About Mur

Herself who runneth this site.

Too much gamification make Mur something something

Note- I recorded BOTH a Ditch Diggers with Matt today and an I Should Be Writing on my own. Those will go up soon.

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That’s me.

I have been using Habitica (previously Habit RPG) to try to keep track of (or change) my habits and to-do list for a few years now, to varying success. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, and sometimes when it doesn’t work, I kill my friends in my party. (Sorry, Jim, John, and Laura.)

We have an I Should Be Writing guild there, but it’s not very active. I’m not too good at doing challenges. I will work on that TONIGHT.

I’m a level 77 mage, with a candy cane cactus as my familiar and a white unicorn as my mount. I also have candy cane armor. My 8th grade self just felt a goose walk over her grave. A GOOSE OF AWESOME.

Is that enough gamification? I discovered no, Virginia, it is not.

Through Habitica I found 4thewords, a site in beta. This is like a visual RPG version of the magic spreadsheet. You “fight monsters” by writing a certain number of words within a certain time limit. If you do this, you “win” and get loot, level up, etc. And of course you get bonuses if you write a certain number of words every day to make a chain (444 for this site.)

I’ve only played it for one day, and gained one whole level, so I don’t have much to report. The site is a little too cute for my tastes, and the avatars have one skin shade, so that likely leaves a number of writers feeling a little left out. I’m still eager to check out what the gamification does to my productivity. It has leaderboards for longest chain, most words, and number of battles.

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I think the biggest problem (which I wouldn’t know how to fix) is the same problem I had with Write or Die: you have to write within a web browser. So if you’re used to Scrivener or Word or Pages, you write in the browser and when you’re done, you take your words and paste it into the program, which is slightly inconvenient. But like I said, I wouldn’t know how to fix this, since the site is designed to see how fast you’re getting writing done and doesn’t work on the honor system like NaNoWriMo does.

The site does have one more feature that I probably won’t be using unless I write fanfic or something, and that’s the opportunity to read what people are writing. I’ve discovered some use this site for fiction, but others use it for blogging. Kind of myopic for me to think it was only for fiction, or at the craziest, nonfic.

Anyway I’ll be trying this out too. I think the biggest problem I have with these sites is there doesn’t seem to be any way to friend people. On Habitica, you can have up to eight people in a party to fight bosses (and when you don’t do your daily habits, everyone in the party suffers health hits) but I can’t friend people specifically. And I haven’t found a way to do it in 4thwords, although I don’t know anyone else there anyway.

My party in Habitica. Don't they look awesome?

My party in Habitica. Don’t they look awesome? Note the flying pig and a dinosaur mounts.

I must run back to 4thewords so I can get another day and take my streak to two days.

STORIUM, News, and Skyrim tales

The amazing storytelling site I’ve been involved with, Storium, has launched an awesome interactive demo to help new players. It’s free and doesn’t require a signup. You literally have nothing to lose except for 5 minutes of your time. Check it out!


Library Journal just gave Six Wakes and Bookburners some love as well! And Six Wakes got a star! (You DO know that you can really help a book out by pre-ordering, right? Get Bookburners here. Get Six Wakes here.


We’ve gotten the new shiny Skyrim with mod support and better graphics and we’re all playing it with great glee. It helped to kill things during the month when we saw our nation crumble in a dumpster fire.

There are still interesting bugs with a game so intricate. The latest one I encountered had my adopted son begging for a present when I got home. I had a shirt for him, so I gave it to him. He was then immediately naked (with undies, natch) and ran around playing in the rain. Then he went to sit under a tree. In the rain. With no clothes on.

I followed him and tried to talk to him, but “get your damn clothes back on, you fool child” was nowhere in the dialogue tree. So I decided it was my housecarl’s problem and went on adventuring. (I just discovered others have noticed this bug.)

Then there was the time I was being chased by a wolf, ran into a bear, and then a dragon landed on all of us. But that’s another tale.

Peeking out of the burrow

I recently was looking for news on someone and I went to their blog. There was nothing on there but occasional podcasts. Then I realized that, uh, my own blog is just like that. I haven’t posted anything new in a very long time. I also have been very quiet on Twitter.

Part of the reason why I haven’t posted is depression over the election. I haven’t posted anything regarding that because I have nothing new to say about it that 2.6+ million people haven’t already said. I’m despondent and afraid.

But life goes on. I have to get out of my burrow and keep going and keep creating. So first, a rather lengthy update on me:

Books and other Fictiony things!
Six Wakes and Bookburners (affiliate links) come out next month! Six Wakes received a STARRED REVIEW OMG from Publishers Weekly.

