Mary books

Wednesday, 30 June 2010


Priorities? Finding enough time? They were obviously very ‘dangerous’ topics to post about in June. I’ve had very little time since then to write for this blog and am still sorting out my priorities each day since that post!

So, on this last day of June, I am so thankful for all those who have gone to the trouble of reading this “learner’s” efforts on this blog! Well, I’m still learning. One lesson has been that some weeks are so busy that posting as many times as I would like to simply is not possible. However, Ray supplied me with another of his devotions for today. I wonder. . .did he by any chance notice his wife has been too busy? Hopefully there have not been too many ‘frantic’ moments as crazy as the fowl in his story! Well. . .husbands do somehow notice these things! I certainly must try harder to put into practice the truths he shares here with us. I certainly need to find God’s way of escape through all the difficult, busy times.


The Frantic Fowl

Read 1 Peter 4:12-19.

No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can stand up to it. (Corinthians 10:13.)

Mary and I were awakened very early by the frantic screeching of an African Guinea fowl. We were part of a short-term mission team to Northern Ghana and had just finished three days of tiring and uncomfortable ministry. You can imagine the battle between the spiritual and carnal nature going on as I struggled out of bed.

Trying to find a hole, the fowl was running back and forth along a wire fence. Why the panic? Three vultures were eyeing it from a nearby tree waiting for it to die from exhaustion. The fowl ran backwards and forwards with non-stop screeching, but it was going only part of the way in one direction before turning back and thus each time missed finding the huge gap offering escape. I went out to chase it towards the breach. Unfortunately it must have thought I was going to get it for the pot and it became even more frantic. After a number of futile attempts I eventually managed to get it to the gap. Without a ‘thank you’ it went through in a ‘turbo’ charge and escaped. I have to say the vultures were unimpressed.

Panic in crisis moments can make us blind to ways of dealing with the issues. The Scriptures offer sound advice when it tells us ‘not to fret.’ Fretting makes us short-sighted, fearful, insecure, unbelieving and exhausted. What we need is to find God’s ‘hole in the fence’. God’s way out may be to give us His strength and wisdom so we will ‘stand’ or provide a fellow disciple to show the way. Maybe He will calm our spirit so we can see for ourselves the way out is there all the time but panic made us blind. At other times we may have to take a deep breath and trust God to blow a hole in the fence somehow, sometime! Paul’s confidence in tight situations is recorded: 'The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to His Kingdom.' ( 2 Timothy 4:18)

Then there was the incident with a pet goat. . . But that’s another story!

Thank you, my understanding husband!
I am really grateful to those readers who have honoured me by leaving comments and especially thank those of you who have become ‘Followers’ since my first post here on May 20th about ‘Learner Needs Help.’ I would love to send ten small gifts to Followers who leave a comment too about this post. That does only leave room for a couple of new ones, but I do need to have ten postal addresses to be able to honour you in this way. Later I am planning some book give-aways – both my own as well as guest authors who will share with us. So, Followers, please comment and then send your addresses via email to me at 
Please send them to me before Friday July 9th

Sunday, 20 June 2010


So glad you've popped in to visit. Ray's thoughts were posted here on Monday, May 31st and mine on Saturday, June 5th. Here are a few more photos from that wonderful time:-

There were many groups of writer friends having a chat. I interrupted this one with Tracie Peterson.

Then there was Kim Vogel Sawyer and Patti Hill. Loved those sunflowers, Kim!

And dear Kathy was next to our own table!

Don't forget there are several other photos on our blogs.

I really believe the best thing you can do for your Christian Fiction career is attend the ACFW conference - and as many years as you can.

Enjoy the blog tour.

Friday, 18 June 2010


Well, my last post I mentioned feeling stressed at all the tasks still waiting to be done here. Over the years my poor husband has tried to drill into me – and others – how important it is to have the right priorities. I’ve always found that easy to say, but to actually sort out those priorities day by day in the right and proper order is an entirely different thing. Of course, going to see the latest Shrek 3 movie was a priority yesterday! It was the first time we had been to the cinema since. . .since. . Sorry, has been so many months simply can’t remember, but I do know we have missed others we would like to have seen and it was great just to spend those few hours together.

