Tuesday, September 19, 2017

'Tis The Season

Lots to think about as the calendar rolls on. Hurricanes and tropical storms have battered us. Baseball season is winding down and football is getting started. Weather turns cooler (although moreso in some areas than others). And the days roll inexorably on toward Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years.

What do you like about fall? I like the march of sports, I don't like pumpkin spice lattes. I enjoy the cooler weather. I don't look forward to snow piling up. Join in and list your favorites and non-favorites.

Oh, and Iola Goulton tells me she's going to post my interview and info about my latest book, Cardiac Event, on Wednesday. Since she's in another hemisphere, I don't know exactly when to tell you to check it out--but please do so. And join me back here on Friday, when I talk about the writing life.


Friday, September 15, 2017

Writing: Charting A Course

Given my 'druthers, and because I'm now retired,  I sometimes don't plan beyond the end of the week. However, in my second profession, I have to realize that an author must chart their course well into the future, so that's what I've done. Those who receive my newsletter just got the news about a brief price reduction on one of my novellas. If you haven't already bought and read Doctor's Dilemma, go to Amazon and look for the Kindle version, which is on sale via Kindle Countdown for the next few days. (The best price ends today--and let me remind you that, even though you don't have a Kindle, you can get a free app from Amazon that allows you to read a Kindle book on your computer). Feel free to pass the information on to your friends. And, if you read the novella, please leave an honest review on the Amazon site. They're appreciated.

Next month I'll be sending out news (first to my newsletter recipients and then via this blog) of another brief price reduction on a different novella. I hope to have news of an audio version of Doctor's Dilemma for you in another couple of months, with a new novella ready for publication before the end of the year. To sum it up, I plan to keep writing...and doing the other stuff that goes with it...for a while. I hope you'll come along with me.

Any suggestions about future projects for me, either novels or novellas? Do you like audio recordings? Is your preference for short or long work? Let me know. I read every comment (and try to respond).

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Monday, September 11, 2017

Let Us Never Forget

Yes, I usually blog about "stuff" on Tuesday, but I thought it was important to post this today. As I pondered what to write on my blog, I had lots of choices. Two hurricanes (three if you count the one that didn't impact the US directly), the baseball season winding down, the football season getting underway, fall coming (and has already come in some areas)--but then it dawned on me. Today is the anniversary of the September 11 attack.

I'll never forget where I was when it all happened, and I suspect many of you can say the same thing. I was in Denver, attending a professional meeting. I left the hotel fairly early to go to a breakfast for our leadership, and as I walked the two short blocks to where the meeting was being held I saw people looking in store windows at the TV images there. I called Kay, who had not heard the news.

We were delayed in our return to Dallas, of course. One doctor and his wife rented a Ryder truck to drive home. The staff of our meeting chartered a bus. We were guests of a very nice hotel until my brother-in-law drove from the Dallas area to get us in his pick-up truck. It took quite a while before things got back to anywhere near normal, although it was now the "new normal." We adjusted, and we all vowed that we would never forget.

It's many years later. That vow lives on in my life. How about yours?

God bless America.


Friday, September 08, 2017

Writing: More Than Just Putting Words Together

All writers have to do is write. Right? Once you jump on that merry-go-round, though, sometimes you find you are ready to yell, "Stop. I want to get off for a minute!" Of course, all the writers who haven't yet gotten onto the merry-go-round are standing by wishing they had that chance. While the ones who just want to ride are saying, "Can't it go any faster?"

I've already mentioned that, although some writers stay with the same publisher, others have to look for a relationship (i.e., multi-book contract) with a publisher as soon as their current one expires. For one reason or another, more writers are beginning to join the ranks of indie (independent) or hybrid (both indie and conventional) published authors. And all of us learn quickly that, whether fulfilling a contract or writing an indie-published book, there's a lot more to it than just writing. Unfortunately, the only way to really learn that lesson is to jump in, which is what I've done, first with three novellas, and now with Cardiac Event.

There's cover design, for example. If you're with a publisher, you may be asked for ideas, you might sign off on the cover that's been designed, or in some situations you find yourself stuck with a cover chosen for you (whether you like it or not). Of course, for an indie book the work (usually by a designer) is up to you. How do you find a good cover designer? The same way you find a good pediatrician, plumber, or dry cleaner. You ask around and weigh the advice and its source. I'm fortunate to have found a good one.

