Mary books

Monday, 20 December 2010

Getting ready for Christmas

Tonight the news showed the devastating snow storms in the northern hemisphere: Heathrow closed. European cities affected. More falls of snow predicted means a white Christmas but certainly an unhappy one for many people.

And here in Australia? After years of drought and water storage supplies drying up, the great Murray-Darling River system basin in dire need, the rain has come again with a vengeance.  Throughout large parts of mainland Australia we have devastating floods and even unusual snow in our summer on the high mountains in New South Wales and Victoria. Thankfully, Tasmania has missed out - this time! 

During the first week of November when Ray and I were driving up through almost the centre of New South Wales on that trip I've shared in my last two blocks, we stopped for a cuppa and a break at several places that have since been under water. At one place we had delicious scones with jam and cream out in the open at an information centre right next to a river.

There had already been a lot of rain back in the mountains even in early November.  Perhaps it is my writer curiosity and the habit of taking note of things I might one day be able to use in a story, but felt compelled to take this photo of those sandbags and that rising river.
The sandbags went for quite a long way up and around the buildings and the locals told us there was more water on the way. This is one town we know has since been inundated with flood water, and we are left wondering if more sandbags had been rushed in to try and protect some very valuable historical items in their small museum.

While for most of us most of the time, Christmas is an exciting, wonderful time of contacting family, old friends as well as new ones, of receiving and giving gifts, of enjoying a huge party, there are also many for whom Christmas is one of the saddest times of the year.  Many, many homes have been inundated, all Christmas preparations under water, people evacuated and of course several drownings. Then of course there is the horrible accidents on our roads that claim so many lives over the Christmas and New Year holidays.

Our family had one savage reminder way back when I was in my mid-teens that tragedies can strike at any time. My dear Dad's funeral was held on Christmas Eve and it was a very surreal Christmas Day the day after for my mother, older brother, younger sister and another brother only just ten years old. Christmas had always been such a wonderful time for our close family but everything changed after that year. For over fifty years now, it is a reminder to me that for some it is indeed not a time of joy and the peace we love to sing about. This year there are those who mourn loved ones, those who have no Christmas "cheer" and those who are homeless, not only after these kinds of disasters but week after weary week during the year.

So, while we are busy decorating our own safe homes, wrapping up those gifts and cooking that Christmas cake, don't let's forget to pray for others less fortunate than ourselves, to be prepared to go out of our way to care for those for whom Christmas is a time of sadness. May it be that we will grasp every opportunity to point folk we meet to the Christ of the cradle who also became the Christ of the cross. He longs for us to know Him as our only safety, our only true souce of peace, hope and joy - if we will only go to Him in faith and love.

Thursday, 9 December 2010

CATCHING UP - Part Two

Well, I did promise to write about more on those days and 4,500 kilometres we travelled in November. Now I do really doubt if I ever will “catch up” and that simply leaves me to stop and then try and start again!  Before I do “stop” here are a few more thoughts about our time in Queensland, travelling through New South Wales back to Melbourne.

After church on Sunday in Brisbane we enjoyed seeing family we have not seen since my mother’s funeral two years ago. 


Then it was time to head off to the Sunshine Coast to be a tutor at a live-in mentorship programme organised by the Omega Writers and sponsored by Rochelle Manners, the publisher of Wombat Books and even Before Publishing. This was also a learning experience for myself.

 









During the weeks before leaving for our trip, I had been very busy reading through the Christian fiction manuscripts the three unpublished writers had sent me. It was a very busy time trying to spend equal time as much as each writer needed during those five days, so I was very glad I had spent those many, many hours editing and writing comments throughout their manuscripts for them to consider. I believe it was a very worthwhile time for all concerned and the writers themselves thought it blissful to have those days free to write and write.
Ray also managed to get some writing done, minded Rochelle’s couple of delightful little children as well as talking to her about his two devotional books she is publishing next year. Hopefully it wont be long before we will be able to show you the beautiful covers she was working on – in between her own writing and preparing our meals!

Ray and I enjoyed the drive from Noosaville through beautiful scenery to Toowoomba ready for our next appointments. We were so privileged to be able to stay with old friends Gillian and David for three nights.















Speaking at the Toowoomba library was another new experience and learning curve for me.  Here chatting with a reader and two Toowoomba Librarians who helped organise this with Friends of the Library.
As Ray and I have experienced so many times over the years, God sure does organise our diary for us! this time it just “happened” that I discovered through a fellow ex-nurse that the Toowoomba Base Hospital nurses’ reunion luncheon was that same Saturday in Toowoomba.












There were only a few there from the graduation class of 1961 as well as an old school friend, Margaret, who also graduated that year.

I had a special chat with our tutor sister, Joan Bell (nee Neale) who had also been a member of our Australian Nurses Christian Fellowship in Toowoomba in those days.  A very special person





And so, after fellowship with more old friends at my home church, now Humeridge Church of Christ, we headed south down the New England highway this time through New South Wales and to Melbourne to stay with our daughter.

We enjoyed spending far too brief a time there with her and other writers, Amanda Deed (CALEB fiction winner), her mother and also Dorothy Adamek not long returned from the American Christian Fiction Writers great conference in Indianapolis.

And now we are home and with Christmas looming ever closer, the Christmas tree is out but not decorated yet...so, more next time.

Sunday, 28 November 2010

CATCHING UP - Part One

After nearly four weeks away from home, I’ve been trying to unpack, sort out books and my book promotion, workshop and talk paraphenalia to file away once more - until the next time. Then of course there has been four weeks of mail to deal with, especially those bills that arrived. On top of all of those “mundane” things there has been a multitude of emails, Facebook friends to check and by no means least of all, this blog and the comments and giveaway from my contribution on the International Christian Fiction writer’s blog.

