Friday, June 20, 2008

Losing My Blogging Virginity

© Darden North 2008 all rights reserved

A trip to his 2008 Book Expo America book signing sparks author's personal interest in blogging.

This morning I noticed with much appreciation that a visitor to one of my website listings had clicked on the My Blog link sometime between midnight last night and eight o'clock this morning. However, I must confess that the unfortunate Internet night owl was gravely disappointed (at least I hope that he or she was disappointed, or maybe even just a little bit) by the blank space found there. Hopefully, she or he then went on to reference the many other listings on the site that I try to keep updated on a regular basis.

You see, I have never blogged. I am a forty-plus year-old blogging virgin. My excuse has been that every spare writing moment is needed to complete my third mystery/suspense/medical thriller manuscript FRESH FROZEN, due for release in hardcover later in 2008. But the truth is that I simply have never known how to blog, but then I have never tried until now. (Well, like most virgins, I have blogged one time before, but only one time, and I was very young.)

There I have pleaded guilty! I feel so much better.

When my first novel HOUSE CALL was released in hardcover in October 2005, blogging was not such a big thing, or at least if it was, I didn’t know it. Later, when my second book came along, POINTS OF ORIGIN, in hardcover in October 2007, I asked my webmaster to include blog capacity on my website. He then incorporated into my homepage an icon or widget (or whatever we call them now) entitled RECENT MUSING. My webmaster intended that to be a blog outlet, although not an interactive one. However, I have only used that venue as a method to make announcements, list recent reviews, or post awards or other recognition of my writing and publishing. I have never simply "mused" there.

My primary excuse for not blogging is the lack of time. However, it is notable that I do find time to eat between being a fulltime husband, father of two grown children, and feeder and bather of two small dogs -- all while maintaining an active obstetrics/gynecology medical and surgical practice. My wife and I do socialize with friends, and I maintain an interest in gardening and hunting. My tennis racket and golf clubs are gathering dust, unfortunately. Since, as I have learned, most authors (except the really big ones of whom we are all familiar) keep other money-earning jobs that keep the writing of books, short stories, poems, etc., afloat, I feel completely at home in the field.

Another recent first for me was attending Book Expo America. As the guest of my book distributor, AtlasBooks/BookMasters, Incorporated, I was scheduled for an individual book signing featuring my current novel, POINTS OF ORIGIN. Points of Origin is set in a charming, but greedy, Mississippi town. The contemporary plot centers on the death of a 19-year-old patient in the hands of Dr. Dan Foxworth which costs him his reputation, his fortune, his plastic surgery dynasty, and ultimately his own life.

My informal course in Book Writing 101 and the follow-up, Being an Author (and a Good One) 102, have taught me that, given the opportunity, one will tell any person even remotely interested about one's writing, particularly when traveling. The lengthy air flight between my home in Jackson, Mississippi, and the 2008 Book Expo America in Los Angeles afforded that chance on several occasions. Sitting next to someone reading a hardcover or paperback in a crowded airplane or airport creates the ideal opportunity, not to mention the prospect of broaching the subject of being a mystery/medical thriller writer with a taxi driver who leaves a novel on the front seat next to him.

Sadly, during my trip to and from L. A., I broke the rule I learned in Book Promotion 103 that one should always have a copy of one's book on hand to show-off or present as a gift in those instances. At least I had some of my bookmarks to hand out. A very nice lady from Hawaii heading to Houston for a family visit with her husband asked me for six personally autographed Darden North bookmarks and, of course, I was happy to give them to her. She said she planned to order copies of HOUSE CALL and POINTS OF ORIGIN for her children and real estate clients and include the bookmarks.

While the 2008 BEA was my first Book Expo America, I definitely plan to return in the future and truly wish that I had allowed more than one day on this recent outing. In fact, I never made it to the south end of the convention before the 5:00 PM closing time on Day 1. As I mentioned above, I was there at the invitation of my book distributor, who scheduled a book signing featuring my second book, POINTS OF ORIGIN for Day 1 of the convention that lasted well past three.

I am proud to announce that my book signing resulted in a sell-out, or should we say a giveaway? The appearance was a wonderful publicity opportunity for me. I would like to think that most of the people who came by to get a personalized, signed, free copy of POINTS OF ORIGIN had sought me out. But, I'm sure, most merely stumbled upon me, but then expressed genuine delight in having done so. One book was going to an English library in northern Israel, others to the extremes of North America, some staying right there in L. A. Hopefully, one or two copies find their way to a movie, TV, or cable producer. (That’s a fun thought, isn’t it?)

