Mary books

Monday, 30 April 2012

RAY ON MONDAY - Whether We Like It Or Not


God is getting bad press, again! He rules in heaven but earthlings delight in expressing their independence of Him. When their plans go wrong, God is at fault. When a debate arises about qualifying for entrance into glory God seems to be expected to defend His standard. Why? Because it discriminates against personal assessments of their perfection! God is unfair, unjust, unloving, unkind to exclude anyone from Heaven.

It’s interesting that so many demand the right to independent action even when it is contrary to a set standard of God’s revealed word. Complaints stream from their mouths when things go wrong and consequences roll over them. When you explain that God’s standards would have prevented such repercussions they object. Why? God is seen as a ‘party pooper.’

If God imposed His will over us, He would be viewed as a tyrant. If He lets us have free range He is fun, until we crash. Then the Lord is uncaring. When He offers us a choice of destinies and the one chosen leads to an eternal sadness, we criticise Him for having two roads. Sometimes when our choice leads to an eternal joy the human heart can too often think they have earned it.

Whether we like it or not we have the right of choices. We do not however have power over the consequences. There are many illustrations dealing with choices in the Bible. Perhaps the best is Matthew 7:13-14. There is the Broadway and the Narrow way. The former is rejection of and indifference to Christ Jesus, the cross and Godly living. The fun offered at the beginning becomes despair and poison along the way to destruction. The narrow way appears stark and demanding, yet opens up to the traveller meaning, hope, joy and the companionship of the Lord God.

One day we will all appear before Heaven’s Judge, whether we like it or not. The decision He makes about each person’s destiny is easy. It will depend upon the road each has travelled, whether we like it or not.

How do you cross from the Broadway to the Narrow way? It is only possible by calling out to Jesus Christ to pull you out and place you in the acceptable way. This is a Faith issue whereby you make Him Lord and Saviour of your life and destiny. That is why Jesus is called ‘The Way, the Truth and the Life.’ He is the way to the Father’s presence. John 14:6.

Ray (on the narrow way) Hawkins.

Ray's three books of his 31 Day Devotional series, as illustrated on the right, are available at Christian bookshops - especially in Australia and New Zealand - as print books and also as E-books. (Captured By Calvary still to become available on Kindle, but all three on Koorong (Australia) and Word Australia websites.)
 All our books can be purchased from our website using PayPal. 
Cost: Ray's books are AUD$10 each and the Baragula books AUD$20 each - plus postage of course. Click here for our website and email us for more information

Thursday, 26 April 2012

SEASONS –IN A WRITER’S LIFE

For me, this tree a few kilometres from our house stands out as a never ending sentinel to the changing seasons here in our corner of beautiful Tasmania. There are a few other trees further along the road that change also with the seasons but this one just stands out to me as we drive past. Even though most days we are still enjoying warm sun, right now the leaves are showing the signs of cold nights, warning that our winter of short sunlit days and freezing winds are on well on their way.

Yesterday was our ANZAC day of remembering soldiers of Australian and New Zealand forces who lost their lives for us to be able to live in peace and freedom. So many stories told by returned soldiers over the years. We pause and remember, listen to stories on the radio. We watch T.V. news of ceremonies and dawn services all over Australia - and Gallipoli. We watch documentaries about past wars, past stories of individuals. We read stories of tragedy, of triumphs, of loss and grief.

Today I realised anew how many young men and women have gone through that terrible season of their lives in too many wars.
And what about writers? Sometimes writers do feel they are in a different kind of “war”.
Recently I have been pondering on the different “writer seasons” I have been on during the last forty-two years. Or has it been an even longer journey than that?
And what season did it all commence for me? Winter? Spring? Summer? Autumn? I have to be honest and say I personally am not quite sure. I have always enjoyed “writing” in some form or other from letters to the diaries I started when I was fourteen years old. I’ve shared many times how my husband read them and challenged me about having a talent for writing. See my website by clicking here.

But what can I call the season when I actually decided to try and write that first novel, decided to try and become “A Published Writer”? Some might say it was in the hot days of summer I started to study Fiction Writing and eventually began that first fiction manuscript. However, autumn soon followed with the desire growing cooler as I discovered it was no easy task to keep writing, keep persevering until I could write The End.

The heat of excitement and anticipation of receiving a publisher’s contract soon turned to those cold, icy days of reality – rejection letters in a winter season.

My tree loses its leaves in winter. The branches become bare. The wind lashes it but the roots are deep in the soil. Although we cannot see it, winter is the busiest time for that tree. It is being nourished deep within the earth so the green shoots can one day burst forth.

