Book Launch Week

So the past few weeks for me have been crazy. Turns out that preparing for a book launch is a LOT more time consuming than I would have ever expected and, of course, life doesn’t stop just because Far from Ordinary is ranked 1185 in book sales on Amazon.

Seriously, check it out

This week I have *takes deep breath* Proofread for the bajillionth time / Organized venues / Dropped my keys down an elevator shaft / Coordinated cover art (Thanks Scott!!) / Learnt marketing 101 / DONE marketing 101 / Promised to drive across the city to sign copies of the book / Ordered author proofs / Gotten professional pictures taken (I look like THAT? Uh-oh…) / Second guessed myself.

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Basically, I looked pouty in the woods for a couple of hours. Huge thanks to Onee for capturing my good side!

And most importantly, I’ve held my book in my hands. It was a feeling like I’ve never experienced before. It was so fragile. I didn’t want to open the pages and crinkle the spine. Usually, I’m all about that. A book is meant to be worn and dog-eared. It’s the sign of a good book. But with this one, it was different.

I remember staring at it for the better part of an hour. Holding it in my hands and gently flipping through the pages. Everything I had worked towards for the past fifteen years was right in front of me. I wanted that moment to last forever. And it did, for a time. It settled and hovered for much, much more than a moment.

But then it was gone. I had been staring at a book without reading any of it for 45 minutes.

I’ve taken off my “author” hat and have put on a “marketing” hat. It feels foreign to me, and awkward. I’m super excited about it all. It’s just a lot of different “hats” that I’m not used to wearing.

And it’s all been worth it. I want to do this one hundred times more, at least We’re talking Stephen King-eque levels of book output. But the first one will always be special.

I want to feel this feeling over and over again.

So what did we learn this week?

  1. Always answer Social Media comments in a timely manner, or your sister will yell at you
  2. Your “Blue Steel” face is never as sexy as you want it to be
  3. Don’t drop your keys down an elevator shaft. But if you do, they can be recovered. Most of the time
  4. There is nothing better than holding your baby in your arms. Even if that baby is a paperback novel.

 

My first book, Far from Ordinary, is now available on Amazon. Pick up a copy today!

Far from Ordinary

You Did What?!

So I’ve been having some difficulty writing this post. The post last week was met with an overwhelming reaction, and it was pretty unexpected. I thought for a long time about what this post should look like.

This week I wanted to talk about what it means to me to be a writer. It can be a little weird. I mean, besides the fact that I live in my head all day making stories out of words and too active an imagination for a thirty-year-old man. That’s completely normal if you ask me!

No, the weird part for me is seeing how people react to the news that I’ve written a book. I never thought it was that big of a deal. A significant accomplishment, sure. There’s a ton of work that goes into writing a book, above and beyond getting words down on paper (which can be tricky as hell sometimes).

 

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Professional model holding my first book, or a stock photo? I’ll never tell.

 

But a big deal? I never really considered it like that until I started telling people about it, to get comments like:

“That’s awesome! Good for you.”

“How long did it take?”

“When can I buy it in bookstores?”

There’s something about that which just makes me very happy on the inside. But also very awkward. Now, I’m not usually an awkward person *cough cough* but I feel the weirdness in those moments. Below is a faithful approximation of my thought process:

This person really wants to read what I’ve written! That’s AMAZEBALLS. I can’t WAIT to send them a copy… do you think they want it autographed?

But what if they didn’t like that one scene that I wrote about the protagonist in the nightclub? Will they find the main character too awkward? Or even worse – What if they don’t like my writing!?

I’m toeing the line between committing fully to being a writer and not. Because being a writer means that you’re putting yourself out to the world to have people analyze a part of your brain.

Writing is the most personal thing that I can give to the world, and that’s scary. The start of every idea that is written has to come from somewhere – something I’ve read or a conversation which I was a part of or fifty other different things.

I took an idea which I’ve been sitting on for three years, and I’m about to run it up the flagpole and hope someone salutes.

And even better, I hope that it sells.

A Foray into the Great Unknown

I left my 9-5 job in the spring of 2018. At the time it seemed terrifying and exciting all at once. I mean, for once in my life it wasn’t the safe decision. I was leaving decent pay, benefits and amazing people for the great unknown.

I had no idea how scary it would be. Or how hard it would be to slog through the query trenches. That’s what we “in the biz” call looking for agents. It’s a tough gig and you get hit with a LOT of rejection. I detailed that a bit last week so I won’t say too much here, but it can be tough.

Think of it like this: You find your dream job. Everything is going great – you’ve got exciting prospects, you can see the potential long-term future and you’re doing work you’re passionate about. Then you get 150 words to sell someone on an idea. In my case an idea which I’ve put countless hours and eight years of my life in to. Oh, and 500 other people are looking for the same job, with one position to fill.

But I digress. As scary as it was to leave my job, I’m so happy that I did. It gave me this feeling of helplessness. That I don’t know what I’m doing feeling. That’s the best feeling in the world. Do you know why? Because it never lasts, and you’re much better for it.

Once that feeling goes away it means that you’ve learned a new skill. Not mastered it, most likely, but learned enough that you don’t feel like you’re floundering. And that’s a great feeling. It’s in those moments that we grow the most, I find.

