I should make something nice for dessert tonight, or ring someone I haven’t spoken to in a while, or linger too long over breakfast with the crossword (I ‘m not a morning person and getting up from the table takes WILL power!). I am now determined to have a set time to write EVERY week day - no ifs, buts or, I feel inspiration-deprived.
            I WILL set myself to write a daily word quota. And I won’t beat myself up if it’s all rubbish; at least I will have written something and ‘something’ can always be worked on for improvement. I have set quotas in the past, but not dealing with the ‘rubbish’ issue always de-railed me.
            One thing a University education teaches is that you have options, and you learn which options you’re good at. But the broad spectrum of an undergraduate course of study means you tend to flit from one subject to another, retaining only the basics of each in order to pass an exam or submit an assignment. It’s possible to be competent without excelling. Until three years ago I wrote only short fiction, which may be likened to undergraduate course study – got that one down pat, done the assignment, on to the next thing.
            Writing a book taught me that focus is essential. Writing a book requires a mindset that’s prepared for the long-haul while still keeping an eye on the high calling to complete  the project! Not focusing means the book takes longer to write than it should do. I won’t let that happen next time. 

For me, daydreaming is best confined to the period of time I'm thinking about the next book and that oh so glorious time when I've completed it!

Monday, 17 February 2014


Life seems very full with the demands of ‘the must do’ pressing in on every side. Virginia Woolf spoke of needing a ‘room of one’s own’ in order to be creative.  I’m thinking I need such a room but without door, window, telephone or internet - preferably without human contact altogether!
Feeling the need for a little solitude…to breath, to commune with One greater than I, to recharge. I’ve forgotten what a comfort zone feels like!

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

(or: what I won’t do next time)
Part 1

I will not have a lone ranger mentality

Past experience of sharing my writing during the Masters in Creative Writing confused me. There were always many suggestions for alterations, additions, omissions, and explanations – that was, after all, the purpose of the weekly group meeting- and being a teachable and conscientious soul I took every suggestion on board. The result was two-fold: I wrote endless back story to accommodate their suggestions, ended up with a cast of thousands with much telling-not-showing, and ruined what had been a good plot; and I lost all confidence in the story and my ability to write it. They were all bright young things and I admired their writing. Of course they would know more than I did!
            It took several years to undo the damage and get back to writing. And several more before I enjoyed and appreciated the value of a writing group. Even so, I was stingy with how much I shared with others as I wrote Cambodian Harvest. I’m sure it would have been a better book for more input, and increased my satisfaction in the process of writing it.
            So, with my next book I will seek out a range of reader-mentors who will help me to sift chaff from wheat early in the process and help me kill off mere ideas rather than the darlings I have birthed and nurtured to adulthood! These readers can’t be my husband or best friend who would fondly tolerate even my sloppiest lines.
            My mentor-readers will also be drawn from a range of different skills and interests. I need people who will tell me what does and doesn’t add to the flow of the story, to help me refine and achieve what I always had in mind. And while I may not need a lot of help with spelling and punctuation I do need someone who will pull me into line regarding the use of intensifiers – those pesky adverbs and adjectives – and rein me in on those long descriptive passages I love. Oh, and someone to keep an eye on formatting!
            There was one other reason for not having the number of readers I needed. I was scared of giving away all the ‘goodies’ and there’d be no one left to buy the book when it was finished. Now that’s negativism of the worst order!

Friday, 31 January 2014


There was a moment during a recent ferry trip across Backstairs Passage to Kangaroo Island when I was whisked back to childhood. What is it about the blurry outline of an island on the other side of a stretch of water that evokes adventure, mystery and discoveries? I blame it on Enid Blyton and the Famous Five!

How I loved those books. They seduced me into believing I could do anything, be anything I wanted. Every child needs to know that before they grow up. I was each of the characters in turn, fell in and out of love with Julian and eventually recognised I was in no way – could never be - like George, except in my imagination. I moved on to other authors and different fantasies, but I was forever enriched by those books. 

Wednesday, 1 January 2014


Feeling a bit schizophrenic tonight. On one hand I’m a bit glum. It started with me thinking of ways I might alter my blog page to link to my new book when it is released in April. I read through a dozen examples of other blogs to get ideas. Some weren’t as well written or witty as mine (please note, I employed only level-headed, unbiased observation here!); many used lots of interesting photos, illustrations and layouts (a strategy I should develop, ASAP). But the biggest difference I noted was in the number of readers and comments. I have only two followers and they never comment.
            From time to time I forward post onto my Face Book timeline and occasionally someone 'likes' it. Many others register as having ‘seen’ it, but comments, negative or positive, are rare. Why is this? Are the posts boring? (surely not!) Are they too controversial? (but wouldn't that mean I'd get incensed replies?) Are they not ‘spiritual’ enough for the faith-based groups I mostly relate to? Is the content too religious for everyone else? Am I trying to be all things to all men? Should I specialise, and for whom?

           On the other hand, I’m feeling a little glow of creative pleasure. During the Christmas to New Year down-time I’ve been experimenting with designing a brochure and a poster to use as advertising material for both my new book and the creative writing workshops I have been running since the middle of 2013. Learning the techniques is frustrating (it involves computer technology, of course it’s frustrating!), but it is also curiously satisfying. I could play for hours with colours and varieties of fonts, and then there’s all those illustrations to find and insert!  And because I had to make do with a male in the cartoon above, I’m now dreaming of picking up the sketch pad I haven’t used in years and drawing my own. 

            Oh my goodness! It’s only New Year’s Day! I have enough projects to keep me busy until Easter!!