Mary books

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

The Book Birthing Process

I have been living through too many of those days that all published authors seem to go through when things just seem to snowball. Despite working each day as long as I can sit, my eyes take the computer screen, the brains keeps working - well, almost clearly at least - I am still feeling swamped this week. As I'm getting older I find burning that 'midnight oil' is less and less appealing - even for a night owl who is not a morning person like my darling husband.
As has happened so many, many times over many, many years, Ray has been cooking more meals, washing more dishes, hanging clothes on the line, shopping more often and now, once again, he has helped by writing a post, for my blog this week!
Besides sharing the house work, Ray too has had a busy and exciting week - er... make that weeks! But I'll let him tell you a little of what he is feeling today!

Over to Ray:- 
It’s done! It’s gone! My writing is being taken from submission to publication. How do I feel some may ask? At this moment I don’t feel too much. Why? I’m too tired, exhausted, drained. I’d rather dig a ditch than write. It is much easier! Still, there is the satisfaction of having the job completed. Then again - is it?

Up until now I’ve wrestled with words, punctuation and application. Then it needed to be refined by editors, including Mary, and shaped by my publisher Even Before Publishing under the care of Rochelle Manners.

Now it is going to the printer. Can I relax? No! I wait in anticipation for the finished work. What then? Anxiety - in a mild Christian form of course! Will it be accepted by readers? Faced by so many other books on a shelf silently screaming ‘Buy me. Buy me’, will people hear the cry of my devotionals? That means I have to help people hear my book’s silent appeal and show people the worth hidden, waiting for their eyes to see, their soul devour food for the spirit, wealth for the mind.

So, how do I feel? Pleased it is done yet a little on edge until people such as you consider it, buy it, read it, take it to heart if you like it and if not share with me how to improve. Who ever said writing for publication is fun must never have written more than letters or notes in gift cards.

Writing is fulfilling yet hard work. It is satisfying to the heart even if not profitable to the pocket. It is a calling to say something to bless, to challenge and, from my perspective, to honour the Lord even if what is written isn’t a best-seller.

The book covers are on the right column here. I do hope you have seen them before. The blurb on the back cover of  Children: God’s Special Interest  says:
Ray Hawkins has a heart for children. In these devotions and studies he uses scripture and ideas to help us focus and meditate on God’s heart for children.
Designed for parents, teachers, grandparents and anyone who has the pleasure of being around children.
31 Biblical Devotions to:
Rediscover God’s Word about children. 
Meditate on God’s Heart for Children
Refresh your heart with God’s love for Children.
Rekndle passion to be their example for Christ's honour

This will be the first book released in May. Book launches are being organised for Melbourne and Launceston - but watch this space for details of them.
Although the publisher let me know a couple of days ago the books have both gone to the printer, delivery of course with not be for a few more weeks.
They will be available from good bookshops!  BUT! You can pre-order your signed copies now of course if you email me on
 This birthing of books is rather scary for writers. Do leave a comment to let me know what you think.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Weekends, rain - and edits!

Now it is Tasmania's turn. Rain plus rain equals floods.
This has to be a brief post today - even though it is raining still and cosy inside! Just wanted to share how blessed Ray and I are - well we are always blessed but some days it is just more obvious than others. Ever feel like that too?
Last weekend Ray and I had a busy but relaxing weekend.

We had an early start on Saturday because we went to the Launceston's library book sale. Last year over $10,000 was raised by this annual event by the Friends of the Library. As soon as the doors were opened at 9am the crowd of people swarmed in and the piles of books rapidly disappeared from the many tables in the large hall.

Local published authors are invited to display and hopefully sell their books also. This certainly makes many readers realise we do exist!
My fellow members and friends of the Socity Women Writers Tasmania had the table next to myself and another friend - whose photo I do not have - sorry Margaret Muir, whose beautiful books are multi-published by Robert Hale!

After the book sale Ray and I drove over to the east coast of Tasmania to St Helens where we have not until now been able to visit. The churches where Ray had been invited to speak do not currently have a minister so we stayed in their comfortable manse for two nights. This was a very relaxing, cosy time for us as it has been really busy in recent weeks. I am so sorry I don't have photos to share with you this time of the awesome forests, the beautiful coast line, but we do highly recommend a visit tp this beautiful area.
Ray preached at a church at St Helens and at Fingal on the Sunday morning and when we were leaving St Helens late on Monday morning it was just starting to rain. And it is still raining and raining and raining!

