Mary books

Friday, 30 March 2012

Writers too busy to write-or just procrastinating?

I envy my husband who seems to be able to write his posts for Ray on Monday so on time and so faithfully. He usually also seems to take a fraction of the time it takes me to share with you each week. Now, is that because he writes non-fiction and I write fiction? I would be so interested to know what other fiction writers think about this.

I wrote articles as well as short stories for years before I even thought about attempting a novel. Those articles were never easy to write and now I find it harder to write a short story than several chapters of my novels! I really love getting "into the head" of characters in my books. However that only happens the way I love when I've spent time getting to know them inside and out as my Creator is the only One who knows me. When I do "know" them there are those wonderful, too few moments, when writing a scene that they say or respond to situations in ways I have not planned. There have even been times when I've re-read sections and scenes written like that and think, "Did I really write that?"

Sigh. Now if only that would happen a lot more!
Sigh. If only I had the ideas to write like this post that seems to be flowing tonight - even if at least twenty-four hours late.

Perhaps my whinging is why it is "flowing"? If that is the case, I think it is long past time I stopped boring you and went to bed instead.

Oh, an excuse why this is late? Why, Ray and I with our daughter visiting from Melbourne went with our son and his four children to see the Lorax movie last night. A great fun time and we enjoyed the movie very much - but I did become rather car-sick on those bends between here and Devonport! 

Another sigh? I'm outa here!

Hoping you are not the same!

Sunday, 25 March 2012

It’s Time to Offend!

What is needed within the Church arena is a good dose of spiritual vitamin ‘C’. That is ‘C’ for the Cross. Paul put it bluntly to the Corinthians, ‘The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God…For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know Him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe.’ (1 Corinthians 1:18, 21.) The Greek word used for ‘foolishness’ is folly (moria from which we get moron.)

If the preaching of the cross unleashes God’s convicting, converting power what does it say about the decline in Church growth and the powerlessness of preaching and worship? The cross is inseparable from Jesus Christ. Whenever the follower of the Lord seeks to divorce the one from the other, the blessing of the Lord is strangled. Within the Western Church we are breeding a generation of well meaning ‘do-gooders’ keen on ‘spirituality’ (however defined) but not bearing the cross, denying self and following Jesus.

The preaching of the cross was not only foolish in the Church’s beginning, it was foolish. The Greek word used means ‘scandal’. Why? Because Jesus was crucified as a blasphemer and political threat to Caesar! For us God endured all the worst that Humanity and the Powers of Darkness could do. The resurrection of Jesus crushed sin and death’s hold over humanity.

By the silence from the pulpit about the cross what is really being conveyed to the World? The preacher and that congregation are ashamed of the Lord Jesus as the crucified and risen One. Why then should the non-Christian be interested in becoming a disciple? Also, Jesus warned would-be disciples about being ashamed of Him. ‘If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.’ (Mark 8:38.)

The preaching of the cross has never been popular yet it has ever been the power of God to transform individuals, families and society. The Lord never called His servants to be popular but to be faithful in lifestyle and proclaiming the Gospel. Whenever the Church has taken its eyes off the Cross, it has sunk into the morass of ritualism and insipid moralizing. Renewal begins with a rediscovery of Romans 1:16, ‘I am not ashamed of the Gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jews, then for the Gentiles.’

May we be grabbed by the implications of the Apostle Paul’s love affair with Christ and the cross: “May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” Galatians 6:14.

Ray (unashamed of the cross) Hawkins.

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Romance Writers of Australia conference “Taster” in Tasmania

How much value do writers put in sharing conferences together?

Last year an email to all members of RWA in Tasmania from the RWA Event Coordinator started it.

With old friends at 2007 conference
 Over the 20 years since their annual conferences over a weekend commenced, I have only missed going to a handful. Last year I was unable to attend the conference across Bass Strait in Melbourne, so I greeted the idea of having an RWA Tasmanian Roadshow here in 2012 with enthusiasm. Unfortunately, I had several commitments booked already this year so felt compelled to state that while I was very happy about this, I would be too busy to be able to help very much with the organising of this one day seminar.

