Tag: Writing

Author Luke Murphy: From Professional Hockey Player to Published Novelist

Author Luke Murphy: From Professional Hockey Player to Published Novelist

Screen shot 2013-09-09 at 9.08.58 PMMy guest blogger today is Former Pro Hockey Player Luke Murphy.

He played six years of professional hockey before retiring in 2006. Since then, he’s held a number of jobs, from sports columnist to radio journalist, before earning his Bachelor of Education degree. He popped in today to talk about his journey from hobbyist to publication.

FROM LUKE:

From a family of avid readers, even as a child, I always had a passion for books. Whether it was reading novels on road trips or writing assignments in school, literature was always part of my life.

In the winter of 2000, after sustaining a season ending eye injury while playing professional hockey in Oklahoma City, I found myself with a lot of time on my hands, and a new hobby emerged.

I didn’t write with the intention of being published. I wrote for the love of writing, as a hobby. I continued to hobby write through the years, honing my craft, making time between work and family obligations.

Then I made a decision to take my interest one step further. I’ve never been one to take things lightly or jump in half way. I took a full year off from writing to study the craft.murphy2

I constantly read, from novels in my favorite genres to books written by experts in the writing field. My first two purchases were “Stein on Writing”, a book written by successful editor Sol Stein, and “Self-Editing for Fiction Writers” by Renni Browne and Dave King.

I read through these novels and highlighted important answers to my questions. My major breakthrough from Stein’s book was to “Show don’t Tell”. I had to trust my readers. I even wrote that phrase on a sticky note and put it on my computer monitor.

The Self-Editing book helped me learn how to cut the FAT off my manuscript, eliminating unnecessary details, making it more lean and crisp, with a better flow. I learned to cut repetition and remain consistent throughout the novel.

I continually researched the internet, reading up on the industry and process “What is selling?” and “Who is buying?” were my two major questions.

I attended the “Bloody Words” writing conference in Ottawa, Canada, rubbing elbows with other writers, editors, agents and publishers. I made friends (published and unpublished authors), bombarding them with questions, learning what it took to become successful.

Feeling that I was finally prepared, in the winter of 2007, with an idea in mind and an outline on paper, I started to write DEAD MAN`S HAND. It took me two years (working around full time jobs) to complete the first draft of my novel.

Screen shot 2013-09-09 at 9.16.43 PMThe first person to read my completed manuscript was my former high school English teacher. With her experience and wisdom, she gave me some very helpful advice. I then hired McCarthy Creative Services to help edit DEAD MAN’S HAND, to make it the best possible novel.

I joined a critique group, teaming up with published authors Nadine Doolittle and Kathy Leveille, and exchanging manuscripts and information. Working with an editor and other authors was very rewarding and not only made my novel better, but made me a better writer.

When I was ready, I researched agents who fit my criteria (successful, worked with my genres, etc.) and sent out query letters. After six months of rejections, I pulled my manuscript back and worked on it again. Then in my next round of proposals, I was offered representation by the Jennifer Lyons Literary Agency.

After months of editing with Jennifer, and more rejections from publishers, my dream was finally realized in April, 2012, when I signed a publishing contract with Imajin Books (Edmonton, Alberta).

 

For more information on Luke Murphy and his books, visit: www.authorlukemurphy.com, ‘like’ his Facebook page www.facebook.com/#!/AuthorLukeMurphy and follow him on Twitter www.twitter.com/#!/AuthorLMurphy

Pinky swears & Spitting Palms for Writing Motivation

Pinky swears & Spitting Palms for Writing Motivation

I’ve made a pact. A writing pact with another writer. Why? Because I need writing motivation.

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See here’s the thing. I LOVE to market books. I’ve been doing marketing and PR for years, and I truly love it. I also LOVE to write stories. Really love it. The biggest difference between the two is that I’m good at PR and just learning how to write. Another, more obvious difference, is that PR pays the bills and I’m not sure writing ever will. So there’s the dilemma. And the reality is that writing will never pay the bills if I don’t take the time to learn how to do it.

So, I’ve made a pact.  Delve Writer Todd Fahnestock has spit on his palm and I’ve shaken it. He’s going to do two tweets a day, and I’m going to write for at least thirty minutes. From my perspective, I got the short end of this deal.  Two tweets a day is cake.  But for him, writing thirty minutes is cake. So maybe not.

