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

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

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 and


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 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

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!



The Anthill by Diana Davison

Last year, Diana Davison’s story ‘The Anthill’ was published in our 2020 anthology, The Swimmer and other stories of life:

The Anthill, written and read by Diana Davison. Music composed and produced by Jason Shaw

My father’s memorial garden.

This is where I spend a frequent amount of time reflecting. It is a realm immersed in nature and one where I can ‘just be me’ on a bench within my father’s memorial garden. Thoughts come and go but nature remains to inspire me with its insight.

It is approaching nearly three years now that I have found myself coming here. I have written words private and observational to me while paying respect and being respectful to my surroundings. My little hardback note book or notes on my phone are always at the ready to capture my thoughts before they become fleeting, like the breeze.

It was here – in this writing space – that I sat watching the build up of an anthill growing over time.  A reassuring presence in a dead quiet setting.  It inspired my short story for the ‘Stories Of Life’ anthology. I feel blessed to be included in this book of connectedness. The book itself has shown me that many people have different stories to tell in their own voice which, in the end, brings us all together.

~Diana Davison

The 2020 Stories of Life anthology

Enjoyed this? Get your copy of The Swimmer today – it’s filled with over 40 true short stories of life. You might even be inspired to send us one of your true stories of faith and testimony, and it might be published in the 2021 Stories of Life anthology. Wouldn’t that be grand?

The Swimmer by Gaynor Faulkner

In the lead-up to the launch of our 2021 Stories of Life competition on 1 April, we are bringing you some of the best stories from last year.

The Swimmer was the title story in our 2020 anthology. Gaynor Faulkner read her story at the book launch, and also recorded this at the 1079 Life studios for broadcast over summer. We’re pleased to bring you the recording today.

Music composed and produced by Jason Shaw

Gaynor reading her title story, The Swimmer

If you enjoyed Gaynor’s story, get a copy of The Swimmer for more stories of life. Available at Tabor Adelaide’s reception and online.


A Small Giveaway

A small giveaway, written and read by Jennie Altmann. Music composed and produced by Jason Shaw

Jenine at a microphone in a recording studio.
Jenine Altmann recording her story at 1079 Life studios in Adelaide

When we asked Jenine for a photo or video of herself, she sent us this snippet which her grandsons helped to produce: Jenine, an introduction. Thanks so much guys – looks like you had a bit of family production fun 🙂

If you enjoyed Jenine’s story, get a copy of The Swimmer, and tune in to 1079 Life for more stories of life. Feature photograph of Beijing Hutong by James Diewald from Flickr.

The 2020 Stories of Life anthology

Goodbye 2020, Hello 2021

Thank you for being part of Stories of Life 2020 – whether it’s been taking the time to send us your story, or reading ‘The Swimmer’, or sharing it with someone else. One the last day of 2020, we bring you some of our 2020 Stories of Life contributors …


From us to you: may your 2021 be filled with stories of life!

If you haven’t yet read the book, start 2021 inspired… get a copy today.

The 2020 Stories of Life anthology


2021 anthology stories announced. Book launch in November