Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Gone Fishing

"Gone fishing." For some reason, that was the expression that came to me as I discussed with my wife our need for rest the other day. I'm getting over a particularly tough respiratory infection, she has her own things to get through, and we decided that we needed a day when we have nothing planned. (Of course, that's subject to change, but you know what we mean.)

I have no idea why we should refer to such a day, to such freedom from tasks, as "gone fishing," since I have no desire to engage in that activity. Matter of fact, I guess the last time I engaged in fishing was while on vacation with the family on the Texas Gulf coast, and that was primarily because I thought my children would enjoy it. But you get the idea, anyway.

I'll be back with you in a few days, as scheduled...unless I decide to "keep on fishing."

Do you ever have those days when you want to turn off the phone, not answer the door, and hang up a mental sign, "Gone fishing?"

Friday, February 22, 2019

Writing: Networking

Writing is a lonely business. Some authors are introverts. Others may say they're extroverts, but I have a hunch what they do--as do I--is put on a "game face" when they're around other people. Given our druthers, I suspect that more authors would prefer sitting in a room in front of a computer screen than interacting with others. But that's not possible. It's not even healthy. As my wife reminds me, we need to be around other people and interact with them.

What does this have to do with writing? It's not cheap to attend a writers' conference, and when we do, it's a good thing to look at the benefits we'll reap by our attendance. Of course, there's the opportunity for learning more about our profession--and the successful author never stops learning. There's the possible interaction with agents and editors. Even for the author who is represented by an agent and feels secure in their current contract with a publisher, it's always a good idea to let others in the field put a face with your name and learn a bit more about you--there's a chance you may need to contact them in the future. Publishing is constantly changing.

Another major advantage in attending a writers' conference is the opportunity to network with one's peers. For example, I look back at my initial attendance at a well-known writer's conference. Of the myriads of people whose faces and names come back to me when I think about that time, most have gone on to be successful in publishing--as authors, editors, agents. And I knew them "when. Not only that, I stay in communication with them, and in some cases they're been endorsers (and vice-versa).

Besides, it's nice to be around a group that won't call the police if they hear you in an elevator talking about how to kill someone with an undetectable poison. Your spouse might understand, but someone who's not in the profession wouldn't.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

It's Winter---No, It's Summer--No...

Throughout the US, especially the northern part, there's been lots of winter weather, with snow, ice, and even some school closings. In the southern part of our nation, people are talking about sunshine, and approaching it in shorts and flip-flops.

Here in Texas, we've had the usual roller-coaster of cold, warm, cold, warm--but no snow, ice, or other souvenirs of winter. Matter of fact, although it's cold now (I haven't been able to play golf on Wednesday in what seems like forever), there's the promise of another warm-up on the way.

But for all of us, there's one harbinger of spring that always pops up at this time of year. Baseball spring training is about to begin. And I'm ready.

Friday, February 15, 2019

Writing: RUE

One of the rules of writing is "RUE"--"resist the urge to explain." That's good advice, and there's a valid reason behind it..

One of the best bits of advice I was given came from well-known author Gayle Roper, who conducted one of the first writing seminars I attended. At that one, we each had to read a segment from the novel we'd written, but once we'd read it we had to sit silently as the group dissected it. Imagine holding your tongue while a group of other writers questioned your work. Each of us was anxious to say,"But what I was trying to do..." and "You don't understand..." but we had to sit by and listen without speaking. Why? Because, as Gayle put it, "You aren't going to be able to stand next to the potential reader and explain what you meant." In other words, make it clear to begin with. Let it stand on its own.

I've encountered the same thing as I put together my stories. When my first reader says, "I don't understand this," my first inclination as a writer is to explain. But instead, my eventual reaction (after pouting and sober reflection) is to rewrite the line, or scene, or even the working title, to avoid this misunderstanding. I don't explain--I simply make explanation unnecessary.

Have you ever seen something in a novel that requires explanation? How would you rewrite it to make explanation unnecessary?

Tuesday, February 12, 2019


What do you do on those long weekend afternoons, without a football game to occupy you? Personally, I've not had to work to find things to occupy my time--apparently people look on "being retired" as a synonym for "having nothing to do." I'm glad to help, but retirement isn't a long stretch of naps and watching TV. At least, not at our house.

