Mary books

Thursday, 31 May 2012

Writing blog posts for writers – OR readers

The question has to be asked, “Who is my blog readership? What topics are best to include?”

It has been interesting to check out the statistics on my blog posts. It never ceases to amaze me that viewers from so many countries around the world have come to my blog. Many have returned and some of course only been the once.

The most number of  reviews of my posts have been when the word “Writer” is in the title or there is of course a book giveaway offered.  I am wondering if other writers also find this happening. Is this just because writers mainly read other writers’ blogs?

“Ray on Monday” posts are devotional meditations by my husband. A few times when life for me has been too hectic – like the last few weeks helping to coordinate the Romance Writers of Australia Tasmanian Roadshow – Ray has also helped out with my Thursday posts also. His page views have also increased if they are obviously about writing.

I tend to write about what has been happening during the week in my life, whether that be primarily family or about writing and books.  The question remains, what are readers of posts on the blog of Mary Hawkins, Australian Author, interested in the most?

Okay, confession time! Being a writer, I primarily read blogs by other writers, agents and editors. However like all writers, I am an avid reader also but these days there are just so many blogs by other authors to choose from. So how do I decide which ones to follow? How do you choose?

Would love to have some comments from readers whether here or by email to mary@mary-hawkins.com.

Which blog subjects interest you the most and why?
What do you prefer to read on my blog?
What has made you want the most to be a “follower” of any blog?
Do you have any suggestions of topics you would like me to tackle here?

Monday, 28 May 2012

Ray on Monday - Jesus was a Fundamentalist

Whoa! Hold on. Don’t jump to unfounded conclusions. He wasn’t a terrorist but He was and remains a fundamentalist.

The unfortunate fact in society is the corruption of language. Someone apparently aligned the word terrorist with fundamentalist by stating how one leads to another. To lock every political theory and religious belief into such a link is unfair and unfounded.

Fundamental simply means foundational, essential. What did Jesus consider foundational for His ministry? The Jewish scriptures from Genesis to Malachi. ‘It is written’ was His conviction. People and events considered as fictitious by some critics Jesus endorsed as real. Such critics make excuses for Jesus’ conviction as simply being a man of his time. Any attempt to squeeze Jesus into a mould of conforming to the age actually undermines His total credibility. Where would you stop?

By faith based upon biblical knowledge and historical certainty, Christians believe Jesus is the Christ the Son of the Living God. Therefore we hold what He believed and said as well as what He did as fundamental to our understanding and appreciation of Him.

To be a Christian fundamentalist is to live according to the teaching of Christ. How can you link Him to terrorism when He said, ‘Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven…’ Matthew 5:44-45. He practiced this when He was unjustly crucified. Remember His prayer, ‘Father forgive them, they know not what they do!’

There are groups whose fundamental beliefs allow for and encourage death, deceit and destruction. Such are terrorists. No fair-minded person would place Jesus and His teachings anywhere near such perverted ideologies.

Jesus the fundamentalist offers abundant life, not death. He gives power to leave the kingdom of evil and join in His kingdom of grace and love. He promises to be with His disciple, unseen yes but nonetheless real, as the disciple walks in the light of Christ’s words. Such fundamentalism is good for time and eternity. I guess that makes me a fundamentalist.

Ray (a disciple of Christ) Hawkins.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

RWA TASMANIAN ROADSHOW

Last Saturday, Sarah Brabazon and I are privileged to be with three outstanding writers and speakers, Fiona Lowe, Melanie Milburne and Ebony McKenna.



Fiona Lowe presented workshops on "Maintaining Tension" and "Writing From the Male Point of View".

Read about Fiona, a finalist in this year's RITA contest, on

http://www.fionalowe.com/


Ebony McKenna shared workshops on "The Staircase Of Turning Points" and "Writing Young Adult Romantic Fiction".

Read about Ebony on her website:

http://www.ebonymckenna.com/



Melanie Milburne is well known in Tasmania. We are very proud of her wonderful achievements and so grateful she was able to share some of her insights this day with us.  http://www.melaniemilburne.com.au/

Do check out all three websites.

And then it was over. Melanie had returned to southern Tasmania and I had driven our other two wonderful and generous Victorian guest speakers to the Launceston airport for their flight back home.


An hour or so later my understanding husband quickly helped me unload the car. I was exhausted but after a cuppa still yielded to temptation and checked the Feedback Forms from the thirty writers who had attended that day seminar,  our first Romance Writers of Australia sponsored event in Tasmania.

