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 resum├ęs 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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Annette W. said...

Thank you for the reminder to listen to The Call so we can always be ready for the next call

Keli Gwyn said...

Richard, what a wonderful way to look at The Call. Unlike you, I've not received the call with news of my First Sale. I have, however, received the other two. In December, Rachelle Gardner called on the eve of Christmas Eve to offer me representation. Four years before that I answered The Call to write. God knew the desire of my heart: writing inspirational romance. I answered The Call, and the Lord has blessed me repeatedly as I work toward my goal of publication.

Brandilyn, thanks for hosting the esteemed Dr. Mabry. I have the honor this coming Thursday.

Amy Sorrells said...

Dr. Mabry--Great post, and one which helped remind and re-center me on the utmost reason for my writing. So grateful you answered the most important Call, and indeed, to Him be the glory! And Brandilyn is one of the most encouraging writers around. As a nurse, I can't wait to read your book. Congrats and continued writing mercies to you, Doc!

Richard Mabry said...

Thanks to all of you who've left a comment. And many thanks to our gracious host, Brandilyn, for allowing me to post this.
By the way, no characters were killed in the preparation and posting of this material. (Uncharacteristic for BC, I know, but true).

Terri Tiffany said...

Oh my, you brought tears to my eyes. This story was beautiful! I've heard your name around the Internet and when I saw you had a book coming out, I wanted to read your story. Thank you for sharing:) Blessings!

Carol J. Garvin said...

Thanks for sharing this. It's inspiring to read how your journey evolved. I, too, have discovered that following "The Call" takes me places I never expected to go. My husband often reminds me, "We don't know what the future holds, but we know Who holds the future."

May you find many blessings in your writing career!

Christa Allan said...

Richard: I love reading your posts because you always share from your heart, and you always give God the glory. What a treat to be repped and pubbed together!

Looking forward to your books, and to what God is calling you to next.

l said...

Thanks to you both, Brandilyn and Richard! This was a wonderful reminder of the first Call that an author can get. I got the Call eight years ago, when I was 12, and God has seen me through the struggles of learning. Thanks for the reminder that He'll see me through the rest of the journey!

Unknown said...

It was great to finally meet you at Mt. Hermon, Richard. Looking forward to reading Code Blue. Enjoy the journey and hope our paths cross soon.

CandaceCalvert said...

Wonderful and touching post, Richard, and what a blessing to be able to touch the lives of others via your writing. Readers sense when a story comes from the heart of someone who's "been there." You and I met for the first time at a conference in Denver--kneeling at the side of a fellow writer in medical distress. I saw then that you were both skilled and compassionate; learned afterward that you were also a medical fiction writer. It's been great, since then, to share this publishing journey with you--can't wait to get Code Blue in my hands. Should arrive in my mailbox any moment! Congratulations on your debut!

Julia M. Reffner said...

What a beautiful story...of God birthing new dreams through our most painful experiences...of God using other Christians to come alongside us and encourage us in our dreams...of being able to use your own difficulties to touch others.

Edwina said...


What a beautiful testimony. May God continue to bless you as He leads you into more writing for Him!

Southern-fried Fiction said...

Hey, Doc! We're all so glad you answered God's call! And most of all, I love the way you're passing it forward by helping and encouraging other writers like me. Thank you!! And we all love you!

Richard Mabry said...

You all are so great! Thanks for your kind words. And thanks, Brandilyn, for sharing your space with me.

I'm not sure where God leads from here, but it's been quite a ride so far. Guess I'd better hold on tight.

bondChristian said...

Thank you for sharing. I enjoy reading your blog, so lately I've enjoyed seeing you elsewhere as well.

-Marshall Jones Jr.