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MY WRITING JOURNEY

by guest blogger Richard "Doc" Mabry

I retired from medicine almost 20 years ago. The death of my first wife was devastating, but God blessed me once more with the love of a wonderful woman, and within less than a year, I planned to retire. I had been a solo practitioner for 20 years before joining the faculty of a med school for the final 10 years of my practice. I missed my patients, of course, as well as the daily contact with my colleagues, but I looked forward to time spent writing. 

I had been working on a book detailing my experiences after the death of my first wife, and through a number of fortunate experiences, it was eventually published as The Tender Scar: Life After The Death Of A Spouse. This non-fiction book is now in its second edition, and I looked upon it as the ministry I was called to by that event. But there was more to come.

At the urging of several writers to “try my hand at fiction,” I began to write novels. I tried forty times, but that door seemed closed. Then, when I had given up, an agent said she’d represent me, and she presented my book to an editor who’d just been charged with starting a fiction line. That book, which I called Run Away Home, was published as Code Blue, and I entered the whirlwind that was the life of a published author.

I won’t detail the ups and downs of the next several years. But suffice it to say that fame and fortune did not automatically follow. Then came the pandemic, and I didn’t write during (or after) that time. My dear, sweet wife had been both my most ardent supporter and my severest critic since I first started writing, and it didn’t escape her notice that I had not written anything since my last work, Critical Decision, was published in the spring of 2021.

I had (really, without conscious thought) concluded that it was time for me to lay down my pen. She disagreed. She suggested several ideas to me, but I couldn’t get them to work. While her idea of a medical person trying write a mystery didn’t pan out, in my writing I developed two characters who seemed to show promise—a nurse with a bad experience after an almost-marriage and a widower doctor who had never given thought about another marriage. Then I brought them together through the heart trouble of the nurse’s mother.  Soon I had populated the story with a few additional characters, and eventually I had a novella written. There were edits—lots of edits—after that, but I’m now ready to announce that Medical Mystery is available for pre-order.

Until its “official” release on January 18, 2022, the Kindle version of my newest novella will be available for 99 cents. Also, if you haven’t read it, my “Christmas novella,” Silent Night, Deadly Night, is also available in Kindle format for 99 cents until Christmas. And for whoever wins the print copy (when they are available), if you’ve already pre-ordered the Kindle version of Medical Mystery, I’ll give you a copy of one of my previous books. Sound fair?

If there’s a moral to this tale, I guess it’s this: despite age, or infection, or political upheaval, or whatever—if you’ve been given the gift of writing, it’s for a reason. Don’t argue with God. Use the gift.

Dr. Richard Mabry is a retired physician, now writing “medical mystery with heart.” His novels have garnered critical acclaim and been finalists for ACFW’s Carol Award, both the Romantic Times’ Inspirational Book of the Year and Reviewer’s Choice Awards, the Inspirational Readers’ Choice, and the Selah Award. He is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, the International Thriller Writers, and Novelists Inc. Emergency Case is his latest novella.
He and his wife live in north Texas, where he writes, works on being the world’s greatest grandfather, and strives to improve his golf game. You can learn more about him at his website, and via his blog and Facebook page.

 

Ruthy here: I loved that Doc reached out to me! It had been too long since he'd written another wonderful story, and his last line reminded me of one of my life mantras, a quote from the late and great Erma Bombeck, a woman who made the world smile with thought, hope, laughter and promise...

"When I stand before God at the end of my life I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left and could say I used everything you gave me." 

It's Not the Idea That Counts


by Seekerville Guest Blogger Dr. Richard Mabry

The question that people ask an author is always the same. “Where do you get your ideas?” But it’s not so much the ideas that are the determining factor in a novel—it’s what you do with one after you get it.

Ideas are all around us. Each of my novels and novellas has come from an idea that started out as no more than an idle thought. Walking through a med school parking garage late at night led me to an idea about a kidnapping that occurs there, and resulted in Stress Test. Wondering how a physician would react to a phone call that conveys the worst possible news about his father culminated in Guarded Prognosis. Musing about how a physician would handle a potentially fatal infection in two patients when he has just enough of the curative treatment for one led me to write Miracle Drug. My wife, as we brainstormed, mentioned a female physician finding a cell phone that gives her the instructions that she’ll have to kill a patient to free her kidnapped husband, and it led me to write my latest novel, Critical Decision.

