Friday, October 28, 2011

Give Me a Minute . . . Wouldya?

Friday, November 4th 8:25 AM (Pacific) Just for fun, I've randomly selected four names from those who have commented on this post: ANDREA, EDWINA, NICHOLE, LYN. If you'll contact me candace(at)candacecalvert(dot)com I'd like to offer you your choice of one the Mercy Hospital books. Critical Care, Disaster Status, or Code Triage. Signed and personalized as you wish, for yourself or for a gift to someone else. Just let me know. And thank you all for stopping by my blog--love seeing you here!Yesterday I was typing furiously on my newest work in progress, RESCUE TEAM ( second book in the upcoming Grace Medical series). Hubby was salmon fishing with a pal, which meant I'd have all day to work alone. Correction: it would be me and my fictional folks. It was a day that I needed to especially concentrate. You see, the story was at that delicate, pivotal point: prelude to a first kiss. Something an author wants to get just right. No broccoli on the teeth, no interruptions by whiny, needy secondary characters, no unplanned call for CPR--it could happen, I write medical drama. Anyway, things were going well. Got the destined couple past a day tour of Austin, let the heroine play a little air-guitar, fed them both some great, trendy SoCo Trailer Food (foodie-author must have yummy imaginary eats), then sent them to coffee on a deck overlooking Lake Austin. So far, so good. Then a slow dance. Even better. Got past a raccoon interruption (still better than CPR), then--at last-- they're taking a moonlit walk along the water. Banter turns from humorous to heartfelt, their eyes meet, the heroine holds her breath, and . . . I type these words:

His eyes searched hers for a moment, as if he were considering what to say.

And I sit there. Shift in my chair. Read them again. Sit there. Until the humor of it dawns on me: He's pausing . . . while I consider what he's going to say.

It struck me as so funny that I laughed out loud--and immediately Tweeted it. (This is what people must do when they work alongside only fictional people.) Characters staring at each other on the page, considering what to say. Hilarious. Profound.

Someone Tweeted back: "I'll never read those words the same way again."

Which, of course proved I'd written a cliche. But it also made me think that there are plenty of writers who do the same thing: wait for the words to come. Leave our characters mute in mid-sentence--stalled before a kiss--while we . . . consider our words . . . that will become their words.

And it made me wonder: Where (in what geographical location, what situation) do your best ideas, snappy comebacks, flashes of unexpected brilliance come? Shower? Dreams? While walking? Driving? Duct taping yourself to the desk chair, sweating it out? What works for you?

Do. Tell. I'd love to know.

Oh, and just in case you were wondering: our hero didn't say anything after all. Just kissed her. I guess he considered if he had to wait for me, it wasn't going to happen.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Scrubbing In: Dr. Richard Mabry

Sunday October 23rd, 1:35 PM Pacific time: CONGRATULATIONS to JUDY GANN! You will be receiving a signed copy of Dr. Richard Mabry's Lethal Remedy. And a big thank you to all who stopped by the blog to read my interview. We both hope you'll "scrub in" with our medical adventures.

This week it is my pleasure to host wonderful medical suspense author, Dr. Richard Mabry. It is always such a delight when he "scrubs in" here at RX: Hope, and I feel so honored to know that we share a readership. A physician and nurse teaming up in fiction much the way we did in the medical world! Most of you know the good doctor already, but for those who have yet to be introduced, here is a some background:

Richard L. Mabry, M.D., is a retired physician and medical school professor who achieved worldwide recognition as a writer, speaker, and teacher before turning his talents to non-medical writing after his retirement. He is the author of one non-fiction book, and his inspirational pieces have appeared in numerous periodicals. Most currently, he is the author of contemporary Christian fiction aptly tagged, "Medical Suspense with Heart." He and his wife, Kay, live in North Texas.

And not only has Dr. Mabry agreed to let me put him on the spot with some questions, but he will also be offering a chance at a signed copy of his newest book! I'll give details in a bit.

Right now, let's get started:

Candace Calvert: Welcome! Lethal Remedy, your newest release, marks your fourth fiction work. In what ways do you feel that you’ve grown and “stretched” as a writer during this time? What has most helped with that growth?

Richard Mabry: Until we get that first contract, we writers tend to agonize over every word, sentence, and paragraph. Once we reach the point where an agent and/or editor validates our work, we can obsess less over technique and concentrate on putting the words together to convey a story that draws in the reader. And once we’re writing on deadline, our concentration seems to be magnified.

Most writers will tell you that they don’t really know for sure how they reached their present level. For me, it involved putting into practice what I read and heard from others about the craft, writing four unsuccessful novels along the way. And I’m still learning.

CC: Christian fiction authors often experience special moments when a reader connects quite personally (sometimes unexpectedly) with the hopeful message offered by a story. Will you share a few words about a reader-connection that particularly encouraged you as an author?

RM: One of the toughest times for an author is when we fear no one will ever have the opportunity to read our words again, because no publisher will print them. I was “between engagements” (as the actors put it) when I received this email:

“Your books are fantastic! I'm enjoying them so much. I bought the 4th one today. There's only one problem, they're so good I read them too fast - and then they're over. Keep making them good, though.”

