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A new thing – Patreon

A chance comment on a friend’s facebook post led me down a strange path. The path to a brand new porject and a brand new platform for my fiction.

I’ve started a Patreon page. I’m thinking it’ll be my generic “I’m a writer” patreon, but to get people interested I’m starting off with a specific project.

Introducing: This Unusual Life!

Imagine if the Royal Family were all fey from another dimension, ruling over human kind with an iron fist, but royal watchers are still a thing. Or what if the really over the top “I married a werewolf!” stories were legitmately true?

This Unusual Life! is a story told tabloid newspaper style, influenced by Welcome to Night Vale, The Daily Mirror and those amazing magazines with “True life” stories of drama, death and misplaced children. It’s a gossip magazine in an alternate universe!

By backing my patreon, for as little as $2 a month you get exclusive access to the stories as I write them. There are higher tiers as well, where you can pay more and get more from me. Extra stories, pictures of my cat, and even recieve handwritten postcards from me in real life.

If this sounds like your jam, please go to my patreon page and back me. There’s a free sample story on the page and you can see my very lofi intro video. I’m excited about this new venture, and I’m hoping you are too!

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Motivators – how to make yourself write

This motivator post is based around the things I’ve found to help me churn out words/edit pages, etc. I’ve had a few people say they’re impressed with my momentum, so… here’s a couple of things which motivate me.

First off, and one I didn’t think was that unusual until my friend saw it was my desktop background and started laughing. Idris Elba asking if I shouldn’t be writing.

I used to have this picture printed out and stuck on my wall in my last flat. He’d stare me down and get me into writing. Partly because he’s intimidating and partly because he’s Stacker Pentecost in Pacific Rim and I want to do what he says. So much respect for that character.

Anyway, it’s my desk top background since I moved out of that flat. When I restart my computer or when I close all my windows, Idris Elba is there to refocus me.

Another option is to motivate yourself with a reward. This is especially useful when there’s something you really want, like to go to a movie or eat a cake, or whatever. Something you’re yearning for. NB: Don’t deprive yourself of food, coffee or bathroom breaks though, negative motivators will probably damage you in time, being as they are, based in fear, and will form negative associations with writing.)

So, say I have a whole day ahead of me and I really want to go see a new movie. And there’s a good session in the early afternoon? Perfect. I’m allowed to go to the movie as long as I achieve X thing: 1000 words, 20 pages of editing, whatever needs doing. Then I want to get that stuff done so I can do the fun thing. Sounds pretty easy, right? It is, as long as you can find something you want which is enough.

Think of rewards that would work for you, proper treats and experience which will feel like a reward.

Some other motivators I’ve found really compelling:

  • Really hating my day job. This is a bit of a horrible one. It involves me being so aggressively unhappy that I’ll do anything to get out of having an office job, which is in fact very motivating to write and plan. But I can’t recommend it.
  • Giving myself a deadline. And this could be deciding to enter your work in progress into a competition, or promising it to a beta reader by X date. It’s better if you’re somehow accountable
  • NaNoWriMo – this used to be a one month a year deal, but now there’s Camps in April and June which are just as motivating. The website also allows you to set your own challenges any time of year: word counts, time frames, etc and it gives you a nice little graph of your progress.

Got another good motivator? Please share it in the comments, I’d love to hear it 🙂

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Summer Writers Series: an interview with Lee Murray Pt 2

Part two of the interview with Lee Murray Part one is here

Creative writing in primary school, what did you write about? Can you remember any stories?

This image from my autobiographical title All About Me, written, illustrated, and published by me in 1970 (aged 5). Already, it was clear I wasn’t going to be an artist.

