Thursday, November 23, 2017

Thanksgiving, 2017

Today is Thanksgiving. The day means different things to different people. To some people, it means turkey, dressing, and Mom's sweet potato casserole. For others it's a day spent in front of the TV set watching football. To many, it's a day to be with family.

Unfortunately, for some it's another day of wondering where they'll sleep, what they'll eat, how they'll stay warm and dry. We are blessed people. Give thanks, but also plan to do something for someone less fortunate. Pay it forward. You'll be glad you did.

May I wish you and yours a wonderful and meaningful Thanksgiving. I'll be back on Tuesday.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

The Busy Season

This is it! The start of the season. Although some stores are already having their Christmas (and a few their after-Christmas) sales and markdowns, this coming Thursday is the day we celebrate Thanksgiving, followed by the mad dash toward Christmas (and the New Year's celebrations that follow that). Let's not get into the Black Friday stuff and all the commercialism we find around us, but rather let's talk about what this season has become and what it should be.

We thought that when our kids grew up and left our house, life at this time of year would be simpler. Think again! When your extended family includes children, grandchildren, in-laws, not to mention assorted friends and neighbors, we tend to let preparations, schedules, and visits take over while we forget the real meaning of the season. So, lest we ignore it, this coming week we need to pause and give thanks for all the good things that have happened to us during this past year.

Can't think of anything good? The fact that you're reading this on a computer or smart-phone is a blessing, since many people in the world not only don't have one, they aren't totally familiar with how they work. Do you have a roof over your head? Clothes to wear? Food to eat? A job? Many people, not only in third world countries but in the US, don't. More about this in my Thanksgiving post in a few days, but think about it in the interim. And give thanks to God for what He has given you.

See you in a few days.

Tweet with a single click. "In the midst of our busy lives, stop and give thanks for what we have."

Friday, November 17, 2017

Writing: Importance Of A Cover

One of the major differences in "indie" publishing (including agent-assisted publication, in which I'm currently participating) is that it's up to the author to get his/her cover designed. When the novel is written in response to a contract with a traditional publisher, the publisher (at least in my limited experience with three of them) arranges for design of a book cover. Often (but not always) the author is given the opportunity to have input into this design, but the end result is up to the editor and author in varying degrees. After all, both have a financial stake in sales of the product.

My plan (and yes, I have one--more about that at a later date) is to publish a novella, then a novel, then a novella, etc. That means that the next book of mine will be a novella, and it's already written and edited. I've been fortunate enough to have an excellent individual, Dineen Miller, design covers for all my indie-published work. This will be four novellas I've brought out, and I wanted to share the cover design for this one with you. As for when it will be available for purchase, that's still up in the air. As I usually do, I'll give my newsletter recipients the first heads-up, followed by those of you who read this blog regularly. With that background information, here's the cover of my next novella, Surgeon's Choice.

More info as it becomes available. Meanwhile, what do you think of this cover? Does it make you want to look inside? I hope it does. And if you have comments, please let me know. I enjoy hearing from my readers.

Tweet with a single click. "Is there a difference in designing a book cover if the work is indie-published?"

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

It's That Time

The song tells us that "It's The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year." And it is, if we can get past the deadlines and tasks we impose on ourselves.

We've enjoyed the cool-down (if you live in that part of the country--our own projected highs for the week include 80s). Once we got used to it, we have learned to tolerate early morning sunrise and early sunsets. And since we've become disgusted with the NFL, some of us have rediscovered college football (besides which, it's just a few months until baseball spring training commences). But amidst everything else, suddenly we've looked up and discovered that Thanksgiving was upon us, followed almost immediately (it seems) by Christmas and New Years. Where did the time go?

I don't have to worry about cooking--that's Kay's thing. We aren't sure of the schedule for who's coming to which house for each of the holidays--that will be worked out, change, get settled, change again, and eventually take place. Even the decision about Christmas presents will be made. But during all of that, let's not forget why we celebrate this time. (And I don't want to hear stories about the Winter Solstice and the lack of snow in Judea--let's just say that this is the time that's been chosen).

Anyway, that time of year is upon us. Some of us roll with the punches, others will have anxiety that keeps sleep at bay, but let's not forget the reason for the season. When we think of that, everything else seems to fall into place. And that's as it should be.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Veterans' Day, 2017

Tomorrow is Veterans' Day in the US. It was originally celebrated as Armistice Day, the anniversary of the cease-fire on the Western Front in World War I. Now it's a day set aside to honor those who have served or are currently serving our nation in the uniformed services--the living and the dead.

