Mary books

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Nervous Workshop Presenter

I wonder if other authors feel as inadequate as I sometimes do after presenting workshops for other writers.

Fortunately I had managed to get a large part of the two hour workshop on structure of the novel prepared before illness struck at end of August. The last couple of weeks before flying to Queensland to the Word Writers Getaway I did manage to finish it but, being the perfectionist my husband calls me, I still felt under-prepared despite my nine pages of notes.

I did spend quite a lot of time talking about choosing and plotting a very interesting, intriguing story. There are many articles and even books for writers about the different ways to plot a story. This alone shows how important it is to study the elements of writing a novel before ever trying to write that manuscript – especially that first manuscript. I still need to study and try to put what I learn to ever improve my writing. As I try to finish my 19th inspirational romance manuscript, I know now only too well that trying to take “short cuts” in plotting a novel simply does not work! And there is still one of my manuscripts sitting in a drawer waiting for a rewrite after being rejected years ago.
It is also important to write only what I myself am passionate about. I wonder if anyone who has read my books have picked up at least one aspect of Christians’ relationships with the opposite sex I am passionate about?

Another essential element in creating a novel that has a good structure is choosing and adequately portraying characters. There are other elements of course we need to know about to try and capture the readers so they have to turn to that second page, but creating characters that make them care enough about them so they want to keep reading – and enjoying – the whole book is vital. I know my Creator knows me inside and out - even better that I do myself at times. So as the creator of my fictitous characters, I need to know them like that also.

Some of those other elements of course include choosing point of view, whether to use third or first person, how to make dialogue real, goal of characters, the conflict, the motivation driving the main characters, more hints how to create and maintain tension. In fact, each element needs a workshop of its own. Each needs to be studied. Then the writer has to try and put them into practice in that writer’s own unique style with the aim of captivating the reader for the full length of that book to a “satisfying and knockout ending” as James Scott Bell describes in his book Plot and Structure.
I highly recommend this book which is published by Writers Digest. The blurb on his website states:
"Since its publication, Plot & Structure has consistently been one of the top selling books on the craft of fiction writing. From story idea to strong plot line, this book will show you how to write a solid novel, every time out. You will never have a structural weakness again. These principles will free you to add your talent and voice in the most successful form possible. “The best book on writing I’ve ever read!” - Colleen Coble, Bestselling Author

This is available in print and e-book and there are other helps for writers on his website. Do click on his name above to go straight to it.

To help me choose what topics to offer to present at future workshops, I’d love to hear comments from beginner novelists what they need to study, or what authors now wish they had known more about before their first book was published. Is there a reader who would like to make any suggestions too about weaknesses they have seen in novels?
Yes, you guessed it! I am going to be the leader again at the Faith and Arts Creative Writing - fiction at the Tasmanian Poatina Faith and Arts week in January. Click here to go to their website.

Thursday, 18 October 2012


With Jo Wanmer and
Anne Hamilton
Writers do enjoy spending time together. Well, at least this writer always does and I love weekend conferences with more time for one on one fellowship.

Ruth Bonetti with George
and Rita Galieh

My husband, Ray, and I arrived home from Queensland to cool Tasmania only last night from The Word Writers Getaway. This was organised by Rochelle Manners, the publisher of Wombat and Even Before Publishing books. Omega Writers is a major sponsor. The Omega CALEB book awards were announced this weekend.

All except one cabin bag has been unpacked, our clothes are washed and on the clothes-line but I am still sorting out books, workshop notes and all that has to be thought through after an event like this. I hardly know where to start sharing with you this wonderful time with other Christian writers, so am just going to mention just a few thoughts this time.
The original Alpha2Omega seminar in 1999 was the first time I met some of my favourite Aussie Christian authors from around Australia. This year is now the fourth opportunity to share together in Queensland and so there were many hugs with friends made at these events. It was exciting to meet new folk for the first time, including writers from New Zealand and especially those who have until now only been “internet friends” like Skye Wieland.

My two hour workshop on the structure of the novel went quite well except, as usual, Mary did not finish all her notes, talked too much and so no time for a second writing exercise as I’d planned! I have to confess that during the last fifteen or so minutes I was beginning to feel very weary – a left-over from my recent ill-health.

We talked about how important it is to choose an interesting,  intriguing plot with believable characters and conflict that takes more than a letter or conversation to resolve. Hopefully the writers will study in more depth some of the techniques I only had time to touch.  

Unfortunately time ran out before spending as much time as I would like to about including the spiritual elements when plotting a novel. Hopefully I did mention how important it is to show the reality of characters’ faith by how it is shown by their actions and not just having them pray and go to church meetings, etc. Of course, even if briefly, the GMC of novel writing had to be mentioned: Goal, Motivation and Conflict. I believe this is particularly so in the lives of characters’ spiritual lives.

There were sessions about book trailers and how they help promotion, eBooks, online presence, writing irresistible book proposals getting and writing reviews. I spent two sessions in the “Editing Room” talking to writers about their current manuscripts and look forward to future contact with them.

So much more to share about that weekend: the great book stall, the launch of several new book, the Sunday morning church service. However, I may share more another time but do check out other blogs about the Word Writers Getaway at Alexander Park Conference Centre on the Qld Sunshine Coast.

It was a busy time. I talked so much, enjoyed listening so much that only thought to get out my camera a couple of times! Dah!!

There were a few changes mentioned for future events like this. But more of that next time – perhaps.

Speakers and presenters of workshops and panel sessions.

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Getting back into higher “Gears”

Hard to believe it is a month since my last post here. It was an effort to write that one but I did have to share the important news of my Return to Baragula being featured first on the new Australian Christian Readers Blog alliance. Apologies to my followers and those who have viewed my blog since then.

Ever driven one of those small cars years ago you had to put the gear lever to that very lowest gear to climb up that steep mountain road? My little Hillman sedan did make it all the way from Toowoomba to Sydney back in the mid 1960s. It chugged up those steep mountains and raced down valleys in the highest gear only to face another mountain. Today’s cars and improved highways make that trip much faster now. This last month I’ve discovered that as our bodies get older they too need to be in “low gear” and it takes longer to make it up some mountains. That rotten large kidney stone which blocked the pipe caused a rotten abscess that gave me rotten blood-poisoning.

The second trip to hospital for over 24 hours got rid of the stone and stent from the last surgery but I still have to chug up some mountains in low gear again. I am very thankful that each day I am managing to do more and puff and pant less - in fact change to higher and higher gears!

Today I managed to help Ray to join Facebook. He is now a reluctant “Facebooker”, still adding to his Timeline page but is there at last!  Despite his two hour round trips to visit me each day I was in hospital and spoiling me wonderfully since I’ve been home, he has still managed to post on his blog and continue to write more devotional thoughts for more books in his 31 Day Devotional series of books.

His latest book will be officially released to shops in November in time for Christmas.

These devotional meditations will open your eyes:
The baby born with a sword.
The conquering Lord.
The wonder of Christmas.
His victory in your life.

However we do now have copies of Bethlehem’s Warrior Baby he is selling at half price, $5.00 (plus postage). Do let us know if you would like copies. And you can use PayPal - see my website (which still needs updating!). 
  We are both looking forward to sharing with other writers in Qld at the Word Writers Getaway next week. This is sponsored by Omega Writers. They have just commenced an email group for members. If you are a member do join this Yahoo group.