Sunday, May 31, 2015

Where in the world did you get the idea for this book?

The Showboat Affair, published by The Wild Rose Press in 2011, will be on sale by the publisher for two weeks beginning June 5. I'll be blogging about the story and related subjects AND offering a chance to win some nice prizes (more on those later) everyone who pops in to at least say 'hello'. 

In 2009, a long-time friend with whom I sometimes took short trips suggested we go to Branson, Missouri. I balked, citing distance, expense, traffic, and the fact it was a tourist trap. We went anyway, and I discovered all my objections to be unfounded. Branson was—and is—a delight with something for everyone.
Of all the activities, the dinner cruise on The Branson Belle became the high point. Before we boarded, we drove to an overlook where the sight of the magnificent hotel and spa, the Chateau on the Lake, captivated me. Then, after a sumptuous meal and a rollicking family-friendly show, I knew why I’d come.
“This boat would make a good setting for a story,” I observed as my friend and I exited the Belle. “I think I’ll write The Showboat Murders.”
Kathy, obviously horrified at the idea, quickly replied, “Oh,no! Make it The Showboat Affair.
And so I did.
In 1950, Kathryn Grayson and Howard Keel starred as Magnolia Hawkes and Gaylord Ravenal in a third screen version of Showboat adapted from EdnaFerber’s novel of the same name. I must have been six or seven when I saw it in the movie theatre and came away entranced by Jerome Kern’s magnificent musical score. William Warfield’s performance of “Old Man River” stayed with me most of all, despite the fact I was much too young to understand the pathos of the song’s message.
Years later, I owned the movie on VHS. Whenever my unnamed emotions demanded some kind of release, I popped in the tape and had a good weep. When Ava Gardner, who played the ill-fated Julie Laverne, stood on the dock watching the Cotton Blossom move away, my tears spilled over. Having facilitated the reconciliation of Magnolia and Gaylord, now parents of a beguiling little girl named Kim, she blew them all a kiss and moved back into her sad, shadowed life, content to know those she loved would live happily ever after.
Viewers and readers take many messages/lessons from what they see and read. From this particular story, I took the premise of hope, the reality of second chances, and the ideals of forgiveness, and reconciliation. These I wove into my little tale about Nick and Jean: their struggles and hopes and finally their determination to seize a second chance for happiness in their individual lives.
Like Magnolia and Ravenal, they’d played the hand life dealt them—sometimes winning, sometimes losing. Then, together, they’d folded their cards and sailed away (figuratively speaking) to new beginnings and their own happily-ever-after.

Tomorrow:  Before he met Jean, Nick had another life. . .


Friday, May 29, 2015

5 Ways to Boost Your Motivation to Write

Let’s face it—writing is a solitary occupation. Unless you’re “into” making the rounds of writers’ conferences and conventions, you spend much if not most of your time alone at your desk. If you’re not writing, you’re marketing what you’ve written previously.
We all know, however, that writing is more important than any other task. How many times have you heard, “Write the next book!”? And how many times have you said, “I’ll get started just as soon as this book becomes a  bestseller!”?
I’ve done some serious soul-searching lately about what I really want to do as opposed to what I think I have to do because everyone else says so! I’ve come to the conclusion that the former trumps the latter.
What motivates me to write? Probably a lot of the same things that motivate you. Let’s compare notes.

1)      Find a pleasant environment in which to write, be it beside a lake, at a coffee house, or in your own home office. Find that place and BE THERE!
2)      Choose the right time of day. When are you most productive? If you’re not a morning person, don’t try to knock out 5000 words before lunch. Find your comfort zone and BE THERE!
3)      Accept that a first draft stinks. You’re not going to sit down and write the Great American Novel in one fell swoop. Whether you’re revising for the second time or the 20th, you’re headed in the right direction. BE THERE!
4)      Set realistic goals. What works for you—2500 words in one session? 5000? Don’t push yourself to write a single word more than you can comfortably write. Meet your goal—or not—but remember you’re not where you started out but rather in a new place. BE THERE!
5)      Remember that rules were made to be broken. Who made up those rules anyway? What do you want to write? How do you want to write it? Writing is your place. BE THERE!

