Tag: blogger

What’s in a Name?

Hi! How are you doing?

Michael here, coming at you live from Winnerpeg! Okay, maybe not live, this is a BLOG post, after all. I’m still riding the high from my hometown Winnipeg Blue Bombers winning the Grey Cup on Sunday.

If you are tuning in from the States, or elsewhere, the Grey Cup is like the Canadian version of the Superbowl. It had been 29 long years since the Bombers won. That makes it a pretty big deal.

I could probably write an entire blog post talking about the Bombers. I’ve witnessed a lot more heartbreak than triumph over the years, watching them choke at the wrong moments, or even how nervous I felt with the nail-biting victory over our arch-rivals, the Saskatchewan Rough Riders, last Sunday.

But believe me, you wouldn’t want that. I’m going to stick to what I know best so that I can give you a semi-funny, mostly coherent rant about something related to the world of being a published author. It’s what the people want! That, and more post making fun of my sister.

You see, I learned the other day that there is another Michael Murray out there in Authorland.

No, I don’t mean hunky former teen heartthrob Chad Michael Murray, though the resemblance between the two of us is uncanny.

 

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It’s like I’m looking into a mirror

 

There is another Michael Murray out there. This is important because, as you undoubtedly know, authors subscribe to the Highlander school of thought around these kinds of things.

There can be only one!

This other Michael Murray – we’ll call him Imposter Murray – has been writing for a long time, from the looks of it. His first writing credit came all the way back in 1989, the year after I was born. There are two likely situations here.

The first is that I’ve been doing a Fight Club Tyler Durden/The Narrator kind of thing, writing as Imposter Murray in my sleep, since I was 12 months old. This seems like the most likely scenario since I was an incredibly fast learner. Erm, so I was told.

The second is that Imposter Murray took a trip to Winnipeg and somehow happened to see my name. Understandably awed and taken aback by the perfect alliteration, he stole it and has been using it ever since to write made-for-TV Christmas movies

 

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So many Christmas movies

 

I’m sure if we tune to the Hallmark channel for long enough this Holiday season, we’ll find one of his cinematic masterpieces.

One of the questions that I get the most is about my pen name. Why do I write under the name M. James Murray? When I chose it, I had no idea that Michael J. Murray AKA Imposter Murray existed. I did know about the existence of Chad Michael Murray, but that wasn’t the reason, either.

It was all about the findability factor. Findability. That’s a word now, by the way. Verb. Ability to be found, notably concerning online presence.

 

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Shakespeare invented over 1700 words. Surely I can invent at least one!

*Editors Note* apparently findability IS a word. Which brings my invented word count back down to zero.

When I google my birth name, I’m not on the first page of results. Or the second. Or the third. Or the fourth. I think you get the idea. Also, no judging for googling my name! You’ve done it too, I’d bet!

There are Michael Murrays (is the plural Murrai?) who are doctors. One of us is an accomplished organist. I assume this means that he is proficient at playing, not harvesting organs.

There is a Michael Murray who produces video games, and we already talked about the two other MM’s in the Hollywood world.

So I needed a somewhat unique, distinguishable name. It was important to me that I stayed true to myself, so a pen name was out of the question. Somewhere along the line, I got the idea to use my middle name. And it stuck.

It’s catchy, it flows off the tongue. And when you google it, BAM!

 

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I’ve got a Google panel, guys!

The first thing that pops up is my twitter account. The second is a link to Far from Ordinary. Then a link to my website. Findability, BAY BAY!

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a Christmas movie to write.

So, what did we learn this week?

  1. To thine own self, stay true. Thanks, Polonius.
  2. I missed the anniversary of this blog! It happened back in October, actually. I guess I should eat some cake or something.
  3. My god, I’m sore! My knee hurts so badly that it’s tough to put weight on it. There’s no injury, I’m just over thirty. Pretty sure my knees get sore when I just LOOK at a treadmill nowadays.
  4. I got twenty-two downloads from my free book giveaway! If even one of those downloads leads to a review, I’m golden. Reviews are the lifeblood that keeps my book relevant to Amazon and, therefore, to any potential readers.
  5. This weekend I’ll be speaking at the #Change1 conference. Check it out. I’ll be talking about following your passion. Get tickets here.

