Papa’s Shoes by Valmai Redhead

Last year, Valmai Redhead’s story, Papa’s Shoes, was chosen as the title story for the 2019 Stories of Life anthology. Her story was not only published, but also read out on 1079 Life in South Australia:

Papa’s Shoes by Valmai Redhead

Valmai shared with us the backstory to story that has touched many, and the anthology a keepsake for the family.

My husband Laurence and I were about to step into retirement, when he was diagnosed with a brain tumour. After just a few short weeks, he stepped into eternity in July 2016. Losing my soul mate after forty-two years of marriage was the most difficult thing I have had to face. But the words of Psalm 30:5 are indeed true: Although weeping may endure for a night, joy comes in the morning.

A few years earlier, when my dear mother-in-law, Alice Redhead first gave me Laurence’s baby shoes, I was touched to have such a beautiful childhood keepsake. Knowing that one day some creative inspiration would come, I put them away with no idea of how that would happen, or of the events that would unfold.

After the sadness, the joy did come. On 21 November 2016 Archie Laurence was born. About the same time I remembered the baby shoes and I knew what I needed to do. Although Laurence (Papa to his grandchildren) had never met Archie, he did know that his second name would be Laurence.

On the day of Archie’s dedication, what a joy it was to present the gift that meant so much. And what a privilege to see Laurence’s mother, aged 97 years, holding her great grandson. It was such a glorious picture of a legacy of faith through the generations.

Memories of that day created the perfect image for birthing ‘Papa’s Shoes.’ The story almost wrote itself. As soon as I began, more than 700 words poured out on to the page. The challenge of editing, crafting and honing it into just 500 words took much longer. Finally it was finished and I knew that whatever the result of the competition, the journey had been worth it. Laurence and his mum would have both been proud of me, and in knowing that I am content.

The 2019 Stories of Life anthology

Will your story of life be in the 2020 anthology? Submissions accepted till the end of July.

On My Dirty Knees by Sally Shaw

Last year, Sally’s story ‘On My Dirty Knees’ was published in our 2019 anthology, Papa’s Shoes and other stories of life. It’s the story of how Sally found a Prickly Guinea flower under a clump of invasive grasses in her Adelaide Hills garden, and how this led her to become one of the directors of A Rocha Australia, a Christian conservation organisation.

 

A bit about Sally:

I’m originally from UK, married to Doug Shaw (from Queensland) and have three young adult children. We live in the Adelaide Hills and are linked to the Stirling Anglican parish.

From 1984-86 I worked as a nurse/midwife in the Cambodian refugee camps in Thailand. In 1988 I moved to Cambodia where I worked in mother/child health and community development with World Vision. I later established a local NGO using improvisational drama to build self confidence in people from disadvantaged backgrounds.

I moved to Adelaide  in 2007, and since then I’ve studied Creative Writing, Education, and Christian Ministry. Currently, I’m focusing on designing and running a series of workshops on the biblical and practical ways to care for God’s creation. I also enjoy teaching improvisational drama and drumming. I’m involved with the promotion of Native Bees, Trees for life, Permaculture SA and other conservation work and am one of the directors of A Rocha Australia, a Christian Conservation organisation.

Do you have something you are passionate about? What led you to care so deeply about it? Is that a story of life waiting to be told?

This is the last weekend before Feedback Month ends. Send in your story drafts, and one of our editors will give you feedback on it.

Feature image of a Prickly Guinea flower, an Australian native plant, by John Tann, Creative Commons.

 

Three Seconds, Bus Stops and Log Trucks by Megan Higginson

‘I gripped the steering wheel as another log truck rushed by on its way to the paper mill. My car rocked from side to side.’

So begins Megan Higginson’s story, ‘Three Seconds, Bus Stops and Log Trucks’, a poignant and powerful story that we published in our 2019 anthology, Papa’s Shoes and other stories of life. Over summer, 1079 Life broadcast the story, read by none other than Megan herself and we bring you the recording today.

Megan Higginson (centre) and her now adult children

Enjoyed this story? For more stories like these, head over to our archives or grab a copy of our past anthologies. Will your story be in our 2020 anthology? We hope so.

2016 – 2019 Stories of Life anthologies

Useful links:

Feedback Month – 11 days left to get feedback on your story draft

How to Enter

Categories and Prizes

Feature image of Logging Truck by Chapman on Flikr. 

 

Man to man – a message from Craig

Craig at his writing desk

Hi, fellow writing enthusiasts!