It's Not the Idea That Counts

No, the idea isn’t the thing that makes a novel. What sets us apart as writers is what we do with that idea. In addition to the fact that it’s impossible to copyright an idea or concept, it’s also unnecessary. If half a dozen writers start out with the same premise, each will produce from it a different manuscript. That’s called the author’s voice, and it’s unique to each person. Some writers finally find their voice, some seek it for years but never achieve the right way to put the words together. And, like a giraffe, a writer’s “voice” is difficult to describe, but you’ll know it when you see (or hear or read) it. It doesn’t depend on the idea or even the arc of the story that follows. It’s all in what we do with that idea.

Suppose that you actually follow up that idea by writing a novel. By putting together all the words, you’ve joined the small group that has gone beyond just saying “I should write a book.” What now? Resist the temptation to submit the first draft, no matter how good it seems. You revise, and revise, and keep on going until you feel it’s perfect. Then it’s time both to submit and to prepare for rejections. It goes with the profession.

Eventually, after a few rejections, let’s suppose you submit your novel and get it accepted. Congratulations, now you’re definitely in a very small minority. You’re a published author, and surely instant fame and fortune will follow. Right? Sorry. Your book could be one of a million that’s published this year. If your name is Clancy or Rowling, you can probably support yourself on your earnings. But the majority of writers hold down a “day job,” and write, not as a means of support, but because…well, they can’t notwrite.

What’s the point of this? It’s not necessarily warning the neophyte author of the pitfalls that lie ahead, although there are a bunch. It’s pointing out that, despite the question that is asked of every author about getting an idea, the hard part of writing is what you do with that idea. There’s a long distance that separates an idea and a published novel. But some of us will keep on going down that road. And that’s what makes us who we are. We’re authors.

Ready to travel down that road? C’mon along. It’s hard work, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Ruthy here: Doc has graciously offered a copy of "Critical Decision" to a commenter... so let's see what the lot o' youse has to say today? Are you a writer or a reader? And where are you on your journey in life?




It's Not the Idea That Counts
Dr. Richard Mabry is a retired physician, now writing “medical suspense with heart.” His novels have garnered critical acclaim and been finalists for multiple awards. In addition to one non-fiction book, The Tender Scar, he has written eleven novels and four novellas. The latest is Critical Decision.

 He and his wife live in north Texas, where he works fruitlessly to improve his golf game and tries to convince his family that staring into space is really working. You can learn more at his blog and web page, as well as finding him on Facebook and Twitter.





MY PLAN (AND GOD'S)


By award-winning, multi-published author Dr. Richard Mabry

My writing journey had God’s fingerprints all over it. But there was a time when I had to change my plan. I deviated from it, and I’m glad.

            I was fortunate in the beginning to get a fiction contract from a publisher. I left (with their blessing) to accept one from an even larger house. After that one was fulfilled, I went back to my former publisher until they stopped publishing fiction. After that, things got sort of complex, so—like many other authors—I decided to strike out on the “indie” road.

            I planned a fairly simple pattern of self-publication: a novel, then a novella, another novel, then another novella. Sounded good enough. But it didn’t work out that way.

            I published my novella, Emergency Case, and in the back of it was the “tease” for the novel I was working on. That was to be my next one, but while I wrote, something kept niggling at the edge of my consciousness. Didn’t I have another writing project started somewhere? Well, it could wait. But what was it?

            Then, I found the project and remembered why it was still on my computer. At the outset of my writing “career,” I’d become discouraged enough that I had made up my mind to quit. I’d been struggling for four years, without anything but rejections to show for it. During this time, I’d started following various writing blogs, and in hers, agent Rachelle Gardner posted a contest. The person submitting the best first line of a book would win. I was extremely surprised when my submission was chosen. It was, “Things were going along just fine until the miracle fouled them up.”

Subsequently, through a series of events that I remain convinced were divinely ordained, I gained representation by Rachelle, got my first fiction contract, and eventually published a number of novels and novellas—eighteen, to be accurate. All after I’d quit writing.