I wrote my first dark ghostly murder mystery story when I was eleven. It was based on a clock with a secret compartment that I’d seen during a school trip to the Clapham National Clock Museum in Whangarei. Also that year, 1978, I wrote a courtroom parody entitled The Big Bad Wolf, where various witnesses were called to testify against the alleged repeat offender. Rip Van Winkle was unable to give his testimony because he kept falling asleep. I can’t remember exactly how it ended ‒ a political smear campaign by the PIG consortium, I think. So even as early as eleven, my writing was tending towards dark fiction and fabulism.

What do you do/where do you go for inspiration?

In school workshops, I tell the kids I get my ideas by stealing (character traits and story ideas from real life), eavesdropping, exaggerating, and lying.

Is there anything you’ve seen passed around as writing advice that you really disagree with?

I’m sure I’ll think of something the minute I’ve sent this blogpost off.

Do you believe in a divine muse, and if so, what’s yours like?

No, but if you want to keep writing stories it’s especially helpful to have a sponsor. In my case, that role is played by my husband, whose support allows me to keep at this writing gig. I also have Bella, who is sitting behind me on my computer chair, warming the small of my back. It’s wonderful encouragement not to move, to keep my bottom in the chair and carry on writing.

What does your physical writing space look like?

A picture paints a thousand words: Bella and me, at my desk.

Are you more a ‘write drunk, edit sober’ Ernest Hemingway, or a ‘shut the door, eliminate all distractions and write for a set amount of hours’ Stephen King? (or another famous writer’s approach, add in your own).

Writing is my job, so I sit down in my home office and work all day. Sometimes I yell at the family to turn the TV down in the next room. In terms of process, I’m an extremely slow writer. I can’t just spew the first draft onto the page the way many other writers do. The problem is my inner editor, who never turns off. She, more than anyone, tends to interrupt while I’m writing, making suggestions, demanding that I check this or that fact, or find a better word, or vary the sentence structure. Because of her, it takes me all day to write just 1000 words. On the other hand, because of her, I don’t tend to do a lot of rewrites either. I send the piece to my trusty betas, implement their suggestions, and then fire the work out.

Open up your skeleton closet: can you tell me about an abandoned project of yours which seemed awesome when you started but you’ll likely never return to?

There’s a button necklace, a knitted penguin (I’m a competent knitter, but believe me the instructions are impossible), and some failed short stories. I’m not even going to mention some of the disastrous meals I’ve cooked that we’ve decided not to eat.

Any advice for anyone looking to start writing?

Win the Lotto.

Favourites: Star Wars or Star Trek?

Hmm. Star Wars, original.

Hogwarts or Narnia?

Even harder. Hogwarts, just.

Ideal holiday, price and time no concern, where would you go?

My parents’ bach at Pukehina Beach, back when they still owned it, maybe circa 1975, and preferably for the entire summer.

If you could plan perfect meals for a day, what would each be, and would you snack?

Yellow porridge made by dad, Mum’s noodles, my brother’s vegetable kebabs, and my sister-in-law’s chocolate brownies.

Imagine you won one of those ‘grab a cart and spend five mins in a store’ competitions. Which store would you want to win it for, and what goods would you be shoving in the cart first?

Is there a store for lost friends, misplaced photographs, and a cure for Alzheimer’s? I’d like to stop by the returns counter too, to make the most of the opportunity to take back some mistakes, and possibly a couple of things I shouldn’t have said.

Imagine you’ve had your best ever year, what photos would you have from that year?

My family, my dog, holiday snaps, convention memories with friends, half a dozen from the top of the Mount.

Favourite song to sing at Karaoke? Favourite song to sing in the shower when no one else is home?

Umm. Even I don’t want to hear myself singing.

Desert island castaway time: you get an album, a book and a luxury item, what do you choose?

An album. Eros by Eros Ramazzotti
A book: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Luxury item: Cheese

What’s your favourite quote?

“I meant what I said, and I said what I meant, and an elephant’s faithful, 100%”—Horton the Elephant

Pokemon: if you were a trainer, what pokemon would be in your team? (you get 6)

There’s a little yellow one, right?

Weirdest hobby you have, other than writing?

