Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Vanishing

This past weekend I attended a medical conference at which a number of areas in which I did pioneering work were discussed. I'm proud to have contributed these scientific advancements, yet I realize that time marches on and my work will undoubtedly be improved upon and ultimately forgotten. That's the way things work.

When we walk on a beach, we may leave footprints on the sand, but the next day--sometimes even the next hour--they're gone, swept clean by the tide. During my specialty training, my chief resident was fond of saying that if you think you're indispensable, stick your hand in a bucket of water and notice the hole it leaves when you take it out. That's an image I try to revisit from time to time, especially if I think I'm important. In the grand scheme of things, none of us are. Writers, scientists, humanitarians, politicians, athletes--what we contribute is just a part of the whole.

When I was playing baseball, we used to call this "reading your own press clippings." Have you ever been guilty of that? I must confess, I have. What did you do to counter it? What are your thoughts on the importance (or lack thereof) of an individual's achievements? I'd like to hear.

(photo via freedigitalphotos.net)

Monday, April 29, 2013

And The Winner Is...

Thanks to everyone who participated in the launch of my novel, Stress Test. I've just been notified that the winner of the Nook HD is
 Una Ireland from Chaska, MN.

Congratulations. Please email  your physical address to me at:
Dr R L Mabry at yahoo dot com, with Stress Test in the subject line (to avoid the spam filter). Then someone from LitFuse Publicity Group, the people who did such a great job with this campaign, will be in touch with you.

My thanks to each of you who read advance copies of Stress Test and posted reviews. I'm glad you enjoyed it, and I appreciate your support.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Writing: What's The Attraction?

 Stress Test launch campaign is winding down. If you haven't registered for a chance to win the Nook HD, you can do so here.
I'll announce the winner of the Nook giveaway on this blog in a special post on Monday. Hope you'll be back for it.

If you'd like a look at my writing space, check this post by Lifeway Fiction. And today I'm also a guest on the blog of Michelle Lim. Hope you'll drop by.


Now to today's post about writing: Six days ago, Kay and I landed in Las Vegas, where we visited for three days. During that time we didn't see any shows. We didn't even see the fabulous "Strip." We didn't drive out to see Hoover Dam. We spent our time in a suburb of Las Vegas. Why? Because that was where the attraction for us was: our family and the birthday of our four year old granddaughter, Cassidy Ann.

In writing, it's important to set forth the attraction. It may be a love that may or may not come to fruition. It may be the possibility of failure or success in a venture of some sort. It could be bodily harm or even death. But somewhere in the story, made clear early on, must be the attraction for the reader, something that keeps them turning pages.

In my latest book, Stress Test, the attraction is finding out who kidnapped Dr. Matt Newman, why they did that, and whether they'll succeed on subsequent attempts. There are other aspects to the story, but something has to drive it. There must be an attraction.

What was the attraction in the last book you read? What made you pick it up? What made you keep reading?


(photo via freedigitalphotos.net)

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

"On The Road Again..."

Maybe it's my Texas roots, maybe it's just because I like nasal singing and twangy guitars, but that song by Willie Nelson is one of my favorites. And it's a good thing, because I'm figuratively still traveling...from blog to blog and site to site. All this, of course, is a part of the launch of my novel of medical suspense, Stress Test. Another part of that campaign is a giveaway by my publisher, Thomas Nelson, of a Nook HD and a gift card to one of the registrants in the contest. The link to register and learn more is here.

Yesterday, I was a guest on the blog of fellow author Margaret Daley. Leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of Stress Test.

I hope to be back to something approaching normalcy soon. Meanwhile, please check out these sites. And hurry back for a post about the writing life on Friday.

(photo via FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

Friday, April 19, 2013

Writing: For Free, Take...

The launch campaign for Stress Test moves on. In addition to giving away a Nook HD (click here to enter), I'm appearing on a number of blogs, and at most sites there is an opportunity for a commenter to win a signed copy of the book. I've given those links on prior blog posts, and if you want to get in on the action, simply scroll to my previous few posts and click away. And just discovered a nice video review of Stress Test on the Lifeway blog by Rachel McCrae, their book buyer. View it here.

