Mary books

Friday, 28 January 2011

Writers helping each other

Over all the more than thirty years since that first writer’s correspondence assignment was returned to me with comments from a published author, I have been the recipient of help and fellowship from many, many other writers. In those early years the tutors for that Famous Writers School course were the only direct contacts I had for far too long with other writers. That was in the days before personal computers and the wonderful support now possible for all of us through amazing internet support groups.

I owe so much to that first small group I ever became a member of Australian Christian Writers Fellowship but again that was only minimal because of distance to travel to meetings and a young family as well as ministry responsibilities. Then Romance Writers of Australia commenced but again still in the days before the internet! However, we were able to commence a local group of writers in our town and so my love of face to face fellowship with other writers began in earnest.

Then as well as a writer's email loop, great annual RWA conferences began and over the last 20 years I have only missed a few. There have been other great avenues of learning opportunities I have enjoyed, including being a member of Romance Writers America and their Faith Hope Love chapter and the privilege of attending one of their conferences in the USA. In more recent years there has been American Christian Fiction Writers and their wonderful, inspiring conference we went to in Denver, 2009. 
And so my “learning” journey still continues with regular face to face monthly meetings with The Society Women Writers Tasmania and also sharing in other groups via the internet and especially email loops. But I have discovered that with publication success also comes the desire to help other writers along the way as I have been helped by so many other published authors. Over more recent years there have been several opportunities to present writing workshops, share one on one with beginner writers through the RWAustralia Isolated Writers Scheme and such things as judging unpublished writer’s contests. Through all of these efforts I believe I have been blessed more, at times even perhaps learnt more than those I’ve tried to help!

As I’ve mentioned in a previous blog in December, last November I was so privileged to be a tutor for three writers at a five day live-in mentorship programme in Queensland, organised by Omega Writers. I had their finished manuscripts to read before that week and then tried to help those lovely women strengthen their great stories. It was a busy time but so very rewarding for the tutor! Once again, the teacher also was taught! Here are a few of the writers and helpers who fed us! Sorry if you saw the same photos on that other blog!
One thing I simply cannot do is write poetry and I am in awe of poets. I’d like to share with you this fun poem one of those clever ladies wrote that last day. (Jo is the writer leaning on her elbow in this photo of my husband with two of the writers I mentored.) How she found time to shoot this off I do not know. I am in awe – and also very humbled she even went to the effort to do so!

They left the green isle on the ferry
Ray and his awesome wife Mary
Car filled with books
They farewelled the docks
We met them at Brissy’s Word Fair.

The notes on our books didn’t vary:
Girls! Your POV is just scary
Show! Don’t tell
Show, don’t tell
Pleaded our amazing mentor, Mary.

We sat at our keyboards more wary
Every page we now read was hairy.
Change this, change that
No! Delete that word ‘that”.
“Ah! That’s getting better,” sighed Mary.

Our books need so much work it is scary
Our confidence, now extraordinary
We’ve learned so much
Thanks a bunch
To our amazing mentor, Mary!

© Jo Wanmer 2010

It was an awesome time with plenty of hard work but fun and fellowship too. We all owe so much to Omega Writers, the sponsor, Even Before Publishing and Rochelle Manners and Anne Hamilton - also in the first photo. At this relatively early stage after the programmes, since then two writers have had their manuscripts accepted.
Omega Writers are again organising more mentorship programmes, including hopefully here in Tasmania as well as other states. Do check out the EBP website by clicking on their name above and the details about future mentorship events across Australia on the Omega site HERE to be informed about this kind of opportunity.
If there are any writers in Tasmania targeting the Christian publishing market (especially fiction), or if you know of any who may be interested, we really do need you to contact either myself or Omega Writers as soon as possible.

Friday, 21 January 2011

Proud to be an Australian

But it’s raining again!
What a dreadful few weeks for Australia. Every state has experienced flooding to some degree and once more rain is sweeping across large parts of the country. Flood waters have already returned in some places and many other areas are anxiously waiting, hoping and praying their areas will not suffer again. Brisbane has been holding its breath as King tides also flow up the river.

The news about an area at least the size of Germany and France combined being flooded in Queensland has spread around the world’s media. Even our army is out there helping in the search for victims in one area and with the massive clean-up. Tens of thousands of the 2.2 million population of the capital, Brisbane, have been affected. Thousands of properties are ruined. In some areas the waters have not receded enough to start the cleaning up process and perhaps they may even be more fortunate than those who have. As the weather warnings come, many of those who have been able to start cleaning up will be now anxiously watching water creeping closer once more.

Perhaps the severe floods in New South Wales and Victoria have not been broadcast as much. A quarter of Victoria is already flooded and still the news of more areas come as the waters rush downstream. This is a “once in 200 years flood” in some places there. Water is pouring in from many small and large creeks and rivers from three states into the great Murray River that empties into the Southern Ocean. Oh, my mistake – all the waters from Queensland and northern NSW may takes weeks to arrive! My own island state, Tasmania, has also suffered in several areas to the west of us.

And so the saga continues. Stories abound of near death misses, of many heroes and heroines, but also of the stupidity of some who ignore warnings and risk not only their own lives but those of their rescuers. The saddest stories of course are those of love ones swept away, and the news that some bodies may never be found.

So much need, so much desire to help. But where and how can I personally help? Fund raising efforts are springing up throughout Australia. Which one should I support? That is the question now in many hearts. Of course we can pray, but we must also be there for those who have lost so much.

