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Posts Tagged ‘book launch’

I knew it would be quite a long drive to get to my friend Sue’s recent book launch, but I definitely wanted to attend. After all, having just launched my own ninth book, I know full well what it feels like to put our creations out there in public for the first time. Besides, I had been involved in editing Sue’s book, Skinny Girl, in its final stages and was also present at the writers’ conference where she received her publishing contract. I remembered that joyful moment—and now I was looking forward to another equally joyful one.

Soon after lunch that Sunday then, I headed down to Wollongong, about a two-hour drive from home. All went well for a while, but then the rain came, followed by heavy fog which blanketed the surrounding bushland and road ahead, so that I could barely see the taillights of the car in front. Then I noticed a sign flashing above the road that was almost illegible in the fog. Eventually, however, I was able to make out what it said:

Use hazard lights in fog. Stay under 70kph.

I slowed down. Perhaps that would be enough and I could do without those hazard lights. But … wait! Where were they anyway? I remembered locating them on my husband’s car, but where were they in my own ancient Ford Fairmont that has done over 260,000 kilometres? After all, I have only been driving it for around twenty-one years! By that point, most other cars had their hazard lights on, so I hunted around, but could not see that red triangle anywhere. Then in a moment of inspiration, I peered behind the steering wheel and found a mysterious, red button. I pressed it—and lo and behold, those hazard lights started flashing!

I reached the launch safely and, by the time I drove home, the fog had largely lifted. But as I reflected on my rather scary experience, I began to suspect God was speaking to me through it. How often has that thick fog settled around me whenever I become over-busy, so that I cannot seem to connect with God easily? How often have I not read or perhaps noticed that big warning sign across my path, reminding me I need to draw close to God again? Indeed, how often have I even deliberately ignored it, thinking I can survive in my own strength?

It’s a dangerous place to be, isn’t it—in either a physical or a spiritual fog? We feel helpless, directionless and adrift. How much we need those hazard lights around us and that strong presence of the Saviour right beside us, strengthening us and showing us the way forward! In a physical fog, one mistake and disaster could happen. In a spiritual fog, we can forget altogether who God is and how God longs to walk with us each day, loving us, guiding us, watching over us.

However dense that fog in our lives might be right now, let’s reach out to God again. And let’s keep our eyes focussed on God’s light that can illuminate even the darkest, foggiest roads ahead.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6

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‘You are one of the most loyal people I know,’ someone told me years ago. At the time, this comment puzzled me because I was sure I had never consciously chosen to live that way. Instead, I had always thought that, if anyone truly believed in someone or in what a particular group or organisation stood for, then of course he or she would remain loyal to them.

Since then, I have become a little less naïve and have realised this is not always the case. Sometimes, we become bored or perhaps disenchanted, for some reason, and want to try something different. Sometimes, we get a better offer. Sometimes, we are less than honest and trustworthy in our relationships. Yet we all need and long for those faithful, loyal friends who will stick by us, don’t we?

Recently, I have been busy promoting my latest novel, Down by the Water¸ an historical novel set in Queensland in the early 1900s. In order to let family, friends and acquaintances know the book is available, I sent out emails and also held a Facebook Live book launch. I did not know what sort of response to expect from all this, especially since I have never held a Facebook Live launch before. And I was also aware that many of my family and friends do not want more books lying around at this stage of their lives. Nevertheless, over this past week or two, I have received emails from a good number of them, ordering a copy or arranging to drop in and pick up one—or more—from me.

As well, some have even bothered to email me after finishing the book to tell me how it impacted them. When such emails arrive, I feel relieved, but also so thankful. You see, many of these people have stuck with me throughout my whole writing journey of around fifteen years now, buying a copy of each book I produce and encouraging me along the way. They have truly been such loyal, faithful supporters—and I am so grateful for each one of them.

But experiencing their generosity of heart has caused me to think about myself too and how faithful and loyal I am each day towards others—and towards God. Sometimes, I say one thing, yet do another. Sometimes, I want to be faithful and loyal, yet I lack the courage to do so. Sometimes, I choose an easier way. Sometimes am I more like the Apostle Peter than I care to admit, telling Jesus I will never disown him, then doing exactly that (Matthew 26).

Yet I love how, despite Peter’s downfall, Jesus reinstates him and commissions him to care for his sheep (John 21:15-19). And it’s such a relief to know Jesus will always welcome me back too with that same love and forgiveness, when I am less than loyal to him. But that doesn’t mean I can take such kindness and mercy for granted. Instead, I need to be as faithful as I can be, loving Jesus with my whole heart and serving him with joy—forever.  

Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Proverbs 3:3

May God enable me—and you—each day to do just that.

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TIL035Just over a week ago, I held my own personal launch for my latest novel The Inheritance. We decided to keep it low key and opted for a simple celebration of coffee and cake in our own home. I invited only a small number of family and friends because our house isn’t large and I knew I would see other friends wider afield when I spoke at their church or group.

