Musings from an African Garden – by Anna Jensen

This entry is part of the series In All Things

Can you believe it’s Friday again?

And halfway through the first month of the year.

Today, we’re chatting to a South African author who is actually an ex-pat from her beloved England, Anna Jensen. Anna wrote two of the books in our In All Things boxed set, and it’s a pleasure to interview her today. I think we’ll take her first book first—Musings from an African Garden.

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In All Things – Exciting Boxed Set from Africa

This entry is part 1 of the series In All Things

Challenges, both good and bad, of lockdown 

I’m sure you all could list many examples of the challenges of lockdown. I think this is one of the first times in living memory where the world has been united!

Every country seems to also be facing other challenges, like race riots, demonstrations, acts of violence, looting, and crimes against women and children. Some countries have started to recover, only to be slammed by a second wave of COVID-19 as their level of precautions eases.

Here in South Africa, we had a very severe lockdown (Level 5) for three weeks, extended to five. W.H.O. described it as one of the strictest in the world. We then moved cautiously into Level 4. Just yesterday we listened to our president announce that as from midnight on Sunday 20th, we are moving to Level 1 but with a list of conditions that have to be adhered to.

We will be watching with some trepidation to see if we face a second wave. One thing we’re united on. Our economy cannot afford to face a second wave and a further lockdown.

At the start of lockdown, for the first time, I entered the world of cyber-shopping. From a microwave to a juice extractor (our originals having died near the beginning of lockdown!), from groceries to fruit and veggies, to biscuits and goodies, and even to buying shoes! (And yes, they fit!)

I must admit, I quite enjoy the luxury of not having to go out and spend ages in the shops. A quick click on the Internet or a sent message from my phone keeps us well-supplied. How blessed we are with the technology to see us through this difficult time.

Fresh Writing Challenge

As part of the need to have a clear writing goal in sight, I decided to challenge my Facebook group for Christian Writers of Southern Africa, CWOSA, with a lockdown project. I suggested we start working on a boxed set of short devotional books.

Ten authors took up my challenge, and for the last 16 weeks, we have been hard at work on our books. We are now in the final stages of editing, and hopefully next week I start the scary task of compiling them into one volume. It will still take some time, but hopefully, it won’t be too long.

In All Things – 13 Weeks of Devotions from Africa

13 short books for the princely sum of $0.99!!! Amazing value.

Get Your Copy

Click here if you’re interested in ordering. The boxed set is currently on preorder.

Although the link will tell you it will be available at the end of November, we’re hoping to release it to you way, way before then. That is just my cautious nature allowing for any mishaps or delays along the way.

If you look closely at the image (zoom in!) you will see there is an amazing variety of different themes, and each book is presented in the author’s unique style.

If you don’t already follow my author page on Facebook, I would encourage you to link there now, and allow notifications. Every second day, one of the authors presents a short blurb on her book so you can see the vast variety of topics you will get. Each book consists of seven chapters – one a day for a week.

Why 13? Because that gives you a quarter-of-a-year of daily readings. If you’re on Facebook, or any other form of Social Media, please may I invite you to pass on the news? 9 of these authors live in South Africa. The other two are born-and-bred South Africans although now living abroad. And we’re all members of CWOSA.

Different themes, different authors, different styles, different covers . . .

Don’t they look stunning?

Each author was asked to come up with a “spine title” so we could show it on the spines of the box set. So here they are with their full titles:

7 Animals (7 African Animals) – Shirley Corder
7 Desires (What God Wants) – Ashley Winters
7 Musings (Musings from an African garden) – Anna Jensen
7 Gifts (Life is Good) – Yvonne Tippins
7 Journeys (Steps of Faith) – Val Waldeck
7 Landscapes (Sunrise to Sunset) – Deryn van der Tang
7 Lights (Seven Lights for Dark Times) – Dianne J. Wilson
7 Overcomers (Seven Saints in Lockdown) – Val Waldeck
7 Promises (Promises to Cherish) – Vida Li Sik
7 Psalms (Inspired to Worship) – Ann Goodfellow
7 Poems (Poems from an African Garden) – Anna Jensen
7 Seascapes (Seven Reflections from the Ocean) – Marion Ueckermann
7 Storms (Peace in Life’s Storms) – Shirley Corder.