The turnout for my signing of POINTS OF ORIGIN (including a few copies of the paperback of HOUSE CALL) was particularly gratifying when I learned later that I was competing with simultaneous personal appearances by Barbara Walters, Michael Connelly, R.A. Salvatore, and Mario Lopez, to name a few, all autographing their books as well at Book Expo America. Fortunately, after my "sell-out," I made it to Michael Connelly's and Bob Salvatore's signings and was afforded the opportunity to exchange signed books with them. Both seemed like nice guys.

During my hurried, one-day experience, I made several other contacts including learning about opportunities to publish with e-books and audio books as well as talking briefly with a few reps at the major publishing houses. Of course, I supplied them with concise written information about my novels and writing. (Well, you never know.)

I do hope that this blog will be only one of many to come and hope that anyone who has read through this first effort has not regretted the experience. If so, please give me another chance.

Sometimes things get better with practice.

* * *
Author Bio: Darden North, MD, is an obstetrician/gynecologist practicing in partnership at Jackson Healthcare for Women, PA, in Jackson, Mississippi. He is a member of the American Medical Association, the Central Mississippi Medical Society and the Jackson Gynecic Society, as well as a fellow of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology. He is completing his second term as chairman of the board of Mississippi Health Partners, a Physicians and Hospital Organization. North is a diplomat of the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology, maintaining current board recertification in his field.Born in Jackson and reared in Cleveland, Mississippi, he is the son of Evelyn Hays North and the late Linton Darden North. North and his wife the former Sarah "Sally" Buckner Fortenberry are active members of their community and have a son and daughter, William Darden and Anderson Eleanor. The family of four continues to make its home in Jackson with its 15-year-old cat, Tuxedo, and a 10-year-old Sheltie, Rogue. More recent additions are Valerie, an active Chihuahua puppy, and Bandit, a yellow lab puppy who attends Ole Miss with William.In addition to practicing medicine, North has entered the realm of writing and publishing fiction, recently completing his first mystery thriller novel while also pursuing interests in hunting, gardening and following the Ole Miss Rebels. He participates in the local Southern Writers Group and attended the 2005 Oxford (Mississippi) Conference for the Book.


Anonymous said...

Very impressive for a virgin! You are much younger than I realized! Keep up the blogging as it helps novices like me and we can all use some encouragement along the way. Can't wait for your third book!

Anonymous said...

congrats dr. north! i'm impressed! you are a wonderful author, as well as OBGYN! i can say these things after reading your work AND after you delivered both of my children!!!
good luck and keep the blogs coming!
Mary Katherine Segrest

Marta Stephens said...

Thanks so much for this piece and for joining us here on MB4 today! I hope you'll stop by often and comment on some of the other posts.

Keep blogging!

Darden North said...

Thank you, Anonymous, for the 'You are much younger that I realized!' comment. Also, thanks to airbrushing. By the way, I as well can't wait for my third book.

And to M.K.S.--- I am so proud of you and your family and look forward to the years ahead. Thank you for all of you rtrust and support.

----Darden North

Kim Smith said...


That last post threw me as I am also an MKS lol. But as I have never met you, I quickly understood.

I am proud to say you and I have many similar interests. One of them being, will the Rebs beat Memphis this year????

I am just south of the Memphis stateline, in the burbs. Both of my kids go to Ole Miss (and all of my extra money) so I was excited to know I am not alone in the college kid life. And of course, the genre we play in, yeah. Similarities.

Writing is just a trip, plain and simple. Glad to have you post with us.

Anonymous said...

Hello Darden, Glad things are going so well for you. Each day brings a new experience. Hopefully, I too can start attending some of the booksellers & publishers venues next year. I am in the process of preparing a publication to be released for Domestic Violence Awareness month. When I grow up, I want to be a successful writer like you. (I'm only 65). LOL
Voncele (

Aaron Paul Lazar said...

Hey, Darden. Pretty darned good job of blogging for the first time! I thoroughly enjoyed your piece, and hope you'll come back frequently to blog with us! Best of luck with your new release!

Bill Frank said...

Isn't BEA an overwhelming experience? For a book person, it's like being a kid in a candy shop.

Your first blog entry is terrific. There is a movement in blogging towards mini-blogs; think Twitter. It may make regular blogging easier with smaller blog entries.