Yes, a priority is definitely special times like that with my husband! And we did enjoy the movie and think it has some very good adult themes in it for husbands and wives.

Sure, I did tidy up this desk a week ago – oh dear, is it really a whole week okay? Guess what? Perhaps not quite as bad today but it is untidy once more. Well, at least today the dishes have been done, the floor attended to and morning tea with a friend just home from several weeks away on holidays. Then after lunch and just as I was about to get out my hard copy of my latest manuscript, Justice at Baragula, to continue editing, the phone rang. So, instead of doing that editing I ended up with a “good” excuse to procrastinate once more. I hate trying to edit unless I know I have an extended, uninterrupted amount of time to concentrate.

This afternoon I ended up supporting our local small hospital auxiliary’s Country and Western fund-raising afternoon. Well, have to admit I had an extra incentive with our son and daughter-in-law scheduled to present some “country” style songs. And I was so proud of them as the sang some of my favourite John Denver songs, Morning Has Broken and then Amazing Grace while I cuddled and played with our eight month old, smiling grandson.

So, it is now very dark outside on this very wet, cold winter’s day and time to cook tea. No work done – again – on my manuscript! But somehow I still think my priorities the last couple of days were important ones. At times family and friends do need to know they are very high on my list of priorities!

There will still be a few hours after our evening meal. But then, there is a favourite show on TV. I am feeling rather weary. After all, it is getting colder now in this office. And then there’s that book I’d love to read and then. . .

Yep! You’re right. Sometimes I just have excuses, not high-sounding priorities to deal with. Perhaps for my next blog I’ll be able to rave about all the things I have crossed off on that long list of mine. Perhaps I’ll think of some more photos to share.


Hoping you are NOT the same!

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Meditation moment: Watch the Clouds

I know I am very prejudiced but I am always blessed by Ray's devotional thoughts. After all, after over 45 years of marriage, just think of all those sermons! However, he has taught me even more by the life in Christ he lives himself than even those great messages from the Word.
Whether you agree, disagee or want to add some further thought to bless us all, do leave a comment -and also become a Follower of our blog of course.

Watch the Clouds

Read Matthew 24:15-35.

Look, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him Rev.1:7a)

Clouds fascinate me. I enjoy discerning faces and shapes they create as they flit across the sky. They remind me that the Bible is laced with references to God in the company of clouds. He spoke from Mt. Sinai shrouded in dark clouds.(Exodus 19) That left a lasting impression to Israel’s national psyche.

Part of the reason Jesus was crucified was because He said, “…I tell all of you: (The Sanhedrin) in the future you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of Heaven.” This is a quote from Daniel 7:9-14 and the Jewish leaders knew its links with Yahweh and the promised Messiah. The crucifixion tried to prevent this promise. Instead it fulfilled other scriptures and His resurrection guaranteed the fulfilment of Jesus’ promise to return. In Acts 1:9-11 His ascension is recorded and confirmed the future expectation. It was visible. It was from the Mount of Olives. It was with the clouds. In Zechariah 14: 4 foretold an event yet to take place which links an Old Testament prophecy to Jesus and the reading from Acts.

Today we wait for it. When we pray, “…Thy kingdom come, on earth as it is in Heaven…” we are making a faith statement as well as expressing our hope! This is the great expectation and motivation of Christians especially under harsh regimes. When the Lord returns on the clouds the longing for righteousness, justice and peace on earth will become a reality. Until then we walk by faith and keep our eyes on the clouds. As 1 Corinthians 16:22 puts it ‘Maranatha’. (come O Lord)

Thought for the day: No one will be able to counterfeit that event.

©R.N.Hawkins 2010

Friday, 11 June 2010

Finding enough time.

Feeling under pressure? So much to do, so little time to do it all in?
I’m sure there are many times we all experience these kind of days – or dare I say weeks, months or even years.

Thankfully, I did meet my last deadline yesterday of finishing judging and getting my scores and comments back to that contest co-ordinator. The pressure to do so has not been pleasant but I had to put everything else aside to be able to try my best to make relevant and helpful comments for those unpublished writers. Now I just have to give priority to catching up on other things waiting to be done!

