Showing posts with label #Australia. Show all posts
Showing posts with label #Australia. Show all posts

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Introduction to Our Australian Anthology & A Giveaway

Three of my short stories appear in the recently-released Australian anthology, Let the Sea Roar. How exciting!

Be sure to scroll to the bottom for instructions on how to receive this book for free.

The internet is a wonderful invention. Because of one woman in Australia reading my devotion book, Divine Dining, I "met" other Australian authors that were working on an anthology of short stories dealing with heartaches faced by women worldwide. They invited me to submit stories to be considered as part of the book.

Because of the perseverance of Madeleine Calcutt, this book became a reality. I asked her to tell us how this came to be. Take it away, my dear friend, Madeleine.

Rocks & gum tree of West Gippsland area near Madeleine's home
Having written some short stories several years ago that were just gathering dust on the shelf, I finally decided to do something with them. I contacted authors from various writing groups such as the American Christian Fiction Writers, Christian Writers Down Under and the Society of Women Writers of Victoria. I also put an advertisement in the Baptist Witness magazine and got an excellent response from each of these. I was inspired by the writers’ enthusiasm to contribute their stories to my project.

Australian banner on my sofa from my dear friend, Madeleine
      As the stories came in for me to read and edit, I was incredibly moved by them and impressed by the authors’ writing skills. They shared my vision, and we looked forward to the day when our anthology would be released, which was December 12th 2015. The book has emerged as a sensitively balanced mix of stories, some light hearted, some quite intense, full of pain followed by peace and joy. Make sure you have those tissues ready!

      With twenty-eight short stories by nine authors, Let the Sea Roar explores how women cope with turning points in their lives. It is a universal theme to which women readers will relate, covering issues such as homelessness; domestic violence; teenage pregnancy; family dysfunction; alcoholism; loneliness; divorce and the shattering of hopes and dreams. Many of these stories are loosely based on the authors’ experiences or those of people they know well. This added authenticity, but at times, there were awkward moments when I believed that realism should be sacrificed for literary perfection.

      With nine authors each having different viewpoints, there were some interesting confrontations. Sometimes compromise was the answer and this ended up improving the story instead of taking away from it. Six years it took, would you believe? We gave it a year to get ourselves published until one of our authors, Jenny O’Hagan, formed her own publishing company, ‘By the Light’, and published us, doing a magnificent job. It was an exciting time the day the anthology was officially released. I felt as if I were walking on air after all this time!

      Purchase Let the Sea Roar now at
Jeanette O Hagen, Madeleine Calcutt, and Glynis Dickens, 3 of our authors who met to celebrate the release of the book.
Back book cover shows all 9 of us
Giveaway opportunity
The first one to leave a comment will receive their own copy of Let the Sea Roar for free. All others who leave a comment will be entered into drawing for a chance to win a copy. Winners will have their choice of a copy on their kindle or, if they live in the USA, a print copy. Don't forget to leave your e-mail, so I can contact you if you win.
Deadline to leave a comment is midnight on Feb. 29.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Release of Let the Sea Roar

Announcing the release of our anthology, Let the Sea Roar. I'm blessed to be the only American included with my online Australian friends. I pray the stories will encourage, inspire, and establish a stronger walk with Christ. I wish to share one of such stories now.

Inspirational stories by women for women. With twenty-eight inspirational short stories by nine authors, Let the Sea Roar explores how women cope with turning points in their lives. The fictional stories trace women’s journeys through overwhelming challenges and difficulties as they find their way to comfort, direction, and an encounter with God. These moving stories explore spiritual insights on universal themes such as grief, alcoholism, marriage breakup, domestic violence, teenage pregnancy, poverty and homelessness. The anthology portrays the human condition from a Christian world-view. Recommended for women of all ages and walks of life.

