Mary books

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Book signings and Hotel Rooms

I really was going to tell you about our book-signing in Hobart last Friday, but simply have to include Ray's take on sharing the accomodation with...well, me of course!
But first, the book-signing.

It is about a three hour drive south to Hobart, the capital city of Tasmania, but as always Ray and I enjoyed the drive despite the very cold day. We arrived there on Thursday evening and the next night after the book-signing, it even snowed on Mt Wellington which looms over this beautiful city on the shores of the wide Derwent River. We did not really enjoy the cold winds off that mountain though and were glad we had a cosy hotel room in the city centre - but more of that later!

Robyn, the manager of Koorong and her capable assistant, Amy, looked after us very well and I think they would have been happy enough with the number of folk who bought our books. The book trailers for my three Baragula books were playing on their TV in the shop and of course we had some goodies for customers to nibble on. Ray and I were delighted to have friends from the area call in and especially one couple, Harold and Jill, originally from Sydney we had not seen for many years.

But I think that might be enough about the book-signing but I do want to share Ray's rather cheeky thoughts on our accomodation  - and his wife - while away from home. He has called it:-

                                Motel and Hotel Rooms Test Relationships

Most motels Mary and I use only have one room with the necessary little room. They are usually neat, tidy and provide coffee or tea and if you are lucky, a couple of biscuits. However, there isn’t any escape for you, especially in the evenings and in unpleasant weather when you lose control of the channel changer.
What can you do when your wife wants to watch a soap opera or serial far beneath your acceptance level (especially when you want to watch the sport or cartoons). You can retire to a chair and read but how can you concentrate on the word puzzle with all the T.V. racket blaring out?

Night comes and bed calls but one of you reads before sleep and rises later than the other. How can you boil water without waking the sleeping hunk or cutie so as to cope with the sunrise?

All these traps to a healthy, happy relationship never seem to be mentioned in pre-marriage manuals or counselling sessions. If unresolved before the car starts up for the next leg of the journey it may well cause a chill in the car even on a blistering hot day.

The little room in the motel does offer some respite, but even there you can be disturbed. The answer may be ear plugs and eye patches. Better still mutual grace and compromise creates a warmth far better than any electric blanket. I’d like to adapt the words of Amos 3:3 to suit this blog. Can two endure a motel room unless they are kind to each other.

I have to admit, Mary and I have shared many a hotel room over the years and rarely has there been a chill in the car the next day. She’s nice! (And anyway there was the little room for me to do the word puzzle.)
Ray, writing from the little room.

Well, I did warn you he was being cheeky, but I hope it has given you a smile as it did me - I promise!
On the Sunday, Ray was the preacher at a church at a town called Sorell, east of Hobart. Most of you know that Tasmania was originally settled as a convict settlement and has many interesting historical places. The photos of our room in this town were taken in a cottage part of Sorell Barracks that go back to 1827. Couldn't resist the photos, but it was Ray's turn to utter those interesting but sleep depriving sounds during the night. Mmm...he was nice about it though!
You can see we do have a lot of fun together - including book-signings and hotel rooms!.

Monday, 25 July 2011

Ray on Monday: Do we need a Truth Detector?

In a recent survey in the US it was stated that 91% of so-called Christians rejected the notion of Absolute Truth. I wonder how many non-Christians reject Truth as an absolute. What do you think about it?

If there isn’t an absolute truth then there are no absolute lies. Immediately you accept such a thesis you shatter meaningful relationships and business ethics. Why? Because why would I accept what you are saying! Do you mean what you say, possibly you mean it at that moment but the reality of the meaning may change because of passion, pride or perverseness.

Our society is whinging about various breakdowns in business, family, Church and marriage but why should it be surprised. No positive or negative absolutes mean I’m god of my scene and I make the rules of meaning. Trouble is we become like the mythical gods of Mt. Olympus and not the God of the Bible.

As disciples of Christ how should we live? Under the conviction that the Bible declares Absolute Truth which is designed to bless, guard and keep us!

I’m sad for those who reject the Absolutes of Scripture for they are like tumbleweed being blown through life, restless and hopeless. The Bible calls men and women of Faith to live in the Absolutes of God.
It is time for us to be Daniel in a pagan society. It is said he ‘resolved…not to defile himself…’ Daniel 1:8. So must we. Joshua also challenges us in an outward religious society without a heart for God. His conviction stemmed from a belief in the God of Absolutes. “…as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”

Let us be people confident in the absolute integrity of God and His word.

This is Ray Hawkins - you can be absolutely sure of that!