So, a little this time about our trip to Queensland.

This was the third time we have taken our car to the mainland on the Spirit of Tasmania ferry from Devonport across to Melbourne. We sailed just on sunset and had a very smooth crossing. I didn’t even need sea-sickness tablets! This is the mouth of the Mersey River as we headed to the open sea of Bass Strait.

This time our car was packed with not only our esky (cooler some of you may call it!), a large case full of clothes for all seasons, my two Baragula books and Ray’s Neurotic Rooster to give away and sell. As well, there was all the paperwork and my “show and tell” things I’d been able to prepare for my speaking appointments and the mentorship programme organised by Omega Writers in Brisbane.

We drove off the ferry in Melbourne about 7am and headed north. We had decided to brave the road trains on the highway up through the mid-west of NSW and so stayed a night at Parkes and then Gooniwindi on the Qld border before arriving at my sister’s home in Brisbane three days after leaving home.


We had one day to recover before the Word Writers Fair where I presented a workshop, was on a panel and thoroughly enjoyed meeting writer friends like Jo-Anne Berthelsen and making new ones. It was a wonderful day and the organisers are to be really congratulated.
The CALEB award dinner was held that same evening. I was so pleased my sister Shirley was able to join us. She is sitting next to Lyn Hurry, one of the Omega Writers members who helped organise the award.


As some of you will already know, my Return to Baragula was a finalist but Amanda Deed won the fiction category for her great book, The Game. L-R - Paula Vince, myself, Meredith Resce and Amanda Deed.
Don't miss out on reading Amanda Deed's The Game, published by Ark House Press and available at good Christian Bookshops.

We had a wonderful few weeks but this is enough for this blog. There was a week tutoring some very good, unpublished authors in a mentorship programme, and other appointments - but it is past time I was in bed tonight.





I do want to congratulate Ruth Ann Bell in South Africa for winning a copy of my Return to Baragula for commenting on my blog on the International Christian Fiction Writers blog  November 16th.

In a future blog here I am planning to offer this book to my readers here also, so do return for Part Two - and perhaps even Part Three of CATCHING UP. And I am hoping soon to have the cover of my next book, Justice at Baragula, to show you. It is scheduled for release next April.
But will I ever do that - catch up?
Do you sometimes wonder if that can ever happen?!
Oh, and don't forget: if you click on the blue words it will take you to that website and clicking on a photo should make it larger.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Mediatation Moment


Well, Ray and I have been a team now for nearly 46 years. And yeah...I'm the one with her mouth open - the talker - and Ray the patient listener! I am so grateful he shares this blog with me from time to time.

He has more of his 31 Daily Meditation books being published by Even Before Publishing next year. These are "extra" meditations he writes for my blog. I do trust you not only "enjoy" them but they draw you into a deeper, loving relationship with God.

The Graffiti Artist’s Plea.

Reading…1 John 4:7-19.

…faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:13.

The brick fence had become a billboard. A graffiti artist had vented his anger, or longing, in huge white letters.

‘Where’s the love?’ it shouted.

What drove him to do this? Was it a judgement on world events or a longing of the heart? Was the writer merely asking the question without wanting an answer? Some are like that. There is an answer, and down the road that day it was on another wall. It was a poster.

It read, ‘the passion of the Christ.’

Did the artist ever read it? See the film? Open the Bible and find it?

According to John chapter eight, Jesus did a bit of Graffiti . When some leaders tried to trap Him about a woman taken in adultery He simply wrote in the dirt. The Law required stoning. What did Jesus recommend? We know not what He wrote but He did say the one without sin could cast the first stone. From the wisest to the youngest - and probably the most impetuous, they left. Jesus, who could have thrown stones didn’t. He simply said to go and sin no more. She had experienced forgiveness.

Love is the person of Jesus, not a theory or emotion. His love is expressed in the cry from the cross, “Father, forgive them…” Although its location is specific, such love is unconditional. The love God has for you and me is bound up in the person and work of His Son Jesus. To know love and all it offers on Heaven’s behalf requires a personal response to the invitation of Jesus to go to Him by an act of faith.
The great thing is Jesus will not say “No” to us but will receive us.

Raymond N. Hawkins

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Music and Song Blessings

Last weekend our little church fellowship was challenged, refreshed and blessed by Stephen Atkins . Do click on his name to go to his website and have a taste - mind you it is only a "taste" - of his great voice and songs.
His songs are played on local radio stations at different times and his goes on tour, speaking and singing messages in song with accompanying Power Point images to churches big -and small like us - as well as many other venues. He presents the news of our Christ of the Cross so very, very well.


For some reason, over the years songs have always ministered to me personally in very special ways. Okay, perhaps it is my creative nature that God uses to create stories, perhaps it is the fact when we were growing up we had a piano in our house. The piano had belonged to my grandparents but neither Mum nor Dad could play it. Living on a farm a long way from music teachers in the city, the only way I could learn to play was work out for myself what the notes on the music meant. The first music I ever played was the old hymn, "Throw out the lifeline across the dark sea..." I only realised years later that it sounded "right" when my one finger played it because it had neither sharps nor flats and was all played on those beautiful white ivory keys. But the words of many, many old songs and hymns from those days are still deep within me.

What a feast of music and song we enjoyed first of all at a dinner concert on the Friday evening, then a concert Saturday and a "musical" service with challenging talks on Sunday.

All the songs Stephen Atkins has written himself brought me to praise and prayer. We joined Stephen in singing Amazing Grace - the extra "My chains fell off" version. Perhaps the song that challenged and blessed me the most was the song he sings on his on his Mercy CD, "He Raised Me Up." They both reminded me of all God has done for me in Jesus, and all He continues to do in my life today with my writing efforts. Only HE could have given me this wonderful, wonderful life of joy and love I enjoy. Only HE could have opened the doors for my books to be published - to even be a finalist in the CALEB awards!