And so the seeming winter season for a writer should also be the time of digging deep, of learning, of being nourished both physically as well as in the things that build the writer’s own character. There is still so much to be aware of, to know about a writing career in readiness for the seasons still ahead:
How and where to submit that manuscript.
How to cope with rejections.
How to re-write and re-write and re-write.
For me it is still about learning more about telling a page turning story, the structure of a novel, grammar and punctuation(Ouch!) All the time learning, growing as a dedicated writer both physically and spiritually.

My tree is also the first on that road to show that faint hint of green. Spring, new life and hope, is on the way.

Spring for the writer may include those “light bulb” moments when something read or told about the craft of writing fiction becomes understandable, doable. Green leaves start to replace the seeming barrenness. Hope grows stronger as I persevere.

Then when fully developed in its summer growth, the manuscript finds an editor who likes it. It is published at last. Great rejoicing. But then the next season hovers once more. Hopefully this autumn is shorter than that first one, but there will be readers who did not like my precious baby. Reviews are not always as glowing as you would like.

At the same time the next manuscript is already being written. Perhaps as autumn begins to colour the leaves, there are problems with the plot, the characters won’t behave. Winter is closing in again but I must remember that difficult season is all part of the writer’s life, the continuing learning curve. It should still be used to bring new strength, new nourishment ready for the excitement of spring and the heat of summer.

The scriptures remind me, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven." (Ecclesiastes 3:1 NIV)
God knows the season I am in right now. He knows the season you are in. The most wonderful thing to be sure of is that no matter what the season my life is at any time, God is there. He never changes. His love and mercy endures for ever!

And so as autumn fades into winter, I continue to cling to Him through all the seasons for strength and wisdom.
And keep writing!

Monday, 23 April 2012

Ray on Monday - I Sit As Time Flows By.



Our first son. . . 
 


. . . he sleeps












Here I sit,
  Time flows by
     As though a stream.
I see it not
  Yet, it passes by.
     I care not.
I’m on duty.
  My grandchild sleeps
     Weary and worn out,
Wrapt in dreams,
   Renewal underway.
      Contentment I feel,
          Privileged,
  To sit beside him 
    As time flows by.


Our second son
with his first son

Memories arise,
  Years come back,
     Beside a bed I sit,
One of our children
  Sick or injured sleeps,
    Trusting eyes shuttered.
Snuggled under blankets
  Yet with untucked hand
     Firmly holding mine
Sleep’s therapy tasted,
  Parents concerns eased,
    Faith’s prayer a comfort.
We count it an honour
  To have sat there
     As time flowed by.


with first grandson

Once again I sit
  Beside a little one,
    And time trickles by.
When his eyes open
  Secure he’ll feel,
    Reassured.
With a smile,
  A big, big stretch,
    He’ll recognise me.
Refreshed he’ll be,
  Blessed I’ve been.
    So it’s worthwhile,
My point of view,
  To sit beside him
    As time flows by.

                              ©R.N.Hawkins 20/04/2012

Thursday, 19 April 2012

AN AUTHOR AND AUTHORITY


Once again my dear husband has written this Thursday post for me. I seem to be involved in too many things lately and I am humbled by the way he can think of these thoughts to bless and challenge me with. I sure hope they do you also!

I am so privileged to have had his support for my writing ever since he challenged me that I had some talent writing and "what are you going to do about it?"
Writing a previous article I wanted to define ‘authority.’ Of course to the dictionary I did go! It stated that the word came from the Latin ‘autoritas’, from ‘auctor’, meaning author. On the strength of that I perceived that an author has the right to command, take control, and enforce obedience within the realm of his or her domain.
With pen or keyboard we are to rule over our kingdom of words and story line. Unfortunately we know that within any society there are those who flaunt the established authority. They have a cost to pay. We also understand there are some who counterfeit certain roles within authority and fraudulently use their ‘power’ for selfish purposes.
Do you think I’m strange when I say the same thing happens in the creative realm of authors? There are some plots, characters, ideas which want to assume your authority and take you where your whole purpose of writing has no intention of going. Still they persist and the author needs to exercise his or her authority. We all have met or heard about those claimants to inspiration who insist their words have been dictated or approved by the Lord. Reading even part of the script reveals some other force has taken over. May our Author save us from similar deception or lack of personal authority for our framing of words!
As a Christian writer I consider myself an ‘under-author’ or ‘under-writer.’ It’s a similar concept to the Apostle Peter’s claim that Pastors are under-shepherds to the true Shepherd, Jesus. (1 Peter 5:2-4.) However I sometimes behave similar to the self-willed words which want to do their own thing. Fortunately my Author exercises His authority and disciplines me as He determines. This, it seems to me, is a good guideline to our responsibility within the story we are writing.
Most of us will never be a Jane Austen, William Shakespeare or Charles Dickens. Moreover, there seem to be countless books around telling the story close to our heart. Why then should we bother expending our time and energy in dominating our characters and story line, especially when they want to be naughty? Would I be too vain in saying we need to write for our present and future generations the well told drama between Christ and individuals. Old plots need refreshing, modern characters face old challenges in different guises, and devotional meditations require the fruit of modern research.
When you sit before your keyboard or doodle with your pen, may you have the scent of authority as you bring words and characters to ‘life.’ Your characters etc may have some good things to say and offer in their ‘self assertiveness’. However you must be the one in control! Take the worthwhile, abandon the rest and chastise errant words. The end of the story will thank you. So too will the readers.
Ray (learning to be authoritative) Hawkins.