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Writers Reading

Every published author I have ever met or had contact with has always been an avid reader – or was perhaps until writing left little time for reading other writers’ efforts. Unfortunately, I have to confess though that I have also met folk who claim to want “one day” to write a book who actually read very, very few books.
Fortunately I have only met one lady like the one visiting our church many years ago. It was not long after I had my first book released, when this rather “forceful” lady told me she intended to write a novel too one day – in fact, a “Christian one”.
I rather tentatively asked the question I usually do when speaking to a would-be novelist. “What kind of fiction do you enjoy reading the most yourself?”
She tossed her head. “Oh, I’ve never read a novel. My parents would never let us read fiction of any kind.”
It was obvious by the look on her face she was quite serious. I had just met a reader who had never read a novel and yet wanted to write one!
After a quick, inner prayer for wisdom, I tried to explain how important it was to read a variety of novels of different genres to decide which she enjoyed the most. That would be the kind she would need to learn how to write herself. She stared at me in some surprise and it was obvious this lady did not agree with me. I have to be honest and admit I am glad she did not contact me again!
My biggest problem as a writer is the opposite of this woman’s. I simply want to read and read and read books by other authors. There simply never seems to be enough time to read all the books I’d love to. Sometimes I acknowledge it is sheer procrastination when I do not feel like writing my own manuscript. This undisciplined reader then has to deliberately ask the Lord for strength to stop reading, put hands on keyboard and write!
And what helps me the most to exercise discipline to work on my own stories? Being faithful in reading the Greatest Book of all – The Bible. Not only reading the scriptures is essential but pondering on the words, meditating on how God wants me to put His Word to me into practice in my own life, how He wants me to obey Him first of all in every area of my life. I have discovered He wants my life to be well balanced. I do need to read novels because I am a novelist and these are learning tools for me. Now, how did that author engage me in her story so I did not want to put the book down? What did she/he do in a book that left me feeling unsatisfied with the characters, perhaps the conclusion?

However, I also need to put into practice all the priorities God has for me each day – and not let my sheer enjoyment of a book lead me to disobey Him that day!

And of course, some days His priority is writing posts for this blog. And some days it is doing promotional work for published books as we are doing again this week. If you know of anyone who can be in Hobart tomorrow, do let them know both Ray and I will be signing our books at Koorong shop from about 11am to 3pm.

We love to meet our readers - and to read comments here too!

Monday, 18 July 2011

Ray on Monday: Be Careful What You Spray

Ray gardening - or trying to!
I think I’m in trouble. No! I know I’m in trouble.
I really didn’t plan for it to happen. I really did appreciate it and where it was. But something went wrong.

I was spraying the weeds along the fence and certain spots in a not very immaculate lawn. I did read the instructions and I didn’t put as much in as they said would kill shrubs or at least I didn’t think I did. I wasn’t unduly alarmed when my spray splattered around the base of Mary’s favourite shrub. It was strong, young and blooming well.

It did take a little longer than the weeds and grass to go brown, but it did go that way. Not completely, but mostly. If it doesn’t rejuvenate I’m up for another and bigger one. I also have to promise not to spray near it – or else!!!

As I was planning this blog it occurred to me about how careful we must be about the words we spray around, verbally and in print. Words have the capacity to bless or bruise, crush or comfort, delight or destroy. Sometimes, in the tiredness of stress and strain something in our soul injects poison into our sentences and we spew them out carelessly. Once out it is very difficult to prevent some ‘browning’ off of the green, fresh relationship we desired. Nor is it as easy to simply go out and buy a replacement.

Psalm 141:3 “Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips” remains good advice.

Maybe we could adapt it a little for our computer age:

“Keep me alert O Lord to my transmission of words and please control my soul as it expresses itself through my fingers!”

May what we spray not lead others astray and ‘brown them off’ about God and His glory.

Let us spray!

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Eagles wings

A favourite verse of mine for many years says,
But those who wait on the LORD Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:31)

I have these two statues – not always on the piano as in this photo – but reminders God uses again and again to remind me of this truth. He alone is my source of strength for each season of my life, each day, each hour whether it be a good or bad one!

When my days have been too busy, frustrating, and at night that knowledge floods me there were too many things left on that “list” still not accomplished, HE is my strength.
When aches and pains of my body become hard to cope with, HE is my strength.
When I know I’ve failed those I love with that burst of anger, with that lack of discipline, lack of love, with that forgetfulness, HE forgives, loves, lifts me up so I can soar as those with wings above all this world can throw at me.
When I am feeling unworthy, down, unmotivated, HE alone is my true source of strength, the One who comforts, who helps me walk, and yes, even run when HE needs me to.

God uses so many varied ways to fulfil this promise in our lives – if we want Him to, if we seek Him in prayer and through His word, if we simply “let go and let God”.