There's editing, which the publisher takes care of (although you may not agree with some of the changes they want to make) or for which the author is responsible if he/she indie-publishes the work. And let me emphasize that no matter how good you think your "great American novel" is, it needs a second set of eyes looking at it. 

Then there's the actual marketing of the novel. This includes guest blog posts and interviews (some of which a publisher arranges, while it's totally up to the author who indie-publishes).  And, of course, there are copies to be sent for review by sites and for members of a "street team" or "influencers."

In return for the "independence" of doing these things for himself, the author gets a greater return via royalties than comes from partnership with a traditional publisher. Is it worth it? I don't know yet. Authors who have done this, what do you think? And readers, can you tell when a book is indie-published by looking at it (cover, content, etc.)? Let me know. 

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Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Donations for Hurricane Harvey Victims

We got a phone call at midnight about ten days ago from Kay's great-niece, saying she was moving everything to the second story of their house--including getting neighbors to help move Kay's sister who is bedridden--because the flood waters were rising. It's been an up and down thing since then, and now there's another storm heading for the US. I don't know what the next hurricane will do. But I do know that the relief efforts, both by first responders and government personnel and by Texans who pitched in with their boats and their bodies, have been fantastic, as have those who opened their pocketbooks and hearts to help.

Just a word of warning--and, unfortunately, it usually comes to this. I've made several donations that will go to helping the people who need it most, and I'll make more. But beware of those who register spurious websites to intercept what would be well-intentioned help for those in need. Rather than detailing it here, let me suggest that you click this link and read the article. It's sickening, but that's kind of the way of our world now.

I'll be back on Friday with a post about writing.  Meanwhile, please give to those in need--but make certain your donation gets to them. Thanks.

Friday, September 01, 2017

Labor Day, 2017

The flooding that started in Houston and now reaches into the southeast parts of Texas and Louisiana and northward is one of the worst natural disasters our nation has experienced. If you haven't donated (time, things, money, whatever) to relief efforts, please do so...and remember that after the water recedes, there's still lots to be done. I won't presume to mention specific relief sites--you can choose your own--but please give.

This weekend, including Labor Day on Monday, marks the unofficial end of summer. Some writers find they do better with a holiday, others keep working. I'll be trying to take some time off. However, this will be a different one for many of us, and our prayers and thoughts go out to the people affected by the storms. Please keep them in mind as you celebrate this long weekend.

I'll be back on Tuesday, resuming my blogging. Meanwhile, may your celebration include those who are less fortunate. 

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Eclipse Day

Last week everyone anticipated it. Today it's over. It's almost like Christmas--days and days of anticipation, then it's over, and all that's left behind are shreds of wrapping paper, the question of what to do with the cards we received, and take down the decorations if you can find a place to put them.

One editor of my acquaintance asked, half-jokingly, what she was going to do with her eclipse glasses. I suggested putting them on E-bay as "pre-owned." We aren't facing that problem, since our viewing of the eclipse was divided between watching the progress of totality on TV (we chose the Weather Channel, although there were many options) and seeing the partial eclipse here at home using the tried-and-true pinhole method (also known as the "camera obscura.") The spectacle was great, and I'm glad I saw it, but it didn't take up my whole day (or consume my whole life, as it seemed to for others).

Although George Burns warned that, at his age, he didn't even buy green bananas, I've decided that the only way to be a full-time writer is to make long-term plans. So I spent a fair amount of time yesterday doing just that. I'll be revealing them over the next several months, and I hope to give a heads-up first to those who receive my newsletter. If you don't already receive it, please click here to start the subscription process.

I will say that I've just signed a contract to produce an audio version of my most recent novella, Doctor's Dilemma, which I hope to have out in November. That's about the same time I'll release my next novella, Surgeon's Choice. There's lots more, so stay tuned. I'll get back to you soon--certainly before the next eclipse.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Writing: "Between Engagements"

In researching a quotation that I had a vague recollection I'd already used in my blog, I came across this post I did for Writer Unboxed back in 2011. At that time, I'd just submitted my fourth novel of medical suspense to my publisher, and had fulfilled my multi-book contract. I was, in the language of acting, "between engagements." The post is about what I planned while waiting.