I've been so busy these last weeks preparing for speaking appointments at the Word Writers Fair next Saturday in Queensland, reading manuscripts ready to tutor writers of them at a mentorship programme organised by Omega Writers . Then of course, there is my talk too at the Toowoomba Library at 10am on Saturday, November 13th.
This is going to be very much a "working holiday." When my first book was published, little did I dream how God would open doors as He has these past years. With all my "busyness" lately, I really needed to be reminded that God IS in control, and what He has done and continues to do in my life! How thankful I am that from a very young age I started to get to know the God and Father who loves me, who continues to "raise me up, set me on mountains."
Do go to Stephen Atkins website. One of his songs starts playing straight away. He is also on Facebook and I have just become one of his "friends" there.
If you too can share incidents when God blesses you through praise and worship songs, do tell us about it by commenting here.

Friday, 29 October 2010

OLD FRIENDS MEET AGAIN!

Ray was away and I was busy on the computer – and when I am concentrating on this contraption, my husband says I’m living in another world!
This office in our small cottage has three doors between it and the front door. Unfortunately we still haven’t been able to have an awning over that door for any visitors and the weather has cleverly caused three wireless operated door-bells to stop connecting with the remote chimes plugged into a power socket inside.
So, once again I’m concentrating on my writing, but a loud knock did penetrate a couple of days ago. A little surprised, I went out to the front door. No one. A car was parked out on the street so I called out, “Hello, anyone there?”
I walked out and peered down the side just as a tall lady walked around from the back door. “Hello,” I said brightly and apologised I thought she had been at the front door. She smiled. I thought she did look familiar and started racking my brains to try and remember who she was.

She kept on smiling as she said, “You don’t know who I am do you?”

“I’m sorry, you do look familiar, but. . .” I started feebly, feeling the usual embarrassment of a bad memory.

“Remember Daphne, Bernice, Janet, Dell. . .”

As she spoke my heart nearly stopped. Absolute delight swept through me.

“Corrie!”
Close to tears I took a step forward at the same time she did and then we were hugging each other.

The memories started to flow back. We had started our four years hospital nursing training the same day way back in the fifties. With my friend, Dell, the three of us for some reason had been allocated the only room in the then nurses’ quarters that was not a single room. We had laughed together, cried together, ranted about some of the “things” nurses were expected to know, to do, and those horrible superiors we sometimes had to endure. Only nine months later when we started being rostered on night duty and another trainee group commenced were we given individual rooms.

The last time we met had been about thirty years before when our old group of nursing friends arranged to share a precious last time with our dear friend, Dell, who was dying of cancer. While they all still lived not that far away from each other, I had been the one to move away to another state and had to travel back to my home town, Toowoomba in Queensland. After Corrie had married while I was doing my midwifery training in Sydney, our lives had taken different directions and over the years of moving around we had different directions and over the years of moving around we had gradually lost contact.
And now, here she was. . .a tourist with her husband, Geoff, in Tasmania, thousands of kilometres away from their home in Queensland! We were only able to share far too brief a time trying to catch up. A few years ago she had rung me and we had exchanged addresses. I had sent her a couple of my books and when I hadn’t heard, wrote to see if she had received them but still had not heard from her. On the phone she had told me a few years ago she’d had a heart transplant. When I didn’t hear from her again I didn’t know what to think or do. Now I know she simply never received any mail from me! They gave me their address again and it is the same except for one word. Neither of us know what could have happened. I’ve read in novels about such things happening and now I know only too well it does happen in “real” life!

Old friendships of so many years, of so many things shared, especially in a hospital environment with all it’s tears, laughter and sheer hard work should never be neglected. I feel now as though we did just that and have missed out so much on not only Corrie’s life but other friends from my young woman’s days.
After the postal service somehow failed us, at least now we have each other’s email addresses and another method to keep in touch!

Oh, and of course I did give her a couple more of my books – especially one of my Harlequin Mills & Boon medical novels as well as that first Christian romance set near our old home town!

And that doorbell? It will be sorted out! I am so glad Corrie didn't give up and sure hate to think anyone else may do so! So, until we get a door knocker that works, if you do turn up at our cottage make sure you try the back door, and if that fails do give us a yell - a loud one!

Thursday, 21 October 2010

The Preparations Continue - for Life's Journey.

Well the last few days I have managed to finish preparing the Romance Writers workshop for the Word Writers Fair. Or at least this "perfectionist" certainly hopes she has finished preparing!
I've also been spending far too many hours agonising over suggestions for the back blurb for Justice at Baragula to send off to Ark House Press with other hopefully helpful ideas for the cover art of this Book Three of this series.
A few minutes ago I also finished the notes for my talk to readers at the Toowoomba Library on November 13th. Reviewing how I've reached this stage in my writing career is actually very humbling.

First of all there is that battered looking Exercise book which became my first diary. I never dreamt then that expressing my hopes, dreams and feelings in it was only the forerunner of twenty years later and that little green folder. On the very first of that folder I wrote, "DESIRE & AIMS OF WRITING A CHRISTIAN NOVEL." Then there are pages and pages about the theme, the characters, even a brief summary of each chapter. How different that eventually published book was but the Writing Journey God is still taking me on stills leaves me with a sense of awe and immense thankfulness. 
Writing now with a computer and years more experience is so different from that first attempt, that first novel which eventually became my first book, "Search For Tomorrow." Damged Dreams was my first submission to Mills & Boon but Priority Care was my first contract in those medical romance novels and a revised Damaged Dreams became my second Inspirational novel with Barbour publishers in their Heartsong Presents Book club

Now my new novel next year, Justice at Baragula, will be my 19th title. This never ceases to amaze me, humble me, and I love sharing with folk the journey God has taken me over all these years of writing.

