Friday, October 15, 2021

Writing: The Importance of a Cover

I'm not only awaiting the final, final, final edits on my novella, Medical Mystery,  but I'm also awaiting the cover art. Since I've been indie-publishing my novels and novellas, I've depended on Dineen Miller to do the covers for the published versions, the Kindle versions, and the audio versions. (Her cover for my last novel is shown to the left). I know there are cheaper ways to go, but remember that I'm in sort of a special category--I'm what Larry Block refers to as a "Sunday writer," and I'm not under the same type of time pressure to write as those who consider this their primary source of income.

How important is the cover? Well, I'll ask my readers to chime in here. Do you think the cover is very important, sort of important, or not very important in choosing books that you look at? I'll be interested to know.

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Just To Keep My Hand In

Having nothing better to do while I await the Cowboy game on Sunday, I decided to go through my hard disk and see what's there. In my Personal folder, I found the manuscript of a talk I gave to the North and South Carolina ENT Association not long after the death of my first wife. I recall that the person issuing the invitation had experienced a loss similar to mine, so I said, "Yes." The topic I chose was Navigating the Speed Bumps of Life, and the talk (which was copied into my Personal folder) had what I thought was some good stuff in it--so I decided to post it for anyone who needed my thoughts on the subject.

Long story short (and it's too late for that), I found that it was too long for a post but made a nice little Amazon Kindle booklet. So, in case any of you are interested in reading my thoughts, you can find it here. Just wanted to keep my hand in, while awaiting the final, final, final edits of my latest novella. 

See you Friday, with some words about writing.

Friday, October 08, 2021

Writing: Don't Hurry

 One of the hardest lessons for me its the admonition that I first hear from my agent years ago--don't be in a hurry to publish your manuscript. Whether it's indie-published or submitted to an agent or publisher, the reflex in all of us is to hurry it along for submission. I don't know when it soaked in--maybe it never has--but the lesson is really true. I used to grind my teeth when I'd hear someone recommend that we leave a manuscript for several days or several weeks, look at it again, perhaps rewrite (yet again) it, before submitting it. It's done. Let's get on with it!

But eventually, we learn. How many authors have we heard express that they wish they had done thus-and-such in their manuscript before submission? All of us know the drudgery of reading and correcting galleys. And if you are involved in an audio version, you may have to hear it again. We're all tired of hearing/seeing our words, but maybe it would be good to make those corrections while the book is still in the pre-publication form.

What's the couplet? "Backward, turn backward, oh time in thy flight. I thought of the words that fled from me last night."

Tuesday, October 05, 2021

Stupid Is As Stupid Does


As you've seen in my FB page, a US senator was teaching a class at the Univ of Arizona when a female (?student) followed her into the rest room, and despite her closing the stall door, stood outside it and delivered a harangue about "pathway to citizenship," while a bystander filmed it on their phone.

I don't know what bothers me most--the lack of logic shown by the person who delivered the diatribe telling how her grandparents were removed from the US (they were illegal, for goodness sake), the lack of common sense that someone would deliver such a harangue in the rest room, or the fact that an individual would include in their arguments "we got you elected, and we can take you down."

Yes, the proper venue for expressing your opinion to an elected official is via your vote, and if you can influence others to vote the same way, then power to you. But this way is ridiculous.

I hope every one will vote their conscience in a bit over a year, and that they'll go about electioneering the right way before then. But not this way! What do you think?

Friday, October 01, 2021

Writing: Tne First Draft

There's a magnet on my refrigerator that tells me first drafts don't have to be good--they just have to be written. That's true. I thought, since the pandemic was in full swing last year, and given my age, my days of writing were behind me. But my dear, sweet wife subtly encouraged me to try just one more time. I don't know if it was to give me something to do or what her reason was. Whatever it was, I eventually turned out the first draft of a novel. She made some suggestions, then another person read it and made even more. The end result, after numerous drafts and more recently a complete rewriting, turned out pretty good.

But it all started with a first draft. Once the words are down, it somehow seems easier to revise them, change them, even rewrite them. It may take a lot of drafts to do it--but it starts with that first draft.