Mmm. . .now, what is next on my “urgent” list?
Well, I’m sure the dirty dishes in the sink can wait a bit longer! I’ve just finished checking email that arrived overnight and answered a couple of posts from overseas friends before they head for their beds in the northern hemisphere but others will have to wait.This desk – in fact the whole office is in a real mess. There are “bits” everywhere. So that is important because if I don’t sort it out soon I’m sure there will be important things I will have forgotten to do!

Yesterday, the sun began shining after several wet and bleak winter days so I decided I just had to do some more weeding on my poor neglected garden. The roses needed pruning but the high weeds around them also had to be dealt with. Didn’t finish that pruning so that is becoming more urgent.

And next? Ah yes, finishing this blog post as I am hoping to post three times a week and today is one of them. But. . .that sun is shining again, the wind has dropped and those roses are calling!

And will those gorgeous grandchildren on this holiday weekend be visiting soon? (And seeing World Soccer in South Africa starts today just had to show some of them in their own soccer uniforms!)

Mmm. . .time to sort out my priority list again. Afraid my writing has to come second – or is it fourth today?

So, how do YOU deal with “so much to do and not enough hours to do them in” scenarios?
And me? I’m just going to tidy this desk and perhaps the sun will still be shining afterwards!

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Learning more about book launches

It has been another busy few days here in cold Tasmania. Snow has been forecast for today on the mountains down south. Fortunately where we live in the north on the shores of the Tamar River we are at sea level. While still cold it has been raining here this morning and thankfully no frost. The sun peeped out a few minutes ago and we’ve even turned the heating down but it is still cold – well for this old Queenslander who still has blood that doesn’t like the cold at all!
Last Friday was also cold with a little rain but it didn’t stop us driving about fifty minutes to take our grandsons to the book launch of Potato Music in Launceston. The internet certainly has made our ‘writer’s world’ a small place. The newsletter of Omega Writers, a Christian writers’ group in Queensland arrived in my email. I had to read Zaphon to discover that a Launceston author was launching her children’s picture book here. I have since discovered the editor of the newsletter heard about it from Adelaide!
It is school holidays in Tasmania and there were a good number of children and parents at the launch by one of our state politicians. The award winning author, Christina Booth, told us how this story of her heart took six years to evolve to be this beautifully illustrated book. Years ago she asked her mother about their old piano stool that had been brought to Australia when her mother migrated from Europe after World War II. It was the catalyst for this delightful, thought  provoking book. Christina sat on the stool and read us the story. Then, as in the book, there was piano music with folk invited to dance to it as Christina’s mother had danced while war planes flew overhead.

The blurb says, ‘Wherever there is war there is hardship, but wherever there is love there is hope. An uplifting, life affirming story about keeping your dreams alive.” Although our grandsons were a little too young to understand all the concepts, we were able to share later with them how war affects children and their parents. This is certainly a book for all ages and perhaps best read with our children to facilitate discussion.

And now, a confession from this multi-published novelist! Until I became a member of the Society Women Writers Tasmania, I had never given a thought to actually having a book launch of any of my novels.
So, with the support of these writers, I did have them for my 17th and 18th titles, Return to Baragula and Outback From Baragula.
It was pretty nerve-wracking, very worthwhile but I am still learning about organising book launches.

With the president of SWWT and the Launceston mayor's wife, Lyndle van Zetten who launched Return to Baragula.

With Julie Ferguson who launched 
Outback From Baragula 

I do know Christina should have been very encouraged by the long queue of folk buying her book after the launch.
So, I would love to hear from readers and other authors what you think about book launches?

Have you been to a book launch you thought was very well done? Do tell us about it.

What may best be done to encourage folk to attend - and also to buy the book – like I bought the Potato Music! Do leave your comments.

Saturday, 5 June 2010


This week is almost finished. My husband and I took our two young grandsons to the book launch of Potato Music, a great book by Christine Booth, an award winning children’s book author.