Why am I telling you this? Because writing is a solitary business and I, as an extrovert, have found that a community is vital. Crucial. Absolutely essential to my productivity. Delve writing has been the light in my tunnel and the motivator I need to keep going.

And I proclaim here out in public (or well, here on my blog) that I will write 30 minutes every single day. Pinky swear!

So, what motivates you to keep writing?

Featured Writer: Deidre Greenly

Featured Writer: Deidre Greenly

deidreToday, I’m featuring Colorado Springs Writer Deidre Greenly.

She hails from Santa Fe, New Mexico, originally and most of her family is still there. She was a single parent for nine years, during which her son co-piloted college life with her until landing in Colorado and met the next addition to their family, her husband. After a two-year stint in Australia, they returned to Colorado and have built a wonderful life, even adding a fourth member!

Deidre was my partner-in-crime during a recent book jacket photo shoot, and she sat down with me to chat about all things writing.

 

So, we met at Pikes Peak Writers Conference, which is a truly motivating for me, and I know you said it was for you too. So tell me about your writing journey and don’t forget the English teacher you have repeatedly killed in your stories!

 

I’ve always had a creative spirit, much like my mom, which flows steadily throughout the family. Writing was never in the forefront of my interests. A high school English teacher assigned the class an essay to explore our creative sides. She didn’t care for my creative side, she read it anonymously in front of the class as an example of everything not to do –insert laughter, her voice the loudest.

 

I actually went on to graduate college with a B.S. in Electrical Engineering, got a job with a top Fortune 500 company, moved to Colorado and met my husband, a fellow engineer and hands down the best friend I’ve ever had.

 

I eventually took time off from my job to spend more time with our kids and filled my days with various part-time projects that explored my creative side and worked well around a family schedule. I was always on the go, meeting new people and enjoying life outside an office. It was fun and I’d joke around that if I ever wrote a book I’d have no shortage of unique character traits to draw from.

 

As a reader, I longed for a certain kind of story I couldn’t find, so I decided I’d have to be the one to write it. It was going to be a light-hearted beach read about lasting relationships. After dabbling with various openings and scene settings, I started hearing the English teacher’s laughter. The initial writing process cracked open a memory that I didn’t know still resided deep inside. What the heck did I know about writing –I’m an engineer and the poster child for ‘how-not-to-write’, remember?

 

So, I wrote the English teacher into my story and killed her repeatedly, which was fun but after that I decided to create a plan, so I tasked myself with joining a writers’ group and that’s when things got serious.deidre2

 

 

Have you now developed a writing process? I know I’m still struggling with a “process,” but I learned that having one makes the novel so much easier to write.

 

One thing I found out real quick after joining a writers group is that writers are not quiet introspective people sitting in a dark corner agonizing over a white page. Well, at least not when they’re together.

 

It was my core group of writer friends that informed me I had a character that was screaming over the others to be heard. The daughter of my protagonist had some serious issues and wanted center stage.

 

My creative side knew exactly what to do, she rolled up her sleeves, said, “I got this.”

 

I’m not sure I developed an actual process, but what has evolved is this:

 

  1. Start writing –it’s easy!
  2. Question absolutely everything.
  3. Scrap the first draft, start the next.
  4. Scrap the next, start another.
  5. Stress out that readers are going to think I’m telling my own story –get paranoid.
  6. Pull in family to brainstorm.
  7. Force husband (who doesn’t like spoilers and wants to enjoy it when it’s done) to read the first couple of chapters –get mad he doesn’t like the name of the character.
  8. Join with two friends to start a mini writing/support group.
  9. Take a break to homeschool youngest son for a couple of years –read.
  10. Read
  11. Read
  12. Join local writers group –become human sponge.
  13. Agonize over pushing my adult character and all the backstory I’d developed aside.
  14. Dedicate NaNoWriMo to writing the teenage character’s story.
  15. Admit to all, namely myself that I’m writing a young adult novel.
  16. Scrap thousands of words of the original story –with much resistance.
  17. Embrace this completely fictional story –my logical side does not understand.
  18. Revise/read/learn
  19. Question the value of writing fiction.
  20. Revise/read/learn
  21. Consider not writing anymore –EVER.
  22. Revise/read/learn
  23. Agonize over everything associated with writing.
  24. Revise/see a light emerging in the distance –> here now

 

Process for next book ==> just write the dang thing! 🙂

 

I know exactly what you mean! I write, revise, throw out, edit, write some more, question what the heck I’m doing, read and start all over.  It’s a crazy life but we love it, don’t we? So what stage of writing are you in and where do you want to go?