            So why did I go back to this particular line saved on my computer? Because, over the years, I’d written a story around it. That story had gone through several iterations, and on more than one occasion my first reader looked at it and warned that it didn’t sound like one of my novels. But I felt it was a story worth telling, so I continued to work to make it one worth reading. I sent the first chapter to a number of people who’d been influencers for my other novels, and they loved it. So, with some trepidation, I changed my carefully crafted schedule and made this one my next. That novella, Bitter Pill, was released in Kindle and print format on May 29. I hope you agree that it was worth deviating from my plan to publish it.    
MY PLAN (AND GOD'S)
       

            The lessons here? I see at least two. First, even though you may think you’re through with whatever you’re doing (not just writing), God may have other ideas. Listen to Him. He’s always right. And second, when you make a plan, be willing to change it. Again, God’s ideas are better than ours. Every time.

            What has been your experience along these lines? I’d like to hear.

Ruthy here: Richard has graciously offered a Kindle or hard copy of his newest novella "Bitter Pill" to one fortunate villager! Leave a comment below... and think about the good Doc's musing that God's plans are better than ours... every time. 

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MY PLAN (AND GOD'S)
Dr. Richard Mabry is a retired physician, now writing “medical mystery with heart.” His novels have garnered critical acclaim and been finalists for ACFW’s Carol Award, both the Romantic Times’ Inspirational Book of the Year and Reviewer’s Choice Awards, the Inspirational Readers’ Choice, and the Selah Award. He is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, the International Thriller Writers, and Novelists Inc. Bitter Pill is his latest novella.

He and his wife live in north Texas, where he writes, works on being the world’s greatest grandfather, and strives to improve his golf game. You can learn more about him at his website, and via his blogand Facebook page.


New Year, Old Me


New Year, Old Me
Well, here it is, 2019—and I’m just now getting used to writing 2018. The new year is traditionally a time of starting over, and everyone is making resolutions. I stopped making formal new year’s resolutions some time back, but that doesn’t mean that I’ve given up trying to improve. Rather, it means that I don’t wait until the first of the year to make a change when one is needed. And I try to make those changes permanent. I don’t always succeed, but I do try.
Although I’ve had two good careers in my life already—medicine and writing—in my heart I sometimes long to own a health club, especially around the first of the year. We’re all familiar with what happens then.  After the holiday meals and the snacks, we resolve to lose that five pounds (or whatever amount we seem to have acquired). “I’m going to go to the gym every day,” we say.
That’s why gym memberships go up about this time every year. But according to the best figures I can find, two thirds of them are never used beyond the first few months. Our spirit may be willing, but the flesh is weak. We become like the person who doesn’t go to the gym because they can’t find a parking place close enough, and they don’t want to walk all that distance! Our gym memberships go unused, and the treadmill we wanted for Christmas becomes an expensive coatrack.
My suggestion is that, rather than improving our physical bodies (or in addition to such measures, if we’re in the minority who really tries), we consider making a few adjustments to our personalities. My wife, bless her, saw me dragging my feet one morning as I made my way around the house. She pointed this out, while reminding me that—even though I may be piling up the years—I still have the prospect of some good ones ahead. Although I hadn’t formally joined the “give me a word” movement I’ve seen so much on social media lately, she used a word that has stuck with me: “purpose.” Rather than shuffling my feet, I needed to move with purpose.
So, for the year ahead, I intend to proceed with purpose. The subject of my purpose may change as the situation changes, but I want to keep the word before me. My purposes (and most of us have multiple ones) right now are to complete my next novel while not neglecting being the best family man possible. At some time, I may find that I’m being unusually short-tempered with those around me, and I’ll do my best to change that. I may forget for what purpose I’m writing, and if that is the case, I’ll try to correct that.
We all have purposes. Find yours. Do you need to add to it? Do you need to make a change? Continue those efforts for the long haul. You’ll be glad you did.
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New Year, Old Me
Dr. Richard Mabry is a retired physician, now writing “medical mystery with heart.” His novels have garnered critical acclaim and been finalists for ACFW’s Carol Award, both the Romantic Times’ Inspirational Book of the Year and Reviewer’s Choice Awards, the Inspirational Readers’ Choice, and the Selah Award. He is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, the International Thriller Writers, and Novelists Inc. Emergency Case is his latest novella.
He and his wife live in north Texas, where he writes, works on being the world’s greatest grandfather, and strives to improve his golf game. You can learn more about him at his website, and via his blogand Facebook page.



Ruthy here, happy to announce that Richard "Doc" Mabry has offered up a copy of his newest release "Emergency Case" to one lucky commenter.... So do you need to add to your purposes? Can you identify them?  Leave a comment below to be entered in the drawing. Doc will pop in and out through the day to chat with us.
New Year, Old Me


KILLER OR TARGET?


