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Daily Update: Some days it’s never easy.

I almost let yesterday’s writing slip by. I sat, wrote two words, would get distracted, didn’t get back to it for a couple hours. Sat again, wrote a couple words, got distracted again. You get the picture.

We went and got the wife the new iPhone. She needed a new phone as hers had gone through the wash. Twice. It still worked, but the cracked screen cut her fingers more than once and who knows when it’ll finally give up the ghost. So rather than wait for the inevitable, we did the needful.

Siri is nice and I had to teach the wife to speak slowly to Siri. It wasn’t her accent that Siri didn’t understand, it was too many words in rapid succession. It’ll take getting used to, but she’ll get the hang of it I know. The wife is smart and adaptive.

I did not get a new phone. I still love my Atrix. It does all I need and more and I push it to its limits some times. I did a couple daily updates with it and I’m sorry for the number of typos that likely slipped past me. It autocorrects and odds are I missed something. I have a ‘voice command’ feature on it that I’ve never used. Seems like it’d be similar to Siri without the talking back part. I think. I’ll have to check it out as I’ve never used it.

Then there was gas, dinner, a visit, all distractions. It wasn’t until after 9PM that I actually got to writing and I burned through 45 minutes and got out just over 1000 words. I hit around 1700 on the day. Not too shabby, but I always feel like I could write so much more than I do.

In case you missed it, Unorthodox Writing Tips volume 1 is available all over the place. Here’s the smashwords link: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/150171. It’s also over on Kindle and Nook. It covers the first 25 blog posts from this site as well as 6 unpublished episodes that were recorded as audio versions at Get Published. It’s around 25,000 words of advice goodness without telling you how to write words, but more how to inspire yourself to write words.

There are times I sit down to write these posts and I have a lot of negative thoughts. I think about money problems, bad drivers, people that make me angry, political rants, or just random negative thoughts. One thing I’ve tried to do is keep all that away from here. I want to project a positive light on what I’m doing with these daily posts. Hopefully you don’t think I poop sunshine every day. There are times when I just get worn down like everyone else. Some days I need a pick-me-up. Today feels like one of ‘those’ day. I think I need a shopping trip to Fry’s J

There’s a lot to do and I’d better get to doing it.

Until Tomorrow!

WOO WOO!

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Daily Update: It’s like walking on air

Well, ok. So maybe it’s not like walking on air, but I’ve got to tell you, my new shoes are awesome. I took the kid to volleyball practice yesterday at her school and we were about 45 minutes early so we started walking around the track; a very nice rubberized track. About twenty minutes in there was a little soreness in my shins, but nothing like what I’d been experiencing. It’s pain that I know will go away with daily walks.

After 20 minutes or so, we realized that no one else had shown up for her practice. Whoops. So after checking with my phone that the practice was at a different school, we packed up and headed over there. She made it on time, thankfully, and I did another 20 minutes of walking before heading over to watch her practice. The kid is getting really good at this volleyball stuff. I’m a proud papa.

So I did a full walk today on the route I’ve been doing. I’m still taking smaller strides (something the kid gave me a hard time about yesterday) and these appear to also be helping with the pain. I’m still frustrated because I’m not really working up a sweat. I know it’ll take time before my legs catch up with the rest of my body. I also know I’m so out of shape that anything at this point will help. I’m definitely not going to give up this time.

The wife is also going to get into the walking with me. We both need it. It’ll be nice to have company on my walks.

On the writing front. I’m blogging daily, if you didn’t notice. I haven’t been writing fiction daily. I missed the past two days, but I’m going to make up for it today. I’ll be in the truck writing while the kid is at practice. I should be able to do a couple thousand words while she’s in there. I’m about to start on the monthly short story for January that I’ll release at the end of the month. Pretty excited about getting that one going. I need to bug Scott Roche and see how he’s doing.

When I spoke with Mike Plested we talked about our collaborative works. I’ve got the first piece of Gold Rush (working title) ready to go. I just need to do a little editing and record it. This, of course, put the pressure on my writing partner to get his piece recorded. Pressure is a good thing, no? Deadlines help push you into getting something done. Well, most of the time.