Monday, 16 April 2012

Q AND A OR S AND F

Q & A has become an Australian television program with a good rating. I must admit to not liking it. Why? Mainly due to people wanting to show their ‘Q’ and not really wanting an ‘A’ which disagrees with their view.

Over the years of my Christian ministry I’ve met many, many such people. They would glibly say that if I could answer their ‘Question’ they would either come to church, do a Bible course or some such ‘religious’ thing. When I’ve given the ‘Answer’ you could almost see their cockiness turn sour. Immediately they would try and bounce back with another ‘Q’ so as to wriggle out of their promise.

In my experience there are just a few who really want a genuine ‘A’ to their genuine ‘Q’! This covers all of society. Do evolutionists have an open mind to hear the ‘A’ to their ‘Q’ from creationists? Rarely! Do those dressed in a Christian veneer gladly receive the Bible’s refutation to their ‘Q’? Unlikely! Are people ready to forsake an indulgent, godless lifestyle to live righteously? They ‘Q’ God’s character and Word because His ‘A’ is upsetting to their choices.

In the Reader’s Digest some years ago a cartoon depicted these mindsets. A lawyer in a hospital bed was thumbing through the Bible. His visitor mate asked if he was turning religious. No, was the reply. He was simply looking for loopholes.

As my years pile up I’m less inclined to play the ‘Q and A’ game. If people really want to know about God, the Scriptures, forgiveness and eternity I’ll spend unlimited time with them. Jesus summed up those two letters when He said ‘Seek and you will Find!’ They must have a genuine ‘S’ factor from which they will work through the issues to the ‘F’ factor.

When a person has an honest intention to seek the Lord, the Bible promises he or she will not only find, but be found by God. Jeremiah 29:13 God tells us, ‘You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.’

It is when you persevere with the ‘S’ factor, you ‘F’ a new attitude takes over. Then when we have a ‘Q’, I pray we will be humble enough to accept the ‘A’.




Ray (‘Found’ because he ‘Sought’) Hawkins




Wednesday, 11 April 2012

WHEN WRITING IS HARD

I think all writers have “hard” times of writing when the words, ideas, just will not come or flow properly. I certainly do!

It is now many years ago since that day I was whinging to my teenage daughter about needing “something to “happen” in another manuscript. She said, “For goodness sake, Mum, get a gun and shoot someone!” Well, for that story, Burnout, I did get the gun and had a fun scene with some drunken hooligans doing some target shooting enough to traumatise my heroine already traumatised by guerillas in Africa. Then of course there is that old kangaroo shooter and the shoot out with “baddies” in the Baragula books.

I have always admired writers who somehow manage to work on more than one fiction manuscript at a time. It has always seemed that my brain can only deal adequately with the one set of characters and their story.

Depending on how much of the manuscript I have written before an interruption so I have to switch gears, I have even found it difficult to get back into the story when the current manuscript has been interrupted for many hours, days, weeks, by other demands on my “writing brain”. These include such things as requests for a rewrite from an editor on another story, or even having to again read through a manuscript in the proof editing stage. It seems once I have to become immersed again in another story the uncompleted one is so very hard to pick up and continue writing.

And of course, there are more than these two interruptions that disrupt my writing a manuscript but the following will do for today.

After having successfully sold my Harlequin medical romances and Heartsong Present books, I ventured into writing single title manuscripts. When my first one was completed, I started again going through that realm all writers hate - submitting and receiving rejections again. Of course, this meant the same manuscript was rewritten and rewritten and rewritten.

