Friday, April 29, 2011

INTERVIEW WITH REVIEWER REL MOLLET

Rel Mollet lives in Australia, 15 time zones away from me, which sometimes makes our cyber-communication a bit awkward. Nevertheless, she and I have become friends through her blog, Relz Reviewz. Rel is one of the premier reviewers of Christian fiction, and I thought it would be fun for my readers to get to know her better. I think you’ll agree.


RLM: First of all, tell us a bit about yourself. Where do you live in Australia? What do you do when you’re not reading books and writing reviews? Please tell us about your family.

RM:  Hey Richard!  I now appreciate the torture I put writers through when I interview them :) Talking about myself is not high on my list of fun things to do!  But for you.....I live in Melbourne, Australia (pronounced Melbun by us!) which is at the bottom of Australia on the east coast (see map).  I live in a suburb of Melbourne, about 30 minutes from the city centre.  Melbournians love the beach, exceptional coffee and are mad about sport! 

I have been married for 18 years to the funniest man I know and have 3 gorgeous girls who are 13, 10 and 7 years old.  With God’s help we are trying not to mess them up too much!  No pets although the girls are pushing hard for a dog as they know they don’t stand a chance with me and a cat.

When I’m not reading books or writing reviews, I am sleeping - ha!  Actually, I work part time as a lawyer in Elder Law area after 12 years in Personal Injury litigation ~ please don’t hold it against me ;-)  We are involved in our local Baptist church where I am part of the Women’s Ministry team and lead a Book Club (surprise, surprise!).

RLM: What prompted you to devote yourself to reviewing Christian fiction?

I have read voraciously since I was a child, under the doona with a torch (Richard here--that's under an eiderdown quilt with a flashlight), in the car until it made me sick, while in the shower (it is possible!) and any other chance available.  My Grandma introduced me to Christian fiction and would buy my sister and me books every birthday and Christmas.  In late 2005, one of our Christian book stores, Koorong, released a fiction enewsletter which contained only American material.  Totally out of character, I emailed the editor and asked if they were planning to include Australian contributions.  She asked if I would like to write a review for the newsletter.  She sent me a book to review and in my naivety I asked if she wanted me to return it after I read it - LOL!  In late 2006, I started my blog, Relz Reviewz, merely as a place to store my reviews, never imagining it would grow in the way it has.  Subsequently, CJ Darlington invited me to contribute to Titletrakk.com and I am now the Historical and Romance correspondent for the new FamilyFiction digital magazine.  I love promoting great faith fiction and the authors who put so much of themselves into creating stories that give us so much enjoyment and encouragement.

RLM: Of course, composing reviews definitely comes under the head of “writing,” but what other writing have you done? Are there any books hidden away on your hard drive or in a desk drawer somewhere? And, if so, what would it take to bring them to the light of day?

RM:  Ah...nope!  I loved creative writing as a child and in my high school years and still have my school assignments floating around in a cupboard somewhere, but I haven’t felt the urge to write a novel.  I have seen the effort, angst and emotional drain of writing great books from a number of the amazing authors I have “met” through my reviewing.  I’m content to leave the hard work (and the joys) to the experts and just relish the fruit of their labour ;-)

RLM: What are three things you like about living in Australia?

RM:  Like? I LOVE my country!  Only three things.....

1.  This place is amazing.  Brilliant beaches, glorious rainforests, red deserts, mountain ranges, snowfields, modern cities, country towns, unique wildlife and that great big rock in the middle!

2.  The people.  We don’t take ourselves too seriously, we love a laugh and are very friendly from what our international visitors tell us and we pull together when in crisis.

3.  Four weeks annual leave and twelve months maternity leave!

RLM: Have you visited the US? If so, what are your impressions? And if not, where might you like to go?

RM:  I have.  My husband and I dropped in on LA and Hawaii in 1996 after visiting my sister who was living in the UK at the time.

I’m sorry to say LA was not the most impressive place, at least the area we visited.  We did the tourist things, Disneyland and Universal Studios, which were a lot of fun.  I appreciate there is so much more to the US than Hollywood!  Hawaii was lovely but it rained the three days we were there and the beaches were closed :(  We did do some shopping and I bought 3 pairs of Levi jeans which were dirt cheap compared to the price of them in Australia at the time - LOL!

I would love to return and see some of your beautiful scenery and have a cheeseburger from a diner.  I’m really hoping they are better than Maccas, or as you say, Mickey Ds! And, of course Texas would be high on my list of places, Doc, to visit you and the lovely Ronie Kendig and Kelli Standish :)  Two other Texan residents I adore!  As much as I’d love to see the Rockies, the Grand Canyon and Oregon Redwoods, it is the wonderful people I have connected with in the States that I come to visit in a flash!