We’ve just bought a caravan and it’s taking some time to get used to it, so maybe putting the awning up and down counts as a hobby. I am also addicted to renovation shows on the telly.

Any upcoming work?

Yes! I’m thrilled to announce my newest release Into the Ashes a stand-alone sequel to award-winning military thriller Into the Mist and the latest title in my Taine McKenna adventure series.  Here’s the cover:

And here is the blurb:

No longer content to rumble in anger, the great mountain warriors of New Zealand’s central plateau, the Kāhui Tupua, are preparing again for battle. At least, that’s how the Māori elders tell it. The nation’s leaders scoff at the danger. That is; until the ground opens and all hell breaks loose. The armed forces are hastily deployed; NZDF Sergeant Taine McKenna and his section are tasked with evacuating civilians and tourists from Tongariro National Park. It is too little, too late. With earthquakes coming thick and fast and the mountains spewing rock and ash, McKenna and his men are cut off. Their only hope of rescuing the stranded civilians is to find another route out, but a busload of prison evacuees has other ideas. And, deep beneath the earth’s crust, other forces are stirring.

Praise for Into the Ashes:

“INTO THE ASHES is a kick-ass thriller with twists you will never see coming! Lee Murray serves up a nail-biter of a weird-science action adventure. Brava!” — Jonathan Maberry, New York Times best-selling author of DEEP SILENCE and V-WARS

Part disaster novel, part supernatural adventure – a suspenseful, action-packed thriller that’s entertaining as hell! —Tim Waggoner, author of TEETH OF THE SEA and BLOOD ISLAND  

“INTO THE ASHES hits the ground running and does not let up. A unique background, interesting characters, a dollop of horror, and a relentless, thriller pace.” — Charles R Rutledge, co-author of the Griffin and Price series.

“Murray’s INTO THE ASHES reads like a gauntlet – an action-packed adventure where death strikes from every side. A thrilling read!” — Ashley Knight, co-author of HERALD

____

Lee Murray is a multi-award-winning writer and editor of science fiction, fantasy and horror (Sir Julius Vogel, Australian Shadows). Her works include the Taine McKenna adventure series, and supernatural crime-noir series The Path of Ra (co-written with Dan Rabarts). She is also the editor of ten dark fiction anthologies, the latest being Hellhole: An Anthology of Subterranean Terror (Adrenalin Press). Lee lives with her family in New Zealand where she conjures up stories from her office overlooking a cow paddock.

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Summer Writers Series: an interview with Lee Murray Pt 1

This is the latest in a series of Guest Posts where I’ve posed some deeply serious questions to some awesome writers who probably deserve better. My questions are in bold. 

[This is in two parts because Lee answered everything in the long damn quiz, and she did it beautifully. ]

Who are you and what have you done with the Real Lee Murray?

The real Lee Murray is currently serving a 25-year prison term for masterminding a £53-million armed raid. I’m the other Lee Murray, the writer. I’m also a short, half-Chinese, 3rd generation New Zealander, a mother, wife, dog owner, scientist, tea drinker, anxiety-sufferer and former marathon runner. I believe in reading, vaccination, family holidays, cheesecake, tolerance, and kindness. Especially kindness. And right now, looking at this 30-question interview, I should probably add terrified to that list.

If you had to describe yourself in terms of a soft drink, which would you be and why?

A Diet Coke. Because my writing is dark and sugarless.

Harry Potter world: what house are you? And what animal would be your patronus?

Ravenclaw all the way! Apparently, like Cho Chang, my patronus is a swan—I took a test. The Results: You may be quiet, but that doesn’t mean you’re antisocial. Constantly surrounded by a group of friends, you can always count on them to act as a support system in times of emotional distress. Keep your head up and enjoy the simple pleasures in life. Do your best not to dwell on the past: the future is bright. [Fingers crossed]

Are you a Think Everything Through Before Acting person or a Great Idea Let’s Try It! Person?