I'm proud to be a veteran, having served three years in the US Air Force. I salute my fellow veterans, and give special thanks to those currently serving. Sometimes the sacrifice involved seems so little. At other times, it's the ultimate sacrifice. And that's what we especially honor today.

I consider our national anthem to be symbolic of the dedication of these men and women to our nation, and I will always stand at attention as it's played. To do otherwise is, at least in my eyes, disrespectful of the service of so many and the sacrifices they made to assure our freedom. I still hold to the motto, "Stand for the anthem, kneel in prayer." Thank you to all who've made that possible.

May God heal our land, and may we work together to make this once more, "One nation, under God, with liberty and justice for all."

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

I'm Still Standing

One of the organizations of which I'm a member is called NINC--Novelists, Inc. And the latest newsletter from that group had some information in it that I really needed to read. It's about the trials of "traditionally published" (i.e., not independent) authors--those who have a contract with a publishing house. As I read the experiences of those folks, I realized that many of my colleagues and I had gone through similar experiences--contracts not renewed because of sales figures, publishing houses closing their fiction lines, other publishers encountering financial difficulties. Yet, here were those folks--and me--"still standing." We came through difficulties because we didn't just say, "I quit." We didn't give up. And therein, I suppose, lies a lesson.

No matter our circumstances, there are times when life takes an unexpected turn. When one of these happens, there are times that I've been tempted to just curl up in a fetal position and surrender. And--be honest--so have you and most other folks. But we end up working through the crisis that we face. Sometimes, our lives change dramatically, but we adjust. Truly, we're "still standing."

We've all heard that if life gives you lemons, make lemonade. (The old joke is that if life gives you melons, you may be dyslexic.) But all joking aside, our attitude in the end should be, "I can get through this." In my case, I turn to God. Maybe you feel differently, but whatever we do, we keep plugging along.

Got anything to say on this subject? I suspect that everyone who reads this can think of one or a number of situations where you were tempted to give up. Let us hear your story of how you got through it, and are still standing.

Tweet with a single click. "Are there situations that made you want to give up? Are you still standing afterward?"

Friday, November 03, 2017

Writing: Scenes In A Novel

When you set out to paint a scene of a forest, it's a matter of doing it tree by tree. Anne Lamott talks about this approach in her book, Bird By Bird. When you think about it, a novel is made up of scenes, each one with a purpose, like beads strung on a wire to create a necklace. That should be what a writer creates.

 For the author there are two reasons to read: read to see what others write (the good stuff, so you know what to emulate, and the bad stuff, so you know what to avoid) and study to see how to improve your grasp of the craft. I normally don't recommend books here, but as a generalization the Writer's Digest books are among the best in the latter category, and I've found one I want to add to my library.

I've just read an excerpt from the WD book, Four Ways To Launch A Scene by Jordan Rosenfeld, and what I have seen thus far is excellent. A writer should always try to make his/her next book better than the last, and one way to do this is by making each scene tell a story. I recommend this book for writers and readers alike.

Tweet with a single click. "Writers, does every scene in your book move things forward?"

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

The big question

It's time to answer the big question. Not "will you celebrate Halloween?" I'll leave that question for another time. (How about "Never?" Will that work?) If you have children, their question is usually, "Is my costume ready?", or maybe "Is it time to go trick-or-treating yet?" But the question around our house is what kind of candy to have available.

There are plenty of children in our neighborhood who'll come to our door (and even some older children--and that, too, is a subject for another time). We try to have candy for them, but my wife always asks me, "What kind shall I buy?" I've finally settled on an answer--"The kind we'll eat if there's some left over." And there's always some left over. Sometimes we have lots of kids come by, sometimes not many at all, but we have to be prepared for the larger number. So this year, as we've done in the past, we'll lay in a supply of candy that we can enjoy if there's some left over.

How about at your house? Are you preparing for costumed children to come to your door? Or do you turn off the lights and hunker down, hoping they'll go away when no one answers the doorbell?

Friday, October 27, 2017

Writing: Audio Versions

When I was writing for traditional publishers, I really had little or no say-so in whether they arranged to put out an audio version of my novels. That decision was up to the publishing company. One novel--Stress Test--was made available in audio format by a publisher. Others were available only as ebooks or in print.

One advantage of indie-publishing is that I can arrange for an audio version of my novels anytime I want to. But the process isn't an easy one. First I have to arrange for a narrator. This means putting the material out on the appropriate website and listening to every audition. I thought I wasn't going to get the narrator I wanted until Bill Nevitt did an audition. He was just what I was looking for, and was willing to take the "deal" that I wanted.