RLM: Present company excepted, who are the novelists whose works you most enjoy?

RM:   I read widely and enjoy most genres so this could be a very long list but I will keep it short!
When I want to live and breathe thrills and emotion:  Ronie Kendig
When I want to laugh: Jenny B Jones
When I want to immerse myself in history: Laura Frantz
When I want to think outside the box: Jim Rubart
When I want to fall in love: Denise Hunter
When I want a legal thriller: Randy Singer

I could go on but will contain myself!

RLM: From your neutral observation post, what advice would you give to writers?

RM:  Write books with heart, soul and authenticity.  Connect with and respect your readers.  Have an up to date and appealing website, write a blog, use Twitter and/or Facebook (although FB scares me!).  Be genuine.

RLM: And any last words (besides “G’day, mate?”)

RM:  Thanks, mate!  You are a bonza bloke ~ how’s that for being dinky di?!!!

Thanks, Rel. I hope you folks will drop by Rel's blog regularly. You won't regret it. (Oh, and look in the archives for the interviews she did with me. This is my version of payback).

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

If You're Serious About Your Writing

When you hear the words "boot camp," some people think of their time in the military (not too fondly, I might add). Others picture a camp devoted to fitness and getting in shape. But rarely do we associate these words with writing. But Christian author Jerry Jenkins and the Christian Authors Guild, with the help of three other expert teachers of writing, is changing all that.

The Novel Writing Boot Camp will be held at the DFW Hyatt May 6-7. In addition to Jenkins, instructors will be DiAnn Mills, Brandilyn Collins, and Dennis Hensley. These friends of mine have impeccable credentials as writers and teachers. If you're a writer who's serious about taking your writing to the next level, click this link. I understand they're still accepting applications.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Final Chapters

I have a library full of books by writers who are now dead. I look at titles by John D. MacDonald, Ross Thomas, and  Robert B. Parker, and regret that they're not around to give us new works. But I re-read their books and give thanks that these men left behind such a legacy.

I recently received a report that sales of my non-fiction book, The Tender Scar: Life After The Death Of A Spouse, were respectable in the past year, as they have been in the five years since its publication. My intent in writing it was to minister to people who had suffered the same loss I did, and I'm glad to see that ministry continue. I hope it will go on for a while longer, perhaps even after I'm gone. That would be a great legacy for a writer.

I have three novels in print, with a fourth due for publication this fall. They are Christian fiction, but the books don't hit the reader over the head with that message. Instead, my hope is that when the reader turns the last page, they think about the story they've just read and how it might apply to their life. If so, I've succeeded. And if these are my legacy in the world of fiction, I'll be pleased.

Writers, what sort of legacy do you want to leave? Readers, have writers who are now deceased touched you with their work? I'd love to know.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Free Download of MEDICAL ERROR

Kindle, Nook, or e-book--whatever type of e-reader you have, my publisher, Abingdon Press, is making my second novel, Medical Error, available as a free download for a limited time.


I am told that April 25 through 27, Medical Error can be downloaded in those forms at no charge from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Christianbook.com. If you check during those dates and it doesn't show up as a free download, please be patient. I'm told that sometimes, "The switch doesn't get flipped exactly on time."

If you or a friend haven't read my books, this is a great opportunity to give one a trial. Thanks for your support.

NOTE: Amazon still hasn't made the change, but the book is available as a free download from Christianbook.com and BarnesandNoble.com. I know my publisher is working on correcting the problem. Please keep trying.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter 2011

The angel spoke to the women: "There is nothing to fear here. I know you're looking for Jesus, the One they nailed to the cross. He is not here. He was raised, just as he said. Come and look at the place where he was placed...Now, get on your way quickly and tell his disciples, 'He is risen from the dead'...." (Matt 28:5-7a, The Message)

Christos anesti ; al├ęthos anesti.

Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!

Have a blessed Easter.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Multi-Author Book Signing Tomorrow

Tomorrow, as part of their annual Easter Book and Bible Sale, and tomorrow, the local Mardel Book Store is hosting a multi-author signing. I'll be there to sign copies of my just-released third novel of medical suspense, Diagnosis Death as well as all my other books. Other authors signing will include Ronie Kendig, Elizabeth Goddard, and Lena Nelson Dooley.

     The signing is scheduled for 1:00 to 3:00 PM at Mardel's in Frisco. If you're in the area, I hope you'll drop by and say "Hi" to us. (Hint: there will be chocolate).

