Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Guest Posting (And A Giveaway)

Today at the Suspense Sisters blog I talk about writers getting rich and famous...or not.

Leave a comment there (with your email address) for a chance to win a signed copy of Medical Judgment.

See you this Friday.


Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Please Vote

Kay and I, like many of our fellow Texans, will be voting early. I'm one of the first to admit that I'm not thrilled with either candidate. But given what each says they will do, and what they have demonstrated by past actions and privately uttered words, I believe I've made my choice based on the future of our country. And despite what Michael Moore may say, I'm not a "legal terrorist" because of my vote against the candidate he favors.

Why don't we see more yard signs for candidates this time around? Two reasons, I think. The first is that yard signs have given way to social media posts. The other is fear. Yard signs have always disappeared, but in this election there have been a few instances when they also marked the occupants of houses for retaliation. One candidate's rallies were interrupted by individuals who turned out to be paid by the other side. It's getting rough out there, folks.

Social media is a great way to get a message across, but some of the posts and most of the comments make me cringe. This is such a contentious race that trolls attacking posts make some of us keep our opinions to ourselves, lest we be called racist, xenophobe, or deplorable. We're left with a difficult choice--let others know what we think or remain silent and let those who yell (both literally and figuratively) have the stage. I have kept my peace until now, but it's time to let you know whose side I'm on.

I have to admit that my vote is more against one candidate than for the other. But the difference is significant, and I hope others will see it as well. I will vote against a candidate whose actions show a disregard for national security, the sanctity of life, and the will of the people to have less government intervention.

My vote goes to the individual who promises, in the first hundred days, to reverse the illegal executive orders that have been handed down, to push for term limits on our legislators, to restore our military and once more put our nation in the position of being respected by the world, to correct many of the current situations the common people find intolerable...and to step down after one term. That's my view, and despite the advice of many in the publishing industry to the contrary, I'm letting readers of this blog know. If it costs me readers, so be it. To remain silent may cost much more.

Ours is one of the few nations in the world where free voting takes place. There are many things about our country I don't like. There will be  more after the election, no matter who wins. But win, lose, or draw I will continue to pray for our nation, and I hope you'll join me. I long for the day when we can once again proudly refer to America as "One nation, under God, with liberty and justice for all."

Tweet with a single click: "Your choice may be different from mine, but please vote." Click here to tweet.

NOTE: Your comments are welcome, but I will remove any comments I feel to be disrespectful of others. Civil discourse is just that...civil. Please think twice before you comment.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Writing: Introduction to Indie Publishing

This isn't an endorsement, per se, but I've had a number of you ask about indie-publishing. (What we used to call self-publishing, when that was a mark of shame). I downloaded a booklet to my Kindle some time back. I got around to looking at it again recently (after going through the process of indie-publishing a couple of novellas) and discovered that it was a great introduction to the indie-publishing process. And the author will be startled to find that I've posted this, because it's by no means a paid advertisement. I just thought it might answer some questions.

Heather Day Gilbert divides the work of self publishing into four categories: editing, cover art/book blurb, formatting/uploading, and marketing. Each of these can either be hired out (for prices ranging from a little to a lot) or done by the author. When she started out, she paid to have two of these activities done by professionals, while she learned to do the other two herself. In my case, I had three of the four done for me.

This little booklet is under a dollar when downloaded to Kindle via Amazon. It's by no means a thorough coverage of the self-publishing process, but for the author considering going that route (or the reader who's just curious), it's a great place to start.

Now my question for you. Do you care whether a book is indie-published or released by a traditional house? Have you found problems when you read either type of book? Chime in. I'd like to hear from you.

Tweet with a single click. "Is indie-publishing too complex for most authors?" Click here to tweet.

Note: Today I'll be speaking to a group of church librarians, so I won't be able to respond quickly to your comments. But I'll get around to them. Have fun with your discussion.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The Sky Is Falling

One of the stories I read to my kids was about Chicken Little. I still remember Henny Penny repeatedly saying, "The sky is falling, the sky is falling." And with this current presidential race, that same sentiment is echoing across the social media sites of the Internet.

It's not that I disagree that significant things are at stake with this election. It's just that I agree with Max Lucado, who put things in perspective with this post. If you haven't read it, please do. Maybe you'll feel better. I know that I did.

Dr. Steve Farrar, at our men's Bible study, is fond of saying, "There's a place called Heaven, and this isn't it." Matter of fact, the Bible tells us that tough times are coming. But we're to hold onto our faith and plunge ahead. And that's what I plan to do.

I have my own ideas about this coming election, but I've also come to the conclusion--after so many elections and so many years on this earth--that it's rare, if ever, that someone changes their mind after reading a few dozen words from an opposing viewpoint. So I've held my tongue. Kay and I will vote absentee next week (we can do that in Texas), and I may reveal my reasons then. Until that time, let me just say two things. The sky isn't falling, even if your candidate doesn't win. And God's still in control.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Writing: "Plotters" and "Pantsers"

It doesn't take long for the fiction writer to hear the terms "plotter" and "pantser." I soon learned that a "plotter" was someone who plotted out the major points of the story before writing it. On the other hand, "pantsers" crafted their novel, writing by the "seat of their pants."

The "seat of the pants" term came from flying, and started back in the days before instruments and electronics were capable of handling the entire flight of an aircraft. Early pilots knew whether they were going up or down, drifting right or left, by a feeling---in the seat of their pants. Now, it means doing something by instinct or being guided by the situation as it unfolds.

I prefer the term the late Donald Westlake used: "push fiction." Westlake wrote delightful crime novels featuring John Dortmunder, the bumbling thief, as well as many other books, some more serious than others. Although Westlake had his major characters defined, he didn't craft an outline, preferring to see where the plot took him. I've used that method, and found the major drawback to be that sometimes you paint yourself into a corner with no apparent exit. But, as Westlake said, "If I don't know what's coming next, how can the reader?" That's one advantage to being a "pantser."

I suppose I'm really a hybrid of "plotter" and "pantser," since I sketch out my main characters, define the overarching premise of the novel, and figure out one or two changes along the way that will keep the reader turning pages. And, having learned early on from James Scott Bell's book, Plot and Structure, I always have a "knockout ending" in mind. But for the majority of the book, I confess: I'm a pantser.

Do you prefer one method over the other? Can you even tell, when you're reading a novel, whether the author is working from a predetermined plan? I'd like to know.

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