First Day at MACC and Why I Write

        I met Darrel Adkins, the promoter for MACC, over breakfast backstage. The man had a walkie-talkie in his ear, a cell phone that went off every minute or so and a couple of beepers. He went over some paperwork and the ground rules. I listened intently. I had a notion if I was gonna do as the Romans do this was Caesar.

        As I got to leave he said, “Son, I’d like to sit and visit. They’ve got me kinda busy.”

        “Yes sir, I understand.” The man was pulled in more directions than a country doctor on Monday morning. “Thanks for having me.”

        He smiled and waved as he answered his cell phone. 

        Irene Lehmann led me to our site and parked us right under a large shade tree. “The boss said to hitch old Tenbrooks in the shade. You’re gonna be here three days and it’s supposed to get to 100.”


        “Darin and Brooke will be right next door. MACC wanted you to feel at home.”

        Hm. He’s read my blog. I’m gonna be next door to old friends. “Tell the man thanks.”  

        “Will do.”

        The first day of MACC was a whirlwind. I met all kinds of people; radio personalities, surveyors, a urologist, mechanics, a nuclear scientist, software gurus, tennis players, golfers, and of course lots of mandolin players and bluegrass pickers. Many of them had read my blog. Some were only curious as to what a physician bluegrass fiction writer might look like and others wanted to buy “The Mandolin Case,” and get it signed. They were all different, and yet in many ways just the same.

        One was just like me and about my age. His mama also put him in a speed reading class as a kid. “Finished the book by lunch!”  He came by to give me a thumbs-up. He found the one serious typo that still bugged me, and inked in a correction and dated it. “Makes it a collector’s item, Dr. B.” Cool guy.

        Another fellow walked by and grinned. “Stopped at page four for now Doc, but I’ll get back to it. Good book.”

        I heard from my agent last night and we had made to #60 in legal mysteries in Britain. I thought that was pretty good in the land of Sherlock Holmes. I figure the Brits know a thing or two about mystery books – by the way much of our music came from across the pond too.  If you live in Britain, and have any trouble finding it, here’s the link:  Go to the page at and click on GREAT BRITAIN  

        I continue to be humbled by the whole journey. Some time back one fellow told me he wrote literary fiction and he didn’t think so much of commercial fiction.

        As I sat in the shade at MACC, I thought of him. I wanted to tell him mine hadn’t even made commercial grade yet, although MACC was shaping up pretty good. I’ll get to give a little to the cause, meet a bunch of new people, and come home with a few dollars more than I started out with, and this done paid for catfish sandwich was as good as home.

        I recall this man told me my book was a bit too common for his taste. He was somewhat resentful the public wasn’t more supportive of his work.

       I read some of his, and have to agree; it was quality literature. He’s a better writer than I am, and that doesn’t bother me. I listened to his complaints for a while and think I figured it out, but I didn’t want to hurt his feelings.

       I wanted to say, “Well, sir. You’re a fine writer. I’m not sure why not enough folks have read your book. The only thing I can say is maybe you wrote over everybody’s head. We all have our expertise. If I write too much about idiopathic hypertrophic subaortic stenosis, I’ll bore people to death. By the same token my car mechanic could write a novel about hot rods in a such a technical way I’d not be able to understand it.” I held my peace, though.

      The way I saw it, this man wrote his book to show people how much smarter he was than everyone else. I wrote mine to try to show how we are all the same; and after ten years I’m just getting started on the project. 

       I debated a call to invite him to MACC. I dug into my ice cream for a moment, then reconsidered and decided against it. I was off and very relaxed. I didn’t want to ruin the mood and have to get in any kind of crazy debate today.

       I remember a fellow I knew in med school. He was the smartest cat I ever met in any genre. He was so smart he never bragged about it, and I never saw him get drug into an argument on the subject, either.

       Maybe I can get this writer to send some money to the cause, though. How can anyone argue with raising money for children with cancer? That is one issue no one can debate, so I’m gonna sit back and take it all in. I’m just too old to argue about anyone’s intellectual superiority, and besides I’ve already met plenty of people smarter than me in life; there ain’t much to prove there. I’ll just have to be me and let it go at that; it’s all I’ve got.

