Hey there! Long time no talk to. That’s right – your fiftieth favorite writer is BACK. Feels good, man. I’ve been doing some serious soul searching. I climbed Kilimanjaro, spoken … Continue reading It’s all about the Blitter
Let’s talk about the past. And about the future.
If 2018 was the year of reset buttons, then 2019 has been the year of new beginnings. Most people fear change. It’s scary, it’s unknown and it gives you that feeling of anxiety in the pit of your stomach.
I think that change is a good thing. I mean, nothing lasts forever, so maybe the conversation shouldn’t be “how can I keep things the same?” because that conversation is one of fear and playing small and not living up to your potential.
Things change, and that sucks. Someone that you were close with becomes an acquaintance or less. Somebody who you barely knew becomes close. These are things that we cannot always change. Some people are only meant to stay in your life for a little bit.
It’s not about keeping things the same. It’s about growing intentionally with like-minded people.
A few weekends ago I was asked to speak at the #Change1 self-development conference. It was a unique opportunity for me because it forced me to think critically about the past few years of my life.
I spoke about what it meant to me to pursue my passion – publishing a book. As I prepped for my discussion I thought back on my crazy journey. It STILL seems surreal to me. I left a job where I was happy for the chance to do something different.
Just a chance, nothing more. Nothing was guaranteed, and I knew that I would have to work for every little thing which I earned.
I took that chance because my entire life I had played it safe. Played small. And here’s the thing – you can’t do things that people will remember by playing small. You’ve got to take chances – hoist the black flag and slit some throats if necessary. That’s scary. Terrifying, really.
Big risk, big reward. I wouldn’t have gotten the opportunities that I did if I hadn’t left my job. I wouldn’t have met the people I have, most likely.
Pursuing your passion means taking some risks. You often have to jump in with both feet, even if you haven’t tested the waters yet.
It was great having the opportunity to share my story at #Change1. Ya gotta push yourself out of that comfort zone, people! Looking back made me start thinking about what the future looks like.
Do you live your life on purpose? For me, that’s an important concept. How else can you work towards the life that you want if you don’t give a thought about what that looks like? I don’t mean things like hoping you win the lottery. If you do, good on you! Most of us won’t in our lifetimes.
I probably never will again. I tapped that out WAY too early when I won on that scratch ticket after I turned eighteen. But I can hope! I could use twenty-six million dollars, how about you? Heck, I’d be good with winning the Kinsmen Jackpot bingo pot.
Most of the time we have vague ideas about what we want the future to look like. It’s things like “I want to buy a house,” or “I want to have a winter home in the Caribbean.” But most people aren’t deliberate about it.
Live your life on purpose. 5 years from now, on a Tuesday, what does your life look like? Who are you with? What are you doing? Where do you live? Be as detailed as possible about what it all looks like, then ask yourself why. Why do you want the big house with the dog and the white picket fence? Why is that something that is important to you?
Does that speak to your values or the mark that you want to leave on the world?
For context, I don’t do New Year’s resolutions. If there’s something about me that I want to change, I’m not waiting until January 1. But I love the concept of goal setting, of intentional, achievable targets.
Five years from now there are a few things which I’d like to do:
- I’d like to visit a new continent. I’ve been to Europe, and I’ve been to North America (obviously). There has GOT to be a story or two in me that could be uncovered by visiting a completely foreign place
- I’d like to be traditionally published. 2020 for me is going to be about continuing to improve in my craft. That means I need to keep writing. It may sound strange, but I can see the threads in front of me. I know that I can do better than my first two efforts. I have a story, I just don’t know what that means yet.
- Stretch goal! I want a bestseller on the New York Times bestseller list.
These are my writing goals over the next five years. More immediately, I need to find an agent. New York could still help me accomplish that – I’ve heard back from one of the agents who requested material. It was a no from that person, but that’s okay. I still have six strong, viable options.
At this time it’s been just over three months. I think it’s time to poke them, don’t you? Sound off in the comments over whether or not you think I should reach out to them.
What did we learn this week?
- A lot can happen in a year. Much more can happen in 5.
- It’s been over a year since I dropped my keys down an elevator shaft. I still clutch them extra tight whenever I step into one.
- Since I’ve been doing Christmas shopping a lot this week, I’ve been thinking about how fortunate I am. There’s nothing that I NEED. I think I need to remember that more.
- Wine tastes best when it comes in a box. You might disagree, but you’re wrong and I hate you (not really, but you ARE wrong).
- Sometimes at the end of serious posts, I try to lighten the mood. What other way than with bad jokes, right? Probably to have people leave on a good note! So… you’re welcome!
- You should totally buy Far from Ordinary if you haven’t already. Even if you have! It makes for a GREAT Christmas gift.
Also, I haven’t heard anything from the camp of Imposter Murray. I assume that he is cringing in his Christmas boots.
So here’s the thing. It’s been a year since the best book of 2019 (self-proclaimed) was released. Or is it the best book of 2018? I’m not sure. Let’s not … Continue reading Happy Birthday!
New York, New York Do you ever feel like the universe is pulling you to a specific place? On one level it’s absolutely absurd. There are almost 8 billion people … Continue reading
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.
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?
Yeah… there’s got to be a better way to do that.
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?
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.
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?
- You’ve got to be a little bit crazy to be a long distance runner
- 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
- I’m a Hank Moody looking for my Charlie Runkle
- Yes I wrote that last one for you, Col
- 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.