It was a slow drive along the winding, mountainous road from St Helens to Scottsdale. We had one special "blessed" few moments when a vehicle coming towards us did not manage a bend and slid on the slippery road across into our lane, tilted over so the front and back wheels were off the bitumen. Even as Ray hit our brakes and we both said, "it's going over," the front drivers side anchored into a soft mound of dirt only inches from the forest and they jolted to a stop on all four wheels. Another foot or so and they would have slammed into some of those huge tree trunks we had been admiring! No one was hurt and they managed to back off the mound and went on their way. "If" they had been going faster, "if" we had been going faster, "if" we had left St Helens a few minutes earlier it could have been a very nasty accident for both of us. Good is God!
On the news this morning we are hearing of several towns like Fingal we drove through being cut off yesterday by flooded roads. This morning we are very grateful to be home safely - even if it is still raining and the visitors from Sydney we are expecting will need to take extra care on the roads. A fellow published author, Jo-Anne Berthelsen, and her husband arrived on the Bass Strait ferry yesterday morning and we haven't heard yet if it was a very rough crossing. Jo-Anne is the main speaker at the Baptist Women's Ministry conference Friday evening and Saturday. I am also involved at the conference so another busy weekend - but not as relaxing for me this time

And what about those edits? Late last Friday evening the edits I have been waiting and waiting for my Justice at Baragula arrived back from the publisher so now I am hard at work on them. This morning was a frustrating one because our landline phone is not working. Telstra, our phone company, says there is a fault on the line. They have diverted all calls to our mobile phone and no serviceman can come until next Monday!

And just as I typed that the mobile phone rang and Jo-Anne and her husband have car problems and had to return to Launceston with the help of the RACT!
My, what a few days! Hoping your day is not the same!

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

E-books anyone? Randy Ingermanson shares.

When my publisher in Sydney, Ark House Press  told me my third Baragula book would be released not only in print in May but also as an e-book, I suddenly knew I had to find out all I could about them. I don't own an e-book reader of any kind - yet anyway. Because I spend so much time reading on a computer monitor I am very reluctant to enter this other new world. My favourite place to read is lounging on a bed with a favourite author's latest book and a block of my favourite chocolate and - Oh dear, forgot for a moment I'm not allowed to do that now - too much sugar and fat! Well, anyway hopping on the bed with an e-book instead of an old-fashioned book -and no chocolate - doesn't appeal to me at all - yet anyway!

I've even joined a new e-book writers sub-genre group of members of Romance Writers of Australia and reading any article about e-books that comes my way. Then the Advanced Fiction Writing E-Zine arrived this morning. I've been subscribed to this ever since Randy Ingermanson, the "Snowflake Guy", commenced it and over the years have been challenged and helped many times not only by articles here but his wise and knowledgable posts on the American Christian Fiction Writers loop. So, I've taken up this very generous writer's offer of the Reprint rights copied below and share this article (No 4) from the Advanced Fiction Writers E-zine Vol 7 No 3
I strongly recommend writers serious about their writing careers subscribe to this E-zine! And for all of you  readers who have not ventured into writing yourself, this will give you a good, behind-the-scene insight into the world of writers and their careers.
Over to Randy:-

Reprint Rights
Permission is granted to use any of the articles in this e-zine in your own e-zine or web site, as long as you include the following 2-paragraph blurb with it:

Award-winning novelist Randy Ingermanson, "the Snowflake Guy," publishes the Advanced Fiction Writing E-zine, with more than 24,000 readers, every month. If you want to learn the craft and marketing of fiction, AND make your writing more valuable to editors, AND have FUN doing it, visit

Download your free Special Report on Tiger Marketing and get a free 5-Day Course in How To Publish a Novel.

4) Marketing: An Industry Pro Goes E
The e-book revolution is roaring in even faster than predicted by e-enthusiasts. A few facts will make clear what I mean:

A-list novelist David Morrell recently self-published his novel THE NAKED EDGE on Amazon, in Kindle and audio formats only.

A-list marketing guru Seth Godin is due today, March 1, 2011, to self-publish his next book, POKE THE BOX, simultaneously in hardcover and e-format.

In January of this year, self-published e-novelist Amanda Hocking sold a reputed 450,000 copies of her books on Amazon. She is 26 years old. Less than a year ago, she posted her first novel on Amazon. Now, she's a superstar.

In view of these, I wasn't surprised when one of my writing buddies, Jim Bell, recently self-published a new e-book, COVER YOUR BACK. The book contains a novella and three short stories. If the words "film noir" and "femme fatale" ring your bells, then COVER YOUR BACK might well be a book you'd enjoy.

Jim has not abandoned the world of traditional publishing. His venture into e-books simply allows him to do things that he couldn't have done with a paper-and-ink publisher that thinks a year is a short period of time.

