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  • Writer's pictureCindy

Writing Journey: Research and Retreat

Confucius said that roads were made for journeys not destinations.

As an author I frequently find myself fixating on the destination - finish the book.

Finish the book!

Yet it's on the writing journey that we learn fascinating facts, meet interesting people, sharpen our writing skills and encourage others. Here are some stops on my journey over the past six months.


The most common comment I receive when someone reads my book is, 'You must have done so much research. How did you do it?' My previous career as a nutritionist trained me to research. In fact the main reason I did a Masters degree in Public Health was to learn how to analyse scientific studies.

To write The Silk Merchant of Sychar I bought a few books such as 'Women in the World of the Earliest Christians' by Lynn Cohick, 'Sketches of Jewish Social Life' by Alfred Edersheim (super helpful), 'The Rarest Blue' by Baruch Sterman (the story of the murex dye) and the 'Jewish New Testament Commentary' by David Stern.

I searched the Bible for how people spoke to each other and how they described things. I searched websites on Jewish history, bible archaeology, plants, seasons, the calendar system, make-up, perfumes, road maps and digital atlases of the Roman Empire.

Because I was writing biblical fiction I decided, in addition to my personal bible study and research, I should understand the academic aspects of bible study and have access to the perspectives of the theologians. So I started studying a Diploma of Theology.

I loved Bible Archaeology and I loved exegesis which is studying a few verses in detail in the context of who wrote it, when, where, why, as well as a word by word analysis. It was sort of what I did with the John 4 passage in order to write The Silk Merchant of Sychar. 

Once I had finished writing the book I thought I would stop studying but when the university informed me that I only had four more papers to complete the Diploma I decided to finish it. And... a few weeks ago I finally graduated (with distinction - that's my competitive streak) at the beautiful St Andrews Cathedral in the centre of Sydney, Australia!! It was a wonderful excuse to catch up with friends who I hadn't seen for almost three years.

Writing Retreat

In November we held a writing retreat at the spacious, peaceful Titoki Christian Healing Centre and had people from all over the country attend. We had a great time and I loved being able to teach and speak about writing instead of eating! It was so fun that we are running it again.

Writers Group

Last year I helped to set up a local Christian Writers group. Writing groups are super helpful - you can talk about writing with people whose eyes don't glaze over as you rave about a character or pontificate over your plot. Two or three of us who are writing novels meet weekly to read out and workshop our latest few thousand words. There's nothing like a deadline (with fellow writers, coffee and cake) to prompt a procrastinator to write!

I am half-way through my current book - my escaped temple priestess has arrived in Jerusalem and my diver of murex is on his way back to Dor after an encounter with Simon the sorcerer in Samaria. Things are heating up!

Until next time... happy reading and may God bless you.


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