What do we have to occupy us? For example, there's that stack of receipts and forms on the desk that have to be brought into some semblance of order as the tax deadline approaches. It seems as though there's always something to do. How about at your house?

Anyway, what do you do to avoid boredom on weekend afternoons? I think it would be interesting to hear.

Friday, February 08, 2019

Writing: How Did I Turn Into A Blogger?

I thought it might be interesting to turn back the pages over these past 13 years and see what my first blog post was about.

When I retired from medicine, I envisioned travel, golf, and lazy mornings drinking coffee while watching Good Morning America. An uncontrollable compulsion (some might say a commission) to write about my experiences after the death of my first wife, Cynthia, led me into the field of Christian writing. That book, by the way, is THE TENDER SCAR: LIFE AFTER THE DEATH OF A SPOUSE, and is available through online booksellers as well as book stores. 

Along the way, seeking direction and instruction, I attended a Christian Writers' Conference. That led to my meeting and becoming friends with some neat writers and editors. This, in turn, gave me the itch to write fiction. And so the story goes.

And, as for the question I asked in the title of this piece, once my non-fiction book was published, I discovered that the fun had just begun. An author, whom I once thought was cynical but now consider practical, told me that nobody was as interested in telling others about my book as I would be. And that's right. So I set up a web page--well, actually, my wife did (and did a nice job). You can check that out at www.rmabry.com. And from there, it's just a hop/skip/jump (actually, a feet-first dive with nose firmly pinched shut) into this thing called a blog. Not really a marketing tool, though. More a case of "all my writing friends have one, so why don't I?"

My fiction works continue to be under consideration--which is sort of like an actor saying he's "between engagements." But over the past thirty months or so, I've had quite an education about the field of writing and the publishing industry. Since everyone likes a good horror story, I thought I'd share some of those experiences from time to time with those of you who have nothing better to do than surf the internet. I hope you'll find them entertaining, educational, and occasionally inspirational.  

Well, that's how it started. We never know what God has in store around the corner for us. So I guess we'd better be ready. Have a good weekend.

Tuesday, February 05, 2019

To Save Time And Effort...

... at next year's Super Bowl, why doesn't the Patriot team's offense scrimmage against the defense, and just let everyone else stay home?

Maybe it's me, but other than the NFL commercial (with all the players at a dinner party), I can't recall a single one of the commercials--and those are usually the best part of the festivities.

Oh, well. Pitchers and catchers report to camp in just a few days.

Friday, February 01, 2019

Writing: Time Management

One reason I have an attitude of "I've got to participate but sometimes I don't like it" toward social media is that I'm frustrated when I read some of the posts of my fellow authors. And the phrase they use that makes me envy them sometimes is "under deadline."

As a writer who, after publication of ten novels by traditional publishers, has decided to publish via the "indie" route, I somehow miss one aspect of having a contract with a definite deadline. It's not so much approval of the cover design (I have a wonderful cover designer--it simply costs money) or the editing (again, I've found a good editor and am willing to pay for that function). It's not even arranging the publicity for the forthcoming book--I've always found that what I do works best for me.

No, I mainly miss the deadlines. Let me hasten to say that I've never missed a deadline imposed by an editor or publisher. Matter of fact, I almost always got my work in early. But in the indie-world of publication, it's up to me to set (and keep) deadlines. I have to decide when the book will be released and work backwards to get everything done. And there's always the temptation to put off the work that I know I need to do--from idea to rough draft to finished product plus all the things I've already mentioned.

That's where I am now. I started with the idea for a novel of medical suspense with a bit of romance--what I usually write--but in the middle of writing it my attention turned to a novella I've had on my computer for some time. It's a bit different, but I really like it and the message it has. I envy the authors who say they are always working on two or more novels. I'm used to being single-minded, going to work each day on one novel until it's done. So, like the donkey who starved to death between two hay bales, I feel stuck.

What am I going to do? Probably indie-publish the novella once I get the corners rounded off, then finish the full-length novel. What would you do? I'm anxious to read your suggestions.