Tag Archives: christian fiction

It took 33 years, but this powerful new book has finally hit the market

FAITH NEWS SERVICE – Writing a book is not for the feint hearted, but after 33 years, Geoffrey Gay has finally seen a dream come to life.

With travel, starting a career in teaching, then going on to marry his wife and have four children, Geoffrey’s dream of writing his book was put to the side.

However, while he started the book at 22, 42 years ago, Geoffrey was determined to see it come to light and then began the process of selecting a publisher.

As the author of LostRalia, published by Ark House, Geoffrey tells the story in the form of an epic poem that takes place in the continent of Ralia (Australia) in an anachronistic medieval setting. Knights in shining armour (and sometimes rusty armour) roam the vastness of the land, endeavouring to be brave and chivalrous.

“The story behind LostRalia began when I was about 12,” Geoffrey stated. “As a lad growing up during the Cold War period, I was captivated by the likes of James Bond and Napoleon Solo (The Man from UNCLE). Living in a regional city on a state border made me aware of interstate rivalry, so I devised a story in which a secret agent saved Australia from an impending civil war between (the states of) Victoria and New South Wales.

“A modern version of the story was finally hand-written as a short novel while I was living in Mexico in 1977 as a 21-year old. Having kindly been invited to a Spanish-speaking writers’ group in Mexico City, I was able to present it to its founder and renowned author from California, Margaret Shedd, who was published with the famous company, Doubleday. She liked my story, but wanted me to improve it in a few areas.”

On returning to Wagga Wagga in regional Australia, Geoffrey began to imagine that this story had ‘really’ begun when knights in shining armour roamed this vast continent and that the best way of relating this tale was in poetic form. Having written some poetry for friends at teachers’ college when he had first become a Christian in 1974, and in keeping with the theme of interstate rivalry and a newly-found desire to provide an explanation, among others, as to why Adam and Eve were prevented from eating the fruit on the Tree of Life after they had eaten from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, he devised a plot that combined the two.

“So, in October 1978, on the top floor of a manor house in a bay window overlooking Wagga Wagga’s leafy central gardens, I wrote the first three ‘scrolls’ of LostRalia,” Geoffrey continued. “Unfortunately, at that time, I didn’t know how I was going to bring all the loose threads together. It wasn’t until I finally understood the significance of the intentional separation of those two trees in the Book of Genesis that I was able to finish the story – eight years later!

“On a Sunday afternoon in March 1986 in the quiet town of Strathalbyn in South Australia, I put the finishing touches to LostRalia. I can vividly recall that the poetry just poured out of me that afternoon and evening in a way that I had not experienced before or since.”

Geoffrey was born in the southern Australian city of Melbourne. With a typical Australian upbringing, which consisted of backyard cricket and football, he went on to graduate from university with a Diploma in Teaching. While busy traveling, it was six years before he actually moved into official teaching in a classroom.

Having traveled to USA, Mexico, India, Russia, China, the UK, France and Italy, all of these locations have provided him with context that he could use as a humanities teacher in various Christian schools around Australia. Having upgraded to a Bachelor of Education, he has been a principal in two small schools and is currently teaching Latin and Geography at the Brisbane Christian College.

In the midst of this, he met and then married his wife, Jill, whilst teaching in a small Bible school. After forty years of marriage, the couple has four married children and ten grandchildren.

Ultimately, LostRalia is a prayer for the country of Australia, as readers will feel after finishing the Epilogue.

It is a book that offers profound explanations for spiritual truths, interspersed with tasteful amounts of blood and gore action. Driving the reader on is the ultimate question: what will happen to the hapless Lady Adelade? The plot moves quickly from one end of the continent to the other, albeit taking time to allow the characters to play out this narrative by pointing to the Biggest Story of All in many obvious and varied ways.

“Readers will be immediately struck by 143 pages of epic narrative poetry,” Geoffrey said. “This is a rare medium these days, given the nature of modern sensationalist novels. Yet I have been pleasantly surprised by the reactions of friends and colleagues who have read it.

“Many have said that they could not put the book down, and pleasingly, did not have to wait long for the conclusion. Another recalled that once he got into the rhythm of the story, he began to actually sing the poem to himself with a tune that he had made up in his head! As weird as that may sound, readers will generally find the fast-paced, slightly tongue-in-cheek narrative a pleasant surprise with a twist at the end and a thoroughly romantic ending with a strong dose of revelation.

“Younger readers will appreciate the play on place names in Australia, with older readers being captured by a rollicking good ‘yarn’ with far-reaching implications.

“What a privilege it is to be given the opportunity to tell the story behind the story. As brief as LostRalia is, it has been a life’s work for me. I am grateful to so many people for helping it on its way, and I trust that it will bless those who invest a couple of hours of their time riding with those brave knights in the medieval mists of time.”

Geoffrey is in the process of writing a second book.

LostRalia, published by Ark House, is now available globally.

