About Mur

Herself who runneth this site.

Ditch Diggers #27: Madeline Ashby talks futurism

  • Mur and Matt come to you live from Morgan Freeman’s nature walk with special guest co-host, Madeline Ashby!
  • Matt on how, technically, anywhere you walk outside is Morgan Freeman’s nature walk.
  • Madeline talks about her new futuristic novel COMPANY TOWN, its themes and inspiration.
  • Cannibalism, and the appropriate amount thereof in all things, is discussed.
  • Matt and Mur talk with Madeline about her work as a foresight consultant, and how she utilizes her skills as an SFF author in that field, and vice versa.
  • What it takes to become a professional foresight consultant.
  • Madeline talks about working on transmedia projects and comics.
  • The illiteracy of the film industry.
  • Ditch Diggers Q&A, which covers, among many things, the joys of marrying a union plumber (NOT to be confused with a freelance plumber).

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Ditch Diggers #26: Agent/Author Relations, with Kameron Hurley and Hannah Bowman

Matt and Mur come to you live, connected via Skype, between Morgan Freeman’s haberdashery and Morgan Freeman’s Tomb of the Youngsters, with special guest go-hosts, multi-Hugo Award-winning author Kameron Hurley and her agent, Hannah Bowman!

  • Matt and Mur argue the nature of ad-libs.
  • Matt pronounces Hannah’s name incorrectly (it’s Han-ah, like Han Solo).
  • This fearsome foursome discuss authors, agents, and booze.
  • Hurley discusses how she came to sign with her agent, and Hannah discusses why she chose to sign her client, Hurley.
  • Tips for authors vetting potential agents.
  • Hurley and Hannah talk about their author/agent process when it comes to planning, executing, and editing books (which basically consists of having no set process).
  • Hurley talks about how her new essay collection, THE GEEK FEMINIST REVOLUTION came about, and Hannah’s role in it.
  • Hurley and Hannah field questions from the Ditch Diggers audience, including agenting debut novels, agents editing vs. editors editing, and absolutely nothing about woodchucks chucking wood (you’ll see/hear).

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ISBW #362: Glossary of writing terms and Helen Lowe Interview

What do all those words I’m always saying mean? I go over several terms we discuss in publishing. I loved this idea, so if you have other ideas for terms you’d like discussed in more detail, let me know!

Then I talk to Helen Lowe, author of Daughter of Blood.

(affiliate links)

Beyoncé Was Right: Madeline Ashby Guest Blog

Madeline Ashby is one of those people who is so damn smart she kind of intimidates me. Luckily she’s very kind and awesome, so I’m delighted to feature her on a guest blog to talk about an aspect of the writer’s life that many find difficult to navigate: money. Watch for an upcoming interview with Madeline on Ditch Diggers, and hear her previous interview on ISBW #316. And THEN get her new book from Tor, Company Town.

Company Town

Company Town

Beyoncé Was Right
When I asked if I could write up a blog post in support of my new novel Company Town, our dear hostess asked for a guestblog about the business of writing. So I thought I would tell you all a juicy story about a time that I didn’t get paid, and how I resolved the situation.

First, some background: I’m a science fiction writer and a futurist. What that means is that I write science fiction prototypes for clients who want to know how humans will use their products, platforms, or technologies. Or, alternatively, I write stories about the future of a given thing: like a world without antibiotics, or urban warfare in a smart city, or disaster management, or what have you. It was on the strength of this career that I was asked to write for a publication that was expanding its subject area, and adding a technology vertical to its existing masthead.

Right away, something seemed off. I had to fight for a byline, despite already having my own bylines elsewhere. And, as so often happens, that first impression was dead on. My pitches went ignored. My content management software license took forever to appear. When it did, it was bloatware that crashed my computer — but the editors knew the developers, so there was no other alternative. One simple 350-word assignment was turned back nine separate times, with nine different contradictory edits. After a week without answering any of my emails, they fired me.

Then, for months, they refused to pay me.

Now, I have been very lucky in my career, to work with wonderful clients who value my work. I am truly privileged in that regard. I’ve been invited to board rooms and hard lofts, by startups and industry leaders. With my clients I’ve collated sticky notes, appeared at day zero events, and even taken part in group meditation sessions, and I’ve had great fun doing it. And then I’ve gotten paid. Promptly. So this was a new situation for me. I asked other freelancers how they had handled similar issues, and they told me I should probably wait at least three months before seriously raising the issue.

So, I waited. And waited. And waited. And then I raised the issue with one of my contacts at the company. I raised it again. And again. And again. When emails didn’t work, I called. Week in, week out, I called. When it was clear that my calls weren’t providing the proper motivation, I realized I had to get creative.

With that in mind, I called the publisher’s main office. I explained my situation as plainly and politely as possible. The young woman on the other end of the line was very pleasant, and very sympathetic, and had no idea how to help. “Do you have a payroll department?” I asked.

“Not really,” she said. “We all just get paid by Mr. ______.”

“Mr. ______?”

“Yeah. I think so. It’s his name on the checks, anyway.”

“….Can you spell that for me, please? Thanks so much.”

