My heart bursts its banks, spilling beauty and goodness. I pour it out in a poem to the king, shaping the river into words. (Psalm 45:1)

Welcome to our new blog!

Note that this blog is primarily for members of CWOSA. Only those members who have signed up as authors to the blog are able to post on this site, although all may leave comments.

You may not pass on any posts from this blog without permission of the author, but you may pass on a link if you wish to share something written.

To join CWOSA, you are required to either be a Christian writer or aspiring writer who lives in Southern Africa, or a Southern African Christian writer living overseas. If you qualify and wish to learn more, click on this link.


1. Read the topmost post, then click on "comments".
2. Read the last comment to see the most recent addition to the story.
3. Copy/past the entire story to date into a new comment box.
4. Add a further three words.
5. Click on Comment as. If you are signed in, your name will appear. Click on Publish.
6. If you're not signed in, click the small dropdown arrow, and select Name/URL. Give us the name we know you as, and click on Publish.

Remember! This is meant to be a story!
Have fun!

Thursday, 03 November 2011

Finding Inspiration

I have been thinking about Marion's question about what motivates me and wanted to take the time to mention five.

1. Nature- seeing the beauty of God's creation always makes me want to proclaim what He has done and what's the best way to do that? Through writing.

2. The need to see justice played out- An editor mentioned this about my books and I love this because I do write because I want to see the good guys win.

3. Deadlines- I can't skip this motivation. I find that I'm much more likely to write with a deadline, whether self-imposed or from an editor. Without it, I tend to do...nothing.

4. I love it- Sometimes it's motivation enough for me just to write because I love to write. I love fleshing out characters, placing them in peril, saving them, learning from them.

5. Sharing something deeper- I love the chance to share a deeper message through fiction. Whether it is opening people's eyes to things they don't know about (like human trafficking) or helping them grow spiritually, I'm motivated to write to share.

Happy writing,


Thursday, 27 October 2011

Give Me a Name and a Time

Marion asked, "What inspires you to write?"

I am inspired by deadlines. For that reason I usually have way more deadlines than I can cope with, and the ones that are self-imposed fall away. I have a large white board on the wall next to my computer and I write on it all the time. All the deadlines are written in blue. A quick count now tells me I have 21 deadlines! The latest one is the end of March next year - a Chicken Soup story I plan to write. But some of those 21 are multi-tasks in themselves. e.g. "Blogs" - one heading. That includes two a month on each of my two sites, plus 4-5 devotions up on ICFW (one a week) - either by me or by someone else. (Oh yes, and someone else has just asked me to do another one. Thanks Marion!)

Another multi-task is "Newsletter". That means two a month - one from each website.

Then a "teensy weensy" goal is "TOTW" - which can involve all sorts of things, like trying to figure out how to save hundreds of emails into folders.

Moving on - before I get overwhelmed. Oh, wait. I am overwhelmed.

Moving on anyway . . .

I also find a good title is important, so that I don't lose track of what I'm trying to say. I waffled about whether to sign up for the non-fiction Book in a Month challenge, until I decided on a title. Now I'm raring to go. And I've just realised that's NOT on my white board yet. Just a book in a month. Oh sigh.

In closing, my working title for November is:

A Year of My Life
Blogging Through Cancer 

The challenge is to write a whole book in a month, so I will aim to complete the book, but will only post one blog a day Monday - Friday. That means I can schedule the others to go up for the next months that lie ahead which will be a multi-function for the blogs too. After all, if I multi-task, surely it's only right that my writing has to multi-task too?

Bye for now! I have a deadline or 20 to meet.

What inspires you?

There are many things that can inspire us in our daily life. However, the question here is not directed at those things. What I’d like to know is, “What inspires you to write?” Does facing a deadline inspire you to write? Does the spurring on from a family member inspire you to write? Or encouragement from a friend? A piece of music? A certain setting? Your own private space … your writing corner?