 

I’ve learned so much in the last couple of years, but I am still very much a student. I’m in for one last revision, then publish it and start another.

 

deidre1I agree with you and think writers never stop learning and that’s what makes us increasingly better at what we do. After all you’ve learned since you became serious about it, what advice do you have for writers of any stage?

 

Join writers’ groups, meet other writers, go to writing conferences — write. That’s how it got real for me. It’s a journey, embrace it. Fall in love, nurture it and enjoy the ride.

 

Thank you so much for joining me Deidre. We’ve written in coffee shops and gabbed at photo shoots, and I can’t wait to read her finished work.  For more about Deidre Greenly and her wonderful writing life, feel free to check out her website at http://deidregreenly.com and her online community at https://www.facebook.com/DeidreGreenlyWriter

Writing Procrastination; Does Moving Really Count?

Writing Procrastination; Does Moving Really Count?

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Well there is just no other way to say it… writing while moving is nearly impossible.  I know, I’ve been trying for two weeks.  But do we call it writing procrastination?

First the movers.  I stood around watching them and had my laptop out but who can actually delve into a scene while eyeballing large men carrying out your grandmother’s beside table?

Then the drive.  I drove for five days.  Yes, five days.  Colorado to Kansas to Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia and finally Washington DC.  Now, we did stop for one full day in Kansas and another full day in Tennessee.  But who can write while they’re sleeping?

Now we’re here.  But, we haven’t found a home yet.  We’re living in a rental and a lucky one at that.  Rentals go super-duper fast here in DC and I was just lucky enough to be on Craigslist the day this one went up.  Furnished and month-to-month.  Someone upstairs was looking out for me.

us-license-plate-mapFinally, the routine.  There isn’t one.  School doesn’t start for three weeks.  Work doesn’t start for another week.  And we’re house hunting as frantically as absolutely possible.

On the plus side, I did get to stop two days ago and write for about a half an hour, and tonight just long enough to catch up on today’s blog.  My online writing group, Delve Writing, advocates for a daily writing habit, even if it isn’t on the novel.  So, I’m accommodating.

The bottom line is that no, we can not call moving a writing procrastination.  That’s my justification and I’m sticking to it.  I say write when you can, as often as you can and just realize that life will sometimes get in the way.

Happy Writing!

Woobox – a Facebook App for Newbies

Woobox – a Facebook App for Newbies

Screen shot 2013-07-04 at 12.32.37 AMOne of the most frustrating but increasingly useful tools on Facebook Author Pages is applications.  They are a must-have for any author worth his marketing salt.  Some are super easy to upload and use.  Others, not so much.  Particularly if you want to customize them or if you don’t want to pay for them.

So here’s what I learned recently about the Woobox Apps.

 

1- Woobox is a great for all things writer.  It includes apps for the most important ones: Twitter, Goodreads, Pinterest, YouTube and Instagram.  Screen shot 2013-07-04 at 12.33.56 AM

 

2- Woobox also offers giveaways, deals, coupons, polls and contests which help make the page more fun.

 

3- Woobox again offers a “blank” app if you will.  One you can customize to showcase your website or where to buy your book.  The biggest thing you have to remember is to check the redirect button.  It’s imperative.  Must. Hit. Redirect.  Otherwise you’ll sit for two hours agonizing over why the heck the stupid thing won’t work.

 

Screen shot 2013-07-04 at 12.35.28 AMThe bottom line is that if you want to at least look like you know what you’re doing on Facebook, the Map and the Likes apps, or boxes, must go.

I like Grisham’s page … he uses it to encourage reading.  His three apps are Grisham Library, What I’m Reading and Goodreads.  Can’t get more literary than that.  And all three of those boxes can be customized using Woobox.