Archive for the ‘Guest Posts’ category

Guest Post- Cliff Searcy

August 13, 2010

        Today’s guest post is from Cliff Searcy. He is a fellow mandolinist and a true bluegrasser. Cliff is a teacher and former football coach who now teaches English Lit. He is genuine tough guy but one with a heart for kids and the arts. He and I have a school/bookstore/mando gig scheduled in Hendersonville in mid-October.

       Cliff plays with a fine band named Appalachian Fire. If you are in the Asheville area, you can catch them at the Fiddling Pig restaurant. (home base for Balsam Range; great music, ‘cue, and fixings)

Guest Post

        OK , so it’s Friday the 13,th but I’m not superstitious.  I’m just figuring that Dr. Bibey  gave  me this date to allow his English teaching, bluegrass pickin’, ex-football coach buddy a chance to use one of his big words. “Triskaidekaphobia,” the fear of the number 13. 

        That’s not much of a segue into the topic of this guest blog unless you understand the relationship between this 275 pound ex-lineman and his friend, the country doctor. How could two folks from such different backgrounds come to be “bluegrass brothers?” Call it destiny with a little help from FaceBook. With so many of the FaceBook friends, we make an acquaintance and seldom, if ever, correspond.  However there was an instant bond between Dr. B and me because, as he likes to put it, “We’re both true bluegrass.” I’m not sure all that the term implies, but I know it has something to do with honoring the tradition of this music we love.

        One of the enduring traditions of Bluegrass, is its recognition of faith through gospel songs.  In the example of Bill Monroe, most every set list for a bluegrass performance will include a few gospel numbers. I recently heard a famous musician say that many of the same folks who attend a Bluegrass festival this weekend will be at a Southern Gospel quartet singing next weekend. Both genres take heart-felt lyrics and deliver them with passion. For those of you who aren’t so familiar, may I suggest a little YouTube searching for the following:

Bill Monroe   “ A Beautiful Life”

Flatt and Scruggs  “ Crying Holy Unto the Lord”

Paul Williams and the Victory Trio  “ Sweet Beulah Land”

Ricky Skaggs  “I’m Ready to Go”

IIIrd Tyme Out  “How Great Thou Art”

Dailey and Vincent  “By the Mark”

Doyle Lawson and Quick Silver  “Little Mountain Church”

Rhonda Vincent  “Home Coming”

Darin and Brooke Aldridge  “The Last Thing on His Mind”

        This is just a small sampling of my favorites.  There are so many more wonderful artists and songs to be explored.  For so many folks these songs have a way of warming the heart.

Note from Dr. B  Tough guys can have a heart too, and I’m proud to call Cliff my friend. The best thing writing has done for me is help me find the people out there of like mind, and Cliff is sure one of ’em. His music choices are spot on. Any yeah, I ain’t a bit scared of Friday the 13th, ’cause I got the Good Lord and the tough guys on my team.


Friday Guest Post- Newsweek and Mark Twain

August 6, 2010

        Okay, so Newsweek didn’t log onto my blog, and yeah Twain didn’t weigh in either. But I promised a guest post each Friday and my blogger this week ran into some commitments. But you gotta give me an “A” for creativity. How else but by physician bluegrass fiction could I get Newsweek and Mark Twain to comment here?

        Check out the August 9, 2010 edition of Newsweek. Twain is on the cover. It reads “The Books Issue: Secrets, Lies, and the American Writer.” If you have even a remote interest in books, publishing, famous authors, or current books this issue is worth the read.

        There is an article on Salinger. As best I can tell he got famous and then became a recluse. I don’t care to become famous. I write to find the other people out there who think somewhat like I do, but I have zero interest in celebrity. As soon as you’re old that’s over and I’m already there. I can’t see any reason to write to find friends, then make a point of being lonely. I’ve watched too many people die all alone, and I have no interest in playing my cards out that way. Critics might say I’m just too gregarious, but I hold my family and friends close and always will. The critics can die alone if they want to, but as an old country doc I don’t recommend it.

        Then there was the Twain article. Like many Americans, Twain’s my Lit hero. I think he also had some ambiguous feelings as to fame. Maybe it’s why he created a pen name. At least in the beginning it gave him some partial anonymity. Perhaps he had an early sense of marketing too, though. Who’d want to read an article by a guy named Samuel Clemens? It’s be like John Smith or something. I’d use a pen name too if mine was that boring.