[stextbox id=’alert’]Please leave a comment below. In five words or less, how do you feel about this boxed set?[/stextbox]

So – once again – available NOW on pre-order. Coming soon.

In All Things – 13 Weeks of Devotions from Africa. 

Get Your Copy

 

13 Books on Preorder, the Launch Party, In All Things!

This entry is part 2 of the series In All Things

Updated since the launch party!

Last post I shared with you how ten authors of Christian Writers of Southern Africa, (CWOSA), took up my challenge to create a boxed set of 13  devotional books. Here’s some news about our amazing launch!

I now have very exciting news to share! ‘In All Things – 13 devotions from Africa’ reached #1 on Amazon in the New Releases: Spiritual Devotions category. What an exciting moment to see our boxed set boasting its little orange ribbon.

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Meet Shirley Corder, Author of 7 African Animals

This entry is part 4 of the series In All Things

7 African Animals Author Interview

Over the next three months, I’m going to be looking at the authors who compiled the thirteen one-week books that make up the boxed set, In All Things ~ 13 Weeks of Devotions from Africa. I plan to interview all the authors and give you some insight into the background to their books, the motivation behind the themes they chose, and their general experiences of the project. 

I’m starting with the first book in the box. This happens to be my own, 7 African Animals, and what they teach us about God. Because this is my book, I obviously won’t do this in the form of an interview, but I’ll try to cover the same issues.

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In All Things – 13-book Boxed Set by Authors of Africa

This entry is part 5 of the series In All Things

Lockdown!

As the very strict lockdown imposed on South Africa was prolonged, I decided to suggest a 13-book project for some of the writers on my Christian Writers of Southern Africa Facebook group.

On the 10th July, eleven authors stepped to one side to work on what was to become an extremely fun, and at times very challenging, project. Over a period of 16 weeks, we tackled and produced a 13-book boxed set of daily devotions, all with a covering theme of Africa. 

See more on the details of this exciting set by clicking here.  read more

Sunrise to Sunset – Chatting to Deryn van der Tang

This entry is part 6 of the series In All Things

Interview with Deryn

As it’s Friday once again, here is an interview with one of the authors published in In All Things, a 3-month boxed set of daily devotional readings, all linked to Africa. Each small book of seven devotions is written by an author who was either born in Africa or was born elsewhere but has lived in Africa for some time. So we all share the theme – Out of Africa! Today, I’d like to introduce you to Deryn van der Tang. read more

What God Wants – Ashley Winter

This entry is part 7 of the series In All Things

It’s Friday Again!

Once again, I am interviewing one of the authors from our beautiful boxed set, In All Things. Today, I’m chatting to Ashley Winter, an author who was born and brought up in South Africa, but today lives in Wales. She wrote a 7-day book covering seven desires of God’s Heart.

Interview with Ashley:

Hello Ashley, It’s great to have you as a guest on my website. I loved having you as part of the team of authors who together wrote short devotional books based on Africa.

Ashley: Hi Shirley. It’s great to be here. Thanks for the invitation to talk about our latest project. I so enjoyed the whole process.

Shirley: That’s great to hear. I loved your theme. When I first read the title, What God Wants – Seven Desires of God’s Heart, I wondered where you were going with the idea. But it is a lovely and challenging read. And your cover is incredible! If there was a prize for the best cover, you’d get my vote! What was the best experience for you?

Producing the book

Ashley: I love to create, and this project was no different in that regard. Planning, writing, designing the cover, and then seeing the finished project is always rewarding. Then working with other like-minded authors, I got to enjoy seeing their books come together and compliment mine. A lovely process.

Shirley: That’s fabulous. I’m sure it wasn’t all fun and easy-going though. I know it certainly wasn’t for me. I had some real challenges. How about you?

Ashley: So true. I am not a non-fiction writer, so this was a challenge for me! I found selecting the chapters and then organising my thoughts into those chapters the hardest part.