Famous last words?

First of all a decision had to be made where this special one day event could be held. One multi-published author in the south near our capital, Hobart, was facing surgery in the new year and unable to help. Another keen supporter there also would be out of the state for some time at the beginning of the year. It seemed there were at least three of us in the north who were able to look into venues. Bit by bit, I became more and more involved, especially when Launceston area was decided on. Different responsibilities were divided up amongst the three of us and another couple of writers in different parts of our island state.

We wrote down the names of speakers we would like to have share workshops and speaking sessions with us. I became the Speaker Liasion and so became more and more involved. I wonder how many of you are smiling at me by now – especially those who know “Mary just can’t help herself!”

For far too many years I wrote without regular contact with other writers. We lived in a country city hundreds of miles from Sydney when I went to my first ever writers seminar in Sydney. It is now many, many years since that wonderful day which helped confirm my dream of one day becoming a writer. There was only irregular contact with other writers after that for years until a small number of folk interested in writing for the romance readers began to meet in out town and I heard about the new organisation, Romance Writers of Australia was being commenced.
A short time after becoming a member of the fledgling RWA, in one of their newsletters I read about a new bookclub of Christian Romance novels by being commenced in Ohio. I will be forever grateful to the editor of that HeartsTalk margazine for the information that eventually led to my first contract and first book published.
In previous blogs I have shared other photos from conferences.
Here are a few more of writers at RWA annual conferences over the years. Some I have met for the first time and always a delight to put faces to author's names on books I've enjoyed. Other writers seeking to be published have been met year after year and how wonderful to be able to see them after they too have been published.

So now, I am looking forward to be able to help provide this opportunity for other romance writers to hone their skills, to encourage them in their journey to publication. We are thrilled that we have three wonderful, multi-published authors coming to share with us at the RWA Tasmanian Roadshow on May 19th. While this will only be a one day event we are trying hard to make it a true “taster” of some of the things writers can expect from the annual RWA conferences.

Meet our special guest speakers!

All three are multi-published, award-winning romance authors in different romance sub-genres.
On the left meet Melanie Milburn from Tasmania. We are so proud of our "home-grown" author!
On the right is Ebony McKenna from Victoria who writes Young Adult books.
And Fiona Lowe also from Victoria is published in medical romance novels.
It is a big commitment for these generous writers to take time from their own busy schedules to share their expertise with us.
Registrations are now open but close on April 20th. Please have a read of what is in stoer – and while it is a taster it will be every bit as digestible and nourishing as we can make it for one day.

Do click HERE to read about this very special event - the RWA Tasmanian Roadshow. This is a first for us here and we are excited about being able to offer this in our island state.
Remember that as wonderful as this will be, it is a mere Taster of what writers feast on at the annual conference - this year to be held at the Gold Coast in August. While on the RWA website do check it out also. I might meet you there!

Monday, 19 March 2012

Life's Hurricanes

Why was this written many years ago? The reason is forgotten now!

However, people still experience similar ‘hurricanes’ in their lives. The questions raised are similar in nature. May the answers be found from the same source – God’s Word and His grace which never lets us go.
We need to remember Lamentations 3:21-25 (NIV) :

Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope:
Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.”
The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him;

From out of nowhere it came. Sweeping across my life with the ferocity of a hurricane, it caused widespread devastation. Emotional wreckage lies strewn amidst the physical pain. I’m powerless, speechless, miserable.
Voices within and around call me to curse you, Lord!

They taunt me with your unfairness. Their words are like swords piercing the heart as they belittle your goodness and grace.
My tears burn as they fall. Weariness overwhelms.

