My first book contract was 17 years ago. My reason for writing the book was rather simple. I had read every book I could get my hands on about the loss of a loved one, but none spoke to me. So, I wrote one myself. It was, and is, one of the most satisfying books I have ever had my name on as author. And with its publication, I thought I was done.
I signed the contract without an agent and was thrilled that an established publishing house was willing to put out a non-fiction book based on my emotions after the death of my first wife. I wrote an additional chapter for a second edition of the book over 10 years later, and The Tender Scar remains in print today. It was and is a ministry for me.
Because I didn’t know anything about writing a book or getting it published, I followed the advice of an editor and attended my very first writing conference. To this day, I can’t say why I chose a Christian conference, but perhaps it seemed natural. But I later decided that this was one of the two blessings to come out of my efforts there. The other was advice from a couple of experienced writers, who seemed to like the way I put the words together and suggested that I try my hand at writing fiction.
I accepted the challenge (or, at least, I took it as such) and discovered that having a book published was far from an easy thing. I wrote, re-wrote, submitted, and after four years and forty rejections, I was in the right place at the right time and had my first novel of fiction accepted. Several more followed, from several publishers. But I found a contract wasn’t forever, and eventually—after ten published novels—I had no publisher. Since I’d known this day was coming, I dipped my toe (or rather, my pen) into self-publication by putting out a series of novellas, and by so doing I learned that not only were there advantages and disadvantages to writing for a publisher, but that self-publication came with its own advantages and disadvantages. But it was another avenue for me, and I followed it.
With the advent of the pandemic, I found that it was hard to write. Many of my colleagues evidently felt this way as well. After considering it, I decided that twelve novels and seven novellas was probably a good place to stop. Why not just let it go at that? But my wife felt otherwise, apparently. She dropped occasional hints about writing, and finally came right out and suggested a story arc that I might find interesting: a story about an ER nurse who was trying to write a book. I tried several times to make this work, but just couldn’t. But along the way I became interested in the female protagonist I had created, as well as the male protagonist, a family doctor who had thrown himself into his work after the death of his first wife. I was interested enough to populate the story further, and before you know it, I had written a novella featuring these two. I couldn’t think of an appropriate title until I realized that the story featured a murder that was almost undetectable—a true “medical mystery.” And thus, my eighth novella was born.
Will this be the last? I thought I had already written my last novel, but I was wrong. In a burst of enthusiasm, I included the beginning of another one at the end of this one. Will it come to fruition? I’m not sure. Then again, I’d already thought once that I had written my last one, and I was wrong.
Dr. Richard Mabry is a retired physician, now writing “medical suspense with heart.” His previously published novels have garnered critical acclaim and been recognized by programs including the ACFW’s Carol Award, the Romantic Times’ Inspirational Book of the Year and its Reviewers’ Choice, the Inspirational Readers’ Choice, and the Selah Award.