My name is Craig and I’ve been contributing to Stories of Life since its inception in 2016.

The competition is a great way to share stories about faith and encourage others to be open to the way God works in the lives of ordinary people. I have searched diligently for other Australian Christian writing competitions and concluded that they are a very rare commodity! Stories of Life is a unique opportunity for writers, regardless of experience, to present stories which might not otherwise be told.

It has been my observation that females are more inclined to accept this opportunity than males. In past anthologies, there have been many wonderful stories by female authors but comparatively few with a specific focus which might be particularly meaningful to male readers.

Over the years of this competition, I’ve entered stories about events including a mountain rescue, outdoor adventures like hiking and rock-climbing, chance meetings with strangers and the grief of losing a close friend. Stories about mundane events can be just as compelling as exciting, edge-of-your-seat adventures. I think that male readers often gain a unique perspective from stories written by other men.

So, I want to encourage men (and boys) who might have dismissed the invitation to enter Stories of Life in the past to have a go in 2020. Perhaps, also, the many excellent female contributors might consider encouraging their husbands, fathers, brothers or friends to throw their hat in the ring. The competition will be all the richer for it!

Happy writing!

Craig Chapman.

 

2016 – 2019 Stories of Life anthologies

Stories of Life by Craig

One of the Six (Open category), published in the 2019 anthology, Papa’s Shoes and other stories of life

 

Birdman (Short category), published in the 2018 anthology, Three Dummies in a Dinghy and other stories of life

(Feature photo of Birdman supplied by Craig)

Useful links

Feedback Month

How to enter

Categories and Prizes

Feedback on Feedback Month

 

‘Thank you so much for the feedback. This was a very difficult story for me to write, but one I felt compelled to. I knew it was not right because I was focused on spelling out the injustice I felt, rather than the overwhelming grace of God in bringing about a resolution!  So thank you so much. I hope now the story has a better focus. Although I understand this is no guarantee it will be included in the publication – but I now I feel much more satisfied with my submission!’

‘Thanks a million for the feedback from Dr James Cooper. It gives me ample time  to work on the story before entering it into the Stories of Life Competition.’

These quotes are from two people who have had their drafts reviewed, and we’re so glad that our new initiative, Feedback Month, has well and truly taken off.

From serious writers to people who don’t usually write, many have written back to thank our editors, and have said that the feedback is helping them to improve and continue working on their story draft. Our editors are all published authors and are freely giving of their time and expertise. Don’t miss this great opportunity.

To submit a story draft for review, click here Feedback Month.

 

Stories of Life as a pastoral opportunity

 

As a pastor of a congregation, I have been happy to encourage our members to contribute to Stories of Life over the past few years. While many worry that their story isn’t ‘remarkable’ enough, or they are not a good enough writer, those who have gone through the process have been blessed and encouraged by the experience. And they have been surprised to discover that their story is more interesting than they might have thought, and that with a little bit of help, they could produce a well-written story.

Mark Worthing, editor and author

As a pastor one of my goals is always to help people reflect on their own journeys of faith in Christ, and to be able to communicate their stories to others. I have found that Stories of Life presents a wonderful opportunity to do this.

Many Christians carry with them the burden of a difficult experience (often an experience of serious injury or illness, a relationship break-up, or the death of someone close to them). There is much healing to be found in being able to put these experiences and the feelings still connected to them on to paper. I am continually amazed at how beneficial this is, and how many conversations it helps to open up. And, of course, if the story is published or read on radio, hundreds of others hear it and begin to think and talk about their own similar experiences.

Beyond the pastoral care benefits of writing one’s story, there is also a strong evangelistic benefit. Not only the stories of about coming to faith in Christ, but also the stories about personal struggles and how God was present in these times, provide a strong witness to the transforming power of Christ in individual lives. As a pastor I can stand in the pulpit and tell people that Jesus transforms lives, and I can tell those I meet about the good news of what God has done for us in Christ; but, in truth, there is nothing more effective than a so called ‘everyday’ Christian sharing their own experience of God’s grace. This is why pastors are always encouraging people to talk about their faith, to tell those around them about what Jesus has done for them. Stories of Life is a brilliant tool to help people get started doing this.

So, from the standpoint of a pastor, Stories of Life, and all the assistance and encouragement provided on line and via other means to the story writers, has been tremendous tool for pastor ministry.

