All posts by May-Kuan Lim

Five Ways to Improve Your Story

If you’ve been following our writing videos – Getting Started and Finding Your Voice – you’ll already have a story. In this short video, Pete Court presents five tips to improve your story.

Exercise questions:

1. Does each person, place and event in your story contribute to the main story?

2. Where should the story end? Is the last paragraph necessary?

3. Are there adjectives or adverts that do not contribute to the main story?

4. Is there religious jargon that would be unclear to friends who are not Christians or who do not go to your church?

5. Proof read for spelling and grammatical mistakes.

The most important tip: just write it and send it in. It may never be perfect, but it may still be a great story. Please give us the pleasure of reading it.

Submissions close 31 July 2020.

A Certain Stranger by Kylie Gardiner


The 2019 Stories of Life anthology

Last year, Kylie Gardiner’s story, A Certain Stranger, was published in our 2019 anthology, Papa’s Shoes and other stories of life.

In it, she describes a terrible car accident. She was still shaking at the wheel when she saw a man zig-zagging across the multi-lane highway towards her – would he bring help or further danger?

Kylie’s story was also broadcast on 1079 Life and we’re pleased to be able to bring it to you today.

If you would like to read more stories like these, get our books delivered to your door. Do you have a story of faith? Might it be published in our 2020 anthology? Details here.


Eternity Matters Short Story of Life Judge

We’re delighted to announce that David Rawlings will judge the 2020 Eternity Matters Stories of Life category (500 words and under).

David Rawlings

David Rawlings is an award-winning South Australian author who asks deep questions in his novels. He writes modern-day parables – stories that lift the lid on life and allow God to whisper to us all. Stories about how we deal with this thing called life. Stories wrapped around values we can identify with and desperately need.

While David has been writing corporately for nearly 30 years, his debut novel – The Baggage Handler – won the 2019 Christy Award for Best First Novel. His second novel – The Camera Never Lies – focuses on honesty in relationships and is now available and Where the Road Bends – a novel based finding yourself while lost in outback Australia – is available for pre-order. Why not take an outback holiday during your time sheltering at home?

He is published through the Thomas Nelson imprint of HarperCollins Christian Publishing in the USA. You can read excerpts of David’s books at and also connect in the usual social places of Facebook and Instagram.


Finding Your Voice by Pete Court

Finding Your Voice might seem to be more suited to a singing class than a writing competition. But, your voice is what distinguishes your story from every other story on the planet, and makes it worth telling.

Your voice is not something mythical or hard to find. In this ten-minute video, Pete Court, Creative Writing lecturer at Tabor, gives us practical steps on how to find our voice.


Pete read several examples from our 2017 anthology, The Gecko Renewal. These stories were also selected for broadcast over 1079 Life over the Australian summer of 2017/18. You can listen to their entire story below, which is a great way to experience each writer’s voice.Gecko on Bookcover‘An Unlikely Rescuer’ by Amy Ireland


‘Encountered’ by Yvonne Smuts




  1. Read the the story that you wrote after watching ‘Getting Started’ by Dr James Cooper.
  2. Think of who one other person present at the event. How would your story differ from his or her recount of that event? This would include details you noticed and emotions you experienced. (If there was no one else present, put an imaginary friend, or even your dog, at the scene.)
  3. What is the feeling you want to convey?
    • Which parts of your story convey that feeling? Expand on it and see if it improves the story.
    • Which parts of your story do not contribute to that feeling? Remove it and see if it improves the story.
  4. Read the modified story out loud to check if it makes sense and reads smoothly. Adjust as necessary – wow, there you have it. A story told in your unique voice! Well done.

Stories of Life is so more than a writing competition. We exist to help people of faith to tell their stories well, and to provide a platform for the best of those stories. Check out our 2019 anthology, Papa’s Shoes and other stories of life.

The 2019 Stories of Life anthology

Will our 2020 anthology have your story in it? We hope so. Keep up with our writing videos in order to get your Story of Life submission ready for Feedback Month in June – personalized feedback on your story draft before submission closes on 31 July. (Details to follow. No fee for requesting feedback.)





Last year, Claire Watson’s story, Arise, was published in our 2019 anthology, Papa’s Shoes and other Stories of Life.

