Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Guest blogging at Seekerville

I'll be honest about it. I'm tired of both doing my own blog and writing guest ones for other sites, so today I'm going to be lazy (but there's a carrot with that stick). I'm a guest at Seekerville. I talk about "success" and what we're seeking in writing, and offer an opportunity for a randomly selected commenter to win a copy of my latest novella, Surgeon's Choice. I hope you'll click on over there, read what I have to say, and enter. Thanks.

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Friday, January 26, 2018

Writing: The "Cons" of Indie Publication

There are lots of books, posts, lectures, and admonitions about the positives of self-publication. But there isn't a lot of information out there about the negatives. Consider this such a post. It's not offering criticism of this method of getting your book out there. It's things I've learned after I took the fork in my road to writing. Think of this as part of your Michelin guide, so to speak.

Deadline: When we (authors, that is) write for traditional publishers, the whole calendar for book publication is laid out. The author has to turn in an acceptable manuscript of a certain length by such-and-such a date. Then the editor does his/her thing, the author must respond with changes by a certain date, and on and on. The publication date is set for the book (usually quite a ways in advance of the completion date), but marketing has begun even before then.

When an author embarks on self-publication, their first thought is, "Oh, boy. No deadline. No minimum or maximum word count." I'd encourage you to set a deadline for yourself, even if no one else is looking over your shoulder. It's easy to think that, since you don't have a deadline to meet, you can take your time. That way lies disaster. Don't do it. Remember that writing is a business.

And even though you don't have to meet a word count, try to make your book approximately the same length as most in your genre. No 150,000 word tomes. On the other hand, remember that if your book is half as long as most others, it should be priced accordingly. (More on pricing in another post).

That's just one aspect of the self-publication process, and I've already written enough to fill this blog post. I promise to do more. Which aspects of "traditional vs. indie" publication are you curious about? I'll do my best to answer, based on my decade of experience. Let me know.

Tweet with a single click. "Does indie-publication mean there are no deadlines to meet?"

Note: Here's another chance to read about me (whether I prefer cake or cookies, for instance), and win a copy of Surgeon's Choice. Good luck.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Profanity In Writing

Warning. This is a post about profane language.  It happens. People use bad language, the  Third Commandment notwithstanding, and I accept it. I don't approve, but I realize it happens.

It happens in politics (behind closed doors, usually, unless someone leaks those conversations). It also happens in sports (and an open mike can pick up some words and expressions that are truly shocking). It happens at the store. I love what Tim Allen said once in his show, Last Man Standing. It's something to the effect that we honor the birth of God's Son at Christmas, then take His name in vain when someone sneaks into the parking place we were headed for. It happens.

What we say can stick around for a long time--forever, if they're captured on video. But (and this is my point) the words authors write are also permanent. We're responsible for what we say, and authors are also responsible for what they write.

Most of the books on my "read it again and again" bookshelf have absolutely nothing in them I'd mind my mother, wife, or daughter reading.  Sometimes I have to skip over a passage or two in others, but by and large I prefer those that can be read without censorship. What about you?

When writing, I try to take my cue from Louis L'Amour. I don't read a lot of westerns, but many people do, and enjoy this man's novels. I appreciate what he said about profanity in writing. What do you think? (You may need to click on the picture to enlarge it enough to read the words.)

Tweet with a single click. "Does writing that includes profanity cover for a lack of skill?"

For those who care (and even if you don't), my interview is up at The Suspense Zone today.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Writing: Throwing Away

I've mentioned before that I pay attention to the opinion of my first reader. On a couple of occasions, I've started over in my writing of a novel, discarding about 10,000 words. In other words, I had the work partially written, and I trashed it. Why? Because I was told, "This doesn't grab my attention." And if that doesn't happen, the novel isn't going to hold the attention of others.

Now I'm rewriting my next novel, Guarded Prognosis, after I'd finished writing the book. Why? Because the scenario I'd designed for my protagonist didn't seem to work. Instead, I came up with this, and got a go-ahead on it. Here's the first paragraph. See what you think.

