Category Archives: A 2017 Story of Life

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

The Twilight Zone

What a lovely story reading today by Suzanne Piovesan – one that anyone who’s ever been harried by a young child will identify with.

Last year, Suznanne’s story, The Twilight Zone, was  a runner up in the Eternity Matters Short Story of Life category. It was published in the 2017 anthology, The Gecko Renewal, and broadcasted on Life FM.

Little boy on a sandy beach with a yellow bucket

This is her story behind the story:

I wasn’t planning to enter the Stories of Life Competition. I first heard about it through my good friend, a writer and past Tabor student, Sue Jeffrey. In fact, I felt I had no stories that were particularly relevant.

However, on the closing day of the competition I decided to enter my story “The Twilight Zone”. I had to reduce it by about 800 words and just met the deadline before it closed that evening at midnight! I enjoyed the process as I was able to really reflect on the events and polish my thoughts further.

We adopted our son as a 3 year old and pretty much hit the ground running as parents. Our son is a lively character, funny, charming and exerts a lot of energy. This can be loads of fun but also quite draining! Combined with the need to guide him through new experiences and, at times, past trauma, I have found parenting to be both a challenging and rewarding experience.

I recall this particular evening at Grange beach very well. I was feeling pretty exhausted at the time and remember the impressions which I felt strongly whilst walking along Grange beach to Henley in the twilight. Just like in the true account of this moment, I felt as if God was lifting my spirits and encouraging me in my parenting role. I had a surge of hope for the New Year and a sense of His strengthening. I had the wonder of connecting my senses to some very special moments in China during our first days as parents.

The family in Shanghai

These memories are unique and treasured for all parents, of biological and adopted children. We can’t live on memories alone though and, through writing this story, I have been reminded once again that God is the strength we need in all seasons of life, the hope that gives us endurance. I have also had the privilege of hearing from others who connected with my story in various ways, including friends and family who have grown in their understanding of what parenting a child from a complex background can be like. It has been a rewarding experience to participate in Stories of Life.

Suzanne Piovesan

An older boy running with a dog on a leash at a beach
Max, with the family dog, Sandy

If you need to polish off a couple of words from your story, or have a couple of ideas but don’t know where to start, why not register for our free editing workshop tomorrow? Bring along your work if you’d like to get some feedback from our panel of experienced writers.

Not sure what to include in your story? Here are my thoughts about what a story needs in a blog post titled ‘A question of interpretation’, published today by the Australasian Christian Writers.

Three Miracles

Hazel’s Story of Life

Three Miracles gives us a glimpse into Hazel Barker’s childhood, growing up in Burma during World War II. Three Miracles was read out on Life FM and also published in the 2017 anthology, The Gecko Renewal. Hear her story here:

Profile Picture of Hazel

‘I heard about Stories of Life through Omega Writers, a group of Christian writers in Australia and New Zealand. The Brisbane Chapter meet regularly and have helped and encouraged my writing as well as my spiritual growth.

I decided to enter the Stories of Life Competition because it was these three miracles that started on my Faith Journey as a child and continued into adulthood. Because I wanted everyone to witness the power of prayer.’

Hazel Barker

Hazel’s other writing

Hazel’s debut novel, Chocolate Soldier was released by Rhiza Press in October, 2016. Book One of her memoirs Heaven Tempers the Wind was published by Armour Books in August, 2016. Both books are set during World War Two – the former in England and the Far East; the latter inBurma.

Heaven Tempers the Wind was a finalist in the non-fiction section of the Australia and New Zealand-wide CALEB Competition of 2017. It’s sequel,The Sides of Heaven was released by Armour Books early in 2018.

Visit Hazel’s blog here.

The Giant Swing

Juni Desireé

Juni Desireé’s story, The Giant Swing, was published in the 2017 anthology, The Gecko Renewal, and broadcast on Life FM.

Juni’s story of life: The Giant Swing

On the off chance that she might have a picture of the giant swing, I wrote to Juni. I was delighted when she replied with not one, but two photos of the event, explaining that she ‘loves documenting everything’.

Juni on the Giant Swing
The view from above

 

“I heard about Stories of Life by searching for writing competitions. As a Christian and a life writer, I love what this competition is about. I believe we all have stories and they’re meant to be told because they can give so much to others. They can uplift, encourage, inspire, challenge, comfort, and enlighten. They’re powerful. They can change thoughts, behaviour, and even lives.
 