And what does this inspiration look like?
In his book, Plot and Structure, James Scott Bell gives some useful tips on getting motivated:

·                 Write a statement of purpose and put it in a place that you can see daily. But it must be one that excites you!
·                 Have the word “Writer” printed across your coffee mug. Every time you take a sip you’ll be reminded of your commitment to write. This will not only give you a caffeine boost, but a fresh jolt of enthusiasm too!
·                 Browse the bestseller section in bookstores – look at the authors’ pics and bios, read their openings, and imagine what your face would look like on the back of that book. Think to yourself, I can do this! And then, the most important piece of advice, rush back to your office and start writing.

The next tip was the one I liked – probably because I had already been doing this long before I read this great writer’s advice. And I felt a whole lot less silly because of my approach to getting myself inspired.
·                 Find your own item of visual motivation – inspirational words taped to your computer, a photograph of an admired writer, or your own rendering of your first novel’s cover (you could even put your own critical praise on the back … and if you’re going to do that, be lavish in that praise!)

You see, after getting an idea for a book, the first thing I tend to do is come up with a working title. The next thing I always do, and this has been the greatest source of inspiration to me, is design a book cover. Yes, I know that cover will probably never see the light of day, but it is the one thing that has spurred me on to continue writing, time and time again.
Here are the covers my finished (unpublished) novels, and others that are still under construction (yes, I do tend to multitask!)


Prodigal:  My first novel – complete, but have some reworking to do.
Scarlett:  The sequel to Prodigal – about 70% complete.
The Red Floor:  My first NaNoWriMo win in 2009. Based on the story of my mother’s life. About 90% complete.
Diplomatic Immunity:  A great story line, but a difficult project. Only just started on this project that a friend and I were going to do together. This story is based on her life as a diplomat’s wife but due to the sensitivity of this project, we’re unsure how to proceed – fiction or non-fiction?
Hungry:  My second NaNoWriMo win in 2010 and my first attempt at a historical novel – about 70% complete.
Pebbles in my Pocket:  My first non-fiction project I will be attempting in November with WNFIN (which stands for Write Non-Fiction In November) – and hence, sadly, I will not be taking part in NaNoWriMo this year. Such a pity, but I can’t do them both, and this project is far more important to me.
Looking at all these covers, I feel inspired all over again. I think I might just put them all up at the same time in my writing attic … maybe that will inspire me to finish these works in progress.
Please take time to share with the group, not in a comment below, but in a separate blog, your writing inspiration/s.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Never, Never, Never Give Up

Talk About Rejection:
"The Help" has earned $154.4 million at the box office so far.
Not bad for a screenplay based on book that was rejected 60 times.
The author, Kathryn Stockett wrote, "In the end, I received 60 rejections for The Help. But letter number 61 was the one that accepted me. After my five years of writing and three and a half years of rejection, an agent named Susan Ramer took pity on me.
What if I had given up at 15? Or 40? Or even 60? Three weeks later, Susan sold The Help to Amy Einhorn Books."
More Famous Rejections:
  • Margaret Mitchell – Gone With The Wind (38)
  • Rudyard Kipling managed to sell one article to The San Francisco Examiner in 1889, but the paper then rejected any future submissions, saying, "You just don't know how to use the English language."
  • John Kennedy Toole, meanwhile, received so many rejection letters for his novel, A Confederacy Of Dunces, that he finally killed himself. Only the persistence of his bereaved mother led to the eventual publication of his novel and its receipt of the Pulitzer Prize in 1980.
  • Richard Bach – Jonathan Livingston Seagull (140)
  • Stephen King – Carrie (30)
  • Richard Adams – Watership Down (26)
  • Thor Heyerdahl – The KonTiki Expedition,(18)
  • Laurence J. Peter – The Peter Principle (16)
  • JK Rowling – Harry Potter books (12)
  • Beatrix Potter – The Tale of Peter Rabbit (8). She finally published it herself.
Val Waldeck
P.S. Self-Publishing is King! Createspace for Amazon P-Books and Kindle for Amazon E-Books.

Thursday, 08 September 2011

Never Say Never

Here's a story I thought would appeal to most of you:
Yesterday, I came across a point in my writing that needed clarification from a map of the Caribbean. I went and got the Atlas, and on my way back to my desk, I saw my younger sister doing mapwork in the book I remembered with no pleasant feelings. I decided to show my sympathy:

"Shame, Charissa. You have to do mapwork!" And I began looking through the Atlas index.