My darling husband and I come from different backgrounds. He also looks back, so let us mediatate for awhile as he shares a few thoughts with us on Life's Journey...

The Hawkins Family motto.
I bought the Hawkins heraldic shield for my Mum and Dad. After their passing, I claimed it. The words are ‘Toujours Pret’ - which, I’m led to believe mean ‘always ready.’ People who know me would either smile or cringe in applying that to me.

My nature seems to be ‘she’ll be right mate’ and ‘we will see which way the ball bounces before we decide what to do.’ Over the years I’m sure it has given ulcers to many and caused concerns in planning circles - especially in my younger days.

I’m thankful to God for many things, not the least for taking an unready, rather careless young man and giving him a major make-over. If He hadn’t, I would never have been ready to stand in His company and be accepted.

Life’s journey is a mystery waiting to be solved. Often we can misread the clues, go up detours only to be disappointed, hurt and hurting others, confused. We suffer apathy or misplaced enthusiasm which can play on our mind over time. However what I have come to realize as my journey is now a long way down the track, God has journeyed with me. I often didn’t recognize His presence or appreciate His interventions, but He was making me live up to my family motto.

I still have some way to go, perhaps a few false starts, but I do have a desire to be always ready. For what you may ask? The expected and the unexpected! To be available for family and friends, to use my resources rather than hoard, to share my faith when and where possible are among the list. To recognize my Lord may blow the whistle for full-time on my life, and to be ready to give an account of how I played the game according to His rules. It is my hope that the family motto will be worn more faithfully and fully by my children and grand-children.

Do you have a family motto? How does God fulfill or transform it in your life.

Friday, 15 October 2010

SPEAKING APPOINTMENTS AND OTHER EXCITING NEWS

       Okay, so last week I mentioned I am a “List-maker.” I also mentioned after arriving home from our August trip that I needed to prepare for the next one in November. Well, that time is well and truly now becoming more urgent and very high on my list of “To Do” things before we leave.
Booking our trip across Bass Strait to the Australian mainland had to be made many weeks ago.
Registering for the CALEB Award Dinner in Qld has also been done quite a while ago.
The speaking appointment at the Toowoomba library on November 13th has been finalised.
I have been reading manuscripts and in touch with the three writers of them I will be tutoring in the mentorship programme while in Qld.
   
        But I’m getting ahead of myself. Will share more about those in the next blog.
Two days ago our church women hosted a “Share Day” organised by our State women’s ministry team for Christian women from around our Island state. Did I make a list for that? Sure did! And now that day was a success, preparing for our trip to Queensland requires not just one list but several!
        Today I have been trying to attend to the most urgent thing at the top of my current list, preparing a workshop presentation at that Word Writers Fair  day in Queensland on Saturday November 6th.
It still isn’t too late to register and do check out the website. You can choose seminars on:-
Time Management for Writers, Writing articles for magazines, How do I Write a Book, talk with Children’s Picture book published author, Stay motivated to completion, Writing for teenagers, Books for kids, or choose to go to the panels offered on various subjects. I am sharing on one called Reaching out for God through fiction.
        The workshop I am preparing is simply titled “Romance Writing.” In just over an hour, what are the most important things I need to share with the writers? If anyone would like to leave a comment what you think I should touch on, do, please do so!
        There is so much I could share. Will those at the workshop be beginner writers? Will some have written other books but wondering about trying to write a romance novel? Many times, romance authors like myself are told that of course there is always a “formula” to writing a romance novel. That is usually accompanied by a smile that indicates that, after all, those “little books” are easy to write. Perhaps for some writers they may be “easy” but over many years I’ve yet to meet a successful romance author who has found them “easy.” If it was so why do many, many writers receive rejection after rejection on their manuscripts? Is there a formula? Except that a hero and a heroine find true love and face a “happy ever after” future, sadly, I have yet to find that famous formula!
        So, what are some of the “special elements” that a writer targeting the romance genre market needs to know? This is proving to be a real challenge for me and I am trying to share some of the things I have learnt are “essentials” for writers of romance to know.
        The week after the Word Writers Fair I am also a tutor for a live-in mentorship programme for Christian fiction writers. As I mentioned, I have the three manuscript drafts already being worked on by the authors who will be under my care. When I read most "new" writers' works, there are times it makes me realise how much I have been learning myself over the last seven years since my first novel contract. Some of that “learning” has been by making mistakes – in other words learning the hard way. If I can help other writers from making similar mistake, I will be very happy!

    Oh, and the “other” exciting news mentioned in the heading?

My Return to Baragula is a finalist in the Fiction category of the Caleb Book Prizes.
Book three, Justice at Baragula has been accepted by Ark House Press and tentatively scheduled for release April 2011

Am so thrilled about both, but I have read the other three great books in that contest that have also finaled!

Mmm. . .wonder if I’ll be able to eat – or enjoy - that award dinner on November 6th before the winner is announced!

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Life’s unexpected twists of the road

This last week and especially the last few days we have been experiencing one of those “unexpected” times that come in each of our lives from time to time. 

Our dear daughter-in-law’s mother was diagnosed only about three weeks ago with an inoperable, aggressive cancer of the pancreas.

This is Mavis Holstein between her sister and Rachelle last Easter when she visited Tasmania.

In God’s wonderful timing and providence, quite some time ago her family reunion had been arranged and our son’s family of seven had been booked for a long time to fly interstate to New South Wales. So a few days after the shocking news, they had a lovely couple of weeks up there with Rachelle’s mother and family. Only a couple of days after arriving back here in Tasmania, dear Mavis, still only needing minimal pain relief, suddenly went to be with Jesus in her sleep. Although still trying to catch up on all the work they have to do in their Seahorse Australia and Seahorse World businesses, Rachelle immediately flew back with the baby and three year old, with our son following her today to be there for the funeral.

