Today it’s my pleasure to welcome Western Australian author Elaine Fraser to the blog. Be sure to read to the end for your chance to win two of Elaine’s fabulous books. I’m so glad you could share with us today, Elaine.
Living a Beautiful Life
On your website, you say that you like to inspire young women to ‘live the lives they were destined for’ and ‘to develop characteristics in their lives that create beauty’. Can you elaborate a bit on what you mean by that, especially in regard to your ‘Beauty Tips for the Soul’ books?
I believe that God has sown something special in each one of us and it excites me to see young women living out what I call their story promise.
My ‘Beauty Tips for the Soul’ books were born out of devotions I presented in high schools over fifteen years of teaching.
My encouragement to the students, both boys and girls, is to live a beautiful life that lives up to the potential sown into them by God.
The 'Beautiful Lives' Novels
You’ve also developed that theme in your ‘Beautiful Lives’ series of young adult novels. Can you tell us a bit more about that series?
After writing ‘Beautiful: beauty tips for the soul’ and ‘Too Beautiful: more beauty tips for the soul’, I was inspired to write a series of novels based on the ideals I had written about.
I took the keywords in ‘Too Beautiful’ and plotted out stories featuring characters who struggle and work through various issues in their lives. They emerge stronger and more resilient.
There are five books in my ‘Beautiful Lives’ series of novels: ‘Perfect Mercy’, ‘Love, Justice’, ‘Amazing Grace’, ‘Scarlett Love’ and ‘Finding Joy’. Each story features a particular girl who is facing a particular life issue. If you’d like to find out more about each of the books, you can read the blurbs on my website.
My hope for these novels is that the people who read them enjoy the stories but are also inspired to build strong and beautiful lives. I want readers to be left with the knowledge that God loves them beyond anything. No sin is too big that God can’t forgive. No problem is too small for God to be concerned with. God cares about every facet of our lives.
Each one of us has a purpose that’s beyond ourselves and we should use our gifts and talents to help others in any way we can. My books have a strong social justice theme and encourage kindness and compassion.
I want girls to read about other girls who may have the same questions and take away the feeling that they’re not the only ones who struggle. They’re not the only one who is still working things out.
Living the Life You Dreamed
You’re releasing a new nonfiction book at the end of April, entitled ‘Live Your Story Promise: 12 Steps to Living the Life You Dream Of’. Can you give us a sneak peek at one of those steps?
Live Your Story Promise is both a story of how my husband and I changed our lives and a workbook for those who want to live a more adventurous and satisfying life.
When I taught Year Twelves, I’d do an activity with them at the end of the year called The List. The List is one hundred things you want to do in your life. They can be whimsical, career-orientated or downright crazy, but it has to be one hundred. To encourage my students, I’d work on my own list alongside them.
When you think of one hundred things, a pattern emerges. There are indulgent items like drinking champagne in a bubble bath, but by the time you reach one hundred, the really important things will emerge.
Some would write that they wanted to volunteer in an orphanage overseas or work to end poverty or homelessness. The List often began with selfish items, but would soon become others-focused.
Then, I’d tell them about The Rule. As one item is crossed off, it has to be replaced with something new. That way, you will never feel like your life is over, and you always have one hundred things to look forward to — it’s a never-ending bucket-list.
Writing The List led me to get serious about my writing. Since then, I’ve crossed many things off my list.
If you want to read the first three chapters of Live Your Story Promise, sign up for my monthly newsletter and you can download a PDF.
Secrets to Productivity
You’ve had a busy start to 2021, with Book 4 of the Beautiful Lives series released recently and Book 5 due out soon, along with your latest nonfiction book. What’s the secret to your productivity? Do you have any tips you can share with us?
To be honest, I haven’t been as productive as it seems! My last book was out in 2016 so I’ve had quite a gap between books. I’m just catching up really. Last year, Covid threw me a little at first and I actually slowed up and became a bit stuck. During the second half of the year, I got myself together and decided to finish all that I’d started.