This space-based locked-room murder mystery explores complex technological and moral issues in a way that’s certain to earn it a spot on award ballots.

Bookburners also got some Publishers Weekly love.

The action jumps around the globe, with side trips to other dimensions, while the writing briskly slides between vividly horrific and flippantly camp.

(You can probably guess who wrote the “flippantly camp” episodes.)

And my short story will appear in Star Wars Insider on December 27! “Voices of the Empire” was teased on Del Rey’s facebook page today!

art by Jason Chan!

art by Jason Chan!

Travel and other travely things!
We recently got back from a big time weekend in New York City for Jim’s birthday where we were hardcore tourists: Empire State Building, ice skating, shopping, restaurants, and the crowning event, seeing Hamilton! I can safely say that if anyone was worried the actors replacing the original cast would be sub-par, there is nothing to worry about. It’s still an amazing show that had us both laughing and crying. It was a thrill to see a handful of original cast members like Okieriete Onaodowan and Jasmine Cephas Jones (not to mention Thayne Jasperson from the ensemble).

Holidays
Fiona and I decided not to do the traditional Advent Calendar video podcast, what with travel for us and homework for her. She’s doing great in high school, though, we are typical crazy proud parents.

We are staying home for Christmas, and I continue to watch made for TV holiday movies so that you don’t have to. I’ll be reviewing them on the site, so long as I can continue to stay above ground close to my burrow.

What else?
Fiona got her braces off. She was pissed off that she needed to re-learn how to play the trumpet again.

Mothership Zeta has decided to go on hiatus and our last magazine before the break will be next month.

In November I remembered how tiring audiobook recording was when I narrated Six Wakes. But it’s done!

I participated in NaNoWriMo last month, and even though I didn’t win, I got farther than I ever had before. I ended at 45000 words, and although some might say “oh, so close!” I still feel pretty damn good about it. With two days left and more narration to do (see above) I knew I wouldn’t make the 7000 words I needed to win. So I ended up at 45K and satisfied.

I quit drinking soda. I’m pretty pissed that I haven’t seen any benefit from it. I hate it when they say “this is so bad for you” and then when you cut it out, nothing happens. Probably something good is going on inside but I can’t tell any difference.

And that’s the news with me. I think I hit most of the important points.

Ditch Diggers #32: Michael J. Martinez Says “F YOU, Dust!”

  • Matt and Mur come to you live from Morgan Freeman’s jazz house with special guest co-host Michael J. Martinez
  • On the subject of “free hugs” and hugging strangers in general at conventions
  • Mike talks about his first hardcover book release, his fantasy Cold War mash-up MJ-12: INCEPTION, which has a dust jacket and everything (“Michael J. Martinez, saying ‘fuck you’ to dust since 2016!”
  • Mike talks openly and honestly about the disintegration of his first publisher, Night Shade Books, and how it affected his and others’ career, and what the status is now.
  • How Mike started his writing career, and how you go from one book to thinking about and planning for a career in fiction publishing.
  • The Ditch Diggers delve into Mike’s former career in journalism, and how he balances writing with his new career in finance.
  • Retirement planning for authors. Mike talks about how he views writing full-time as a realistic goal, and what it takes to reach that goal.
  • Q&A from Twitter, including unread questions from Matt’s mom, and having your work optioned for film/TV.

Mike’s website: michaeljmartinez.net
Mike on Twitter: @mikemartinez72
Borderlands: https://borderlands-books.com/
MJ-12: Inception: https://amzn.com/1597808776


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ISBW #367: NaNoWriMo Special with Grant Faulkner

I was lucky enough to talk to Grant Faulkner, the grand poobah of NaNoWriMo!

Are you ready for November?


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Ditch Diggers #31: The Godparents Episode with Gail Carriger and Howard Tayler

For the first time we have Matt and Mur, and the godparents of Ditch Diggers Gail Carriger and Howard Tayler, in the same room together!