What do you think?

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Anniversary of sorts

For those keeping score, it's been 22 years ago today that my first wife, Cynthia, succumbed to a brain hemorrhage. God has since blessed me once more with the love of a wonderful woman. I'm going to heed the advice of my friend (now deceased) in Florida, who said that not all events should be memorialized. Instead, I plan to think back on the wonderful life Cynthia led and thank God for giving me the love of yet another wonderful woman.

I'm watching the Cowboys and Eagles on Monday night football. Win, lose, or tie--it's entertaining. See you on Friday, when I promise to post something writing related--unless there's something else vying for my attention.  

Friday, September 24, 2021

Writing: Kill Your Darlings

 I can't recall who said it, but it's true--sometimes it's necessary to cut out words that you've written. You have to "kill your darlings," and often it results in a better novel. 

I have a target number--so many thousand words. It's not firm, because I publish "indie," but I try to stay roughly within it. My first reader, whom I ask to read mainly with an eye to publish-ability of the idea, said, "This doesn't read like a Mabry novel." I did a few changes, then asked an editor (yes, indie authors have them, too) to read and comment upon it. She did, making some excellent suggestions, including my rewriting the ending, changing the ending, and in general saying, "Redo it." Since I've had my share of editorial letters, I didn't kick the cat (much), and I'm about half-way through the revisions. 

I've probably cut 2% of the words, sometimes large sections, but I suspect I'll end up adding others. It just goes to show, however, that sometimes it's necessary to kill your darlings. The words may have sounded great to you when you came up with them, but if they don't add to the story, rip 'em out. It only hurts for a little while.

Ever had to kill your darlings? Let me know. I won't tell.

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Ever Wake Up and...

Two AM. That's when I awoke, realizing I hadn't posted my usual Tuesday blog. Ever had that happen to you?

So, I immediately...went back to sleep. C'mon, how many of you have let something slide? Fess up. I'll never tell.

Off to get my teeth polished. See you Friday...unless I forget. 

Friday, September 17, 2021

Writing: Imagining The Words

Writing is perfect for the person who's introverted. We sit down in front of a computer and imagine words that we might not say out loud in real life. We imagine people in situations that are made up of whole cloth, saying words that we pluck out of the air, and keep on doing that until we've filled our allotment of pages for the day. And when it comes time to send our manuscript forth into the world, we "put on our game face." However, instead of facing people for a limited amount of time, we're going to  put our words out there for thousands (we hope) to read and comment on for as long as the book is in print.

I love the quotation that I sometimes use as a signature line. "Some people hear voices when no one's around.  They are called mad, and sit in a room all day and stare at the walls. Others are called writers, and they do pretty much the same thing."  I may not have the words exactly the way writer Meg Chittenden said them, but writers will know what I mean--and nod. How about you?


Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Snipe Hunt

Before my first wife and I were married my soon-to-be father-in-law and several of the brothers-in-law (all Aggies, I might mention) said they were going to take me on a snipe hunt. For those who might  have been raised in the big city (I wasn't), that's a fictitious event that involves the "hunter" chasing around hunting the snipe. Fortunately, I knew what they were talking about and so I didn't go on a snipe hunt--we just talked about it.

Recently, I went on a modern version of a similar hunt when at 4 AM (why do these things always happen at that time?) I was awakened by two loud electronic beeps or chirps. I eventually thought that it might be from the battery operated alternate power source that I've left hooked up to my computer. Even though the battery is no longer operative, it has half a dozen electrical outlets that furnish surge protection, so I've continued to use them (because it's too much trouble to unplug them and get another power strip). Because it's under my desk, I have to be careful not to hit the power switch, but it appears that I did, re-activating the alarm feature. Long story short--I found the source of the electronic beeps and fixed it.

I've looked around today and see lots of places which could cause me similar problems--always at 4 AM, it seems. Maybe this is due to our dependence on gadgets--we seem to have an abundance of electronic gadgets around, none of which I'm ready to give up. Have you done anything to avoid such an unpleasant surprise?