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?

 

 

Sprinkler Spontaneity

The 2019 Stories of Life anthology

Last year, Diana Davison’s story, Sprinkler Spontaneity, was published in our 2019 anthology, Papa’s Shoes and other Stories of Life.

Contributors and sponsors at the launch of Papa’s Shoes and other stories of life in November 2019. Diana is third from the left.

Diana also recorded her story at the 1079 Life studios in Adelaide. Sprinkler Spontaneity was broadcast in South Australia over summer. You can hear it here:

We asked Diana to tell us a bit about herself, why she entered this competition and if she had any photos to share. This is what she sent us.

Young Diana with her father

This is a treasured old photograph of my beloved father – Kenneth Davison. That’s little me photo-bombing to the left (I may have started the movement… just saying).

My father was my solid ground and I feel very blessed that he was here to be my beacon on this earth. I miss him dearly. My short story – Sprinkler Spontaneity – is dedicated to him.

Writing my story was a needed step to healing after his passing on Boxing Day in 2017. I was not coping and felt so alone. However, I soon realized I was not alone.  My ramblings were heard and, with the acceptance of my sharing of emotions and struggles, I was acknowledged with a print in – Papa’s Shoes – which I am truly grateful for. It has propelled me forward positively to embrace writing and to know we are never truly alone.  Thank you ~ always.

Diana Davison

Copies of Papa’s Shoes and other Stories of Life are available for purchase online. You can also visit our 20182017 and 2016 archives for more great stories of life. You’ll find prize winning stories, pictures and stories recorded for radio, often read by the writers themselves.

Could your story of faith be in our 2020 anthology? More info on key dates and the kind of stories we are looking for here.

Confessions of a Realist

The 2019 Stories of Life anthology

Last year, Emily Maurits’ story won first prize in the Tabor Open category. Her story, Confessions of a Realist, was published in the 2019 anthology, Papa’s Shoes and other Stories of Life. We asked Emily to give us some background to her story and this is how she replied:

When my sister Jasmine was diagnosed with a brain tumour just in time for my 21st birthday, I was distraught. Struggles with health were common in my family – but my little sister had always been the healthy one.

That diagnosis began a three month hospital stay, eleven operations, and countless hours spent in the Children’s hospital. It also began a journey. A journey which pushed us closer together, which uncovered the deep love of our church community, and ultimately, a journey which brought us hope.

Hope for healing, yes, but also hope in the kindness of others, in faith that can outlast tragedy, and in miracles after the eleventh hour.

After she was released from hospital I began a blog about loving people with chronic illnesses because, as we soon discovered, sometimes healing comes with complications and aftereffects. I named it Called to Watch, because if there’s one thing I learnt over those long months and the years that followed, it’s this: I can’t save anyone. I am not the Saviour, Jesus is. Sometimes you can’t bear someone else’s burden; all you can do is watch – but you can watch in faith, in love, and in hope. You can watch because God has called you to this moment, even as he calls the sun up each morning and the cicadas each evening.

My entry into Stories of Life captures a moment of hope reawakened. It’s a glorious moment, a true gift from God. Sometimes, it’s easy to forget that these moments can exist. In the long, hard slog of caring and being cared for, healthy pragmatism can become life-killing cynicism very quickly. I wanted to share my sister’s healing because there’s comfort in second-hand miracles. They are a reminder that our God holds each moment of each day in his hands. When He brought my sister home on the exact date I prayed for, against the expectations of everyone involved, he actually did two miracles: one of physical healing, and one of hope restored.

My prayer is that He would bless each of you with this second miracle through my sister’s story. Not all miracles are ground shaking or impressive looking, but each are a gift from our Father, and a reminder of a better future.

This is a photo of me and my sister three years after her first surgery. It makes me so happy, because there were many hospital days when I wasn’t sure if I’d ever see her again.

L-R: Jasmine and Emily

Emily’s story was published in the 2019 anthology, Papa’s Shoes and other Stories of Life. Could your story of faith be in our 2020 anthology? More info on key dates and the kind of stories we are looking for here.

Read all of our winning stories in The Best of 2019.

To read more great stories, visit our 2018, 2017 and 2016 archives. There you’ll find prize winning stories, pictures and stories recorded for radio, often read by the writers themselves.

