Aussie Culture

Growing up, though we who lived on the Door County peninsula shared the same Lake Michigan shoreline, another “culture” meant the “townies” versus those of us from the country. (Not sure what they called us.)

Not having many travel opportunities as a child (a big deal to cross the bridge) I longed for travel and appreciated exposure to different cultures.

As an adult, I’ve been blessed to have traveled quite a bit domestically and internationally and the sound of different languages and accents spoken at airports has always been music to my ears.

One place I’ve always wanted to visit, but haven’t yet is Australia.

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Only 2% of Australians live in the yellow area

When my youngest son, Nick, left for college, we were pleased to discover that his  roommate was from Australia. Danny had wanted to come to the US and play football for a small southern town where American football was a big deal. He found that at the University of Louisiana-Lafayette, where he and Nick were not only roommate but teammates-Nick, a tight end for the Ragin’ Cajuns and Danny, a punter.

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Danny-left, Nick-right

Nick enjoyed experiencing another culture through his roommate and shared a few interesting observations from time spent with Danny.

  • When Danny would say, “open the boot,” Nick learned it meant to open the trunk.
  • When the weather turned cold, Danny asked Nick if it was cold enough to “rug up.” Nick came to understand that this meant to wear a sweatshirt.
  • I think it rains more in Louisiana than it did in Australia and Nick had a good laugh when he saw Danny barefooted and bare-chested, sprinting across campus carrying his shirt and shoes. Apparently that’s what they do in Australia when it rains.
  • Nick also had to laugh when Danny learned the phrase riding “shotgun” but would call out “shotgun” then go to the wrong side of the car.

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    Danny experiencing an American Fourth of July with Jake (Nick’s big brother) and Nick

Danny returned back to Australia after four years with the Ragin’ Cajuns and Nick hopes to visit him sometime. I just might have to travel with him.

Here are some other fun facts about Australia:

  • Captain James Cook first landed on Australia’s east coast in 1770. In 1788, the British returned with eleven ships to establish a penal colony. Within days of The First Fleet’s arrival and the raising of the British flag, two French ships arrived, just too late to claim Australia for France.
  • Some shopping centres and restaurants play classical music in their car park to deter teenagers from loitering at night.
  • In 1975, Australia had a government shutdown, which ended with the Queen firing everyone and the government starting again.
  • No native Australian animals have hooves.
  • In Australia, it is illegal to walk on the right-hand side of a footpath.
  • Australia has 3.3x more sheep than people
  • If you visited one new beach in Australia every day, it would take over 27 years to see them all.
  • Australia’s first police force was made up of the most well-behaved convicts

Writing prompt: Study a different culture and imagine your character landing in a completely new culture.

Is it really true? Genre: Biographical Fiction

Biographical Fiction takes a contemporary or historical figure and uses elements of that person’s life to tell a fictional narrative.

An author might choose the genre, biographical fiction, when writing about real experiences in their life or even a fictional account of the full story of their life. This genre isn’t a memoir (but can be written like a memoir with first person narration) because the story also contains elements of fiction.

Sometimes an author uses biographical fiction to avoid hurting others who become characters in their writing. They also may want to take liberty to change the details for dramatic effect.

41O0WxzeQ5L._SX255_BO1,204,203,200_An example of biographical fiction is, I Was Amelia Earhart by Jane Mendelsohn. It’s told in first person as Amelia Earhart, using biographical information known about the pilot.

Blurb from Amazon.com: “In this brilliantly imagined novel, Amelia Earhart tells us what happened after she and her navigator, Fred Noonan, disappeared off the coast of New Guinea one glorious, windy day in 1937. And she tells us about herself.

There is her love affair with flying (“The sky is flesh”) . . . .

There are her memories of the past: her childhood desire to become a heroine (“Heroines did what they wanted”) . . . her marriage to G.P. Putnam, who promoted her to fame, but was willing to gamble her life so that the book she was writing about her round-the-world flight would sell out before Christmas.

There is the flight itself — day after magnificent or perilous or exhilarating or terrifying day (“Noonan once said any fool could have seen I was risking my life but not living it”).

And there is, miraculously, an island (“We named it Heaven, as a kind of joke”).

And, most important, there is Noonan . . .

51v-zo8SXkL._AA160_Sylvia Plath’s Bell Jar, originally published under the pen name, Victoria Lucas, is also considered a biographical novel. It was the only novel that she ever published and it’s known to be associated with her own experiences with depression. She published it under a pen name because, according to “The Guardian” and many other sources, she didn’t want to hurt people that she wrote about in the book, namely her mother.