The latter mostly, although not when it comes to moving house. On moving day, I have all the boxes packed and ready to go before the movers arrive.

What got you into writing?

I don’t really know. I’ve always been a scribbler, a prehistoric blogger before they were a thing. Encouraged firstly by my dad, and later by various teachers and mentors, it was always on my mind to write, but it wasn’t until my children were small, and I was at home during their naptimes, that I made a conscious effort to ‘become’ a writer. Completing some masters papers in creative writing at Northtec along with a couple of unfinished novels which had been sitting in boxes. Then, a decade ago, on the advice of a colleague, I started to call myself a writer, and even wrote ‘writer’ against my occupation on my passport, which made it more real somehow.

Why do you write now?

Right now because I have two book contracts to fulfil!

The real reason is because I’m a full-time writer and editor. It’s my job, albeit a poorly paid one. I don’t write simply because I love it. Yes, I do love it, but it annoys me when people say, ‘writers write because they love it’, or ‘we write because we have to’. While those statements are true, they also imply that loving our work should be sufficient recompense, that it makes up for earning pin money. If your lawyer enjoys his work, is it okay not to pay him? What if your plumber whistles while he fixes your sink? Does anyone ask lawyers and plumbers why they do the work they do? [Whoops! She tumbles from the soapbox.]

Reading: What’s the earliest story you can remember reading and loving?

The earliest story? Seven Little Postmen. Sam the Fireman. Angelo the Naughty One. Ferdinand the Bull. Grimm’s Fairy tales. The story from my childhood which resonates for me the most is Horton Hatches the Egg. So many fond memories of bedtimes when Dad would read this to my brother and me. He was so great at doing the voices—I can still hear them in my head, and it’s important because he suffers from Alzheimer’s and is non-verbal now. We used to chime in when he read the mantra: “I meant what I said and I said what I meant, and an elephant’s faithful, 100%”. It’s a saying that sticks with you. And quite apart from the fact that it can be handy to know something about percentages when your royalty cheque comes in, it’s a mantra I’ve tried to live by.

What’s a book you remember reading as a teenager and absolutely loving?

Hmm. My middle grade and early teen years were a bit of a bonanza for classic texts. Here is a selected, and highly-abbreviated, bibliography: The complete CS Lewis series, Peter Pan, Call of the Wild, The Wind in the Willows, Watership Down, The Hobbit, The Owl Service, Children of the Poor by John A Lee, A Christmas Carol, Oliver Twist, Lord of the Rings (12) The Day of the Triffids, The Chrysalids, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Mother by Pearl Buck (13), The Diary of Anne Frank….The Illiad. Our family used to go to the library every Friday evening and each of us kids (there were four of us) were allowed to bring home twenty books. Twenty! I read everything I could get my hands on, loved everything.

What are you reading right now?

[opens kindle and checks the titles still in progress]. A non-fiction title on poetry, The Witchhunt by Lori R Lopez (an author preview copy), The Strangers by Michaelbrent Collings, Dracula’s Revenge by Charles R, Rutledge, Fountain Dead by Theresa Braun. On audiobook: Alter by Jeremy Robinson. I also have some awards reading still to do.

What’s a book that you have on your shelf that you think might surprise people?

Extremely Embarrassing Dad Jokes: Because Dads don’t know when to stop, by Ian Allen. Surprise! It was my husband’s Christmas present and somehow it has ended up in the office bookshelf.

What book would you like everyone to read?

Preferably one of mine. 😊 Or, failing that, a book by one of our fabulously talented New Zealand speculative fiction writers. Suburban Book of the Dead by Jamie Sands is an excellent read, for example. Read New Zealand works, books written by women, by LGBTQ writers… read widely, read often, read any book that you like, just please, please, if you can, leave a review because it makes a huge difference to the author.

Are you a stop reading at the end of the chapter, mid chapter, or just whenever reader?

Stop reading? What is this thing?