But that brings up a question, one that occurs to every author as they progress down their road to writing. Does giving away newly released books lead to new readers? Or does it simply encourage people to postpone buying the book, hoping to win a copy? And what about those that don't win? Will they forget their good intentions, or will they go ahead and buy?

And what about previously published books (I hate the term, "backlist")? Is it a good idea to make those available free? Or at reduced prices? Does it help of hurt?

Since most of this is up to the publisher, I don't have to make a decision. What do you think of all this? I'd be interested to know.

(photo via freedigitalphotos.net)

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

They Don't Write 'Em Like That Anymore

 My prayers go out to all whose lives were touched (and in some instances changed forever) by the events in Boston yesterday.

Continuing to celebrate the launch of my medical thriller, Stress Test, with appearances on a number of blogs, as well as a giveaway of a Nook HD. Click here for more details on the giveaway. Yesterday I was featured on the blog of Jordyn Redwood, where a comment gets you a chance for a copy of Stress Test. Hope you'll drop by. I also am interviewed by Susan Sleeman on The Suspense Zone. Learn how I almost became a Canadian citizen. And Stress Test and I are featured on the blog of Rita Gerlach.

Now to the topic at hand. I have to confess that some of my favorite authors are those who have passed on. I can read, re-read, and read yet again the works of the late Robert B. Parker, Donald Westlake, John D. MacDonald, and Ross Thomas (pictured), just to name a few. They hold my attention and carry me forward, even when the surprise has been taken away by reading them previously.

As writers, we're told to observe certain rules, and those are good guidelines when learning the craft. But sometimes it's better to be talented in your choice of words than to slavishly adhere to guidelines. Take this example from Ross Thomas' classic Twilight At Mac's Place:

"Not late, am I?" Undean asked, trying not to stare at the almost perfect face that featured a pair of soft warm gray eyes. The gray of her eyes complemented the natural frosting in her dark hair and almost matched the color of her cashmere sweater.

We're told to avoid adjectives and adverbs, but Thomas uses them both to paint a perfect picture.

I enjoy modern writers, don't get me wrong, but sometimes when I re-read books that were written a decade or two ago, I have to think to myself, "They don't write 'em like that anymore." What do you think?


Friday, April 12, 2013

Still Traveling

Still visiting other blogs, and I hope you'll click through and read what I have to say. By the way, I know that Friday is about writing--well, if you are fortunate enough to have your work published, these interviews are an essential part of the process.

Another thing you have to get used to is "launch parties." I have to say that my publisher, Thomas Nelson, and Litfuse Publicity, have done a great job on this one. They're giving away a Nook HD and a gift card to a randomly selected winner. Hope you've thrown your name into the pot. If not, you can enter here.

Back to interviews. On Wednesday, I was interviewed by a prolific local author and good friend, Lena Nelson Dooley.

Today I'm featured at two sites: Suspense Sisters, the blog of nine very talented writers of Christian suspense, and the Fabulous Friday blog of Mary Vee. I hope you'll check them both out.

What's in store for next week? Guess you'll have to come back on Tuesday and see. Meanwhile, have a wonderful weekend.

(photo via FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Launch Day

Well, today is the day. This marks the official launch of my newest novel of medical suspense, Stress Test

First, some exciting news. As part of the promotion for the launch, I'll be giving away a brand-new Nook HD. You can get details and enter here. It's also possible to enter via your own Twitter and Facebook accounts. And if you forget all that, you'll find details on my Facebook fan page. So, you see, there are lots of ways to enter. I'll announce the winner on this blog on April 29.

For the next few weeks, I'll be doing guest blog posts and interviews at various times and places.  I hope you'll use the clickable link I provide for each site  to visit and leave a comment. And it's noteworthy that many of the guest interviews also include a chance to win a free copy of Stress Test.