Since I left my 9-5 I’ve managed to write two books, rewrite the same two books (it’s like the same, but better!) and learn an entirely new industry. Regardless of whether I go back to tradition work in the future, I’ll always have that.

The biggest lesson? If you want to be a writer, you have to write. Simple enough, no? But the Blank Page isn’t that simple. Most writers I know (myself included) are chronic procrastinators.

“I was going to write today, but how the heck can I do that when there’s dust on the mantlepiece!”

That actually happened to me, by the way.

I started giving myself deadlines. Like I would have back in the 9-5 days.

Some days the words flow. I’ll sit at my laptop plugging away. Barely aware of anything around me. Lost in words. Other days I’ll be pulling my hair out trying to string together more than a few coherent sentences. But I stay sitting until I’ve gotten to my word count. An arbitrary number designed to give me targets, help me achieve goals.

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A rare photo of M. James Murray procrastinating

I’m a writer. Regardless of what happens going forward, I can say that. I’ve got the books to prove it.

It will be tight, but November 15th still looks like it’s going to be the day. Far from Ordinary will be available both in paperback and e-book format.

Wish me luck on this next jump into the Great Unknown.

I’ll need it!

There and Back Again: Dealing with Rejection in a Writer’s World

Did I ever tell you the definition of insanity?

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Being a professional writer is, to me, all about rejection. There’s a lot of it. A metric shit ton, cubed and delivered. Pardon my French. Oh, I’m not alone with this. My twitter feed is filled with advice from the writing community, posting every day.

“Don’t give up!”

“Rejection does NOT define you.”

They’re fantastic, by the way. The support I’ve gotten from complete strangers has been staggering. And yet, I’m sure the old writer adage holds up still, to this day. “The difference between a published writer and an unpublished one is that the published writer does not give up.”

But can we talk for a second about how hard that is? You try not to let it bother you. But it does. You see, I’m a positive person. I try to look at the positives of a situation and make the most out of a bad one. For me there’s no point in looking towards the negativity because it doesn’t help me at all, you know?

Doesn’t help anyone for that matter, but I think you get what I’m trying to say here. You can let the negatives weigh you down, or you can look towards the positives and pick yourself back up.

Down the rabbit hole

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Photo by Steve Johnson on Pexels.com

I think that’s why this Writer’s Rejection is getting to me so much. So many factors weigh against you that it’s impossible not to feel down at least a little bit. Where’s the light at the end of the tunnel? Where’s the green grass on the other side? Why is this damn industry so rooted in old tradition that doesn’t work anymore?

I have been officially rejected by agents whom I’ve queried thirty-two times. Unofficially the number is higher since I’m only counting the official form rejection emails which I’ve received back from my queries.

I keep each one, putting them in their own folder in my mailbox. Then I continue the search.

Did I ever tell you the definition of insanity?

Par for the course

It sometimes feels like I’m spinning the tires in the dirt. I’m making a big mess, and I’m not moving anywhere. But the thing is, that’s how you get out of the hole. Look up any of the great writers of our time. Stephen King, George R.R. Martin. Basically, pick a book and look at the author. With few exceptions, they all have a stack of rejection slips somewhere.

“It’s good, but it’s not for us.”

A few successes change that “not for us” part in a BIG hurry. So I’m told, anyway.

The decision to publish my upcoming novel Far from Ordinary on Amazon was a tough one, at first. But why not! The goal for me was to publish a book. And, soon enough, that dream will be a reality.

I’m pushing through the wall of rejection, little by little. It’s not always easy, but anything worthwhile rarely is. It’s not going to define me as a writer, or as a person. It is not going to bring me down. Not anymore. 

I get to live my dream – my best life – every day. What could be better than that?

Far from Ordinary will be available on Amazon in November 2018. 

Writing, or something like it

It wasn’t all about the writing for me. Not at first, anyway. The Blank Page was daunting, and I was (am) far too scatterbrained to link more than a few coherent sentences together. I thought I needed a muse or some other kind of inspiration.

Writers were these larger-than-life figures, how could I ever live up to that? Tolkien created an entire language for his books for chrissakes. How could I ever compete with that? I never even mastered basic French verb tenses.

Books on the other hand, well, books were exciting. They were entire worlds that you could hold in the palm of your hand. And, even more than that, they were magic. I mean, how else could someone who I never met so effortlessly put such vivid pictures into my head?

It was my grandfather who bought me the first books I’d ever owned. He was insistent that I read the classics. A Tale of Two Cities, Great Expectations, Robinson Crusoe. Whenever I’d finish one, I’d get the next. It was nice. Most importantly, it got me reading at a very young age, which is something that I’m grateful for.

But somewhere along the lines, a switch flipped. I started thinking: I could do this too. I mean, above and beyond the first couple of attempts. I used to watch cartoons and then write my own stories. They were no more than a page (the rest is just filler, right?) and maybe a little plagiarized (I admit to nothing!).

I wish I could say that there was a light bulb moment. That would be so poetic, wouldn’t it? Then I could tell the story about how I was brushing my teeth in the morning and BAM, writer.  But it doesn’t work that way. It’s having a story inside and knowing that I had to get it out.

It’s been an exciting journey, and there’s a tough road ahead, but more than ever I’m excited about it. I’ve written two books. Two books! First one hits in 2019.

It’s going to be one helluva year.