The Cost Of Writing

How writing has been wonderful and hurtful for me

I have come to love writing and fiction is fun to write. I’ve enjoyed the process of developing the story, revising and editing it. I’ve had the joy of receiving a letter from a publisher saying they want to publish my book and the fun of publishing novels myself. It takes a lot of time. There is a steep learning curve that presents a fun challenge. I’m not bad at doing all this but not great either. I know that I’m not a Hemmingway or John Grisham. It doesn’t mean I should quit but writing takes its toll as well. The time spent doing all those things is time not spent with your loved ones. Publishing doesn’t have to cost much but doing it well probably will cost a great deal. I’m convinced that a good writer can make money if they are willing to write what the public wants, not what they want to write. I wanted to write from my heart and this means competing with thousands of other authors in a similar genre. I sold books but didn’t really make money. I haven’t been in it to make money but who doesn’t hope to hit the “big time”?

There is another cost to writing that may only affect me. I suspect it impacts all writers to a certain degree but I only know how it has impacted my life and my personality. Being a “writer” or “author” can become a point of pride. Yes, we should be proud of our accomplishments but writing demands pride and self-promotion. To get a publisher interested, an author must sell their wares. This means building up the product as much as possible. Today, it also means developing a wide social network using Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Linked In, and others to show a publisher that someone will actually buy your books and they won’t lose money.

If you self-publish, you must be even more intentional in self-promotions. Books rarely sell themselves, though there are examples where the author has had buyers long before they could find a publisher. To publish a book yourself requires marketing, knowledge that most authors don’t have. Thus, many people want to teach us how to market. This, of course, costs money providing an income for marketing educators. They write books about how to market books, thus making money from other authors. We are told that we must speak often about our novels. We should do book signings, speak before the Elks Club. We should read to children so that their parents may become interested in our books. I often asked people, “What are you reading?” as a way to introduce my novels. I’ve sold books on airplanes, at craft shows, and book signings this way but I never saw how that was changing me.

If people see you as constantly promoting yourself, what do they think of you? “Oh, he’s a noted author?” “I’m so impressed with him that I want to buy his books?” More likely they think, “There he goes again, talking about his dumb novels.”

I enjoyed talking about writing and the novels I had written. It is fun. It is fulfilling. People seem to like talking to authors but it built my ego faster than my bank account.

I started writing for the sake of writing. It was enjoyable. I didn’t think about publishing for a long time. It became more than a fun thing to do. It filled my time. I began to try harder and harder to write a great novel so I could become a best-seller. I may write well but selling is not my forte and I don’t need to build my ego. It gets in the way of relationships. So, I am taking a break from writing novels. Maybe I’ll write more here on this blog. People have told me, “Write what you know.” I know medicine and have a lot of experience there. Perhaps I should focus on that. Maybe I’ll write my private thoughts only for me, before God in a journal. I certainly have a lot to answer to Him. I know that my world should revolve around Him and not myself. A lesson I have not learned well, even now in my 64th year.

What do you think?

I welcome your thoughts and input here. They may give me inspiration about what writing I should do. Have a great weekend and stay safe, at home.

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The Challenge: Self-Published Audiobook

Genesis of audiobooks (for me)

I love writing. I love telling stories. When I began writing books, ebooks were just starting to be popular. My publisher printed copies of my first novel but it was several months before they made it available as an ebook. My next four novels were self-published and I made it a point to always produce an ebook as I formatted a print-on-demand book. It made sense. More people actually purchased ebooks than POD books but I believe they are both necessary.

I began listening to books-on-tape many years ago. They have always been great to listen to but in the past few years the demand for them has exploded. When they first came out, as cassette tapes, a novel might cost $25 but the public library carried a good selection of them. Then they were CDs and eventually downloadable from the internet. I get new books to listen to almost every week and they come from the public library.

“Doing” and Audiobook

Just like options to self-publish print-on-demand books and ebooks, audiobooks can be “self-produced.” I’m finding the process to be daunting. The reason audiobooks are expensive to purchase is that they are often expensive to produce. Hiring talent to narrate the book or studio time to record is very costly. Doing-it-yourself takes some no-how and a good quality microphone.

I decided to record my own books. I have a decent voice and I know how I want my books to sound but one of the biggest hurdles seems to be finding quiet time to actually do the recording. Knowing how I want the recording to sound makes me my own toughest critic so it is hard to re-listen and approve what I have recorded.