I believe that every Christian has a powerful story to tell. Encouraging them to consider writing a story and submitting it to Stories of Life is a great pastoral and evangelistic opportunity.

by Rev Mark Worthing

Pastor, Immanuel Lutheran Church, North Adelaide

 

Useful links:

Feedback Month (till 30 June for our editors to give you feedback on your story draft)

How to Enter (accepting story submissions till 31 July for a chance to be published in the 2020 Stories of Life anthology and to win a category prize)

Together on Life – radio interview

Yesterday, radio host Kit Densley interviewed Dr Pete Court on 1079 Life FM in Adelaide. They spoke about how Stories of Life is not only a writing competition, it is also a partnership with the Tabor School of Creative Writing, making writing resources available for free to help people tell their stories of faith well.

Dr Pete Court and radio host Kit Densley at the 2019 book launch of Papa’s Shoes and other stories of life

So many gems in this interview, but to highlight my favourite:

‘Writing is where you actually lean into the flow of your day, take a bit of it out and taste it, and go, “This water tastes like …’

Dr Pete Court

If it doesn’t make sense to you, listen to the interview: Stories of Life on Together on Life. Thank you Kit for making this available online so that we can all hear the interview in its entirety:

Other useful links:

Feedback Month – receiving story drafts till 30 June 2020

How to enter – submission period open till 31 July 2020

A little scar by Dr Pete Court

Archives

2016 – 2019 Stories of Life anthologies

 

The Dress by Jane Owers

‘You can tell a lot about a person by their shoes. Looking at me when I was 24 it was easy to see I was a struggling single mum who hated being cold. The only new clothes I bought were Kmart shoes and underwear…’

This is how Jane’s story, The Dress, begins. Her story was published in our 2019 anthology, Papa’s Shoes and other stories of life, and broadcast on 1079 Life in Adelaide over summer:

Enjoyed The Dress? For more stories like these, head over to our archives or grab a copy of our past anthologies.

The 2019 Stories of Life anthology

Will your story be published in our 2020 anthology?

We hope so. From now until 30 June, you can send us your story draft and one of our editors will give you feedback. This is a free service we are offering to help people of faith tell their faith stories well. For draft submissions click here.

That crazy message from God by R.J. Rodda

‘That crazy message from God’ involves a battered blue Mazda, a red light, and a very tired young driver.

R. J. Rodda’s story won third prize in the 2019 Eternity Matters Stories of Life and  was published in Papa’s Shoes and other stories of life.

Peter Evans (left) from Eternity Matters presenting the prize to R.J. Rodda’s father.

‘That crazy message from God’ was also broadcast on 1079 Life over summer and we’re pleased to bring you a reading of her story today.

If you enjoyed that story, you may like to check out our archives and anthologies.

4 books in 4 years – will your story be in the 2020 Stories of Life anthology? We hope so.

In June, Feedback Month, we are offering feedback to anyone who would like their story draft read by one of our editors. Upload your story drafts here if you would like to take advantage of this free service offered by our editors. We are also accepting submissions to the competition proper until 31 July.

There are three categories:

  • Eternity Matters Short Stories of Life (up to 500 words)
  • Immortalise Young Stories of Life (500 – 1000 words, for writers aged 17 and under)
  • Tabor Stories of Life (1000 – 1500 words)

A person can submit a maximum of one story per category. This means that if you are under aged 17 and under, you could submit up to three stories, and if you are 18 and over, you could submit up to two stories.

Stories are already starting to come in, and we are excited at the quality of those stories and anticipating a great 2020 anthology.

 

 

One of the Six by Craig Chapman

Craig’s story, One of the Six, was published in our 2019 anthology, Papa’s Shoes and other stories of life. The title of Craig’s story was taken from this statistic recorded in his first paragraph: ‘Every day, eight Australians take their own live. Six of those are men.’

Craig recorded his story at the 1079 Life studios in Adelaide and his story was broadcast in South Australia over the past summer.

Craig at his writing desk

A bit about Craig

Craig enjoys outdoor adventure, including hiking. He is a regular blogger on seedstrek.com and has been writing for many years. Craig has had several stories published in past Stories of Life anthologies. His novel, Succession Plan, was published in 2017. It is a biblical fiction story, set at the end of King David’s life and based on events described in the first chapter of 1Kings. You can find read more of his work at craigchapman.org.

Will your story be published in our 2020 anthology?

We hope so. From now until 30 June, you can send us your story draft and one of our editors will give you feedback. This is a free service we are offering to help people of faith tell their faith stories well. For draft submissions click here.

Submission period closed.