The best tip I can give is to never stop writing, even when you feel stuck or motivation seems to have disappeared. I kept writing little bits here and there and all of a sudden I had enough to publish.
Even writing for fifteen minutes a day for two hundred days of the year at about two hundred words each session will add up to about forty thousand words. If you also include a few long days of writing, a retreat, and a few ‘shut up and write’ sessions here and there, you could easily write double that in a year.
Maths was never my strong point at school, but numbers are helpful when quantifying your achievement or setting goals.
COVID, Travel and Reframing
You and your husband Steve have done a lot of travel over the years. Can you tell us a bit about the work you’ve done overseas? How has life changed for you since COVID-19?
Travel has been one of the great joys and inspirations of my life. My husband Steve is a landscape photographer and we travel often for his work. I also attend an annual writing retreat in Tuscany. One year, I completed summer school at Oxford University (A definite List item!)
We have also had opportunities to speak in the USA. We spoke at TEDx UC Davis in San Francisco in 2014 and at events in New York, Seattle, and LA.
I’ve been to Antarctica and to the top of the world to Lapland, with many other places in between.
When COVID-19 hit we had four months of travel planned. I was supposed to be running a writer’s retreat in France. Steve was supposed to be working in the Dolomites in Italy. We were also visiting our son and his wife in London and travelling with them to Paris and Ireland. Then, we were going to the US to attend a poetry festival and catch up with friends. Cancelling four months of travel was hard.
However, we defaulted to our principle of living an adventurous life and had very, very small local adventures. We went on bush walks, rode our mountain bikes, and took part in Zooms with people around the world. This year, we’ve travelled within our state and had some lovely experiences.
We’re grateful we live in Australia where we have avoided the devastating effects of COVID-19 on a big scale.
Lockdown taught us that adventure is a state of mind. That is where books come in. You can travel the world and be exposed to many experiences just by reading.
An Encouraging Word
If you could leave us with one word of encouragement for this year, what would it be?
One day, Covid-19 will become a memory and we will talk about the days when we were stuck at home and separated from loved ones.
We will talk about how we learned new lessons.
We will talk about how we made home and people our priority.
We will talk about the simplicity of a reduced life.
We will talk about what uncertainty taught us about faith.
We will talk about the ways God spoke to us when we were forced to live quietly.
One day, we will be thankful for the lessons learned. One day.
What a great note to finish on. Thanks so much for sharing with us today, Elaine.
Elaine has kindly made available two prize packs for two lucky readers. Prize pack #1 includes copies of ‘Beautiful’ and ‘Too Beautiful’. Prize pack #2 includes the latest two books in the Beautiful Lives series: ‘Scarlett Love’ and ‘Finding Joy’.
In order to enter the draw for the prizes, just add a comment below by midnight on Sunday 18 April 2021 (Australian Eastern Standard Time). In your comment, please specify which prize pack you would prefer. The winners will be chosen at random from the eligible comments, and their names will be published in the comments section of this blog post, in my next newsletter and on the Nola Lorraine Facebook page. As the prizes are print books, this giveaway is only available for those with an Australian postal address. For complete terms and conditions, click here.
Elaine realised she wanted to be a writer at ten years of age when the words flew off the page during a creative writing lesson.
She studied English and Education at university and went on to spend many years as a high school English teacher, teaching others how to write.
In 2005, Elaine took the plunge and began writing full-time. Since then she has published six books, with two more being released in 2021. She also blogs at www.elainefraser.co.
Elaine’s passion is to write about real issues with a spiritual edge.
When she’s not travelling the world in search of quirky bookstores or attending writing retreats in exotic locations, or volunteering overseas, she can be found in the Perth hills sitting in her library—writing, reading, and mentoring writers.
Connect with Elaine
Link for PDF of first three chapters from Live Your Life Story: https://mailchi.mp/2505599890fc/l0sqmjc0je
Buy Elaine's Books
The featured photo was taken in Finland and the beach photo was taken in the Cocos Islands. Both were taken by landscape photographer Steve Fraser. You can see more of Steve’s work at http://stevefraser.co