God’s love in the home

Colleen Russell’s story, ‘God’s Love in the Home’, was published in our 2020 Stories of Life anthology. The story is based on her own family, her own life.  Her advice to wordsmiths is:

When you have loved, when you have been loved, express these cherished memories in your telling and in your writing, because these are God’s words and the reader will recognise them as such.

Colleen Russell

Calling all wordsmiths to take advantage of Feedback Month. Send us your story drafts and one of our experienced editors will give you constructive feedback. We want to work with you to give you best chance of getting your story of life published in our 2021 anthology.


Pete and Aiden on Feedback Month

Pete and Aiden talk about Stories of Life and Feedback Month, including this very practical tip from Pete:

You have to timetable creativity.

So, schedule some time in your diary to write, collect the bits of writing you produce, send it to us before the end of June, and we will get some professional creative writing teachers/tutors to get feedback to you. (They’re all very nice and affirming – don’t worry.)

As far as we know, Stories of Life is the only writing competition in the world to give personalised feedback on story drafts before submissions. This is because we want your story in our 2021 anthology, and we want to help you make your story the best it can be.

Let us work with you to make your story awesome! Submit story drafts here.


My Two Mothers by Donna Meehan

Last year, Donna Meehan’s story ‘My Two Mothers’ was published in our 2020 anthology, The Swimmer and other stories of life:

‘My Two Mothers’, written and read by Donna Meehan.

In 2000, Donna published a memoir It is no secret: the story of a stolen generation childNine years later, she also spoke about what it was like to be separated from her biological mother, Beatrice, when Donna was only five and a half years old. You can view that video, along with photographs of her early life, in the Stolen Generations’ Testimonies Project.

Donna’s short story, ‘My Two Mothers’, was published last year in our 2020 Stories of Life anthology, The Swimmer and other stories of life. It’s a very short story, but powerful, and evocative.

If you were moved by Donna’s story, why not pick up a copy of  our 2020 anthology, The Swimmer and other stories of life, where Donna’s story above was published.

Feature photo: Donna Meehan. Photo supplied.


Val Russell, author of ‘Misunderstood’

Last year, Val Russell’s story ‘Misunderstood’ was published in The Swimmer and other stories of life. It’s the story from when Val was a child, migrating from England to Australia, flying via Bahrain. Val describes that huge journey from the perspective of her younger self, a little girl with autism.

Val Russell, photo supplied.

SOL: What led you to write this story?

Val: I think the fact that females with Autism go very much unnoticed and people need to know the internal impact it can have on a child when no one knows or understands..  When I tell people i have autism they often say ‘but you don’t look or act like you have autism’.  People need to know what it’s like having autism, so they can begin to understand and relate appropriately.

SOL: What has being published has meant to you?

Val: I was very very shocked that my story was published.  I am encouraged to continue writing the story.

SOL: Have you received any feedback from people?

Val: Feedback has been very minimal.  I think my story is different and people don’t know what to make of it. Thats my guess anyway.

To read Val’s story, grab a copy of The Swimmer and other stories of life.



In God’s Garden by Heather Gray

Last year, Heather Gray’s story ‘In God’s Garden’ was published in our 2020 anthology, The Swimmer and other stories of life:

In God’s Garden by Heather Gray. Music composed and produced by Jason Shaw https://audionautix.com/.

If Heather’s story touched you, why not get your own copy of The Swimmer or Papa’s Shoes today?

Or enter one of your stories of faith in our competition. It might be selected for publication in the 2021 Stories of Life anthology or broadcasted and your story might touch someone else.


Graves to Gardens by Martina Kontos

Last year, Martina Kontos won the first prize in the Open category. Dr James Cooper, Head of Creative Writing at Tabor, presented the award to her at the 2020 launch of the anthology, The Swimmer and other stories of life. Martina’s winning  story ‘Graves to Gardens’ about anxiety and depression was also broadcast on 1079 Life.

‘Graves to Gardens’ written and read by Martina Kontos. Music composed and produced by Jason Shaw https://audionautix.com/.