Thursday, April 21, 2011

What Do Writing And Baseball Player Rusty Greer Have In Common?

If you follow baseball, and especially the Texas Rangers, you'll recognize the name Rusty Greer. What do writing and Rusty Greer have in common? Check out Rachelle Gardner's blog today to find out.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Easter Thoughts

This coming Sunday marks a time when Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. As we approach Easter, I'd like to share with you a brief  meditation I wrote. It first appeared three years ago in The Upper Room devotional guide.


  “Now to you who believe, this stone is precious….” I Peter 2:7a
            In Biblical times, stones served as monuments to mark notable events. We continue that practice today, but in a somewhat different manner. No longer do we pile up rocks and give the resulting memorial a name, like “Bethel”—the house of God. But when someone dies, we indicate the resting place with tombstones. And when we erect a building, we set an engraved cornerstone to commemorate the occasion.
            Tombstones and cornerstones. Both are large pieces of stone, usually granite or marble, substances likely to last for many decades, even centuries. The pieces are polished, then engraved with names and dates. But the similarity stops there. One indicates the end of a life. The other marks the beginning of something that will last.
            After Jesus was crucified, pronounced dead, and sealed in a cave, there were those who were ready to erect a tombstone for him and write “finished” on it. But Peter took great pains to assure the early Christians to whom he wrote that the Rock upon which their faith was founded was a living stone, enduring and powerful. The crucifixion did not chisel the final date in Jesus’ tombstone. Rather, His resurrection laid the cornerstone of the Christian faith, a monument that will last forever.           

Friday, April 15, 2011

Indicators Of Success

 Note: Today, various members of the First Wild Card Blog Reviews will be reviewing Diagnosis Death. Too many sites to list, but let me know if you run across one of them. And thanks to all of you who've already read and reviewed this third novel of mine, whether on your blog or at the site of your favorite book-seller. I appreciate it.


When I was practicing medicine, I had a question I asked every patient before undertaking anything that demanded a significant commitment on their part and mine. It could have been scheduling a surgical procedure, committing to a regimen of allergy testing and treatment, or even a prolonged course of medication. I asked, "What is your indicator of success?" And if they answered with something unrealistic, we had a long and frank talk before proceeding. I always had an indicator of success in mind, and I wanted theirs to be the same.

I thought about this the other day as I received the first copies of my third published novel, Diagnosis Death. I first started to write because I wanted to share with the world the things I'd learned after the death of my first wife. The result was a book that has continued to minister to people who've suffered such a loss. It's been a great comfort to me to see continued sales of The Tender Scar: Life After The Death Of A Spouse. And frankly, getting it published was a definite indicator of success.

But along the way, as I worked to learn the craft of writing, I was encouraged to try my hand at fiction. I won't detail all my struggles, but let's just say I had my share of discouragement. Then, through a series of circumstances that were nothing less than providential, I received a contract for my first novel. At that point, I suppose my indicator of success was to have that novel see the light of day, and it did. Code Blue was published just about a year ago, followed six months later by Medical Error. The reviews were good, sales were reasonable, and there was no question I'd achieved about all I could have asked for, considering where I'd started.

No, I don't have the sales figures of a JK Rowling or a Tom Clancy. I'm not making a ton of money in royalties. But I am doing one thing, and it's become my true indicator of success as a writer. I'm writing Christian fiction, novels that portray how God interacts in the lives of men and women. Although there's no hard-sell of Christianity or religion in the books, I like to think that when a reader closes one of my novels, they're thinking about God and his effect on their lives. If they do, I've succeeded. That's my indicator of success.

Writers, what's yours?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Priorities

During the almost four decades of my medical practice, I had numerous patient appointments, scheduled surgery, and a myriad of professional duties which I carried out. In addition, especially toward the end of my practice, I had a heavy schedule of teaching and participation in professional meetings. And I kept those appointments until September of 1999. At that time I was due to participate in the annual meeting of two professional societies, but I didn't. Instead, I was at the bedside of my wife, who was in what proved to be a terminal coma following a stroke. And everyone understood why I canceled.

Since my retirement, I've had professional obligations of a different kind. Now, although I still occasionally teach in a medical setting, more often I'm asked to speak to writer's groups. I do this gladly, because not only do I believe it's important to share what we've learned, but it's my way of paying back those good people who shared their knowledge of the craft of writing with me. But recently I had to reschedule one of those appearances. And again, although it wasn't really a life-and-death situation, the cause was a family one.