Dr. B

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12 Comments on “First Day at MACC and Why I Write”

  1. Smitty Pres. of Neuse River Fan Club in Mississippi Says:

    Doc, enjoyed the post, sounds like you are having a great time
    I do not know if he will ever follow thru with it but, I am walking down the corridor of the cruise ship and I hear the “high lonesome sound” coming from a display area selling jewelry. I ask the young man who he is listerning to and he states Ironhorse. He then mentions something about a Metallic Tribute Project. I asked him the universal question,”Is your grass blue?’ and with his slavic voice he states his grass is blue. I check in with him a couple of times and he is listening to the same cd. It was a little slow on business one day and I had the chance to spend some time with him. He had a cdd with Doc Watson and he siad that was all the bluegrass music he had. I left him my card and couple of podcast to connect to. I also gave him a doc’s word press site. He might connect or not but we brought another one intot the fold. I belive his first name started with a “C”.

    • drtombibey Says:


      Great stuff. I gotta call you next week. I have a gig in Chattanooga next week, then I’m gonna settle down and get back to doctoring until IBMA.

      I’m still gonna do my first book store gig at Reed’s if they’ll have me. I told my agent he couldn’t book me for a book store till I get there. I always dance with who brung me and I promised the lady there they’d be my first book store signing.

      Will give you a buzz after I get settled back in.

      Dr. B

  2. Levonne Says:

    Right on Dr. B. And what does smart mean anyway? One can be smart in one area and totally dumb in other areas of life. So it all balances out anyway. Glad to hear you progressing well on your journey.

    • drtombibey Says:


      You are so right. I’ve always said I knew how to write prescriptions and play the mandolin, but my wife knew everything else. I’d a starved to death without her.

      Dr. B

  3. I’m not surprised your book’s doing so well in England…they do love a good mystery! Wouldn’t it make an interesting BBC/PBS mystery (w/a fantastic soundtrack)!

    • drtombibey Says:


      I talked to Larry Cordle today. (the guy who wrote Highway 40 Blues for Ricky Skaggs)

      I told him if they did a movie he would of course be credited for “You Can’t Do Wrong and Get By” near the end of the book. It is also one of his songs.

      He’s a good Kentucky boy; they’ll love Cordle in England.

      Dr. B

  4. Sharon Says:

    Ah, Dr B, ever the humble man. I figure you wrote your book because you have a story to tell, not to prove you’re a good writer. Good writing is so much more than stringing pretty sentences together. Good writing is connecting with people; it’s writing what everyone knows, but most cannot express; it’s delivering a good story that others can recognise and identify with.

    • drtombibey Says:


      I tried as hard as I could to show why a sense of community was important, and why we are all dependent on each other. You’re right; that was my story.

      “Good writing is so much more than stringing pretty sentences together. Good writing is connecting with people”

      My goodness, I don’t see how anyone other than a fellow writer or artist could understand it better than that.

      Dr. B

  5. Ron Tyrie Says:

    Dr. B,
    It was so nice meeting you and your lovely bride at MACC. I thoroughly enjoyed the conversation and couldn’t put the book down once I started and recommend it highly.
    I hope the whole MACC experience was as good for you as it was for me.
    Best wishes for health and happiness.
    Ron (the speed reading nuke)

    • drtombibey Says:


      It was great to meet you too. We were two peas in a bluegrass pod for sure.

      I’m a speed reader too, but man you flat nuked “The Mandolin Case.” Glad you enjoyed. Look for me out on the road again.

      Dr. B

  6. Shay Says:

    Dr. B~
    Was a WONDERFUL time at the MACC and felt fortunate to meet you and the LOVELY, Mrs. Doctor B! 🙂 THANK YOU so much for my book and the personalization. I will treasure it always and it’s the PERFECT book to re-start my collection after the flood! I’m about 117 pages in and I started crying in the Author’s Note…that’s a GOOD thing! 🙂 Just realized that no matter where we go in life, if we’re true to our calling and heart, some people will “get” us!
    I’ll be following the book signings and can’t wait to hear about the first bookstore signing!!

    • drtombibey Says:


      You’re a nice lady and I’m glad the book could get your library jump-started. We bluegrassers are all in it together, which was a major point of my book.

      As bluegrass would have it my first non-festival signing was today at a new barbecue place in Chattanooga.

      My big weakness as a musician is I’m not a good lead singer. A fellow came along with a guitar and a good lead voice and we had a great jam. It mirrors life dosn’t it? My weakness is my strength in that I realize I need others to make my way in the world. I’m much stronger for the community than I would be alone.

      All the best and see ya down the bluegrass road. Me and Marfar will jam one with you someday.

      Dr. B

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