Of course, then it meant listening to the entire book, chapter by chapter, as Bill read it. As you can imagine, this accounted for several hours of time. In the meantime, although my designer had done a great job in coming up with a cover for Doctor's Dilemma, she had to re-do it to put it in the appropriate format for an audio book. She came through like a champ.

Finally I received notification that the audio book is available on Amazon, Audible, and soon will be on iTunes. Here's a sample, courtesy of Bill:

If you haven't read Doctor's Dilemma already, and are set up to listen to audio books, I hope you'll give this one a try.

(And for those of you who got my newsletter--see, I told you there were benefits to signing up for it--all the introductory codes are already gone. Sorry.)

Tweet with a single click. "Is it much trouble to publish an audio version of a book?" #writing.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

The tooth, the whole tooth, nothing but...

I wasn't certain what I was going to write about this afternoon, but I soon discovered it didn't matter. While my wife was away from the house for a bit, I felt a little peckish so I decided to try the caramel-coated popcorn we bought from one of our granddaughters who was selling things for their Girl Scout troop. I bit down and felt something hard. Thinking there was an unpopped kernel, I shoved it forward with my tongue and examined it. Unfortunately, it wasn't popcorn. It was the major portion of an upper tooth.

To be fair, it was the first tooth of mine that had ever undergone a root canal (there've been two more, and they're fine), and at my last check-up the dentist told me it might go at any time. But, to be honest, I sort of figured it would last as long as I did. Obviously I was wrong.

Anyway, I'll be seeing my dentist this AM for whatever he thinks is necessary to get things back in order. Meanwhile, I'll reflect on my good fortune to have (relatively) good health, and that help is available if that something goes awry. See you on my regular blog day this coming Friday.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Winner of Amazon Gift Card

I've sent a note to the winner (chosen from over 165 people who left their name and email addresses). Thanks to all of you for entering. Hope you enjoyed the Christian Fiction Scavenger Hunt.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Christian Fiction Scavenger Hunt: Stop #13

Welcome to the Christian Fiction Scavenger Hunt! If you’ve just discovered the hunt, be sure to start at Stop #1 and collect the clues through all the stops, in order, so you can enter to win one of our top 3 grand prizes!
      The hunt BEGINS at noon MST on October 19 with Stop #1 Hunt through our loop using Chrome or Firefox as your browser (not Explorer). There is NO RUSH to complete the hunt—you have all weekend (until Sunday, 10/22 at midnight MST)! So take your time, reading the unique posts along the way; our hope is that you discover new authors/new books. (If you've found this earlier, please be patient with us--we're still setting up).

Submit your entry for the grand prizes by collecting the clue on each author’s scavenger hunt post and submitting your answer in the Rafflecopter form at Stop #25. Many authors are offering additional prizes along the way.

At this stop, I'm pleased to host two authors of Christian fiction who've combined their talents to write an excellent book. Welcome, Lisa Harris and Lynne Gentry. Here's a bit about their novel, Ghost Heart.

A brilliant transplant surgeon. A rogue organ broker. A ghost child.
And the legend that could destroy them all.

A brutal murder convinces surgeon Mia Kendall there’s more than she imagined to the mysterious spike in heart transplant rejections. Determined to find answers before she loses another patient, Mia gets sucked into a dangerous international medical web. With time running out for her youngest transplant recipient, Mia is forced to partner with a disillusioned ex-military pilot who flies brokered organs across East Africa. But searching for the truth will prove costly for the unlikely duo racing to stop a madman before he annihilates a rare and cursed bloodline.


Lisa and Lynne tell me they've been asked on several occasions how their collaboration went on this novel, and have made a video that explains it. So, without further ado, here they are to tell you how Ghost Heart came about.

LISA HARRIS is a best-selling author, a Christy award winner, and two time winner of the Best Inspirational Suspense novel from Romantic Times. She and her family live in Mozambique, Africa as missionaries. Find out more about her books at, on FB at AuthorLisaHarris or @heartofAfrica. 

LYNNE GENTRY is an actor/director turned fiction author who loves using her crazy imagination to entertain audiences with her books. When Lynne is not creating enchanting new worlds, she’s laughing with her family or working with her medical therapy dog. Find out more from her at, Author-Lynne-Gentry on FB, or @Lynne_Gentry on Twitter.

Here’s the Stop # 13 Skinny:
You can order this book on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or at your local bookstore! 

Clue to Write Down: you're

Before you go, if you're not a subscriber to my newsletter, I hope you'll take this opportunity to click the link to the right that will send it to you. Subscribers get first information about my newest releases, special "deals," and other helpful stuff. And enter both your name and email address in the comments for a chance to win an Amazon gift card. I'll contact the winner on Monday, October 23.