Shirley: How did you find your experience working with the other ten writers? Some of them were well-published. Others were fairly new to the publishing scene, especially to e-book writing.

Ashley: That was an absolute highlight! And really—this was the reason I wanted to join in! Shirley, you were so organised, yet gracious, and made the whole process easy.

Shirley: This sort of comment constantly amazes me! It was a totally new experience for me, and I lived in fear of being blasted out of the water by one of you who had more experience in this field. You were the ones who were gracious! You just kept encouraging me and literally did everything I asked of you.

Working on a multi-authored project

Ashley, have you ever participated in a boxed set or any other multi-author project before?

Ashley: No, this was my first, but I’d love to do more in the future.

Shirley: I’m so glad this worked well for you, and that I haven’t scared you off!

Shirley: On launch day, 24th October, we held a bumper Facebook Launch Party, attended by 743 people. Wow!

From all reports, it party seems to have been a resounding success. I know I loved every minute of it. Well, almost every minute! There were times when Facebook had me chasing all over the page trying to find my missing posts!

How about you? What did you enjoy most about it? Did you have any major challenges?

Ashley: I always enjoy these Facebook parties! I love the interactions with readers and the way we like-minded women can come together and find a place to open up a little bit and share about our lives. No challenges! Only fun!

Over to the Readers:

As we round off this short time together, let’s ask our readers a question. Whether you’ve read Ashley’s book yet or not, how would you answer this question?

What one thing do you think God wants of you today? Don’t dig too deep. Just think of your life today, given all our current challenges, and give us an idea. What does God want from you?

Get the Boxed Set here

Other authors in the set already interviewed:

Shirley Corder – 7 African Animals

Sunrise to Sunset- – Deryn van der Tang

Please sign up to receive regular updates from me. I promise not to spam you, and you are free to unsubscribe at any time. You will receive a copy of my 7-day book, God in the Unexpected, just for signing up. 

News from Shirley

 

 

Inspired to Worship – Getting to know Ann Goodfellow

This entry is part 8 of the series In All Things

Interview with Ann, author of Inspired to Worship

So it’s Friday once again. How quickly they come round! Today we’re chatting to another of the authors published in In All Things, a 3-month boxed set of daily devotional readings, all linked to Africa. Each small book of seven devotions is written by an author who was either born in Africa or was born elsewhere but has lived in Africa for some time. So we all share the theme – Out of Africa! Today, I’d like to introduce you to Ann Goodfellow. read more

Steps of Faith – Spending Time with Author Crystal Warren

This entry is part 9 of the series In All Things

It’s Friday again!

Time to interview one of the authors of our beautiful boxed set, In All Things. This is a 13-book boxed set of devotional writings, with each book covering seven days of devotions, and based in Africa. Every one of these books has a totally different theme, each chosen by the authors, and yet wow! They all gel together so beautifully. So today, I’m going to be chatting to Crystal Warren, author of the book, Steps of Faith – Seven Journeys.

Crystal lives in a small town which has actually earned its right to be called a city called Makhanda, recently renamed from the old name of Grahamstown. This is a small town in the Eastern Cape of South Africa. One must travel an hour and a half to Port Elizabeth or two hours to East London. The part of that which excites me the most is the distance from Port Elizabeth – my hometown! So she’s a fairly near neighbor! We have worked together on NaNoWriMo a number of times, acting as twin MLs on two occasions.

Talking to Crystal Warren, author of Steps of Faith - Seven Journeys, one of thirteen books in the boxed set, In All Things. Click To Tweet

Introducing Crystal Warren

Shirley: So – welcome Crystal! It’s great to have you here on my blog today. It’s been good working with you and knowing that we’ve actually worked together!

Crystal: Thanks Shirl. It’s been such an exciting project, and you’re right. It’s good that we’ve met in person. 

Shirley: So Crystal, as you know, I invited all those who had volunteered to write one of the books of the set, to choose their own theme. What motivated you to choose the theme of journeys? Your full title was This was an unusual topic to me.

Crystal: Shirl, I suspect it might have been influenced by the lockdown as a result of COVID-19, when we were all at home and nobody was travelling anywhere. This was the longest period I had been at home without leaving town since I moved here thirty years ago. Several planned trips had to be cancelled. I was working from home, so not even walking to work each day. So physical journeys were very much on my mind.