Nevertheless, I’m trying. I’m recording one chapter at a time and doing the editing. I can’t wait until I get to the part where I can finally prepare the files to submit to the company that will actually produce the book.

My parents both have lost or are losing their vision. They love books and have found audiobooks to be a wonderful way to continue “reading” the books they love. I would love for them to be able to enjoy my books too and hope to complete at least one while they are able to listen to them.

Still to Come

I will share my thoughts about audiobooks and the hurdles I have to jump to get my first audiobook into production. Check back soon for more about self-publishing your own audiobook.

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Ransomware and Murder – Amazon Ad

Sales by Amazon Ads

Since the launch of my novel, Ransomware and Murder, I have been trying to find ways to increase book sales. Since it is the fourth novel of my Jack Sharp, M.D. series, I knew sales might be difficult. I have previously tried using Amazon ads and have seen some increase in book sales. I have followed advice on increasing the numbers of keywords, and adjusting bids for the price per click. Usually, I have seen a few sales this way but I decided that, perhaps I could see an increase if I advertised all my books at the same time.

I produced ads for each of the four books and launched them. I did see a significant increase in sales of the first book. I hoped it would lead to sales of the later books in the series but, unfortunately, while I sold nearly 100 of the first novel, I didn’t see a corresponding increase in sales of any of the other novels. Not only that, but the cost of the ads far exceeded the income produced by the sales.

I am now working with Geoff Affleck via his Amazon Bootcamp to see if I can make changes to my novel, the author central page, my book description, maybe even the cover, to see an increase in the sales of, at least, my latest novel.

More to come…

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The Steps: 12 secrets to raising happy and successful kids

by Andrew Watson, MD and Charles Watson, MD, PH.D.

I recently finished a book written by a physician whom I met on Goodreads. The book he has written details a method for raising children that may give them a boost in the world. He and his wife have followed this and report excellent success with their child. Here is my review of the enchanting and eye-opening book: 5 STARS

The Steps: 12 Secrets to raising happy and successful kids –  is a marvelous book that takes proven concepts of raising a child and very effectively presents them in a fictional story. Taking a young mother through the steps is an intellectual teacher who knows his ideas will work, because he has proven them.  Though it is idealistic, it is convincing in it’s storyline. A long read, it would be difficult to handle as a textbook but as a story the reader just wants to know the next step. The authors have done their homework citing study after study. Worth the read for any parent or prospective parent.

I enjoyed this book, which I listened to from Audible. I hope you find it as interesting and refreshing as I did. Note that it is highly placed in several categories on Amazon and has won praise from other reviewers as well.#learning; #childrearing; #parenting;#learning disabilities

Scott McPherson, MD

Do you want your book reviewed? Please submit your name and email and let me know about your book. I prefer mystery, fiction, history, biography, historical fiction. I usually post on Goodreads and Amazon, however, Amazon is very specific about what reviews they allow and unclear about why they do not always allow a review to be accepted.

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9 Ways to Avoid Viruses and Hacking

How to stay safer on your computer

  1. Use an up-to-date antivirus program

I have run the gamut of antivirus programs. Some are free and offer excellent protection for your computer.  I use reviews like PC Magazine reviews to help me make a decision about software. Reviews on this site are less likely to be biased and usually compare features for you. Often, computers come loaded with a trial of an antivirus program which simplifies the choices though they often are not the least expensive options.

2. Keep your software up-to-date

Letting your software become outdated is unwise. One of the primary purposes of updates is to keep software protected from the latest viruses. Hackers can burrow their way into software at an alarming rate but knowing that developers are trying to protect us is somewhat comforting.

3. Don’t click on links within emails

Scammers and hackers use links to get you to go to a site where you may pick up a virus. We like to think that no one wants to harm us and that we are safe as long as we are not on “bad” websites. The truth is that some people are just out to cause mischief and some will try to do us harm. Businesses using online services are particularly vulnerable to hackers. Healthcare institutions have become the latest targets of malware.

Hackers get into the systems and plant viruses that can encrypt the information and programs on their systems. They then send a ransom demand. Once paid they promise to decrypt the system, though they may or may not actually do that.