Aftershocks batter my spiritual life. O God, unbelief is trying to undermine trust in your love and holiness.
I feel as though I am drowning in the deluge.
I cannot hold onto you.
Lord, don’t let me go.
In my numbness I feel you not. Your word is all I can take hope in.

Silence my lips from making rash comments about you or life’s circumstances.
Wipe the mist from my eyes.
I need to see beyond the moment and behold your faithfulness and purposes.

As the hurricane spends itself across my life, let it not smash me to the ground. Be the strength of my being. Let me stand true to you, surrounded though I be by broken dreams, unanswered questions, uncertainty of action.
From my quivering lips and burdened mind may I truthfully share to any who will listen, “God is Good. His mercy endures forever!”
I understand not that which has come to pass.
What I know and by an effort of my will I seek to do.
I bow before You and seek to honour You in and through it all.

The hurricanes that surrounded me all those years ago have now calmed. There may be more ahead but now I am even more certain of the Lord who loves me and can say with even more certainty:

Great is Your faithfulness!”

Ray (still sheltering in God’s high tower) Hawkins.


Thursday, 15 March 2012

The Writing hammer, chisel and polishing

Ray is sharing some thought with you this Thursday for me while I stay busy preparing a Bible study for a women's conference elective, helping with organising the Romance Writers of Australia Tassie Roadshow as well as booking airfares for trips to Queensland in August and October - the October one nice and early to use our Frequent Flyer points!

If my Bible College English lecturer was alive I think she would faint at me being a writer. I gave her my first college chapel devotional to ‘edit.’ Bad mistake! There were more red lines than black when she had finished. I still have it stored away as a memento.

What fashioned me in my desire to write? The ‘hammer’ was the environment of College with its lectures, discussions, essays. Four years of being ‘hammered’ wasn’t always good for the ego, but it was beneficial for writing. The ‘chisel’ has to be the King James Version of the Scriptures. It’s beautiful language gouged out the uncouth and fashioned the appealing in understandable and pleasant ways. The ‘polishing’ could be seen in my attempts to regularly write the front piece for the church paper.

I have a strong conviction about the printed word. It is powerful. It hangs around long after the writer is dead and forgotten. It can come ‘alive’ at any moment when a person picks it up to read. Over the years I’ve made an effort to have something in the church paper to ‘bite’ members, visitors and people who may just pass by and pick it up out of curiosity.

As I matured in my ministry, I found great insights hiding in Greek words. So many contain pictures that make the text vibrate with meaning and clarity! I wanted to share these with others. This went beyond the pulpit and mid-week study. I wanted others to enjoy God’s word in more than a superficial, feel good way. I was challenged to this by writers like of Oswald Chambers, Watchman Nee and William Barclay. It is impossible for me to reach their stature in writing, but I enjoy being blessed by their shadows.

The final catalyst in getting me to put something out there to be published was my wife Mary. As you should already know, she is a multi-published inspirational romance author and my number one fan. Because I have a heart for expository teaching I used that to develop devotionals around themes I’m passionate about.
So out-flowed ‘Children – God’s Special Interest’ for anyone who loves children, “From Eden with Love” about the mystery and majesty of marriage, and ‘Captured by Calvary’, the heart of God as seen in the Cross of Christ. As any writer will tell you there are also others screaming to be ‘birthed onto paper.’ Whether that happens is yet to be determined.

I seek to make my writing sharp, succinct and scriptural so that the reader can have an encounter with the risen Lord. Do I succeed? You’ll have to read some and make your own assessment.

Ray (still polishing and hammering out the Word) Hawkins.
Ray's books are also available as E-Books from Amazon.

Monday, 12 March 2012

Marriage! What is it?

Marriage seems to be going through some type of marital abuse. Divisions between two competing understandings create front page news with some wanting the law courts to achieve a resolution.

However, what does it mean to be married? If you accept evolution then there isn’t any meaning. In fact the implications of evolution goes against same-sex marriage for it means the end of the species. Is marriage then simply sanctioning a sexual union for statistical purposes? Or, is there a much deeper meaning behind the ceremony in which a man and a woman pledge their love and commitment to each other?