When I started to think about which poems might fit together in one theme, I realised that a lot of my poems dealt with physical or spiritual journeys, and this seemed something that would work.

Steps of Faith

How did you find this experience?

Shirley: I asked you all to produce seven chapters on the theme. Did you find that easy?  Or was there one (or more) that caused you to struggle?

Crystal: I started with selecting a range of already-written poems that fit the theme. Then I prayed over them and wrote the reflection as one came to me. Some poems didn’t suggest anything that fit the devotional format, but fortunately, there were enough that did. In fact, I lost count and when I came to do the formatting, I realised that I had eight rather than seven. So then I had to choose which one to leave out. I think that might have been the biggest struggle.

Shirley: Okay, all the books were short. This was done on purpose. It was a lock-down project, and I wanted each writer to be able to complete a book within what I initially anticipated not being long. So each book is only seven chapters. How long would you say it took you to write the first draft? And from start to completely done?

Crystal: This is a difficult question for me. My book was based on poems. Most of these had been written previously, with the long process of editing and polishing. I did write some new poems for the project but in the end, only one of them made it into the book. So a lot of my “writing” time was thinking about which poem to use, which Bible verse fitted with it, and what message or reflection needed to be written. Because so much time had gone into thinking about this when I sat down to write the actual reflections they didn’t take that long at all.

Other experiences?

Shirley: Crystal, have you ever participated in a boxed set or any other multi-author project before? If so, how did this one compare with the others?

Crystal: I haven’t done a boxed set before, so this was a new experience for me. My previous collaborative project was a children’s book for Book Dash where I worked with an illustrator, editor, and designer. Book Dash is quite frenetic as while the writer develops their story in advance, the book is edited, rewritten, illustrated, and designed in a marathon 12-hour creative session. It occurs in a room filled with teams of people each working on their book. It was great fun but exhausting. And once the day ended the Book Dash team took over the production side, eventually posting the book on their website where it was free for anyone to read or download.

With In All Things, we each worked on our own book, but we were able to support and advise each other. We especially did this when it came to formatting the books, developing covers, final proofreading etc. We also worked together to promote the book, each creating our own posts but tagging in the others. Because I haven’t done a devotional project before it was wonderful having more experienced authors on the same team who had lots of useful advice.

The FaceBook Launch Party

Shirley: The party from all accounts was a resounding success. What did you enjoy most about it? What was the biggest challenge?

Crystal: I really enjoyed being able to interact with our readers, as well as other writers. I learned a lot about the people I had been working with and got to know a whole lot of new people. It was also wonderful seeing how people responded to the posts.  We all asked questions in our posts to get people talking, but I found it amazing how people were really engaging and commenting on the replies of others. It felt like a real conversation between friends.

At times it got a bit hectic, trying to follow the various conversations. But at least with this text-based Facebook format, I was able to go back later and catch up on any threads I had missed. And to read a whole lot of new comments from people who had come online while I was sleeping.

Shirley: Yes, I know what you mean. With us being in South Africa, we ended the party officially at 9 pm (for us) which was before lunch-time for a number of our readers. I say officially because I don’t think any of us left the party until more like 10 pm or later. But the next morning, I was aware that many of us were there on the page catching up on comments and even posts from others of our teams that we had missed during the party.

Crystal, thank you so much for spending this time with us today. I wonder if you would like to read a short excerpt from your book? Perhaps from the introduction?

Over to you, the reader: Crystal’s theme was all about journeys. In just a few words, tell us which journey brings a special memory to your mind? 

Get the Boxed Set here

Other authors in the set already interviewed:

Shirley Corder – 7 African Animals

Sunrise to Sunset- – Deryn van der Tang

What God Wants – Ashley Winter

Inspired to Worship – Ann Goodfellow

 

Please sign up to receive regular updates from me. I promise not to spam you, and you are free to unsubscribe at any time. You will receive a copy of my 7-day book, God in the Unexpected, just for signing up. 

News from Shirley