Mary books

Thursday, 28 June 2012

How Much Have You Forgotten YOU Had To Learn?

My first two novels
During the last few years as time has permitted me, I have been privileged to have opportunities to try and help other writers attempting their first novel. Some of the mistakes in some of the manuscripts really made me blink. After reading the first few chapters of one I even groaned and muttered, “Where do I even start with this one?”

What actually decided me to mention that in today’s blog was the prayer of our delightful grandson last night. His Dad, our own precious son, had just left very early in the morning to catch a flight on the first leg of a long trip overseas. Our grandson is now just over ten years old. He thrilled Ray and I with his maturity and faith as he asked God to keep the traveller safe and watch over himself and the rest of the family. As he prayed, I have to confess having to remind myself he is still only ten years old!

I was dwelling on this again today and my thoughts went back many, many years ago to another ten year old. I suddenly remembered how I used to pray too to the Lord I knew without a doubt loved me. Certainly since then I have been learning more and more about that same Lord, more about how He wants us to pray in intimate fellowship with Himself. Even when the answers are not always what I want, I am even more sure He is listening, is always faithful to His word, and yet have I forgotten just how much I have had to learn over the years about God and His ways?

My first novel I started writing over twenty years ago. There had been a fairly brief course about writing fiction, including setting, plotting, characters and other basic elements of a novel. Even though I did buy “How to Write” books as well over the years, learning the theory and then trying to put it into practice are often two different things. Now I look back and realise just how much I gradually learnt – and not only with that very first attempt. Fortunately for that first novel I had one editor who pointed out what we now call “head-hopping” or my bad use of Point of View. For many years I did not even know the technical term for that problem. I won’t even attempt to mention the grammar I had to learn and still get wrong sometimes!

Today I am very aware that even after having written seventeen stories I am still learning how to improve my writing to try and give my readers an enjoyable “Emotional Experience”.

One problem I have noticed writers need help with I am presenting in a workshop at The Word Writers Getaway in October – “The Structure of the Novel”. It is still not too late to register so do check out the session topics available. There just might be one to help you or a writer friend you know.

There is danger in taking for granted beginners know things we have had to learn ourselves over years and now are very familiar with – even if we still fail sometimes to put them into practice properly. Now I am trying to pass on writing techniques to others, it is important to never forget just what I had to learn – and too many times the hard way from editor requests for revisions.

I would love to have comments about specific things you remember you had to learn about while writing your manuscripts.
Perhaps there are mistakes (besides typos) you see in published books you wish the writer had known about?

Thursday, 21 June 2012


CALEB Award Finalists
Ray and Mary
Ray is at the stage an author loves - receiving a cover to approve for his next book, Bethlehem's Warrior Baby. We think it is great - but more of that in days to come!

He wrote this blog post for me. He has a way with words I've always loved. I hope you are blessed as much as I have been - and am - by his devotional thoughts. There is also a quirky, fun way he looks at life, especially our world of books!
Enjoy this take from him on entering bookshops!

Screaming Books 
I open the bookshop door and the clamour begins. Do you hear it, or am I slightly (largely) off centre?  It’s as though each book on shelves and sale bins have vocal cords just waiting for customers to enter their domain.

Some scream louder into my ears than others. I’m guessing, but I imagine the same applies to you. Each of us would have different pitch levels to which our souls are attuned and pick up the vibrations of the books on our wave-length. For me it is books on background to Biblical words and history, commentaries, especially dealing with the return of Christ or about Israel. In contrast, Mary hears and responds to fiction (especially some romance novels) and biographies.

Closing eyes and wearing ear muffs doesn’t work. Books seem to have devised a way through such barriers. Should I make it past the new releases, there, waiting with many enticements is the ‘Bargain Bin’! Oh, the agony sometimes of a nearly empty wallet when ears and soul ache in longing as I scan or handle each volume.

As I stumble away from such temptation, I’m arrested by favourite authors or books written by friends. Do I have them? Do I need them? Should I support them? Each of these books whisper to my heart and sweetly cajole me to divest myself of the remaining money in my pocket.

What defences have I managed to build against such seduction and begging appeals? None really! I stay away for as long as possible or I enter their realm without money. Both fail. I can operate a credit card, an account, and pay later.

Does this weakness pass with age? Not in my case! I guess I might need a counsellor. Do you know of any good books on the subject?

PS. I’m trying to train the books I write to have a wide screaming range so that people can only silence them after being handled, purchased, wrapped and read. When you take home one of my devotionals, do let me know if such a strategy works.

Ray Hawkins —who loves the screams of books. 

Both Ray and I will be travelling from freezing Tasmania (well, it is today!) to beautiful Queensland for the Word Writers Getaway in October. 
Do check out the programme and book NOW!
Ray is a volunteer and I will be in the "editing room" as well as presenting a two hour workshop on Structure of the Novel. There are many sessions to choose from. Do let writers you know about this wonderful programme - a first for Christian writers in Australia.

Mary Hawkins - who wants you to buy, read and be blessed by OUR Screaming Books!

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Ray on Monday: It Hasn’t Happened – Yet!

In my growing up years – now in the distant past – there was a song called ‘Little things mean a lot.’ This was about doing things to enhance a relationship. In understanding the Bible something similar needs to be understood. In this matter it is ‘little words mean a lot.’

Unless we take heed to these little words we can misunderstand or misapply God’s word. What are some of those words? ‘Never.’ ‘Never again.’ ‘Until.’ ‘No more.’

In understanding God’s dealings with and purpose for Israel the above ‘little words’ have huge significance. To read some people’s views about Israel is to imagine the Lord God has wiped their name from off His slate. If that was the case then the Church and individual Christians need to tremble. For if He cannot honour His word to Israel then we have no guarantee He will honour it to us. Why? Because the Church with its greater sense of grace has proven as faithless – and perhaps more faithless – than Israel!