Had writers been helped on their journey to being published? Had it been as successful a day as I thought it had been?

Very soon, my weary eyes were moist. Page after page, comment after comment. Each one thrilled me, made all the many, many hours of preparation over the months, the weeks and especially those last two exhausting days with my fellow coordinator worthwhile.

Now Sarah Brabazon and I have recovered somewhat, it is time to finalise reports for the Romance Writers of Australia’s Event Coordinator to take to the RWA executive. There is still some tidying up to do, including the list of writers who have indicated interest in forming a RWA Hub group here on our Island state.

And last night there was that email from a writer who had this brief, one day “taste” of what can be expected at our annual RWA Conferences. She is fired up! Encouraged in her writing efforts, she went home and registered to be at the Gold Coast RWA Conference this year. It will be so good to see her there, as well as so many other romance writer friends I’ve made through being a member of RWA for nearly twenty-one years. 

There is still much information and inspiration for me to personally sort through from those workshops last Saturday – as there always is after every RWA event I’ve been to. Now, just how do I improve the way I show my hero’s male point of view, put into practice those other “light bulb” moments in this current manuscript of mine?

Monday, 21 May 2012

Ray on Monday - The Case of the Lost Community Compass

A fantastic day last Saturday at the Romance Writers of Australia Roadshow - but more of that next Thursday. However, writers also need - a Compass!

A faulty compass is a silent killer or guide to an undesirable end. Many in society have accepted a faulty moral compass with distressing results. Proverbs 16:25:’There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.’

As people live by their faulty direction finder, how loud is their condemnation when things go wrong; how self righteously they throw stones at a person who is revealed as a scoundrel, thief, sexual deviant. But, in fairness to those enduring unpleasant consequences, they are the result of their compass.

Manufacturers of the faulty moral compass have worked hard and long to replace the time tested, correct directional finder for personal happiness and community well being. Such a compass was set to the Ten Commandment as absolutes to guide through life and relationships. It was there to make us appreciate our need for the Saviour and His help to live the way the compass pointed. Once rejected and replaced, men and women set their own course without having a sense of direction or an unchangeable standard of behaviour. Is it any wonder the young are exploited, the old are disillusioned and life is lawless!

God’s compass for life hasn’t been destroyed. It has been replaced. The answer to personal integrity, nobility of character, persistence in faithfulness is to reclaim the compass of the Absolute. To accept its direction will reveal personal inadequacies and at the same time point to the One who can provide forgiveness, newness and hope. As the Lord says in His word, “Why will you die?” – especially when He offers life, abundant life, with a compass pointing to truth, righteousness and justice!

Now is a good time to have a serious look at your life’s directional code. Is it leading you to disillusionment with moral and eternal destruction? You have the choice to change and reclaim God’s absolutes for a fulfilled and purposeful life. Pick up a Bible and start reading, it is absolutely great!

Ray (with the Absolute compass) Hawkins.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

IS WRITING A WASTE OF TIME?

Thanks again to Ray's writing!

I'm busy with the last couple of days preparing for the Romance Writers of Australia Tassie Roadshow and will bring a report to you next week.

Hmm, these thoughts do make me wonder what he has had to put up with from me over the years though. And now we are both writing?

                                 IS WRITING A WASTE OF TIME?

The writer’s immediate response is “No!”
The reader’s considered response is “Depends.”
The non reader’s reaction would be “Yes!”
Let’s consider…

Is writing a waste of time,
Locking us in an office
Shut away from all sunshine?
Household chores in limbo.
Keyboards clatter night, day.
Spouse, children do pray,
“Lord, grant the writer success
Or cure such an illness.
Please relieve our distress
For so much wasted time.”

Is writing a waste of time,
A poor use of artistry?
Waste bins paper filled.
Envelopes full of bills.
Rejects, rewrites, reworks
Decorate the room.
Creating images,
They cast a sense of gloom
As to whether it’s worth
Just so much wasted time.

Is writing a waste of time,
A thief of one’s vitality,
A threat to compatibility?
Changed lives redirected,
Lost people reconnected,
Ignorance corrected
Form a queue for you.
In prosperity or penury,
To affirm the writing cause
Is not a waste of time!

                                    ©Raymond N. Hawkins. May 9th 2012.

