Sunday, December 31, 2017

Happy New Year

As has been our custom for quite a while, Kay and I will probably usher in the New Year at about 10:30 Central time from our living room (or, more likely, our bed).  But whatever time zone you're in and however you plan to mark the exit of the old year and entrance of the new--happy new year.

Let me mention that my next novella, Surgeon's Choice, will officially release via Amazon on Jan. 3. Until then, the Kindle version is available for 99 cents. (No special price on the print version--sorry).

I'll be back on Tuesday. Meanwhile, however you celebrate it, here's hoping 2018 is great for you.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Writing: No Rest For The Holidays

Well, you live and learn. Previously, I never gave a thought to when my publisher was going to release my next book (except to wish it could be sooner). One of the things "hybrid" or "indie" authors learn is that pretty much everything is up to them--writing, revising, publication, marketing, the whole bag. And that includes choosing a time for release of the work.

Like most authors, I wanted to release my book as soon as it was ready. Most of the publishers take the holidays off, you say? Not me. Surgeon's Choice was done, and I was ready to release it. How about right after the new year? So that's what I set up. But I hadn't given much thought to the marketing of the work.

I talked with several of my author friends who had blogs  (don't all authors have one?) and set up interviews, which included giving away a book for a commenter. (I'll mention those sites as they come up). I wanted my followers to have a chance to get the novella at a pre-publication price for the Kindle format, so that had to be set up. And since I thought this was a good time to introduce my work to some folks who'd received a Kindle for Christmas, I wanted to make one of my prior novellas free in that format for a few days after Christmas.

Now I see why most publishers avoid releasing a new book around holiday time. But I did, and I hope you'll enjoy it. Excuse me, but I have to finish one last interview and check on the order for copies of Surgeon's Choice. Happy New Year. See you next week.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

It's Almost Here: Freebie and Announcement

The title of this blog post has nothing to do with Christmas (it's past--and I hope yours was great) or New Year's (yes--it's almost here, but as we usually do, Kay and I will celebrate 2018 by being asleep). No, it's a freebie and an announcement. And if you receive my newsletter (and open it), you already know all this.

A number of people received a Kindle for Christmas, and to prolong the spirit of the season a bit I've made my novella, Silent Night, Deadly Night, a free Kindle download on Amazon from December 26-30. If you haven't read it yet, or if you know someone who would like to take advantage of this offer, please do so within the next few days. When 2018 rolls around, it reverts to the usual price.

The other half of the announcement is that my next novella, Surgeon's Choice, is available for pre-order, with a Kindle special price of 99 cents. The official release date is January 3, 2018, with the print version becoming available about that same time. (Sorry, there isn't a special price on the printed book). I hope you read and enjoy it.

Oh, and if you want to use that Amazon gift card you received, don't forget to look into the Audible versions of several of my novellas and novels.

And don't forget your black-eyed peas on New Year's Day.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Merry Christmas

"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.

Friday, December 22, 2017

A Texas Christmas

The young couple knew the long trip would be difficult, but it was the Depression, and although there was no work in the small Texas town where they had started their married life, the husband had heard of work in California. So they packed up their car, praying that it would hold up for the trip. The wife’s father slipped a couple of crumpled bills into her hand and said, “In case of emergency, Honey.” Her mother stood nearby, twisting her apron, obviously worrying about her daughter but just as obviously trying not to show it.

The couple used up the last of the daylight driving. They had reached deep West Texas when they realized it was time to stop for the night. “We can’t spare the money for a hotel,” the husband said. “I’m going to see if the folks at one of these farms will put us up for the night.”

They pushed on between pastures marked by sagging barbed wire, the road a winding black ribbon in the flickering yellow headlights. At last the driver spied a cluster of lights in the distance. “I’ll try there.”

The man who came to the door wore overalls and a gray, long-sleeved undershirt. He didn’t seem to take to the idea of this couple spending the night, but his wife came up behind him and said, “Oh, can’t you see she’s pregnant. The hands are out in the north pasture with the herd, and the bunkhouse is empty. Let them stay there.”

In the middle of the night, the young husband was awakened by his wife’s cries. “I’m in labor.”

“But, you’re not due until—“

“Just get help. Please.”

He did. In a few minutes, the rancher’s wife bustled in, laden with towels and blankets. “Just put that down,” she said to her husband, who trailed her carrying a bucket of hot water in one hand. “Then you two men get out.”

Soon, the men tired of waiting outside and the rancher grudgingly invited the stranger into the kitchen. They’d almost exhausted a pot of extra strong coffee when they heard a faint cry. Then, “You men can come back now.”