I collect articles on all phases of writing. Here are 5 on motivation. If my motivators don’t work for you, perhaps you’ll find some which do.

How Writers Stay Productive No Matter What Else Is Going On by Christina Katz

The 10 Commandments of Highly Productive Professional Writers by Ruth Harris

Hey, Indie Book Authors, Here’s How to Succeed by Mark Coker via Deborah Jensen

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

What's the link between a dog trainer, fan costumer, traveler, and writer?

It's my guest today

Laura VanArendonk Baugh  

I’ve been traveling even more than usual in 2015. I often travel for work, and I kind of overbooked myself this year. Not to say I’ve been away from home a lot, but my favorite hotel membership hit Diamond status by April. And I hadn’t even been staying at that chain exclusively.
   But I like travel, for the most part. Sure, there was that time last month when United canceled three flights on me in three days and I had to rent a car and drive 12 hours home, but even that wasn’t as bad for me as it could have been. I drive a lot of trips, too, and I don’t mind road tripping alone. I write this very blog post from the passenger seat as I make a 33-hour run to the west coast. (Don’t worry, this time I have company and we’re rotating drivers!)
   Road trips afford a great way to see America. Planes are efficient, sure, but you don’t get to absorb much of the scenery. Trains offer the best observation and greatest comfort, but they may be less flexible for your particular schedule. Driving requires more concentration, but it allows for greater latitude in some functions. I’m picking up a dog on this trip, something I couldn’t do on Amtrak.
   And road trips can provide great inspiration for writers. This is actually my second road trip to California this year; the first I decided to have some fun by taking (and blogging) a more leisurely return up old Route 66. Not only was that a great revisit of classic Americana, but I started kicking around ideas for a road trip murder mystery. That project will have to wait a bit – I’ve got a lot of irons in the fire right now – but it’ll be fun to come back to!
   And there’s always something to observe. The play of light over mountains, the interactions of couples at rest stops, the shop owners happy to swap stories with or offer tourist advice to someone from out of town. The road is a great place for writers to pick up those little quirks and irregularities which make a character more real.
   But you don’t have to drive across the country to get a bit of the road trip experience. Get off the interstate and take surface roads to someplace you visit regularly, and see what’s on the route less traveled. Hit Google or to find a local destination you never knew was nearby, and go play tourist on your own turf. Or skip the car entirely and try the train, a bus, or some other way of getting from Point A to Point B.
   The summer road trip is a classic American tradition. How will you explore your world just a little bit this summer?

I'd suggest strongly you follow the link to Laura's website to learn more about what she does, where she goes, and the books and short stories she writes! 

Laura VanArendonk Baugh was born at a very early age and never looked back. She overcame her childhood deficiencies of having been born without teeth and unable to walk, and by the time she matured into a recognizable adult she’d become a behavior analyst, a costumer/cosplayer, a chocolate addict, and a fiction and non-fiction writer. 

Monday, May 25, 2015

Another delightful tale from Dr. Sally Burbank!

An Embarrassing Misdiagnosis
Melanoma runs strongly in my husband's family. In fact, two relatives died in their forties of the dreaded disease and my father-in-law requires regular mole checks with his dermatologist. Thus, when Nate showed me an ugly, new, black mole on the back of his upper arm, I was concerned. It displayed all the signs for malignancy: size greater than one centimeter, black color, ratty border, and an irregular pigment.
I immediately did what I do best in a crisis: borrow trouble. Mentally, I had him diagnosed with Stage IV malignant melanoma, thus facing a bleak (and expensive) future of Moh's surgery, chemotherapy, and hospice care. He'd be dead by fifty-four, (just like his uncle and cousin) and I'd be left alone, a lonely widow trying to fund two kids through college all by myself.
I yanked his arm toward me again, hoping it was a mistake. But no, it looked worrisome and needed a biopsy. Not wanting to upset my husband, I pasted on a professional veneer and told him I'd schedule an appointment with a dermatologist as soon as possible.
As luck would have it, the dermatologist had a cancellation for that very afternoon. Did I want it? You bet!
Nate jumped into the shower to clean up before his appointment while I tried to quell my panic by deadheading petunias. Others have survived cancer so you can too, I re-assured myself. Jesus said, "I will never leave you or forsake you." But no amount of self-talk or scripture quoting removed the worry curdling in my stomach.
After Nate climbed out of the shower and dried off with a towel, he informed me his "melanoma" had disappeared in the shower! Turns out, he had eaten a couple of spoonfuls of Nutella, his favorite vice, last night and must have somehow rubbed some accidentally on his upper arm. It dried in a way that looked exactly like a melanoma. I felt like a fool. Some doctor I was-- I couldn't distinguish malignant melanoma from Nutella?? Thank God it was my husband and not a real patient. Imagine if I'd sent a patient to the dermatologist to biopsy Nutella—I'd never live it down.
The American Dermatological Society needs to add new criteria for diagnosing melanoma: doesn't scrub off with soap and water!