Well, there I was, just checking the photo of my eagles I’d taken a moment before for this blog and in walked friends. They own Eagles Rise  in Northern Tasmania and their blog says it “provides a peaceful place for refreshment, family time, reflection and restoration, and a quiet place to draw closer to God.” (Clicking on Eagles Rise above will take you to see more of this lovely, quiet place)

Judy and Peter have been missionaries in Africa and know the true value of spending time with God, of those times we all need to simply pause and let Him give us the rest and spiritual nourishment we need.

A couple of days ago, my eagle hovering over its nest was sitting on our table when our three year old granddaughter was here. She studied him for a few moments and told me, “He looks angry.”

I studied that sharp beak, those large wings keeping him steady while he drew near to his chicks. Quietly I said, “But his babies don’t think he’s angry. They know he’s there to feed them, make sure they are safe and happy.”

Sometimes God may need to deal with us in ways that might make us think He is angry with us. Only sin in our lives makes Him not only angry but sad. We are warned in scripture not to “grieve the Holy Spirit.” This stops us from experiencing the absolute wonder of God’s loving grace and the spiritual food HE know we need from Him alone. We need to “wait on the Lord”. I believe HE is the one who tells people like Peter and Judy to prepare places like Eagles Rise for us to be “still” awhile. For me this means spending quality time not only with Him in the company of other believers, but alone so as I read and meditate on His Word I can hear His gentle whispers to my heart. As I obey Him only then can I be filled with His power to be strong enough to do all that HE wants me to do.

Monday, 11 July 2011

When you think its safe…!

After all, it was decided I wasn’t required to transport the visiting Texans to the airport at 4am to catch the first plane on their flight home. Instead of that two hour round trip, I was safely tucked in bed dreaming of cups of tea under a gumtree somewhere. Then the phone rang at 4:45am. Help! Passports had been left behind. They had fallen down and weren’t visible when packing. My daughter-in-law asked if we, meaning I, could go and mind the sleeping children (lucky ones) while she raced away with the important material.

Needless to say it worked out okay with only about ten minutes to spare! Now they are back in Texas with many stories to tell of God’s grace tasted during their two weeks here with us. Will they confess to disturbing my peaceful sleep and not finishing my ‘cup of tea’ in my dreams?

Life is like that. Just when you think everything is together, comfortable, sorted out, well planned and offering time for ‘tea’ something seems to unsettle it. When that happens more than the blood pressure can shoot up! We are silly people are we not? If we have committed our way to the Lord, He at least knows what is going to happen to unsettle us. Getting on in years has its benefits. For I’ve learnt by experience and God’s Word that He has provided for us in our unseen, unwanted and unsettled times.

What causes us to miss seeing and seizing His provision? Panic! That’s why God wants to breathe deeply into us His peace and clear our minds of anxiety by reminding us He has it under control. I might have missed some sleep, as did Rachelle, but they didn’t miss their plane. Isn’t it great when God invests in you His trust to be the answer to someone else’s need..

So, when you think it is safe…!

Ray, sleepless in Beauty Point? Oh no! Another blog post to write!

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Fellowship through similar interests and commitment

This past week has been a feast of fellowship for me with other writers and other committed Christians.

Let me start with the monthly meeting of Society Women Writers Tasmania last Monday. I was unable to go last month and it was good to hear what the writers had been busy doing. Then we enjoyed the workshop about understanding people with sociopathic characteristics and how to portray them in our writing efforts. I find these meetings with other writers stimulating, help me be more disciplined with my writing. This time I did remember to take some photos!

Ray shared on his post last Monday a little about our week of fellowship with our Texas friends. The last few days have continued to be a feast for us here in our little church in our small village on the shores of the beautiful Tamar River.

Last week we shared fellowship on a special evening for the ladies. My diet certainly flew out the window with the temptation of all the goodies prepared for us. It was a fun night which included that chocolate fountain where we coated yummy marshmallows, strawberries and even slices of banana now rather a luxury after the floods this year in Australia destroyed so many plantations! While we nibbled away (now... is that the right word or should it be guzzled for me?), it was great to chat together and get to know women from our area. Later we were blessed and also challenged in our daily walk with God through the items in song and the talk by Heather Horton from Lake Fork Baptist church.

Well, that was last week’s feast for fellowship - especially with other women - but yesterday and today were added feasts as we shared a morning tea again with women in our neighbouring village. Today I was privileged to take our three ladies from Texas to enjoy with me the Beaconsfield Aglow meeting. Another time of praising God and this time being reminded that God’s promises are sure, certain and He never fails to keep them. But what about promises we have made not only to others but especially to God?

And perhaps the fact I kept forgetting to take more photos to share here and on Facebook is an indication how carried away I get at times when sharing God’s Word with other women. It is not only a time of enjoying fellowship but sharing the challenges to live as women who belong to Jesus Christ. Only then can God be glorified in and through us as we not only “talk the walk” but “walk the talk.”

