Friday, 23 February 2018

Print Book Giveaways for Australasian Readers | Narelle Atkins

By Narelle Atkins  @NarelleAtkins

Do you read the fine print before getting excited about print book giveaways? 

If you're an international reader who lives outside the USA, you'll know to check the giveaway rules to see if you're eligible to enter. You'll also know to check the sale prices on ebooks before buying due to potential territory limitations on ebook deals.

At Australasian Christian Writers (ACW) we don't do a lot of giveaways, but when we do a giveaway here we try to make sure there's an option for readers who don't live in Aust and/or NZ to at least win an ebook, if not a print book.

There is a reason why print book giveaways from US-based authors are often limited to US mailing addresses: postage costs. The same logic applies for Aussie authors limiting print giveaways to Aussie mailing addresses.

For US authors who are sent print books from their publisher to give away, it's only around $3 US to mail the books within the US. It's significantly more expensive to mail that same book to an international mailing address.

The Book Depository has traditionally been our go-to place at ACW to buy and send print books to winners of our giveaways who live overseas. They offer competitive prices and free worldwide shipping.

I also blog with Inspy Romance and we're celebrating our 4th birthday by offering 10 giveaway bundles - 4 print book bundles (US only) - 4 ebook bundles (international) - a Grand Prize (US only) - PLUS a print book bundle for an international reader to win.

Yes, Inspy Romance is offering a print book giveaway containing 6 books specifically for readers who live outside the US.

If you like reading contemporary Christian romance, stop by the Inspy Romance blog and enter the Birthday Bash giveaway.

Have you discovered many print book giveaways that are open to readers who live outside the US? I'd love to hear your thoughts and experiences.

A fun loving Aussie girl at heart, NARELLE ATKINS was born and raised on the beautiful northern beaches in Sydney, Australia. She has settled in Canberra with her husband and children. A lifelong romance reader, she found the perfect genre to write when she discovered inspirational romance. Narelle's contemporary stories of faith and romance are set in Australia.

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Thursday, 22 February 2018

Book Review: Land of Britannica

by Jeanette O'Hagan

Land of Brittanica by Jenny Woolsey


Twelve-year-old Brittney is upset her parents have split up and she wants them back together. After Dad introduces his girlfriend to Brittney and her brothers, she is plunged into a strange world... the Land of Britannica. This kingdom is ruled by the evil Storm Queen and it is Brittney's mission, as stated in the Book of the Kingdom, to defeat the queen and restore the cracked green heart that hangs in the sky. She must face many perils and dangers. Will Brittney be able to fulfil her destiny?

Land of Britannica is an allegory. Brittney must work through stages of grief as she goes on her mission to save the people.

This is a wonderful story of a brave girl who fights evil for good.

Middle Grade Novel
Ages 9 - 12
198 pages
Publication Year: 2017

About the Author

Jenny Woolsey is a writer and blogger, speaker, teacher, youth worker and advocate for people with facial differences, mental illness, and disabilities. She lives in the north of Brisbane, in Queensland, Australia, with her husband, three magnificent children, three spirited cats and her cute fluffy dog.

Jenny started writing stories when she was little. As a teenager, poetry was her favourite genre. In 2014 Jenny decided it was time to begin writing again and published her first novel, Ride High Pineapple. In 2016 she published her second, Brockwell the Brave. Jenny writes to help children and teens who feel different and are going through tough situations. She understands as she's felt this way all through her life.

My Thoughts:

I enjoyed Jenny Woolsey's debut novel Ride High Pineapple which dealt with difference (the heroine has a congenital face dysmorphia), bullying and being brave with an engaging story. So I was looking forward to reading Land of Britannica. This book was pitched to a younger audience with clear language.

Twelve-year old Brittney is struggling with the separation of her parents, especially when her Dad introduces his new girlfriend. Unable to sleep, she is transported through a strange green portal and finds herself in a kingdom with a cracked green heart hanging in the sky and an evil Storm Queen. The people of the kingdom believe Brittney is the girl from the Book of the Kingdom, who will mend the green heart and save the realm from the Queen.

Brittney must face her fears as she battles trolls, fierce guards and the Queens magic. She receives help along the way, and there are many strange cross-overs between her normal world and this new one, including her companion, a talking cat called Marmalade almost identical to her cat at home.

Land of Britannica follows the well-tried path of hero's journey, with a quest and many difficulties along the way. Britannica is a world with fantastical elements, including an evil stepmother Queen, a fairy, talking animals, and dragons; elements that connect with Brittany's inner battle. There is plenty of action and a satisfying conclusion. All the while, the story explores the confusion for children when their parents separate.

This is a solid middle-grade book, easy to read and full of adventure. The book is written for the general market, though from with Christian values and worldview. Great for kids that might be struggling with family conflict, change and separation or know someone who is.

