From Professional Hockey Player to Published Novelist

As some of you know I like crime shows and novels, so this week I’m going to indulge a little and share with you some crime books. I had the opportunity to meet Novelist Luke Murphy and here he is with us to share his work.

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It can almost be said with certainty that I didn’t follow the path of the average writer. As a child, I never dreamed of writing a best-seller, never aspired to write the next classic novel, I wanted to be an NHL superstar…period.

I was born in a small rural community in Western Quebec. Like every boy growing up in Canada, I aspired to be an NHL superstar.

With the death of my mother in 1992, losing a battle to cancer she had fought so hard against for years, I sensed it was time to get serious about reaching my dreams, and moved away to pursue hockey.

From 1992-1995, while playing for the Pembroke Lumber Kings in the Central Junior Hockey League, I noticed a shift in the game of hockey and realized that the odds of making it to the NHL were unfavorable for a kid who stood 5’9’’ and weighed 160 pounds. So, my goals shifted. I accepted a hockey scholarship to Rochester Institute of Technology. If I couldn’t make a living playing hockey, at least I could achieve an education and open doors for my future.

After four rewarding years at College, receiving a Bachelor of Science degree in Marketing, I wasn’t ready to give up on the game I love. I’d been told my whole life that I was too small, not a good enough skater, and I didn’t have what it took to make it.

The summer after graduation, I received an invitation to the Florida Panthers Rookie Camp – I wasn’t about to let this opportunity slip away. I trained hard during the summer, on and off the ice, and showed up for camp in the best shape of my life. I had a successful camp, scoring the game winning goal against the Ottawa Senators (I still talk about that goal with my buddies and after a couple of drinks, it becomes an end-to-end rush with a top-shelf finish)

Unfortunately, I broke my hand in an awkward hit in my fourth exhibition game that ended my camp, but my hard work paid off. The Panthers offered me a Minor League contract, $500 a week to play the game I love. I spent six years in the minors (ECHL, UHL, CHL, etc.), and retired in 2006 with no regrets.

From a family of avid readers, even as a child, I always had a passion for books. Whether it was reading novels on road trips or writing assignments in school, literature was always part of my life.

In the winter of 2000, after sustaining a season ending eye injury while playing in Oklahoma City, I found myself with a lot of time on my hands, and a new hobby emerged.

Some of my favorite authors are Greg Iles, Michael Connelly and Harlan Coben. I love suspense-thriller books, movies and everything about the genres.

One day, with an idea in mind, I sat down in front of a computer and began writing. I wrote a little every day, around my intense rehabilitation schedule and before I knew it, I had completed my first manuscript.

I didn’t write with the intention of being published. I wrote for the love of writing, as a hobby. Ever the perfectionist, I didn’t see my novel at the level to compete with best-selling authors across the country. I continued to hobby write through the years, honing my craft, making time between work (hockey) and family obligations.

Then I made a decision – I enjoyed writing so much, I decided I wanted to take my interest one step further – write a story with the intention of being published and making it available for friends, family, and readers around the world to enjoy. I realized that I wanted to be like my favorite authors – entertain readers and allow them, like when I read, to escape reality and for a moment be in another place and time.

I’ve never been one to take things lightly or jump in half way. I took a full year off from writing to study the craft. I constantly read, from novels in my favorite genres to books written by experts in the writing field. I continually researched on the internet, reading up on the industry and process. I attended writing conferences, made friends (published and unpublished authors), bombarding them with questions, learning what it took to become successful.

This was when my experience in hockey really paid off. My competitive edge kept me going. Breaking into the publishing industry was a lot like competing in the world of hockey – many candidates vying for very few spots. It takes hard work, patience, and persistence.

Feeling that I was finally prepared, in the winter of 2007, with an idea in mind and an outline on paper, I started to write DEAD MAN`S HAND. It took me two years (working around full time jobs) to complete the first draft of my novel.

I then worked with editors and joined a critique group, doing anything I could to learn, to improve my writing and my novel to point where I could create the best possible novel.

I sent out hundreds of query letters to agents. After six months of rejections, I pulled my manuscript back and worked on it again. Then in my next round of proposals, I was offered representation by Ms. Jennifer Lyons of the Jennifer Lyons Literary Agency.

After months of work with Jennifer, and more rejections from publishers, my dream was finally realized in April, 2012, when I signed a publishing contract with Imajin Books (Edmonton, Alberta).

My one piece of advice for all aspiring hockey players and writers…you need to be persistent, patient and thick-skinned. You’ll get a lot of “no’s” along the way and people trying to bring you down. But remember, it only takes one “yes”. Stick with it. Anything is possible.