Then my mother suddenly said, "Aren't you glad you had to do mapwork?"  And I realized that while so empathetically declaring how I had hated mapwork, I was consulting maps for my story!

Well, my family got me there. My worst fear now is that they will triumph in the maths-issue. Will I one day be caught willingly working out those sickening co-tangents or trying to integrate an awful function for fun?

Monday, 05 September 2011

Hi, I’m Cheryl and this is a new beginning with regards my writing. I have been a writer most of my life, however, until the day I met my Redeemer, my writing was self-centred and empty. Now it’s full of testimonies of how amazing our Heavenly Father is, and forever will be. Poetry, prayers and devotionals are just some of what I enjoy writing.

I have suffered a long dry spell away from my keyboard and screen. I am trying to understand why, and have a string of justifiable reasons that I am working through.

One thing I have never stopped is journaling, and through my written notes, I am able to see where I have been wondering.

I am published in various Anthologies of Verse, and in two different e-zines, but am yet to publish a book of my own. This is a dream I pray I will be able to fulfil, just need the confidence to pull me out my comfort zone.

I continuously wrestle with my thoughts, and wonder if procrastination plays a bigger role than I realise. Also, I find that I carry too many stories in my head at a time, and tend to lose focus. For these reasons, I pray that God would allow my creative writing juices to flow in such a way, that His Mighty name may be glorified in what I pen.

What I enjoy about the CWOSA group, is the regular emails that make me accountable, which is a discipline I need. I love writing and can’t help wanting to write all the time, and because I write for God, I feel compelled to share further than my journal notes.

So, here’s to my Lord and King; thank You Father God for my wonderful gift of creative writing, for which I pray I will use effectively, diligently and regularly, to extol You and Your glorious Kingdom, in Jesus precious name I pray, amen.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Vanity Publishers

Excerpts from an email concerning Raider Publishers:

I hadn't heard of Raider Publishers, so did a check on "Preditors and
Editors" ( a well-known site where you can check out
possible dodgy sites or organisations in the writing world. They list Raider
as a "Vanity Publisher".

I then Googled Vanity Publishers to find something I could send you on the
subject. Here's one that is straight-forward and tells it like it is:

Basically Vanity Publishers are not well regarded. They are similar in some
ways to self-publishing BUT you have to figure out a way to check up that
they produce the goods - and it costs you a LOT of money. If you're going to
go that way, you would be safer with straight self-publishing or even e-book
publishing. And Val's your lady to talk to in that area.

However I would urge you not to give up on traditional publishing. You're
young and have a long time ahead of you. Now is the time to build up your
platform so that when you get to the point that you ARE ready to publish,
you have a marketable proposal and a presence on the Internet. Start working
on short articles: devotions, anthologies, blogs, etc, so that when you get
to sending out a query letter/proposal for your book, you have a list of
published articles you can give to impress potential editors.

Re traditional Christian markets (and non-Christian) - You're right that
most only want solicited manuscripts, but not all of them. There are some
that are open to new writers.

Re. agents - you should NEVER pay an agent to market your work. This is a
problem here in S.Africa in that the few agents I have heard of DO charge -
so any others of you with a different experience are welcome to shout me
down on this. Overseas agents do not accept money up front. (Some will
charge you for postage, but I imagine with emails today that is no longer
likely.) They get their money out of commission from the sale of your book -
a payment that goes on as long as the book is in print.

Problem is again - many of them don't take on unsolicited writers. Sigh.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011


Here's how to publish to the blog without going online. If it appears on the
blog, it worked!

Log into the CWOSA blog dashboard and click on settings

Choose Email & Mobile

Under Posting Address put a unique name where it shows.

Check "Publish emails immediately" and save settings.

Anything you email to this address will be published on the blog "as is".
The subject line of the email becomes the heading and the content goes in
the body.

This can save time - but again I emphasise it's just for those of you who
know what you're doing with blogger.

Thanks Val!