Before the post had been up for long, my agent received an offer for a multi-book contract for me with a publisher that I told some of my friends represented "the New York Yankees" of publishing. I went on to write and publish three novels with them, some of them award winners, but unfortunately my sales numbers weren't what the higher-ups at the publishing house wanted, so they didn't give me a new contract.

What followed was sort of like Joseph's dream interpretation of the fat and lean years of Pharaoh--I went back to my previous publisher and produced three published novels by them before they closed down their fiction line. Then a contract that, for reasons that need not concern us, was never fulfilled. And finally, my latest novel being turned down by a number of publishers. What was left? I decided to "go indie," a route I'd already taken with three novellas. The result was my novel, Cardiac Event, that released about a month ago.

If you read the comments from the post in 2011, you can tell that some writers were already turning to independent publishing. The last time I looked, independent or hybrid (published by traditional publishers and also indie-published) has continued to grow. What do you think about it? I'd like to hear.

PS--I have two novellas and a novel already written, and at present I'm making plans to self-publish them all, unless someone offers me a contract I can't turn down. Feel free to join in the discussion on that, as well.

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NOTE: Today I did an interesting interview at RelzReviewz, with a giveaway. Yesterday I did a guest blog post at Seekerville. Read what I have to say about "What's An Author To Do," and enter to win a copy of my latest novel, Cardiac Event.  (The subject matter goes deeper into my publishing journey). Also, author Patricia Bradley is reviewing my novel at her blog today. I hope you'll read all these.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Golf

Recently I asked what I should feature on these Tuesday blogs. A few of you replied that you thought it would be neat for me to let you have a closer look at my life on these blogs "about stuff." Today I'll tell you a bit more about why getting away for golf is important to me.

As my golf partner and I left the municipal course where we normally play, we saw some very young golfers leaving with their parents after a morning of lessons. We both said we wished we'd started learning the game at that age. My own introduction to golf came when I was in high school. I'll never forget how thrilled we were when a "pro" from the nearby big city of Fort Worth came to give us a lesson. Of course, I had no idea at that time that you weren't supposed to put that huge bend to the right on drives. It took a long time before I figured a slice, even if the ball went a long way, wasn't a desired result.

Jerry and I started playing golf together when I sat in his office just before we went to the court house to probate the will of Cynthia, my first wife. He suggested--probably because he saw how depressed I was-- that we should get together for a round of golf. We set it up, and we've continued the practice for almost twenty years. It's taken us through the deaths of both our wives and the marriage for each of us to the new ones to which God led us. When I accompanied him to Molokai to scatter his first wife's ashes, we played a round of golf while we were there. It wasn't memorable for the way we played, but the companionship was good--and necessary.

We don't keep score anymore, and if we hit a shot we don't like, we hit another one. But no more than a couple of mulligans at any time, or we lose track of where all the balls went. Anyway, that's where I am on Wednesday, weather permitting. The golf isn't great. Getting away is.

So what's your "get away" activity? I'd like to hear.

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NOTE: I told you I'd try to keep you posted on interviews and guest blogs. If you go to this one, you can read a fun interview I did and enter for a Kindle version of my latest book, Cardiac Event.


Friday, August 18, 2017

Writing: Keeping Up With Characters

I'm sometimes asked why I write free-standing novels. This is true in the majority of cases, although I think there've been a couple of times when I revisited a setting, such as using the same town and a few of the same characters from Diagnosis Death in my novella, Rx MurderI've mentioned why I did that in my last Friday post. The answer to why I don't write series is simple: my first publisher didn't care for them, and I've simply continued the practice through eleven novels and three novellas. Series work for some people, and I applaud their success. For me, it's probably inertia that's kept me writing this way.

Granted, it's easier in some ways to write a series. There's no need to invent new characters or settings. But an author needs to be aware of the evolution of his/her characters. For example, I'm reading my way (once more) through  the Spenser novels of the late Robert B. Parker. In one of his earlier books, he introduces The Grey Man. In this book, he's a hired assassin, and a good one. But he talks like a thug (although an educated one, and an accomplished hit man). That same character shows up at least a couple of times more Parker's books, and by the last time we see him he's a suave man-of-the-world with a background of working for the CIA and speaking several languages... You see what's happened. He's not only matured, he's changed.