The relationship between Dr. Kelly Irving and her husband, attorney Jack Harbaugh, has cooled recently, but she figures they’ll muddle through and repair it.

But when she backs down her driveway, her car hits a bump that turns out to be the partially snow-covered body of a man her husband recently represented. Not only that, the gun that killed him belongs to Jack, who seems to be the primary suspect.

As events escalate, Kelly can’t decide if her husband is a murderer or the next victim. Eventually, they put their marital differences aside and find the person masterminding the syndicate behind all this, while trying to keep Jack alive.




TO STRIVE, TO SEEK...

By Guest Blogger Richard Mabry

Most of us are aware of the five interlocking rings that are the Olympic symbol. But I suspect that many are unfamiliar with the motto that goes along with that symbol. It’s Citius, Altius, Fortius, which is Latin for "Faster, Higher, Stronger.” Participants have hardly completed the games before they’re already planning for the next one. And their training is aimed at letting them go faster, allowing them to leap higher, strengthening muscles that are already strong by normal standards. They never stop improving. And that should also be the goal of each of us who writes, whether we’re as-yet unpublished or the author of numerous books.

TO STRIVE, TO SEEK...

At one of the first writing conferences I attended, I had the temerity (or stupidity—take your choice) to approach an editor and pitch my book to him. Probably to get rid of me, he told me to submit the whole thing to him and he would read it. I didn’t know any better, so I wasn’t surprised when I got notification from him that he was taking it to the Pub Board. Those of you who know how the publishing world works will be amazed that an unpublished writer with so little experience would have such a thing happen. I wasn’t. I took it as a usual thing and was genuinely surprised when I was notified that the Pub Board turned down the book. Looking back on the event, I wonder that my book got this far. It still resides on my hard drive and will probably never see the light of day unless I rewrite it.
Why did this happen? Because I didn’t know enough about writing when I composed it. I didn’t even know enough to realize how much I had to learn. I needed to become much more proficient at the craft. Eventually I did, but I did it by learning the fundamentals, studying, practicing, and striving to constantly improve. And I’ll try never to stop.
When I was practicing medicine, I initially attended conventions and conferences to learn more about my specialty. Later, I was fortunate enough to be in a position to lecture at the same conferences, but although I was a teacher I made it a practice to continue attending the sessions held by others. Why? I realized that medicine was constantly evolving, and my level of knowledge was never as high as I needed it to be. It was best for both my patients and me if I continued to constantly learn.
Doesn’t the same thing apply with writers? Just as we expect our physicians to keep up and improve, don’t our readers expect that our next book will be even better than our last? When I attend a writer’s conference, I always want to leave with one or more pearls that I can apply to my writing. Perhaps I learn a way to make transitions between scenes smoother. Maybe it’s a method for displaying what my protagonist really wants and the danger he or she faces if that doesn’t happen. Whatever I can glean, I try never to stop learning.
But reading and listening only goes so far. Then comes practice—writing, and rewriting, and rewriting again. Of course, writing without constructive criticism by an accomplished person is meaningless. Practice doesn’t make perfect if we keep making the same mistakes again and again with each repetition. Comments by your mother or a friend are nice to receive, but what matters most to me is when a fellow writer tells me that he or she especially likes—or doesn’t like— something in a book I’ve written. The struggle for each of us to improve our work never stops, nor should it. We continue to strive for “faster, higher, stronger.”

TO STRIVE, TO SEEK...

When I had completed my most recent novel, GuardedPrognosis,  I proudly showed the finished product to my wife, who is my first reader. She’ has always been both my biggest fan and my severest critic, and she pulled no punches with her assessment of this one. I was proud of my opening sequence and the story arc that followed, but she pointed out that it failed to get her attention (and would likely do the same with my readers). Instead, she suggested an alternate story arc which would be timely and intriguing. It required my essentially rewriting about half my already-completed novel, and every author reading this knows how much we hate that. But I did it. And it worked. Why did I do it? Because I could see that I was resting on my laurels, instead of seeking to write a better novel.
I’m not an authority on the poetry of Alfred, Lord Tennyson, but I think the last line of his poem, Ulysses, is applicable here. Ulysses and his companions have done it all, so to speak, but he exhorts them not to rest on their laurels. They are to keep on until the end— “To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.” Every writer should have those lines above their desk. Every book, even the ones turned down by a publisher, should be better than the one before. To do less is unfair to everyone concerned…including the author.
Are you striving?
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TO STRIVE, TO SEEK...
Dr.Richard Mabry is a retired physician, now writing “medical mystery with heart.” His novels have garnered critical acclaim and been finalists for a number of awards. He and his wife live in north Texas, where he strives to improve his golf game and his writing.





