A Day in the Writing Life of …. Mary Hawkins

Today, we welcome Mary Hawkins,  an inspirational romance author who writes about love and faith.

Not only is Mary sharing a day in her writing life, but she has also generously offered to give away a free copy of one of her Baragula books in a draw from the comments / responses posted. The lucky winner will be able to pick a book from Mary’s series : Return to Baragula (Bk One), Outback From Baragula (Bk 2) – or Justice at Baraghula (Bk 3) just released in May2011.

The cut off time for all comments / responses posted on the blog will be 10th June, with the winner announced over that weekend. This is mainly due to Mary’s commitments over the coming weeks.

What time of the day do you write? Are you a morning, night-owl or anytime writer?Anytime but definitely a night-owl after the rest of the world – locally at least – has shut down for the night. My husband has been known to shake his head at my claim to have worked 6am-3pm shifts during my nursing years. This meant crawling out of bed at least by 5am. He even finds it harder to believe that long before I started nursing I had even earlier “out of bed” experiences on our family’s dairy farm when the cows had to be ready in the milking shed by 5 a.m. – summer or winter!

 After over 46 years of being married to him, only recently sometime well after midnight I heard the growl from the bedroom, “Do you know what time it is!”  And that isn’t a typo because it wasn’t a question. Quite honestly, I had to agree I did not know it was so late as I had become lost in writing my story.

What’s the first thing you do before you begin to write?     You mean after that cup of coffee and chocolate bisc― Oops! That was pre-diet days of course!

 Seriously though, because I write inspirational romance which seeks to include the spiritual aspects of my characters’ lives, I am even more conscious of the importance of “getting it right!” Being a preacher’s wife as well as a committed christian myself, one of the hardest things I have to try and do is SHOW the faith – or lack of it – of characters and not fall into the trap of TELLING, or in other words for me, “preaching” at the reader! So, this alone drives me to seek help and the most important “thing” is that I pray first for wisdom. Don’t get me wrong here. It doesn’t always make it easier because I am like most writers, a talker and not always a good listener to the answers that come and often have a battle to put them into practice!

 Do you spend much time reading over the previous day’s work? Do you have a special system in place in order to begin writing or go with the flow?      This entirely depends what part of the story I am up to. If I have only written the first three chapters or so, I usually have to read the whole section and do edits and revision as I go to get back into the flow of the story. I usually spend more time on those earlier chapters than any other sections of the whole manuscript. Although I have already spent heaps of time doing characterisation preparation beforehand so I know the heroine and hero as only my Creator can know me, it is in these pages they become real people to me with real problems, dramas and situations they have to journey through to have any hope of a “happy ever after” life together. Sometimes I also unfortunately discover much later in their story that I haven’t shared something about them adequately enough to the reader. So, back I go and revise and revise again.

Are you a plotter / planner or a pantser? Do you edit as you go or prefer to edit after completion of the ms?      I am a bit of both. Strangely enough – to me anyway – I am known in the family as a “list maker”. For my first few manuscripts I did a large amount of plotting and planning, but found that a lot of that was wasted when the characters decided to respond to situations and dramas differently from what I had originally planned they would. Now once I have an idea for a story, I spend far more time getting to know everything I possibly can about the main characters – and important minor ones too in these longer manuscripts I am now writing. However, there are still times I discover that like real people in real situations, characters can seem to behave out of character if one or more of what I call their “red buttons” are pressed hard enough. And those times sure stop me from becoming at all bored with writing the story I have planned so carefully that I know beforehand exactly how everything is going to happen.

 Of course, the down side to that is in most manuscripts I inevitably find myself having to do more revisions and editing!

Is your writing space messy, organized or somewhere in between? Are you prepared to show evidence of your claim with a desk photo?         I just asked my husband to take this photo but I sure hope I don’t always look so grim amongst the mess when he interrupts me. And this is only one corner of this messy room. At the moment there are several boxes behind me I am supposed to be sorting books into that will no longer fit into bookshelves or cupboards and in danger of taking over every other unavailable space. Of course, unfortunately there are those days before starting a new manuscript when I simply have to tidy up the desk and become organised – but I refuse to call that by its real name, Procrastination!

Mary Hawkins       :        After thirteen years and thirteen rejections of her first manuscript, an inspirational romance, the first book contract Mary signed was for a Harlequin medical romance. She became a member of RWA shortly after it commenced, and with grateful thanks to HeartsTalk market news, she sold that first inspirational manuscript to Barbour Publishing in America. After only five published medicals she continued writing her first love – four of which were released in an anthology by Barbour called “Australia” and became a best-seller. Her most recent books are her single title Baragula series: Return to Baragula (2008), Outback From Baragula (2009) and Justice at Baragula released in May 2011 from Ark house Press in Australia. Return to Baragula was a finalist in the 2010 CALEB Awards. She is having a book launch for Justice at Baragula at the Ringwood Church of Christ in Melbourne 2.30pm on Saturday, June 4. Her husband Ray, a semi-retired minister is also launching two books that day. See her website blog for details.    

 Read more of Mary’s journey on her website: www.mary-hawkins.com

Thank you, Mary, for participating on our blog.

Friday 10th June – Update.  Giveaway draw has now closed. Mary has chosen a winner from all the wonderful comments and she has contacted her direct. Thank you everyone for your responses. Mary, thank you again for this great post.


Leave a comment


  1. It was my delight last year in Sydney to room with Mary. We had a great time discussing our writing and getting to know each other.
    Thanks Mary

    Jane Beckenham

  2. Kylie Griffin

     /  May 27, 2011

    Mary, I’m so glad to see a desk that gets as messy as mine during the whole process. Got to have everything within reach just in case and yes, then once all is done and dusted, the big clean up begins! 🙂

    Where does your husband work on his books? Does he have an office space for himself?