2019 Stories of Life winners

Tabor Open Stories of Life (1000 – 1500 words)

First place: Confessions of a Realist by Emily Maurits

Second place: No Place Like Home by Gaynor Faulkner

Third place: Vessel by Rebecca Abdel-Nour

 

Eternity Matters Short Stories of Life (under 500 words)

First place: In A Manger by Joanne Prenzler Smith

Second place: Drop Zone by Juni Desireé Hoel

Third place: That Crazy Message From God by R.J. Rodda

 

Lutheran Education Young Stories of Life (500 – 1000 words for writers aged 17 and under)

First Place: The Golden Detour by Kaitlin Turland

Second Place: The Happy Memoir by Baxter Gierus-Heintze

Equal Third Place: My Mother’s Death by Jonah Teh and My Journey Climbing Mount Kinabalu by Leanne Low

 

2018 Stories of Life Long List

All stories on the long list will be published in the 2018 Stories of Life anthology. Long listed stories are also in the running for a prize.
The shortlist will be announced on 31 October. We look forward to announcing this year’s winners at the book launch, which will be towards the end of November.
bright balloons
To those whose stories do not appear in today’s long list, we urge you not to lose heart and to avail yourself to our free writing resources and workshops next year. Continue telling and celebrating your stories of faith. A book has a limited number of pages, but there’s no limit to the number of stories of life we tell one another, stories that speak of hope and shape our world.

Tabor Open Stories of Life Long List

Glenda Austin – Still Giving from Heaven

Molly Bennett – That Boy of Mine

Lisa Birch – Paid in Full

Wendy Boniface – Epiphany in Fiji

Tsung Chung – The Year

Stella Fortunata Collins – Even in the Darkness, the Stars Still Shine

Ester de Boer – Three Dummies in a Dinghy

Juni Desireé Hoel – Genius

Liz Donald – Twenty-one Days

Patricia Elder – Flawed

Gaynor Faulkner – A String of Beans

Liisa Grace-Baun – We Met on Strava

Jeanette Grant-Thomson – My Friend Peter

Megan Higginson – An Angel to Watch Over Them

June Hopkins – Footsteps in the Sea

Levin Lian – A Path in the Stars

Margot Ogilvie – Grab the Popcorn – God Saved Me

Yvonne Smuts – Skipping

Heidi Tai – Closing the Cultural Gap

Vickie Walker – Taking it All For Granted

Eternity Matters Short Stories of Life Long List

Donna Albrecht – I was a Church Planter for the New Age movement

Craig Chapman – Bird Man

Ester de Boer – Under the Frangipani Tree

Juni Desireé Hoel – Miracle

Adah Doebele – The Great Physician

John Alexander Duthie – Struggling with my Faith

Trevor Hampel – A Thin, Delicate Thread

Grant Lock – The Light. The Voice. The Music.

Tracey Meg – Wanna Swap?

Yvette Cusack – Always with Me

Robynne Milne – More Precious Than Cups and Saucers

Beth Robertson – Stolen but not Robbed

RJ Rodda – She Stood Up

Levi Schubert – A Realisation

Lutheran Education Youth Category Long List

Hannah Elliot – Love Doesn’t Age

Yasmin Esther – The Florence Fiasco

Madeline Hains – When All Hope is Lost

Brooke Joppich – Grandpa Really Nailed It

Ethan Joppich – Breakneck Speed

Chelsea Rose – One Blessed Cat

Tash – Finding a Home

 

Talk about range

We’ve been blessed with some great stories since we launched this competition in 2016. To demonstrate the range of topics that have been covered, we’re posting a sample here. We want to encourage you to write your story of faith and testimony. Quick! Submissions open for another six days only.

Lady by red flowers
Gaynor Faulker

When healing comes

Happiness is a New Handbag by Gaynor Faulkner

When healing doesn’t come

When healing doesn’t come by Anusha Atukorala

In Prison

Unlikely Rescuer by Amy Ireland

At home

Freedom Calls by Shakira Davies

About the young

Giant Swing by Juni Desireé Hoel

About the old

If you didn’t laugh by Glenda Austin

 

There’s no formula to the way God works, and no formula to what constitutes a story of faith and testimony except that something happened to someone, and somewhere in that was evidence of God at work.

Have fun writing! Then PLEASE, I know it requires courage, but do take the next step and submit it. By this time next week, submissions will be closed. Don’t leave it till too late. Your story matters and we would love to hear from you.

Your story, your voice

With less than two weeks to go, we’re reposting last year’s winning stories to inspire you to get your stories in.

In saying this, don’t feel that you have to write like Hannah or Ester or Yvonne to make your story stand out. The important thing is to tell your story in your voice.

As Pete Court reminded us, your voice as a writer is:

  • what details you notice and include in the story
  • what it felt like to be you (or the person you are writing about) in the story
  • your way of thinking, your way of seeing the world

Watch his full presentation here.