 






What Do You Seek?

by guest blogger, Dr. Richard "Doc" Mabry

WHAT DO YOU SEEK?

            Among the many yard signs decorating homes in our neighborhood this Christmas season was one that had this simple phrase: Wise Men Still Seek Him. As I prepared this post for the Seekers blog, these words kept coming back to me. When we think about the Magi (the three kings or wise men from the East who came to Bethlehem seeking “the King of the Jews”) it’s appropriate for each of us to consider the question that it’s so easy to forget—what do we seek in this journey?

I’ll start with the Seekers themselves. This blog is over ten years old, and each of the members of the founding group have gone from Unpublished Island to the shore of Published Land, waving to us, cheering us on as we strive to join them. I won’t go into all the awards and honors they’ve accumulated along the way. But I’m willing to wager the hole in a donut (it’s my Baptist background that prevents me from choosing higher stakes) that they didn’t get into this for all the awards. Their goal from the first was “support, encouragement, and information for the writing journey.” They were seeking to help other pre-published writers, all the while getting their novels out in whatever form honored the Lord best. Everything that came along as they progressed in the journey was simply a by-product.

One of the things I was most impressed with when I started traveling my own road to writing was how willing established authors were to help others. The farther I was down that road, the clearer it became (to me, at least) that this was an almost universal trait of those who write for the Christian market. I have very little experience with authors who write for the “general” market, but it would be hard to be more willing to help newbies in the industry than the writers with whom I’ve come in contact over the past decade and more.

What were these writers—the ones who became the “big names” in our universe—   seeking? I can’t read their minds, but it appears they wanted the same thing the original Seekers sought: to tell stories that were edifying to the readers, glorifying to God, and entertaining in the process. Scriptures tell us that the harvest isn’t necessarily our responsibility, but we do have to sow the seed. These authors were trying to do just that, and in addition were willing to help other sowers who were sitting on the sidelines waiting their turn. That’s what they were seeking.

One of the things that was hardest for me to accept, once I had my first book published, was that people—whether in an individual setting, a book club, or a Sunday school class—like to talk with authors. The simplest things that we’ve experienced in our climb are fascinating to non-writers. In this way, we find ourselves sort of celebrities. And we have to be careful about that.

Most of my life I’ve considered that pastors and church staff members were on the front lines of sharing the Gospel with the rest of the world. It wasn’t until I saw my name on the cover of a book, fielded my first questions about writing, had someone ask about my book, that I began to realize that I was part of that group as well. How various authors shared an aspect of the Good News would be different, depending on their audience and the way the writers communicated that message, but each of us in our own way is a preacher, just as much as the person who stood in the pulpit and proclaimed what the Lord had laid on their heart. As such, in much the same manner as sports figures and celebrities, we are role models, and should behave as such in everything we do. We should model what we believe…in our writing, and in our lives. That should be what we’re seeking.

And what of you, the reader? Perhaps you’re not looking for publication. Maybe you’re reading this blog because it’s entertaining and fun. By your very actions every day—what you say, the things you do, the movies and books you choose—you’re providing a witness to a world that needs examples. Are you striving to provide a good one? I’ll end this blog post with a simple question, one that I hope you’ll ponder in your heart in the days ahead. What are you seeking?

On top of that great question, Richard is offering an e-copy or hard copy of his latest novel "A Surgeon's Choice". 

What Do You Seek?

Leave a comment today to have your name tucked into Doc's medical bag...


What Do You Seek?
Dr. Richard Mabry is a retired physician, now writing “medical suspense with heart.” His novels have garnered critical acclaim and been finalists for multiple awards. In addition to one non-fiction book, The Tender Scar, he has written eleven novels and four novellas. The latest is Surgeon’s Choice.
            He and his wife live in north Texas, where he works fruitlessly to improve his golf game and tries to convince his family that staring into space is really working. You can learn more at his blog and webpage, as well as finding him on Facebook and Twitter.




It's Not the Idea That CountsMY PLAN (AND GOD'S)New Year, Old MeTO STRIVE, TO SEEK...What Do You Seek?

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