Only the Judeo-Christian faith and scriptures present the unseen, spiritual and eternal purpose woven into marriage. To understand God’s intentions you have to go to the first book of the Bible. Who was created first? Adam! How did Eve come onto the scene? From the miracle God worked by bringing her from out of the side of Adam! You and I know this isn’t the way we were born. Why then would the Lord put on record what is humanly impossible? To teach us some eternal truths!

Adam’s experience of ‘birthing Eve’ by the direct act of God is a metaphor of what would take place on the cross of Calvary. There Christ Jesus would give up His live, not only to pay the price for sin, but to also ‘birth the Church’ from His riven side.

Every-time a man and a women are married, they fulfil the experience of Adam and Eve when they came together in their sexual relationship as one flesh. Within the spiritual realm, they become a testimony of a future day when Christ Jesus will come for His bride, the Church.

There is much, much, much more to the wonder inherent in marriage, especially between believers in Jesus as Lord and Saviour. If you would like to know more I have some of it in the devotional book ‘From Eden with Love.’ This is available from Christian bookshops or direct from me. (Cost $10:00 posted)

Ray (happily married) Hawkins.

Thursday, 8 March 2012

When the courier arrives...

No matter if it is your first book, third book or 19th title, when that truck arrives at last the excitement hits. Well, at least when I know it can’t be delivering anything else except those boxes of books at long last.

The weeks, months, even years coast by. The manuscript is thought about, even dreamed about, written, re-written, edited, re-edited and submitted at last to a publisher – or many publishers for my books! Then the edits arrive, the manuscript checked and checked and re-checked again. The release date is decided and the wait for that Courier truck starts!

Well, Ray’s boxes arrived today. He wasn’t at home so I had to sign for them. And of course, he took one look at my face when he arrived a little while later and said, “the books arrived!”

I already had the scissors ready for him to open the box on top. For the first time he held “Captured by Calvary” in his hand. We are delighted with the cover and the way Rochelle Manners at Even Before Publishing has presented it. Do click on the publisher's name and read more about the book and his first two books also of course. (There have not been enough comments on his Ray on Monday giveaway for "From Eden with Love" yet but we will only draw next Monday if we have four comments! Of course, there will be some giveaways of this new book too. Watch this space!)

A little time later an old friend arrived we had not seen for quite a long time. Need I mention he took home a signed copy?

Now the wait starts to see if our friend enjoys it, if reviews are positive and, above all, if Ray’s devotional book is used by God to bless and challenge all those who read it and meditate on its truths.

Monday, 5 March 2012

Are You All I Need?

The draw for Ray's devotional book "From Eden With Love" is still open. Please leave a comment on last week's Ray on Monday to enter.

Ray says<
This took place some time ago. I wrote it to try and fill out the ‘how’ of why the Lord is all we need. Not that He is like a ‘spiritual ATM, rather He co-ops others to work with Him in meeting the needs He knows we have.

