Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Random Reflections From The ACFW Conference

Growing up, I enjoyed reading the sports pages of the daily papers. (Some of you may not remember newspapers--but that was before computers). Anyway, one of my favorite things was when Blackie Sherrod did a column on "Scattershooting, while wondering..." The thing he wondered about might be stuff like "...why Tim Tebow didn't make it in the NFL." But, I digress.

I've just returned from the American Christian Fiction Writers Conference. There I attended a panel composed of knowledgeable people who review or distribute fiction. One of the questions asked them was, "What do you think we need more and less of?" The consensus was that Amish fiction has peaked and we don't need more, but good Young Adult fiction is still in a state of shortage. What do you think?

I talked with some publishing professionals--editors and publishers. Although they didn't reveal any proprietary secrets, I came away with the distinct impression they recognize a major change in publishing, brought about by the ability of authors to publish their own books via e-publishing. They're trying to change to meet the challenge, but it's sort of like turning the Q.E. II--it's a slow process.

Writers, agents, and editors alike agreed that when a book is "indie-published" (i.e., self-published by an author), all the marketing will fall to the writer. Some people are temperamentally suited for this, some are not. I talked with lots of authors, and remain convinced there's room for both types.

Of course, no one knows what writing and publishing will be like in a year. Meanwhile, my plan is to maintain the posture of backside-in-chair, fingers-on-keyboard, nose-to-the-grindstone and try to write the best book possible.

Did you attend ACFW? What were your impressions? Are you a reader? Were you even aware of the upheaval in the industry? Chime in. I want to hear.

(My newsletter is scheduled to go out to subscribers on October 1 with a giveaway just for them. If you're not signed up to receive it, click the link in the right sidebar).

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Friday, September 26, 2014

Writing: References For Medical Information

Tomorrow I'll be at the American Christian Fiction Writers Conference, teaching (along with authors Jordyn Redwood and Candace Calvert) a one-hour course on "Medicine: The View From Inside." Since I'll only have ten minutes or so to give an overview of medical conditions from which a writer can choose if they wish to incorporate one in their work, I won't have time to present some information that many have found helpful. For that reason, let me give you a long list of "where to get the information you need."

            A. Start with search engine (must learn search terms; comes with experience)
                        1. http://www.google.com
                        2. http://www.bing.com
                        3. http://www.ask.com
                        4. http://search.yahoo.com
            B. Sift through the sites and choose carefully
                        1. Government (NIH, site ending with “gov,” etc.)
                        2. Medical center or respected hospital
                        3. Watch out for individuals with an agenda!
C. Other sites and sources
                        1. Harvard Family Health Guide- http://health.harvard.edu/fhg
                        2. AMA Family Medical Guide (out of print, might find an old copy somewhere)
                        3. Murder and Mayhem, D.P. Lyle, MD (St. Martin’s Press)
                                    a. also, his blog: http://dplylemd.com
                        4. Jordyn Redwood’s Medical Edge blog
                                    a. http://www.jordynredwood.com
5.  American Academy of Family Practice-  
 6. WebMD and eMedicine.com
                        7. Other societies and organizations
                        8. For medications
                                    a. Rx list-http://www.rxlist.com/script/main/hp.asp
                                    b. PDR-http://pdr.net (requires registration & fee for non-professionals)
            D. Local medical source:
                        1. Doctor:
                                    a. Your own doctor, if your relationship is good
                                    b. Public Information office at a medical school
                        2. Nurse:
                                    a. Doctor’s office
                                    b. Nurse at your company
                                    c. School nurse
                        3. Other health professionals
                                    a. Pharmacist
                                    b. Physical therapist
                                    c. Medical secretary
                        4. Librarians
                                    a. Medical schools
                                    b. Hospitals
                                    c. Public library

I'll add a word of caution: Verify your sources; beware of “they say” and “in my experience.”

I hope you'll find this helpful. Let me know if you have questions.

TWEET WITH A SINGLE CLICK:  A long list of where to get medical information for your writing.  (click here to tweet).

(picture via freedigitalphotos.net)

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Are Blogs Disappearing?

I've heard it since I began to seek publication: "An author must have a social media presence." So, I've maintained a blog, a website, a Facebook fan page, a Twitter account. I've set up shop on Pinterest and created a presence on Goodreads.

My blog schedule has gone from five days a week to three days a week to its current twice a week, with Tuesdays devoted to stuff in general and Fridays to writing. I keep up with the number of people who read the posts, and it's leveled off at what I consider a low number. And I have to admit that I'm beginning to agree with one of my colleagues who recently posted on Facebook that he believed the blog is going the way of the Dodo bird.

So, here's my question. What do you think? Which social media outlets do you participate in regularly? Are blogs a waste of time? What about websites? Leave a comment and help me decide.

Oh, and thanks for coming by. Next time, I'll try to have coffee and cookies for everyone.

(photo via freedigitalphotos.net)

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Friday, September 19, 2014

Writing: Keep Your Head Down

The oft-repeated mantra for a writer is to assume this position: behind in chair, fingers on keyboard. The idea, of course, is that in order to be a successful writer it's necessary to keep at it. If you can't write every day, write as often as you can. Persistence pays.

By the way, when I first started out on this road to writing, I'd hear people talk about the reward of BIC, fingers on keyboard, and I'd think, "Yeah, right." But it's true. Of course, this also involves learning the craft and improving with every paragraph. Practice doesn't make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect.

But I digress. I'd add to the anatomic advice for the would-be writer a third position: keep your head down. And by that, I mean don't spend your time reading so many social media posts that you forget what your own calling is. The temptation is to see so many posts that talk about a book winning this award and a writer attaining that honor that we decide there's no use in our continuing. That's wrong!

If you could see the story behind those award and honors, you'd see hours and hours spent at the chair in front of that keyboard, searching for just the right word, the best phrase, the most effective way to communicate the ideas in our heads. You'd probably also see a stack of rejection notices as these writers learned the craft. So don't let what's going on with other writers keep you from doing what you need to do. Keep your rear end in the chair, your fingers on the keyboard, and your head down. That's the recipe for success.

Any questions or comments about the writing life? Leave a comment. I'd love to hear from you.

(picture via freedigitalphotos.net)

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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.

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