Available as an e-book on Amazon or as print book from the author's website.

Wednesday, 21 February 2018


by Josephine-Anne Griffiths

As moments turn into days, days to weeks, and weeks to months, I ask myself the same questions, 'Who am I really? Am I just a fraud? Do I truly have a talent for writing, or should I just return to reading the wonderful writings of others?'. And then there are those critical questions I constantly ask myself 'Why do you keep doing this? Why are you forever taking on so much "stuff"? Why are there always so many pots on the stove, about to bubble over?'.

'O Lord , I have come to you for protection; don’t let me be disgraced. Save me, for you do what is right. Turn your ear to listen to me; rescue me quickly. Be my rock of protection, a fortress where I will be safe. I entrust my spirit into your hand. Rescue me, Lord , for you are a faithful God.'
~  Psalms 31:1‭-‬2‭, ‬5 NLT

Issues with mental health tend to run in my family. I don't know why. However, this does not define who I am ... I am one of God's precious children, as we all are.
There are many troubled people in this world with various problems, but when I remember ... 'although many things are impossible for man, they are never impossible for Our Lord Jesus Christ' ... I feel so much better.

I love to become involved with lots of people, activities, and things, but at the end of the day, week, or month I seem to have accomplished nothing. God has given us all gifts, and besides loving to read and write, I know He's given me capacity to create something beautiful, to share with others, and to love others the same way I want to be loved and treated.

I tend to be rather hard on myself, as I am sure we all do at some stage or another, but it's true, nothing will get done if I don't clear my bipolar head of all these silly notions and snippets of folly. I had planned to write this post in January on my own site, but things kept standing in my way ... my health, HoneyBun's health, critical illness within the family, funerals to attend, and a plethora of other things. One of my worst habits is failing to say 'no' when I should, and another is being overtaken by compulsiveness and impulsivity. Everything has to be done perfectly or not at all. Lots of things are appealing to me, and I find it almost impossible to resist. I have wasted money on silly things in the past, now I can't afford to be so irresponsible ... but I still waste precious time on "stuff". I'm certain many would know exactly what I mean. What about you? Do you waste time?

So, what is the solution?
I apologise for the bunch of capital letters, but I've just had an epiphany 😃
I have been threatening to empty out my email inbox for ages. Well, that is just about to happen. I have so many unnecessary emails coming in that I'm missing the important ones. I spend way too much time on Facebook  ... hmm, I'll work on that soon 😉  My calendar is full with medical appointments, funerals (I have two to attend this week), oh and I mustn't forget my elderly parents  ... they need care, love, and kindness as well. And regarding my beautiful parents, I wouldn't have it any other way.

Then there is the challenge of trying to think and write with chronic pain. My osteo and rheumatoid has flared up badly, making concentrating on anything tiresome ... but I am certain many of you can relate to this. My wonderful husband has offered to purchase the latest version of Dragon software for me. He's such a sweetie (most of the time), but then I suppose I'll have yet another thing to learn (laughing to myself).

Yes, one at a time, that's definitely the way. I won't be able to cast aside all my bad habits in the flap of a bird's wing, but with God's help I shall gradually eliminate most dreaded distractions. I will get a handle on this.

And, I will continue to write and read (just try stopping me), but perhaps I'll practice a wee bit more mindfulness while doing so. When I begin my day (around 6.00am) with Jesus, I find my day pans out far better than when I just kind of fit Him in somewhere later in the day. I need to remember that He has my back no matter what.

'Just as you cannot understand the path of the wind or the mystery of a tiny baby growing in its mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the activity of God, who does all things. Plant your seed in the morning and keep busy all afternoon, for you don’t know if profit will come from one activity or another—or maybe both.'
~  Ecclesiastes 11:5‭-‬6 NLT

So, with patience and mindfulness I shall take one day at a time, and one moment at a time. How about you? Do you get distracted? Do you put your fingers in too many pies (just like me)?

I'd love to hear what you think. Please leave a comment  ... it'll make me feel better if I believe I'm not on this uncertain, and sometimes terrifying journey alone.  God bless 💞

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Tuesday Book Chat | 20th February 2018 | Narelle Atkins

Narelle here. Welcome to our ACW Tuesday Book Chat where we encourage book lovers to answer our bookish question of the week. I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

Please join in the conversation in a comment on this post or in a comment on the blog post shared in our Australasian Christian Writers Facebook Group.  

Let's chat. How many books do you read in a year?

Do you keep count? I'll be honest - I'd prefer to answer this question without revealing how many books I add to my to-be-read list each year that remain unread.

Monday, 19 February 2018

Do I Have to Have a Blog? 4 Tips for Writers Who Hate Blogging.