4. Use strong passwords

Have you ever been “hacked” on social media? Someone said they got a message from you that you didn’t send? It could mean that your password was too weak. Many people use similar passwords for all of their sites. They reason that it is unlikely that someone will try to break in. Today it is more important than ever to have strong passwords. A strong password requires more than just a jumble of letters and numbers it must be long. A lengthy phrase with spaces and a few misspellings is actually more difficult to break than a jumble of letters, numbers, and symbols that is short.

Trying to remember passwords is a huge task. Utilizing a password program can lessen the work.  You remember one password to log in then the program generates strong passwords that can be updated. They range from free to over $50 a year for personal use. Often they work across different devices (set the password on your computer and access it with your phone). There are many to choose from. As with antivirus software, check an online review to select the program that meets your needs and fits your budget.

5. Use a pop-up blocker

Pop-ups are used on many websites as a mechanism to grab our attention. They can be annoying but they have become an almost necessary item. They work, even though they can be bothersome. Using your pop-up blocker can reduce times you have to click out of them. Unfortunately, you may need to unblock pop-ups on some sites to see what you want to see. Hackers can use them to trick you into downloading viruses or take you to sites where this can happen.

6. Be sure your firewall is enabled

This shouldn’t be a significant issue as this should be a default setting for your computer. However, I have been known to accidentally change some of the default settings that are for our good. Check to be sure your firewall is installed. Businesses may use more robust firewalls and may have to use virtual private networks to allow remote access.

7. Back up your computer

Backing up the computer just makes sense.  If everything you need is only available on your physical computer hard drive, even dropping it could ruin documents and important files.  Saving these important files to external drives or web-based platforms like Google Drive could help you avoid disaster.

8. Minimize downloads

While hackers can use passive methods to infect your computer, by far the greatest risk comes from downloading software. The download could contain malware or be a malware program itself. Download from reliable websites. If possible, scan the software before activating any exe. commands.

9. Be alert to scams

Keeping a finger to the pulse of the internet means paying attention to the methods used by hackers. They will do their best to come up with new ways to fool the average computer user. News outlets report on new viruses being propagated (like the current fearful “Goner” virus).

Go Here For Ransomare and Murder: A Jack Sharp, MD Novel by Scott McPherson, MD

Be sure to sign up to receive information about Scott McPherson, MD – his novels and specials- see sign-up form

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Review The Book You’re Reading

If you are reading this post, you’ve read a book. Have you ever written a review? You don’t have to be a writer to express your opinion. You can always enter a “star” review and not even write a word. Your reviews are powerful. Your reviews can make or break an author.


What does writing a review mean to an author?

Reviews have multiple layers of benefit to most authors. We all love to see the number of reviews climbing as we check out our books on the popular websites. Reviews mean that people have read the book. Reviews mean that the book was meaningful enough to people who read it to make a comment. Great reviews make us pat ourselves on the back while poorer reviews give us insight into how to improve our writing. When you purchase a book, you are making a difference to the author, when you write a review you are making the author better.


How do you go about reviewing a book?

The process begins with planning to review the book from the beginning, before you even read it. As you read the book, enjoy it but also think about the characters. Did the author make them real? Can you feel the emotions of the characters? Does the plot make sense? Is there a good flow to the book? Consider at least mentally taking few notes as you find things that bother you or make you smile. If you buy books on Amazon, you can write customer reviews. If you love to read you may want to subscribe to reader websites like Goodreads.com where you can write reviews on any book you read. You may also read reviews here and find other books you may love.

When you write your review you are telling the world what you thought about a book. If it kept your interest, say so. If you found it full of errors, its okay to mention but be kind. Let your stars speak for you to a certain extent. Always be careful not to give away important details such as solutions to mysteries and plots. Your review might spoil the reading by someone else if you do.

What’s in the stars?

Most of all, give the best star rating you can honestly give to the book. A “one star” rating sends a clear message that you didn’t like the book. A “five star” rating tells everyone that they should take a look. The more reviews a book receives, the more likely other people will read it. Book sales have a snowball effect. If no one reviews the book, it is hard to see if anyone likes it or has even read it. One good review may lead to more and more. Do you like the author and the book? Let the world know. Let others enjoy the same journey you’ve made.

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Launch Day

Launching Today!
Ransomware and Murder:

A Jack Sharp, MD novel by Scott McPherson

ORDER –RIGHT HERE

Book launch TODAY! Available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle editions (Be patient, Amazon is preparing the paperback but will be available in a few days)

Order yours today!

