Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Whose Brand Do You Wear?

Golfers mark their golf balls so they can identify them if there's a question--for instance, two balls in a sand trap or two balls in the cup (yeah, right!) How we mark our balls is an individual matter. Some people use one or more colored dots, some fill in the open spaces in the name on the ball (both a's in Callaway, for instance). My partner uses a stylized version of his initials.

My "brand" is one I learned when Cynthia and I spent a week at the Prude Dude Ranch as part of an Elderhostel program. If you're familiar with cattle brands, you may know about adjectives such as "rocking" or "lazy." Given my prior specialty as a physician, I was drawn to the curves at the beginning and end of the brand, signifying "running." That gave me an idea, and I mark my balls like this: a "running nose."

Whose brand do you wear? Your family? Your profession? Your relationship with God? Is it evident to those around you, even when it's not easily visible? 

I'd love to hear what you think about the brand you wear.

TWEET WITH A SINGLE CLICK: Whose brand do you wear? (click here to tweet this).

Friday, September 12, 2014

Writing: Meeting With An Agent...Again

The annual conference of the American Christian Fiction Writers is coming up in two weeks, and lots of nervous not-yet-published authors will be meeting with agents or editors. But what if you've been published, have had an agent, and now are meeting with another one? Sound unusual? I was asked this question just a few weeks ago. Here's my answer:

I believe the first thing a prospective agent will want to know is why and under what circumstances you left your previous agent. Was the parting acrimonious or friendly? Whose idea was it? And why? Although you want to be truthful, remember that the writing community is a relatively small one, so don’t needlessly bad-mouth your former agent. Like Joe Friday on Dragnet, the person to whom you’re talking just wants the facts.

After that, the agent will want to see a sample of your writing. You’re ahead of the game if you’ve previously been published, because you can bring a copy of your latest book for them to read a few pages at random. Offer to send them a copy if they’d like to read more. But don’t force the book on them right then. No agent wants to take home a suitcase full of stuff from a conference.

If the question hasn’t already been answered, they’ll want to know what your genre is. What’s the track record of sales for your previous book? If the book didn’t sell well, don’t try to hide the fact (the agent, like a publisher, can get this information). Instead, be ready to suggest ways your next one can sell more copies.

Then they’ll want to hear about your ideas for future books. A one-sheet is nice, but it may not be mandatory. It’s probably best to have one, though. If there has been interest from a publisher, the agent will want details. Have any of the books you’re pitching already been seen by specific editors? What was their reaction?

At some point, ask the agent if they’d like you to send them a formal proposal. I was disappointed to find that being previously published doesn’t negate the need for proposals—at least, not in my case. Perhaps J. K. Rowling or Tom Clancy can get a contract with just an idea for a book, but for most of us it doesn’t work that way. Agents and editors like to know you have concrete ideas about your next book.

My final advice? Be truthful and open. Be confident without being brash. Be ready to listen instead of just talking. And pray about the outcome—you can be certain the agent will do the same.

Oh, and if you're going to be at the ACFW conference, check out the 11 AM Saturday class I'm co-teaching with Jordyn Redwood and Candace Calvert on "Medicine: The View From Inside." I hope to see you there.

TWEET WITH A SINGLE CLICK: How do you prepare to meet an agent if you've had an agent and are a published author?  (click here to tweet). 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

September 11, 2001--May We Never Forget

I'm departing from my regular Tuesday and Friday blogging schedule to recognize the anniversary of an event that (in my opinion) is as important as the day on which the first shot was fired in the war our fledgling country fought for independence. This day marked a dividing line beyond which our lives would forever change.

We probably all remember where we were on the morning of September 11, 2001. As we pause to recall those terrible moments and all that has come since, may we renew our commitment to our country, our fellow citizens, and our God.

God bless America.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Back To School

Now that school has started again, I thought it would be fun to consider how your children/grandchildren reacted to going back. Were they eager, or did they hang back and wish that summer could go on just a little longer?

And how about the parents? Was this a relief they'd been awaiting all summer, or were they sorry to see school begin again?

How did the return to school go at your house or with your family? Let us know in the comments section.

TWEET WITH A SINGLE CLICK: What was the reaction around your house to the start of school? (click here to tweet).

(picture via freedigitalphotos.net)

Friday, September 05, 2014

Writing: Gone But Not Forgotten

You may have heard or read this before, but I found it interesting. Here's a list of ten best-selling novels that were never followed by another. On reading the reasons for no second novel, I decided that I'd already beaten the odds by not dying before a second could come out.

Actually, I'm fortunate enough to have had seven medical thrillers published, with numbers eight and nine already written and ready for release next year. Since those two will be published by a different publisher than my last three, there will be about a year's hiatus between the publication of Critical Condition and Fatal Trauma. And that, in turn, set me wondering if such an absence would make my readers forget about me.

I've recently seen promos for two TV shows featuring actresses I hadn't heard from in a while. Tea Leoni came to public attention with appearances in a number of movies, but she's been under the radar for a while. But this fall she'll star in a new TV show.

Laurie Metcalf hasn't been in a hit show since her role on Roseanne, although Kay and I like her as Sheldon's mother on Big Bang Theory. Now she'll have a major role in a new TV show this fall.

Some authors write one book that is a hit and never write another. Some actors and actresses come back after several seasons away from the limelight. Which do you want to emulate? As for me, I'd rather keep writing and hope my absence from center stage doesn't hurt.

What do you think? Do you mind waiting for another book from your favorite author? Do you look forward to the re-appearance of a favorite actor? Let me know.

TWEET WITH A SINGLE CLICK:  Does a prolonged absence hurt the chances of a writer or actor? (click here to tweet)

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