The two men were halfway to the bunkhouse, following the faint light of a kerosene lantern, when three weary cowboys rode up and climbed off their mounts. “We saw lights on here. What’s going on?”
“Come and see,” the young husband said. And they did.

When he saw the mother holding a wrinkled, fussing newborn close to her, the gruff old rancher turned to his wife and said, “Well, Mother, I’m glad you talked me into letting these folks stay.”

“We had to,” she said. “It was a wonderful gift for me, seeing that little baby born. Who knows? Maybe he’ll grow up to be someone special.”

Now imagine that the scene wasn’t West Texas, it was Bethlehem. It didn’t take place in a bunkhouse, it occurred in a stable. And it wasn’t just a baby—this was God’s own Son--the Christ child was God in blue jeans, as one of my friends puts it. Does that make it more real to you? I hope so.

During this season, as you think about Jesus’ birth, don’t put him in spotless white swaddling clothes in the middle of a Christmas card. Picture him in the most humble surroundings your imagination can conjure up, the Son of God Himself in a diaper, born to give each of us the best gift we could ever imagine. 

Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

The First Christmas Without Them (Repeat Posting)

Some of you know that on September 28, 1999, Cynthia--my wife of 40 years--succumbed to a bleeding brain malformation. I was a wreck after her death. I wrote this piece, which was reprinted in our local paper that December. I have had a number of requests for it at this time of year since then. I offer it here, dedicated to the ones who won't be around the tree with us.
          Following the death of a loved one, every holiday afterward carries its own load of renewed grief, but there’s little doubt that Christmas—especially that first Christmas without him or her—is the loneliest time of the year.
         After the death of my wife, Cynthia, I was determined to keep things as “normal” as possible for that first Christmas. Since this was an impossible goal, the stress and depression I felt were simply multiplied by my efforts. My initial attempt to prepare the Christmas meal for my family was a disaster, yet I found myself terribly saddened by the sight of my daughter and daughters-in-law in the kitchen doing what Cynthia used to do. Putting the angel on the top of the tree, a job that had always been hers, brought more tears. It just wasn’t right—and it wasn’t ever going to be again.
         Looking back now, I know that the sooner the grieving family can establish a “new normal,” the better things will be. Change the menu of the traditional meal. Get together at a different home. Introduce variety. Don’t strive for the impossible task of recreating Christmases past, but instead take comfort in the eternal meaning of the season.
         The first Christmas will involve tears, but that’s an important part of recovery. Don’t avoid mentioning the loved one you’ve lost. Instead, talk about them freely. Share the good memories. And if you find yourself laughing, consider those smiles a cherished legacy of the person whom you miss so very much.
         For most of us, grieving turns our focus inward. We grieve for ourselves, for what might have been, for what we once had that has been taken from us. The Christmas season offers an opportunity to direct our efforts outward. During this season for giving, do something for others. Make a memorial gift in memory of your loved one to a regional Food Bank, the Salvation Army, or your favorite charity. Involve yourself in a project through your church. Take a name from an Angel Tree at one of the malls and shop for a child whose smile you may not see but which will warm your heart nevertheless.
         When you’re grieving, it’s easy to be overwhelmed by Christmas, especially the modern version. The echoes of angel voices are drowned out by music from iPods. The story of Jesus’ birth gives way to reruns of “Frosty, The Snowman.” Gift cards from Best Buy and Wal-Mart replace the offerings of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. If you find the season getting you down, the burden of your loss too great to bear, read once more the Christmas story in Luke, chapter 2. Even if you celebrate it alone, remember the true meaning of Christmas.    


Saturday, December 16, 2017

We All Win

The winner of my giveaway is Jackie Smith. I'll send her an email to arrange delivery of a copy of Cardiac Event. Thanks to all of you for your entries.

As I said, everyone least, if you've been waiting for my next book. Surgeon's Choice is now available for pre-order. It won't be released until just after the first of the year, but for those who pre-order the Kindle version now, you can get it for 99 cents. (The print version should be available by that time. Sorry, no pre-order special price on that one).

Merry Christmas, all.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Writing: The Publishing Year

Wow, talk about a blow to one's ego (if a writer even has one)--I forgot to publish the Tuesday blog until the next day, and hardly anyone seemed to notice it. No, I'm certain the two or three people who follow this blog thought about it for a few seconds, but this is the busy season so I certainly understand.

Anyway, I asked in that blog for suggestions about what writing questions you wanted answered, and the response was underwhelming. No one has any questions. As one of my professors used to say, "I guess you all have a clear understanding of the process."