We are so thankful Ray and I are able to be here to help where we can – especially with the three schoolboys it was impossible to arrange at such short notice to travel back too.
The one thing that has really hit home to me is the many ways we can see God’s forward planning and loving care of all of us concerned. There have been far too many “coincidences” none of could possibly have planned except our loving Heavenly Father who knows our needs before we ever know or can ask. These are indeed what we have learned over many years are simply “God incidents.”

These last few weeks have been busy for Ray and I too with our writing, helping at the businesses and doing several tasks up at our family’s home while they were away.

And with this sad news I need to also tell you some good news.

Remember my husband’s Neurotic Rooster devotional book? Ray has signed a contract for three more of his 31 Days devotional books with Even Before Publishing in Queensland. These are themed books and the first one, God’s Special Interest, a daily meditation on children is being scheduled for fairly early next year and the other two to follow after several monthly intervals.

The narrow road we travel in this life does have twists and turns. It travels up hills and down into dim valleys, but with our constant, faithful Christ dwelling within us by His Holy Spirit, we need never fear “the valley of the shadow” and we can rejoice as HE walks each step of the way with us.

The Lord IS my shepherd, I shall not want... through the twists and turns of life, through the dark valleys - and the mountain tops also!

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

BACK HOME but PREPARING TO BE OFF AGAIN!

This week I thought I’d tell you a few things that have been happening here to my husband and I. As well of course, there are those other plans for another trip to the Australian mainland in November.
But first of all, I received a lovely photo sent to me by a lovely fellow writer – and a clever photographer – from the RWA Conference at Coogee beach in Sydney. Had to share this one with you!
Remember, if you click on a photo on my blog posts, it will enlarge and be clearer.

The two writers on the top of the left cube are Cathleen Ross   and Kandy Shepherd who organised the RWA conference this year. The writer beneath them is Kylie Griffin, this year’s Golden Heart winner. Also on that cube are Kerri Lane with Sandra Allan. The photos on the cube on the right include Barbara Hannay and Anne Gracie next to me, and underneath us are Kandy Shepherd, Nalini Singh and Christine Stinson. The other side of the cube is from the “Goal, Motivation, Conflict” Friday session  with Debra Dixon of America. Many thanks to clever Robyn Aldridge! She has called this RWA Sunrise Cubes

And so, RWA conference and the other speaking engagements in New South Wales in September are behind me. Now we are planning for more speaking appointments in Queensland in November! I will be on a panel about “Reaching out for God through fiction” and doing a seminar workshop session on writing romance at the Word Writers Fair in Brisbane area. The award dinner for the CALEB book contest organised by the Omega Writers is on that same Saturday evening, November 6th.
And I have been thrilled today to learn that my Return to Baragula and Outback From Baragula have been short-listed in the Fiction category! Whoopee! There are also encouraging reviews of the books on the CALEB page.

Do click on the Word Writers FairOmega Writers and CALEB and you should go to the websites to read all about these events, including the full list of other great books that have also been short-listed in all the categories.

Don’t forget to make sure you let folk know about the Word Writer Fair so they can register ASAP. I believe places are filling already so register NOW! I am so looking forward to sharing with writers at the seminar and then being a tutor for the Omega mentorship live-in programme the following week.
And if all this isn’t enough excitement for one trip, arrangements are being made for me to share with writers as well as readers of Christian fiction at the Toowoomba library. Will post more information about that event later.

And how are we travelling to Qld this trip? We studied the plane and car hire fares carefully, compared them and other expenses with the only other way to leave our beautiful island. We also need to take books with us and have space to bring books back too! So we are now booked on the Spirit of Tasmania, the ferry that sails overnight across Bass Strait to Melbourne. We will be taking our time driving –and I’ll try and remember to take photos to share with you.

Would love to hear if there is any chance I will be able to meet any readers of my blog – somewhere between Tasmania, Victoria, New South Wales and southern Queensland!

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Mediatation Moment

For many years now, my darling husband has put up with me while I am concentrating, trying to find that right word, that right phrase, that right scene to entice the reader to turn that next page.
Now Ray also needs me to try and give him space - and non-interrupted times to write. Afraid there are too many times my tongue forgets and blurts out words that do interrupt him, and yet he remains his usual courteous, patient self.  Perhaps his thoughts here will make you too pause awhile, consider what it is really like sometimes for writers!


The ‘W’ Infection.

Who knows from whence it comes?
Who can tell whom it will bite?

What will be the affect of the infection?

I don’t know! Others might, but I don’t.

This I know, I was infected by the ‘W’ bug. Since then, over many years, I have suffered untold recurrences. Sometimes these have developed at most inconvenient moments. There is only one remedy -Write!

For me, the ‘W’ infection is discernable by the compulsion to write articles, (not novels - that’s my wife’s infection.) devotionals and Bible studies. In many ways I enjoy being infected by the big ‘W’. Words on paper are seeds waiting to germinate in the mind of the reader. Words can lie around for years in dark, forgotten places then spring to life when found by an inquisitive mind. Depending upon the intent of the writer such ‘seeds’ can produce moral and spiritual weeds or gorgeous flowers. The sown seeds can bring death or life, sickness or healing. No seed is neutral.

As a Christian and a preacher I write from a Biblical faith perspective. Initial expressions of my ‘infection’ can be found in the Churches of Christ NSW journal archives. There are other areas as well which would be revealed upon request. The big ‘W’ took hold in the 1970’s when the director of J.E.W. (now David House Fellowship) came to the church. He invited me to write for his magazine, ‘The Vineyard.’ I did this for nearly 30 years.