How a simple blood test turned this woman into an author

For Australian writer Sheryl Nostrini, another blood test at the hospital during a bout of health issues was an unusual place in which to be inspired to start writing.

While sitting in the waiting room, Sheryl happened to stumble across a magazine called ‘Country Style’. Inside, she read about a writing competition, which got her excited.

“Writing a book had never been something I thought I’d do,” she said, “and I had always been in awe of authors, for I love to read. Then a first paragraph exploded in my mind about my husband’s parents’ story.”

She couldn’t get the idea out of her mind and had to write it down. From there, she got inspired and decided to enter her 1,500 word short story, submitting it to the magazine. While she never did win a prize, the experience gave her the confidence to take her writing to the next level.

“After sharing the story with family, I learned even more about Jack and Emily that I hadn’t known before and discovered it was a story that needed to be told and not lost or forgotten,” she added. ‘Emilia and the Monument Builder’ is therefore a true story, written as fiction, as Sheryl’s Italian immigrant parents-in-law passed away in 1989.

Sheryl read many books on writing fiction, writing to be published and took two Summer School Writing classes in 2017 and 2018 to learn how to make her project come to light.

“I loved writing it, loved the research and discovered many more aspects of the story that were intriguing. It took me four years to complete.”

“While I was in the throes of the last part of writing ‘Emilia and the Monument Builder’ a seed was sown for a purely fictitious story about Courtney – the same thing happened – the story flowed, and I felt it was God-inspired,” Sheryl continued.

‘Courtney’s Keys’ is thus the story of twenty-year old Courtney Lancaster, raised as a ward-of-the-state in New South Wales in Australia, who becomes the beneficiary of her unknown great-uncle’s estate in 1980.

She arrives in Mt Barker in the south-west of Western Australia to discover treasures from her past. A desire for a new beginning after a chequered past and poor decisions allows Courtney to learn new life lessons and growing faith in a loving God from her trustworthy neighbour.

Discovering love, care and affection never experienced in her institutionalised upbringing helps her find keys that reveal resolutions to her confusion. However, trials and temptations create stumbling blocks along the way and confrontations conspire to undo her. She harbours a secret, that once revealed, changes everything.

“It is as interesting to me to see how the story unfolds. Sometimes there are twists and turns I did not expect and it was fascinating to watch the story emerge as I wrote it.”

“’Courtney’s Keys’ had been written, proofed, edited and sat silent while I found the courage to submit its synopsis to Ark House Press. My writing friend, Audrey, whom I meet with every Friday since Summer School 2018 (where we met) insisted I stop procrastinating. She told me to trust God for his leading.”

“I knew she was right. I put the fleece out, to use Gideon’s exercise in faith – submitted it, was asked to send the first two chapters which was the next step. I received an email from Ark House Press stating they had accepted it. There, God had opened the door and I had to walk through it.”

Writing and storytelling ran in Sheryl’s family. “My father was a great story-teller and I’d had the experience of learning ‘not to wait’ because I’d intended to give my Dad a special book and pen for Father’s Day in 1996 to write down his stories.

“Sadly, he was in a serious traffic accident, in a coma for a week and died the day before Father’s Day. Now his stories are lost, we only remember some of them and not particularly well. It showed me the importance of writing things down while you can.”

“I love, love, love writing,” she said, “and I feel truly blessed that God has seen to offer me this opportunity. It is my desire and prayer to nurture the reader’s faith in God and to draw them closer to Him.”

“These stories can be used as an evangelistic tool for those seeking to know God for themselves.”

‘Courtney’s Keys’ touches on some social issues and perhaps the guidance to resolutions of these problems in the story could help those who face similar situations. ‘Courtney’s Keys’ is Book One in the Plantagenet Trilogy. Book Two, ‘Seth’s Solace’, is due out in November 2020, while Book Three, ‘Miranda’s Mother’, is set for a 2021 release.

‘Courtney’s Keys’, published by Ark House, is now available globally.

In the midst of COVID-19, a new book tells the story of hope and restoration

A book written during a time when “everything was going wrong’ is now released at a time when the whole world needs hope.

The Heart of Ruth, which has just been released by Ark House, was written by author Johanna Pascall when she was going through one of those seasons in her life when everything was going wrong. Now, her story might just be the one people need to hear as the entire world works out how to get through the turmoil that is the coronavirus.

The Heart of Ruth is a modern retelling of the Book of Ruth for young adult readers and many will relate, given their worlds have been turned upside down, literally overnight.

“At the heart of it is a story of hope and of restoration, which as it happens is so relevant to what’s going on in our world right now, given the global pandemic and the fear and hopelessness that is so prevalent right now,” Johanna stated.

“I wrote the book during a time when I was going through my own storm in my life. Everything was going wrong with my job and finances, and at the same time, my husband suffered depression. I went through a journey of being angry with God, then realizing His love, grace and comfort during these times. I didn’t want to waste this experience so I asked God what He wanted me to do and He responded with a quiet whisper, ‘You’re going to write about Ruth in today’s world for young adult readers.’”