How To Sell Lots of Books

John Locke is a self-published novelist who has sold over a million copies of his e-books so far this year. He's had as many as 8 of his novels on the Kindle Top 100 list at one time, all priced at $.99.
How did he do that? In his Kindle book "How I Sold A Million Books In 5 Months" he shares some of his methods and I thought this group might find it interesting. Here's
a short link to the description page on Amazon:
Briefly, this is what he advises:
* Define your General Target Audience - the people who love the kind of books you write and would buy them if they knew about them.
* Create your book - write specifically for your General Target Audience. He very consciously writes a novel that he believes will delight his General Target Audience -- and nobody else. He really doesn't care if he offends everybody else.
* Create your platform - when you create your platform (including a web site, blog, Facebook page, etc., you should do everything in your power to make it as appealing as possible to your General Target Audience.
* Launch your book - when you launch your book, you should do everything in your power to reach those people in your General Target Audience. If you accidentally reach other people too who somewhat like your book, that's fine, but your General Target Audience will be the ones who love your book and spread the word.
* Grow your platform - continue to focus on building an online presence that makes your General Target Audience happy. You'll focus on adding them to your e-mail database, and they'll be delighted to be there, because there's nothing they want more than to hear when your next book comes out.
* Market your book - focus on crafting a message designed to appeal to people in your General Target Audience. You reach them; they'll reach everybody else. Use Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.
I think he really makes a good point. He's not just "going fishing" and hoping for the best, but specifically going after a particular niche of people within a targeted group.
Something to mull over...
Val Waldeck
Author of "Kindle Publishing Made Easy"

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Sample Devotions for Winners

Here are three sample devotions I wrote for previous Winners. We await details on the wordcount for the next version - but this will give you an idea of what is wanted. 


John 3:16  (CEV) God loved the people of this world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who has faith in him will have eternal life and never really die.

To travel between South Africa and Zimbabwe, or any other African country for that matter, you have to go via an official border post and produce the correct documentation. The Kingdom of Heaven is no different. To cross from Earth to Heaven we have to go through the border post. Jesus Christ purchased our passport on the cross. But without Him, we will not be able to cross into the Kingdom of Heaven.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, thank you for my passport to Heaven. I accept it from you now.

(90 words)


Matthew 23:25-26 (CEV)  You Pharisees and teachers are show-offs, and you're in for trouble! You wash the  outside of your cups and dishes, while inside there is nothing but greed and selfishness. You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of a cup, and then the outside will also be clean.

Poverty in Africa is a huge problem. Years ago, the Barbers' Union of Chicago picked out a filthy hobo and gave him a complete makeover. They cleaned him, dressed him in new clothes, and called him a “new man”. A short time later a journalist following up the story found the man. He had reverted to his old self. It wasn't enough to clean him on the outside. He had to want to be different. We need to motivate people to change from the inside. 

PRAYER: Lord, show me habits I need to alter. Help me change from the inside.

(99 words)


Rom 8:39  (KJV)  Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

A baboon family scampered across the road. Babies clung to their mothers' underbellies. Youngsters stopped to play. One curious little guy plonked down in the middle of the road and studied our car. A loud bark sounded from the top of the tree, and the animals scurried for the trees. The senior member of the troupe, perched atop the highest tree, was warning them of danger. I thought of God, our Father, watching over us at all times. Am I always as quick to obey?

PRAYER: Lord, help me to listen for your warning call, and to obey immediately

(98 words)

Monday, 25 July 2011

Congratulation! Val is a Star!

Val, how wonderful to get recognition for all the hard work you have put in. I pray that recognition is turned into First Prize. That would be superlative! God be praised for the work you are doing to encourage all writers to get to grips with the new technology of ebooks. Well Done!