410XvrbROEL._AA160_From Amazon.com (back cover blurb) The Bell Jar chronicles the crack-up of Esther Greenwood: brilliant, beautiful, enormously talented, and successful, but slowly going under — maybe for the last time. Sylvia Plath masterfully draws the reader into Esther’s breakdown with such intensity that Esther’s insanity becomes completely real and even rational, as probable and accessible an experience as going to the movies. Such deep penetration into the dark and harrowing corners of the psyche is an extraordinary accomplishment and has made The Bell Jar a haunting American classic. 

One of my own writing goals is to write a series of biographical novels based on historical Christian men and women. I’m working on a biographical novel now about William Wilberforce using lots of research into historical documents.

Following is my excerpt from the beginning of Wilberforce — In, but not of, the World. The characters are real. I only added details to flesh out historical documents.

“Good Heavens Hannah, what have you done to my son?” Billy’s mother turned from his aunt to his uncle and namesake. “And William, have you no regard for the memory of your dear brother? Your aging father? Or me?” She pressed a gloved hand over the knotted bow of her cloak. “You allowed Billy to parley with low class fanatics while I’d fallen victim to a long and most dangerous fever.”

Aunt Hanna’s ashen appearances drew a stark contrast to his mother’s face, as red as the glowing embers in the parlor fireplace. She’d emerged from her illness like a lioness and rendered his aunt and uncle as stiff as the statues of Canterbury Cathedral.

His mother waved an envelope addressed in his handwriting. “It is quite evident that our best laid plans for Billy have gone horribly awry.”

If he’d known his letter would bring Mama to St. James Place, he never would’ve penned it. 

***

Often biographical novels are made into films, like Amazing Grace, which was based on the life of William Wilberforce.

1coverAnd lastly, while my first novel, Crooked Lines, is fiction, some of the scenes in the book were based on on mine and my husband’s life experiences. I’m including an excerpt here from a time–a true story–when my husband, a young seminarian in India, was put into a position to rescue teenagers who had dropped out of school to join a dangerous and radical communist group.

“Raju, where are your brother and his friends?”

“I cannot say.” The child stared at his bare feet.

Sagai knelt in the dirt, grasped Raju’s shoulders and looked him in the eye. “Raju, do you love your brother?”

“Yes, Brother Sagai.”

“Then take me to him.”

The boy folded his hands across his chest and jutted out his chin. Sagai spoke in his kindest voice.

“Raju, your brother is in trouble. Together we can help him.”

He pointed northward and ran.

Sagai followed down streets and alleys away from the lights of the village. Near a lone mud hut on the edge of town, the boy stopped.

“You’ve got to fight,” came a voice from inside. “Resist the government.” Sagai took a deep breath, made the sign of the cross and offered a prayer, then pushed open the door. 

***

Writing prompt: What experience have you had that would make a good premise for a biographical novel? Or would you prefer to call it fiction to add your own twist to the story…or to protect the identity of the characters based on real life people?

New Year – Joy

I’m bad. I never seek a word from God–a one word theme for the New Year as so many do, but this New Year, God gave me the word anyway. Really put it on my heart.

From Christmas onward, it began…the word “Joy” kept popping up everywhere. In sermons at church, in my readings, in dreams, in songs, in my thoughts…

…even on the battered old cup I drink from every day.

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Photo by Holly Michael

So, I didn’t even make a New Years list of resolutions this year. I have my goals, but I don’t need a list of resolutions. I just need to hold onto JOY.

A new year holds promise and hope. January 1st…and for a few weeks, it’s easy to hold on to joy, promises, goals, dreams.

But…then there is reality. We have to deal in day to day stuff, hardships, issues, struggles. Two weeks after starting that new diet, we fail. (At least I did). A few months in to the new year, we often find ourselves disappointed. Our work is boring. Bills still must be paid. Sickness and illnesses still strike us and our families. Those goals we set are still so far from our reach.

James 1:2-4 says, Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

Which I take to mean that Joy is the key to Christian living, even if the circumstances of our lives are far from joyful.

Though, I will admit that a couple years ago, during a Bible study, when we pondered on this Scripture quote, I actually got a little bit angry. Seriously? Who is joyful when everything is coming against them? It’s not reality. Life is hard. But as I pondered on that verse…God spoke to my heart. Be joyful anyway. Trust me.