I hesitated about having a launch at all this time, mainly because I was too busy preparing to head interstate to speak soon after. But as I reflected on the evening, I’m so glad I went ahead, because God used it to remind me of several things for which I need to be so thankful.

I realised, for example, that some friends present have actually attended all my launches over the years since my first novel was released in 2007. Some have tracked with me even before that, from the time I first began writing in 2003. Another friend who was there on the evening emailed later and used the term ‘champions’ about these faithful friends and supporters of mine—and that is exactly what they have been. They have wanted to see my books published and for people to enjoy reading them. And they have wanted me to be happy and fulfilled in what I believe God has called me to do at this stage of my life.

I also realised later that three women from my little prayer team of nine who pray for me whenever I am asked to speak somewhere were also among those able to be present. I value them and all the women on this team so much—it is wonderful to be able to email this group before I speak anywhere to let them know where I am going. Afterwards, I always email a little report of my latest ‘adventure’ to them too, as I am aware they like to know how it went. How blessed am I to have such excellent prayer support wherever I go!

And again I was reminded on the evening how much various family members and friends have helped me in practical ways in my writing journey, as I watched my husband and a friend washing up afterwards and our daughters, who had both baked wonderful cakes for the launch, sorting out the food. Another friend had lent us an urn for the evening, two others gave me flowers, while several more offered to bring food. Some other authors present later reported about the launch on Facebook, complete with an image of my new novel, which helps so much promotion-wise. And, of course, a good number bought a copy of The Inheritance on the night, while some who had already bought it still came to support me.

How thankful I am for God’s grace shown to me via these wonderful friends and family! May I never ever take them for granted—or God’s amazing and abundant grace to me, for that matter.

Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits … Ps 103:1-2

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P1030746To celebrate the launch of my first non-fiction book in October, a friend gave me the very thoughtful gift of a new journal. Now this isn’t any old journal, I hasten to add. It is from Turkey and is handmade, with a wonderfully ornate blue cloth cover, decorated with gold thread and patterns of green, red and white, and the word ‘Türkiye’ (the name the Turkish people call their country) on the front and back. As well, there are small, metal triangular pieces attached to each corner, so the whole thing does not get worn or tattered. And inside are lots and lots of lovely blank, white pages!

Now when I was in Turkey once, I saw a similar one with a deep red cover in a shop in Istanbul and could not resist buying it. I was so looking forward to using it, but some time later, when another good friend celebrated an important birthday, I realised I needed to give this journal to her. It just seemed right in so many ways—and I know she truly appreciated it. Not long after, I mentioned this to my friend who was still in Turkey and asked her to buy me another one if she was ever in the vicinity of the shop where I had bought it. Time went on and I forgot about it—but obviously, my friend didn’t. So what a special surprise it was to receive such a precious and moving gift from her when I least expected it!

And this week, I decided to begin writing on those pristine pages it contains. Despite having a few unused ones in my old journal, I wanted to commemorate the start of my writing year in some significant way. But what should I write first? My thoughts about my writing at this point? Perhaps my own personal prayer for the year ahead? Or maybe a quote from one of several good books I am currently reading?

In the end, I believe I made the best choice. On the first page of my new journal, I copied out the words of Psalm 33:20-22 as neatly as I could:

We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield.

In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name.

May your unfailing love rest upon us, O Lord, even as we put our hope in you.

Can you think of a better statement or better prayer with which to begin a new year? I know I can’t. This world really is an uncertain place, isn’t it? No one can say with complete confidence that they know what 2013 will hold for any of us. This past week, parts of our country have been in the grip of catastrophic bushfires, which can turn and race this way or that, according to which way the wind is blowing. One moment, those living in these areas had homes and property and businesses and livestock and pets—and the next, it was all gone. But for any of us, there is no real certainty in life. Yes, there are those who love us deeply, but they may not be able to be there for us forever. Only God is eternal.

So may you too face the year ahead with hope and trust in the Lord, fully aware of the Lord’s unfailing love resting upon you, whatever happens!

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I could have gone away on a short trip with my husband these past few days, but, much as I love him, I was not interested in going. For starters, we have only recently returned from a busy time interstate, followed in quick succession by the launch of my non-fiction book Soul Friend. But secondly, I knew I needed some space—just a few quieter days when I could get my bearings again. Have you ever felt like that?

At times when I have been too much ‘with people’ for my introverted self to manage well, an old poem I studied at high school pops into my head. It is by Wordsworth and begins like this:

The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!