  • Mur and Matt come to you live from Morgan Freeman’s hotel room, into which they’ve totally been invited and did NOT in any way break and enter, and welcome special guest co-hosts, best-selling author Gail Carriger and creator of the Schlock Mercenary comic series, Howard Tayler!
  • Also, it’s the Wednesday of WorldCon 74 in Kansas City, MO.
  • Mur is the words, Gail is the style. Howard has won awards for talking out of his meat hole.
  • Mur explains how Gail and Howard are the godmother and godfather of the Ditch Diggers podcast.
  • There will be many references, without context, to fisting throughout the episode.
    The foursome discuss novellas in today’s market, and the different approaches to using shorter/serialized content to build and maintain an audience and maximize your revenue stream.
  • Authors and Patreon, pros, cons, misunderstandings, misuses, and maximizing value.
  • Gail and Howard share war stories, victories and losses, of working the publishers booth at conventions, and the value (or lack thereof) of having a table.
  • Ditch Diggers achieve a four F-bomb minute while Matt, Mur, Gail, and Howard discuss keeping it clean for marketing purposes.
  • There is no Q&A because Matt forgot his phone.
  • Gail and Howard shill shamelessly for each other.
  • One last reference, again without context, to fisting meatholes, plus a ten F-bomb minute to close.

Gail on Twitter: https://twitter.com/gailcarriger
Howard on Twitter: https://twitter.com/howardtayler
Gail’s website: http://gailcarriger.com/
Howard’s Schlock Mercenary: http://www.schlockmercenary.com/


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ISBW #366: Control, and Interview with Laurence MacNaughton

It’s a good idea to realize what you’re in control of, and what you’re not in control of. The Serenity Prayer is common sense.

Then I talk to Laurence MacNaughton, author of It Happened One Doomsday.

And yeah, I totally butcher trying to recite the prayer from memory. Here is the actual prayer:

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Update on Wake Cty. Author Tea

I previously stated I would be at the Wake County Author Tea this weekend but I posted the WRONG LIBRARY. So here’s the update:

This Sunday, October 2, at 2:00pm, I will be at the Wake County Library Author Tea at Northeast Regional Library, Raleigh, NC.

I had a lot of fun at last weekend’s tea, talked to a lot of different people and drank a lot of tea. I hope to repeat the performance this weekend. Hope to see you there!

Ditch Diggers #30: Networking, With Natalie Metzger

  • Matt and Mur come to you live from Morgan Freeman’s slightly better lawn furniture, which they’re actually sharing live and in-person in front of a small audience, slightly inebriated (Matt, Mur, the audience, or all three? Who knows!)
  • Even during Ditch Diggers, a podcast about rolling up your sleeves and doing the job of writing, people are catching Pokemon while we record.
  • Matt and Mur are joined by their special guest co-host, illustrator Natalie Metzger.
  • The Ditch Diggers discuss the moistness of the environment.
  • Networking! Matt and Mur talk to Natalie about how networking led to her landing a gig illustrating SFF titan John Scalzi’s short story collection, Miniatures.
  • Subterranean Press, specialty books, and goats.
  • Natalie talks about the networking “long game,” participating in fandom, and just plain getting to know people over a long period of time.
  • Networking while dealing with shyness, introversion, anxiety, and other socially limiting conditions, and how to work with them rather than “overcome” them.
  • Natalie sums up her philosophy on networking: “Give, don’t take.”
  • Matt explains the Glengarry Leads.
  • The Ditch Diggers take questions from the audience, including dealing with anxiety and shyness at cons, and how George RR Martin does NOT in any way frequent prostitutes.

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Don’t reject yourself

People, marginalized groups most of all, tend to do their own rejecting. They don’t see a lot of people like themselves in anthologies or magazines. They don’t see themselves so they don’t think people like themselves should even try.

Been there.

There are several times we tell ourselves no when it’s not really our job. Before we write the story. Before we submit the story. Before we accept the acceptance of the story. Before we tell people that we have work eligible for awards. Before we accept the nomination for the award.

We are convinced that if we do get acceptance, or we do get a nomination, or we do win an award, then something has gone wrong. We forget that it’s not our job to accept, nominate, and award.

Last week, Lifehacker published “It’s Not Your Job To Tell Yourself “No.”

Of course, if you really want to, then you can dream up reasons for why now isn’t the right time, this isn’t the right place, and you’re not quite ready… but I don’t think that’s your job.

It’s not your job to tell yourself no. It’s not your job to deny yourself opportunities. It’s not your job to prevent your own progress. There are enough people in the world who will do those things for you.

Your job is to embrace rather than ignore. Your job is to pursue rather than prevent. Your job is to tell yourself “yes” instead of “no.”

That’s your job.

Exactly this. It IS your job to write, to submit, to keep writing.

It is NOT your job to decide who goes into the magazine, who gets their book published, and who gets nominated or wins awards.

It sounds like you’re helpless. You’re not. You are only helpless if you try to control the stuff you don’t control at all, and it feels like the way to control that is to say NO to yourself before anyone else does.

But you don’t have that control. If you focus on what you do control – writing and sending that thing off, then you will be happy.

Happier, anyway.