Val Waldeck's Books nominated for Global eBook Awards

*** Press Release ***

 – Two of Val Waldeck’s books have been nominated for Global eBook Awards. Val’s “Kindle Publishing Made Easy” eGuide has been nominated in the Writing/Publishing – Non-Fiction category and her moving devotional“When The Storms Come” in the Christian eBook category.
Kindle-Pub-s2“Kindle Publishing Made Easy” is the Storms4Weblow
Step-by-Step Guide To Turning Any Book
Or eBook Into A Kindle Edition and Publishing It With Amazon’s Popular Kindle Direct Publishing.
“When the Storms Come” is the account of one man’s faith in the midst of incredible trials, and his triumph over sin, sickness, and death. A 31-day Encouraging Devotional.
“Everyone is talking about eBooks,” said Dan Poynter, founder of the Global eBook Awards. “eBooks have reached the tipping point and are outselling books on paper in several categories. eBook are not replacing paper books; they are in addition to. The eReading devices such as the Kindle are increasing the amount of book reading.”
According to Joseph Dowdy, the Director of Awards, the category with the largest number of entries so far is Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Paranormal. The next largest number of entries is in Historical Literature, Autobiography/Memoirs, and Writing/Publishing Nonfiction.
The Awards have 79 categories in fiction, nonfiction, poetry, illustration, and multimedia. See
The Global eBook winners will be honored at a star-studded ceremony on August 20 in Santa Barbara, California. USA.

Monday, 18 July 2011


I had a wonderful experience this morning. I went to Sandton for a meeting and while waiting for it to start got into a conversation with a Security Guard. We chatted about many things and he especially said that every day is a blessing to him. I was able to share "The Prayer of Jabez" with him, and he pulled out a little scrap of paper to write the Bible Reading down. We chatted till I went into my meeting, and on coming out he was waiting for me. He insisted that I share in the Mandela Birthday Cake that was in the foyer. God gives us  unexpected meetings - which are such blessings. What an encouragement it was!

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Testing as Crystal

Checking to see this is okay. Looks good.

Wednesday, 06 July 2011


trying again

Monday, 04 July 2011

Its hard to live when nobody cares if you die

A high school student in the USA committed suicide.  He left a note saying, "It's hard to live when nobody cares if you die." 

 His classmates were badly shaken by this traumatic event.  Realizing the opportunity to help these young people through this troubling time, a teacher talked to the students about how important it is that people feel valued. So, he told them to imagine they were about to die. Then he gave an assignment: "Write a note to tell someone how important he or she is to you."

Sandy, who had a rocky relationship with her mother, was especially moved by the idea that she might die without telling her mom how important she was, so she wrote a note: "We've had some rough times and I know I haven't been a very good daughter but I know I'm lucky to have you in my life. You  are the best person I've ever known. Thanks for not giving up on me."
 She told her mom about the assignment and gave her the note. Her mom cried and hugged Sandy but said little. The next morning Sandy found a note on her mirror. "Dearest daughter," it said, "I want you to know how much you are valued. Being your mother is the most important thing in my life. The truth is I've felt like such a failure I was seriously considering ending it all. I thought you'd be better off without me. Your appreciation makes my life worth living."

"Let us think of ways to motivate and encourage one another to acts of love and good works." (Hebrews 10:24, NLT)

Monday, 27 June 2011

We All Need Encouragement

 "Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near." (Hebrews 10:24-25, NLT)

Even great people need encouragement. Dr Chuck Swindoll tells of a TV documentary when Dr Daniel Boorstin, the librarian of Congress, brought out a little blue box containing the contents of President Lincoln's pockets on the night he was assassinated. Among the ordinary items were some worn newspaper clippings.

The clippings told of some of Lincoln's great deeds. One of them reported a speech by John Bright which said that Lincoln was one of the greatest men of all times. In 1865, millions shared a contrary opinion. Lincoln's critics were fierce and many; his was an agony that reflected the suffering and turmoil of his country.

There is something touchingly pathetic in the picture of this great leader's sitting alone under a candlelight and seeking self-assurance from the comfort of a newspaper clipping.

Yet even when his critics were hanging him in effigy, Abraham Lincoln found somebody who believed in him and he put the reminder in his pocket to read and be encouraged when nobody was looking.

Is there somebody that you can encourage today? There is tremendous power in words of encouragement. Power to motivate and transform and shape the future. Never underestimate the guidance you give by the words you speak or do not speak. Jesus spoke to a woman at a well, and her life and the lives of her neighbours experienced a miraculous change. Peter preached at Pentecost and 3,000 souls came to salvation through faith.