Publishing has undergone lots of changes, especially in the past year. I'm reminded of the character played by Lloyd Bridges in "Airplane," a spoof of the more serious dramas about a plane running wild. He's shown as a harried Air Traffic Controller, puffing on one (or several) cigarettes while saying, "Looks like I picked the wrong time to give up smoking." Well, my first book (other than the medical texts I edited or wrote) was published in 2006, and ever since I've often thought, "Looks like I picked the wrong time to get into writing."

As some of you know (and a few of you care), my "medical mysteries with heart" have been mostly published by mainstream publishers, but lately I've self-pubbed them. Although there was a time when self-publishing was termed "vanity publishing," it's no longer a pejorative term. Some of us--myself included--have had our covers professionally designed and paid an independent editor to work with us on our finished novels. Others, unfortunately, have not. And since there are 2000 books published every day-- I honestly can't recall where I read those figures, but I believe them--it behooves those of us who've switched to independent publishing to do it right if we want to get even a small market share.

I'll be releasing my next novella in a couple of weeks. Subscribers to my newsletter will get the news first (including a special pre-publication price), followed by info given to those who read this blog. And I also have a surprise gift planned for that time as well--more details to come.

Meanwhile, have a wonderful, meaningful, joyous Christmas. Next week I'm repeating a couple of my popular Christmas posts. See you right after Christmas with news about Surgeon's Choice.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017


Sorry about that--I forgot to hit "publish" after I wrote this. Let him who has never made such a mistake cast the first aspersion.

Christmas preparations are probably in full-swing at your house, so this post will be a small one (kind of like the stocking stuffer you decided at the last minute to buy).

Readers have been surprised when they read my post on what Goodreads has planned to monetize their giveaways. I'll remind you that my own giveaway of my novel, Cardiac Event, is still going on. Rules are listed in the blog.

I'll be asking a few questions on the ACFW Book Club blog today and tomorrow, with a random selection on Thursday of a winner of Cardiac Event. If you're a member, or if you want to join, be certain to join in--both with your comments and to get your name in the pot.

This Friday, in my post on writing, what question would you like addressed? Leave your question in the comments, and tune in to see if it gets answered.

And now, we resume our regularly scheduled hectic lives. (Oh, yours isn't hectic? You must not be paying attention).

Tweet with a single click: What writing questions do you have?

Note: I'll be posting a repeat next Tuesday--The First Christmas Without Them--and another repeat on Friday--A Texas Christmas.

Friday, December 08, 2017

Writing: Paying For A Giveaway

I have a Goodreads account, but I don't visit there every day. I'll check it periodically, and make certain all my books are listed as they're published. My blogs are cross-posted on Goodreads, as are some comments. I haven't yet done a Goodreads giveaway, but I was considering it when I read this. Starting in January, Goodreads will charge for the privilege of giving away books. That detailed post tells you more than you might want to know, but the bottom line is that for the "special" price of $59 (until the end of January--then it goes up to $119 for the basic package) I can do a book giveaway--but I can't stipulate that entrants subscribe to my newsletter, post something about the book, review it, or anything else. I do, however, get to pay for the privilege of giving away from one to 100 copies.

Goodreads (which is owned by Amazon) has decided to monetize their service. Good for them, I suppose, but since I'm indie-published right now, that money (as well as the cost of the book and the postage) comes out of my pocket. The benefit, of course, is to get my books before a lot of readers. To put this into effect is certainly within their rights. I realize most publishers will do this for their authors (although you will note that the fee is per book, not a blanket license), but I'm not sure a lot of indie-published authors will join in.

However, in celebration of the season, I think I'll do my own giveaway (and it won't be nearly as expensive for me). Here are the rules--please read and observe all of them.

I won't require that you sign up for my newsletter--if you already are on the list, say so. If you want to sign up, go here, then tell me you've done it. And if you don't want to do anything except get your name in the hat, that's fine. Like all authors, I will appreciate it if the winner leaves a review on Amazon or Goodreads, but I won't require it.

If you've already bought (and, hopefully, read) Cardiac Event, instead of the book I'll send you an Amazon gift card for $10. If you've already left a review of the book on Amazon, I'll double the amount of the gift card. How's that for going the extra mile?

Ready to enter? Leave your email address in the comments (in this format: Dr R L Mabry at gmail dot com). Next weekend, I'll randomly select a name, contact you, and arrange to send you a print copy of my novel, Cardiac Event. 

And if you want to make a comment, feel free to do that as well.

Tweet with a single click. "A small rant about requiring authors to pay for the privilege of giving away books."

PS--My new novella, Surgeon's Choice, is nearing publication. Subscribers to my newsletter will get the details first (hint, hint). It should be available for pre-order around Christmas, and release just after the first of the year.