I wrote the Giant Swing when I was writing a book about everything I’ve learnt from twelve years of beach mission. Just before my very first beach mission, I went on this youth camp. It was such a significant time, a time I believe God used to prepare me for beach mission and this next chapter of my life. I was terrified of going to beach mission because it was something new and I’d be meeting lots of new people. But the camp helped me not let fear stop me, which was symbolised by going on the giant swing. It showed me that if I could do the giant swing, then maybe I could do lots of other things I never thought I could do or was too scared to do. And that’s definitely what happened. God has taken me on a journey where he’s grown me, changed me, and gotten me doing impossible things.”
Juni Desireé
Juni’s Writing Desk

Juni’s Other Works

In 2017, Juni self-published The Walk Chronicles. It is about a Christian charity walk from Sydney to Melbourne that she participated in, an experience that changed her life.

She has also edited and self-published three other books where people from around the world share their personal experiences on a particular subject: Fall in Love with Writing, To and From: Mother and Please Tell Someone: Personal accounts of sexual and indecent assault. I had a peek inside the last book, and found some powerful stories inside.

Juni blogs at Journal Treasures.

 

Foolish

Catch Tilly’s story, Foolish, was published in the 2017 Stories of Life anthology, The Gecko Renewal. She’s kindly provided a photo of her amazing cast of Romeo and Juliet, and you can also hear her read her story here.

Costumed performers in front of a red wagon
Catch Tilly with her cast
‘It’s the cast of Romeo and Juliet in front of one of the wagons.
Cast is (left to right):
  • Bryan Keniry (Romeo),
  • Ellonye Keniry (Juliet- married just before we set off to Romeo/also played Benvolio and Gregory),
  • Mark Holgate (Tybalt/Lord Capulet/Friar/director)
  • Caraid Holgate (servant and horse-handler)
  • Catch Tilly (Prince/Lady Capulet/ Mercutio)
  • Thea Taylor (Samson/Nurse/costume designer).
Missing are the two horses who also performed in the play.
 
We travelled in this wagon and another larger one for 2 months performing Romeo and Juliet off the side of the wagons in NSW before coming to Adelaide. We in fact travelled as far as Hay in one of the waggons.
 
The public performances were in 2004 in October and the school shows in august. Public shows were in Elder Park, below the Festival Centre.’
Catch Tilly

Busload of Blessing

Elizabeth Robertson’s story, Busload of Blessing, was a runner up in the Eternity Matters Short Story category. It was published in the Gecko Renewal and you can hear Elizabeth read her story here:

‘Four years ago, I was interested to receive information about a course in Creative Writing offered by Tabor College Adelaide. The idea attracted me – until the icy waters of reality prevailed. The idea was ridiculous : I was eighty seven years old, I had never wanted to be a writer, I could not afford the course, I had no way of attending. BUT I do have a Heavenly Father who can do exceeding abundantly above all I ask and think. I graduated at 90, and it was at the suggestion Dr James Cooper that I submitted my story.’

Elizabeth Robertson     

Encountered

Have you ever walked passed someone sleeping rough in the street? Have you ever felt that you should do something? But walked away, feeling bad? If you have, as I have, then you might identify with Yvonne Smuts, in her winning story, ‘Encountered’:

 

Yvonne at her writing desk
Yvonne Smuts

Yvonne won the first prize in the 2017 Tabor category. ‘Encountered’ was published in the 2017 Stories of Life anthology, the Gecko Renewal, and this is the background to her amazing story:

“The Journey to San Jose came about in the connection of a series of seemingly random dots: someone unknown to me earnestly praying in Costa Rica, a painful marriage breakdown, the tumultuous crash of the US housing market, the sudden recollection of a seemingly incongruous and insignificant conversation about an obscure Central American country that I had six years before. All these events were pinpoints in my life, and the spaces around these dots were to be connected together into the fabric of greater Purpose and Plan.

We see, mostly in hindsight, how a God of Perfect Order works in the sometimes chaotic dots of life in ways that are a Mystery. Often the significance cannot be discerned by someone outside that ‘working’ because it is in essence the deep ‘heart knowing’ of Relationship. And the impact remains strictly personal in the ‘One on one’ encounter, as the almighty Creator God interacts with the created beloved one.

But just occasionally the testimony can spill over into meaning for others where the teller senses that the lasting impression on someone else may be more than a sceptical ‘Really’? When the Divine engages with our frail mortality in a particular situation others see that this realm we live in is not all there is. This was my experience both in how I came to be in San Jose and how I saw God at work there.

I am grateful for the opportunity to share the experience through Life Stories, and for the chance, in the fabric of the stories of others, to glimpse the unmistakeable working of Christ present with us.”

Yvnonne Smuts