As I reflect upon this unrelenting obsession, I know Jock Hunting was the ‘carrier’ of the infection. Is it an illness? Maybe it’s a curse to some but to me, or any writer, it is a love affair with 26 lead soldiers.

Whether I’m published or not is of no concern to the infection. The ‘W’ fever simply must find expression in writing. The rest is up to the editors, printers, booksellers, readers and, dare I say, God!

Sorry!

Must go!

I’m feeling the infection level rising again.

Hoping you are the same!

Raymond N. Hawkins.


Thursday, 9 September 2010

Still Catching up!

Hard to believe I've now been home over a week and it is actually two weeks since my last post here. Sorry folk! I will try to at least post once a week in the future.

I had a very busy three weeks away and was glad Ray joined me for one weekend. We celebrated the 30th church anniversary of a church we planted all those years ago. Sorry, was so busy talking and having fun at the Saturday night dinner didn't take any photos. At the Sunday morning service, Ray was privileged to be able to dedicate the baby of a young woman we watched grow up over the years. As a teenager she had a very tough time but now happily married and  a mother for the first time!  While Ray was with me we also went to a Rotary Reunion of the club he was a member of - and received a Paul Harris award from also.There are too many photos to share here so I will try and put them on my facebook page - hopefully tomorrow!

And so you can see that as I mentioned in my last post, my time away in New South Wales was a wonderful time of meeting old friends and enjoying fellowship. The Theme was "Looking Beyond yourself" at a Newcastle & District Womens' Retreat where I was the main speaker. The camp site's data projector had broken down and eventually one was brought so I could use the power point presentation after all! Was too busy to think about taking photos that particular day but here are some of the women after dinner in the evening. Can you see our "colour" theme was mauve?




Old friends worked hard for us all!




And then there was that jigsaw. Yes, we did get it finished although the owner waited several minutes on the last day!







And old friends from the Maitland Church of Christ.





After the RWA conference and the church anniversary, I so very much enjoyed staying with Lance and Karen - and also their dogs.  You can see how they kept me companny when my son and daughter-in-law were at work!




However, it also made me weary, and there hasn't been much time here to relax since arriving home. A team of students from the Worldview (W.E.C.) Bible College in Launceston had been here for a week helping our small church plant with ministry. Ray had been hosting two young men for a week before I arrived and we enjoyed having them over a two week period. All except one of the students came from Korea.

And now it is school holidays here this last week and grandchildren to help mind! 
So, more next week... er... in between preparing for the next trip away to Queensland early November at the Word Writers' Fair and being a mentor for the Omega Writers programme. Any of you registered yet for these ventures?

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Meeting old friends

Once again I am writing this from our son and daughter-in-law's home in New South Wales. Many parts of Australia are experiencing a very cold day and it is no different here. I am just glad I am this close to the equator and not in Tasmania where my husband tells me it is COLD! And spring officially commences in less than a week - in fact, the day after I arrive home.

Ray joined me last weekend, took me to the Australian Christian Writers Fellowship day seminar in Sydney and afterwards north again to Maitland in the Hunter Valley to that 30th anniversary church dinner. A wonderful time, so great trying to meet all our old friends there I simply forgot to take photographs to share with you. Some lovely ones have been put up on Facebook, especially on the Maitland Church of Christ page that you might like to have a look at. I did take some photos after the Sunday morning service there but somehow on this computer when I downloaded the photos from our camera to share with you last week they then simply disappeared off the camera! I am not game to do that again, so now I'll wait to share with you next week when back in my own familiar computer-photo environment.

Afraid I also forgot to take photos at the writers' workshops in Sydney. Mary, you had better start remembering readers of your blog might enjoy them too!

So, when you meet old friends again after a long time, do you find it easy to talk with them, share your lives again? There were so many warm hugs last weekend, so many faces I had to try and remember the names of. Trouble is, we all never stop changing. Our faces become thinner, fatter, a few more wrinkles and hair - well, hair sometimes disappears on the guys, the gals usually try to hide the grey hairs and are a little easier but at the dinner everyone was encouraged to wear 80's clothes. One dear lady friend had a flowing blonde wig while one man had a wig of black, boisterous curls! However, despite the changes in outward appearance I remembered so many from their smiles, their voices. But they did all look different at the church service the next morning!

And of course, there are those old friends we may not see from one year to the next but can pick up the threads with so quickly. We stayed a couple of nights with such friends and while I enjoyed talking to Rhonda Hall about our families and other topics, it was a joy to hear these two retired ministers, Ray and his old friend Max in the office discussing truths about our walks with Christ they are still digging out of the scriptures. Max and Ray shared a room at Bible College when training for the ministry many, many years ago. That kind of friendship becomes more like intimate brothers sharing, and what can be more intimate than sharing what Christ has been doing in and through our lives as we seek to always walk in step with Him. 

And meeting old friends on this trip is still not over. I have another special event tomorrow. Ray had to fly home last Tuesday while I am still here to be the main speaker at this coming weekend's Newcastle and District Christian Women's Fellowship Retreat. Hopefully I will have a few photos to share with you next week - if I don't forget the camera in the excitement of meeting more old friends!

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Romance Writers Australia conference 2010 plus

 I am typing this on our son and d.i.l's computer after a few days recovering from a hectic few days over last weekend at this great conference. For me the Authors Day just a week ago was the highlight. Having said that, I just loved meeting old friends and meeting new ones.
Instead of raving on about the workshop on promotion and marketing, the great Awards Dinner and the excitement of seeing writers receive awards in various categories, I'm going to just share a few photos with you.
                                                    

I met Narelle Atkins on the internet a few years ago and have been in regular contact with her ever since, including a quick visit to her home on one trip to Canberra. She brought her friend Karen Ward with her who is now one of my friends! With us here is also another Christian writer, Laura O'Connell. Wonderful to share fellowship with these lovely ladies!