And so, here in our safe little cottage I type away, so thankful my family and friends are safe. My housework still needs doing. My garden badly needs attention. And this desk. . .! I doubt I will ever catch up on all that still needs to be done here. All I can do is take one hour, one day at a time and ask God what HIS priorities are for me right now in all that crowds into my days. May many bewildered, heart-broken Australians see God’s hand at work in their lives in these tough times.

And as both blessings and burdens rain upon me now and in the future, I am no different from many, many Australians in the flooded parts of this beloved country of mine. We cry, we pray, and we laugh, we pray. Or at least my heart’s desire is that as a nation we will turn to God not only during tough times like this, but each day, each hour as both burdens and blessings arrive.
How are the rains and rainbows in your life right now?

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Proud to be a Queenslander

The past two days I have been riveted to the media coverage of the havoc being wrecked on my home state and especially my beautiful home town, Toowoomba.
Only a couple of weeks ago I was hearing reports of floods sweeping through central Queensland towns like Rockhampton, Emerald. Back in the 70's we ministered at a church in the city of Gladstone just 80 miles south of Rockie so quite familiar with that larger city. Then since christmas and especially last week, the heavy rains spread south down the eastern coast and many other towns were flooded and are still isolated. I have a niece and nephew with their four month old baby who were on holidays at Hervey Bay and are still marooned there until the flooded highways are open again. They live in Brisbane but could only watch from a distance like myself as that city of well over 2 million people became inundated. Fortunately their home is not in a danger zone of the floods.
This is the town of Dalby 50 miles west of Toowoomba which is on the eastern ridge of the Great Dividing Range and over 2,000 feet above sea level. The Darling Downs slopes away from the rolling hills of Toowoomba to the black soil plains out past towns like Dalby, Chinchilla, Condamine - all badly affected by the floods.
Until I was nine, I lived on our Dad's farm near a small community called Bongeen before we moved to live in a house in Toowoomba twenty miles away. Many members of my extended Pedler family are still farming large areas on the plains that are now affected by floods. I still haven't heard all the details of losses yet, but only yesterday my brother Stan told me the cotton crops and summer grain grops are ruined, but I am so thankful they are all safe.
After living for many years on Thursday Island at the tip of Qld just south of New Guinea, Stan moved south a few months ago and is now living in a farmhouse only a few miles from family and where he has been helping out from time to time. After christmas, the water came to within a couple of inches of the floor in the two front rooms of his house and only yesterday he told me the water was again creeping back up through the trees near the house. Dalby and other towns are now flooded for the second time in a couple of weeks.

I have scheduled a post on the International Christian Fiction Writers blog which will be published just after 7pm Australian Eastern time today and 12.05 am US Pacific time. I will not repeat it all here, but do have a look at it and especially the You Tube a writer friend sent me to use of just one horrific scene in Toowoomba. In a few brief moments a small drainage area becomes a raging torrent tossing cars around. I believe it was this East Creek responsible for sweeping away the woman and her son to their death from the street just at the top of the screen.

This morning the scenes of suburb after suburb in Brisbane and Ipswich inundated is simply unbelievable. Latest news is 12 dead, 74 missing and grave fears for two whole families - 11 people. 25 helicopters are again in the air this morning but do not believe many now still to be rescued, just found.
But because of that continuing drama there, the media focus has been taken away from so many other areas facing their own flooding problems. These are spread over vast areas of Qld and also northern New South Wales and parts of Victoria.
The drama can only increase as these volumes of water out in the west make their way down the inland river systems into the Darling, then the great Murray river before they plunge into the southern Ocean many, many hundreds of miles away from the Darling Downs.

And now I have to try and get my thoughts back to other things I should be doing - besides watching the TV coverage! While it has been raining steadily here in Tasmania so many hundreds of miles from Queensland, we can only watch and pray.
I am so proud to be still a Queenslander at heart and been reared in my favourite city, Toowoomba.

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Journey into new experiences

So, this was Christmas. This year we "down-sized" our Christmas tree, but I did go just a teeny over-board with the cake!
Our New Year came in quietly. And no, as splendid as they may have been, we did not watch the Sydney firework celebrations for a couple of reasons. With the state of the economy, to see the millions of dollars going up in smoke just didn't seem right to us, and besides, we do appreciate more sleep these days!

So now we are looking toward another year with all its love, with all its new adventures. Our youngest grandson gave his parents a Christmas present - he took his first steps that day!
And now this new year, Adam is toddling off to explore his world. First to see those flowers.... then out to the road... but then it may take a grandad and a brother to see you safely home.

And what about our year to come? I started taking down our christmas decorations yesterday - after helping mind five gorgeous grandchildren for a few hours. Adam wore himself out and had a long sleep!

Recently on the American Christian Fiction Writers e-loop, mention was made of favourite verses that have meant much to us over the years. On my desk I had this plaque and small, rather battered little New Testament. It was presented to me many, many years ago in Toowoomba after I committed my life to Christ.
Inside this little book, our minister, Mr Eric Hart wrote out Philippians 1:6 "Confident of this very thing that He which hath begun a good work in you will continue it until the day of Jesus Christ."

I trust you can read the other verse on the plaque from 1 Corinthians 10:31. These verses always remind me of who I am in Christ, that God loves me, of the hope I have for an eternity with Him. The truth of these words have sustained me and challenged me through all my years of nursing, being a mother, a minister's wife and now a mother and a grandmother - and a writer too of course.  Whatever I do this coming year, wherever I may go, may it ever be to the glory of God and may this continue to be accomplished in and through me by HIS strength and grace in this new year of new experiences!