Jack’s Family Practice office is in trouble. Their finances just don’t make sense and as hard as Jack and his partners work, they can’t understand why they aren’t doing better. Just as they come up with some strategies for improvement, they’re hacked.

Detective Rebecca Sweate’s plate is filling up. While dealing with a murder investigation in St. Francis Hospital, St. Francis is hacked as are the city offices. Pulled different directions Detective Sweate has her hands tied when they lose computer access. She can’t decide if this murder is linked to the cyber-attack but she will pit her best officers and techs against the hacker. Then, as if she doesn’t have enough to deal with, the FBI comes in to take over. 

Married only a few years, Jack is trying to adapt to raising a teenager.  His adopted daughter is growing up fast and he realizes how little he knows about teens. The struggles in his office weigh on his mind and a dark cloud rising up from his past, draws him in.  Before he even knows he’s at risk, Jack becomes a victim.

************************************************************************************

The new deal – order Ransomware and Murder – paperback edition (email me the receipt smcdoc1@gmail.com) and I’ll send the first 25 people any of my other novels (Congo Mission; A Step Ahead of Death; Witness in the Window; Crisis on the Ice) Free in the Continental US. This offer is good until May 10, 2019

Remember to write a review on Amazon!

Check out my other Jack Sharp, MD novels: Congo Mission; A Step Ahead of Death; Witness in the Window: and the Gabe Hunter Thriller – Crisis on the Ice

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Ransomware and Murder – PRE-ORDER NOW!

This newest Jack Sharp MD novel by Scott McPherson, MD is now on Amazon and ready for pre-order – HERE ORDER NOW for May 1 delivery!

Jack’s Family Practice office is in trouble. Their finances just don’t make sense and as hard as Jack and his partners work, they can’t understand why they aren’t doing better. Just as they come up with some strategies for improvement, they’re hacked.

Detective Rebecca Sweate’s plate is filling up fast. While dealing with a murder investigation centered in St. Francis Hospital, St. Francis is hacked and so are the city offices. Pulled in different directions Detective Sweate has her hands tied when they lose computer access. She can’t decide if this murder is linked to the cyber-attack but she will pit her best officers and information technologists against the hacker. Then, as if she doesn’t have enough to deal with, the FBI comes in to take over. 

Married only a few years, Jack is trying to adapt to raising a teenager.  His adopted daughter is growing up fast and he realizes how little he knows about teens. The struggles in his office weigh on his mind and a dark cloud rising up from his past, draws him in.  Before he even knows he’s at risk, Jack becomes a victim.

See Ransomware and Murder: A Jack Sharp novel

See A Step Ahead of Death

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Ransomware and Murder

A Jack Sharp, MD novel



It has been a few years since my last Jack Sharp, MD novel, Witness in the Window.  My last novel, Crisis on the Ice was written with a different style and had a whole new list of characters. Once again Jack gets caught up in a mystery and murder in my newest novel, Ransomware and Murder.

Scott McPherson, MD

For me writing a novel is a daily activity. I spend 30 – 45 minutes nearly every morning writing the first draft. I typically takes about a year to complete the draft this way. It isn’t very efficient but I enjoy the journey. For this novel, I also chose to hire a professional editor. I believe my novels should get better and better and I decided that getting professional outside help was one way to improve upon my method. Time will tell if it paid off but I know has made this novel perhaps my best. Together with marketing advice, I hope to be able to have a successful book launch by May this year.

The following is my synopsis for Ransomware and Murder: A Jack Sharp, MD novel.

   Jack’s Family Practice office is in trouble.  Their finances just don’t make sense and as hard as Jack and his partners work, they can’t understand why they aren’t doing better.  Just as they come up with some strategies for improvement, they’re hacked!

   Detective Rebecca Sweate’s plate is filling up fast.  While dealing with a murder investigation centered in St. Francis Hospital, St. Francis is hacked!  The city offices are hacked!  Pulled in different directions Detective Sweate has her hands tied when they lose computer access.  She can’t decide if this murder is tied to the cyber-attack but she will pit her best officers and information technologists against the hacker. Then, as if she doesn’t have enough to deal with, the FBI comes in to take over. 

   Married only a few years, Jack is trying to adapt to raising a teenager.  His adopted daughter is growing up fast and he realizes how little he knows about teens. The struggles in his office weigh on his mind and a dark cloud rising up from his past, draws him in.  Before he even knows he’s at risk, Jack becomes a victim.

