Opening the Year with Val, Author of Saints in Lockdown

This entry is part 12 of the series In All Things

Happy New Year!

It seems impossible that it’s a whole year since our last interview two weeks ago with Vida Li Sik!

Talking to others, I’ve found it fascinating how many people reporting that 2020 seemed more like a decade! That although the days seemed to fly past, the weeks went on forever. I was chatting on WhatsApp with my daughter in Montenegro. She said she’d been talking to her teaching colleagues the day before, and they had all said the same thing!

Isn’t it strange?

How about you? Has 2020 seemed a particularly long year for you?

So today we return to one of the last interviews with authors who participated in our boxed set, In All Things, and today we’re chatting to Val Waldeck, a multi-published author who lives in Durban, on the South Coast of South Africa.

Welcome Val!

Shirl: Great to have you here.

Val: Thanks Shirl, good to be with you.

Shirl: I love the title you chose for your book! What motivated you to choose this particular theme?

Join us in our chat with prolific South African author, Val Waldeck, author of Saints In Lockdown, a creative devotional book available in the limited edition of the boxed set of 13 e-books, In All Things. Click To Tweet

Val:  Observing the reaction of people to the lockdown in our own country (South Africa) and globally. People seemed to have a real problem coming to terms with the issues they faced and still trusting in the sovereignty and goodness of God. Yet we read in Scripture of so many Old Testament saints who stood tall as they faced and conquered their varying circumstances by focusing on the Lord.

Val, how did the book affect you?

Shirl:  Did you yourself get anything out of these devotions as you wrote them? Did you grow at all spiritually (or in any other way) while you were writing these chapters?

Val:  The faith of these Old Testament believers challenged me deeply. We have a complete Bible, access to anointed teaching, and freedom to encourage and share with one another. Yet still, we complain when things don’t go our way. 1 Thessalonians 5:17 took on new meaning for me: The Will of God is for His People to rejoice always, pray without ceasing, and in everything give thanks. Our God reigns.

Shirl:  Wow! Yes, we’re not good at any of those, are we? So tell me, what was the best thing for you about the whole process?

Val: I really enjoyed collaborating with the other authors and sharing their devotional books. It is amazing to see how many different aspects of God’s creation are shared and applied to our lives.

Working with others

Shirl:  You’re right. It’s been great seeing all the different themes come together, hasn’t it? You had to produce seven chapters on the theme, Overcomers. Were all seven easy to find? Or was there one (or more) that caused you to struggle?

 Val:  The biggest struggle was to choose only seven overcomers! The Bible is full of stories about amazing saints who believed God, no matter what. Maybe someday this book will morph into a whole year of devotionals!

Shirl:  Ooh that sounds wonderful! I’ll look out for that! Shifting topics now, the party from all accounts was a resounding success. What did you enjoy most about it? What was the biggest challenge?

Val:  The party was fun. It was amazing to chat with so many people and enjoy their slant on life. I enjoyed the openness of people and their willingness to participate and chat with us. The biggest challenge was keeping track of all those comments!

Shirl: Yes, that was a real challenge, wasn’t it? But so good to discover even when you lost your own post one of the team was happily keeping it going! I loved the entire experience.

Do you have any “last words” for our readers today, Val?

Val:  I believe “In All  Things” will be a blessing and inspiration for many years for all who get this Limited Edition of 13 books. I would invite everyone to pay it forward and buy a set for a friend (or two). This will make a wonderful gift!

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
Steps of Faith – Crystal Warren
Life is Good – Yvonne Tippins
Promises to Cherish – Vida Li Sik

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News from Shirley

Let’s close with the question I began with.
Have any of you experienced 2020 as being a long year? Tell us more. 

Shirl: Thank you so much, Val. Leave us with a few ways of connecting with you.

My website: Reaching Our Generation One Book at a Time
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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


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