Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Why I've Been Gone

You've been very kind in your comments, some expressing actual concern, wondering why I took the week off. The reason? I needed a break. It's that simple. I'd just completed a busy week, and decided that retirement wasn't supposed to be this hectic. So, I took some time off.

Lest you think I've been just sitting around, below is a cartoon that will make authors shake their heads in dismay. Because we know it's true. We've all done it--spent anywhere from six months to a year or more writing a book which is read in a few days, followed by the question, "When's the next one coming out?"

While we're happy that you're that ready for another one, I think it's nice to consider every once in a while that there's more to writing a book than just sitting down and dashing one off.

My plan is to be back here on Friday, posting again on "the writing life," and my take on it. At that time, I'll be sharing information on my latest novella, Bitter Pill, including a special pre-order price for the Kindle version. In the meantime, stop and smell the roses. You'll be glad you did. I certainly am.

Monday, April 22, 2019

"I'll Be Back..."

I'll be absent for a few days. However, when I return I hope it will be with news about my next novella, Bitter Pill. I've had this one on my computer and in my head for a decade, and I've finally decided to let it see the light of day.

Until then, enjoy the spring. I plan to.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Easter 2019

The angel spoke to the women: "There is nothing to fear here. I know you're looking for Jesus, the One they nailed to the cross. He is not here. He was raised, just as he said. Come and look at the place where he was placed...Now, get on your way quickly and tell his disciples, 'He is risen from the dead'...."
(Matt 28:5-7a, The Message)

In the ancient world, the message was this: "Christos anesti; al├ęthos anesti."

In our modern language, the words are different, the message the same: "Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!"

Have a blessed Easter. 

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

My Day...

I was looking through the archives of this blog, and decided that perhaps you'd be interested in what I posted a year ago. As it turned out, I wrote about a typical day. It's changed a bit since 2018, but not a lot, I guess.

First, I've found that one of the changes with age has to do with sleeping in. As I'm fond of putting it, "When you reach the point where you can sleep late, you find that you can't sleep late." And that's true for me. Every day I wake up when the coffee starts to perk (I set it the night before...unless I forget). So, about 6 or at the latest 6:30 I'm up. My wife and I watch the news that we recorded the evening before, have our usual 10 minute discussion on what to have for breakfast (I'm the guilty party here--the idea of "whatever you want" just doesn't compute with me), then eat it while watching one of the shows we've recorded.

Much of my morning is spent at the computer, although there's very little writing done during that time. Instead, I look at the emails I've received, read through the blogs I follow, and sometimes compose one or more of my own blog posts. Mid-morning we have some of the energy drink we've come to like. Then I try to write a bit, while my wife does the 101 things necessary to keep the house going. (Bless her heart, I guess that for quite a while I just assumed elves came in during the night and cleaned the toilet and washed my dirty clothes).

My afternoons often consist of writing, editing, and marketing, while she does all the things she has on her plate. But sometimes (don't tell!!), I take a nap. Dinner usually is taken at home, although sometimes it involves eating out. If we're at home, we watch some of the recorded programs we've picked up on our TV. (Don't let my kids know that we eat in front of the TV set). We usually end up with one or more shows that give us their "take" on the news of the day. (I won't say which ones, but if you've followed my posts you probably have an idea about my political leanings).

That's a typical day for me. Exciting, isn't it? I guess I'm an aberration among published authors, since I often read on social media about my colleagues who seem to spend their entire day writing. But, in the end, I suppose I may be what Lawrence Block calls a "Sunday writer." Nevertheless, I manage to keep things going, and have never missed a deadline--even those I set for myself.

What did you think a writer's day was like? Were you surprised? 

Friday, April 12, 2019

Writing: Kindle Countdown

Note: the process outlined below didn't go as smoothly as I'd like, because the special offer wasn't up at the hour it was supposed to start,  but it wasn't long before it was moving along. Maybe I shouldn't have sent out the info in my newsletter so quickly.

One of the advantages of indie-publication is the ability to use the Kindle countdown. For those who like to read their e-books on Kindle, this is an opportunity to get them at a reduced price. In my case, in order to introduce individuals who might not have downloaded my novellas in the past, I've arranged to schedule Kindle countdowns for two of them. If you have already read these, but know someone who hasn't and who might enjoy them, please pass on this information. (These are Kindle prices, and don't affect the print or audio versions of the novellas).

Surgeon's Choice: 99 cents from April 11-13 (starting at 8 AM PDT)
                             $1.99 from April 14-17
                             back to regular price on April 18

The count-down for Doctor's Dilemma will start on April 25. Same format and prices.


Tuesday, April 09, 2019

"It is not the critic who counts..."

On social media the other day, another writer posted a quote from Theodore Roosevelt that I thought was very appropriate--not only for authors who are rejected, but for everyone facing a difficult situation. I've heard it a couple of times on the TV show, Blue Bloods, because the man who said it was not only a President of the US, but also the first Police Commissioner of New York. And, lest you wonder why I chose the picture to the left, the Teddy Bear was named for him.

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming... Who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat."

This, of course, is from Theodore Roosevelt. Whatever you think of his politics, the way he lived his life, this philosophy would serve all of us well. Failure is not trying to do something and failing. It's not trying at all.

What do you think?

Friday, April 05, 2019

Writing: Chekhov's Gun

Most writers are familiar with "Chekhov's gun." It's a principle that says that if a gun appears in act I, it should be fired in act II. If not, don't put it there.

Was Chekhov simply talking about a gun? Or does this principle apply to other things in the manuscript? What's the difference between a "red herring" that's inserted to lead the reader toward a false conclusion and a true "clue" that's dropped unobtrusively into the story that plays an important part in solving the mystery. Is one of these a Chekhov's gun?

Of course, all this primarily involves books that contain a mystery of some sort. Since what I write usually contains something that has to be determined--the identity of the antagonist, the reason for an action, etc.--I have to face this dilemma as I plot every book I write. 

In my very first published novel, Code Blue, I casually mention the presence of a mortar and pestle (instruments found in every early pharmacy) in a drug store. Later, this turns out to be an important clue in the solution of "whodunit." There's no gun involved, but I like to think this is an example of "Chekhov's gun." 

Look at the book you're reading (or writing). Does it have an example of Chekhov's gun in it? Should it? You tell me.

Tuesday, April 02, 2019

What Happened To My Little Town?

My wife and I were commenting this weekend on how our suburban area has grown. We were going down one of the major thoroughfares and she commented that it used to be a two-lane, country road, but now it's a divided roadway. I was curious, so I decided to check and see exactly how this "little" north Texas community has grown over the last several years.

Its population was listed as about 35,000 as we began this century.  In less than 20 years, the population has grown to five times that. Part of this boom can be explained by the moving of headquarters of some large companies to this area, part probably followed the building of a work-out facility and headquarters for a major sports franchise, and a good bit of the change has to do with the general growth of the entire area.

I realize that nothing ever stays static, including the size of a suburb. We're not land-locked, and there's lots of room for expansion. I'd certainly rather see us get larger rather than smaller. But it's still something of a shock to visualize the changes going on around us.

As my hero, obsessive-compulsive detective Adrian Monk, used to say, "I don't mind change. I just don't like to be around when it's happening."

What about you? Do you agree that change is inevitable? What changes have you seen? And are they good or bad?