But telling you about that will just have to wait until next time because I did promise to share more about our wonderful time at the American Christian Fiction Writers Conference in Denver last September. Registrations will soon be open for the 2010 conference so perhaps these thoughts will help you decide whether to go to Indianapolis this year. Our personal ‘conference’ actually commenced the day before the official start when we helped other volunteers set up on the Wednesday. Working together is one great way to meet and get to know other writers, and I do recommend being a volunteer to you. Arriving early also helped us get to know the layout of the conference hotel before we had to rush to find the right room for the various activities. There were the workshops we had registered for, the important prayer room where we were not only rostered in time slots but also where we needed time out to pray and meditate in the stillness.

Then of course there was the all important bookshop and the main room where we shared in worship times, meals and listening to the main speaker, Debbie Macomber.
  And those mind-blowing workshops? There were workshops for every level of writer, from beginners still wondering what to write to ones for multi-published, best-selling authors of many, many books. Here are a few more photos of writers I met for the first time but all are writers I have ‘known’ for a long time through their presence on the internet as well as their wonderful books.
and who could
forget those hugs from -  

How often is it possible for an Aussie writer to share five hours with other published writers and two senior editors from major American publishers? Friday and Saturday morning ‘Continuing Education Sessions’ with Allen Arnold from Thomas Nelson and Karen Ball from B&H Fiction team in their The University of Fiction “5-hour Degree” was simply incredible and impossible to describe in a few sentences here. They had sessions on Relationships and Communication with your agent, editor, publisher, and of course readers. Guest speakers included well-known and successful agents like Steve Laube and Rachelle Gardner and someone in charge of a publisher’s marketing programme. Debbie Macomber also shared more of her experiences. 

With Allen Arnold, Karen Ball
and Debbie Macomber.

I learnt a great deal about promotion and marketing. Now, if only I could put it all into practice!

We were challenged to think outside the box, to learn to do story well, to know the readers who enjoy our books, communicate with them, keep them informed, make it easy for them to communicate with me, the writer – and each other.

We were challenged by questions like:-

“Why do you write?”
“Why do you do what you do?”
“Besides writing the very best, entertaining, thought provoking story I possibly can, how much time and money am I prepared to invest in promotion, marketing and sharing with my readers?”

There was so much more, so much I would love to glean from my notes of those wonderful few days in Denver and share with you. But besides all the technical information and chats about writing, relationships with agents and editors and readers, even though I am a writer, I am finding it impossible to describe the incredible sense of friendship and fellowship that soaked the whole atmosphere of the ACFW conference. I do believe that the one thing that united us was the common desire to show in the characters we create in our novels what difference a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ can make in real people’s lives with real problems and conflicts that have to be resolved.

Have you every thought, “I’d love to write a book one day?”
Are you a writer who needs to ask, “Why do I do what I do?
Are you a writer who should be asking, “How much time and money can I – and am I - investing in sharing my books in the marketplace and with my readers?”

I look forward very much to your comments. Remember, I am still learning too!

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Meditation moment

These last few days have been filled with helping our son and daughter-in-law. They own Seahorse Australia and have been so busy Ray has been helping at the seahorse farm while I have been helping with our grandchildren. Okay, so that's my excuse for once again having to postpone Part Two of the ACFW conference in Denver. However it also is an opportunity to share the first of these "Moments" from Ray.
Let the Lord speak to you as you dwell a few moments here with us.

                                            MY SPECIAL GARDEN

                                 Come my child,
                                        come to my garden,
                                              meet me there,
                                                    know me there,
                                                         hear me there.
                                You my child,
                                      may not see me
                                              with your eyes,
                                                    or hear me
                                                         with your ears,

             I will listen to you.
             I will understand.
             Let my creation
             perfume your mind,
             helping you
             to know you’re precious
             to me.

             I will comfort you.
             I will sympathise.
             Let my soft breeze
             refresh your soul,
             helping you
             to know you’re special
             to me.
             I will speak.
             I have words to share
             Let my scriptures
             safeguard your heart,
             guiding you
             to know you’re beautiful
             to me.

                                 Come my child,
                                       come to my garden
                                            I wait for you
                                                  to share
                                                      some time together.     
                                                                                            ©Raymond N. Hawkins

There's a vacant chair, a place for us to share fellowship with Him - our Creator, the One who loves us beyond our comprehension. I too need to enter HIS garden at every opportunity to 'share some time together.' Will you join us and listen to His Word?