I'd accepted an invitation to meet with and speak to a group of writers elsewhere in the state. I even set up a couple of book signings while I was in the area.  Kay and I were looking forward to the trip, but then she realized something neither of us had noticed until then. The schedule, as it stood, would take us out of town and make us miss a grandchild's birthday. I agonized over the dilemma, but eventually made the only decision I could. I contacted the organizers and told them the truth. The story has a happy ending, since we were able to reschedule everything.

The older I get, the less important professional things seem and the more important family is to me. As the Pennsylvania Dutch proverb goes, "We get too soon old and too late smart." If you haven't learned to put family first yet, I hope you'll do it now. You'll be glad you did.

Note: Kathy Harris posted a very nice interview with me today at her site, Divine Detour. Hope you'll check it out.

Friday, April 08, 2011

Book Review: Our Witch Doctors Are Too Weak

The title alone--Our Witch Doctors Are Too Weak-- would have been enough to tempt me to read this book, and after the first few pages I was hooked. David Janke takes us into the Amazon with him as he and (later) other language missionaries seek to learn a language that has never been written down, in order to eventually present to them what they call "God's Words."

Although I was sort of aware of the work of language missionaries because of my acquaintance with a number of them in a previous church, I absolutely could not fathom the enormity of the task facing these people. Reading some of the later chapters about how they dissected every sound of every word almost gave me a headache.

And frankly, I shuddered when I read of some of the conditions they faced. Who among us would eat grubs when offered by a tribesman in order to win their trust? Not me, for sure.

Although Davey's wife, Marie, is listed as co-author, she makes at best a cameo appearance in the book. We learn little more than that she was one of the missionaries that came on the field later, and that Davey proposed to her and announced their engagement via the tenuous email link the missionaries had to the outside world. Call me a romantic, but I found myself wishing for more of their story.

The chapters are short, and I turned page after page, wondering what surprise, what stumbling block, what triumph was around the corner. The book was made available to me for review, but I truly would have paid for this one. It's worth it.

NOTE: This time I'm sure. My interview by book reviewer extraordinaire Rel Mollet is now posted on her website, RelzReviewz. Hope you'll check it out and find out about my riding an elephant in Thailand, playing baseball with Mickey Mantle, and holding my own in a beach volleyball game with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Guest Blog: Author Cathy West



Today, I'm pleased to have as my guest author my cyber-friend, Catherine West, whose debut novel, Yesterday's Tomorrow  has just released through OakTara Publishers. Educated in Bermuda, England and Canada, Catherine holds a degree in English from the University of Toronto. When she’s not at the computer blogging or working on her next story, you can find her taking her Border Collie for long walks or tending to her roses and orchids.

Catherine and her husband live on the beautiful island of Bermuda, with their two college-aged children. Catherine is a member of Romance Writers of America, and American Christian Fiction Writers, and is a founding member of International Christian Fiction Writers.

Oh, and after you've read Catherine's guest post here, head over to her blog and read what I have to say there about my own road to publication. Now, here's Cathy.


    Since the release of my debut novel, I’ve been asked a lot of questions. Most popular seem to be, “When did you know you were a writer?” and, from some not familiar with the term, “What exactly is Christian fiction? Do I have to be a Christian to read your book?”

   The answer to the first question is pretty easy. I knew I was a writer in grade school. I couldn’t concentrate on much except for the stories in my head. I loved making stuff up and writing it down. As I matured, went through college and tried my hand at journalism, I knew where I’d end up. I wanted to write fiction more than anything. So I did.

    Now onto the second question, which is not so easy. I think there are many definitions of Christian fiction and many ways to write it. I prefer to say I write from a Christian worldview. So what’s that? Well, again, there are a few ways to answer this. I found a good explanation on this website.

    A “worldview” refers to a comprehensive conception of the world from a specific standpoint. A “Christian worldview,” then, is a comprehensive conception of the world from a Christian standpoint. An individual’s worldview is his “big picture,” a harmony of all his beliefs about the world. It is his way of understanding reality. One’s worldview is the basis for making daily decisions and is therefore extremely important.


    A Christian worldview leads us to believe in moral absolutes, miracles, human dignity, and the possibility of redemption. It is important to remember that a worldview is comprehensive. It affects every area of life, from money to morality, from politics to art. True Christianity is more than a set of ideas to use at church. Christianity as taught in the Bible is itself a worldview. The Bible never distinguishes between a “religious” and a “secular” life; the Christian life is the only life there is. Jesus proclaimed Himself “the way, the truth, and the life," and, in doing so, became our worldview.

