Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Ready Or Not...

I look at the calendar and do a double take. Surely it can't be two weeks until Christmas. Maybe you're ready, just waiting for the big day. But some of us are not. Around our house, it appears that my wife is, as always, able to pull it all together, but like a duck, the surface may be calm but below the surface is furious paddling.

What's on your to-do list for Christmas? Is it getting out the cards? Our friends who usually send several pages about their past adventures simply sent us a simple photo card this year. Others are sending their Christmas greetings electronically (I just got one from a large publisher), while many simply find the practice too time consuming in the midst of everything else that demands their attention. We used to use these cards to keep up with our friends and relatives. Now we leave that to social media.

Is it the gifts? Have we spent as much on couple A as on couples B and C? Did we remember to get a gift for that person? Did they give us one last year? Is a gift card out because it's too impersonal? If we decide to give one, how much should it be for? Our society has become fixated on gifts, without thinking of the Gift we've all received.

At Christmas we celebrate Jesus' birth. Oh, I know that it probably happened in the summer (let's not get into that right now).  We're celebrating, so take advantage of it. I'm noticing that songs about Santa and snow are replacing traditional Christmas hymns, but they haven't drowned them out completely. In the midst of all this, let me suggest that you stop and consider the reason for the holiday. And thank Him for the best gift of all. I will.

Friday, December 07, 2018

Writing: The "Extras"

As I travel this "road to writing" (an appellation I've chosen to indicate that the writer must continue to learn...and, boy, have I learned), I'm discovering that there's much more to the craft than just putting the right words in the right order to make a book.

I've discovered that it's necessary to keep one's name in front of the general public. One way to do this is via guest blogs and interviews on various sites, always with a giveaway of the latest book the author is touting. Even if you're published by a traditional house, it's often up to the author to arrange these guest appearances. I've added the little "lagniappe" (something extra, if you don't speak Creole) of giving an Amazon gift card to anyone chosen to receive one of these books who has already purchased one. I've already listed the sites where people can go to read these interviews and guest posts and get their name in the drawing for my latest novella, by the way.

Another thing I'm learning is that it's worthwhile to put out an audio version of the novels that come from the author's pen. For me, this involved choosing a narrator, then listening to their work and correcting things like their pronunciation. It's time-consuming, but worthwhile--especially if you have medical terms in the book, as I do. (By the way, if your work comes out via a publisher, they make the decision about putting out an audio version--this entire process may be out of the author's hands).

Last week, I offered a "key" to download my most recent full-length novel, Guarded Prognosis, to five randomly chosen people. The keys have gone out to the winners, and I hope you enjoy listening to the book.

Tweet with a single click. "Some of the 'extras' a writer discovers are necessary."

Tuesday, December 04, 2018

Christmas rush

It has sat in the atrium of our house for a few days now, after we found it on sale at a local big box store. It will look great when we finally assemble it, but there's always something that comes up. Meanwhile, people are posting pictures of their decorated living rooms, sharing their Christmas ideas. Unfortunately, sometimes  lost in all the rush is the reason that we celebrate--God's gift to us, the best Christmas present we could ever receive.

I realize that Jesus was probably born in the summer months. I've heard the stories that our current Christmas was moved to coincide with the Roman holiday of Saturnalia. But all that's less important to me than the "reason for the season." And it doesn't matter when we observe the occasion.

So, whether you're all set for the holidays or are still trying to get everything done, don't forget why we celebrate. Whether it's in December or July, it's a wonderful time to stop and reflect on the greatest gift anyone could receive.

Friday, November 30, 2018

Writing: Finished!

I've heard it a number of times since I came (kicking and screaming and dragging my heels sometimes) to this writing business: "Writers don't so much like to write as they like to have written." It's true. Nothing compares with the feeling of writing "the end," of doing the edits and correcting the errors, of setting up the interviews, and finally seeing the finished product. At that point, the writer can truly feel that they have written. Before that there was a lot of effort, all aimed at this final state.

Earlier this week was the launch date for my fifth novella, Emergency Case. This, together with my dozen novels, makes seventeen books of fiction published with my name on the cover. I had no idea when I set out to write a book about my experiences after the death of my first wife, The Tender Scar, that this would be the result. But at the writer's conference where I began to understand writing and publication, I was challenged to "try my hand at fiction." Since you don't challenge a person to try something, whether it's bowling or writing, my reaction was to get to it. And four years spent writing four manuscripts that garnered forty rejections led me to the "overnight success" that has marked my writing journey. Go figure.

Do you have thoughts about writing (including "have written") you'd like to share?

Note: There are several interview sites where I bare my soul (well, almost) and you have a chance to win a copy of Emergency Case. They are here and here and here and here. And if you win one of the copies but have already bought the book, I'll send you an Amazon gift card. How's that?