Monday, 14 May 2012

Ray on Monday - When God Sings

Zephaniah 3:17 The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.
Those who hold the Bible as God’s Word telling of promised events, some fulfilled, others still to take place, they are aware of a great tragedy foretold. Everyday rumblings of this coming event can be heard, a nightmare in the making. The fact of it being detailed is to prepare God’s people to face it with the confidence of His victory. Following what various prophets and the Lord Jesus spoke about concerning the nightmare to come, Zephaniah presents a most tender finale. What he wrote about the Eternal God and Jerusalem surely can find a similar experience in your life, my life, when the nightmares of existence come to terrorize.
The Lord is with you. Unseen, often unfelt yet He made a promise to be with those who have called upon His Name. We overlook such verses as Isaiah 63:9 “In all their distress he too was distressed.” When Saul was persecuting the Church Jesus confronted him with these words, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” Every time a disciple was afflicted it cut into the heart of Jesus.
He will take great delight in you. It’s as though when you enter His presence through the furnace of oppression the Lord desires to make it up by enjoying your company in a special way. The picture to the heart is one of the Lord with the individual sitting together looking at a sunrise and the Lord listening to the person’s story.
He will quiet you with His love. The turmoil, tears, tragedy which haunted and harmed body, soul and mind begin to subside in the Lord’s presence and compassionate understanding. It has a renewing effect in the goodness and grace of the Eternal God. Isaiah looked down the tunnel of history to make this observation: “The fruit of righteousness will be peace; the effect of righteousness will be quietness and confidence forever.” (32:17). The reality of Christ’s imputed righteousness is the basis for future, as well as present day peace and confidence in the sovereignty of God and His companionship.
He will rejoice over you with singing. What an amazing promise waits to be experienced! The Bible is filled with the redeemed singing praises to the Name of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Zephaniah is the only place where God sings. What does He sing? It is untitled but it is a song of joy and victory, of pleasure and love. Can you imagine what a glorious solo this will be on behalf of His people? This is specifically promised to Jerusalem and the redeemed of Israel. Surely it also embraces all who find salvation and security in Christ Jesus. The voice of the Lord will be heard from one end of the universe to the other and will begin a festival of celebration. What a fabulous victory concert is in store. We may live through sorrow, grief and pain but with Christ as our lord and His word as our guide, we look forward to hearing the Lord God burst into song.
(Ray (Lover of God’s music) Hawkins.

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Mothers - Some Children do Have ‘em!


Ray with parents
and sister Lois
                                                                                
Our daughter points the finger
at her mother!

                They 
                really
                 do!    
                                                                                              
                
                                                                                  
Some Children do Have ‘em!

Some children do ‘ave ‘em,
Mothers that is.
Well,
All have mothers, but
Some have mothers that are
            ‘Top of the morning’
And
‘Pick of the crop’…
And all that!

Some children do ‘ave ‘em,
Fathers that are
Glad that God gave them
Treasures in soiled nappies
            To nourish with love
Through
      Growing years …
And all that!

Some children do ‘ave ‘em
Mothers with an
Understanding of their
Youthful needs and fear
            Wiping their tears
With
       Tenderness …
            And all that!

Some children do ‘ave ‘em
Mothers who show
Pleasure to their offspring’s
Gifts and abilities
            Creating esteem
And
                Shaping dreams …
            And all that!

Some children do ‘ave ‘em
Parents who can
Value faithfulness
Esteem truthfulness
            Create stability
  by
                   Personal nobility …
            And all that! 

Raymond N. Hawkins 2012 (revised)

Mary the baby-who did have a
wonderful mother.  




Wearing the white flower for 
Mother's Day
But Mother took the photo!

     

                                                              


Monday, 7 May 2012

Ray on Monday Comparing Ministry - Then and Now

Farewell - and (official) retirement
from Maitland, NSW, 2001
1970 with Graeme Irvine
visiting from World Vision














I’m retired – well mostly.
Some preaching and Bible studies are done between grandchildren, gardening, volunteering at Seahorse World and writing. When I reflect upon my ministry which began in Bible College in 1960 and the expectations of today, I think I had the best of the eras.

Preaching, teaching, people and pastoral work were my priorities. Administration, a weak spot, best done by others, if possible! I accepted the ministry as a 24/7 calling. This was offset by a flexibility most jobs didn’t afford. Being accountable to my elders and the Church helped keep me focused also.