I can’t help musing over a song at church this morning. It niggled me, Lord. Took some effort to put it on hold even when the preacher spoke. The song was in many ways a love song to you. The singer sang it so well. However, every-time she sang, “you’re all I need” I felt this sentiment didn’t fully explain how you are all we need. Sometimes we get caught up in the emotion of the moment and forget you meet our need often through others.
Adam wasn’t able to sing that song. The account in Genesis records it for our instruction. He had the best of your creation yet you knew he was missing out. Your company, which must have been awesome, still left him lacking. Eve was your answer.
When you walked Judea, a leper came across your path. What moves me in reading about it was the fact that you touched him. How long had it been since he’d been touched, hugged, or had been able to embrace another? What a momentous occasion it must have been to know your touch. I guess this is the reason why the Church is in the forefront of caring for the outcastes of this world.
Lord, so many people have the need of another. The list is endless. Knowing genuine compassion in their poverty, receiving a letter in their isolation, having a hug in their aloneness, an advocate for their cause, are examples which come to my mind. When someone stands side by side in your need it’s so encouraging. The combination of the tangible and the invisible seems to me to be Heaven’s preferred option.
The apostle Paul talked about the sufficiency of your grace. He also was grateful for the tangible and practical expression of spirituality through the Philippians church. Remember when you walked this earth? The Gospels tell us how the women ministered to you from their resources. One of the sad instances, highlighting what I mean, was when you asked three disciples to stand with you in prayer. Gethsemane must have been so much harder because they let you down.
The one sitting beside me is another reason why I thought the song lacked certain clarity. You knew my need, my deficiencies, my personality short-comings and you met my need in my wife. Thank you Lord for her! If I’d remained single I guess you’d have provided friends to counter balance my needs.
There’s no way I’m downplaying my need for you as Lord and Saviour, companion and friend. What I’m contemplating is that there are times when I need the tangible touch, the emotional release, the verbal interchange of others with flesh and blood. You know that. That’s one reason you’ve put me into the Church family. For that I’m forever grateful.
Lord, let me be in some way, your tangible expression in meeting the need of another, today.
(I often like to express my devotional thoughts as a conversation with the Lord. Some would see it as a monologue but I pick up my Lord’s reply through His word)
Ray (the talkative type) Hawkins.

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Writing conferences

ACFW 2009 with Debbie Macomber,
and senior editors,
Allen Arnold & Karen Ball 
I love them. The year ahead has more to choose from too!

Meeting other writers face to face, learning from other professionals in the industry from talks, workshop electives, panels is invaluable. Unfortunately they can become rather expensive too, but I really do believe can be the difference having that manuscript die in the bottom draw or being revised and re-written to a publishable standard. Networking online has become really essential for authors and I would dare to say networking is also very important at conferences.
 They are also heaps of fun and I can’t resist sharing some photos with you.

ACFW 2009 I meet a favourite author,
Colleen Coble

Ray and I decided we had to go to the American Christian Fiction Writers conference in 2009 at Denver, Colorado and had a simply wonderful time. This year we have been thinking seriously about going again. It is in Dallas this year and not too far from some Texas friends we have made. So, off we went to the Travel Agent. The money it would cost us just to fly there was daunting. Besides, we have been involved here in Australia now with other writers’ events.
RWA 2005 one of founders,
Lynne Wilding, and famous Australian
romance writer, Emma Darcy
 Since Romance Writers Australia commenced back in 1991 I have only missed a few of their conferences. However, last year I missed the one held in Melbourne and this year had decided I also could not go to the one in August at the Gold Coast in Queensland. I have also become more and more involved in events targeting the Australian Christian publishing industry. This year the first live-in weekend for us has been organised in October, also in Queensland and why thought could not fly up there for both events.
 But I have writer friends I have not seen for ages at RWA so now am seriously thinking perhaps we can manage that conference as well as the Getaway one. Besides, have just discovered Ray’s publisher, Rochelle Manners from Even Before Publishing is going to be there also and presenting a workshop on inspirational and Faith-based Romance!

This photo was taken at RWA 2007 on the fun Friday evening with Sheila Hodgson, Harlequin M&B senior editor from London and multi-published, Australian author, Barbara Hannay.

I have been privileged to present workshops at RWA conferences in the past about writing for the inspirational romance market, and this year am pleased that Rochelle Manners from Even Before Publishing will be presenting the workshop, Inspirational and Faith-based Romance.
It seems I'll just have to try and go to RWA Annual conference again this year as well as the first live-in Getaway weekend for Christian writers in October in Queensland.
You will be hearing more about these in future blogs.
And the draw for Ray's book, From Eden With Love, is still open so do go to the post before this one and leave a comment to enter. Remember we do need at least four comments for there to be a winner!