Is there somebody you need to encourage today? Maybe you need to write that long-overdue letter! Write it to your child who is now grown up. Or to a parent that sacrificed so much for you. Write it to that pastor that faithfully teaches you each week. Write it to that fellow employee who has been doing the same menial job since the start of the millenium. Don't wait.

Put your arms around your son or daughter the next chance you get. No matter what ages they are. Look into their faces and tell them what they mean to you. When they bury you someday, those will be the words they will remember. They will be imbedded in their minds and they will never forget them.

Kindle Books Are Outselling Paperbacks at

Writing and selling Kindle eBooks in the Amazon Kindle Store is HOT. If you sell a $9.99 eBook, you may receive a 70/30 commission in most major territories, including the U.S.A. Amazon takes 30% and you get 70%. Sixty days after the month the sale occurs, they either deposit the money in your USA bank account or send you a cheque if you live in another country.

This means an author only has to sell 14,327 copies to earn slightly more than $100,000 in royalties. Or, in other words, you only need to sell 39 copies per day to hit the $100K mark in a year.

Selling eBooks at lower prices – e.g. under $4 – is a great way to get traffic. It costs nothing but your time! And some expertise in formatting. See my Kindle Publishing Made Easy eGuide for more information on that.
Check out the kind of books selling on Kindle and their prices to give you a good idea what you should be charging. Think about what you are willing to pay yourself.

Write about popular subjects, your specific area of expertise and interests. Invest in a good graphic for the book’s cover. People DO try to tell what’s in a Kindle book by the cover and not just the description alone so that investment could easily pay for itself. I recommend you visit for expert eBook – and book – covers. (This is not an affiliate link – Clive really is good and he designs most of my covers. Visit my bookshop at Pilgrim Publications for some examples of his work. My amateur efforts will stand out in sharp contrast!).

Many people are spending money on iPads and Kindles and phones instead of computers and this is the place to be right now. It is generally believed that Kindle’s market share for eBooks is at 60 to 65 percent, while Apple’s hovers around 10 percent. Their eBookstore carries around 200 000 titles, while the Kindle store has over 950 000 titles.

By the way, if you haven’t got a Kindle yourself download a free one for your PC from Soon you will want the portable one. It’s a superb eReader.

This is what I am concentrating on at the moment and I am amazed how quickly people find my Kindle books. Worth a shot!


Thursday, 23 June 2011


Not sure I can leave a comment ---- nothing achieved when I click on comment so I've gone this route


This seems to be working well; thank you very much Marion for your patience and help

Blessings and have a good evening


Praise the Lord ---- thank you both

trying again

I do hope this works!!!!!!!!!

Thank you Marion [and Shirley] for the help

Testing for all users

Gmail notification to all users - test blog!

Cleaning up posts

I've been deleting a lot of our checking-in posts, and leaving the stuff we want to keep. So if you're wondering what happened to your valued, "Hi! I'm here!" post - it's probably gone. You'll just have to put up a new post and tell us what you're up to. :-)

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Learning the hard way

Naureen and I have had some real fun but hopefully we've won through! Thank you for your persistence, Naureen. Now to help others with what I've learned in the progress.

PLEASE NOTE everyone
- If you get an "illegal post time" message don't waste time trying to figure it out. Contact me and I'll help you. It's a setting that has to be sorted out on the admin side.

Testing testing . . .

One more test to see if the moderators receive notification of the post. Oh is this fun or what . . . ?

(No comment!)

Testing Posting Notifications for Moderators

Just a test posting to see if notifications are sent to moderators.

Just Trying

Okay...overcoming a fear and seeing if I can post

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

A Character in Africa

Ruth Ann's book, Polka Dot Feathers, is a cozy mystery set in South Africa. Accused of murder and desperate to keep the child she found wandering in the streets near her home, Ellie Lombard hunts down the real killer.

Read the article below by Ellie to see how she came into being.

A Character in Africa

My name is Ellie Lombard and I have a confession to make. I started life as a cardboard character. Ho-hum. Shallow. Flat. Even I found myself boring. Not once did I lift off the pages Ruth Ann typed.
Who’s Ruth Ann?  Oh, that’s Ruth Ann Dell, my creator. I’m the protagonist in her cozy mystery, Polka Dot Feathers. Ruth Ann lives in South Africa, so her characters and setting started out South African. That was part of the problem. Not only did she want me to come to life, but she needed Americans to identify with me because she was targeting the Christian fiction market in their country.

