Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Christmas, 2014

(This has been my Christmas post for several years--I still don't know how to say it any better)

"Do we go to your parents' house or mine?" "Where did you put the extra string of Christmas lights?" "Which stuffing recipe are you going to use?" "What can we give him/her?" "Where is my Christmas tie?" "Why doesn't this sweater fit anymore?"

Have these become the sounds of Christmas at your house? I hope not. As the blessed day sneaks up on us, I've wondered what to say to those of you who read my random jottings from time to time. What can I say that's new and inspirational? Finally, it dawned on me...I don't have to find something new. Better to stick with something written about 2700 years ago by the prophet, Isaiah. The words bring as much hope now as they did then. May it be ever so.

"The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned....For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."

May you have God's peace in your heart, not just as you celebrate Christ's birthday, but every day in the year to come. Merry Christmas.
(I'll be on blog hiatus until January 6, 2015. Enjoy the holidays.)

Monday, December 22, 2014

Quick Last Minute Announcements

Almost forgot this. You might be interested in my answer to the question of whether publication depends on persistent writing: "hogwash." Details are on the My Book Therapy blog--read them by clicking here.

Also, the opportunity to win an Advance Reading Copy of my next novel, Fatal Trauma, expires at midnight Central time. And you can enter once a day. The link is below.

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Friday, December 19, 2014

Writing: Special Giveaway

As Christmas approaches, I feel like doing a giveaway. I've just completed one of these limited to subscribers to my newsletter. But this one's for you.  (If you aren't a subscriber to my newsletter, I'd encourage you to click on the link in the right margin. I won't bombard you with stuff, and sometime in early spring I plan to give subscribers a chance to read a novelette I'll be e-publishing).

Anyway, I've decided it's time to do something for my faithful blog readers, so here's one for you. It's simple to enter (click the widget below--you have two chances, and you can enter every day). The winner will receive an Advance Reader's Copy of my next book, Fatal Trauma. The contest ends Monday though, so hurry. Good luck. I'll notify the randomly selected winner by email.

Come back on Tuesday, December 23, when I'll share my annual Christmas blog post.

TWEET with a single click: "Giveaway of an advance copy of Richard Mabry's next novel." Click here to tweet.

(picture via FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

'Tis The Season...

I've just completed an interview that might interest you. I hope you'll click this link to view it.

It's taken a while, but I think the decorations at our house are finally complete. The tree is up. All the presents have been bought...well, all but one or two. Christmas cards are on the dining room table, and that's probably one of the next projects.

It probably didn't happen in December, there was no snow on the ground, and the wise men didn't arrive until much later, but nevertheless this is the time we celebrate God's greatest gift of all, a gift that wasn't wrapped in fancy paper or placed under a decorated tree. Instead, this Gift was clothed in human form, and it truly is "the gift that keeps on giving." Don't forget that.

On Friday I'll have an extra special post, a gift for my readers. It's a chance for you to win an Advance Reading Copy of my next novel, Fatal Trauma. The contest will only run for three days, but it's simplicity itself to enter. Come back then, and tell all your friends about it. See you then.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Writing: Revising A Manuscript

Some writers have just completed the NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) challenge, writing a novel in a month. I've tried it but it doesn't work for me, but it does for lots of people.

For those participants in NaNoWriMo who have now completed writing their novel, the thought may be, "I've finished a book. Now to submit it." I have a bit of advice for you: "Don't...At least, not yet."

Few, if any, books are publishable in first draft form. Anne Lamott has something to say about this, and I agree with her. Most published authors revise and polish their work multiple times before submitting it. When I first started writing, one of the hardest lessons I learned was to revise, revise, revise while every fiber of my being was screaming submit, submit, submit. But it's a lesson worth learning.

If you're a writer, especially a pre-published one, you may or may not take this advice (I'm used to that--I have children), but it's here for what it's worth. Meanwhile, I have a question for you. How long should an author take to produce a good manuscript? How many drafts do you think are enough? I'd like to know.