Can you name some formative books for your own writing?

I’m always striving to learn new things. Right now, I’m dipping into non-fiction ebooks on screenwriting, on poetry, and on creating suspense. I’m particularly enjoying It’s Alive: Bringing Your Nightmares to Life (Joe Mynhardt and Eugene Johnson eds), a collection of essays and articles on writing from working writers, many of them my colleagues from the horror community.

How do you organise your personal library? (alphabetical, dewey decimal, what’s your system?)

I squeeze them into the bookcase wherever I can find a space big enough. To be honest, I was forced to cull a few books when we moved a couple of years ago. It was such a painful experience that I am trying to be more discerning about purchasing print books. Now, my rule is to only purchase books with an author’s signature. Oh look over there…. a bookshop!

Tune in soon for the second half of the interview…

___

Lee Murray is a multi-award-winning writer and editor of science fiction, fantasy and horror (Sir Julius Vogel, Australian Shadows). Her works include the Taine McKenna adventure series, and supernatural crime-noir series The Path of Ra (co-written with Dan Rabarts). She is also the editor of ten dark fiction anthologies, the latest being Hellhole: An Anthology of Subterranean Terror (Adrenalin Press). Lee lives with her family in New Zealand where she conjures up stories from her office overlooking a cow paddock.

Goodreads

Lee’s Website
Twitter


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Summer writers series: Death of a Writer by Naomi Aoki

This guest post is by Naomi Aoki, and part of my Summer writers guest series.

I logged into Draft2Digital (D2D) today to check on the publishing progress of a book with Amazon, surprise, surprise, it had not yet gone live. But was even more interesting; annoying as hell was the need to add another layer of kowtowing to Amazon and say that I give D2D permission to publish my books, on my behalf to Amazon. I know, you’d think the fact that uploaded my books to the D2D site and then checked a box would be all the proof that Amazon needed, it’s not for them to stand guard of me and protect me from unscrupulous publishers…. Oh wait, it has nothing to do with protecting me at all. It has everything to do with Amazon trying to further extend the monopoly that they have over the publishing industry, especially where it concerns Indie/Self-publishers.

Amazon is a monopoly, a horrific bullying one who doesn’t care about the publishing world beyond the money it can scrap from authors and readers alike. And its biggest con, Kindle Unlimited. Subscription based services by in large are a good thing; enable a wider reach of a product/service to consumers who might not take the time to try, or in this case, read a new author. But Kindle Unlimited isn’t run like other subscription services, demanding exclusivity without fair compensation. I mean seriously do you really think half a cent per page is a good deal? No, it’s not. Well, it might have been if, as an author you could continue to list your books on other platforms and not become solely dependent upon Kindle Unlimited for income. And yes, yes, I know you can take your books out after ninety-days, but the bulk of an author’s meagre income comes in that short period. Reliant page reads, the addiction to Kindle Unlimited, no matter how they despise it, is hard to break.

And page reads… well to keep up the high number of page-reads each month or to increase them further, isn’t just about promotion. It’s about pushing out more books or increasing the page count of those books – page stuffing scandals have already erupted, and I have no doubt that another scandal will occur around authors manipulating the page count of their books to earn a few more cents. I’ve seen authors put down as their goals for 2019, This year I’m going to put out two books a month. They promise they are going to be quality and while I know every author works at a different rate… but two books? Even those written at the shorter novella length… something has to give. An author’s health; the quality of their books, the growth of their writing. But I suppose when a reader isn’t paying for a book, the way in which they judge it is different; they expect less. And then there is the expectation for authors to put their work on Kindle Unlimited, as though the owe to the readers to provide to them for essentially free. And yes, I have seen comments like: I won’t buy an author’s book if they don’t list them in Kindle Unlimited.

But I am not a hamster running furiously on a wheel. I am not a chimp thumping away on the keyboard hoping to spit out Shakespeare. My writing deserves more than that and while I might make more by abandoning all my morals to shove my work up on Kindle Unlimited, you won’t see my work there.

