Tuesday, October 29, 2019

I'm Back...and The Reason Why I Was Gone

Did you miss me? Actually, I missed (sometimes) the chance the share my thoughts with the two or three of you who read this blog regularly, but I resisted the temptation. I was at my computer some days, but did no writing. I simply read what others wrote on their blogs and Internet posts, agreeing with some and disagreeing with others. I even left comments. But it was freeing not to be responsible for my own posts, even on an infrequent basis.

My wife is the second blessing in my life...most men don't have one wonderful woman in their life, but I've had two. When she said that her heart rhythm had changed to atrial fibrillation (an irregular irregularity, if that makes sense to you--it did to me), we consulted her internist who sent her to an excellent cardiologist. Since then, she's undergone two cardioversions (you've seen them on TV--the doctor puts the paddles on a patient's chest and restarts the heart...sometimes). The conversion to a normal rhythm lasted only a couple of days in each case. Her medication was changed, without benefit. There was another option, and we chose it.

Her main problem was tiredness. It literally hurt me to see her having to sit down and rest after tasks that I took for granted. On the recommendation of her cardiologist, she underwent a cardiac ablation two weeks ago. This involves a general anesthetic, putting electrodes through the femoral veins and into the heart, then electrocauterizing areas that cause the abnormal rhythm. I'm a doctor, which means I know all the bad things that can happen...including death.

Fortunately, the procedure worked without complications. She even feels good enough to start work on the initial edit of my next book. We're not out of the woods, but getting there. And I'll be posting again twice a week. I invite you to come along. I'll try to make it fun.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Back in a Bit

I'll be absent from this space for a couple of weeks. Lest you be concerned, it has nothing to do with my health (except that I'm getting more "mature" every day, but aren't we all?), and there's no crisis at home (except the fact that everyone seems to think that, since I'm a writer, I have all the time I need for other things). No, I'm simply going to take a couple of weeks off.

Have I quit writing? Not at all. I've published my latest novella, Bitter Pill, and the response has been gratifying. Soon I'll be able to announce the audio version of this one. I've finished the draft (I edit as I go, unlike some authors) of my full -length novel, working title Critical Decision. After more editing and revisions, and with a wonderful cover designed by Dineen Miller, I plan to release it after the first of the year. I'm considering what's next, but right now I thought it was time to slow down for a bit, so that's what I'm going to do.

If everything goes as planned, I'll be back on October 29 (two weeks from now). See you then.

Friday, October 11, 2019

Writing: Get The Reader's Attention

I've finished the first draft (including lots of editing along the way) of my next novel, working title Critical Decision. While I wait for a macro edit, I've arranged for a cover and for later a line edit and proof-reading. And I'm kicking around a few openings for my next one.

I try to catch the reader's attention in the first scene, ideally in the first page or two, in order to keep them reading. Of course, I write medical mysteries or thrillers (I've written elsewhere about the difference, although it seems to me to be an artificial distinction), so that doubles the necessity to catch the attention of the person looking at the first page. Here's one I came up with while "doodling" on the computer. What do you think?

The hand holding the pistol was steady as a rock, aiming at her chest. The trigger finger was so tense that the knuckles of that digit were white. There was no chance of missing at this range. One squeeze and it was over.
She reviewed her options and found she had nowhere to go from here. This might be the end. She wondered idly if she’d hear the gunshot that killed her.
“Any final words?”
Then, the cell phone in her pocket began to vibrate. At first, she ignored it, but finally she heaved a sigh, turned from the computer, and pulled the instrument from her pocket. As she feared, the call was from her sister. 
“Patricia, I hope this is important.” Actually, she was glad for the interruption. Maybe a way out of the situation she’d gotten her heroine into would come to her. She was barren of ideas right now. 
“It’s Mom. She’s gone by ambulance to the hospital. They think it may be a heart attack. I’ll meet you there.” And she was gone.

Tuesday, October 08, 2019

Talk Among Yourselves

I've got a bunch of things to do today--and I let this time slip past me (again). Sorry about that. I'll be back on Friday with a post about "the writing life," but for today, I'll have to pass.

Friday, October 04, 2019

Writing: Is An Editor Important?

It's hard to get used to calling myself a "hybrid" author. Such a strange term--like I'm half-man, half-beast or something. What it really means, of course, is that I've had books published by royalty-paying publishers and self-published (or "indie," for independent) books.  As an author who has indie-published, a question I'm often asked is, "If you publish a manuscript independently, is it necessary to employ an editor?" That's a valid question. After all, you've written what you consider the greatest book in the world (well, maybe not the greatest--but you think it's ready to publish). Why spend the money on an editor?

I asked a number of multi-published authors this question: "Do you use an editor, even when you're going to indie publish the manuscript." The response was unanimous. "Yes." I got comments like "I wouldn’t dream of publishing without having the manuscript edited first!" and "I'd never think of publishing something that's not professionally edited". Someone whom I respect in the publishing field and who now publishes only independently uses a person whose judgment they trust as a beta-reader and for developmental editing, then uses an outside editor for copy-editing and proof-reading. Incidentally, I do the same.

So, there you have it. It's not a large series, but I think it's indicative of what authors feel and do. Don't fail to use a professional editor (and the same goes for cover design), even when you publish independently. You'll be glad you spent the money. 

What are your thoughts on the subject?

Tuesday, October 01, 2019

State Fair...Already?

There are lots of things I like about North Texas, but when people come to visit in October I always ask, "Have you been to the State Fair?" There's something for everyone. The midway offers lots of rides (including several that I steer clear of--not because they're particularly unsafe, but because I made "chicken" the first time they issued the merit badge). There are other things to and do, of course. If the individual is a "city slicker," the livestock barns offer a viewpoint they've not seen. The various buildings shelter exhibits and demonstrations (plus, of course, sales of some of the things demonstrated there). And the retreat ceremony at dusk is worth seeing--it never changes, and I never get tired of it.

But I just noticed that the Fair (we don't dress up the term as "Texas State Fair"--there's only one Fair around here) started last Friday. It will run into October, and that's as it should be. Various schools will have their "day" that allows students to attend (and leaves parents who have to work wondering what they'll do with their offspring that day). The Cotton Bowl will feature a bunch of football games (but no longer the Texas-Texas A&M or Texas-OU game). And there'll always be the cries in the evening of "Do we have to go home already?" from some children (and a few adults). That's the Fair.

But does it seem to you that it starts earlier and earlier each year? Or am I just getting old?