What happens when the deck is stacked against you…

From NFL rising-star prospect to wanted fugitive, Calvin Watters is a sadistic African-American Las Vegas debt-collector framed by a murderer who, like the Vegas Police, finds him to be the perfect fall-guy.

…and the cards don’t fall your way?

When the brutal slaying of a prominent casino owner is followed by the murder of a well-known bookie, Detective Dale Dayton is thrown into the middle of a highly political case and leads the largest homicide investigation in Vegas in the last twelve years.

What if you’re dealt a Dead Man’s Hand?

Against his superiors and better judgment, Dayton is willing to give Calvin one Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000040_00067]last chance. To redeem himself, Calvin must prove his innocence by finding the real killer, while avoiding the LVMPD, as well as protect the woman he loves from a professional assassin hired to silence them.

Dead Man’s Hand is a pleasure, a debut novel that doesn’t read like one, but still presents original characters and a fresh new voice.” Thomas Perry, New York Times bestselling author of Poison Flower

“You may want to give it the whole night, just to see how it turns out.”—William Martin, New York Times bestselling author of The Lincoln Letter

http://www.amazon.com/Dead-Mans-Hand-ebook/dp/B009OUT2ME

IMG_5365Luke Murphy lives in Shawville, Quebec with his wife, two daughters and pug.

He played six years of professional hockey before retiring in 2006. Since then, he’s held a number of jobs, from sports columnist to radio journalist, before earning his Bachelor of Education degree (Magna Cum Laude).

Murphy`s debut novel, Dead Man`s Hand, was released by Imajin Books on October 20, 2012.

For more information on Luke and his books, visit: www.authorlukemurphy.com, ‘like’ his Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/pages/Author-Luke-Murphy/268343729930467 and follow him on Twitter www.twitter.com/#!/AuthorLMurphy

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My Lessons from NaNoWriMo 2011

Every year is the same thing, the challenge to write a novel in 30 days of 50,000 words or more. But is it really the same thing? In my three years doing Nano I can attest that it’s never the same experience, even if you’re meeting with the same people. So like every experience you take something out of it and I’m going to share my lessons from this year.

  • Thou shall not publish a book in October if you’re planning to participate in NaNoWriMo. Goodness gracious alive! It was my first time, and as first timers go, I didn’t know any better. I had no idea of all the work involved once you’re published and balancing all that was quite challenging.
  • Write-ins are your friends – I don’t think I would have made it this year without the write-ins and the support from my Pandas (Atlanta’s wrimos) There were days I couldn’t write being overwhelmed with other responsibilities, and writer’s block rode on my back all month, but you get to a write-in with the mindset that during that block of time is to focus on Nano, and you also talk out your hurdles and everyone pitches in, it was awesome!
  • Not all wrimos are created equal I think I took for granted that I was kind of veteran in this NaNo business and the first week I pushed very hard ending with 30k. You may think that’s amazing! Yeah, but then I was burned out and dragged the rest of the month. You shall never compare yourself to those non-human wrimos who can write 50k in a day (no names mentioned Smile with tongue out) and know that 3-5k for you is ok that way you’re not banging yourself against the walls in the middle of November.
  • Sleep is not optional – As much as I enjoy working all day and night… Wait, who am I kidding, I love my sleep! and  I missed it so much this month. If my plot came to me in a dream, then why didn’t I just take a nap when I was stuck. My brain just doesn’t function well with little sleep, it does things like forget to pay the bills, drive pass my exit, lose my car keys that are in my pocket…not a pretty picture!
  • I love my wrimo family – I have to say that at least in my region, wrimos are very close, even if we only see each other once a year. We stay in touch sporadically through social media throughout the rest of the year, but I’ve met some dear friends through this program. This year, a beautiful lady with whom I speak every day on twitter from Canada came to Atlanta and I had the opportunity to finally put a face with a name.  I also met two other Christian writers, one who I was her mentor and the other one who came to one of my write-ins. It’s a great experience overall.

So even when I did write over 50k this year, I don’t consider it a win because I didn’t complete the novel, but I had fun, met some fun and exciting people, was able to get with my friends again, ate the best coconut cake in town, didn’t gain weight during Nano and overall enjoyed the process of a new creation.

Until NaNoWriMo 2012, Have a blessed day!

Remember as it says in that cute green picture on the left side of my blog. From Dec 2nd to the 6th 99 hours of inspirational books by 10 authors for 99 cents, including Growth Lessons. Right in time for the holidays!