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(picture via FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Guest blogging today about change

Today I'm at the blog of the Faith, Hope and Love Chapter of Romance Writers of America. Hope you'll drop by. Here's what it's about:

I guess I identify with the TV detective, Adrian Monk, who said, “I don’t mind change. I just don’t like to be around when it happens.” All my life I’ve disliked change. I still recall the sinking sensation I felt when I heard that a favorite pastor was leaving for another church. I remember the knot in the pit of my stomach when I walked onto Ward 5-C on my first day as an intern. And butterflies populated my inner regions when I stood at the front of the Little Chapel In The Woods and watched my bride-to-be walk down the aisle.

To read the rest, click this link. I'll be back tomorrow with my regular blog post on writing.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Burning Question

Sometimes I think we spend too much time on our computers. Of course, if I didn't, I never would have found this question, nor sought out the answer. "Why isn't the auto fuel filler door on the same side in all cars?"

If you look at the picture, you'll see a diamond pointing to the left, or driver's side. After you get back from checking your own car (I'll wait...I know you're going to do it...go ahead), it appears that, although there's no federal regulation that decrees the filler door must be on a particular side, one reason for its location is convenience for the driver.

In the US, the steering wheel is on the left side of the car. Thus, I'm told that most US-manufactured cars have the filler door on the left, because it's easier and more convenient for drivers to pull up with that side toward a gas pump. On the other hand, if your car is manufactured to be driven in Europe or Asia, the filler door may be on the right side.

This brings up a number of other questions, like: "My car is manufactured in Asia, yet the filler door is on the right. Why is that?" And, "If they can move the steering wheel to one side or the other to accommodate driving patterns for different countries, why can't they do the same with fuel filler doors?"

And the answer to those questions? Sorry, but that's all the time we have today. You'll have to research those for yourself.

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Sunday, December 07, 2014

December 7...73 years after Pearl Harbor

With the rush of Christmas fast approaching and the length of time that has passed since December 7, 1941, I almost let the day slip past unrecognized.

I was very young when the attack on Pearl Harbor took place. But since that time, I've recognized that anniversary the same way millions of us recognize September 11, 2001. I don't use it to keep old animosities alive--the people responsible have been punished, and we've all moved on. But it's not bad to look back and recognize both the unexpected attack and the heroism of the people who sacrificed a great deal to defend our freedom.

December 7. Let's not forget.

(photo from U. S. Navy archives)

Friday, December 05, 2014

Writing: "Special Price...Sale..."

The after-Thanksgiving sales seem to begin earlier and earlier. Some retailers put seasonal items on sale and immediately mark them down. The whole world seems to get into a buying frenzy about this time of year. Does that include buying books? Maybe.

Print copies of books used to be popular gifts (and should still be). Bit now, since more and more people are getting e-readers as gifts, loading them with sale-priced books is a popular activity.

Which brings us to the question I'm asking today. Writers, do you think it's a good idea to discount the e-book version of your work, in order to attract readers? Or do you see it as taking away the already small amount of money you'll make from royalties. Of course, some writers don't control the prices charged for their e-books--that's a publisher's decision. This is something we always hear from authors who've "gone indie" and self-published their work, bypassing for whatever reason the traditional publishers. But, if such a decision were yours to make, what would you do?

If you want another view of this activity, see what agent Chip MacGregor has to say about it.

I've talked with two traditional publishers about this. One tells me they have figures that show discounting books is a helpful sales tool, another says it doesn't work and their surveys show this. There are lots of opinions out there, and I'd like to hear yours, whether you're a writer, a reader, or both. Leave a comment and let me know.

(photo via FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

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Monday, December 01, 2014

Guest posting today

I'm honored to be guest posting today on one of my favorite sites, 3 Men Walk Into A Blog. It's the hangout of three excellent authors: Jim Rubart, Dr. Harry Kraus, and Dan Walsh. If you're not familiar with their work, I highly recommend that you check them out.

My post talks about something I observed last week on my morning walk, a route that takes me by the second green of a nearby golf course. I hope you'll find it interesting.

I'll be back here, posting thoughts about "the writing life," this coming Friday. Y'all come back.