Tuesday, October 06, 2015

"Just Look That Up"

I heard it just the other day. "Just look that up." We've all grown dependent on our electronic umbilical cords, haven't we? We use our smart phones, our tablets, our laptops and computers for everything--phone calls, contacts, web sites, email, browsing the Internet. And just let one of those things go out--if your Internet access goes down, your phone doesn't work right, you're in (shudder) a zone where there's no connectivity--and suddenly you feel like Robinson Caruso, alone on your own little desert island.

A friend visited us from out of town last week. I started to give him directions to our house, but he said, "I'll just program the address in to my GPS." And, I must admit, I use our own GPS when trying to navigate in unfamiliar territory. I tried using my phone's app for that some years back, then discovered that there was no cell service in the area of deep East Texas where I was going. Man, did I feel lost...both literally and figuratively.

This isn't a rant about electronics and how dependent on them we've come. I recognize that a visitor to our current world from fifty years back would be amazed at the advances we have. But can you imagine what might be down the pike?

What advances would you like to see in the next few years? I think it would be interesting to hear...or read...well, you know what I mean. Just leave a comment.

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Friday, October 02, 2015

Writing: Interview With Author Beth Goddard

Today, on the Suspense Sisters blog, I'm interviewing author Beth Goddard. Here's a sample:

What is your writing style?   (Do you outline?  Write “by-the-seat-of-your-pants?   Or somewhere in-between?) 

When I first started writing, it was for Heartsong Presents and we were required to write a chapter synopsis—i.e., what happens in every chapter. That was good training for me because now I never have to worry what I’m going to write next. However, even though I outline or write up a synopsis beforehand, I give myself the freedom to change things as the story requires.

To read more, go to the Suspense Sisters blog. I'll see you again next week.

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Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Getting My (Or Your) Attention

We have a Post Office box, and when life gets busy (as it often is) I may only collect mail from it two or three times a week. That was the case recently, and there was quite an accumulation. After I do something like that, I spend a good bit of time at my desk, discarding unwanted catalogs and shredding a lot of the correspondence. This time, after I'd discarded five or six catalogs and saved a couple,  I started wondering about the process that affected my decision. None of the ones we received, whether they went into the recycle bin or were saved for later perusal, were from companies that generally got our business. Why did I save some catalogs and toss others?

Obviously, some got my attention, while others were met with a figurative turning up of the nose. The ones that survived merited a second look and--at least temporarily--salvage (even though they might eventually end up in the recycle bin anyway).

Now that I'm writing, I've come to realize how important a book cover is. The things that "sell" a book buyer are the name and reputation of the writer, as well as the back cover blurb and the first few pages of the book, but what catches their eye in the first place is the book cover. And the same can be said of direct mail advertising, whether a catalog or correspondence.

What influences you to save or discard an unsolicited piece of mail, especially a catalog? Do you know what gets your attention? I'd like to know.

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Note: I promised to let you know of sites where you can leave a comment for a chance at a copy of Miracle Drug. Here's the latest.  Actually, it's a twofer. Read the post to find out what I mean.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Writing: Conferences

Last week I attended the annual conference of the American Christian Fiction Writers.  I was actually there for only one day, but during that time I taught one class, had a couple of meetings with editors, attended some workshops that gave me information and made me rethink some stuff, and--most important--saw a lot of friends and made some new ones.

When I attended my first several writers' conferences, I was anxious to learn. I wanted to meet just the "right" agent and editor for me. I was looking for my first contract. And I almost killed myself, going hurry-hurry from dawn to dusk to achieve those goals.

Through a lot of hard work, plus God's grace, I've achieved all those goals and more. My latest novel, my ninth published one, Miracle Drug, released just ten days ago, and my tenth will come out next spring. I'll self-publish a novella this coming fall, and I'm hard at work writing another novel. Things have changed, and I'm grateful. Moreover, the passing of time has given me perspective on writing conferences.

I believe a first conference should be spent doing two things--learning and networking. Agents and editors come later, but right now the writer should be focused on improving their craft and getting the support that comes from being with like-minded folks. My friend, Brandilyn Collins, puts it this way: "It's so nice not to be around civilians, who don't understand us."

Remember, it's all a matter of timing--not yours, but God's. And, as I've said before, if no one but you ever reads the words you're putting on the page, you've at least reached one person. And maybe that's the plan.

What are your reasons for attending a writers' conference? Do you have experiences you'd be willing to share? I'd like to hear.

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LATE-BREAKING NEWS: I've just received word that Miracle Drug has been chosen as the "fresh pick" to be featured at the top of the front page of Fresh Fiction for September 25. This isn't an advertisement, but rather a choice by readers, and it caught me by surprise. Thanks, folks.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The Ease Of Retirement

It's hard to imagine that I've been retired for thirteen years now. As for the plans I'd made for my retirement life, that chuckle you hear in the background is probably God's laughter.

I've heard it so many times, now--retired folks must have a lot of free time. The truth is that I probably have less time available to me than I had when I was practicing medicine. Admittedly, some  folks may have a different life, but not me. And I'm glad, because every activity is either useful or pleasurable.

Here's what I mean. Last week I attended the annual meeting of the American Christian Fiction Writers. I taught a course, met with a couple of editors, heard some workshops that set me thinking, and all this in conjunction with a career path I didn't imagine when I was planning retirement.

This week, we'll meet with some dear friends of many years' duration as the annual meeting of two of my medical specialty societies meet here in Dallas. I served as President of one of these associations, Vice-President of the other, and still have many acquaintances among the membership. I no longer practice medicine, but still keep up with the specialty. I don't want to let that part of my life go.

In a couple of weeks I'll be playing in some golf tournaments that support some very worthwhile activities. Yeah, it's golf, but the way our group plays, the only trophy we're likely to win is the one for coming in last. By the way, we won that one a few years back, and our award was a golf lesson apiece, which was pretty good.

Then there's church, grandparenting, and other assorted activities lumped under the heading of "life." Is it what I'd planned? Not really. Is it a good life? It's great.

How about you? Do you have plans for retirement? Retirees, is your life what you envisioned? I'd love to hear.

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(Image from Center for Brain Health, UT Dallas)

NOTE: I promised to keep you posted on blog appearances as I celebrate the release of my latest novel, Miracle Drug. For my post at Seriously Write click here, To see the review at Favorite Christian Books and sign up for a chance at an ebook version of the novel, click here.