Many authors try to avoid this, whether they write series or stand-alones, by keeping some type of character log. One writing app, Scrivener, even has a place for one. Let me say that, although I applaud those who like it, Scrivener has never worked for me. I write in MS Word, and it has served me well thus far. Here is a screen-shot of a part of the character list for my latest novel, Cardiac Event.

Of course, a good editor will catch any incongruities in the story, including having the character live in an apartment in one scene and a house in another, or driving two different types of cars, or--and it's happened--being a blonde in one scene and a brunette in the other. But an author wants to submit a manuscript that doesn't need a lot of editing, which is why the character list comes in handy.

So that's how I keep up with my characters (and why it's important). Do you have comments, or questions about writing? Leave them and I'll address them down the line.

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Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Fun (Sort Of) Facts About Me

I've had a request to post a bit more about myself. When you've done interviews for eleven novels and three novellas, you sort of forget that not everyone has read (or recalls) what you said. And I guess it won't hurt me to give you a bit more about me.

I sort of got into writing by the back door. I wanted to share my journaling after the death of my first wife, and at the writer's conference I attended I was challenged by a couple of established authors to try my hand at fiction. The book I wrote about life after the death of a spouse (The Tender Scar) was published more than a decade ago, and is still in print. As for fiction, after four novels over four years that garnered forty rejections, I was an overnight success. Cardiac Event was my eleventh novel, and there's a novella due out later this year.

I served almost three years in the Air Force in the Azores, and was written up in Stars and Stripes when my hospital commander and I removed a coin from the throat of the daughter of our seamstress. (It was simple for us, but the local doctors either couldn't or wouldn't do it). The other thing about my Air Force service was that I'm deathly afraid of heights, but was called upon to perform (and executed) a helicopter rescue.

I've played semi-pro baseball. I could throw a curve ball, but not hit one, so I never made it beyond that level. However, I've attended a number of baseball fantasy camps, got a hit off Whitey Ford, and watched Mickey Mantle hit a home run (although one of the campers had to run it out for him).

I've preached (not my best talent) and served as an interim minister of music for a small church (very happy when they called a full-time one) and both a fill-in for the General Protestant services and a full-time one for the Baptist congregation while in the Air Force overseas.

There may be other things about me, but I guess this is enough for now. Got suggestions? Lay them on me.

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Friday, August 11, 2017

Writing: Naming Characters

On my blog post a few days ago, I asked for suggestions. One of the comments posed some excellent questions: "I always wonder if real people are the basis for fictional characters? Elements of real personalities? Many of your characters come to life on the pages. I also wonder if real-life news or events spark the main story of novels on occasion?"

I've made the mistake (and it is a mistake) in one or two of my earlier novels of using real names for characters. One particularly memorable occasion comes to mind when I wrote a character as a deputy sheriff and left the reader wondering if he was a good guy or bad guy. And I used the name of a high school classmate!Then I went back to my home town for a class reunion, and the chairman of the event was the wife of the man whose name I used. Fortunately he was happy about it, but I wrote him into a subsequent novella and made certain he ended up wearing a white hat.

Some of my characters are based in part on individuals I have encountered, and often I see an event in the news that sets me thinking, but after that I turn my imagination loose. In my latest novel, Cardiac Event, there's an undercurrent of professional jealousy in the start of the book. I have seen professional jealousy color actions. (Yes, it happens with doctors, the same way as with novelists and any other profession). But I've never seen it taken to the extreme that I portray in the book.

As for setting, some of my earlier novels took place in Dallas at the medical center where I trained and finished my career as a professor (a nice closing of the circle in real life). Recently I have set my stories in fictional towns drawn from the city where I live and the one where I attended college. I can make them larger or smaller as the occasion demands, and no one seems to care. And it's no mean task to come up with these names--I have to make certain there are no actual Texas towns with these names. 

What other writing (or non-writing) questions would you like to see addressed? I'm waiting.

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Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Do You Have A Question?

According to Blogger, I've posted more than 1200 times here. When compared with some of the other blogs, the number who read these posts, and especially those who post a comment, isn't large. Today my well seems dry, so I thought I'd ask you what (if anything) you'd like to see here in the future. Or does it matter?

My usual schedule has been Tuesday--general stuff, and Friday--the writing life. Do you like that? Is there a particular question you'd like answered? Or are you too busy with life to care?