Editors from different publishing houses in Australia were present and also Dianne Moggy from Harlequin in North America. A real privilege to have a brief chat with her one day.





Then of course there were authors that have been to every RWA conference I've been to. But I met Valerie Parv, now called "Australia's Queen of Romance" several years before RWA commenced. She had an article in a woman's magazine about a writer's course called Art of Romance Writing. It is now in book form, but I am so grateful that part of the course was sending her a full manuscript to critique. I give her credit for honing my skills so that I signed my first contracts back in 1992. Was great seeing her again!

And I think that might be all I should do on Lance & and Karen's computer for this blog. Hopefully I'll be able to share more about the Australian Christian Writers Fellowship day seminar I am doing the workshops for this coming Saturday. This is at St Phillips Anglican church hall at Eastwood in Sydney. I do hope to meet other old friends there also who are targetting the Christian markets.                                                                            

Sunday, 15 August 2010

Meditation Moment

Life’s Hurricanes

From out of nowhere it came. Sweeping across my life with the ferocity of a hurricane it caused widespread devastation. Emotional wreckage lays strewn amidst the physical pain. I’m powerless, speechless, miserable.

Voices within and around call me to curse you Lord.

They taunt me with your unfairness. Their words are like swords piercing the heart as they belittle your goodness and grace.

My tears burn as they fall.

Weariness overwhelms.

Aftershocks batter my spiritual life,...O God, unbelief is trying to undermine trust in your love and holiness.

I feel as though I drowning in the deluge. I cannot hold onto you.

Lord, don’t let me go.

In my numbness I feel you not. Your word is all I can take hope in.

Silence my lips from making rash comments about you or life’s circumstances.

Wipe the mist from my eyes.

I need to see beyond the moment and behold your faithfulness and purposes.

As the hurricane spends itself across my life let it not smash me to the ground. Be the strength of my being. Let me stand true to you, surrounded though I be by broken dreams, unanswered questions, uncertainty of action. From my quivering lips and burdened mind may I truthfully share to any who will listen, “God is Good. His mercy endures forever!”

I understand not that which has come to pass.

What I know and by an effort of my will I do, I bow before you and seek to honour you in and through it all.

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Off to Romance Writers Australia conference - and other places!

And the suitcases are locked, just need to tidy the house more for my dear husband while I am away and write a few lines here.

It is with a sense of excitement and perhaps some trepidation I am ready to go to the Romance Writers Australia National Conference in Sydney. Tonight will be great to share with my two friends Rita Galieh and Jo-Anne Berthelsen and then tomorrow the Published Authors day.

After conference on Sunday I head to the home of our son and daughter-in-law north of Sydney. Haven't seen them since Easter and my "special" birthday celebrations so looking forward to that very much and the other old friends in the Hunter Valley where we lived for over 20 years.

And no, I won't be able to travel west in the Hunter Valley to the site of my fictitious town of Baragula. I have had people ask me where exactly is the setting of my trilogy town. I have to smile because I have taken the liberty of creating one in the general area where there is only a much smaller village - and not called Baragula which is aboriginal word meaning "flood-tide" - as mentioned in Book One, "Return to Baragula."

And because we leave in less than an hour for the airport, my dear husband has another few thoughts to share with us. Hopefully I will be able to use a computer while away to let you know about this conference.

The ‘Road’ We’re On
‘Everything…written in the past was to teach us so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. Romans 15:4. (NIV).

We were in a strange country, going to an unknown village along an uncharted road. Mary and I relaxed, maybe too strong a word as we were cramped in a twin cabin ute with three others in the cabin and two others plus luggage in the covered back. It was fun in a mad sort of way and we were safe because the driver knew the way. It took a long time to arrive yet in meeting the villagers all the difficulties, frustration and uncertainties along the way became insignificant.

Proverbs 3:1-8 tells us to commit our way to the Lord. He has purposes in mind and the destination. Spiritually we may have a similar experience to Abraham, going into the unknown. Then again, Joseph’s experience may be ours, betrayed, forgotten and ‘marking time’ before God turned it around for good. Israel’s journey from Egypt to Canaan gives an insight into our journey. God’s faithfulness never wavered even when they took wrong turns or had bad attitudes. All is recorded to help us trust God as we go into the unknown and unexplored days ahead.

As we journey the controlling factor must be God’s goodness, not our wisdom contained in the Scriptures. We may not enjoy all the experiences. However through them the Lord reveals purpose and blessing. Faith clings to God’s faithfulness and keeps us focused. Along the way we bear witness to our Lord’s providence and grace.
Prayer: Hold my heart steady in your purposes and be honoured in my journey.
Thought for the Day:   Each disciple blazers a trail for God.
Prayer Focus: Prayer focus. God’s pioneers in different cultures.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

My week - so far.

This is only the middle of this week and I want to share a few things. I sure know why the topics "Time" and Priorities" have kept cropping up in my heart and mind!

Last Sunday as usual was a very busy day. Ray too has been busy helping at Seahorse Australia and with our grandchildren. We try to post his Meditation Moment each Wednesday but this week it will be late. Ever since we moved here to Tasmania in 2003, he has been a guest speaker at churches who either do not have a minister right now or when a minister is away on holidays. His motto is "Have Bible, will preach!" This week we were at Westbury Baptist church and really did enjoy the worship and service. Of course, I think the preacher's sermon was really wonderful - as always when this retired minister preachers! It certainly blessed and challenged me as he shared the passage in Revelations chapter three about the Smryna church.
Westbury is about 45 minutes drive from us, and by the time we arrived back home to a light lunch it was not long before we were off once more to our own little church. That night we had a special guest, Stephen Atkins, who shared in song and message. Wonderful! Inspired me to an even deeper love for my Lord Jesus Christ. Do check out his website and CDs.