Later days,

M

What the hell is a runner’s high?

My second book is done. It’s been done for a while now. We are sitting strong at 67 000 words, which is approximately the same size as Far From Ordinary when it went to the presses.

Ten years later. More revisions that I’m proud to admit to. But there it is.

The characters are feeling developed. The themes are there, woven into the story. The writing is as strong as it’s going to be. I’ve even written “the end”

“So when can I buy in?” I can hear you thinking, hopefully.

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Please buy my new book. You wouldn’t want to disappoint Puss in Boots, would you?!

The truth is that even though it is done, it’s not finished. Couple things here:

1 – Big ups to my beta readers! The first wave included my brother and a few people who I met on Twitter. Their feedback has been instrumental in shaping what the manuscript looks like today.

(Sidebar! It’s amazing how the internet connects people. When I was a kid it was all about not talking to people online. Now we use the internet to summon strangers to pick us up in their cars and to find people to date.)

2 – There is a certain point where you need to give up the ghost and call the novel finished. Otherwise, I’m going to be tinkering with this thing for the next ten years of my life.

3 – That point hasn’t happened yet.

I think that the flow needs to be better. I think that I need to define the main antagonist more, make him or her more human, more relatable.

You don’t get the evil Dr. Claw type villains anymore, after all. In order for your audience to believe in your antagonist as a character, you need to give them motivation – something that makes sense so that the people reading go “Oh, that’s why!”

Take Thanos, for instance. He’s not after the unbelievably vague goal of universal domination. He doesn’t even want to rule. He just wants balance, for the natural order of nature to be reset.

Click on the above link at your own peril – there be spoilers.

The more you humanize your villains, the more people will relate to them. I need to give mine MORE of this.

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That is something that I needed to improve on with Far From Ordinary as well, but maybe that’s not a road I should go down right now.

Finally, I need to figure out how to finish the book. For a little bit of context, the idea for Fade to Black came to me way back in 2010, which means I’ve been writing it for almost 9.5 years.

No matter what I had going on I would always come back to it, chipping away slowly across the years. Over the years my idea of what the ending should “look like” changed when I thought about it.

The version of Microsoft Word which I used changed a few times as well.

Look for Fade to Black in bookstores and places of ill repute soon. Hopefully.

Fun Runs on Sunday

I stumbled into an organized running event this morning. Literally just stumbled upon, not like the time where I was having a few drinks and was convinced to run in the Manitoba Marathon the next morning.

I was jogging with my training partner and this race started up out of nowhere. Like, literally out of nowhere. It was a quiet Sunday morning and then there were a whole bunch of people who looked like they were in midseason form emerging from the path across the road.

So what else could we have done? We joined the race. Running is so funny that way. You’re alone for 99% of the time, so it’s a solitary pastime. So what do we do on a race day? Line up on the side of the road and cheer on these people who are pushing themselves if not to the point of exhaustion, at least the point of chaffing.

And let me tell you: chaffing ain’t no fun.

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It was pretty awesome to have people cheering us on and, if they were suspicious of our lack of BIB numbers, no one said anything.

I had to kick up my running pace a bit as well. The human body works wonders that way. I can feel like I couldn’t take another step, but as soon as someone is cheering me on I can dig in a bit deeper and push myself farther.

Running sucks, but it’s better when there are people around.

Pretty sure that, going forward, I only want to jog if people are standing by with water every couple of kilometres.

Also, the faces of the volunteers when we jogged off the trail was priceless.

SO

What did we learn this week?

  1. When you’re thirty, you need a nap of at least an hour and a half after a long run. Don’t @ me – I don’t make the rules
  2. I wanted to make a donation to the race – I DID have two cups of water after all. But I couldn’t find them. If anybody knows, @ me.
  3. Make your antagonists people for best results. Who’d a thunk it!
  4. It’s only nice in Winnipeg when I’m not wearing shorts. It’s only cold in Winnipeg when I wear shorts. Don’t @ me – I don’t make the rules.
  5. Every writer is worried about the length of their book. It’s always either too short, or too long. Sigmund Freud would have a field day analyzing a writer, I’m sure.

Later days,

M.