I'll be like the cat who ate fragrant cheese, then waited by the mouse hole with "baited" breath. Let me know.

Friday, August 04, 2017

Writing: How Long Does It Take?

When I'm asked how long it usually takes me to write a novel, I always think of the reply of Abraham Lincoln when he was asked how long a man's legs should be. His answer? "Long enough to reach the ground." In like fashion, the answer to the question about how long it takes to write a novel is, "As long as it takes."

Some authors may take years to write an unforgettable novel. Other writers produce several books a year. I've always thought that a novel a year (a time period contractually specified by my cyber friend, the late Dr. Michael Palmer) was a good time frame. However, my contracts have always been for a new novel every six to eight months. I made those deadlines with plenty of time to spare, but there were times when I longed for a more leisurely pace. Then recently, when more than twelve months separated the publication of my novels, I realized that I'd gotten used to the six- to eight-month time period, and I found myself doing what I always advise unpublished writers to do while waiting for a publisher to sign them: I wrote another novel.

I've gone into the circumstances elsewhere that led to my becoming a hybrid author--one whose work has been published by a traditional publishing house, but who now publishes his/her work independently. So far, your response to my latest novel, Cardiac Event, has been gratifying. To keep you posted on my plans, I have one completed novel, one completed novella, one novella nearing completion, and at the present time my plans are to release these over the next year. Of course, plans can change, but that's what I have in mind.

How long should it take to write a novel? Why, as long as it takes...whether that's a few months, a year, or longer. And now, while I get back to writing, I'll let you answer that question. And I'll be interested to see what you think.

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Tuesday, August 01, 2017

The Forgotten Man

On Sunday, Kay and I watched on TV as Adrian Beltre collected his 3000th hit. It was a great moment, and despite the loss by the Texas Rangers, it made the headlines, both in the sportscasts and the local news. I noticed that in addition to the players on the Texas team pouring out of their dugout to congratulate Adrian on his accomplishments, there were several congratulatory remarks aimed at him by the visiting team. It must be a thrill to be part of history, even when you're wearing the uniform of the opposition. My congratulations to Adrian, who has been a model player for all the years I've been watching him.

But what about the people not in the spotlight? The pitcher for the other team didn't want to be the one who gave up that historic hit. Believe me, I know, because I've been on the mound in that situation. His name will forever be part of a trivia question. I doubt that his fateful pitch will have the same staying power as Bill Buckner's error in the World Series, but it will nevertheless link him to the record-setting hit.

And what about Jonathan Lucroy? He didn't play in the game, but he'd been a part of the Rangers for a year. I don't know when he found out that he'd been traded, but he had to know his name was floating around as part of trade talks. Was his joy for his teammate diluted by the fact that he was about to leave for another team, another league, and another part of the US?

I can't help thinking that, although there are lots of people happy about their part in a record-setting athletic accomplishment, there are others whose joy is affected by the way in which they're associated with the event. What about you? Have you given any thought to those who come in second or third, or who don't even place, in a contest? Can you be as gracious in defeat as you are in victory?

These are my random thoughts. How about yours?

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Friday, July 28, 2017

Writing: Book Release

Today is the "official" release date of my latest novel of medical suspense, Cardiac Event.  You've heard the expression, "This isn't my first rodeo?" Well, this isn't my first book release--actually, it's my eleventh published novel, along with the three novellas, one non-fiction book, and numerous medical textbooks I've authored along the way. And I thought it would be interesting to note how things have changed over the past decade or so.

When my first novel, Code Blue, was released. I was thrilled, of course, and I arranged a book launch and reading at a local bookstore. There was a cake, I read from the book, tried to act like an author, and enjoyed every minute of it. I'd worked hard to get people to attend, and ended up with something like twenty in attendance. Then one of the bookstore employees mentioned that they'd had a signing there about a month before that featuried a well-known author, and had an even smaller crowd.

Did I have a cake for this new one one? Or a book signing? No,  I  did this one a bit differently. I put together a group of ten people as "influencers" to whom I sent print copies of Cardiac Event. I included a listing of things an influencer could do (borrowed from a similar list put together by author Jody Hedlund). Since I was self-publishing this one, I could arrange the price a bit--at least, of the ebook format--so I did as I'd done with my most recent novella and arranged a pre-publication price that was much lower then the regular one. Did it help? We'll see.

