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Posts Tagged ‘Nicole Murphy’

Winner Nicole Murphy Give-away!

Posted by Rowena Cory Daniells on July 3, 2011

Nicole says:
Thanks everyone for all the comments – you all provided some thought for me as well. I was impressed by the number of you who are working hard and pressing ahead with your own writing dreams – I wish for you persistence and happiness in the endeavour.

Now, to the winners. In the end, I found myself torn between Chris’ desire to write an Aussie Hitchhikers-inspired story because I love Hitchhikers, or Tsana’s dream to write science fiction, since I too have an SF character I devised at 13 that I’m desperate to find a story for. I couldn’t decide a favourite, so I flipped a coin and the winner is Chris.

Congrats Chris – send your snail mail address to nicole (at) nicolermurphy (dot) com and I’ll get a copy of Rogue Gadda in the mail for you next week.

Posted in Australian Spec Fic Scene, Book Giveaway | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Nicole Murphy – what I’ve learnt since my trilogy sale

Posted by Rowena Cory Daniells on June 25, 2011

Or … The joy of being a newbie writer.


July 1 marks the official release date of Rogue Gadda, the third and last book in the Dream of Asarlai series. It hasn’t even been two years since I got the email from the HarperVoyager publisher, Stephanie Smith, that began ‘Dear Nicole, I love your book…’

What a rollercoaster of a couple of years. I’ve written the other two books, edited and copyedited and proofed all three books and spent I don’t know how many hours promoting it all.

For the first thirteen months after I sold, pretty much every waking hour was given over to the Dream of Asarlai. If I wasn’t writing, I was thinking. If I wasn’t editing, I was planning promotion.

Then in August 2010, I delivered the manuscript for Rogue Gadda to the publisher and I found myself in the unique position of not knowing what I should be writing. No more deadlines. I still had work to do, based on editorial feedback, but the creative process was done.

It was at this point that I realised one of the great mistakes we make when we’re starting out on this mad journey to publication. We’re so focussed on the end result, on the dream, that we forget the joys of the present.

There ARE benefits to being an unpublished author. Sounds weird, I know, but it’s true.

For example as an unpublished author, you can write anything you want. Any genre. Any style. Any voice. Experiment. Go mad. Let the muse take you to far off lands.

Once you’ve had that first novel sale, however, you suddenly have this thing called a career, and career comes with restrictions. Publishers have expectations. They’ve signed you to contracts, established marketing plans. They’ve started to brand you, and they need that brand to continue.

Readers have expectations. They’ve invested time and money in you and now that they love your work, they want more.

So suddenly, you’re having to make decisions. Sure, that fabulous rolling epic fantasy looks GREAT, but perhaps you’re better off sticking with the urban fantasy genre you first published in. Or you want to write some short stories in your world but oops – the contract says the publisher owns the world and you can’t. Or you have a fabulous idea for a YA book but damn it – no point writing THAT until you know you’ve got more than one book, so you can establish a career as a YA writer…

Then as an unpublished author, you don’t have to worry about promoting yourself. You don’t have to spend money on creating bookmarks and posters for events. You don’t have to attend conventions to meet with folks. You don’t have to spend hours each week writing blog posts or contacting review sites or interacting with readers (and don’t think signing with a major publisher saves you from all this – IT DOESN’T!)

Then there’s the fact that as an unpublished author, you can sit back and watch the current upheavals in the publishing industry with interest but without feeling that every bookstore that closes is going to ruin your career. This might be contentious but honestly – if you don’t have to chase a major publishing contract right now, I’d suggest you don’t bother. Sit tight for a year or two, perfect your craft and wait for the dust to settle.

Does any of this mean that I’d give back my contract, or that I’m not trying for another one? Absolutely not. Being a contracted author is hard, hard work but it’s also the most fun I’ve ever had. I love my books. I love my world. I love that other people love my books and my world.

But there are days that I pine for the time when I didn’t have a contract, when I didn’t have a career to nurture and I could just write what I wanted.

Great days, my friends. Great days.

Giveaway question – if you could write anything, what would it be?

Nicole’s favourite response will win a copy of Rogue Gadda.

Rogue Gadda cookie

Connor handed it over carefully, making sure he didn’t touch her. The slightest contact of skin on skin would be enough to have his power draining into her and disappearing forever.