My latest novel Crossing the Line is now available… and if you’re lucky it might even have gone live on Amazon.

Or if a Dirty Kiwi Cop and their Yakuza Lover isn’t your thing, I’ve also published a late Qing Dynasty/Victorian Historical, Rebellion.

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Readers Group: Kiwi Authors Rainbow Reads

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The Harry Potter Interview technique

I used to get super nervous in job interviews. Like heart racing, bowel upset, can’t think anxious over job interviews.

And this isn’t a surprise.

In a job interview you’re basically trying to sell yourself. You’re trying to prove that you’re awesome, and the company is trying to determine if you’re the right kind of awesome for them. And they’re trying to sell you on how awesome the company is, and you’re trying to work out the truth of that… it’s a whole can of worns.

It’s a situation that makes you vulnerable. It can feel like if you’re not offered the job in the end, there must be something wrong with you – as a person –

This isn’t at all true by the way. There’s a huge number of reasons coming into play: the timing might be off, another person they’re interviewing might have just a smidge more experience, they could also have someone in mind for the job but wanted to ‘go through the motions’, the interviewer may be having a bad day, or the weather might be affecting them. You might even remind them of someone they don’t want to work with. There’s a lot of reasons, and none of them are your fault.

Whatever. You can’t control those things. The thing you can control is yourself.

Here’s the technique I use, which is stolen almost directly from Harry Potter. Just with less death.

You know the bit at the end of the Deathly Hallows when Harry is about to face Voldemort and possibly die? He pulls the resurrection stone out and turns it. He’s surrounded by his parents, Sirius Black, Remus Lupin, a whole lot of friends and adopted family who died. They tell him he’s brave, that they’re proud of him, that he’s done well. It’s a beautiful tear-jerking moment.

I use this idea. I visualise my friends and family around me. I don’t kill them or anything, I just imagine them like they’re astrally projecting.

I go into the interview as prepared as I can, obviously, but once I’m there I sit and imagine people who love me. I imagine them standing behind me, which makes me feel a lot less alone when there’s two to three people on the other side of the table.

I choose people who are super supportive to me in real life. The ones who have my back. The ones who check in on me, the ones I can trust implicitly. I imagine them telling me I’ve got this. Maybe they’re telling me I’m awesome, or maybe they’re just standing and smiling and reminding me I’m not alone.

It’s kind of a form of self talk, and it’s a visualisation for sure. It might sound totally woo-woo. But I’m a geek, and a confirmed Gryffindor, and it’s very reassuring to me. It’s more or less erased my nervousness about job interviews and it frees my mind from the anxiety over ‘what if they don’t like me?’ and allows me to focus on answering the important questions. Not to mention remembering to ask questions of the people doing the interview.

I’ve even had moments when I’ve been asked a question which threw me, and had the feeling like these people standing behind me (Mum, Dad, partner, best friend, etc). One of them leans forwards and says ‘yeah, you know the answer to this’ and the answer comes to me.

I’m sure this technique would also work for other scary situations like public speaking, or going into a new situation like a new workplace, or going to a new meetup or club or something.

If you can contain even some of your nervousness, you’ll come across better in the interview. So, maybe you can try out this technique,and let me know if it works for you.

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Suburban Book of the Dead paperback out now

😀

I’m really excited that my book is now out in paperback format. It’s something I’ve always dreamed of: having my own book on my shelf. My words written and printed in a proper book.

I’ve ordered some author copies, and I’m super excited for the day they arrived. I might just roll around in them and I don’t even know. It’s gonna be a good day.

If you want my words on your shelf as well, please order a copy! I’ve seen the quality on my proofs. The actual book is lovely, matte cover and pretty paper and it smells good.

I’ve also recently been interviewed on a little facebook blog called The Terror Tree, and she gave me a really lovely review. Please go and check it out!