Following are just a couple of verses which stress some future purpose of God for Israel. Now the Devil and the World is endeavouring to prevent God from fulfilling His word. God will win, they shall lose!

‘The Lord has sworn by his right hand and by his mighty arm: I will not again give your grain to be food for your enemies, and foreigners shall not drink the wine for which you have labored.’ Isaiah 62:8.
‘They shall no more be plunder for the nations,…they shall live in safety, and no one shall make them afraid.’ Ezekiel 34:28.
‘You shall no more be termed Forsaken and your land shall no more be termed Desolate; but you shall be called My Delight Is in Her, and your land shall be married…’ Isaiah 62:4.

Again and again throughout the Scriptures God has indicated His purposes. To some it is a challenge to beat. Others understand it as words generating hope in the faithfulness of God to deliver what He promised.

To be reminded of the Lord’s revealed plans for Israel, I encourage you to read Ezekiel 34-38 and Hosea and Zechariah 14. You disbelieve them to your own spiritual poverty of God’s faithfulness.

Ray (in anticipation) Hawkins.
All who respond to this devotional by either email direct without comment, or with your email in a comment, will receive ‘Israel My Glory’, a glossy magazine about God’s purposes to this Nation. Check out this organisation, Friends of Israel, at  There will be no follow up by me after arranging for the magazine to be posted. Simply send your address to me on my e-mail,

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Winter Writing – and/or Gardening?

Just walked in after grabbing an hour or so outside before the promised rain and freezing Tasmanian winds descend again. With our heavy programme my flower garden is a mess. I’ve been trying to grab an hour here and there when the weather and other interruptions permit to try and get rid of those out of control weeds trying to choke the few roses and the poor lavender and azalea struggling to survive. The plan is to plant more shrubs and perennials then cover the garden with sheets of paper and bark to try and keep those weeds at bay.

So here I am, trying to catch my breath and think about my writing responsibilities – like this blog. It has taken me days to catch up on reading email, blogs, author’s newsletters, etc, etc that have sat on my computer to be dealt with. Yesterday I did manage to at last tidy this desk – well, most of it – by sorting out the RWA Roadshow files, the Society Women Writers TAS short story things, the Baptist Women’s Ministry registrations for Saturday week and checked if there is anything I’m neglecting to be ready for the RWA annual conference at the Gold Coast. Oh, and realised that the October weekend for the Word Writers Getaway in Queensland is looming closer and I should be preparing that workshop about the structure of novels.

So, where does all the above leave my current manuscript? Sadly, like my poor garden, it is still waiting for attention!
The trouble is I do enjoy being involved in all the above activities and I haven’t even mentioned the delight of spending time with God’s gift of our precious grandchildren. But where does my novel writing fit in all of this? Winter is a great time to stay at this desk away from the cold outside. Are any of my other activities like those weeds that have over-run the flower garden? Are my commitments out of control like them?
Are they simply keeping me too busy to write? 

Time for Mary to again earnestly seek just what God wants her to be doing at this period of her life, what HE wants her involved in.

Monday, 11 June 2012

Ray on Monday -Our Debt to Israel

Boycott Israel is a strange and twisted attempt by some to isolate Israel and cripple its economy. Such a view isn’t short-sighted, it is spitefulness mixed with ignorance and prejudice.

We will not agree with all Israel’s policies but we, especially if we are Christians, should be conscious of the debt we owe that nation. This is becoming more and more apparent as our society jets away from the moral and spiritual foundations of the Judeo-Christian faith.

Without Israel we would have no Bible. That in turn would mean we have no understanding of God or any concept of grace, hope and salvation. Why? Because we wouldn’t know of the Messiah who overcame sin, death and judgement on our behalf!

 Without the Lord God choosing the nation of Israel to be guardians of revelations, promises and prophesies, we would have no foundation for:
Understanding the purpose and spiritual significance of marriage.
How the world was created.
The beginning of the nations.
A framework for animal dignity.
Children’s welfare.
The source and curse of the occult.
Personal accountability and the climax to history.

These are but a small portion of the wealth contained in the Bible for our information and benefit.

Any intelligent assessment of our communities at this moment would admit we are in a moral and spiritual quagmire. We have no sense of absolutes, no foundation for marriage, a loss of reverence for God and a preoccupation with self indulgence regardless of how it destroys health and relationships. How has this come about? By a constant, deliberate and rejection of Christ with the undermining and rejection of the plain teaching of the Bible!

This isn’t new. How is it reversed? Not by force of arms but by force of a better lifestyle and faith based upon the Scriptures. When people in the moral and spiritual darkness long for something better, God offers His Word as their light out of darkness. How is that light to shine? When those who have trusted His Scriptures live them out and become Christ’s reflective lights in a dark world.

When we recognise our debt to Israel and accept God’s Word through them and the Church, we will no longer be in the dark about life and living.

Ray (in the Light) Hawkins.
Don't miss out on reading Ray's latest 31 Day Devotional book available from all good Christian Bookshops. Please email Ray on if you would like to buy a signed copy from him - via Mary's website and using PayPal. 

This is also available as an E-Book from Koorong and Word Australia as well as other international shops like Barnes and Noble.

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Ray and Mary need your comments

Mary's computer crashed so sincere apologies if you read Ray's post this morning before it was deleted. It was the same as last week's.

Ray and I are considering changing our posts to alternate each week so we only give you one to read a week. Ray would still do his devotional meditations and I on things that are happening in our lives, including our family and writing efforts down here in Tasmania. Could you please let us know if you would prefer this and also which day would suit you the best.

Please leave a comment or email me on