Thus the idea for a fantastic new book was birthed. The story of Ruth is so close to the world we are living in right now. For many of us, life has been going along just fine. Most had big plans for 2020 and the new decade – and within a few short months, our world has been rocked by a pandemic that has threatened to go into a recession – at best. Ruth’s life mirrored this and she had to turn to her god to get her through tumultuous times.

“I had always liked the story of Ruth and sometimes wondered what biblical figures would be like in today’s world, but I had never really thought about putting these two together and writing a book about it,” Johanna told me. “So I read Ruth and suddenly, within a few hours, I had the entire plot and chapter by chapter breakdown.

“What really drew me to this story is the overarching message that there is hope, even when life takes an unexpected turn – when you’ve lost so much, don’t think you have a future, when life is tough, when things aren’t going the way you’d planned – there is hope, just keep going and eventually it will turn around. Just don’t give up. In the book, Ruth had everything but she losses it all, and even though life is hard, she kept going and at the end, she found her purpose in life and as a bonus, she also found true love.”

Readers of The Heart of Ruth will discover subjects such as dealing with depression, managing tricky family dynamics, and how to find self worth. Ruth saw herself as the hopeless one in a very gifted family, however she finds that she has something to offer the world after all when she finds her passion and purpose in life.

“It’s so timely that this message is heard during this time,” continued Johanna. “Life is tough already for teenagers and young adults, and now with the overlay of a pandemic, many are now isolated from their friends, so they are without their normal support and comfort structure. In addition, many young people are losing their jobs as a result of lockdowns and the economic effects of the pandemic. It’s important to me that as many young people read this story of hope. I worry that depression and suicide is already a real issue in teens and young adults as it was, and the overlay of this current pandemic will only exacerbate this.”

The Heart of Ruth is now available globally.

How a non-sleeping child saw the birth of a phenomenal new book

Many writers struggle to find the time it takes to sit down at their desk to produce a book, but for this author, a new baby that wouldn’t sleep became the perfect impetus to complete a much anticipated book.

Schoolteacher David Folker had been dreaming of completing his book, and oddly, thanks to the birth of his second child, Relentless has now been released globally.

“I drafted the idea for Relentless four years ago and began by mapping out the characters and ending, along with a rough outline of the journey,” David told me. “Unfortunately the demands of the leadership position I held at the school I worked at meant that I had little time for creative writing and so it was put to the side until such a time that I could commit sufficient energy to see it completed.

“When our second child arrived happy and healthy, it became clear that neither of us would enjoy the luxury of extended periods of sleep throughout the night. I realized that this was the perfect time to continue the story that was put on my heart all those years earlier. With this in mind I spent several hours each night writing and a few months later, Relentless was completed.”

David stated that while Relentless was a story is for everyone, and he believes most people would enjoy the brisk pace, action, character development and its resolution, at its deepest level it is a story of encouragement. It was written to speak to people who have accepted the lie that they are not worthy of their Savior’s love.

In this powerful new book, the characters in this remarkable story race to save someone who most others would have given up on. They face impossible odds and a terrible foe. They are knocked down on many occasions, but they don’t give up. Relentless explores the self-sacrificing of a hero: that hero being Jesus.

“I wrote this story because I believe that there is someone out there that needs to hear that they are worthy of a Savior’s love,” David continued. “That he will never stop pursuing them. That he will do anything to save them. If this title reaches that one person, who needs to be assured that they are worthy of such relentless dedication by our all-sacrificing God, then I will be happy.

“Growing up, I was an avid reader and enjoyed books from a variety of authors, both fiction and non-fiction. I was first introduced to the genre of fantasy by my Aunt Meg when she gifted me a copy of Rowan of Rin by Emily Rodda. I’ve been reading fantasy non-stop ever since.

“There were three major influences on my writing of Relentless. The first was the classic fantasy novel The Hobbit by Tolkien. When re-reading the story prior to the release of the blockbuster movies of the same name, I marveled at the scope of the grand adventure the unlikely companions found themselves on, but also the clarity of their journey. They knew exactly where they were going, if not what they would encounter along the way. I wanted to write a story that had a clear end destination and then unpack the risks and the wondrous/dangerous locales that the characters would journey through.

“The second major influence was Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan. I read this when I was a student at primary school and the idea of a physical adventure representing a spiritual journey was one that resonated with me. To an extent, I think all of my titles will be mirror this notion.

“The third influence and probably the clearest is one of the parables told by Jesus. For reasons of spoilers, I can’t tell you which one! I would like to think that readers familiar with the teachings of Jesus should be able to pick it when they reach the end.

Relentless is now available at all good bookstores, including Amazon.

N.B. If you like to know more about Relentless and David’s future projects, you can follow him at https://www.patreon.com/davidfolker