“I have to write what I know,” she explained. “That’s what my writing books tell me. Now Ellie, if you’d just get real and . . .”

I sank through a monotony of pixels on her computer screen to a state of blissful slumber.

“The trouble with you is that you have a stiff upper lip,” Ruth Ann said when I surfaced again several days later.

Well now, what else did she expect? My face was made of cardboard.

“You don’t care about anything! You never laugh, cry, stamp or shout. In fact, you never do anything at all. Between your lack of response and your deadpan face, you’re a dead loss,” she said.

Ruth Ann decided she had to find a way to bring me to life. One of the challenges she faced was the lack of resources for Christian writers in South Africa. There were no conferences where she could go to learn her craft. Outside the virtual world she had nowhere to meet writers, agents and editors. However, she did have access to the Internet, and while I napped, she spent many hours searching it for help. She found blogs, international critique groups and other online loops which helped her develop her craft.

As she put her new found skills to work, I sparked and tingled.  A slew of emotions and sensations coursed through my body. They animated me and jerked me out of my lethargy. One day I caught sight of myself in a mirror. Yuk! I looked so scruffy in my old PJs that I wore day and night. After that I got up and dressed every day. I also discovered I had a talent for making earrings, so I made a new pair to wear every day. Ruth Ann admired my new jewelry. I experimented with materials like tiny keys, knobs of driftwood, stripy porcupine quills and white spotted guinea fowl feathers. Oh I had fun!

Her next step was to join an online group, the American Fellowship of Christian Writers. What a difference this made. She now had writer friends, fellowship and a wealth of information, help and online workshops. She spent hours at her computer, reading and learning more and more.

This went on for months until one day I burst out “Why are you reading all the time? You should be writing! You know I’m going to be stuck in jail if I don’t find the murderer soon––that detective thinks I did it.”

There was a hush for several seconds, then she exclaimed, “Ellie, you’ve come to life! You’re right, I have to finish your story. Then we’ll look for a publisher in America.”

“America? Why not here?”

Ruth Ann slumped back in her chair. “I looked in our Bible book shop last week. There were shelves and shelves of novels. Only four titles were written and published here, and they were translated from Afrikaans. All the rest came from America. We have to aim for the American market.”

A time of intense research followed. Several people in the know, including an acquisitions editor, told Ruth Ann she could set her book in South Africa, but if she was writing for the American market, she had to make me a “transplanted American. Would this be possible? Could I become an American? Could Ruth Ann pull this off?  After all, she had never set foot in America.

For a while we were daunted by this new challenge. Again the Internet proved to be an invaluable source of information.  Ruth Ann plunged into the necessary research with the help of cyber and real life friends.

We discovered that I grew up in Ohio and met Steve, a South African, on the Internet. Steve and I emailed each other, became friends and eventually fell in love. I immigrated to South Africa as his bride. Ruth Ann also met some of my relatives who soon made themselves at home in her novel. Like my Aunt Vicky who’s coordinating the painting a string of quilt barns in Ohio.

I chanced to hear Ruth Ann chatting to Aunt Vicky this morning. “I love your quilt barn photos, Vicky.  I’m going to put them into my book, they could even provide a clue to the identity of the murderer. I wonder what Ellie will think of that.”

I grin as I listen to their conversation. Hold on for a surprise when you see what happens in your book, Ruth Ann. I’m not cardboard any more, remember? I have my  own ideas.

This article was first published in the July 2009 edition of Christian Fiction Online Magazine

Monday, 20 June 2011

If you're having trouble posting . . .

You're not the only one.

If you get as far as hitting "Post" and you get an "illegal time" comment, there are two things you need to do. (And Ann, I suspect this is why your posts are "disappearing". Scroll down and see if you find an illegal time comment. If so the rest applies to you. If not, let me know.)

1) If you have a button for "Automatic" above the space for time, select that and then post again. That should have sorted the problem.