Not wanting to repeat the mistake I made over thirteen years of rejections on my first ever manuscript, I decided to start writing another book rather than wait until I had sold Return to Baragula. An idea had been brewing for awhile and I always toss story ideas into a folder. So, the setting, the story, and characters were chosen and at last I started writing Her Outback Cowboy. Then the major interruption came.

At last I had signed a contract for Return to Baragula. Very exciting. However, during the rewriting and working on that story, as had happened with my Heartsong books minor characters started to demand their own story be told. Now that at last a publisher was going to release Book One , the next two in that Baragula series had to be written. Poor Her Outback Cowboy had to be put aside – until recently after the launch of Justice at Baragula.

Other interruptions have come while trying to get back into the heads of these new main characters, Jenny and Dave. Er... sorry, make that Jennifer and David! Now I have written well over 40,000 words written of what will probably be about 85,000 – 90,000 words of their story but this last week or so just seem to be stuck for “what happens next”.

I didn’t like the prologue I had written a few years ago so am trying to weave the same information into the story elswewhere for the reader. I am beginning to think I have not researched the setting enough, the possible physical and spiritual conflicts enough.

And... Horrors! Not enough has “happened”. Where is the action? Is it boring?

And what am I doing right now?

Well, besides probably too much reading of other writer’s books, I find all kinds of things that just have to be done around the place. And of course, the writing at this section of the story I’m at right now is so hard, I’m procrastinating by writing a blog post about how hard it is to get into Her Outback Cowboy again by writing about how hard it is sometimes to work on an old manuscript again.

On second thoughts...
Perhaps I do need to “get a gun” into this manuscript! But being another inspirational romance, the hero or heroine mustn’t shoot at each other of course.

But what if... ? Nah, that won’t work. Had stolen cattle in Outback From Baragula.

What about a flood? Nah, had that in Return to Baragula.

Maybe the jealous neighbour from the closest homestead hundreds of kilometres away turns up again? Mmm...
It will probably just have to be that gun once more!

Monday, 9 April 2012

Ray on Monday - JESUS IN THE CRITIC’S TOMB

 Ever since the angel said ‘He (Jesus) is risen’ critics have sprung up to say it didn’t happen, couldn’t happen, wouldn’t happen or shouldn’t happen. Among the first were the group who arranged for Christ’s crucifixion. They are the ‘Hysterical Critics’. All they had to do was arrange daily tours to the sealed tomb to prove their point. If on the other hand the claim was the body snatchers had done their work, a trial would have won their day.



Since that first century we could call the next group of doubters the ‘Historical Critics’. As they look back on this event and put it into their perception of events from that era they come to two views. One view is Jesus didn’t exist. The other is He did exist but one way or another He died and His bones are still in the tomb.

Strange how these critics, with their inevitable sense of superior insights, call into question the character, veracity and suffering of those who agreed with the angel’s declaration. Remember, the apostles and others had no vested interest in promoting an untruth. Their conviction that Jesus had risen and ascended to glory, as Scripture foretold, landed them into all shades of strife. Disowned by family, ostracised by their nation, persecuted by foe and friend and ultimately ‘enjoying’ a horrible death must say something.

What do you think it says? They were deluded? All of them, all the time, under all types of testing? They knew the truth, experienced the wonder, and were willing to stand true to the facts!

As you read history and the numerous, sceptical critics comments about Christ Jesus and the empty tomb, one thing stands out! All want to put Him back in the tomb. He is less confronting there. The trouble comes when He keeps breaking out from their prison. Truth seekers still meet Him in the course of their search and rise up, sometimes at great personal cost, to prove the critics wrong.

“He is risen” is the testimony of history.
“He is risen” is the declaration of faith.
“He is risen” is the verdict of research.
“He is risen” is the challenge to critics.

Ray (convinced He is risen) Hawkins

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Writing Exercises

I know many of us have our thoughts now turned to Easter, especially Good Friday at this time. However, because I’ve been so late publishing my Thursday blog post, I’m typing this after a great morning spent with other writers at the Society Women Writers Tasmania’s monthly meeting.

Our meetings always vary quite a lot. The first section we share anything from the previous month that may have happened about our individual projects. Each month we are give a topic to write as homework to share the next meeting. Today the topic was “Fool”. Do I need to admit I did not do the homework this month? I have been busy with helping with the organising of our Romance Writers Australia Tasmanian Roadshow here in May. Naturally I shared about that during my turn!
Then our president led us in a writing exercise. Now, we’ve done this “slam” writing occasionally before at these meetings and I always find them very difficult. Seems I need to take too long to think about what to write – and may I say that is often my excuse for my late posts here! Also it seems that, since those weeks now over twenty years ago since I first started using a computer, my brain doesn’t usually work as well without those fingers tapping rather than moving a pen.
Today really surprised me and I’d like to share this exercise with you.