        Twain wrote with compulsion. He wrote because he had to. The quote I liked the best about Twain was at the end of the article. “When faced with a difficult situation he’d pick up pen and paper and “write his way out of trouble.”

        Sound familiar? As Indie said, it doesn’t take any special talent to be wicked. Anyone can do that. But to be a decent person requires creativity to the point to art. Simple as that.” I learned a lot from Indie. As Irene Lehmann says, “When a man writes like that, there’s a reason.”

        The article titled “Who Needs a Publisher” was so familiar it was down-right spooky. I read a few paragraphs and then checked to see if my Lit agent wrote it. The new publishing paradigm they discuss is exactly as my agent has outlined over the last few years. The old way of doing business doesn’t work, and publishers are going broke. 

        However, the astute can find opportunity in the rubble just as my agent did for me. One man’s trash is another’s treasure. As my man says, “Son, you picked the worst time in history to be a new writer. You also picked the best time.” With the power of the Internet, the little guys in literature are gonna make an end run on the powers that be just as sure as the indies are doing in the music biz. If it empowers the artist I’m all for it.

        The last article was titled “What To Read Now.” I sped read the entire list and many were of interest. They did make one mistake though. I looked it over with great care and they failed to mention “The Mandolin Case.” Given we made it all the way to #1 in the Amazon Country Books category this summer (it was at #4 yesterday) I guess it was just an oversight. (Ha!) Maybe one of my readers can log in at Newsweek and inform them they missed out.

       But even if I’m never on Newsweek’s radar it doesn’t matter. What they gotta understand is I’m on theirs. One should never underestimate country people. They tend to hold their people close and are seldom denied a life of grace and dignity if they pursue it with passion.

          Even though they didn’t give me an honorable mention, I ain’t gonna cancel my subscription. It’s pretty good rag, and one I’ve read a long time. No reason to get my nose outta joint over it. Besides, there’s always 2011 and hope springs eternal.

        Y’all check out my “Tour” page. I’ve got a few new August stops posted. See you out on the road and come visit.

Dr. B

Guest Post- Melissa

July 30, 2010

Remembering My Writing Journey (So Far)
By: Melissa Wright

        Maybe you could say I was born to be a story-teller. I can remember the first time I put pen (okay, crayon) to paper and wrote a story. I was five years old and I had stories to tell. Even back then, I knew being a writer is what I wanted to do. I was meant to do this.

        As my school years went by, my love for writing developed more and more. My stories involved pets, friends, unicorns, family, etc. You name it, I probably wrote about it when I was a kid. I even wrote a story about a dinosaur coming to my school and chasing me and my friends around. Let’s just say, I had a very over active imagination.

        Once I got to college, my life became all about the “college life.” Hanging out with friends, going to classes, writing huge amounts of papers. I’m sad to admit that I didn’t make the time to write. At all. I actually started to write a screenplay during my sophomore year, but it wasn’t really the same as writing a story. To be honest, I’m still working on that screenplay…

        It wasn’t until last year when I graduated that I decided to make my dream of being a published author a reality. I remember where I was when I got the idea for the book I’m working on right now. I was sitting in my room, listening to music when my main character, Ben, invaded my mind. It was almost like he was telling me his story right then and there. He was urging me to tell his story for him. Of course I couldn’t say no.

        I didn’t waste any time. I got to work, making plot outlines and character sketches. I did the usual research, but this book is about an issue that I’m quite familiar with. It’s something I can relate to. I hope others will feel the same.

        I’ve struggled with this book. Being a young, college graduate, people expect you to do a certain thing. I live in a very rural area where girls usually become nurses or teachers. They go off, get married, and have a few kids. They don’t go off to college and then come back to write a book.

        That’s unheard of! What I like to say is this: “I don’t like to fit the mold.” They tell me I’ll struggle and I have. They tell me it’s not worth it, but it is. What they don’t realize is that I was born to do this.

        Sure, I have to deal with the people who doubt me. They’re loaded with constant negative criticism. I’ve built up a wall to deflect all that while I’m writing. My stories are going to mean something to someone one day. I write to give people experiences they’ve never had before. I write to give people knowledge of issues they don’t really understand. Take a walk in my characters shoes and everything may become clear. That’s why I don’t listen to the doubts.