Posted in Australian Spec Fic Scene, Book Giveaway, Creativity, Editing and Revision, Editors, Nourish the Writer, Plotting, Promoting your Book, Publishers, Publishing Industry, Writing Craft | Tagged: , , , , , , | 28 Comments »

Coming back to that Manuscript …

Posted by Rowena Cory Daniells on February 5, 2011

Sally from the VISION Writers list asked for a post on:

‘How to find your way back into a story when you’ve been away for awhile’? With either the writing or re-writing process. I think skilful, seasoned writers might probably say – don’t leave in the first place! But life just happens, sometimes. And it feels like the story grows a tough hide in the meantime, that’s hard to pierce through and get back inside of. Tried and true ways to get back inside?’

Sally, this really hit a nerve with me.

I’ve spent since July last year working on The Outcast Chronicles trilogy that was written 6 years or more ago. Normally, if I come back to something, I’ll read it from beginning to end, let it brew for a bit, then tackle it once I have a vision for the whole thing. But because this was a complete trilogy of 500 pages each book, I couldn’t do this. So I re-read the synopsis (spelling plural?) and plunged into the clean up rewrite, while also bearing in mind the requests from my editor, based on his reading of the synopsis.

This has proved really challenging, with major changes happening, books ending in different spots, sub plots taking on large significance and one character’s age changing.  All of this had a roll-on effect and I’ve been riding the roller coaster of reworking the trilogy ever since.

So I asked the ROR group for their input and Nicole Murphy, author of the Secret Ones series volunteered her tips for getting back into a manuscript.

Nicole Murphy - Photo courtesy Cat Sparks

Nicole says:

In terms of having breaks in the writing – that’s one of the reasons I left a mentally-intensive job (journalism) and went into a mentally easy job (supermarket). At the checkouts I had to concentrate, but when I was wandering about putting up stock or tidying up displays, I often found myself working through where I was up to next in the story, so when I did get the chance to sit back down I knew where I was headed next.

For editing I have to leave the story alone – I can’t edit straight away, I need the break in order to look at it objectively. Only requires a few weeks, but necessary. I’ve got a bad habit of only seeing what I think should be on a page, rather than not what’s really there if I look at it again too soon (my English teacher used to go spare over this).

One thing I like to do (which is easy when you’re working on a series) is when I’m putting one book down, I work on drafting/editing another. It keeps me in the world, but not engaged with those characters (except in a minor way) or with that part of the storyline. However, this often leads to insights and understandings about the book I’m not working on that helps me when I come back to working on it – a good thing.

Otherwise, I have a series of things I use to get back into the story. One is to re-read and re-discover the story. You’ll sometimes here people say ‘don’t read what you’ve written, keep writing’ but sometimes you need the reminder. I use some meta-documents such as scene outlines and colour charts to help me look at the book objectively and see where its flaws and weaknesses are.

One more thing – I think we can get so caught up in the idea of ‘I’m a writer and I have to keep writing, regardless of what happens’ and to a certain extent, that’s true, particularly if you get a contract. But I also believe that there are times when life just says ‘Dude, settle – give yourself a break, you’re doing fine and it will all work out’. I had a couple of years where I barely wrote a word of fiction (it was all in my work at the newspaper) and I just trusted that it would work out. Sure enough when the time was right, I picked up the trilogy again (after a four year break) and sold it two years later. So find what works for you and do that.

Richard Harland, author of the hugely successful Worldshaker series says.

Good question, Sally, and I love your metaphor of the hide that grows on the abandoned story – like skin on hot milk when you let it go cold. You’ve already undercut my first response, which would be, Don’t leave it behind in the first place. For me, more than a week away means a major struggle to get back into the groove; more than a month away, and I usually end up rewriting everything I’ve already written. I think the story, world and characters are like a dream at the back of my mind; and if I go away for too long, they fade like a dream too.

So my first advice would be, try to add a tiny bit to the story every day or every second day, even if it’s only a sentence or a single short paragraph. Keep it turning over, keep it alive in your mind. Failing that, I guess all you can do is re-read and hope to recapture the thread. But it’s a huge drag!

And Margo Lanagan four times World Fantasy Winner (I love saying that!) and author of lots of things, but Tender Morsels is most recent, says:

1. Read what you’ve written, right through. Make marginal notes about what you MIGHT do, ideas for scenes, bits of dialogue you hear, atmospheres you feel from the existing material. Also, it’ll be very clear, as you read, where chunks are missing/overwritten. Mark these places. You might be able to jump right in at this point, but…

2. If you still haven’t got a handle on the story after the read-through, consult the scrapbook you made for it. If you didn’t make one, assemble one now; for a short story, a double-page spread might be enough, or even a single picture, if you find the right picture. Try and be relaxed and open while you put this together, ready to approach the story from a number of different angles. This step might get you going again, but…

3. Still tense and panicked? Hold the story and the pictures in your head while you do something mechanical (washing dishes) or physical (swimming laps). Focus on entry points for one or more scenes, either old scenes that you’re now repairing/rewriting, or entirely new ones that are going to drag the story off in a different direction. Just gently prod your imagination to work on some bit of the story, doesn’t matter what bit. I’d be very surprised if you haven’t got going by now, but…

4. Tell yourself, ‘I’ll just finish off THAT scene,’ or ‘I’ll just write TWO PAGES’. Sit down and write. Have a number of places-to-start at your fingertips, so that if that scene doesn’t work you can jump in again from another direction.