Tweet with a single click. "Writers don't so much like to write as to have written."

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Launch Day

Well, today's the day. Until now, my novella, Emergency Case, has been available on Amazon for a pre-order price on the Kindle version. Now both the Kindle and print versions are on sale. (Note that the print version may take a day or two to be available--this has always been the case with Amazon, but have patience.)

Why did I write this one? I'd seen previous "Christmas" books, even wrote one myself (Silent Night, Deadly Night), but I really didn't have one in mind for this year, so I began wondering. What about a doctor whose progress backing down a snowy drive was stopped by the body of a man who turns out to be a client of her attorney husband? From there, I let me imagination take over. The story takes place in the time before Christmas. It has snow. What more would you want?

If you want to know more about me and Emergency Case (as well as getting a chance for a copy), click here and here. (And don't forget what I've already posted last week about other opportunities to win a copy of the novella). I hope you enjoy the book.

Friday, November 23, 2018

Just Dropping By...

...to share the first two chances for you to leave a comment and get one of the first copies of my novella (which releases next Tuesday), Emergency Case.

On Patricia Bradley's blog, you can win an actual ARC (ever wonder what one of those looks like?) while on the Suspense Sisters blog you can be in the running to win either a Kindle or print copy of the book.

Stay tuned--there'll be more. And if you happen to have purchased the book already and win one on this or another site, I'll send you an Amazon gift card. What could be fairer?

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Thanksgiving 2018

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.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Pre-Publication Special

Just a reminder that the Kindle version of my novella, Emergency Case, is on sale at the special pre-publication price of 99 cents until the release date of November 27 (less than a week, now). Then both the Kindle and print versions will be available for order at their normal prices.

Newsletter recipients will already have been reminded of this special, but I wanted to let the rest of you know.

Reviews so far have been good. Hope you enjoy the book...and your Thanksgiving holiday.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Time Flies

I follow a number of blogs--some for fun, others because they involve writing--and recently I got a message from one of the RSS aggregators I hadn't used in quite a while. I looked through what was, at one time, my list of blogs followed and did a double take. About 10% of them were no longer active. Some of these had gone away because of changes in the authors' lives, others because there was no longer an audience. Mine, on the other hand, had gone on unhampered.

My first wife passed away suddenly in 1999, and the book that stemmed from that event--The Tender Scar--was published in 2006. It's in its second edition, for which I thank all who've been helped by it. That book was a ministry.  I actually began considering writing a book in 2001, so I've been at this writing game for a number of years. Since 2006, I've had a bunch of novels and novellas published, both as contracted works by traditional publishers and via the "indie" route.

The point I want to make is that I've been incredibly fortunate over these past several years. I want to thank each one of you who has read and reviewed my work, as well as those involved in editing, proof-reading, design, and the hundred-and-one other things involved in this publication. I don't know how much longer I'll keep writing, but as my late uncle used to say, "It keeps me off street corners and out of pool halls." And that's not all bad.

Have a great Thanksgiving this year. Remember the reason we celebrate.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Writing: Is A Writer Different?

I recently had occasion to address a shipping label to a fellow writer. She's multi-published and rapidly making a name for herself in suspense fiction, yet she lives in a relatively small town in one of the southern US states and is very unassuming. This made me think about the mental picture of authors most people have--and the truth of the matter. It's been well established that some writers prefer solitude, yet our perception of them somehow is different than that.

Admittedly, the authors with whom I've become acquainted are those writing in the Christian genre, so this may not be true of all authors. But I suspect there's an element of truth across the board.

I've had twelve novels published, and Emergency Case will be my fifth novella, so I'm pretty well established as an author. Do I get recognized in public? Not a chance. Is there at least some recognition at church or among my friends of my position? Not really. Does my status get me a preferred tee time? Get real! The only thing I see different is that, when I take my car in for service, the manager asks if I have any new books out--because I always give him one.

Do I live in a nice house, or perhaps an apartment with a fancy address? Nope. So far as living on Park Avenue in New York or even University Park in Dallas, put those fantasies to bed. We moved from one small north Texas suburb to another about ten years ago, downsizing as we went. No mansion, no fancy apartment. Just a simple, one-level house.

Do I spend my time traveling to wonderful places for research or to write? Lawrence Block usually thanks owners of estates and such places who make them available to him while he writes. I labor (usually in my robe and slippers) in a small room on a laptop computer. And as for travel, I do my research online, believing Nolan Ryan was right: Anyone who thinks travel is glamorous hasn't done enough of it.

Most of us are just plain folks. But we hope you enjoy the way we put the words together for you, regardless of the glamour (or lack thereof) in our lives.

Tweet with a single click. "Do you picture authors as special people?"