Monday, April 05, 2010
Doc Mabry: From Tragedy to Publication
If you're fortunate, you've met Dr. Richard Mabry, retired ear, nose, and throat specialist. He's a wonderful, kind man--and a great guy for authors to know when they need medical answers for their novels. Last year Doc was one of the fortunate writers to sell his first novel to Barb Scott of Abingdon Press. Doc's book, Code Blue, releases this month. In this guest post he tells us his journey to publication.
Writers talk about getting “the call.” For some, that’s the phone call (or email or letter) from an agent offering representation. For others, the call is one that extends a contract for publication. I’ve received both these calls, and I can’t tell you how wonderful and exciting they were. But they wouldn’t have come about had I not responded to an earlier and much more important call.
My road to writing began with a tragedy. Maybe yours did, too. Perhaps you lost your job and decided to fill those empty hours between interviews and resumés by starting the novel you always thought you had inside you. Or you found yourself with an empty nest and a broken heart, so you decided to write to take your mind off the loneliness. In my case, it was the death of my wife of forty years that provided the impetus for me to write.
After Cynthia’s death in 1999, one of the coping mechanisms I employed to combat depression was to journal. I laid out my feelings, bared my soul. Then I looked back at what I’d written, and wondered if I could turn this stack of raw journaling into a book that would help others. To pursue the idea, in 2003 I attended a Christian Writers’ Conference. Nothing went right on the day we arrived, and by nightfall I was ready to go home. But God had blessed me once more with the love of a wonderful woman, and Kay said, “Give it some time.”
Through a series of circumstances I couldn’t have imagined, I came under the influence of writers Alton Gansky and James Scott Bell, who inspired and encouraged me. Then, editor Gary Terashita challenged me to try my hand at fiction, as well as non-fiction. And at the end of the conference, I got “The Call.” I capitalize this one, because it came from God. I knew, with the same certainty that I know my name, that my retirement from medicine was just a transition to another endeavor. I was to write.
Along the way, I was the beneficiary of friendship and support from numerous well-known authors. Prominent among these was our host, Brandilyn Collins, who always had an encouraging word for “Doc.” I believe that the mentoring and support of beginning writers by established authors is one of the characteristics that sets Christian writing apart, and I rejoice that this is so.
In 2006, my non-fiction book became a reality. (The Tender Scar: Life After the Death of a Spouse, published by Kregel.) But fiction was another story. During four years spent learning the craft I produced four novels that were rejected a total of over forty times. Then, finally, I got “the call”—twice. Both came from agent Rachelle Gardner, the first offering representation and the second telling me I’d sold my first novel. But neither of those calls would have come had I not listened to The Call, the one God handed down to me at that conference.
My first novel, Code Blue, debuts from Abingdon Press on April 1. It’s the first of my three-novel Prescription for Trouble series. Seven years ago, I couldn’t have imagined this would be taking place. But, then again, none of us knows what’s in store for us in the future, do we?
Here’s the last line of the Acknowledgement that precedes Code Blue: “When I retired from medicine, God opened another door and pointed me in the direction of writing. I have no idea what comes next, but I can hardly wait to find out. To Him be the glory.”
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