Tag: cat

Bum Knees and Writer Conferences

I came to a pretty frustrating conclusion this week. Over the past month and a half I’ve been training for a half marathon on Father’s Day.

It started out pretty good – we’d do 3 miles here and there, and I was starting to get into a rhythm.

Maybe I trained too hard. Maybe I should have started out earlier. Maybe it wouldn’t have mattered anyway. Hell, I used to show up and run without any training.

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Back when I was SUPER-PUMPED to get going

But, as has happened so much more frequently over the past few years, the knee pain started to creep in. It started as a dull ache right in the joint, annoying but manageable.

Over the weeks it began to get worse. At thirty years old I was limping in the mornings, having trouble sleeping because of the pain.

So, something had to give.

I think the biggest turning point for me was examining why I was running in the first place. Was I the fastest? Definitely not. Even at my fastest, there were still a bunch of people finishing the race a solid half an hour before me.

Do I get a runner’s high? I don’t think so. I mean, there is usually a time in the run when I don’t feel quite as shitty, but it’s not like I feel good.

So… Fitness, I guess?

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Yeah… there’s got to be a better way to do that.

Writer’s Conferences

I’ve been working on ways to make myself more appealing to agents lately. I’ve always wanted to get signed, though I realize that this is a bit of a conflicting subject for many writers.

Nowadays more writers are choosing to self-publish their work. That’s what I did as well, for reasons that I’ll get to shortly. So why do we do this?

Creative control.

When you sign with an agent they will do whatever it takes to get that book picked up by a publishing house. Oftentimes what that means is that the writer will need to change parts of their novel.

Some of us are a little put off by this since our novels are a bit like our children. I remember the first time I held my book in my hands. The feel of the spine in my hands, the smell of the pages – all these little details just seemed so surreal. Like how could these be my words? My words.

So yeah, I get that. But at the same time, I’d bet dollars to donuts that whoever is suggesting an edit to me knows a bit more about the market, and probably literature in general.

More royalties

This one is a bit of a catch 22. Yes, if you self-publish you get more royalties. I get about 70% of the proceeds of an ebook and 60% of a paperback, minus the printing cost. This comes out to about $1.50- $2.00 per book on the (fairly reasonable) price which I’m currently selling at.

With traditional publishing, prices can fluctuate but you generally earn less per book. But you also have the opportunity to sell a lot more books, too. It’s not just me on an Instagram account or a Facebook page, there are bookstores and publicity events and all the stuff that indie authors just can’t afford.

So I’ve weighed both options and I’ve decided that I want my next book to be published traditionally. The reaction to Far from Ordinary has been fantastic – I’ve sold more copies than I ever expected and I’m SO grateful for that.

But, looking at the demographic reports that Amazon makes for me, the majority of my sales are concentrated in Winnipeg and Calgary. Two cities where I’ve got strong connections.

Imagine how awesome it would be for my writing career if I were able to branch out into the U.S. market, or Europe.

I want to walk into a bookstore in Houston and see an M. James Murray on the shelf.

So there’s that. But also, I think that traditional publishing has always been the goal for me. So that’s what brings me back to what I was originally talking about. Full circle. It’s tough to get picked up by an agent. It involves a lot of skill and even more luck.

But I think it also involves doing something differently. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.

So I’ve published an article. I wrote a book and published it. What else can I do to set myself apart from the other tens of thousands of aspiring writers out there?

The next step for me is getting myself to a writing conference. If I can get myself in front of an agent and talk about my upcoming book, Fade to Black, I think that I stand a pretty good chance of getting picked up. At the very least I’m going to become a lot more visible in the writing community.

Now, they’re not cheap – most range in the $500 USD range for a couple of days, not including hotel and food and all that minor stuff. But I don’t really care about the cost all that much. Ten years from now I won’t be talking about how expensive that trip to New York was, I’ll be talking about how I wish I had done it sooner.

That’s what really matters.

What did we learn this week?

  1. You’ve got to be a little bit crazy to be a long distance runner
  2. I have bad knees. Who’d have known?! Definitely not my surgeon, although he probably figured it out when I came back in for the fourth time
  3. I’m a Hank Moody looking for my Charlie Runkle
  4. Yes I wrote that last one for you, Col
  5. It’s much easier to write these blog posts sitting outside with a cold beer. Even if I get distracted easily

Next week it’s the RETURN OF THE KHAJIT! That’s right – my sister’s cat has a plan to kill me. And it’s now one step closer to fruition. She’s 11 pounds of stealth and death. I’m worried.

STAY TUNED.

Later days,

M

 

 

 

 

Wow, that was bad.

What scares you the most?