If you’re new to Jack Sharp, MD, you could start now with the first of the series, Congo Mission. While the current novel is not dependent upon having read previous ones, it does have elements from each of them. They are all available as Ebooks and as paperbacks.

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Missionary Life

Looking back at Congo Mission

One person asked me, “What was your first day like in Africa?”

As with many big changes in our lives, the first day of a new experience is one of the most memorable.  Moving to Africa and becoming a missionary was a major life change and challenge in my life and for my family.  At the time, I was married and we had three daughters.  Getting to Zaire (referred to as Congo in the novel, Congo Mission) had taken over 30 hours of travel time.  We stopped in airports in Dakar,Senegal; Abidjan, Ivory Coast; Lomé, Togo; Lagos, Nigeria; and Douala, Cameroon before our stop in Bangui, Central African Republic.

We were all exhausted and hungry, hot and felt dirty.  We stayed in a guest house in Bangui, with other missionaries heading to various countries in Africa.  The hosts in these guest houses have a huge job, juggling incoming missionaries, handling mail, picking up packages(another whole story).  Without such gracious people, I don’t think we would have been able to navigate our way to Zaire.

Bangui Guest House

With 8 hours difference in time, it took several days to adjust.  We all slept the first night but I remember being wide awake until early morning the next night.  Bangui was just a stop on the way to our ultimate destination where we had to wait for a flight in a Missionary Aviation Fellowship (MAF) plane (another agency that is a Godsend for missionaries).  It was a small Cessna with a large cargo pod beneath.  It was just large enough to carry the pilot and the 5 of us in my family.  At the time, our youngest daughter was Christine, only 7 months old.  On our third day in Bangui, we boarded the small plane with some of our luggage (we had suitcases plus 11 boxes of supplies for the year).

Every step of this experience was a new adventure for my family and me.  It was hard for my parents and sister to understand my desire and feeling of a calling to go to Africa.  My heart was set on giving back to God what He has so graciously given me. We planned for a year.  My respect and prayers go out to those who make mission work their life.  I believe they live in such a way as to not put limits on God. Their trust must be total to dedicate their lives to such difficult work.

Zaire Jungle
Tandala Hospital

As we flew from the international airport in Bangui to the mission, called Tandala, we flew south over the ever-increasing dense green jungle.  Much appeared swampy as I could see water reflecting the sky.  It was about a 2 hour flight but seemed like only minutes. When the pilot pointed at the airstrip where we would land, at first I couldn’t see anything but a few buildings. At last, we could see the hospital and the airstrip as we descended.  He took a loop around the hospital and surrounding village then came in for a smooth landing on the all-grass landing strip.  Cows loitered along the edges of the landing strip but, thankfully, none of them chose to run across at the time we landed.

I remember that it was very warm and I was covered in sweat.  I met Tim Wester, my partner for the next year, as he approached the plane. Dr. Bill Colby, the senior physician, was there to greet us as well.  He and his wife were planning to return to the U.S. at the end of the month (June 1988).

The gaggle of missionaries and their house helpers who met us, helped us unload the plane and carried the luggage to an awaiting truck.  We rode, as well, the half-mile to the house we would occupy for the next year. 

Help with unloading, heading to our new home

The house, built in the 1950s, was fairly large with 4 bedrooms.  Each daughter had her own room.  The house was built of earthen bricks coated with cement.  The floor was a concrete slab.  Furniture was locally built from mahogany.  Chairs and the couch had foam padded seats and were relatively comfortable.  The house had not been occupied for 8 months and, though it had been cleaned, lacked some basics.  Someone had stolen the electrical wires that could be accessed outside the house. This meant that we had no power for several days.  It wasn’t a major problem because power was only available when the hospital needed the generators to run.  Lighting was primarily by kerosene lanterns.  The refrigerator used kerosene as well (an interesting process I’ll try to describe at a later time).

Our jungle home

The bathroom had running water (water was carried by bucket to a half-barrel which was plumbed to the sink, toilet, and shower. Unfortunately, a gecko had found a home in the pipe and died.  The first shower (I’m sworn to secrecy on who took it) was very foul-smelling.  Not a stellar way to try to cool off.The pantry was empty and we had no helpers yet.  We were hosted by other missionaries for several days until we could stock our shelves.  The first day ended with us very tired, very warm, but very happy to have finally arrived where God wanted us to be.

Congo Mission on Amazon

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