Mary books

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 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 .

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Meditation Moment

White Feather Horror

A picnic lunch on a warm, sunny day beside a river is a great way to spend a Saturday. I’ve just had a look at a small plaque however and the beauty of the day suddenly became marred. There, at the base of a giant Norfolk pine on the otherwise treeless area of land were the words of a grieving father for his son. The sixteen year old lad had been killed in the first world war of 1914 -18. What had saddened my day were the words indicating the underage boy had joined up because at least two unknown ‘friends’ had sent him white feathers, a sign of cowardice.
     The tree had been planted by his father in memory of his son. Now the breeze continues to play a sympathetic lament through its leaves as an unending requiem.
     Standing alone and silent before the plaque, I wondered at the folly of war and the stupidity of anonymous ‘friends’ with their insinuations. My heart asked a question which could not be answered. Did those who sent the feathers ever grieve over what they had done? Did they seek forgiveness?
     I know this tree will cast a shadow over my soul for weeks to come. Every time I drive past it I will remember the grief it silently honours and the unmentioned stories it hides. Standing here just before I leave, I acknowledge the bravery of that young man, and the millions he is part of. In so far as it’s within my power, may I protect the young people within my care from the ignorant and judgemental attitude symbolised in those white feathers.

I cannot help feeling, Heavenly Father, that you would have had a soft spot for the father of that boy. He planted a tree to honour his son. You have given to the world a ‘tree’ that honours your Son. The lad gave his life in the cause of freedom from earthly tyranny. Jesus gave His life to free us from eternal tyranny. You have given us more than a plaque. You have given us the Communion service to remind us of the death burial and resurrection of our hero and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

Thank you once again, Ray, and I knew I should take a photo of that memorial tree one day for you.

Friday, 23 July 2010

Meditation Moment

Another busy week for both Ray and I. Ray was thrilled to be asked to sign a contract with Tyndale for two of his devotions to be included in one of their 365 day devotional books. I have just finished editing and sending off the three manuscripts of my Baragula series to an agent who has asked for them. I do not expect to hear for several weeks whether she will ask me to be one of her clients. However, in this waiting period I can now try and forget them as I tackle that list of “To Do” things and enjoy our precious grandchildren more. One “to do” thing of course – in between preparing a writers’ workshop and talks for a Womens’ Retreat - is to try and be more regular with posting here to our blog!
I do hope you enjoy these thoughts from Ray – and the photos of our three children, three of our grandsons in their Larry Boy hats, Clint and Serena sharing Ray’s new recliner. Adam is no longer that small new-born baby we first met last year but starting to move around on the floor – a very happy little fellow.

It has been fun finding these photos to share with you – and also a reminder to me that “I am being watched” always!
                          You are being watched

Those big brown eyes didn’t blink. With the intensity of a small child he was absorbing all I was doing. Sitting on my knee as I was having a cup of tea and munching a biscuit, my grandson had a quizzical look. At a guess I’d say he was wondering what I was doing. It made me slightly edgy.

Giving him a biscuit (a cookie for any American readers) to distract him became a lesson to me. He watched me chew and then tried to eat his the same way. I became rather self conscious as I ate, knowing he was trying to eat the same way.

However it did re-enforce the truth about setting an example and acting responsibly.

During the time we had together I pushed the swing in which he sat, we kicked a ball, read a story and watched some cartoons. Great fun, wonderful privilege and all the while he was taking in my attitude and actions.

When he went home I was exhausted. I also felt as though his eyes were still looking at me. They were so trusting. There was a sense of being secure with me which gave me a real sense of privilege.

Lord, I’m so grateful for being a father, a grandfather. At the same time I know it is a big responsibility. You have taught my wife and I so much as parents as we built our lives on your word. To have our three children walk their journey with you has been our greatest thrill. Now you give us the joy of being a support to our son and daughter in law in their God given role as parents.

I’m reminded of what the Apostle Paul wrote to the Philippians, “Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me – put it into practice.”
Lord, as you can see I’m resting up at the moment, recovering I guess it’s called. Still, I’ll be ready when he returns. May it be soon! I wonder what he will be watching me doing - and trying to do it too? Should be an interesting time together.
It makes me wonder who else is watching?

It is always good to welcome new followers. I trust you all continue to join us regularly. And never forget, Jesus wants us to know Him, watch Him at work in our lives so we can share His love with those we meet.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010


It is hard for me to believe the last post here was all of two weeks ago! Why, oh why, did I share about priorities a few weeks ago? I have had to exercise that ‘rule’ in my life ever since!

Besides writing another blog post, some things in my life simply had to take first place. This evening I am feeling rather weary after another busy day, but do have to share with you.

First of all there was my monthly Society Women Writers Tasmania monthly meeting. As I have been helped so tremendously by being a member of various writers’ groups, over the years I have urged folk getting serious about their writing to join a writers’ group – especially a local one to have face to face fellowship. Some less busy period than this in my life I hope to share more about some of those groups.
I am currently president of SWWT and we enjoyed having Peter Durkin as our guest. He is the owner of a personal service bookshop, Petrach, in Launceston. He generously shared several things he wished authors knew about bookshops such as, 'Why does he buy some books to sell to the public and not others?' It was an excellent time and he answered many questions from the group.
That Monday set the pace for the rest of the week. We were in the middle of having the delightful Horton family from Texas come to share with our small church fellowship and community. A busy but such a blessed time in many, many ways. Seeing folk start to come to grips with Christ’s claims on their lives is awesome, mind-blowing!
The last two weeks before the Hortons arrived, as well as trying to organise the programme for them, our son and daughter-in-law were going through a very hectic and stressful time negotiating to take over a local tourist business. Several years ago, before they bought their Seahorse Australia breeding farm, it was part of this Seahorse World company.
As of July 1st, it is once again the one company! It means a big change in our lives. While Ray is a volunteer at the businesses, I am trying to support them by helping with child-minding and housework where I can.

There is quite a story of how God has made it so clear that this is all part of His plans for them. We are so proud of them for their faith and commitment to Christ and His will in their lives. While it may take more of our own energy and time, Ray and I feel so privileged to be part of all that is happening in their lives. There has been a down-turn in tourism to our beautiful Tasmania island so this is a real venture of faith! God’s ways are not always our ways, so whether they are successful or not He will achieve His purposes in and through this venture!

If you are interested, do go to the websites.

Today I cared for our gorgeous two year old granddaughter and our eight month old grandson while an order of seahorses was packed to ship to an American customer!

So, that has been my week – well. . .in between still trying to edit my current manuscript which is proving a slow process! Hopefully it now will be next on that Priority List.

Nope! Next is keeping my promise to post out those promised little gifts to my Followers and those of you who have commented on Ray’s last Meditation Moment. I am still waiting on a couple to let me have their postal addresses!

As those ‘priorities’ permit, I will be interviewing other writers and have more giveaways – especially of our books!