Joan McKenzie’s first novel: ‘Mary of Bethany’s Dream’, was launched on August 2, at Shalom Church, Witbank. An appropriate venue to the storyline of the novel, Shalom’s building was formerly home to the synagogue.
Pastor Jen Andrews opening in prayer before McKenzie explained how, “after a night in deep prayer,” her focus, which set out being about the book, “was redirected to the ladies at the meeting.” She sincerely acknowledged it to be, “God’s way to do it.”
Recognised her family, friends and church support as being absolutely instrumental to her accomplishment of publishing and producing this book. She wisely invited everyone to begin with refreshments; letting first impressions settle in with Tiramasu cake, hot tea and warm conversation.
“The Lord spoke to me; this is about ministering to sisters in the Lord.”
Wearing her fringed shawl, she anointed individuals with oil and blessed each one with a personal word. This was a breakthrough moment as her directives were exact and personal. Each lady recieved the blessing of confessed goodness over their lives, leaving everyone very aware that power words were water sprinkled on parched desert sand.
Confidently McKenzie related details about parts of the novel as evidence of ‘divine inspiration’; as compared to where she’d written by applying her imagination to the depth of research.
“Enlarge your dream,” she encouraged. Personalising that her maternal Ouma Hartel had first ever encouraged her, that one day, she’d be a famous writer. How as an eleven year old her poem was published in the Catholic magazine at the Dominican Convent, were she completed her entire school career.
In her Cambridge year, feeling she’d thrown caution to the wind, she wrote a character sketch about a ‘Teddy-Boy’. It was a daring step for a lass in an all girls’ school, from a family of four daughters, to write about a rebelious image of a ‘boy’ for her conservative educator. When newly married she had an article about a friend’s breakthrough with addiction, published in a secular magazine.
McKenzie shared tips to encourage would be writers.
Find a platform
In 1996 McKenzie wrote a first draught story, centred on a road through Chokwe, Mozambique, at a critical time in that country’s political history; it took her four years to write. Entitled ‘Moses’ Street’, it remains unpublished as she says it is virtually impossible for unknown writers to find a platform of interest, especially about a country whose plight is not central to World Government and about which very little is known outside of Africa.
Believe in yourself
“I did it,” she shared, knowing how hard it is to believe in yourself and press on, especially in face of hardship or discouragement, like when a bank ‘lost’ R7,000 paid to promote her book on a retail show.
Concluding with the announcement she was setting up her own website, as a literary agent; McKenzie fielded a few questions and handed out free e-books, before ‘second’ tea-time and book reading.
QUESTION: Whose face is on the book cover?
ANSWER: She is a Jewish model chosen by the publishers. The cover was actually supposed to have the picture, now on the back cover. Doves on the Western Wall is a photo taken by Hester.
QUESTION: Is there a Book 2?
ANSWER: Definitely: it just needs fleshing out.
QUESTION: What is ‘Mary of Bethany’s Dream’ about?
ANSWER: “What other story is there? Other than Jesus – HE IS THE ONE AND ONLY ONE.”
QUESTION: How do you edit?
ANSWER: “Not all the time – ‘write when the blood is hot and edit when it’s cold.’”
Book reading by the author
Loaded with historical research, especially to quantify things like the ages of characters in the book; comparison was made of time margins. Yeshua’s youth, for example, was estimated from comparisons of information relating to the time between 6BC to 10AD.
The book reading began with acknowledgement to people who influenced the author. Skye McKenzie, a professional editor who cleaned up the author’s first copy, was singled out, receiving sincere accolades for excellence.
Books, on sale at R250, were personalized with messages from the author. In the afternoon a small promotion table, featuring the book, was set up at Witbank 4 Jesus Festival, at Curro Private School sports fields.
‘Mary of Bethany’s Dream’ is available now from WestBow Press www.westbowpress.com . It is also available through booksellers and on-line retailers.