I've arranged a number of interviews and guest blogs, such as this one on Fresh Fiction. Also, in many of these instances I'll offer a copy of Cardiac Event to a randomly selected winner. Two of these are on the blogs of Lena Dooley and Carrie Schmidt. I encourage you to visit them both. By the way, if you purchase a copy and then win one, just send me proof of your purchase and I'll send you an Amazon gift card.

The best marketing tool, according to my friend, James Scott Bell, is to write the best book you can. I hope that's what I did with this one, but my readers will let me know if that's true. Meanwhile, as I generally sign my fiction, "Enjoy." And thanks.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Keeping The Watch

I heard an expression the other day that fascinated me: "Keep the watch." The words were said at the commissioning of a ship, and I thought perhaps they were part of a naval tradition, sort of like the typical parting words to a sailor: "Fair winds and a following sea." But what I found was this. "Watchstanding, or watchkeeping, in nautical terms concerns the division of qualified personnel to operate a ship continuously. On a typical sea-faring vessel, be it naval or merchant, personnel keep watch on the bridge and over the running machinery."

It seems to me that those words are applicable to all of us, not just those who keep watch over the course of the vessel and the mechanism that drives it. Each of us has a responsibility to maintain the course of our lives, to guard against events or entities that would threaten us, because others look to us. Did you ever really that there was someone--spouse, parent, child, friend, acquaintance--who was looking at the course you steered for your life? And if you deviate from it, they might follow you--even if it was in the wrong direction.

So, after reading those words the other day, I made a determined resolution to "keep the watch" in my own life...because others might be following. How about you? Is it important that you keep the watch? I'd like to hear.

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Note: This is the week for the official release of my next novel, Cardiac Event, and I promised to let you know where you might win a signed copy. Yesterday I was interviewed on the blog of colleague Lena Nelson Dooley. If you click here and leave a comment, you'll have a chance to win my book. And if you've already ordered your copy, show me the receipt and I'll send you an Amazon gift card instead. What could be fairer than that?


Friday, July 21, 2017

Writing: Juggling All The Balls

When a writer completes a book, he/she feels like throwing their hat in the air and shouting, "I've finished." But in actuality, the fun's not over by any means. At this point, depending on whether the book is published by a traditional company or self-published, the author must assist with (or take charge of) making sure others read what they've produced.

I've self-published three novellas, so I already knew what was involved for the author in the continuing process. Not only had I been  responsible for cover design and manuscript editing, but I also had to be in charge of marketing the book. Otherwise, it was sort of like yelling in the forest with no one around to hear.

So, with the publication of my novel, Cardiac Event, I had to get the word out about it. I've arranged a number of appearances on other blogs, and since a chance to win a free book seems to draw people, I'll be giving away a copy of the book with each appearance. I'll try to mention each of these interviews or guest appearances on this blog before they take place. And, if you have already bought the book yet win one from me, I'll send you an Amazon gift card instead. How's that?

Fortunately, I've already had one review by Romantic Times Book Reviews, and I was thrilled at their remarks and their calling the novel a Top Pick. Other reviews will come from readers after the book is released. I hope they like it.

And, of course, during all this I'm working on more writing. I have two novellas and a novel almost ready for release, so stay tuned.

For those who haven't yet taken advantage of the pre-publication price of Cardiac Event, you have one more week to do so before it goes up to the regular price. For those who like to read a physical book, a print version will also be available. (Just click the Cardiac Event cover in the sidebar to order now). Oh, and the Kindle format of Doctor's Dilemma will be marked down to $2.99 until July 28 as well.

So that's where I am--busy, but not (yet) overwhelmed. I'll see you in a few days. In the meantime, enjoy the weekend.

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Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Using Your Head

I haven't practiced medicine for about a decade and a half (that's 15 years for those of you who are numbers-challenged), yet I continue to read the journals and maintain my CME. I don't do this because I plan to go back to work as a physician (although that avenue is always open, I guess), but rather I do it to keep my mind sharp. I enjoy using my head.

I may not know about every bit of the new technology, but I can still do what Sir William Osler said: "Listen to the patient. He's telling you the diagnosis." We have some wonderful tests (and I marvel as each new one is unveiled), but a great deal of any diagnosis depends on an accurate history.