Anyway, it’s time to drag the kid off to practice. Time to get a good chunk of writing done. Later tonight I’ll post my weekly numbers for walking and writing. They’re not overly impressive, but they’re numbers nonetheless. Hopefully they’ll both go up as the weeks go on.

Until tomorrow

WOO WOO!

Unorthodox Writing Tips on Get Published

My friend and co-author Mike Plested asked if I could do a segment for his Get Published podcast. So I did. There will likely be more in the future. If you haven’t listened to his podcast, this is a great one to start with. The interview is packed with great information that more than makes up for the lack of recording quality (we were near a construction area)

Download MP3

Did Bieber Kill Steampunk?

This seems to be a common question. I think I have an answer for you.

I’ve been spending a long time working on a Steampunk novel with Mike Plested. I’ve read a number of Steampunk novels during that time. It’s something that’s become quite an interest to me. I’m fascinated not only by the written word, but the fashion that has arisen around the Steampunk community. It’s really grown into a fascination culture all its own.

So when I saw the Beiber video, I was at first interested. I knew he had done a Christmas Album and for a pop artist this is nothing new. I don’t think Beiber even knew what Steampunk was until he shot the video It didn’t bother me that he had made one. To be honest there are a lot worse Christmas albums out there. Will it be in my music rotation anytime soon? Oh I don’t think so. I’m not a fan of his music. I’m not a thirteen year old girl after all.

But my daughter is. She loves the Beeb. She can’t get enough of him.

Now let me stop for a moment here. I write a lot. I explained to my daughter the concept of Steampunk. I told her what my Steampunk novel was about and she seemed a little interested. She always shows a little interest in the stories I’m working on and have even posted about them on her Facebook page.

So when I saw the Beiber video, I asked my daughter if she’d seen it. I wanted to share it with her. Even though I don’t care for Beiber, I do care about my daughter and I like to know what she’s interested in. Even though she’d seen the video, we watched it together. I asked her what she thought about it.

“It’s pretty cool. I like all the gears and stuff and the song is okay.”
“People online say that he’s killed Steampunk. They’re upset about this video.”
“Why? It’s just a song.”
“Because it’s Justin Beiber and a lot of people don’t like him.”
“So what does this video have to do with Steampunk?”
“Well, you remember that book I’m working on? The Steampunk one? Well, the theme for his video is Steampunk fashion.”
“Is THAT what your book is about? That’s so cool. Now I really want to read it!”

So in my mind, no, the Beeb didn’t kill Steampunk. If anything he’s introduced the concept to a whole generation that may never have heard about Steampunk or even cared that it existed. I don’t think it’ll take off like a rocket, but he didn’t single-handedly shoot the genre in the foot with a ray gun either.

So before you go off ranting that he’s done killed off an entire genre, take a deep breath, step back, and let’s just see where this all plays out. Who knows, it might result in new fans we never thought would turn to Steampunk.

WFC2011: I will miss you.

In February of this year, my friend, Mike Plested, said “Jay, you should go to WFC this year.” I replied, “I can’t afford to go to WFC.” He said, “It’s in San Diego this year.” I said, “I can afford to go to WFC this year.”

Membership was purchased and I got more out of this weekend than I could have anticipated. This will not flow in chronological order, it’s just going to flow out of my brain as I think of it.

I knew going in there would be a fair number of established authors and a large number of new and up-and-coming authors. My expectation was to meet some fellow authors and perhaps bump into an established author or two. Boy was I wrong.

On the first day I met Terry Bisson. I knew his name, but had to look him up as to why. He had written the novelization of the Fifth Element. Terry was great to talk and Mike and I even went with him to breakfast with Lorna T. Suzuki on Saturday morning. I talked to Terry each morning and it was some great and insightful conversation for both of us. Lorna was also full of some great advice for self-publishing and was very excited about her movie deal.