Available for Kindle and in print

Sunday, May 24, 2015

If you loved All Creatures Great and Small, you'll adore Dr. Sally Burbank's Patients I'll Never Forget


At almost every visit to our office, Bob embarrasses himself or my staff. When he came in for his last physical, he was handed a one-page Review of Systems form to complete while sitting in the waiting room. The Review of Systems form lists dozens of symptoms from headache to constipation to ingrown toenails. The patient circles any symptoms he or she may endure so we can discuss them during the office visit.
Ten minutes after receiving his form, Bob strolled up to my receptionist and said loud enough for the entire waiting room to hear, “What is imPOtency? I-M-P-O-T-E-N-C-Y?” Yes, he even spelled it out loud for her in his booming voice, lest any- one in the waiting room missed it the first time.
My receptionist turned fifty shades of red before responding, “Bob, if you have to ask what it is, you probably don’t have it.”
Not taking the hint, Bob said, “But I don’t know if I have it or not. Do you know if I have imPOtency?”
By this time, every patient in the waiting room was smirking and snickering and elbowing each other, all watching to see how my usually unflappable receptionist would handle the question.
Without missing a beat she said, “Bob, I definitely don’t know, nor do I want to know.” She then added, “Why don’t you discuss this with Dr. Burbank privately, when you’re back in the exam room.”
Never one to pick up on social cues, Bob began asking the pa- tients in the waiting room if any of them knew what imPOtency were. Meanwhile, my receptionist dashed to the back, snatched my nurse by the scruff of the neck, and threatened bodily harm if she didn’t bring Bob back to an exam room NOW, before the patients in the waiting room fled the office in droves.
Once escorted back to the exam room, I explained to Bob what IMpotency meant. He laughed and volunteered, “Naw, I don’t have that. I do just fine with the ladies, know what I mean?” Snort, snort.
Okay, too much information. Like my receptionist, I didn’t know, nor did I want to know!
Bob then added, “You ought to clue in your receptionist and them other folks in the waiting room. None of them knew what the word meant either!”

Come back tomorrow for another delightful story shared by the author, "An Embarrassing Misdiagnosis". 

Sally Burbank

Sally Willard Burbank started life on a small dairy farm in Derby, Vermont. Her parents, Everett and Dorothy Willard, still live in Orleans, Vermont.
 She moved to Montpelier at age ten and graduated from Montpelier High School in 1977. She attended Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas and graduated summa cum laude in 1980. She completed her medical training at the University of Vermont College of Medicine in Burlington, Vermont in 1986. Upon completing medical school, she married her longtime sweetie, Nathan Burbank, and they moved to Nashville, Tennessee where she completed her internship and residency training. She established a private practice in internal medicine in Nashville and has doctored patients since 1989.
 She has published multiple stories in Chicken Soup for the Soul, Angels on Earth magazine, and several anthologies. She co-leads Nashville Christian Writers and is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America. She has recently completed a novel called More than a Hunch. The book is projected to be published as an E-book by the end of the year.
She’s the proud mother of two college students, Steven and Eliza, enjoys gardening, reading, writing, bicycling, cooking, and catering to the whims of a yappy but adorable silky terrier named Tiger Lily. She does not enjoy working out on her Elliptical but does it anyway to keep up with her love of all things chocolate.

Patients I'll Never Forget is available in print and for Kindle.

Strongly recommended by 
this discerning (picky) blogger!