Now in these past few weeks, I have been very happy that ‘the world’ has been with me! I have been part of events that were very necessary and with people whose company I enjoyed. I have given input at a writers’ getaway. I have sat signing my books in a bookstore. I have spoken at three meetings in widely differing settings. And I have held my own book launch—a wonderful time when friends came together to celebrate the release of my very first work of non-fiction. I loved relating to people in all these contexts. But there comes a time, even after the most rewarding run of public events, when the world definitely seems too much with me.

I doubt Wordsworth meant exactly what I mean by this phrase. It seems he was writing about the materialism he saw in the world around him—how people had lost touch with nature and with the whole spiritual dimension of life. It is hardly too materialistic for me to care about speaking at meetings where I hope to point people to God and encourage them to use their gifts to bless this world in whatever way they can. And it is very necessary for me to promote my new book via a launch or any other way. After all, I believe in it and want people to read it. Besides, even if all my books sold at every event I spoke at, I would not be raking in my millions!

But after such busyness, I feel I need to give myself time to find myself once more, to let the fragments of my spirit come together again, as it were, to sense God’s close presence around me and to be realigned with God’s purposes for the next thing I am to do. Not that I jump into preparing for that straight away. For a while, it is as if my spirit needs to be healed, replenished and strengthened by God’s Spirit. And for me, that means quietness and space by myself—a little retreat from that place where the world is too much with me.

Just now, I found myself longing for some encouraging verses from Scripture. I picked up my bible and the page opened at Psalm 46:

Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. (10-11)

That says it all, don’t you think?

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This week it was brought home to me again how much our lives can impact others. As a writer, I always hope my books will spread far and wide and encourage those who read them in some way. To me it is a wonderful privilege to be given this opportunity. But what about our more personal, one on one relationships? Often these can have a much deeper and far reaching impact than we realise or could ever imagine.

This past Sunday, we held the launch of my non-fiction book Soul Friend here in Sydney. Soul Friend is the story of my journey with my mentor or spiritual friend Joy, now in her eighties, and the close relationship that developed between us during our fifteen years of meeting together. I believe God brought Joy into my life just at the right time when I needed someone to walk closely with me as I returned to study, then headed into local church ministry and from there into writing. At the launch, I was able to interview Joy briefly and highlight how her input into my life has strengthened me to do what I believe God wants me to do. Joy has passed on to me so many beautiful insights from God through a variety of means—and I am grateful for them all.

But at my launch, I also interviewed a younger woman whom I myself have mentored for around fifteen years. She is based overseas, and I find it a great privilege that she still welcomes me to be part of her life in such a role. In the process of that interview, we talked briefly about how she herself mentors others in the country where she serves God and how that can be a difficult task at times in a place that is by and large hostile to the gospel.

As I went to move on with our book launch program, this same friend was suddenly impacted with an insight, I believe from God, about our respective mentoring roles and shared it with us all. She drew our attention to the fact that while Joy had walked with me and helped me grow in my faith, so I had then functioned in the same way with my friend. She in turn has now done the same with one new believer in particular where she is based, journeying with her through many struggles and helping her draw closer to Jesus. Now this same believer is learning to be a true spiritual friend with even younger believers herself, modelling what it means to be a woman of God to them, just as my friend has done for her.

And so it goes on, stretching not only across the world but also across the generations. It is a special ‘chain of grace’ I feel so privileged to be part of. How great is our God that, as we invest ourselves in others’ lives and share the wisdom and insights we have been given, our small acts of obedience are multiplied in this way?

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. Eph 3:20-21

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There I was one day last week, working away happily at my computer, when I heard a few dull thuds outside. Thinking it was the neighbours doing something in their yard, I didn’t investigate. Besides, it was a windy day—perhaps a few small branches were being tossed around. Later, however, when my husband opened our front door to go out, he almost fell over seven large cartons blocking his way. On each carton was a label saying ‘Leave at door of delivery if unattended’. Well, we had definitely been home all morning—but no one had rung the doorbell. Still, I guess the contractor thought we wouldn’t miss the little presents he left us.

My heart stood still when I gazed at those boxes. You see, I knew what they contained—my first copies of my brand new non-fiction book, Soul Friend, due for release next month!

Now this is my sixth book to be published, so one would think I’d be used to the whole process. But I find this moment when new books arrive to be rather daunting, for several reasons. Firstly, I always have to steel myself to open that first box and see what my book actually looks like. Of course I have seen the proposed cover online—but will the real thing look as good? On this occasion, I find myself a little shocked at the bright orange cover, which I expected would be much closer to a deep yellow/gold colour. But I’m still pleased with how it looks and feels as I quickly check through it.

Secondly, as I gaze at these seven boxes now on my study floor, I realise I need to decide yet again where to store them in our small house! Until I complete my new Soul Friend website and am able to offer them for sale nearer my launch date, these copies need to find a home here. Having juggled boxes of books for quite a few years now, I have become adept at turning them into coffee tables, benches and the like! It’s a challenge—but not insurmountable.

