Wednesday, June 28, 2017

News Flash

I came home from the golf course to read an email congratulating me on the award won by Medical Judgment--Christian Retailing's Best for 2017 (in the category of Mystery/Suspense). Since this award is voted by members of the bookselling community (among others), I'm doubly proud.

And for those asking about Cardiac Event, I've reviewed the galleys, the cover is done, and the finish line is in sight. Subscribers to my newsletter (tab on the right margin of this post) will hear first.

We now return you to your regular activities.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Sorry About That

For those who've come to depend on my Tuesday posts (all three of you), "Sorry."

I just determined this morning (before leaving to get something done) that I'd forgotten to write this post. But that's okay. Why don't you make a contribution this morning? I can hardly wait to see what comments you've come up with.

See you Friday.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Writing: Quotes About Writing

When I looked over the archives of this blog, I discovered these quotes I posted five years ago. I've added comments in one or two places, in addition to the ones already there. And there's one at the end that I didn't put in the original post. Enjoy.

"I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by." (true, sadly it's true)
- Douglas Adams (he was a humorist who wrote Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy)

"Most writers can write books faster than publishers can write checks." (and all the authors in the audience said, "amen.")
- Richard Curtis (Readers can read them faster than we can write 'em, as well.)

"Writing is easy; all you do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper until the drops of blood form on your forehead." (especially when your brain says, "I got nothing.")
- Gene Fowler (this is also attributed to other writers, including a variant by sportswriter Red Smith, who supposedly said, "Writing is easy. You just open a vein and bleed.")

"Writing is an occupation in which you have to keep proving your talent to those who have none." (obviously written after a particularly bad review).
- Jules Renard (And the more I write, the more I remind myself not to read reviews--but keep writing them, anyway).

"A blank piece of paper is God's way of telling us how hard it is to be God." (and now it's a blank computer screen).
- Sidney Sheldon (Satan is supposed to have told God one day that he could create a world, too. When told to go ahead, Satan scooped up a handful of clay, but God said, "Oh, no. Make your own clay.)

"There are three rules for writing. Unfortunately, no one can agree what they are." (but when we finally agree on them, Jim Bell will write a book about it).
- Somerset Maugham (Jim, you're written so many books--and I have them all on my Kindle--but still waiting for this one).

And I'll add one of my favorites: "Many people hear voices when no one is there. Some of them are called mad and are shut up in rooms where they stare at the walls all day. Others are called writers and they do pretty much the same thing.”  
-Meg Chittenden

What are your favorite quotes on writing? I'd love to hear (and maybe steal) them.

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Tuesday, June 20, 2017

The Rotary Four-Way Test

I hadn't thought of these principles for years until I recently re-read one of Ross Thomas's novels. I can't find the one he wrote that includes this, but I'm sure it was one of them. I still remember these precepts from my days as a Rotarian. Maybe we should remember them when we go to post a remark to a story or blog post on social media.

In case you wonder, the questions are:
  1. Is it the truth?
  2. Is it fair to all concerned?
  3. Will it build goodwill and better friendships?
  4. Will it be beneficial to all concerned?

I'm writing this after the terrible shooting that took out several congressmen and aides as they prepared for a charity baseball game. Today I heard a news anchor (the station doesn't matter) say that we should be free to disagree and to express our opinions without fear of repercussions or retaliation. I agree. Whatever happened to that principle? Perhaps a return to the four-way test is a good first step.

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Friday, June 16, 2017

Writing: Book Categories

Regular readers of this blog know that I get a lot from reading what the author Lawrence Block has to say about writing. For years his column on this activity appeared in Writer's Digest, and those columns were eventually collected in several books. I have most of them, but only recently acquired a print copy of this one--Spider, Spin Me A Web. And in it I found this gem about something I recently had to deal with.

In the book, Block refers to the contention by another of my writing heroes, the late Robert B. Parker, that categories of fiction are useful to everyone but the author. In other words, although an author may write the book they feel they must pen (for one reason or another), it is editors, people who work in bookstores, readers (or judges of contests) who then put that book into a category. It's useful to classify books that way, but the author sometimes doesn't think of it that way.

I found my own niche writing medical mysteries. I started out calling them "Medical Suspense With Heart," although after looking carefully at my writing I've changed that to "Medical Mysteries With Heart." The "with heart" refers both to God's love as well as that between characters, but since my work doesn't fully fall into the thriller/mystery/suspense category (certain not enough to compete with those who currently dominate it in either secular or inspirational fiction), I slid into the "romantic suspense" class. But not all of my books fit that category.

This was brought home to me rather forcefully when an editor (rightly) pointed out that the next book after Cardiac Event has co-protagonists who are already married. For some reason, although there are many examples of male-female interaction in this one, it didn't fit their template. So I could either rewrite that book, write another, or move forward with self-publication. I chose the third option.

I'll keep writing "Medical Mysteries With Heart" so long as you, the public, keep underwriting this activity with your encouragement (thanks for every email) and your patronage. And you know what? It seems sort of freeing to take Block's advice and write the book I want to write, rather than writing one to order so it fits into a particular niche.

What do you think? Do you put more stock in a book's category than the past history of the author's work? I'd like to hear from you.

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