By Iola Goulton | @IolaGoulton

I'm often asked this question. It seems that the very thought of marketing and platform building and blogging—especially blogging—strike fear into the heart of even the most intrepid writer. So they tell themselves they hate blogging. And don't blog.

Do authors have to have a platform? 

Yes. Your platform is how you sell books—it's your way of demonstrating authority in your chosen topic, and of developing relationships with current and potential readers.

And a blog is one of the typical components of an author platform. The others are:

  • Website
  • Email List
  • Social Media

(If you know you need to start building your author platform but have no idea where to start, or if you've made a start but aren't sure if you're on the right track, you need to join my March Marketing Challenge: Kick Start Your Author Platform. Click here to check it out.)

It used to be said that non-fiction authors need to blog (as a way of establishing authority in your chosen field), but that fiction authors didn't. But opinion on this is changing, as a blog is a great way to establish a relationship with potential readers.

But don't let that frighten you off. Blogging isn't scary—at least, I don't think so. Although I might be lying to myself ...

In fact, I am lying to myself. Here's the big lie I tell myself:

Only one person is reading my posts.

My professional background is as a management consultant specialising in writing long and detailed reports (never mind the quality. Feel the weight!). Lots of long words and long sentences and long paragraphs. Plenty of passive voice. My early blog posts—even my book reviews—reflected that writing style. I still struggle with writing a swoof-y book review (swoof = squeezing words out of feelings).

So it was a good thing that only one person was reading my early posts. It gave me the opportunity to try, experiment, and improve. I know more than one person reads my posts now. But I still write as though only one person is going to read it. It frees me to write what I think needs to be written. And it helps me solidify what I need to include because I'm not writing for everyone. I'm writing for that one person.

(Note that the "one person" may change depending on what I'm writing. If you've ever read one of my posts and thought, "Wow. She could have been writing that for me!" ... maybe I was. Knowingly or unknowingly.)

Yes, I write for an audience of one. (Not One. He already knows!)

I've discovered a few secrets in writing and publishing over 1,000 blog posts in the last six years. Okay, so most of those were book reviews which some people say aren't real blog posts. But other people loathe writing book reviews. And Aunty Google sees them as blog posts, so they count.

Here are my four tips.

1.Think Positive

If you think you're going to hate blogging, you will. Conversely, if you think blogging regularly might be a fun challenge, it will be. If you really hate the idea of having a blog, call it something different: a journal, a diary, a magazine, a letter.

2. Find Your Voice

Blogging is great training for writing. It helps you find your writing voice. It gets you used to writing to a deadline and that's a good thing. I am a procrastinator. I say I work best with a deadline, but that just means I ignore everything that doesn't have a deadline (like, say, housework). It also means that the only way I can get anything done is by setting myself a deadline.

Blogging is perfect. I set myself regular weekly deadlines, and I achieve them (almost) every week. Plan. Write. Revise. Edit. Schedule. Promote.

The hardest part is getting started.

If you're seeking a traditional publisher, blogging regularly has the advantage of showing potential agents and publishers that you can write, and that you can write to a schedule.

3. Have a Plan

One of the most common complaints I hear about blogging is that people don't know what to write. Planning ahead helps. Jeff Goins suggests keeping a list of possible blog post topics. No pressure—just write down the topic and a few notes when inspiration hits. Later, go through your list of potential topics and pick one to write. Edit, and schedule.

I always use the schedule function. 

It means I can blog at the same time each week. When I'm on a blogging roll I can write two or more posts, then edit and schedule them to post over time. It's a much better approach than posting three days in a row, then not posting again for a month.

So pick a regular time to post, and stick with it.

4. Join a Meme

Joining a meme is an extension of having a plan. A blogging meme is where a group of bloggers post on a similar subject at a set time. The meme usually has a host, and all participating bloggers link back to the host's site (and from there, they can find other participants in the meme).

Many memes pose a question of some kind. The blogger answers the question, then asks visitors to answer the same question in the comments. This encourages participation, and is a great way of getting to know your readers.

More importantly, participating in a meme or blog hop a ready-made answer to the eternal question: what do I blog about? It's also a regular weekly or monthly blogging schedule, which Google likes.

I'll be back next week to share some of my favourite memes.

Do you blog? Why or why not?

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.

Friday, 16 February 2018

Beautiful Writing

By Cindy Williams @nutritionchic 

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech. (Psalm 19:1-2)

They say that to be a good writer you need to be a good reader. I love reading but my literary diet has been almost vegan-like: restricted mostly to nutritional science, Christian fiction and non-fiction, and the Bible. I have been woefully starved of literary classics and so, in pursuit of a balanced literary diet, I decided that this year I would read every one of my son’s prescribed texts for IB Literature.