5. Keep going. The rest is doggedness.


I’d have to agree there is a very large component of Determination. It has been like a sauna here in Brisbane. I’ve been sitting at the computer with heat radiating off the screens, a wet washer on the back of my neck, writing. As long as I meet my page quota each day I’ll be OK.

So there you are, Sally. Hope this helps.

Anyone else have tips for how they get back into a manuscript?

Posted in Creativity, Editing and Revision, Genre Writing, Nourish the Writer, Plotting, Point of View, Research, World Buildng, Writing Craft, Writing goals | Tagged: , , , , , , | 8 Comments »

The Tenacious Dream

Posted by Rowena Cory Daniells on June 29, 2010

A couple of years ago Nicole Murphy came to Brisbane and we met for coffee in town. We talked about her ‘tenacious dream’ and how hard it was to believe in yourself and keep writing. I am delighted to be able to invite Nicole onto the ROR blog to promote the first book of her series!.

Lovely cover, by the way.

Take it away, Nicole ….

I remember quite vividly the moment I decided to be a published author.

I was eleven years old. Our school had just been introduced to process writing – until then, all the writing was ‘What I did on my holidays’ or excursion reports. Then, in Year Six, we were allowed to write whatever we wanted.

I wrote what I still believe to be my magnum opus – Thunder King. The story of a boy and his horse, who won five Melbourne Cups and three Caulfield Cups and in-between, had adventures in the Australian bush such as finding and killing a rampaging lioness, then adopting her orphaned cubs.

Damn, it was a good story.

Anyhoo, the teacher decided our stories would be published. A parent typed them up. I worked feverishly on the cover (the horribleness of the horse I drew still haunts me to this day) and then it was collated, stapled together and there it was.

A book. That I wrote. With my name on the cover.

And I knew that one day, I’d have that for real.

It’s taken nearly thirty years but today, that dream has finally come true. Secret Ones, book one in the Dream of Asarlai trilogy, is on the shelves.

It’s entirely my fault it’s taken so long. You see, I kept turning away from the dream. I let things like fear, or doing the “right thing” get in the way.

But the dream never gave up on me. It sat there, tapping me on the shoulder, continually feeding me ideas, never letting up.

In 2000, I started to commit to the dream. By the end of 2003, that commitment had petered out but not before the dream sowed its greatest seed – I’d written the drafts of a three-book fantasy romance series.

In 2005-2006 I edited The Outcast, one of the CSFG anthologies (with some kick-arse stories, by the way, including by RORers Maxine, Rowena, Tansy and Richard). Finally there it was – a book with my name on it. But it was a hollow victory, because the words inside weren’t mine. Other writers had sweated and laid themselves onto the page. I hadn’t.

The dream kicked me and we got back in business. It pointed to the fantasy romance series and whispered in my ear that it was good, it was fun to work on, it was commercially viable, and this was the one that could do it for me…

The dream was right. Thanks to its persistence, the dream came true. Then, to my surprise, it very calmly stepped aside to let other dreams come to the fore.

Photo courtesy Cat Sparks

Dreams of success. Dreams of making this a career. Dreams of writing and being published for the rest of my life.

The dream wasn’t holding on just for itself – no, it was holding on for the other dreams, which I hadn’t begun to conceive of yet.

So the moral – follow your dream, because you don’t know what dreams it’s working for.

Question for giveaway – I think coming up with this question has been harder than writing the novel.  Anyway, here ‘tis – In my first published book at age 11, my horse Thunder King won five Melbourne Cups. In reality, what is the most number of Melbourne Cups won by a single horse?

(We will collect the right answers, put them in a virtual ice-cream bucket and pull one out).

NOTE -The copy of Nicole’s bookw as won by Leanne C Taylor.

Posted in Australian Spec Fic Scene, Book Giveaway, Creativity, Nourish the Writer, Publishing Industry | Tagged: , , , | 17 Comments »