And then Monday morning I had to leave early to go to Launceston for the Annual General Meeting of our Society Women Writers Tasmania. This is one of the groups I mentioned in my last post. And since that meeting I am so pleased that another member accepted my request to nominate to take my place as president. So, this year while I stay on as Vice-president, I have shed the other resonsibility and thus less to to occupy my mind! Our membership this last year has been the most for many years and of course this does also mean more work and responsibility also for the committee.

Since arriving home I have been trying to prepare the workshop I am taking at the day seminar for Christian writers on Saturday 21st. It has been suggested I share about: A Christian aspect in writing novels, Preparing manuscripts for publication and Marketing. But how much material can I share in the time available? How can I be sure I speak about things that are relevant to those in attendance?
In fact, as I said not long ago to Ray, “I am having my usual problem preparing. Too much material and which is the most necessary, the most needed, the most important?” So tonight, I am taking a break from that and chatting to my blog readers instead.
Help me out here please!
Do any of you have a specific question on any of those three topics? I know, I know! There are heaps and heaps of questions. But do mention a few for me that some of you may either need input on if you are a writer or simply curious to know what writers have to think about when writing a novel.

Are you interested in how I approach writing that next book, how I try to sell it first to a publisher before ever trying to interest readers in my book? Are you interested in how my Baragula series came about?

Friday, 30 July 2010

Writers groups

     As some of you already know, I am a member of several writers' groups and associations. Some time after starting my first efforts at writing seriously with the correspondence course (see my website for more about that) I subscribed to a Christian writers' newsletter. It is now close to forty years ago so I can't remember the name of it but I think it originated in Victoria. Besides my American tutors of that course, that was my first contact with other Australian writers.
     Then Billy Graham came to Australia and I heard about a day conference for writers sponsored by their Decision magazine and some Sydney Christian writers. Wow, did that day simply blow me away! Any readers remember Sherwood Wirt? He was a well-known, prominent editor from America. Even more thrilling for this nervous writer were the Australian publishers and editors. One the results of that day was becoming a member of the Australian Christian Writers Fellowship. I have been a member most of the years with them ever since, but because we have lived for the most part hundreds of miles from where they hold their monthly meetings in Sydney have rarely been able to share face to face with them.
     And that is what I enjoy the most - face to face encounters with other writers.
     I know that if your are reading this and are a writer also you will understand just why. For those of you who are primarily readers, let me tell you just a few of the reasons.
     Writers are creative people who first of all were readers first before daring to put pen to...er...fingers to keyboard to try and put their thoughts, their stories into a form to share with readers. Some of us use our imaginations to create characters, plots, themes and use them to tell stories that we hope will challenge readers and perhaps most of all give them an hour or so of entertainment. Other writers love the use of words and create beautiful poetry, articles to inform, to challenge. I am primarily a "story teller." When I was first challenged to write, my first thought was "what do I write?' The answer to that is one I now still try to encourage other folk thinking of writing to consider. Write what YOU enjoy reading THE MOST!
   But back to these writers' groups.
   While I have always read widely, ever since I can remember my favourite books contain at least some romance. So, perhaps it is no wonder that my first short story had a hint of that when an injured soldier still recovering from the trauma of Vietnam met a blind young girl on his favourite beach. While I called it "Scars" the Woman's Day editor published it way back in 1974 as "Tomorrow is a New Day." When I evolved to writing my first novel, of course it had to be a romance novel.
    It was about eighteen years after that short story was published before I met a group of writers who also wrote romance. I joined the fledgling Romance Writers of Australia and it was wonderful being able to share each month at our meetings with other crazy writers. This is a photo of some of us at our Christmas dinner one year.
     We shared our problems with plots, characterisation,  point of view, how to format a manuscript, who to submit it to, kept informed of market trends and publishers' news for our chosen genre. As well as sharing expertise and the critiquing of our efforts, most important was the fellowship we shared, the tears when we received rejections, the times we cheered a writer with some success. How I missed that monthly group when we moved from that city!
     As well as our RWA, I joined the Romance Writers America and their Faith Hope Love chapter for Christian romance writers. While we lived in England for two years I joined the Association Christian Writers and also the American Christian Fiction Writers when it commenced. When we moved back to Australia from England I was delighted to be able to join the Society Women Writers Tasmania because they held their monthly meetings less than an hour's drive from us. I have been honoured to be the president for them these last couple of years. Recently I have also become a member of another group for Christian writers in Queensland, Omega Writers.
     And that brings me to this last few days. We have our SWWT annual meeting next Monday and I am so thankful another writer has let me nominate her for this position. With releasing my Baragula books in 2008 and 2009 and all the promotion and marketing efforts for them, trying to write the third book in the series and going overseas for several weeks last year, I simply need more time now to concentrate on not only my writing but other responsibilities I know I will have this coming year.
     I am delighted that after missing the last two annual conferences, I am off to the RWAustralia conference in Sydney later in August. Last September Ray and I were in Denver, Colorado, at the ACFW conference. This year once again there will be wonderful opportunities to continue to learn writing skills, but I also will be meeting old friends made over many years who are just as much crazy writers as myself! And I'll let you into this also: I will be meeting a literary agent from the agency in New York who has asked me to send them manuscripts. The big question is, "will they or won't they offer to have me as one of their clients?"
     I continue to be blessed so very, very much by other writers God has brought into my life from all over the world. And don't forget, if you click on the highlighted names of the writers' groups you will go to their websites. On some sites there are great articles about writing for writers - mainly in members only I'm afraid, but if you are interested, RWA also has information about the romance genre .