2) If you don't have an "Automatic" button, your blogger is set to the "Old Blogger format". This is nothing you've done wrong. Please email me your password and I'll sort it out. You can then change your password or trust me to delete it and forget it - which I will do. I've been known to forget my kids' names.

The Real Deal

One of the most famous characters in the movie industry was Charlie Chaplin.  He was a comedian, actor, director, and producer who earned world wide fame in the silent movie era.   At one time there was a Charlie Chaplin look-a-like contest being held and, always the practical joker, the real Chaplin decided he would enter. After deliberating long and hard, the judges unwittingly awarded Chaplin the third prize behind two impostors.

So you often can't tell the fake from the real by outward appearances.  In Jesus day the Pharisees were the religious leaders. They knew the Bible cover to cover; that is, the Old Testament portion as the New Testament hadn't been written then. They knew their doctrinal teachings by heart. They had all the outward trappings of religiosity. But for many of them it was an outward show. Furthermore, they loved their doctrines more than they loved people and used them to control people. Jesus not only knew the same Scriptures, but he was real and saw through these religious play actors--and didn't mince words with them regarding their phoniness.

Sad to say, there is no shortage today of play-acting teachers, phony religious leaders, counterfeit Christians, and those who love their religion more than they love people-and use their religion to control people.

It is time to remove the masks and be the real thing. 

Nico Bougas

Original post:The Real Deal

Friday, 27 May 2011

How do I post to my blog?

Once you've logged into Blogger look at the band across the top, which is a slightly lighter shade of tan. On the right, you'll see the words 'New Post', which will change to blue when you point your cursor on it. This means it is a link. Click on that to create a new post. (HINT: Until you've got the hang of this, you could click with your right button, then select "Open link in new tab". This will mean you can see your post without losing these instructions.

Start by giving your post a title, then enter the post itself:

Creating a new post

When you're done, click the "Preview" link (end right) to make sure it looks the way you want it to.

Once you're satisfied with your post, click the orange "Publish" button. This will publish your new post. (Don't worry about the "Labels" box at this stage.)

Publish your post

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Log-in Details

From time to time I get requests from folk for lost passwords or log-in details. There is no way I can access your passwords or log-in details. That would compromise the security of the site. If you know all the other details, you can get your missing password through Yahoo. But if it's more than that, it's easier to just sign up again.

May I respectfully suggest that you open a folder on your computer (or a note book you won't lose) and every time you join something new--even if it's just a newsletter you sign up for -- make a note of any log-in details, password, and also the email address you've used. This is important. I didn't do that initially, and have ended up with some real problems because I used the wrong email address.

If you're just starting out, you can't imagine why you'd ever have more than one email address, but somehow that develops. So just keep track of all that sort of info from now on. Type all the details for THE ONE SITE on a notepad or word document- doesn't matter which -and save it WITH THE NAME OF THE SITE. So my details for Google are called "Google".  My details for Yahoo are called "Yahoo". My details for FaceBook are called "Facebook". Nothing difficult there.

Meantime, if you're wanting to join up and you can't remember your details, write to me and I'll invite you to join CWOSA afresh - then once you've done that, I'll invite you to join the blog. (One thing at a time or we could get in a real tangle.)

Monday, 16 May 2011


Hi All!

I hope you're as excited about this new blog as I am. I want to remind you that it is a work in progress. Its appearance will develop over the next week or two. However, I'm keen to get this started, as we need to get folk signed up before we can do anything with the blog.

If this is your first visit, please click on "New Post" (top right) and say hello! Word Limit: 500 words for normal blog post. If you want to post something longer, split it into two posts. We may change this later, but humour us for now. We need to see what works and what doesn't.

Blessings all!



Marion asked: How do we get our profile pictures up on the page?
A: Any of the moderators can post these pictures. However until further notice, in order to get them all looking alike, please send your photo to me at If you haven't already done so, please send me a small head-and-shoulders photo of yourself. I will crop it to the correct size and put it up. At the same time, please send me what you'd like as your "description" (a few words), your town/city, and if you have a website/blog the URL you'd like your picture to link to.Once your pic is up please confirm that it is correct.