And so, I've enjoyed fellowship these past days with writers who share with me a passion to put thoughts in words on paper and women who seek also to be strengthened in their Christian walk and praise the Lord as I do.
What kind of fellowship do you enjoy the most?

Monday, 4 July 2011

Whatever the Weather!

4th of July is America's Independence Day and we have our team from Texas still with us this important day for them. Thought I'd share this photo of Ray and I visiting a Rocky Mountains lookout in Colorado back in 2009 and also in one of the shopping centres in Denver. If you click on the photo to enlarge it you should see words of their national anthem above our heads. We flew from Denver to Dallas and visited the Lake Fork Baptist church in Texas where our team here comes from. We are so grateful to them for their generosity in helping our little fellowship reach out to our community with the love of Jesus and want to honour them this special day - despite the really bad weather yesterday and again today here in northern Tasmania.

Children and wet weather are not a good combination. Fortunately in the first week with the Texans it was cool but fine as they ran the Children’s After School Club. The numbers were down. Not being school holidays didn’t make recruiting for the time any easier. Still, on the Saturday, there were a number of children enjoying games, bell ringing, stories and craft. The concert that night was beaut. We were encouraged by the number of parents and friends present who were there for the first time.

Sunday night the weather changed. It was cold, wet and windy. Adults may handle it better but not by much. Still our 5pm service was well attended despite cold noses and frozen toes. It has been great to see some of our young people being involved for the first time, singing or playing the guitar up front. Chris spoke on Nehemiah and applied Nehemiah’s approach to building Jerusalem’s wall to how we need to approach building relationships for the Gospel.

This week will be another busy time with meetings each night and some during the day. A men’s Barbeque is planned for Wednesday night. Will it be outdoors? Not if the weather man is correct about rain, snow down to 300 metres and wind. Oh well, indoors or outside a burnt sausage smells and tastes the same!

Whatever the weather however we will hang in there thanking God for what we are about to receive. As Paul reminded the Thessalonians, “In all things give thanks, for this is the will of God for you.” So whatever the weather, whether we like it or not, in the discomfort of getting wet or the pleasure of sitting near the heater, we say thanks. Why? Because it expresses our confidence in the faithfulness of God to us and His over-ruling of what happens. So, wherever you are, in whatever weather you are standing or hiding from, say thanks to God. Why? ‘Cause it could be worse? No! Because He will be either teaching you something or displaying something through you to others.

From wet and wonderful (W)ray.

Friday, 1 July 2011

YouTube book trailer, my first e-book and other new book events

Ever curious about what published authors are doing when their latest book is released - besides trembling with nerves and excitement of course? Well, perhaps I should make that the weeks and months before the book is released as well as those days and weeks once the book is on the way at long last to readers.

Months ago when my publisher, Ark House Press, told me the month Justice at Baragula would be released, the action commenced. Emails started going out to my family, friends, acquaintances and to the six – no, make that seven counting Tasmania Writers Centre – organisations I am a member of. Then of course there was my networking on the internet, including Facebook, this blog and also the International Christian Fiction Writers blog I contribute to. No, I haven’t yielded to Twitter!

Then we heard that my husband’s two books were to be released the same month as mine. Action Stations! As mentioned before here, we organised those two book launches. Emails flew to and fro organising those special events. Then of course there was advertising to do in any way we could through our Christian contacts in Melbourne and also in Tasmania. We have had radio interviews and our first book-signing with another booked for July in Hobart – more about that later.

Now, during all that activity, as I had for the first two Baragula books I emailed Misty Taggart at Trailer To The Stars to have a video book trailer produced for this third Baragula book. When the time came for her to make the trailer her husband was very ill in hospital and our son who was to do the voice over became extremely busy becoming “Mr Darcy” in a theatre production of Pride and Prejudice. The trailer was completed several days ago now but this is my first chance to let you know about it! I am also in the throes of copying all three Baragula book trailers to DVDs to be able to give to bookshops who are willing to use them in their stores.

The other exciting news is that Justice at Baragula is now available as an e-book from two major Christian Bookshop outlets, Koorong and Word. My publisher is also endeavouring to soon have it available at Amazon for their Kindle.

And so, what else should a writer be doing at this time? Writing her next book! And that is what I am finding very difficult to settle down to now. Somehow I have to make the time to finish Her Outback Cowboy.

Do have a listen to this latest book trailer on YouTube for Justice at Baragula.

And please leave a comment here to let me know what you think of it – and the other two for Return to Baragula and Outback From Baragula on YouTube also if you have not seen them before this.

And now it is nearly bed-time so that manuscript will have to wait - again. Oh, but I should mention I am at last able to see the top of this desk after a clean-up today. Mmm... Wonder what else I'll find to do tomorrow instead of writing that manuscript