The 2019 Stories of Life anthology

We asked Claire to tell us the background to her story, and this how she replied.

‘As a child I loved reading and writing, but better job prospects within science and health led me away from the arts. My love for words remained dormant while I pursued a career in physiotherapy, but began to trickle back when God interrupted my plans and directed me towards full-time service within The Salvation Army.

Life in the Watson household was full and happy when we received the shock that our third child, and only daughter, had a rare and incurable disease. I began to record some of my thoughts on paper, and a book began to take shape following Hannah’s death in April 2014. When I realised I was ill-equipped to edit and publish it, I enrolled in the Creative Writing Course at Tabor College. The quality teaching and regular encouragement I received empowered me to publish my memoir through The Salvation Army.

Arise, my contribution to the 2019 Stories of Life is a brief snapshot of my book: Fingerprints of Grace. It contrasts the innocence of childhood and my former simplistic faith, with the deeper trust in God that developed through suffering. It also highlights the hope of the resurrection. Although the circumstances are not what I would have chosen, I am grateful to God for both the gift of our daughter and the opportunity to tell her story. The book is available from Koorong:’

Claire Watson

Claire’s book, Fingerprints of Grace

Claire supplied the feature photo of her daughter Hannah. Heartfelt thanks to Claire and the Watson family for sharing your powerful story of resurrection hope with us all.


The Answer

On Good Friday we remember Jesus, who died a criminal’s death because of false accusations. We think of his mother and all who had placed their hope in him, people who thought that lies had triumphed over truth, despair over hope, and death over life. It was not so, but they didn’t know it yet.

It is with that same sense of waiting for a turning point that we bring you Anusha Atukorala’s story ‘The Answer’ that was published in our 2019 anthology, Papa’s Shoes and other Stories of Life. Her story was also broadcast on 1079 Life and we hope that it will encouraged you, as it encouraged us.

Anusha Atukorala



Anusha’s background

Anusha has been on many interesting detours in life, as a lab technician, computer programmer, full time mum, charity director, and job chaser, until one golden day (or was it a dark moonless night?) God tapped her on her shoulder and called her to write for him. She has never recovered from the joy it brought her. She loves to see others enjoying life with Jesus and does her mite to hurry the process in her world through her writing and through her life. The goodness of God is her theme song through each season as she dances in the rain with Jesus.

Anusha’s books

Her first book Enjoying the Journey contains 75 short God stories while her second book Dancing in the Rain offers hope and comfort for life’s soggy seasons. The sequel, Sharing the Journey, was released recently on 21 March 2020. Anusha hopes that it will inspire you during this pandemic era to enjoy life with God and with each another. The journey of life is better with travel companions. The journey of life is rich and remarkable with a God who walks beside us. Sharing the Journey is a doorway to discovering a rich and fulfilling life.

Get Anusha’s latest book, Sharing the Journey, delivered to your door, from publisher Elephant House Press or Book Depository.

The 2019 Stories of Life anthology

Could do with more stories of life and faith? Check out our archives or get our anthologies delivered to your door.

Have a story of your own to tell? Why not submit a story that might be published in our 2020 anthology, to be released before Christmas?

We have great writing resources to help you get started. We are accepting submissions in our three categories from now and till 31 July 2020.


Introducing one of our 2020 judges

Stories of Life is  unique in that we have one judge per category, with different judges selected each year. Today, we’re delighted to announce that Nola Passmore will judge the 2020 Tabor Open Stories of Life category (1000 – 1500 words).

Thank you, Nola, for giving of your time so generously. We’re excited to have you on-board to help us celebrate excellence in writing and storytelling.

Nola Passmore

Nola Passmore and her husband Tim run a freelance writing and editing business called The Write Flourish . With a background as a university academic and qualifications in psychology, creative writing, and Christian ministry, she’s never short of ideas. She co-edited the Glimpses of Light charity anthology with Jeanette O’Hagan, and has had more than 150 short pieces published, including short fiction, true stories, poetry, devotions, inspirational pieces, magazine articles, and academic papers. Her debut novel Scattered is currently in production with Breath of Fresh Air Press, and will be published mid-2020 under the pen name of Nola Lorraine. You can find her author website at where her latest blog post, last we checked, is The Year that COVID-19 hijacked Easter.