I was reminded of this when I had my own annual physical recently. The doctor asked all the right questions, but I had to think to make sure my answers were truthful, not just pro forma. For my age, I seem to be doing fine, but she knew this before she ever laid a stethoscope on me. Because she listened to what I was saying.

Conversely, if a doctor--or mechanic or CPA plumber or anyone else--gets inaccurate information, their conclusion and subsequent actions are going to be skewed in the wrong direction. When your car is going chug-a, chug-a, chug-a, you don't tell the mechanic what's wrong or what to do. You describe the symptoms as accurately as possible, and depend on the professional to make a diagnosis.

And notice, I said "professional." I wouldn't take my car to a plumber for help with a problem, nor do I think it's appropriate to ask medical questions on Facebook. But that's a sermon for another day.

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Note: My novel, Cardiac Event, will be released by Amazon in ten days. Until then, the Kindle version is available for a pre-publication price of $2.99--that's 60% of the regular price for the e-book.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Writing: Endorsements

A recent communication from a friend and fellow author about possible endorsement made me think it's time for me to talk a bit about those things. We've all seen them on the cover of a book or in conjunction with an advertisement, but did you ever think how they came about?

I've preached steadily about making connections and meeting people at writing conferences--not because they might be useful someday (although the friendship might), but because they're your colleagues. In my case, these are the people I approach first for "blurbs" (i.e., brief endorsements) if they either write in the same genre as me or if they're really big fans (and fortunately I have several of those--people who don't write in my genre but have followings of their own). And I never ask them for a blurb. I ask if they'd be willing to read "in view of an endorsement." Most say "yes," but if the answer is "no"--no matter the reason--that's okay. A few even say to ask them again, and I do. If they don't, I cross them off as potential endorsers, but the friendship remains intact.

What about if you're on the other end? What do I do if someone asks me to endorse a novel? I've formulated these rules from what other authors have suggested, and they've served me well over the years. I'll read in view of an endorsement (I never promise one) if: 1) I know the person or I've been recommended by a mutual friend, 2) the novel is in the genre in which I write, and 3) I either have read some of the individual's writing or I am pretty sure it will be good. After that, the book makes the decision. And, yes, I read the whole thing.

Are endorsements important for you, either as a writer or a reader? Let me know.

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Tuesday, July 11, 2017

What's Your Opinion On Free Stuff?

The statue a left is from Waikiki, and depicts Duke Kahanamoku, virtually a legend in the Islands. Duke was an olympic surfer, as well as  a law enforcement officer, an actor, a beach volleyball player and businessman. I recall Arthur Godfrey (yes, I'm that old) quoting these words from Duke Kahanamoku: "For free, take. For buy, waste time." I

Do you think of this when you hear a voice on the phone or a person at the door telling you they're with such-and-such company, and they already have a crew working in your area? so they'd be happy to give you a free estimate/inspection/etc? Right after a hail-storm in our area, the offers come pouring in from roofing companies, ready to offer their services with a "free estimate." And today's mail just brought a booklet full of coupons offering discounts and deals from a variety of vendors, from restaurants to car repair shops. Do you use these or toss them?

As a participant in the writing world, I note more and more of my colleagues offering their work at discounted prices, some even at no charge, in order to get more sales for their work . Is this a good thing or a bad thing? What's your feeling about free estimates, no-obligation evaluations, and free or low cost e-books? Does all this come under Duke's rule? Or is it something that ends up saving you money and introducing you to a company (or author) you eventually stick with?

That having been said, I'll remind you that I've chosen to offer the ebook version of my next novel, Cardiac Event, for a discounted pre-publication price. I'll await your comments as to what you think of this offer and all the others.

Friday, July 07, 2017

Writing: Announcement

I'd already written the post for today, but had to postpone that until next week to share this with readers of this blog. My novel, Cardiac Event, is now available in Kindle format from Amazon, at a discounted price. The pre-order price is $2.99, which goes up to $4.99 when the book officially releases on July 18. The print version should be out by then or shortly thereafter.

Thanks for your patience. I hope it was worth the wait.

Be sure to post your reviews on Amazon, Goodreads, or other sites after you've read it. Enjoy

PS--Almost forgot. Happy birthday to me.