Philippians 4:4 says, Brethren: Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice. Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus our Lord.

Baruch 4:36, 5:1-4 says, O Jerusalem, look about thee toward the east, and behold the joy that cometh unto thee from God. Put off, O Jerusalem the garment of thy mourning and affliction, and put on the comeliness of the glory that cometh from God for ever. Cast about thee a double garment of the righteousness which cometh from God; and set a diadem on thine head of the glory of the Everlasting. For God will show thy brightness unto every country under heaven. For thy name shall be called of God for ever The Peace Of Righteousness, and The Glory of God’s Worship.

Fanny Crosby (Mrs. Frances Jane Van Alstyne), a blind poet, wrote thousands of gospel songs including “Blessed Assurance,” “Rescue the Perishing” and “Saved by Grace.” She knew how to hold onto JOY. I’m going to take a cue from her.

Here’s a story about Frannie from, Our Daily Bread (August 12, 2003):

Fanny Crosby lost her sight when she was only 6 weeks old. She lived into her nineties, composing thousands of beloved hymns. On her 92nd birthday she cheerfully said, “If in all the world you can find a happier person than I am, do bring him to me. I should like to shake his hand.”

What enabled Fanny Crosby to experience such joy in the face of what many would term a “tragedy”? At an early age she chose to “rejoice in the Lord always” (Philippians 4:4). In fact, Fanny carried out a resolution she made when she was only 8 years old: “How many blessings I enjoy that other people don’t. To weep and sigh because I’m blind, I cannot and I won’t.”

Let’s remember that “the joy of the Lord is [our] strength” (Nehemiah 8:10). Let’s also take comfort in the teachings of Jesus, who in John 15:11 said, “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.” When faced with the choice of self-pity or rejoicing, let’s respond with rejoicing.

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photo by Holly Michael

Here’s to a JOY-FUL 2016!

And the writing prompt: Try this…Sit quietly in a comfortable place with a pen and a writing journal or piece of paper. Say the word “JOY” out loud. Now close your eyes. Now say the word “joy” quietly to yourself. Allow the word joy to bounce around your mind. What images come to you? What memories? Open your eyes. Now, get out your writing journal and write down your thoughts!

 

 

 

 

Grand Prize Winners of Our Once Upon a Christmas Giveaway

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Wow. 2016 is here. And nothing is more fun than announcing winners to kick off this new year.

Let’s start with Lori Stanley Roeleveld’s book Red Pen Redemption. The winner is…Phee Paradise. Congrats, Phee!

Once Upon a Christmas Giveaway

We offered three sets of prizes for our grand prize winners.

Readers giveaway – $25 Barnes and Noble card, Books: Tessa and Clara BessWarm Mulled Kisses box set, Crooked Lines, Plum Pudding Bride

Writer’s giveaway – $10 Starbucks card, Books: The First Five Pages, The Time Keeper,  Heart Seekers box set, Tsunami 2004

Shopper’s giveaway – $10 Walmart gift card, bracelet, necklace and earrings, Books: Glimpses of the Savior devotions, First and Goal (football devotional)

Now the moment you are all waiting for:drum roll

We are happy to announce three big winners:

(1)Reader’s giveaway-Caryl Kane.

(2)Writer’s giveaway-Sparks of Ember.

(3)Shopper’s giveaway-Deborah Dunson.

Congratulations to all our winners! We’ll be getting in touch with you soon so we can send those gifts to you!

We’ll also be having another big giveaway to celebrate our blog’s 4-year anniversary. Our Blogaversary!

Make sure to leave comments on our Monday and Friday posts in 2016 to be eligible for more great prizes throughout the year…and don’t forget our weekly 3 Questions Wednesday interviews.

We’d also like to give a big shout out for our top four commenters of 2015:

Hip Hip Hooray to Deanna, Sparks, Amy, and Caryl!

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Christmas Roundup – The Writing Prompts Crew

December seems like the best time to take a few moments and introduce you to the Writing Prompts Crew. We’ve added and subtracted over the years, but always end up with a really good group of writers. You can find more information about each of our writers, along with information and buy links for their published books by clicking “The Crew” tab above, or the link provided at the end of each bio. And please read to the end of this post for important information and details about the Once Upon a Christmas Giveaway!