On Thursday I had met the person now know as ‘the creeper’ and I didn’t like him much so avoided him for most of the con. I’m sad to see so many had their con affected by his presence. I had more interaction with him than I would have liked, but someone told me the first day. “You’ll meet seven people the first day and you’ll see them every day over the con.” That was quite a true statement.

On Thursday I also happened to be standing by the gazebo talking with a couple of people and L. E. Modesitt, who happened to be walking by, stopped and said “hello.” We had a great conversation with him and it was great to see him excited about his projects. So much so that he was nearly late to a panel he had to get to due to talking with us.

At the Aussie party I remember being able to get a beer. My first of the convention. It was to be my only that evening as there was a crush of people at that party. I stood near the wine table and Greg Bear got stuck in traffic. I introduced myself and tried desperately to not have a fan moment. As we stood there talking about how many people were at the con, David Clark, a long time friend of Greg’s stopped by and started talking with us. They shared many stories about conventions all through the years. Even L. E. Modesitt stopped and joined us for a few minutes. I’m so glad I didn’t drink much because I really enjoyed talking with them and they seemed interested in what I had to say.

So much so that the following day, Greg Bear and his wife, and David Clark and his wife came and sat with us during lunch from the con suite.
I will say now, by this point I was happy with my con experience. Just meeting Terry, L. E., David, and Greg made up for the price of admission. They made me feel welcome.

Then I ran into Robert J Sawyer. I must say that based on multiple interactions with him over the weekend, he really is the nicest guy in sci-fi publishing.

On day two I started wearing an LED name tag. This garnered a lot of attention. One author from a panel even stopped me afterwards to say, “I wasn’t distracted by your name tag, but that’s F*cking brilliant. Why didn’t I think of that?” Myself and Mike, both wearing our LED name tags, became known as the Bobbsey twins by some of the con goers. Whatever helped people to remember me. It was a great conversation starter. Even Robert Silverberg had to stop and read our name tags and it garnered a smile from him.

I was lucky enough to run into all of these authors multiple times and each time they were pleasant and fun to talk with. I, as I said, did my best to contain my fan excitement of running into these authors and the conversations rarely came to their works and instead I got an insight to their con experiences, shared stories of past events, and enjoyed their company.

Mike and I also had the pleasure of not only running into Mike Stackpole, but pulling him aside for an interview for Get Published. I was going to just sit and listen, but when you’re talking e-publushing with and e-vangelist it’s hard not to participate. We not only did the interview, but we sat for a good time after just talking about the con and the con experience and the future of self publishing.

Beyond meeting people who’s name I knew, I also got to run into authors who I was familiar with, but not with their work. So many that it would be impossible to name them all. Suffice to say it was great meeting each and every one of them.

I had a great time meeting the folks of Nightshade books. They had brewed some beer for their book launch party and I had the best pumpkin ale I’ve had in a LONG time. Meeting them and the crew from Eraserhead/Bizarro books was a blast. A fun crew!

I also attended the ‘Sleepover of the Gods’. N. K. Jemisin was a fun, energetic host. I’m lucky to have met her.

Now to the meat and potatoes of my con experience. I got to meet Anita and Brian Hades from Edge. Mike knew them from previous cons and I had a great time talking with them about the anthologies they had out, their e-book strategy, the ability of a smaller press to make changes that the big companies are currently unable to make. I spent a good deal of time meeting many of their authors, going to the readings, and enjoying the Edge party. Both Brian and Anita made me feel like part of the family and it was so wonderful to get to know them as well as a couple of their editors Jaym Gates and Erika Holt.

Beyond meeting Brian and Anita, I had a great time meeting their authors. With the exception of one, they were all very professional and great to meet and talk with. If the people mentioned earlier in this post are the old guard, the folks from Edge are the new guard and they have begun to establish their place in the publishing industry. I would name names here but I’m confident I’d forget someone, but do go over to Edge, pick up an anthology and you won’t be disappointed. The readings were so much fun. I’m glad to have met you all.

At this point I’m gushing. I’m nearing tears because it all went by so fast and I had such a great time. The people who ran the convention did a great job with getting things set up, feeding so many of us, and keeping the con running as smoothly as it could.