Contributors and family and friends at our 2020 book launch.

If you enjoyed Martina’s story, do take advantage of our competition launch deal and get a copy of our 2019 and 2020 anthologies at AUD14 per copy, excluding postage. Both books are filled with over 40 true short stories of life.

2021 Stories of Life Judges

We’re thrilled that Penny Reeves, David Rawlings and Valerie Volk have kindly agreed to be our 2021 judges in the Youth, Short and Open categories respectively. Here’s a bit about them.


Penny Reeve, photo from Penny’s website.

Penny Reeves for the Youth category

Penny Reeve (also writing as Penny Jaye and Ella Shine) is the award-winning, Australian author of more than 20 books for children. She writes picture books, junior fiction, children’s Bible studies and young adult fiction. She has a Master of Arts in writing and literature and is an experienced writing workshop leader, conference presenter and writing coach with a particular interest in equipping Christian children’s writers. You can learn more about Penny at www.pennyreeve.com and www.pennyjaye.com.


David Rawlings, photo supplied.

David Rawlings for the Short category

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 now out through Koorong and Amazon.

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

Valerie Volk, photo supplied.

Valerie Volk for the Open category

Valerie Volk has always been a closet writer so, after an academic background in English, History and Education, she retired from teaching and lecturing, and did two things she’d always wanted to do:  completing a PhD  and then Master’s degree in Creative Writing. Now she writes!

In the last twelve years she has published several hundred award-winning poems and short stories in journals and anthologies, as well as ten books, including historical fiction novels, such as In Search of Anna, verse novels like A Promise of Peaches and Passion Play, and biblical fiction like Bystanders. She is well known for her poetry collections, like the Caleb Prize-winning In Due Season,  and Marking Time,  as well as travel books.

She has edited a major poetry collection for Friendly Street Poets, Kaleidoscope, and judged a number of competitions.  Now she is looking forward to her appointment as a judge of the 2021 Stories of Life submissions.


Books are selling fast at these discount prices. Hurry and grab a copy if you haven’t read either of them. They’re full of gems – very short stories, just the thing when life gets too busy for reading long books, but you still need that little lift-me-up.

Sign Language by Julia Archer

Last year, Julia Archer’s story ‘Sign Language’ was published in our 2020 anthology, The Swimmer and other stories of life:

‘Sign Language’, written and read by Julia Archer. Music composed and produced by Jason Shaw https://audionautix.com/.

Julia Archer loves photography and writing, especially writing for children. You can read more of her work here. We especially love The three little pigs retold.

If you enjoyed Julia’s story, ‘Sign Language’, why not get your own copy of The Swimmer or Papa’s Shoes today? Enjoy our special competition launch deal of AUD14 per copy, excluding postage. Both books are filled with over 40 true short stories of life.

You might even be inspired to enter one of your true stories of faith in our competition, and it might be selected for publication in the 2021 Stories of Life anthology. Wouldn’t that be grand?

Feature photo: sign language: friend by r.a. olea on flickr, Creative Commons.

Competition Launch Deal

To kick off the 2021 competition, we’re having a special deal on our 2019 and 2020 anthologies, only $14 per copy, while stocks last. Each book has about 40 short stories of life and faith, from a sound-tech guy working on subtitles to a lady in retail asking existential questions, from piano solos to moving house, from facing mortality to an invitation to dance.

A great way to start thinking about your own story, told in your unique voice, is to read how other people have told their stories, and indeed, the unexpected places they found those stories.

The 2021 Stories of Life monthly focus:

  • April – Reading Month
  • May – Writing Month
  • June – Feedback Month
  • July – Submission Month

Submission period April – 31 July.

Pick up one or two books todayand start jotting down ideas for your own story of life. Then in May, when we start shining a spotlight on the many writing resources we’ve developed over the past 5 years, you’ll be all set to start writing! Will 2021 be the year your story of faith and testimony is published? We hope so!



Accepting submissions now. Closing date: 31 July 2021.