"The men sitting in adjacent chairs looked out of place in the corner of the surgeon’s waiting room. It wasn’t just that they didn’t have visible bandages, or that neither of them winced or evidenced pain. While many of the men and women waiting to see Dr. Caden Taggart bore expressions that said they either needed the surgeon’s attention or had already experienced it, these two men presented themselves the way drug salesmen do—sitting patiently, idly thumbing through magazines, almost bored."

Who were these men? What did they want? How would they affect the life of the doctor and his wife? Does this get your attention? Would you continue reading? Let me know.

Tweet with a single click. "Ever start a project, only to throw away what you've already done and start over?" 

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Whatever Happened To...?

One of the best sportswriters in the southwest for over six decades, Blackie Sherrod, used to do an occasional column entitled "Scattershooting While Wondering Whatever Happened To..." Mr. Sherrod has been gone for over two years, but I still think about that phrase (and miss his writing).

Today, I guess I'm scattershooting while wondering whatever happened to the concept of deciding for yourself. I suppose I'm old-fashioned, but I liked it when the evidence on a subject or an event was presented, after which I made up my own mind. Then again, the current situation isn't new. It is mentioned by Donald Westlake and Ross Thomas (both now deceased) in books that are based on the concept of an "October surprise." As I recall, the story hinges on the situation where someone starts a rumor, assuming that even if there's no substantiation, it will take more than a month for it to be proven false. And now our world is full of October surprises.

Maybe I'm jaded, perhaps I'm reacting to a suspect piece of apple pie, it may be that I'm just an old fogey, but I really wonder sometimes what happened to the "good old days." How about you?

Today I'm guest posting on the blog of Trish Perry, and one randomly selected commenter will win a copy of my novella, Surgeon's Choice. I hope you'll enter, as well as going to the other sites where I did interviews and doing the same there.

PS--I planned to post this tomorrow, but for some reason it went up today. No problem. But I won't be back until Friday's post. Meanwhile, talk among yourselves--and check out the websites I've mentioned.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Writing: Marketing

One of the biggest surprises for authors is that writing the best book possible is only part of the battle. In addition to editing and revising, which sometimes comes as a surprise to the fledgling writer (after all, it was good enough to get a contract, so why does it need to be changed?), there's the marketing of the work. This includes choosing a great cover, getting the word out, and (gasp) some giveaways of copies.

For the individual who has a contract with a "traditional" publisher, this is usually taken care of by the marketing department, with some help from the author. But the more experienced writer soon learns that the old adage is true: No one (not even the publisher) is any more interested in sales of your book than you are. So if you want those sales figures to stand up to analysis, you have to expend some effort.

I discovered long ago that I had to be at least an equal partner, if not the majority shareholder, with my publisher in such an endeavor. This is no knock on them. It's just the truth. Authors have doors open to them that might not be apparent to others. And since I've indie-published a book and four novellas, it's been entirely up to me to get the word out on those. It's been a great experience and has taught me a lot, but it takes a good bit of time. Fair warning to those embarking on these seas.

Today you can read about me and my latest novella, Surgeon's Choice, by clicking on this site from Southern Authors Magazine. (They said it would be up by 6:30, but it wasn't there when I checked--sorry). I've also been interviewed by Laura Davis on her website, where a randomly chosen winner will receive an ebook (this site has a US-Canadian-foreign audience, so postage can be a consideration).

Websites where you have a chance to win a copy of this book (or an Amazon gift card if you've already bought it) are also noted in my last and my previous post (and you'd better hurry in some cases). Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to get back to revising my next novel, Guarded Prognosis, which I hope to release this summer. Oh, and maybe do a little marketing, as well.

Tweet with a single click: "Is marketing a book important?"

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

So many books...

"There are approximately one billion ebook titles and three million print books on Amazon." When I read this the other day on one of the myriad blogs I try to check each day,  the enormity of the universe of books swept over me. And I was one of the tiny stars (think astral bodies, not wonderfully talented people) in this universe.

