Friday, February 14, 2020

Writing: What's The Endgame

We all know that railroad tracks can keep running, parallel to each other, for as long as the rails are laid. In actuality, they never meet, despite what our eyes see. There's an end of the line, but our vision shows them continuing until they meet at infinity. Sometimes a writer's life is like that. Depending on our location, we can see the next several rails, perhaps even a mile down the track, but we can't see the true end. To our finite eyes, the path keeps going to infinity, but our brain tells us there's an end of the line.

In my own case, I was fortunate enough to have a couple of publishers behind me for the publication of the first ten of my novels. And I was even more fortunate to have built up a following, people who read and enjoyed my work. When it became apparent that my "run" with traditional publishers was coming to an end, I took advantage of agent-assisted self-publication to put out two more (soon to be three) full-length novels plus five novellas. Every time I go through the publication process, I'm reminded of how much a traditional publisher does for an author. Of course, every time I see a royalty check, I'm reminded of how much a self-published author does.

My next novel, Critical Decision, is now available for pre-order in Kindle form on Amazon. The print version will be available before the March 17 "publication" date. And I'm making arrangements for an audio version of the book. Twenty novels and novellas of "medical mystery with heart." Twenty opportunities--not just now but as long as those books are out there--to reach people with these stories. It's more than I even hoped for, and I'm grateful.

I have another book already started on my computer--Medical Mystery features an unmarried nurse, a widowed doctor, a woman with a blood pressure issue, and a cast of characters that promises plenty of opportunities for me to see where they're going. I don't know if the rails will keep running for a while, or if the train will stop. I guess we'll just have to hang on and see where the journey goes.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

How Do You Keep Up?

My wife keeps a "to-do" list. I don't. Then again, according to her she has a thousand things to do, and I don't. Besides that, if I kept a list, I'd forget where I put it.

We also keep a calendar on the refrigerator (doesn't everyone?). Of course, occasionally things don't get written down, which makes for some surprises when they turn up. So it's only as good as my wife and I make it.

No matter how you keep up with your schedule--via a list, notes on a calendar, a spreadsheet on your computer, however--it's probably immaterial the method, as much as the execution. And there's always the niggling feeling in the back of your mind that you're forgetting something.

Right now, I'm tying up the loose ends for publication of my next book. I've sent out the proof copies, made arrangements for several blog interviews and giveaways, settled on a release date, and a few more things. And that brings me to my announcement.

My novel, Critical Decision, will be released on March 17. For those of you who prefer to read on a Kindle (or have the app available free from Amazon that allows you to read Kindle books on your computer or phone), you can pre-order the novel at a savings. Click here for details and to order.

Enough marketing. We're half-way through February, and I have a number of things to do this month. How about you? And how will you make sure you get them all done? I want to know.

Friday, February 07, 2020

Writing: Like A Sparkler

Remember when you were a kid and fireworks were going off all around you. You wanted to participate, but were told that shooting off bottle rockets and lighting firecrackers were too dangerous. Some adults, and even teen-agers, held Roman candles, and that sounded like fun, but you weren't allowed. Too dangerous. But, before the firework "show" wound down, you were allowed to hold a sparkler--maybe two. You were big stuff. You were shooting off fireworks--sort of. It was fun while it lasted, but after it had run its course, there wasn't anything left but a wire with a bit of burned material on it.

I won't say that writing a novel is totally like shooting off fireworks, but one similarity struck me. You labor for months--sometimes a year or more--getting the content just right. Launch day is sort of like a fireworks display (although the rockets and firecrackers get muted later on in some cases), but when it's all over you can find yourself holding a burned out sparkler and thinking "is that all?"

An author has to start hyping his/her book weeks before it is released--sometimes months. It's necessary to keep reviews coming in. And there's the time-tested giveaway (which sort of fizzles if participation is weak). But eventually, the fireworks are over if you let them. If you've been writing that next book, the quiet period doesn't last too long. If you put it off, though, you may find yourself holding a burned-out sparkler, looking around and wondering where those fireworks you see are coming from. They're coming from someone else who's launching the book they've been working on. And so on, and so on, and so on.

Tuesday, February 04, 2020

What Is Our Legacy?

Author Mary Higgins Clark died last week. As I thought about that, I wondered what my own legacy would be. I enjoyed her novels, as did thousands of those who read them. But although she will be remembered mainly for her more than 50 books, she was a person, not just an author.

As a physician, I was privileged to treat thousands of patients.
As a professor at a medical school and an authority on certain subjects, I had the opportunity to do a great deal of teaching--both in person throughout the world and via articles and book chapters--that had a hand in the education of many professionals.

As an author (who came late to this "second profession") I've been privileged to write things that will live on after I have gone to my reward. And, as a teacher, I've passed on the principles to others of what I've learned in this short time in that profession.

I have been blessed with the love of two wonderful women--at least twice what many men have received. I have wonderful children and grandchildren, of whom I'm inordinately proud. I enjoy watching sporting events (events in some of which I used to be a participant), and still play golf (sort of).

I have been fortunate in my ability to leave behind a legacy that will outlive me--and I hope it is a positive one. No, I don't have a fatal disease. I've just been thinking about legacies. And that brings me to a question I always asked prospective residents for our program during their interviews at the med school where I spent my last decade in practice: What would you like to be remembered for? It's something all of us should think about. If you don't know the answer, now is the time to work on it.