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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To Fame And Fortune ~ by Dr. Richard L. Mabry

Richard L. Mabry, MD, is a retired physician and medical school professor who achieved worldwide recognition as a writer, speaker, teacher, and clinician before turning his talents to nonmedical writing after his retirement. In addition to his fiction, he is the author of one non-fiction work and multiple short pieces. Diagnosis Death is the third novel in his Prescription For Trouble series. The fourth novel will be published this fall. Richard and his wife, Kay, live in North Texas. You can see Richard's blog here.

NJ: Leave a comment for Doc and be entered in a drawing for an autographed copy of Diagnosis Death. US residents only, please.

A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To Fame And Fortune

There’s a wonderful line in The Muppet Movie. The Muppets have come to the big city looking for fame and fortune, and they encounter Orson Wells, playing a big-time producer. At the end of the scene, he tells his secretary to prepare the “standard rich and famous contract.” I guess that’s the kind of contract an author dreams about, but so far as I can tell, it only exists in the movies.

From the outside, being a writer seems exciting. At my first writer’s conference, I was awestruck by the published writers there. These were people whose names were household words—well, not in my household, but I was just getting started, so I could be excused for not knowing all of them. But surely they were celebrities in their hometowns. Most certainly they had to stop and give autographs in the grocery store or dry cleaners. And undoubtedly they lived in the lap of luxury. After all, they were published authors!

My first novel was published a year ago. I’ll never forget the thrill of opening that box and seeing the cover with “Richard L. Mabry, MD” printed at the top. I listened carefully, but so far as I could tell, there were no cheering crowds outside my window, no marching bands in the street. I opened my Internet browser, but there was no headline about the book. What I did find, however, were a bunch of emails about interviews and guest blog posts that I’d lined up to get the word out. No matter that there were no cheering crowds yet. Surely these would do the trick.

Now, fast-forward twelve months. Just last week, I opened a carton and removed another book with my name on the cover above the title, Diagnosis Death. This was my third published novel, and by this time, reality had set in. I took a minute to thank God for having brought me this far. I showed the book to my wife, Kay, and gave her the personalized copy I wanted her to have.

I pulled enough books out of the box to cover the give-aways I’d promised. I made sure I was current with the blog interviews and guest posts I’d set up. And then I sent an email to my editor about the edits for my next book, followed by a phone conversation with my agent about where my writing future would take me next. I didn’t take the time to listen for cheering crowds and marching bands.

At church, a few people know I’m an author, and we talk a bit about it. I’m sometimes asked to sign a book. I’ve been asked to share a little about the publishing industry with my home fellowship group. But that’s about it for the famous part. And as for rich, well that’s not going to happen, either.

Do I mind that I never got that “standard rich and famous contract?” Not at all. My words have been read by many more people than the population of the town where I grew up. If I’ve succeeded in my mission, when those readers turn the last page of my novel they find they’ve been left with a message—not a hard-sell of Christianity, because that’s just not my style, but rather a message that no matter how far we drift from God, we can always turn back to Him. I’ve been allowed to use the printed page as my pulpit. And that’s rich and famous enough for me.

Diagnosis Death

The threatening midnight calls followed Dr. Elena Gardner from one city to another, prolonging her grief. Even worse, they are echoed by the whispers of her own colleagues—whispers that started after her comatose husband died in the ICU. They grew stronger after another mysterious death during her training. When a third happens at her new hospital, the whispers turned into a shout: “Mercy killer!”

Why doesn’t she defend herself? What is the dark secret that keeps Elena’s lips sealed? And would what she did in her husband’s ICU room turn out to be a Prescription For Trouble?


  1. My face received a funny smile when I read the headline and didn't drop it until the end. I guess everyone has Fame and Fortune Fantasies at some time in their life, the only difference being when each of us gets over it, and only thinks about crowds surrounding our homes in dreams. Thank you for your post!

  2. DD looks so good, Richard. And my kids have been watching The Muppet Movie lately. Really brings me back.

    I love this humble take on what living as a writer is really like.

    Thanks for sharing.
    ~ Wendy

  3. So many people think you write a book and quit your job. RIght. Thanks for putting a reality check in print, Doc. Love the post. And I love the idea of the page being our pulpit. Especially when we can tell a story and not "preach."

  4. Ha! my daughter and I like to joke about the "standard rich and famous" contract. I love it that you mentioned it!

    Thanks for the insight. I appreciate all the times you've offered writers a glimpse into the writing life.

  5. Thanks, all, for your comments. And thanks to Ane and the folks at Novel Journey for the chance to interact with your readers. Love the opportunity.
    Now off to pursue fame and fortune.

  6. Thanks Ane and Doc, for this dose of reality for those like me who have their first book coming out soon. I would love to read Diagnosis Death and the other books in this series. Are any of them on audio? My hubby mainly gets his reading in while driving his tractor baling hay!

  7. This post brought a big smile to my face. :-)

  8. Oops. I accidentally linked my name to a photographer's site a friend sent me to today, someone who might actually be famous. LOL. Sorry about that (good site though!).

    Again, great post. Thanks for making me smile and congrats on Diagnosis Death, Richard.

  9. Enjoyed learning more about you and your experiences as a published novelist, Doc. Thank you for the reality check, too. I liked what you said about the printed page being your pulpit.

  10. I love The Muppet Movie!

    Great post, Doc. I'm sure it'll be the standard rich and famous contract when I get published. I'm sure. (clicking heels three times)

  11. LOL. I guess that's how it is for all of us. Kind of anti-climactic in one sense but beyond our dreams in a way that matters more than the glitz and glam that just ain't there. Great piece, Richard. Thanks for your transparency.

  12. I read Dr. Malbry's first book and I loved it. I would like to read this one!

    Deborah M.
    debbiejeanm at gmail dot com

  13. I attended one of your workshops at ACFW, and you were so gracious at the end to answer my questions. No cheering crowds, but I'm rejoicing with you on your success and looking forward to reading your book.

  14. What a neat thing to be able to combine your love of medicine with your love of writing. Amazing to watch God work!

  15. Great post, Dr. Mabry. A doctor who can write . . . legibly! Who knew? Can't wait to read your book.

  16. Great post, Doc. As always, your humor, honesty and humility come shining through.

  17. You all are so gracious with your comments. I appreciate it so much. And my thanks, once more, to Ane and the people at Novel Journey for this opportunity to share my formula for becoming rich and famous (not!!!).
    Blessings, all.


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