Yesterday, I was featured at two sites: Suite T (the blog of the Southern Writers Magazine), and the blog that's part of the MTL Magazine. MTL is an online magazine designed to bring "more to life," especially for women. It's published by the Munce Group, serving over 500 independent Christian book stores.

If you're interested, you can read the first two chapters of Stress Test by clicking my home page, then using the tab at the bottom of the page. You can also use the various links there to order the book--and I hope you will

If you'd like a signed Stress Test bookmark, leave your name and email address in the comments section and I'll email you privately for your mailing address. Use this format for your email, to avoid web crawlers: Dr R L Mabry at yahoo dot com.

I'll be back Friday with links to a couple of other interviews, and maybe some additional news. Y'all come. In the meantime, please visit the sites I've mentioned. I think you'll enjoy them.

(photo via FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

Friday, April 05, 2013

Writing: Choosing A Genre

Have you ever wondered how and why a writer chooses the genre in which he/she writes? I hadn't given it a lot of thought, since (as will become apparent further into this post) my choice was easy.

Yesterday, I was featured on the blog of fellow author Candace Calvert, so I decided to return the favor and ask her how she chose the genre in which she writes. Here's her answer:


"After my long (and colorful) years as an emergency department nurse, it seemed natural to write medical fiction. Though TV shows like "ER" were hugely popular, they rarely included elements of faith; I wanted to help 'Grey's Anatomy find its soul.' The warm romance is a bonus, letting readers
glimpse the hearts behind the stethoscopes."



While I was on the subject, I asked fellow author Jordyn Redwood, on whose blog I'll be featured on  April 15, the same question. Here's what she said: "Why do I write in the suspense/thriller genre? To have readers experience the adrenaline rush of the ER in a much safer environment."

To make it three-for-three, let me add that I decided to write medical thrillers because 1) I've read thrillers for fun since my teens, and 2) I practiced medicine for more than a third of a century, the last decade as a professor at a prestigious medical school. So I was able to write with a certain amount of confidence about the area. I might have to look up some things to be sure I was current, but I was sure I could portray the emotions and actions of medical professionals pretty well.

Does this mean authors without a medical background can't write medical fiction? Not really. It just means they have to do more research. My friend, Austin Boyd, hasn't been to the moon or Mars, but he writes excellent fiction about space exploration. He's not a physician, but writes about medical ethics. He just has to work at it. And he does it well.

Can you think of examples of people who write about things in which they have no experience?

(photo via freedigitalphotos.net)





Tuesday, April 02, 2013

So Many Choices

Confession time. Generally I try to stay one or two blog posts ahead, but with the impending release of my latest novel, Stress Test, I told myself that after Easter I'd get back to composing. Until then I'd put that on the back burner. Well, now it's time to get back to work.

I wondered what to write about. I have lots of choices: Easter, baseball opening day, April Fool's Day... You name it.

Easter is a wonderful holiday. As a Christian, I celebrate it gladly. In addition to the religious significance (which should be the focus of the day), at our house it featured family getting together for a meal, plus the wonderful bonus of talking via phone or FaceTime with members of my family who couldn't be there. In sum, a good day. How was yours?

Sunday night, my much-loved and often-frustrating Texas Rangers opened the season against a team they were "supposed" to beat...and lost big-time. Former Ranger Billy Sample said it once, and I need to remember it frequently. In a 162-game season, the very best team will lose at least 56 games, and the very worst team will win at least 56 games. That's why we play more than one. How about you? How did your favorite team do?

I don't engage in April Fool's pranks. First, I'd like to think I'm too old for it. Second, I'm afraid that if I get into that, someone will light me up and make an even bigger fool of me than I already am. How about you? Got an opinion or a story to share? Let us know.

This is already a longer post than I planned, but maybe it will bring a few commenters out of the woodwork. See you Friday, when we get back to blog posts about the writing life.

Incidentally, The Big Thrill e-zine of the International Thriller Writers had a nice write-up on me yesterday. You can read it here.

(photo via freedigitalphotos.net)