Close your eyes for about ten seconds and just think of words. Don’t think of anything else, just let words flow through your mind.
Now write down a favourite colour, then a number, a name and then a word – any word. I inwardly groaned each time Wendy told use what to write down but I played the “game” and wrote:
green    seven    Emily    workshop

Oh boy, then she said we had ten minutes to write something,anything - as long as we used those four words! And no editing!

In a few seconds I was writing furiously. I honestly was amazed how swiftly I knew what to write in that firast sentence, and did not want to stop when those ten minutes were up. The words had just flowed. We are not all novelists but of course for me Emily had immediately become a “character” in a story.
This is the first couple of paragraphs I wrote:
Emily was green with envy. If only she could go to that writer’s workshop. Seven electives to choose from! Surely there would be one that could help her write that novel.
Where would she start writing that story in her head? Characters! She needed characters. Perhaps from old fairy stories she had enjoyed so much all those years ago?

Before I knew it I had a character with a flawed past, a mother enious of her when sitting on her father’s knee as he read a favourite book to her. Parents had lied to her, he was not her biological father, and so on and so on. When the ten minutes were up I just wanted to keep writing Emily’s story!
Our president told us that it has been estimated at least one-third of writers who do this exercise then find they have the basis for a story, especially writers who write many books.
Well, I certainly proved that is what happened to me. I am still surprised, but as I read over this hand-written page again a few moments ago I sighed. Perhaps Emily’s story will be told one day. Right now I have to get back to finishing the story of Jennifer and Dave in Her Outback Cowboy.
Mmm... I wonder if Emily could be a minor character there. I wonder if that would then be possible to have Emily share in her own novel just why her mother was jealous of her father’s attention to her. How could that man she had loved and admired so much ever have kept from her he was not her biological father? And who was her real father? And why... what if...?
Why don’t you try this exercise and let me know what you think!

Monday, 2 April 2012

Ray on Monday - GOLGOTHA

Question:
What does some outlaw bike group’s emblem, a pirate’s flag and Hitler’s elite army group have in common?

Answer. A skull!

This portrayal of death reveals a morbid fascination by many around the world. What are they trying to say? Death doesn’t frighten? It’s their destiny? They are in league with death’s partner, the Devil?

Are such people aware of the fact they are wearing a symbol mentioned in John 19:1?

Carrying his own cross, he (Jesus) went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha).’ Reading that you could almost imagine Nature belonging to the Death’s Head league.

On Golgotha death vented its fury on the Lord of Life. If rocks could smile I think the hill on which the cross was erected would have smirked. It would have seemed to onlookers that death had won. Golgotha had notched up another victim.

When the cross was driven into the top of Golgotha it was a death blow, not of the Nazarene, but of the skull. It symbolized Christ’s crushing of sin, judgement and death three days later. People have searched for the actual ‘place of the skull’. To my knowledge no place with any certainty has been found. Time, armies and development have eradicated the features. Another symbolic feature of defeat!

Golgotha is seeking a return to prominence today, pushed by the world, the flesh and the devil. The craving for power over the Lord of Life knows no abating. Its tactics are more than a mere tattoo. It includes opposition to the cross, or a sidelining of its importance. Groups exist with a determination to destroy the message of Calvary. On the 29th March this year, I read a report where the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia wants all Churches destroyed in the Arabian Peninsula. (I believe he would undoubtedly desire beyond there also.)

Bible believing disciples of Christ understand the ultimate destruction of the skull. In personal experience and at a future historical time the words of 1 Corinthians 15:54-57 are borne out.
Death has been swallowed up in victory. Where O death is your victory? Where O death is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Our symbol is the cross and a stone door rolled away from the tomb. Our message is about new life in Jesus Christ in time and for eternity. So we celebrate Easter because in Christ Jesus we have cast away the emblems of the skull. Now we live in the power of the cross!

Ray (delivered from the skull) Hawkins
Ray is giving away a copy of his new 31 Day devotional book, Captured by Calvary, on the International Christian Fiction Wrters blog. CLICK HERE and scroll to The Centrefold of the Gospel post last Tuesday, March 27th. The draw will be this Thursday evening AESTime. To enter please remember you need to leave a comment on the blog.