Purchase it now at:
In honor of the release and as a Christmas present for my viewers, here is one of my stories from the anthology. 
One Woman Makes a Difference
By Janet K. Brown
     Vicky Hopkins waited in the restaurant for the interviewer to arrive. She crossed her arms and tucked her trembling fingers into the opposite side. Why would anyone want to tell her story?  She wasn’t anything special, just a wife and mother led by God.
     The interviewer flew in with a flourish. “Thanks for talking to me.” She shook Vicky’s hand and sat across the table. “How in the world did you ever think to start a wonderful organization like Women in Need all those years ago?”
    Vicky squirmed. She gave pretense at studying the menu but instead sorted through memories. How indeed?  “I always wanted to make a difference, but I suffered from low self esteem and feelings of rejection.”
     The friend studied Vicky with questions flicking through her eyes before she formed them into words. “How did you overcome that?”
     “When I was twelve-years-old, I gave my heart to Christ.” Warmth settled on Vicky’s shoulders like a heater vent had been aimed at her.  “I couldn’t do anything without God.”
     The woman closed her menu. She must’ve made a dinner choice. “I agree with that. I’m amazed how God has led me into writing stories. When I heard about yours, I knew I wanted to tell it.”
     Both ladies gave their orders to the young man serving them.
     A dry mouth threatened to choke Vicky. She sipped her water. “Life wasn’t always kind.  A good couple adopted me as a baby in a time when the world considered the term adoptee derogatory. I wasn’t good enough for the woman who gave me birth. Cousins and schoolmates teased me. Even my new grandfather rejected me.” Never call me Grandpa. You’re not blood kin.  Vicky winced as memories flooded through her mind. A bad taste rose into her mouth, and she swallowed.
     “That had to have hurt.”
     Vicky nodded.
     The woman leaned over the table. “Tell me more about your childhood.”
     “My adopted mother’s mother lived with us. She taught me to pray.” Electricity zipped Vicky’s spine and caused an increase in heart rate. How she loved the evening prayers with Grandma, and the music. She loved the music that provided therapy for her wounded heart. Vicky had listened to southern gospel on the radio and would then sit before her upright piano and recreate the tune. “For my twelfth birthday, my parents gave me a Wurlitzer spinet piano. I still own it. At thirteen, I began to play at the family’s Pentecostal church. I loved doing that.”
     Their food arrived, and they ate.
     The woman lay down her fork. “You play so well for church. I can’t believe that came naturally without lessons.”
     “That’s what happened.” Vicky ate a couple bites before she continued. She wished she could leave out the next part of her life, but though it hurt, God led her through it. “Hunger for love brought about an early marriage. My husband was abusive. After the birth of a daughter, I determined to leave him to protect my little girl. Now, not only was I adopted, I was divorced.” Heat flamed her cheeks. “I might as well put a scarlet A across my chest.” Vicky ate a few more bites and tried to swallow the shame and debilitating fear she had faced. “Problems mounted as great as Gideon’s grasshoppers.” She quoted to the interviewer a Bible verse that spoke to her.
     And the Midianites and the Amalekites and all the children of the east lay along in the valley like grasshoppers …. Judges 7:12.
     Vicky’s voice softened, but her heart soared.  “Like Gideon in the Bible, God desired to show His power through me.”
     The woman clasped her hands under her chin. “Oh, tell me, what happened next?”
     “A wonderful Christian man entered my life. His love healed my wounds. We attended church and added another daughter to the family. Again, music saved me. When the girls were old enough to sing, the family ministered in song at church activities. That ended when our daughters left for college, but then my husband and I sang in a quartet with another couple.”
     After a moment of silence, Vicky spoke, “Next to music, I loved teaching. God brought me out of hiding behind a keyboard. I taught a Wednesday night group of girls, then Sunday school for teens and finally young adults. God stretched me. Young people gravitated to me and my husband. Our home was full of life and joy.”
     The interviewer nodded and smiled. “So how did you get from there to starting Women in Need?”
     “In days when support groups were unthought-of, I followed my heart to help other women bogged down with insecurity. God inspired me to place an ad in the local paper. It read Are you a woman in need? Is un-forgiveness destroying your life? Come and share together and be a winner.
    “ Twenty-two women filled a house next door to my church. It grew from there. We added people and programs”
     “Wow.” The woman stopped eating.
     “A Christian radio station referred women to us with a history of sexual abuse. My inadequacy reared its sparks of fear. Who was I to counsel people in pain? My husband encouraged me to continue to follow Christ’s leading but to seek training. I began college. Since I was older and worked schooling around a busy family life, a full time job, and two support groups, I studied ten years before I received my degree in social work. By the time I finished, I was fifty-seven.”
     She was rolling now and couldn’t wait to tell all about what God did through her.  “God’s goal for my life broadened. I wrote scripts for the church’s radio broadcast. The city newspaper published my weekly religious articles. God used my desire to ‘make a difference,’ and ministered through me to thousands. But, the devil wasn’t through trying to destroy my witness. My beloved church faltered, closed its doors, and merged with a larger congregation. My precious soul mate contracted cancer and together we faced chemo with his body growing weaker every day.”
     “Was that when you stopped doing the Women in Need groups?” The woman had finished her meal and listened with undivided attention. She waved away the young waiter. “Tell me about that.”
     “The women’s group was too big. With reports to write and grants to seek, my work ceased to be the hands-on counseling I loved. After twenty-five years, I handed over the reins to the organization. I told my husband, ‘I’ve done my do. I’ll sit back and let others play the piano and teach and write.’ However, God wasn’t finished with me.”
     “You and your husband started to the new, larger church?”
      “Yes, and soon, I was asked to teach a life recovery class. I did for three years. One day during my husband’s chemo, new problems arose. His heart stopped and scared all of us. Though he revived, I spent long hours at the hospital. While I was there, God laid it on my heart to begin a care ministry to address the needs of hurting people in the community. After my husband improved, I presented the idea to my pastor. He put the reins in my hands, and the dream became a reality.”
     Tears blurred her vision as she came to the next part of the story. “My husband of fifty-one years succumbed to his illness. For a year afterward, depression plagued me. God’s grace and again ‘the desire to make a difference’ charged me with new challenges. I returned to school and became certified in Christian counseling. Again, I used my pain and loss to minister to those who had lost loved ones through death or divorce.”
     The woman swiped tears from her eyes. “I would say this would be your epitaph.”
    From the heart of a little girl who wanted to help people to that of a widow who exemplifies love-in-action, Vicky Hopkins “makes a difference.”
                  This is based on a true story.
I hope my story inspires you to do more, despite setbacks. Our book brims with many such tales of victory, and it's available now just in time for Christmas delivery.