Today as I look at the ministry being done and expected I think I would feel shackled. A minister is under obligations, regulations and expectations by Government requirements, Denominational ordination obligations for upgrades and refresher courses plus the local congregation’s expectations. There is little escape from mobile phones, websites and e-mails, compiling reports and police checks, community and Church conferences – to name just a few.

Many local church members long for the former days when the minister was able to major on preaching, teaching (from the pulpit or in classes), and pastoral care. I would imagine many a minister would like that too. Unfortunately present day responsibilities can push those three way down the priority list.
There are a couple of good things which could come out of all this change as each member of the congregation rises to meet new changes in worship.

1… Spiritual maturity is sought so as to stand tall even when standing alone. Who knows when the experience of Paul might be personal.
       ‘At my first defence, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me. May it not be held against them. But the Lord stood by my side and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed.’ 2 Timothy 4:16-17.
2… Compassionate concern for those within your personal sphere of influence, whether church or community!
       ‘Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking on your own interests but each of you to the interests of others.’ Philippians 2:3-4.



I love the Lord and am grateful for His call to ministry. I’ve been blessed by the local churches of which I’ve been a part as well as enriched through God’s word as I’ve studied it, preached it and written about it.

Would I be a minister in 2012 if I was 21 again?
Yes! Still, I have to admit I’m glad I was 21 in 1960, not 2012.

Ray (claiming to be retired) Hawkins

Thursday, 3 May 2012

My Writers’ Conferences and Seminars



Lynne Wilding
and Emma Darcy
- a long time ago! 
 
Another RWA conference
united with my
 old RWA group


Denver, USA, 2009
With a favourite author,
Loree Lough

I’ve lost count now of the number of these special events I’ve been privileged to attend since I first became serious about trying to write back in the early 1970’s. Until Romance Writers of Australia held their first weekend event they had all been one day seminars organised by different writer’s groups I’ve been a member of – including RWA. 

In the early years, RWA’s main annual events were held in Sydney. I attended my first one way back in 1991. I sold my first manuscript to a publisher in 1992. Since then I have only missed attending a few annual RWA Conferences. Need I say more about what I think of these great times and just how much I owe RWA?
Today our Annual Conferences have grown, quickly spread from that first one day event to two, then three and now four days in August each year. They eventually moved away from only being in Sydney to now alternate between Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane or Gold Coast. Over the years, too many romance writers across our large Australia find travel costs, and perhaps even being away from family and work responsibilities also, make it too difficult to attend. The last few years RWA have sponsored day seminars in areas across Australia a long way from the annual conference cities. These are called RWA Roadshows and are only a brief “taste” of what our annual conferences give to writers.
Perhaps I should not have been so surprised October last year when an email arrived in my Inbox from the current RWA Events Co-ordinator. It started with, “In 2012, Romance Writers of Australia would like to take Roadshow across water for the first time—to Tasmania.”
Wow, I was thrilled. Then I paused and thought of the already busy programme ahead of me in 2012! So when I emailed back I mentioned I would certainly support a Roadshow here in my State but because of previous commitments doubted I could help very much with organising it. Famous last words! Perhaps I just can’t help my self?
There have been several times over the years at different writer seminars and conferences I’ve presented talks and workshops to try and pass on a little of what I’ve been learning and trying to put into practice. I’ve even helped in other very minor ways on the actual days but have to honestly say have had no real idea just how much work it all takes. Now I’ve been involved in being one of the Tassie organisers for just one special Roadshow day here on May 19th, I realise how much I have taken for granted those many, many volunteers who each year organise our conferences and special events.
Venue, budget, programme, speakers, catering, registration forms, advertising, Goody Bags, meetings and emails to discuss and make decisions - and so on and so on.
The RWA appointed team have been wonderful helping and guiding us through so many different processes. Published authors are being so supportive. Now the registrations have closed and we now know numbers, there is still much to do.
Excitement is mounting. Several writers are coming from interstate. Some are experienced writers, most are novices. Two of our three speakers, Fiona Lowe and Ebony McKenna come from Victoria, and our own award winning Melanie Milburne from Hobart will be joining us in Launceston. They all write for different romance sub-genres, are multi-published and award winners. We are delighted that since accepting our invitation to be a speaker, Fiona has become a finalist in the Romance Writers America RITA award – the “Oscar” for romance writers.
Just over two weeks to go. Still much to do. Please forgive me if I am slack with posting here for the next few weeks!
The Tasmania RWA Roadshow needs my attention!