Mr. ______ turned out to be very accomodating, once I found him on LinkedIn. I explained the situation, and named the people I had dealt with, and the fact that I hadn’t been paid for months. The next day, my money arrived.

Best Revenge

What is the moral of this story? First, trust your instincts. The gig was never a good fit for me, and I should have bailed earlier to save myself the stress and to give myself the opportunity move on to something better. Second, you can always go another level higher on the food chain to resolve a problem. Anyone who’s ever worked a service job knows this — “Let me find my manager,” is the most magic phrase there is, aside from “Let me buy you a drink.” Third, and most basic, don’t talk to editors or administratives about missing money. It’s literally not their department. That’s a job for finance, or accounting, or payroll. They’re the ones who process checks. Your editor doesn’t know where your check is. Your editor will ask someone in payroll. So, save yourself and your editor some hassle and ask payroll. That will help preserve your relationship with the editor and it’ll get you your money faster. When in doubt, trust in the wisdom of Beyoncé: Always stay gracious; the best revenge is your paper.

ISBW #361: Feedback | Elizabeth Bonesteel Interview

Covering feedback this time, including the importance of race in a story, ideas during depression, and more! Then we talk to Elizabeth Bonesteel, author of the excellent SF novel The Cold Between.

(affiliate links)

Ditch Diggers #25: The Absolute Guide to Failure 2, Electric Boogaloo

  • Mur and Matt come to you live from Morgan Freeman’s doll hospital, and spend way too much time talking about doll hospitals in general and Morgan’s doll hospital in particular.
  • The Ditch Diggers bring you up-to-date on their professional lives. Mur starts over. Matt needs to write faster.
  • Mur experiments with delayed segues.
  • Neither Matt nor Mur have touched best-selling authors in inappropriate ways, they swear.
  • The Ditch Diggers’ Guide to Absolute Failure returns!
  • Matt and Mur read Guide contributions from listeners, including a former literary agent intern.
  • Matt doesn’t know how to use “shutes” properly, and a certain percentage of the food you eat is bugs and plastic.
  • Mur on “negging” in author interactions, and her new best friend.
  • Writing is easy, and the internet doesn’t really exist.
  • The second installment of The DD Guide to Absolute Failure concludes.
  • Email/Twitter questions and answers!
  • Guide to Literary Agents 2016: http://amzn.com/1599639408


Brain Crack

Back in January I was talking about a lost Ze Frank video, and lamenting it because it’s one of my favorite arguments against people who are afraid to write their great idea. Luckily Michael Kohne found it for me! Thanks Michael!

This of course reminds me of the project I want to do in the vein of my Tea Party with Failure. I need to get on that. Else it will be brain crack.

(NSFW Language)

SIX WAKES Cover Reveal

I’m so excited to show off the cover of my new book, Six Wakes, out this October from Orbit (and you can totally preorder it*!).  I’m currently working on the final round of edits and I’m really proud of it. It’s a clone murder mystery IN SPACE.** Thanks to Orbit for an amazing cover!

A space adventure set on a lone ship where the murdered crew are resurrected through cloning to discover who their killer was — and the secret to their mission.

Six Wakes Cover


* Affiliate link, natch
** Clone Murder Mystery in SPACE was a rejected title. Another rejected title was from my friend Alasdair: Murder Space Clone Bastard^

^ OK, so they weren’t rejected titles. I struggle with putting titles on books, but not that much.

The Artist’s Way

I’m going to be attempting a group Artist’s Way journey for Patreon supporters starting next week. The Artist’s Way is a spiritual guide to creativity and I found it very useful to me a few years ago. I’ve always meant to do it again but it’s hard to keep up (like any habit). I’m hoping the group atmosphere will help everyone out.

Aside from the struggle of learning a new habit, the biggest complaint against the Artist’s Way is its mentioning of God or the Great Creator. Atheists shy away from this, thinking it’s all woo and nothing useful is in it. As I am not religious at all, here’s how I look at it: working through AW helps your brain process things, i.e. work through problems through journaling. Studies have shown when you journal and write down gratitudes, it improves your look on life. When you are feeling good, you’re more likely to notice good things like opportunities. I don’t believe that trusting in God will give me opportunities. I believe that improving my brain’s take on the world will allow me to see things and have ideas I wouldn’t have thought possible before.

Here’s a metaphor: It’s a beautiful sunny day. Some people will say God brought the sunny day, and be happy and satisfied. Some will say weather patterns and cold fronts cleared the sky, and be happy and satisfied. But the end result, a sunny day, is the same, and that’s what I’m shooting for with my take of the AW.

So if you want to join us, check out the Patreon. I’m not putting this on any tier; all levels can join in. You can throw in just a buck and come do the Artist’s Way with us.

I’m going to check out the workbook, but you totally don’t need to get it, the book is enough. Here are links to both the book and the workbook. (affiliate link)

ISBW #360: Level up! Plus Dan Koboldt Interview

I’ve leveled up as a writer, and I interview Dan Koboldt, author of The Rogue Retrieval. We also talk about the online writing workshops, OWW and Critters.