Although it was my intent to try and pitch my stories ideas to as many as possible, I decided at the last minute that I would instead enjoy my time at the con. I didn’t take pictures. I didn’t bother an author for his/her autograph (except for the bundle of authors at the Edge table) and I did my best to maintain a professional front. Inside I was giddy and doing cartwheels. I don’t think I had a geekgasm at any point and was even told by some that if I hadn’t told them this was my first con, they wouldn’t have known.

Now to some sage advice:
1) Don’t be ‘that guy’ and if you get called out on being ‘that guy’ know when to say when.

2) Get some rest when you can.

3) Don’t start out gushing when you meet an author. Just relax, and be yourself. Let the conversation flow and you’ll make them feel more comfortable and it’ll make your experience that much better.

4) Don’t lead out with “I’ve got this great story/book/idea/etc” when you run into an agent/publisher/author. Again, refer to #3. Relax. Be yourself. Enjoy yourself.

I think stopping myself from trying to pitch unsolicited material to publishers and agents was the best call I made because I felt no pressure to find someone and I didn’t have any awkward moments. I just plain had a good time. This is most definitely something I will be doing again in the future.

To everyone I met at WFC2011, you ROCK! If I didn’t find you in twitter, please come find me. I’m @jrmurdock. I’m J.R. Murdock on facebook, and obviously you found my website.

Until we meet again WFC. WOO WOO!

P.S. If I did not include you in this post, I am sorry. I met so many wonderful people it was hard to keep track. Next time I will need to write more down.

I’ve been thinking about…

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately. Usually that just gets me into trouble, but lately there’s a lot of thinking that needs to be done. What have I been thinking about? Funny you should ask.

Self Publishing.

I’ve written a lot and I feel I tell a pretty good tale. I know what it takes to make a story interesting and write characters that are enjoyable. I’ve written and edited the stories and sent them to many agents and publishers. I’ve gotten request for full manuscripts and partials and I’ve had a lot of rejections. In fact everything has been rejected. It’s not rejection that bothers me. It’s that I’ve always gotten notes on the rejections like “good writing”, “great premise”, “I like the way this sounds” and then I get the ‘but’. “We just don’t have room in our schedule”,”We just can’t take on another client at this time”,”Please try us again another time”.

Frustration has been had aplenty. Obviously my query letter and synopsis were good enough garner attention and warrant a request for more. I just haven’t been able to make it past that point. This is where my thinking cap has been put on firmly and I sit in front of the computer and wonder if I’m doing this all for myself or is there something I could do better? Or could I really do this myself?

What’s prompted all this thinking about self publishing? I cannot take all the credit myself. I have wanted to see my name on a book for a long time and almost succumbed to the temptation of such scams of sites like Publish America (back in the day) though I always felt I was going to make it one day.

That day has still not arrived and I continue to hear people like Mike Stackpole and Mike Mennenga on The Dragon Page talk endlessly about doing it yourself and that the day of big publishers is nearing its end. I hear podcasts like Get Published doing interviews talking about the great success people are having with doing it yourself.

The fact is that I can find an editor to edit my books fairly inexpensively. Back when I wanted to do this myself it was anywhere from $2500 – $5000 to have a manuscript edited. Now you can find people willing to edit your manuscript for as little as $150. That’s a huge difference. You can also find people willing to do book covers for around the same price. Suddenly it’s not so daunting to get an edit on your book and a cover and be ready to publish a book.

So where has all this thinking gotten me? Well. I did podcast two of my novels and it would seem that many people do enjoy my stories. So I’ve decided to head out on my own and start publishing my own books. You may have heard me on a podcast or two lately talking about my YA Fantasy story Astel. In my next post I will tell you a little more about the story and what I’ve done to prepare it for print. I know it could have been as easy as saving the word document as an HTML file and loading it up to Smashwords but I want to do a little more than that. Stay tuned. I’ve decided to start blogging and self publish my books and I’m not looking back.

Look out 2011! Here I come!