    In the past, I’ve struggled with the question of whether I want to be a Christian who writes books, or a writer who writes Christian books. Ultimately I have come to the conclusion that because of who I am in Christ, I cannot keep my faith outside of my fiction. The problem I had was figuring out exactly how to do it.

    I used to worry about being too preachy or not being able to attract readers if I didn’t use enough ‘Christianese’, and even turning off readers who don’t want anything to do with God. It’s a vicious circle and I think you can go ‘round and ‘round with it all until the cows come home. Eventually, there comes a point where you have to make a decision. Are you going to write for the world or for God? Can you do both?

    If you are a Christian who happens to be writing for the secular market, please do not take offense. I’m not saying all Christians need to be corralled into the field marked CBA. What fun would that be? I’m just saying that for me, I’ve realized it’s where I’m supposed to be.

    But what will that look like? Well, I will still write from the heart. I will still write the stories that I believe need to be told. I will not sugarcoat or gussy-up the sin we all deal with on a daily basis. I will write truth, and I will write with integrity.

    I’m so blessed to have found a publisher who will stand by me in that. I’m no longer sitting on the fence wondering which way to go, and for that, I’m grateful. I’m also humbled by the response my first book is getting. Maybe some non-Christians won’t read it, but many are, and they’re loving it and even saying I’ve given them food for thought. Which tells me I’m doing something right.

    The biggest mistake I’ve made in this journey so far is giving in to worry and fear. Publishing is a crazy business with many ups and downs and unknowns. It’s easy to panic and forget that I know how to swim. It’s also sometimes easy to forget to ask Someone to chuck me that life-ring.

    I’m learning. I don’t know what the future holds for me as a newly published author, but I do know it’s been an amazing ride thus far, and God has been gracious. After all, this whole thing was God’s idea in the first place, so who I am to get in His way?

Monday, April 04, 2011

Featured Today At Relz Reviewz

I'm appearing in the "land down under" today, visiting Rel Mollett at her blog, Relz Reviewz. Rel is a wife, mother, lawyer, and book reviewer, and has become a cyber-friend even though she hangs her hat half a world away. I'm honored at the opportunity to share with my friends in Australia and around the world through her blog. (Because Rel is blogging many time zones away, her post may not go up until later today here in the US).
NOTE: My mistake. My interview will post on Rel's sit, Relz Reviewz,  later this week. Stay tuned and I'll put up the link when it's available. The error was mine, not Rel's, so blame me. (Go ahead. Everyone else does).

Also, my guest post on Chuck Sambuchino's blog (Guide To Literary Agents) didn't go up Friday, as I thought, but rather on yesterday. Hope you'll check out what I suggested writers do after you get an agent.
NOTE: That one did post, and if you leave a comment (go to the bottom right of the interview) you might win a signed copy of Diagnosis Death

Friday, April 01, 2011

Release Day For New Book: Diagnosis Death

Well, it's here--the "official" release date for the third (but not final) book in the Prescription For Trouble series. Diagnosis Death is now available, and the advance reviews have just blown me away. Here are a couple:
“…Another riveting medical drama, the third in his Prescription for Trouble series. Full of sudden twists and turns, the novel’s fast pace makes it hard to put down.”  Romantic Times Book Reviews (4 ½ stars)
“Mabry (Medical Error) crafts a tight medical drama that will have readers guessing. For fans of the gory, gritty details of patient trauma and hospital gossip, this book certainly will be an enjoyable page-turner.” Publishers Weekly.

And here's a little about the book.

                  Removing life support can be a killer!
            When her comatose husband died in the ICU while on life support, the whispers about Dr. Elena Gardner began. They were stronger after another patient died in ICU. After she took up practice in a small town, the whispers turned to a shout: “mercy killing.” What was the dark secret that kept Elena’s lips sealed when she should be defending herself?
            Then there were the midnight phone calls that started after her husband’s death. Who was the woman who sobbed out, “I know what you did?” And how could Elena stop the calls that tortured her?
            Two physicians, widowers themselves, tell Elena they know what she is going through. But do they? And is it safe to trust either of them with her secret?
            Would what Elena did in her husband’s ICU room turn out to be a prescription for trouble?

If you'd like a sneak peak at the principal character of the book, Dr. Elena Gardner, check reviewer Rel Mollett's website for this character spotlight.
I hope you'll enjoy Diagnosis Death
 Special Note: If you can't get enough of my words of wisdom, today I have a guest post at Jordyn Redwood's Medical Edge. I'm also being interviewed on The Big Thrill, the e-zine of the International Thriller Writers. And Nina Bermudez posts a very nice interview with yours truly on her blog today. I encourage you to check them all out.