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Posts Tagged ‘Koorong’

IMG_1279Since 2012, I have visited various Koorong bookstores in different parts of Australia to promote my novels and non-fiction. This Saturday, 27th July, will be my next, at Koorong West Ryde in Sydney from 10.00am-3.00pm, in conjunction with my author friend, Steph Penny, who has written an excellent book entitled Surviving Singledom. We would both love to meet with any of you who can make it there on the day!

When I started these book signings, I soon discovered some people can be shy about walking up to authors at a book table and chatting. Perhaps they believe, as I used to when I was young, that authors could not be real people but instead, some other alien race—because, after all, how could anyone possibly write a whole book? For me, that was too wonderful to imagine—yet, in the end, that’s exactly what God enabled me to do!

I soon discovered too that some people just want to go about their own business and not be held up talking to some strange author! These customers know exactly what they came to the store for and are very careful to avoid eye contact, as they scuttle past. They have a large neon sign flashing that says to me, ‘Don’t try to sell me anything—I’m not interested in your books and I’m in a hurry!’ I understand how they feel too—I’m sure I’ve done the same to other promoters on occasions.

But thankfully, there are also those who are brave enough to come and ask questions and seem genuinely interested in our books—and that there actually are Australian Christian authors around! Usually then we describe what our books are about, which may well lead into some heartfelt discussion, in my case, on the topics of becoming who God created us to be or on having a soul friend or on the love of God—or, in the case of my friend Steph Penny, on the challenges of being single. Sometimes too, we hear, ‘Oh, I’ve always wanted to write a book!’ or even ‘I’ve written a book but don’t know where to go from here.’ Then we have the joy of sharing our knowledge with them, including telling them about Christian writers’ groups and conferences where they can learn so much more.

Then there are the ones and twos whom God seems to draw to our table—those ‘God encounters’ when something wonderful happens as we chat and some small and precious ‘kingdom moment’ occurs. On those occasions, I thank God, not only for giving me the right words to say but also for my little prayer team of eight women who specifically pray for these God encounters wherever I go to speak or promote my books.

Whoever we are and whatever our situation is in life, let’s seize the moment and embrace these God-given opportunities we all experience with joy and trust in God, who is able to do far more with our few words than we could ever imagine!

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we could ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. Ephesians 3:20-21

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Jo 17I was disappointed, I have to admit. During the weeks leading up to our recent trip to South Australia, I had been in contact with a particular church to see if an author visit there would be possible. I did not want to intrude or upset any plans the leadership might have—after all, it had been a long time since we had lived in South Australia and been part of this church.

Eventually, I thought it was all arranged. Then, a week before we left, an email arrived: I’m sorry, but there has been some miscommunication—I have arranged for something else to happen in our morning service that day. I hope you can find another church instead.

Well, that was that—and it was too late to enquire elsewhere. We had been looking forward to visiting this church, but would it be wise to do so now? Did I even want to?

On the Saturday of that same weekend, I had scheduled an author visit at the Adelaide Koorong Bookstore. I had barely finished setting up when an older man approached my table.

‘What’s this? Something special on, is there?’

Then he noticed my name.

Jo-Anne Berthelsen! I know you from years ago at church!’

As soon as he told me who he was, I remembered him. And yes, he was from the very church where I had hoped to be interviewed the following day! We chatted for quite a while—I could not get over the fact that the first person who walked in the bookstore that morning knew me, after all those years.

Later, when I told my husband what had happened, we decided we should attend this church, for old times’ sake. And, as soon as we walked in, the gentleman I had met at the bookstore the previous day came scurrying up.

‘I tried to get onto you, but I didn’t have your mobile number. I’ve spoken to the minister—would you be able to talk about your books for a couple of minutes in the service?’

And so I did, unprepared as I was. Afterwards, I chatted with the minister with whom I had liaised and soon saw how much he had on his plate at that church. And yes, there was something extra on in the service that day, with a couple being farewelled. A special luncheon was held for them, during which we got to talk to several people we had known all those years earlier and even sell some of my books.

Later, we could not help but marvel at the way God brought all this about. I had sensed God wanted me at that church. So when it didn’t happen, I was confused. But God wasn’t—and promptly found a unique way around those obstacles that had arisen. Again I experienced, as I have many times in my life, the truth of Isaiah 55:8-9:

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

May you too experience God’s unexpected ways in your life and know the real and lasting joy this brings.

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I have to say I am feeling a mixture of both excitement and slight trepidation as the release date for my fourth and latest novel ‘Jenna’ approaches. You see, this novel is a lot closer to home than my three previous novels.  It is not my story – and yet there are more than a few situations in it that either I or friends close to me have experienced.  And the local church featured in it is not the church I was part of for many years – and yet at least one or two events described in the book actually happened there.  For those who have not heard already, here is a brief synopsis of ‘Jenna’:

Jenna Ramsey believes God is calling her to fulltime ministry training, so steps out in faith, determined to overcome her self-doubt and to grow in her gifts of leadership, teaching and encouragement.  But some disapprove – are theological studies and ministry truly something women should undertake?  And while Jenna grows in confidence and many come to value highly what she has to offer her church and community, some, including close colleagues, are not so supportive. Will she be able to stand firm and continue serving God as she desires? Will she find true fulfilment in both her ministry role and her personal life?

Who can say exactly where the novelist gets his or her ideas from?  They are a mixture of so many things – experience, hearsay, research, observation of the world around us, long held beliefs, sheer imagination, and even perhaps inspiration from God at times. All that has gone into the writing of ‘Jenna’.  And I hope my readers will hear my heart in the ‘mix’ they find on its pages and follow Jenna’s journey with empathy, thoughtfulness and grace. 

Should you wish to join in the release of ‘Jenna’, I will be speaking during the morning service on Sunday 1st August at Telopea Christian Centre, 16 Shortland St Telopea here in Sydney at 9.30am and also be interviewed.  Signed copies of ‘Jenna’ will be available afterwards, or you may wish to take up one (or both!) of the following options:

  • SPECIAL DEAL:  Up until the official release date of 1 August, ‘Jenna’ will be available from my website for the special price of AU$20 including postage (within Australia) – that’s a saving of $5.00. Please visit www.jo-anneberthelsen.com for more information and to place your order. 
  • You can invite me to speak or be interviewed at your church or group! For further information, please visit www.jo-anneberthelsen.com/speaking. You will find there some suggestions for possible speaking topics, a list of my current speaking engagements and also a few testimonials.

 

Thanks so much to those of you who have continued to buy my novels and encourage me in my writing and speaking journey. My three previous novels are still available in Christian bookstores such as Koorong across Australia and NZ and my fourth will soon join them.  My fifth novel, ‘Heléna’s Legacy’, is now complete and I am approximately half way through my sixth, ‘The Inheritance’, although progress on this has been slow, largely because of preparing for speaking engagements. Finding the correct balance in all of this is a challenge, but I am very grateful for the amazing opportunities that have come my way to speak in a variety of settings. I feel very privileged right now – as well as excited and a little nervous!

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