I asked Jim to tell me about his venture in an interview for this e-zine. Here's a blurb about him and his writing:

JAMES SCOTT BELL is a bestselling thriller author and served as the fiction columnist for Writer's Digest magazine. He has written three popular craft books for Writers Digest Books: Plot & Structure, Revision & Self-Editing and The Art of War for Writers. Jim has taught writing at Pepperdine University and numerous writers conferences. On June 4th and 5th he is teaching a seminar in Los Angeles for novelists and screenwriters. Information can be found at

On to the interview. Let's see what motivated Jim to take the e-plunge.

Randy: You recently self-published your first e-book, after more than a decade of publishing paper books with a number of traditional royalty-paying publishers. What prompted you to take the plunge into the e-book market?

Jim: Because there is absolutely no downside to it, and plenty of upside. The e-market is exploding and I had several stories and a novella that didn't have a home. E-book publishing allows me to bring new material to my readers, and introduce me to others. I've always admired the old pulp writers of the mid 20th century who had to write a lot for a penny a word, but created some of the best suspense ever. That's what I always wanted to be able to do, and now can via e-publishing.

The nice thing is that the royalty for these works is great and I get paid every month.

Randy: Let's talk a bit about the process. You decided to write a novella and three short stories. You wrote them in Microsoft Word just as you normally do. Then what happened? How did you take the book from a Word document to its final published form on Amazon and the other online retailers?

Jim: I hired a person to do the conversion for me. There are many people out there who will do this, and the cost is relatively low. You should be able to find someone for between $50 - $100. It may be a bit more if the document needs more work. I toyed with the idea of doing it myself, but was advised by others to let a professional handle it. So I provided the Word document and the person I hired converted into a format for Kindle, for Nook, and for Smashwords, should I expand to that.

Randy: Many fiction contracts have "non-compete" clauses in them. Tell us about those and what they mean for the already-published author who wants to venture into the electronic self-publishing world but doesn't want to alienate his publisher.

Jim: Well, publishers are investing money in writers and trying to build them. So a standard publishing contract has a clause that says the writer cannot sell a book that might compete with the one they're publishing. Usually there's language about potential "harm" to the sales of the contracted book. That could mean that a self-published e-book, at a low price point, could be viewed as competition with the published e-book, which might have a higher price point.

On the other hand, a low priced, self-published e-book can be seen as a marketing tool for the other books. This should all be discussed with the publisher, and a written understanding hammered out.

Randy: Any predictions on the near-term future of publishing? As we speak, Borders is circling the drain and Barnes & Noble is battling to reinvent itself, while dozens of previously unknown writers are earning thousands of dollars per month. Where do you see the world of publishing going in 2011? What are your plans to deal with the massive change?

Jim: I do think the traditional publishing model is undergoing great stress now. There are fewer distributions points, less revenue coming in as consumers turn to lower priced e-books. The old guard will have to be experimenting with new ways of doing things, but that's hard for a big, established business to do.

Meantime, there will be a veritable tsunami of original material self-published. Most of it will be bad. A writer still needs to sweat and strain and get better. The old model provided a filtering system. But for those who learn to write well, the self-publishing avenue has great potential.

I don't think anyone can predict what the landscape will look like in five years. I have been surprised at the rapid rise in e-readers (as was predicted by one Randall Ingermanson). As a writer I'm taking advantage of the opportunity. Others will do the same. And word of mouth will continue to help the best works get the attention they deserve.

Randy: You probably couldn't have traditionally published your novella WATCH YOUR BACK and you almost certainly couldn't have published your short stories in paper format. Tell us a bit about those stories and why you wrote them. Isn't it enough to be a successful novelist?

Jim: I love the short story and novella form. It used to be we had a thriving short story market in this country, lots of pulp and slick magazines. But that all dried up except for a couple of little magazines, through which it is impossible to make a living. And yes, short story collections are rarely published in print form.

So, here is a way for me to write short form suspense fiction and publish it. As I said, there's just no downside to that. I can provide entertainment for readers at a low cost, and everyone's happy.

Randy: I bought COVER YOUR BACK last week and read through it in a day. Great read! Lots of fun for those who like darkish fiction. What advice do you have for someone contemplating writing exclusively for the self-publishing market?

Jim: First, always be about getting better as a writer. That should never stop. I started in this business 20 years ago and have kept on studying the craft all that time.

Second, be sure to have your story vetted by several "beta" readers, and even consider paying a freelance editor to go over the manuscript. Readers do notice if the text is sloppy.

Third, hire a good cover designer. You have to make a good first impression with your book cover.

Finally, make some long term plans. What kind of writing will be your specialty, your "brand"? As you build readers, they are going to expect some continuity in your work. That's not to say you can't be flexible and try new things, but an audience is grown largely by coming to rely on the type of story you produce. Think of Stephen King and John Grisham. Even they did not deviate from their genres until they were well established in them.