The reading list arrived and I eagerly read the reviews for each one: Sophocles’ Greek tragedies – great! ‘Woman at Point Zero’ – prostitution and female genital mutilation… gulp. ‘The God of Small Things’ – child sexual abuse and an anatomically detailed sex scene… gulp, gulp. ‘Perfume’ – mass murder of virgins… a deluge of disappointment drowned my eager anticipation.

Was the Christian school really going to make teenagers study such themes? Was there no good literature with uplifting themes? Was I just an over-protective and out-of-touch mother?

 ‘But the writing is so beautiful,’ said my friend, commenting about 'Perfume'.

Is beautiful writing a good enough reason to read it, I wondered. Over the summer I read two of the prescribed texts, plus another with more hope filled themes. All three had beautiful writing that made me sigh with delight.

“How about peaches, dear?” murmurs Madame Manec, and Marie-Laure can hear a can opening, juice slopping into a bowl. Seconds later, she’s eating wet wedges of sunlight. (All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr)

His feet were short and broad, and when he stood or walked his heels came together and his feet opened outwards as if they had quarreled and meant to go in different directions. (Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe)

 The jam was still hot and on its sticky, scarlet surface, thick pink froth was dying slowly. Little banana bubbles drowning deep in jam and nobody to help them. (The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy)

I have concluded that beautiful writing is like the honey that my mother mixed with crushed panadol when we were ill. Themes and images that we might normally avoid slide into our mind on the sweetness of the writing. On the flip side, beautiful writing eases the way for non-believers to consider the life giving themes of the Bible.

 As Christian readers let us be eager to consume a healthy literary diet with plenty of themes that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy.

 As Christian writers let us pray and ask our Lord, the ultimate author, to bless us with his creativity so we can write words as beautiful and uplifting as those he pours forth from the heavens.

 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 writes a blog - - stories of health, history, food and faraway places.

Cindy lives in Sydney with her husband and son, writing stories of flawed women who battle injustice... and sometimes find romance.

Thursday, 15 February 2018

Book Review - The Eli Diaries (various authors)

By Ian Acheson @achesonian
Those of you who have read any of my “best of” posts of the past few years will have seen my enthusiasm for episodic fiction where a story is developed over months/years, sometimes by multiple authors, by releasing individual episodes (novellas) monthly. Harbingers was a 20 episode series featuring five authors including one of my favourites, Frank Peretti.
Last year I discovered Bill Myers, one of the Harbinger creators, had produced another series based on one of his earlier novels, Eli. Once again, Myers has collaborated with a bunch of authors to deliver monthly episodes. I’ve recently finished the seventh and am keen for the next one.
The Eli Diaries is a story that explores the question: what would it be like if teenage Jesus turned up in 21st century America? And not just Jesus but his disciple mates and his Bethany family of Mary, Martha and Lazarus. Oh, and no series would be complete without a teenage Mary Magdelene and Satan.
Like Harbingers, a different author voices a different character for each episode. The only real constant in all episodes is Eli Shepherd. This weird sixteen year old, who has a heart of gold, seems to discern things and events before they occur, and occasionally heals people. Eli works in his family’s surf shop.
We meet Benjamin the Pharistic youth leader who is is gunning for Eli believing he is leading his flock of youngsters down a dangerous path.
Some of the episodes have been a bit scratchy but the last few have been beauties. They deal with issues of youth: bullying, keeping up with the Joneses, beauty, brawn and brains, revenge and lust. Woven through most of the episodes are demonstrations of grace, mercy and love.
Once again, I’ve found the episodic style of story telling to be compelling (like a good TV series). I’m excited to read the new series that our own Narelle Atkins is involved in (A Tuscan Legacy) that launches soon that takes a different approach to episodic fiction once again. Eight weekly episodes, eight different authors, all with a Tuscan flavour.

Consistent Delivery
One of the challenges from an early readers perspective of an episodic series is there is a need for consistency in delivering episodes. I’ve started some episodic-style series where the first episode lands and another one doesn’t land for months. This is especially difficult when one episode ends on a cliffhanger and by the time the next episode lands you’ve lost interest and in fact forgotten there was indeed a cliffhanger ending.
So if you’re an author producing such fiction may I encourage you to only drop the pilot or first episode when you’ve got the next few ready or almost ready to drop.
I was fortunate that when I downloaded most of the episodes of The Eli Diaries they were only $0.99, however, I notice they’re now $3.51. But remember over 7 episodes it’s between 500 and 700 pages of reading. If you want to try it out perhaps start with Number 4 (Not Good Enough) that features Martha.
What episodic fiction series have you read recently and would recommend?

Ian Acheson is an author and strategy consultant based in Sydney. Ian's first novel of speculative fiction, Angelguard was recognised with the 2014 Selah Award for Speculative Fiction.You can find more about Angelguard at Ian's website, on his author Facebook page and Twitter