Some of the stories in the anthology are also broadcasted on Life FM the following January and reach a wide audience. ‘The impact of the stories has been enormous,’ said Pete. ‘People have been enjoying the stories and ended up getting copies of the book and basically hearing about faith – for the first time, a lot of them, which is wonderful.’

Pete acknowledged that one of the hardest things to do is to find the confidence to tell your story. We hope that you will find the confidence to write and submit your story because your story in your voice is unique, no one else can tell it your way.

Here are last year’s first prize winners in each category, each voice unique, each story uplifting in its own way.

Lutheran Education Young Stories of Life (500 – 1000 words, for writers aged 17 and under)

Never too late by Hannah Elliot

 

Eternity Matters Short Stories of Life (up to 500 words)

Lady at desk
Ester’s creative workspace

When Andy met God by Ester De Boer

 

Tabor Stories of Life (1000 to 1500 words)

Yvonne Smuts

Encountered by Yvonne Smuts

 

Never too late

Last year, Hannah Elliot won first prize in the Lutheran Education Young Stories of Life Category. Her story Never Too Late was published in the 2017 anthology, The Gecko Renewal.

Hear Hannah read her story here:

 

With only twenty days left to the deadline, we want to say that your stories matter and we would love to hear from you. Remember, if you are aged 17 or under as of the 31 of July 2018, there is no entry fee in the Lutheran Education Young Stories of Life category.

Write away for a chance to hear your story on-air and see it in print. You might even win a generous cash prize in the process.

Happiness is a New Handbag!

Gaynor Faulkner’s story about a lesion in her womb has the unlikely title Happiness is a New Handbag! Her story was published in the 2017 Stories of Life anthology, The Gecko Renewal.

Gaynor Faulker
‘I no longer work at the fashion store I wrote about in my story. Now, I’m blessed to work with Aboriginal students (Reception – Year 12) at Unity College in Murray Bridge as a Learning Support Officer. I first heard about the Stories of Life competition when it was mentioned in our school newsletter. I subsequently  encouraged students I worked with to enter  and mentioned it to several teachers. I think it’s a brilliant competition because I believe that hearing about other people’s’ everyday miraculous  experiences with God strengthens and encourages our own spiritual journey.
To me, writing is a scratch that I’ve got to itch. When I read about the Stories of Life Competition, I found myself thinking about the myriad of ways God has helped and guided me throughout my life and decided to enter the competition myself. I was subsequently thrilled  to have two of my stories included in the Stories of Life anthologies.’
Gaynor Faulkner
Gaynor, holidaying in Italy, with a spot of chocolate gelato on her chin

Freedom Calls

A brave story today by Shakira Davies about her escape from an abusive relationship.
Rescued, Redeemed, Released title with picture of chain link
Shakira’s book
‘Freedom Calls comes from my book Rescued Redeemed Released. I wrote this because people I talked to felt encouraged by the things I went through and how I overcame them. It gave them strength to share the problems they had, because they knew I understood and they wondered how I was able to move on and have so much peace. People have bought this for others whom they know have gone through abusive relationships and childhoods, in order to give them hope, and for them to realise that they are not alone.’
Shakira Davies
Shakira’s book can be previewed and purchased here.
This has been the first year we’ve live streamed our two writing workshops on Facebook. We’ve received very positive feedback, and connected with many people who have stories of faith to share.  We’re anticipating a great anthology at the end of the year and looking forward to hearing some incredible stories on-air over the summer.
As I cannot improve on Rev Dr Mark Worthing’s words, presented at last Thursday’s editing workshop, I’ll quote his sixth and final editing tip in full:
‘Submit your story! At some point you have to stop rewriting and editing and send in your story. One of the keys to good editing is to know when to stop. There will always be an improvement that could possibly be made, or a comma to add or delete. Do not let your efforts to produce a well-written story prevent you from sending in the best story you are able to produce in the time you have to do it. Too many good stories are left setting on a shelf at home or on a computer file because the writer was worried it was not good enough, or convinced that it still needs work. It doesn’t hurt anything to send the story off and see how others respond. You may be surprised at how your story speaks to others.

Remedy: Just send us the story!’

Read his full presentation: Tips for editing 2018 by Mark Worthing.

We’re only 34 days away from the closing date for entries. Do submit your story. We’d love to hear from you.

Quick Links:

How to enter

Categories and prizes

Entry conditions

Accepting submissions 1 April to 31 July 2020