Randy: Great advice, as always. Thanks for telling us about your adventures on Planet E, Jim!

If you're interested in checking out what devilish games Jim plays on his lead characters, have a look at the Amazon page for WATCH YOUR BACK. Priced at $2.99, it's a darned good deal:

(Standard full disclosure: The above link contains my Amazon affiliate code.)

I hope to get my own first self-published e-book into cyberspace this month. The book will be one of my previously published novels, OXYGEN.
The premise: An explosion on the first mission to Mars leaves four astronauts with only enough oxygen for one of them to reach the Red Planet alive. NASA engineers feverishly plan a rescue mission, but it's hopeless unless somebody can figure out which of the four astronauts is the saboteur.

Watch this space for more info on OXYGEN.

So there you have it, readers. I found this article fascinating and a huge "thank you" once again for Randy's generosity in letting me share this with you on my blog.

I would be very interested to know how many readers of my blog do read e-books. Could you please leave your comments about e-books for me? I need to continue learning all I can about them!

Of course you will be hearing more from me about my first published e-book, Justice at Baragula, in the weeks to come.
Oh, and I was also told the first two books in my Baragula series are also in line to be released as e-books - but that's another story!

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Books – And More Books!

I have another birthday looming in a few weeks – or is it a couple? Well, already I’m being asked, “what would you like for your birthday, Mum?” I think I heard my daughter sigh at the other end of the phone when I promptly said, “a voucher for buying books.”

There are just so many wonderful books I’d love to buy, especially Christian novels which are not in our local library. Then of course, being a hoarder I love to keep books but our bookshelves are already overflowing – out to the garage actually! I checked out our last credit card statement and was a bit ashamed at how many times I’d put it up that month from my visit to my favourite bookshop. In fact, I’d looked at it only a day or so before our daughter rang and hence my prompt birthday wish.

So, I’m a reader who has to exercise discipline to write her own books.
But then the cover of my next book arrives.
It is actually happening! All those hours on the computer, all those moans and groans when I realised I had to rewrite “that” section, when I had to pour over the manuscript again and again trying to “get it right.” But here it is. I’ve written another book and a publisher is making it possible for me to share it with people who will actually read it!

The thrill of seeing the cover for my soon-to-be-released novel never fades. With it also comes the need to share it with my readers – and the hope they will enjoy it even if it does increase their credit card account!

Justice at Baragula is Book Three in my Baragula series and will be released in May – only weeks away now. In it readers will meet old friends again from Return to Baragula and Outback From Baragula. Mmm. . .I wonder if readers will be able to tell by the characters in this book which particular one is a favourite of mine from Book Two!

Do check out the cover and blurb on the website of Ark House Press (click here) for my nineteenth title and let me know what you think.
And now of course I’m wondering which manuscript will become my twentieth book – if I stop reading other writer’s books long enough to write it!

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

The Missed Week?

Certainly not through choice, my time sitting down this week has been limited. Even the preparations before the routine examination in Day Surgery were too uncomfortable to get much work done properly, and since the Day last Friday. . . Lets just say other parts of my anatomy including the brain haven’t been working too well and it helps to lie down!

Just one week of disruption has spilt over into so many corners of my life, including neglecting this blog.

There seemed so many things to do before the Preparation Day the day before the Day Surgery. The housework had to be up to date, the laundry finished, the last of those peaches becoming too ripe needed to be dealt with – and in between all that trying to keep up with email of course! Just in case the after effects would limit my time on the computer, there were several projects to try and finish, including the talk for a Rotary meeting the evening before the Preparation Day of fluids only and yucky other stuff to force down. Despite my eating restrictions I had to watch while we had dinner, that talk did turn out quite well.

But I didn’t manage to do that workshop on writing a synopsis and hints for submitting a manuscript to publishers. I hope it may help other writers at the meeting next Monday of the Society Women Writers Tasmania – if I can stand and sit here alternately long enough to finish it!

Hopefully next week things will be back to normal because the “to do” list seems to keep growing. There is the Bible Study elective for the Women’s Conference for later in March, all the organising of the book launches, the promotion of Justice at Baragula and helping Ray with his books too. I am thankful to have a guest author, Paula Vince booked to be my guest on my next scheduled post on the International Christian Fiction Writers in a couple of weeks but there are another couple of blogs I've been asked to be a guest on - will let you know about those as they happen.

Mmm. . .after writing about all those commitments it seems I should be looking more closely at my diary before agreeing to accept anything else? Her Outback Cowboy has to be written some time!

To catch up on these and several other commitments looming closer, perhaps as soon as I can I will need to burn that midnight electricity well into the night.

So, how do you handle having to miss days when you know you should be doing more than sitting awhile, lying down awhile and perhaps reading or watching TV?