Mary books

Friday, 29 October 2010


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.

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


       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!