    It’s always great to see the process another writer goes through to get the manuscript written/done! 😀

  3. And Jane, you so graciously put up with my snoring! It was great to share a room with you and get to know another NZ member of RWA.

  4. I looked at this desk just now and it is even messier than when Ray took that photo. We have retired to a small one bedroom cottage which has this small room and an open kitchen/dining area. He has his own desk at one end of the dining area – which means the table is usually covered with his mess! Fortunately, while I find it difficult to concentrate with music on, he is not easily distracted and can have his music on there – turned down low of course!

  5. Petra Mantje

     /  May 27, 2011

    It was really nice to learn so much more about you, Mary. Thankyou for sharing and I look forward to reading your books!!

  6. Louise Reynolds

     /  May 27, 2011

    Lovely to learn more about you, Mary. I didn’t know you’d written the medicals. That’s why I love these blogs. They’re full of interesting information about our members’ journeys.

  7. Thank you, Petra. I didn’t think to mention that the distributors for Ark House Press books are Kennedy and Scribo and my Baragula books have been on the computers of shops like Angus & Robinson & Borders so can be ordered there as well as Christian book stores.

    Had to smile about the medicals, Louise. I had my first book out the same year as Meredith Webber and although over the years she has asked me several times when I was going to write another medical,I have never had an idea for a medical story that has gripped me. Besides, being a nurse myself and rather a perfectionist, it would take sooo much time now to research medical details enough to get thenm “right.”

  8. Narelle Atkins

     /  May 27, 2011

    Mary, it was great to hear about your writing process 🙂 I don’t have a dedicated writing area and tend to spread my mess all through my house. It makes it hard to convince my kids that they need to clean up their rooms etc. when I have writing stuff everywhere!

    Please don’t enter me in the drawing – I have all 3 Baragula books and love Mary’s books 🙂

    • Well you could always give one away as a gift, Narelle! Thank you for all your support and help with Justice at Baragula.

  9. Jo Wanmer

     /  May 27, 2011

    Mary was my mentor at a weeks writing mentorship last November. Her generosity in sharing from her years of experience and study has been inspirational to me. I’m looking forward to reading the latest book in the Baragula series,

    • Thank you, Jo, and I’m looking forward to the day when your important story is published – and that hopefully will not be too long!

  10. Anita Joy

     /  May 27, 2011

    Hi Mary, so nice to know I am not the only one with a husband who can growl! It’s funny how time seems to disappear when you are immersed in your writing.

    Good luck with your duel book launch. What a lovely thing to share with your husband.

    • Did I really say, “growl”? LOL! I have the most patient of husbands and yes, afraid over 46 years and counting I’ve given him plenty of practice being patient! I know he was thinking of our hectic programme starting in about 6 hours from his growl.
      And I agree about being in another world when writing – the heads, the emotions of my characters and the world they live in. At certain times I set a kitchen timer to remind me I need to stand, stretch and do those eye, arm and hand exercises! And ever since forgetting two hair appointments, I even set a little travel alarm clock next to me because the timer only has 60 minutes on it.

  11. Mary, I love the way you expressed your writing day. It was just like listening to you speak over the phone or something! hehe Of course, I love ALL your books! Can’t wait till the launch next week. 🙂

  12. I have the first two books in the Baragula series, and they are just wonderful. I enjoy Mary’s characters so much, and being from the USA, I especially enjoy being transported to the Australian outback to view the goings-on. Thanks, Mary, for a great series!

    • How lovely to see your comment, Erin. Besides enjoying your books too, Ray and I did so enjoy your generosity, hospitality and fellowship in Colorado. Hard to believe it is nearly two years ago now.

  13. Hi Mary, how fun to learn more about you. I’ve never read an inspirational set outside the United States, so I’ll have to give yours a try! Hope you and your husband have lots of fun on your joint book launch! 🙂

  14. Probably a little late, but hey hello Mary. Long time no talk. Hope all is going well. You are an inspiration to us all. You’ve achieved so much. Yah!!!
    All the best,
    Suzanne 🙂

    • Thank you, Suzanne. Wow, have never thought of myself as an “inspiration!” Thank you for the kind thoughts.

  15. Vicki Lee

     /  May 30, 2011

    Hi Mary,
    Great post, thanks for sharing.

  16. Malvina

     /  May 31, 2011

    Always good to hear how and when you write, Mary. Don’t think I can match those midnight hours, though…I just fall asleep!

  17. Don’t put me in the drawing. I love Mary’s books. I even have some of the medical romances she wrote back at the beginning. We’ve been long-time online friends and have finally met face-to-face.

    I loved your interview, Mary.

    • Lena, you have always been a real encouragement to me and now here too, but why not in the draw too! Have been hoping for some comments from Texas!

  18. Hi Mary,

    What can I say? I love your books. Thank you for inviting me to your and Ray’s book launch on the weekend, it was great. We must catch up again sometime soon.



    • And I was so thrilled to have an “internet” friend all the way from Western Australia not only at the launch but to have face to face fellowship. Thank you so much for our time together, and I do wish you every success in your new venture as a publisher as well as a writer, Lee!

  19. Thank you all so much for your interest and comment. Your names went into folded up pieces of paper and tossed into a bowl. I interrupted Ray watching the TV, held the bowl above his head and – hey presto! Congratulations to Malvina! I am still catching up after being away the last fortnight but do keep an eye on my own blog. There will be at least one other opportunity to win a copy.


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