Why would anyone read my books? Apparently a significant number of you all do just that, and I thank you, each and every one. But why would anyone choose my books? There are simply not enough hours in the day to read all the ones out there.

The answer, I think, is roughly the same philosophy as underlies one of the Texan-isms I heard growing up. "That's why they make Fords and Chevrolets." Of course, now there are a bunch of makes of automobiles and pickups from which to choose, but when I was younger (about the time the earth's crust was cooling), there were only a handful of companies turning out vehicles. The choice was simpler than it is nowadays, and it was ultimately made on the basis of "what I like." And I think that's true currently of all the decisions we make--what brand of soap, clothing, food, etc. I may not understand the factors involved, but I thank those of you who've chosen my books out of the billions of choices you have.

I'm gratified so far by the performance of my latest novella, Surgeon's Choice.  It's currently available in Kindle format, and the print version is also  ready for purchase via Amazon and Barnes & Noble. For those who don't have a Kindle but want to read the book that way, I suggest you go to Amazon and do one of the free downloads of the app that will send the book in Kindle format to your computer (PC or Mac) or smartphone. 

I'll be doing interviews and guest posts on blogs for the rest of this month, each of which will include a giveaway of a copy of this book. And, if a winner has already bought it, I'll send an Amazon gift card instead. Previous appearances are shown on my post from Friday. My interview with Carrie Schmidt just went up on her site. And there are a few more to come.

Thanks again for making me a star--astral body, that is. In the comments, let me know if you see any difference between my indie-published novel and novellas and the ones released by "conventional" publishers. See you in a few days.

Tweet with a single click. "With so many books out there, why would anyone choose to read a specific book?"

Friday, January 05, 2018

Writing: Why Do I Write?

The first of the year is traditionally a time for lists (the best books I've read, the best authors, the most memorable events of the past year, etc.). When it comes to looking back over the year that has just ended, I tend to follow the wisdom of Leroy "Satchel" Paige, pitcher of many decades ago, who said, "Don't look back--something may be gaining on you." Instead, I adopt the motto espoused by William Shakespeare, who had his character say, "What's past is prologue."

What I've been asking myself lately is, "Why do I write?" It certainly has provided something to keep me busy after retirement from the practice of medicine. But is it for the money? No, anyone who seeks to make a living at this activity and whose name isn't Child or Rowling or Patterson is in for a disappointment. And fame? Thus far, no one has asked for my autograph, and I haven't seen any days honoring me in my north Texas town.

I suppose the reason I keep plugging away is that I think I have something worthwhile to say, and some people keep reading it. And so long as I'm able, I'll probably continue.

This week saw the release on Amazon of my novella, Surgeon's Choice. I'll let you all know of the sites where you can win a copy. If you spend the money buying a copy and then win one, I'll send you an Amazon gift card instead--fair enough? The first such site is The Suspense Zone. I'm also a guest on the blog of Lena Nelson Dooley, and have a guest interview on Suspense Sisters--each provides an opportunity to win a copy of my latest novella. Stay tuned for more.

Meanwhile, for the writers among you, I'll ask you the question I've posed to myself. Why do you write? Why keep at it? What would it take for you to consider yourself a success?

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Tuesday, January 02, 2018

The Times Are Changing

I've been advised by a reliable source that Facebook's continued changes may affect my postings (and those of other authors), especially those on my author page. For some time I have tried to follow the policy of accepting "friend" requests for my personal page from relatives or people with whom I have a connection. I encourage others to "like" my Facebook author page, where I post material (usually links) related to writing and make important announcements. I don't think my posts there come under the heading of "baiting." You know: "Please buy my book," or "Sign up for a chance at...." But, honestly, I really don't know what FB is going to decide.

Since none of us knows how this is finally going to shake out, my FB posts on that site may be less numerous and a bit more thought will precede putting them up. Meanwhile, I hope you'll continue to follow me on my blog, where I'm a little more in control of what's posted.

Stay tuned for further developments. And happy new year.

(Note: tomorrow is the "official" release day of my novella, Surgeon's Choice, so this is your final opportunity to take advantage of the pre-release price on the Kindle version).