Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Aaaaand...here's December.

There was a time when a large segment of America stayed up to watch Johnny Carson's monologue. And it was always preceded by Ed McMahon's drawn-out introductory phrase: Heeeere's Johnny. Well, folks--for those who haven't been paying attention, heeere's December.

It seems that we can't possibly rush the seasons enough. The day after Thanksgiving, there were some houses in our neighborhood that had outside lights up, lighted Christmas trees in windows, and I suspect that if we lived in a more affluent suburb, there'd be a snow machine blowing white stuff around (while the ambient temperature outside was approaching 80 degrees). Hey, what's your hurry?

What do you think? Have we rushed the season too much? I recall the "old days" when Christmas merchandise didn't find its way onto the shelves until December. Have your traditions kept pace with the "new" schedule, or do you still refuse to decorate for the Christmas holidays until the last of the Thanksgiving turkey has been disposed of? I'd like to hear.

Meanwhile, excuse me while I help dig out the Christmas decorations. After all, December will be here soon.

(Note: for all those who might be interested. I'll start the final run-through on my novella, Surgeon's Choice, tomorrow. I hope to have it available for pre-order in the next few weeks. As always, subscribers to my newsletter will hear about it first.)

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?"