         As writers, we all get that negativity from some people. We all learn to deal with the frustrations that we may feel from time to time. The other day, I sat at my computer, staring at the screen, feeling so emotionally drained from a difficult scene that lay ahead. I didn’t know if I could do it.

        At that moment, Ben came back into my head, and I saw my purpose again. It’s funny how sometimes your characters can remind you of what you have to offer. You see, I have a dream of becoming a published author, so I can share my stories with the world. For now, I’m an unpublished author, looking to share those words, eager to do so. It’s been quite a journey for me. Going back and reading that first story I ever wrote about my cat gives me motivation to keep going. It keeps me determined to be successful as I finish this book and go out on my search to find an agent. I may be a “rookie writer”, but I can write. Soon, my stories will reveal that.

        Do you remember the moment you knew being a writer was what you wanted to? Do you still remember what it felt like to create something from your imagination and make it real for others to see? I do. I was five years old when I first started this journey. Now, I’m 26 years old, and I still have stories to tell.

-Melissa Wright

Dr. B- Melissa’s blog link is:

Guest Posts

July 26, 2010

        Not long ago a young lady blogger named Melissa asked me if I would do a guest post for her blog. I decided to do so, and I’m glad I did. It forced me to think about how to write to a different audience. After all, the whole world does not consist of old doctors and bluegrass pickers.

          At first I wondered what I could write for a group of young people. I walked by a picture of my daughter, and it came to me. Write about what you know and love. Easy enough.

        I recalled the words of my agent several years ago.

        “Son, you need to start a blog.”

        “What’s a blog?”

        “Here’s one to check out.” He gave me a link to click on. “A new writer has to have one. Your readers will teach you how to write.”

        He was right. Over the years I have gotten a lot of feedback from readers and have learned something from all of them. On my last post I got one from Sharon of Australia that said a lot about why we write. I love this comment.

        “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.”

        After my guest post for Melissa, and then Sharon’s comment, I decided to expand this interactive process, and would like to open my blog for guests. I post twice a week, so I’m gonna revise my publication schedule. I’ll post on Monday and Wednesday, but I’d like to leave Friday open for my readers to weigh in with their perspective.

        As usual, I’m laissez faire about the whole process. I don’t have too many rules about the blog or life in general. If you want me to be serious, book an appointment to talk about cancer or heart attacks, but this is art, so let’s have fun. After all, writing isn’t a matter of life and death; it’s much more important than that.

        I’d like to hold each post to less than 800 words, ’cause I have found if I exceed that by too much no one reads mine. Also I do ask that you limit it to PG-13. My mom reads my blog, so anything stronger than that I’ll have to ax. Other than those restrictions, I’m flexible and prefer to let it run wherever it might go.

       I’m gonna reserve the first Friday for Melissa since she inspired the idea. Here’s the link to her blog: I hope Sharon of Australia will consider the second one. Sharon’s blog is: I’d like to see Ted Lehmann, Cindy, and slightly do one, and I hope over time all my readers will have their say. Also, I’d be happy to return the favor for anyone who wants me to. We’ll see where it leads.

       To update you on “The Mandolin Case,” I’m pleased with the early progress. It has some nice reviews on Amazon, my friends all seem to like it, and my wife and I are having fun promoting it. We’ve already made a lot of new friends, and have been asked to several festivals we’ve not been to before.

        We have two stops in Chattanooga this weekend. On Friday July 30, I’ll be at Smoking Ed’s Barbeque for a late lunch (1:30) and then at the Signal Mountain Opry that night for a second book signing and jam session for the day. I’m off-limits Saturday and at a wedding my wife is in, so I’m gonna be a good husband and leave the mandolin in the case. After that, I’ll be back at the Doc gig for a while. We’ll be at IBMA this fall, and also have a couple Saturday outings close to home planned.

        The first month I got carried away and booked too much, so I’m gonna try to limit it to one weekend and one Wednesday a month. When you’re on the road, get homesick, and long to listen to your monthly CME tape on “Advances in Urinary Incontinence,” I guess old Doc is still afflicted with the “I wanna be a country doctor and help people” syndrome. Co-dependency can be a beautiful thing if you harness it right.

        If you have places you’d like for me to show up with my strange physician bluegrass fiction dog and pony show let me know. I’ll do my best to work ’em into the schedule over time.

       It’d be the least I could do ’cause my agent was right; you are the folks who taught me to write. Y’all think about a guest post; I’d love to have you come visit.

Dr. B