Not only that, but my novels led her to the non-fiction book I wrote, The Tender Scar: Life After The Death Of A Spouse:
“Do you know where I can find the book you wrote about your wife dying? I lost my husband in 2002, but it still hurts today. Aren't we glad we know we'll see them in Heaven.”

So in one email she validated my fiction writing and showed me that my non-fiction book was still accomplishing God’s purpose. How much better could it get?

CC: Beautiful, and you're so right, Richard. That is the best.

CC: Let’s try something to tie together two of your passions: writing and golf:

CC: A caddy is invaluable to a golfer—advice, expertise, psychological support: Who’s your literary caddy?

RM: I have two: my wife, Kay, and my agent, Rachelle Gardner. Kay is my first reader. She is both my severest critic and my biggest fan, and I couldn’t function without her. Rachelle is a steadying influence in my writing life, offering suggestions about my writing, helping me make professional decisions, and in general encouraging me.

CC: Even professional golfers have challenging rounds, missed putts, bunker shots. Name an experience in your writing journey where you felt “deep in the rough.”

RM: The most significant instance was when I quit writing! There’s a bunker on the course at St. Andrews that’s so deep and hard to get out of that they call it “Hell.” That’s where I found myself. I was discouraged by continued rejections and responses of “not quite there” and “not right for us.” I even tried my hand at writing a cozy mystery (which was a big mistake). So I gave up. But God didn’t, since He led me to a new agent and a new direction in my life, and I was able to get back onto the fairway.

CC: And your readers are grateful you did! What writing experience has been a literary “Eagle”?

I actually had a second novel finished shortly after signing the contract for my first one. My agent submitted a proposal for that one, and wound up getting a two-book contract, Both the publisher and I felt that the third book would end the series, but when my agent circulated the proposal for my next one, Abingdon Press decided to give me a contract for that as well. That was my “eagle”—not anticipated, but certainly welcome.

CC: What single literary achievement would feel like a “Hole in One”?

RM: After my fourth novel from Abingdon, Diagnosis Death, I wasn’t under contract for any more books. Frankly, it was tough for me to write under those circumstances, because I became increasingly convinced that no one would ever publish more of my novels. But when Rachelle pitched my next book to a number of publishers, there was significant interest, culminating in a contract for three more books. (More about that in a minute).

CC: Which points us to the fact that you have two awesome reasons to celebrate. First, the recent release of Lethal Remedy. Tell us a little about this fourth and final medical suspense in your “Prescription for Trouble” series.

RM: Here’s the back cover copy:

Dr. Sara Miles’ patient is on the threshold of death from an overwhelming, highly resistant infection with Staphylococcus luciferus, simply known to doctors as “the killer.” Only an experimental antibiotic, developed and administered by Sara’s ex-husband, Dr. Jack Ingersoll, can save the girl's life.
Dr. John Ramsey is seeking to put his life together after the death of his wife by joining the medical school faculty. But his decision could prove to be costly, even fatal.
Potentially lethal late effects from the experimental drug send Sara and her colleague, Dr. Rip Pearson, on a hunt for hidden critical data that will let them reverse the changes before it’s too late.

CC: And (drum roll!) you’ve recently announced some very exciting news that has readers shouting for joy. Will you please share it again here?

RM: I’ve signed with the wonderful folks at Thomas Nelson Company for three novels of medical suspense. The first will be published in the spring of 2013, with the others following at about nine month intervals. As you can imagine, I’m terribly excited. I was privileged to meet with many members of the Thomas Nelson team at the recent American Christian Fiction Writers conference, and I’m looking forward to this relationship.

CC: Awesome! Can you give us just a hint of a storyline, setting, or characters?

RM: Dr. Matt Newman thought he was leaving his life in private practice for a better one in academic medicine. His kidnappers have no such plans for him. They just want him dead. Bound, in the trunk of his car, Matt’s only thought is escape. He does so, but at a price: a head injury that lands him in the ICU, where he awakens to find he’s charged with murder.
Sandra Murray is a fiery, redheaded lawyer who swore she was done with doctors, but the call from Matt presented a challenge she couldn’t turn down. She decided to give it one more chance.
Matt’s career is going down the drain. His freedom and perhaps his life may be next. Can he and Sandra uncover the truth before the kidnappers finish the job they started?

CC : Sounds exciting! Knowing your readers will suffer withdrawal symptoms during the hiatus between series, will you offer updates (possibly snippets?) during this time? Where can readers find you in cyberspace?

RM: I’m toying with the idea of an occasional short story to be posted on my blog, if I can snatch the time from my “real” writing to get them done. Of course, there’s my blog where I post twice a week. They can also keep up with me on Twitter and my Facebook fan page .

CC : Great, thank you. Is there anything else you’d like to share with us, Dr. Mabry?

RM: I appreciate the opportunity to visit here. I’m delighted that Christian fiction is no longer a derogatory term. Thanks to you for helping popularize medical fiction. I look forward to reading more of your novels in the future, and hope your readers will enjoy mine.

Candace: And I feel exactly the same way, Richard--thank you for sharing all this with my readers!

And, speaking of sharing: For your chance at a signed copy of Lethal Remedy, leave a comment below. Be sure to include an e-mail address. I will select a winner via a random drawing on Sunday, October 23rd. Good luck to you all!