Jennifer HallmarkJennifer Hallmark is co-founder of the Writing Prompts blog. She’s a writer by nature, an artist at heart, and daughter of God by His grace. She’s published over 200 articles and interviews on the internet. Through the Writing Prompts blog and her personal website, Alabama-Inspired Fiction, Jennifer focuses on her books, love of the South, and helping other writers. For fun, she loves to read detective fiction from the Golden Age, watch movies like LOTR, and play with her two precious granddaughters. Jennifer and her husband, Danny, have spent their married life in Alabama and have a basset hound, Max. Read more about Jennifer here.

betty owensBetty Thomason Owens is a multi-published author who writes romantic comedy, historical fiction, and fantasy-adventure. She has contributed hundreds of articles and interviews to various blogs around the internet and is an active member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), where she leads a critique group. She’s also a mentor, assisting other writers and a co-founder of a blog dedicated to inspiring writers–this one! Read more here.

TammyTammy J. Trail is a wife, mother and grandmother. Residing in Kansas where life is a never ending joy ride as “taxi driver” for two teenage boys. She learns something new every day, and once in awhile it’s useful information. A lover of historical fiction in any time period, her favorite is the American Revolutionary period.

Betty Boyd 1A Pennsylvania native, Betty Boyd moved to the Tennessee Valley in 1994. She retired in early 2012 after 30 years of Government service. She has a consulting firm, Boyd Consulting Services, which offers writing services. She active in her church, and community. She is currently working on her first non-fiction book. Read more here.

anne evansAnne Garboczi Evans has been biting off more than she can chew ever since she entered the world with a splash at 10 lbs 1 oz. Marrying a military man and moving six times in four years was just a continuation of that process. Anne’s favorite things to do are take long walks with her husband and little boy, “Joe-Joe,” and get addicted to Netflix TV shows with her husband. Their latest guilty pleasure is Fox’s House.  Read more about Anne here.

Holly MichaelHolly Michael has enjoyed a writing career as a journalist, features writer, and a regular ghostwriter for a Guideposts magazine before authoring novels and nonfiction books. Married to Anglican Bishop, Leo Michael, Holly has three grown children; daughter Betsy and football-playing sons—Jake (NFL) and Nick (University of Louisiana-Lafayette). Kansas City, Missouri is home and she blogs at www.writingstraight.com. Read more here.

Karen JurgensKaren Jurgens, a Cincinnati native, has been a Texan transplant for thirty years and counting. As a lifelong writer, she has written stories since her elementary school days. As an adult, she wrote Christian fiction for her church’s newspaper as well as non-fiction that was published in a national magazine. Since retiring from teaching in 2014, she has begun a new career as an author, blogger, and speaker within the context of Christian ministry. Read more here.

RobinMasonHeadShotRobin E. Mason writes Christian-worldview–in other words, there’s no salvation message, but there are plenty of characters who know the Lord and share His perspective with those who are struggling.

Tessa and Clara Bess are both available on Amazon, both for Kindle and in print.

The third book in the series, Cissy, will be available in 2016.   Ms. Mason also has several poems included in an anthology, Where Dreams and Visions Live (Anthologies of the Heart Book 1) by Mary Blowers, as well as a short story, Sarafina’s Light, also in an anthology, Blood Moon, compiled by Mary Blowers. She will also be working on a personal anthology of poetry to be released in 2016 as well. Read more about Robin here.

HarrietMichaelNew to the Writing Prompts crew, Harriet E. Michael (no known relation to Holly Michael) was born in Nigeria, West Africa, as the daughter of missionaries. Harriet is a writer, gardener, substitute teacher, wife of over 36 years, mother of four, grandmother of one and soon-to-be grandmother of two. She holds a BS in nursing from West Virginia University but has discovered her passion for writing. Since her first published article in 2010, she now has over a hundred and fifty published articles and devotions. Read more here.

From all of us, to all of you, may your Christmas be blessed!

“May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.” 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 NIV


OnceUponaChristmasOnce Upon a Christmas Giveaway Details!

Three chances to win!

Here are the categories and the prizes:

Readers giveaway – $25 Barnes and Noble card, Books: Tessa and Clara Bess, Warm Mulled Kisses box set, Crooked Lines, Plum Pudding BridePrize-1

Writer’s giveaway – $10 Starbucks card, Books: The First Five Pages, Heart Seekers box set, Tsunami 2004Prize-2

Shopper’s giveaway – $10 Walmart gift card, bracelet, Books: Glimpses of the Savior devotions, First and Goal (football devotional)Prize-3