Much more formidable in my mind, however, is the challenge that lies ahead of promoting this book, not only via my website but at the various venues where I hope to speak or display my books. You see, I am well aware this will involve much hard work, lots of emails and many hours preparing for speaking engagements. It will include setbacks and doors closed to me—but it will also, by God’s grace, include many open doors and times of great encouragement.

And right now, that is where I need to focus—not on the potential difficulties, but on the wonderful opportunities ahead. From the very beginning of this Soul Friend project, God has been with me—and I know this will not change now. As I stand on the brink of this new adventure, I believe that if I continue to look to God for strength and guidance, I will not fall but stand firm, whatever happens.

I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. Psalm 40:1-2

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I wonder how you choose to spend your spare time. For many of us, it can be a bit of an unknown quantity—and that’s why I recently questioned the wisdom of spending a whole day at a retreat, focusing on what God is doing in my life. It is also the reason I almost thought twice before offering to care for our grandson for the day this past weekend because our daughter was unwell. After all, I had deadlines to meet and a book launch and other events to plan.

As it turned out, my day spent with God was invaluable—I am still reflecting on how it rescued me from becoming far too inward-looking and anxious about my writing to facing the future with much more thankfulness and joy. And as for my day with my ‘little man’—well, yet again he managed to wrap himself around my heart with those beautiful, big smiles of his. I watched him crawl for the first time and also saw how his face lit up when his father arrived home—precious, irreplaceable moments now etched in my memory.

It’s all a matter of perspective, isn’t it? What’s really important in our lives, when all is said and done, and what will turn out to be something that in the end isn’t doesn’t mean very much?

A short while ago, I was chatting with my sister. She and her husband currently have their son, daughter-in-law and three lively, young boys living with them while their own home undergoes a ‘makeover’. Already the family has been there for several months and will be for a while to come. Now my sister is doing lots more washing and cooking that she ever dreamed she would be in their retirement, yet she is happy to help out. She knows how significant this is for their little family—and I’m sure those three boys will long remember the months they spent living with Nanna and Grandpa and the special things they did together.

‘What’s a year in the big scheme of things, when all is said and done?’, we both agreed readily enough. You see, I have learnt this well in my writing journey, where it can take many months and even years to complete a book, only for significant parts to be thrown out during the editing stage—or worse still, for the entire manuscript to be rejected by a publisher. Yet, if we are doing exactly what God wants us to do in those days or weeks or months or years, isn’t that what matters?

I have come to the conclusion that our God, who is eternal, sees time just a little differently from me. And God also knows what things are worth pouring those days and weeks and months into—and what are not. So these days, I’m trying to listen more and recalibrate my life according to God’s agenda rather than my own—our God who declares, ‘There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven … (Ecclesiastes 3:1).

So how is your recalibrating going? It’s a lifelong learning project, isn’t it? But let’s not give up trying to ‘number our days aright’ as Psalm 90:12 puts it. One day we will see as God sees.

Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. Psalm 90:12

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It’s great, isn’t it, when we meet up again with old friends we haven’t seen for ages and the connection is just as warm and close as it ever was.  It’s like everything else falls away and we are once again appreciated essentially for who we are, irrespective of anything we have achieved in life.  The friendship is real, reaching across time and distance.  We feel valued, loved – and our hearts melt.

Last week I held the book launch for my third novel ‘Laura’.  One friend who attended has known me for around forty-five years.  We were at high school together, but lost track of each other for over forty years.  Then around three years ago, she managed to find me again – and our friendship has become even stronger, as we mutually support each other in our various endeavours.  In fact, she was the one who originally invited me to a holiday camp as a teenager where I discovered for myself how Jesus Christ loved me so much and gave himself for me.  At that camp, the best friendship of all began for me, as I came to understand what it really means to be a child of God and to be welcomed back with open arms into his family.  Just like the lost son in Luke 15 in the bible, I knew I had come home to where I belonged.

Many of my other friends who celebrated the release of ‘Laura’ with me have attended all three of my book launches in recent years.  They have hung in there with me, faithfully supporting me as I pursue my literary endeavours, cheering me on as I seek to bring my dreams into reality and do what I believe God has called me to do at this stage of my life.  They have stuck with me – and I am so grateful.  And whether my faithful friends know it or not, they mirror God’s own faithfulness and love to me – a love that will never come to an end and will see me through all the ups and downs, all the disappointments and successes of my life.  That is exactly what God promised thousands of years ago to Joshua:

As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.  (Joshua 1:5)

Whatever happens, it is so reassuring to know that God is in it all with me for the long haul.  I will never be forsaken – and in turn, I don’t plan to forsake God.  I’m in it for the long haul too.  I truly want to be ‘God’s friend’, as Abraham was called, to the very end (Isaiah 41:8; James 2:23).

How about you?

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