Getting Started by Dr James Cooper

Follow-up Exercises

1. To help you find the focus of your story, try to answer these questions:

  • When did it happen?
  • Where did it take place?
  • Who was involved?
  • What was it about?
  • How did it unfold?
  • Why did it happen?

2. What did you learn or discover (about yourself, about God, about life) as a result?

3. Call your Uncle Fred (watch video if this puzzles you) and tell him your story. If possible, record your conversation.
The 2019 Stories of Life anthology

In the video, James refers to several stories from our 2019 anthology, Papa’s Shoes and other stories of life.

Listen to a reading of The Cab Trip in our previous blog post, or get our books delivered to your door.


James Cooper

James Cooper is Head of Creative Writing at Tabor College, Adelaide, where he has taught writing for over ten years. An active writer of both fiction and poetry, James’ work has been published in journals both locally and overseas. He has edited and co-edited numerous anthologies, including Tales from the Upper Room and the Stories of Life collections. His YA novel Never Let Go was shortlisted in 2016 for the Text Prize.

A cab trip

In 2016, Peter Evans thought that a writing competition around stories of faith would be a good idea. So he went to the 1079 Life FM office in Adelaide to pitch the idea, and four years down the track we’re still collecting stories, still awarding prizes, and still publishing books.

Peter Evans, speaking at the 2020 Stories of Life book launch, on behalf of one of our sponsors, Eternity Matters.

Last year, Peter submitted a story that he’d been working on, a story from his younger cab-driving days in Sydney – a story that includes the mention of bodies, a stick and eternity.

The 2019 Stories of Life anthology

As a Stories of Life team member, Peter’s story was not eligible for a prize, but our editors chose it for publication in our 2019 anthology, Papa’s Shoes and other stories of life. Here is a reading of Peter’s story, as broadcasted on 1079 Life through the past South Australian summer:

Enjoyed this? Order our anthologies from Book Depository and get more light-filled stories delivered to your door.

Might your story of faith be in our 2020 anthology? Think about the times you’ve experienced God’s grace and check back in next Monday for a short writing video on ‘Getting Started’ by Dr James Cooper, head of Creative Writing at Tabor College.

Writing and submitting entries could be a great project for families or faith communities to work together, even if you cannot meet together in person. To write about something is to relive it again, and writing a story of life could be a great reminder of God’s goodness at a difficult time.

Click 2020 Stories of Life writing competition for a PDF copy of the flyer above . Note that there is no entry fee for writers aged 17 and under, and Tabor has developed an English curriculum document for teachers who want to use Stories of Life in their classes.



What’s new in 2020?

Today, as we launch the 2020 Stories of Life writing competition, it seems as if we live in totally different times compared to 2016 when we first started. But God is unchanging, and the team at Stories of Life remains committed to celebrating, publishing and broadcasting stories of life.

As of today, our submission forms are ready to receive your stories. The submission period will remain open until 31 July. But before you upload your story, we wanted to tell you about some new resources we’re making available.

What’s new in 2020?

April and May

Tabor lecturers Pete Court and James Cooper are developing a series of short writing videos that we will upload through April and May. If you are a Facebook user, liking our Facebook page @storiesoflifewritingcompetition will make sure you don’t miss any new posts or videos.

June – Feedback Month

You will be able to send in one draft of each story you intend to submit. Note that a person can submit a maximum of one story per category.

Submission of story drafts will be via an online form. There will be no fee for this. One of our editors will then email feedback to you. We will do our best to respond in a timely manner, so that you have plenty of time to polish your story before submission closes.

What you chose to do with that feedback is entirely up to you. You are not bound to send us the same story for your final submission.

What remains the same?

  • Our submission guidelines and submission period: 1 April to 31 July.
  • Cash prizes for first, second and third place winners in all three categories.
  • Publication of a 2020 Stories of Life anthology, comprised of the best stories we receive this year
  • Our invitation to anyone who has ever had a story published with us to let us know when they have publishing news.

In 2020, we will continue to share stories of life, celebrate excellence in writing, and give glory to God. Will you join us?