What gives you sweaty palms, a dry feeling in your mouth and anxiety in your stomach? Maybe its spiders, or public speaking, or werewolves or quicksand (which is admittedly a smaller problem than I was led to believe as a child)

Maybe it’s love.

That’s one of the things that I explore in my upcoming book. What happens when it all goes south? What do you do when the one who loves you doesn’t anymore. How does that feel?

What kind of emotion does that invoke in a person?

How does the same story sound so different depending on the side that’s telling it?

Every story is about a girl if you dig deep enough.

Tempes Fugit

My next book is seven years in the making. Seven years! A lot can happen in seven years. I read somewhere that the body replaces itself every seven years. So, quite literally, you’re not the same person you were back then.

Hair, skin, muscles. Even the brain. Do you know what that means? Your memories are just that – memories. Every time you remember something the electronic synapses trace an almost familiar pathway. That path changes after years as the brain subtly molds the memory.

Which is why it’s not uncommon for two people to remember an event years ago two radically different ways.

It’s a little different every time.

So why that? Why bother writing a story about love. It’s been done literally millions of times before. But, just like memories, every time it’s different.

I tell ya – love and mathematics are the two universal languages.

So Here’s the Thing

It’s not just a love story. Fade to Black is about a disillusioned, heartbroken guy who just happens to be psychic.

Weird, right?

Now, I get it. There’s probably a group of people that are going to hear that and think “Nope, that’s not for me.” And that’s fair – that’s your choice. But hear me out.

I think that when love ends the thing you want the most is to know the mind of the other person. Was it as real for them as it was for you? Did they care as deeply about you as you did about them?

As clear cut as it probably is for those on the outside looking in, it’s pretty rare for the same to be said when you’re in the middle of it.

So our anti-hero (he’s a bit of an asshole) who can read minds all of a sudden has his life flipped end over end. And he has no idea that it’s coming.

Fast forward five years and we have the start of my second novel.

Fade to Black.

Although, come to think of it, maybe it should be seven.

That Damned Khajit

There was a fire alarm at my apartment the other day. Actually, there were four of them. There wasn’t a fire, just a tripped sensor.

They happened in the middle of the night because of course they did. The first one was at 1:30 AM. The 2nd was just after I fell back asleep. The third one told me I was in a sleepless hell.

The fourth one was forty-five minutes before my alarm because of course it was.

In a building the size of my apartment complex, a fire truck needs to be called every time the alarm goes off. It’s mostly precautionary, and really it’s probably a good thing because, you know, safety.

Oh, and the siren keeps going until they show up.

It’s funny that the reaction nowadays to an alarm is one of vague disinterest and annoyance. Besides a few keeners who care for their lives more than the amount of sleep they got everyone was inside.

I was inside.

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Turns out when I’m grumpy I don’t take many pictures. Please enjoy this image of Grumpy Cat instead. You probably don’t want to see me grumpy anyway

The sister-roommate was out for the night. So there I was, 1:30 in the AM, wondering if my building was on fire when a thought crossed my mind.

THE KHAJIT!

My sister’s cat, Ollie. If we had to evacuate, I’d have to either take the damned cat with me or I’d have to burn.

There were no other options. If the cat didn’t make it, I’m sure that I wouldn’t be far behind.

Lisa would see to that.

So the alarm is blaring and the cat is nowhere to be found. Usually she’s right on the couch in the middle of the night, the perfect place to scare the crap out of me. Not today, of course.

So I’m frantically searching everywhere for her. In the pantry, in the linen closet. I’m beginning to think that cats are ethereal creatures which can disappear on a whim. And then it occurs to me:

What the hell am I going to do if I catch her?

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I was going to post a picture of some random dude with scratches on his face, but this picture was too good to NOT include. WTH is happening here?

There was a ninety percent chance of me getting eviscerated, my somewhat average face ruined. RUINED I SAY!

And what the hell was I supposed to do with her once I caught her, too? At that moment I pictured myself standing outside in -30 degree weather with a squirming cat and a scratched up face.

And my white Snow Lion sorels, of course. Got to save the important things.

“Hey, sis. Good news, I saved the cat. Bad news, it’s now loose in the neighborhood and I think I need to go to the ER”

So what did we learn this week?

  1. Dating sites literally put faith in your inability to find a partner. “Go ahead, take the 6-month subscription. It’s cheaper – we KNOW you’ll still be here”
  2. Don’t judge a book by its cover. I.e. give my little psychic story a chance.
  3. Cats continue to be assholes
  4. Fire alarms only malfunction when the weather outside is inclement
  5. Or when you’ve got to get up at the crack of dawn