Way Outside the Comfort Zone

I wouldn’t call myself an extreme adventurer, but I do like to do activities that some would consider a little crazy. For example, last weekend, I took my older Scouts (Venturers: 15 – 17 years-old) on a weekend camp-out.

We rode our bikes from the city to a campground approximately 20 kilometers away where we setup our tents and camp. Not too insane, right? Probably not, but it gave me a pretty good idea about traveling longer distances without a car (and wearing a pack).

Then, the next day we went white water rafting. This is an activity I last did when I was in elementary school more years ago than I would like to consider. None of my Scouts had ever done it before and I thought they would enjoy it.

We (wet)suited up, did our safety briefing and got out onto the river. For those of you who have done white water rafting, the river we were on has Class 1 – 4 rapids (number goes to Class 5 which are virtually impassible). That meant we were in for a wild ride in places. A couple of the guys were more than a little apprehensive so I gave them the whole speech on, “it’s good to do things that scare you.”

So on we went and everyone survived the rapids (and even had a good time doing it). Then we came to a spot where we could cliff jump.

Let me say right now, I’m not the biggest fan of heights. So, I decided to take my own advice and challenge myself with the jump on the higher of the two points. The point where we were jumping from was over 10 meters (30 feet) off the water. I got up to the spot, looked down and was ready to turn around and go home.

Too high!

Instead, I forced myself to jump before I could think about it too much. From that I gained a slightly better understanding of gravity, a much better understanding of what “glacier-fed river” means AND how it feels to have all the breath blown out of my lungs. Oh yeah, and I have an appreciation for what cracked ribs feel like. :)

All that stuff pushed me out of my comfort zone (WAY out of it) and I have some new experiences I can fold into my writing.

It has also made suspension of believe a little more difficult for some movies (like Star Trek 2 when Kirk and Spock jump off the cliff to escape the natives and immediately swim down to the ship.)

I’m not saying you should jump off a cliff to get outside your zone of comfort, but do something, no matter how small that scares you to broaden your own horizons.

And with that, I think I will take another series of shallow breaths to ease my aching ribs. :)


Better to be Talked About Than Forgotten

Better to be talked about than forgotten is something I say a fair amount. Usually it is in jest, but last night I came to realize that it really is a key to any success I may or may not have.

In this case, it is that talk about my books. I ran into a fellow writer last night who told me again that I was robbed for the Prix Aurora last year. In his opinion Mik Murdoch: Boy Superhero was the best book in the category and should have won.

Granted, that is only one person’s opinion but it was the opinion of someone who I respect. He isn’t one for idle praise and is an accomplished writer in his own right.

So, why didn’t the book win? Well, since the Prix Aurora is voted on by fans, it didn’t win because it wasn’t known well-enough. Or perhaps I should say, I was an unknown and, when push comes to shove, people vote a name they know.

Sour grapes? Hardly. I’m honored that Mik made the shortlist. It tells me I am on the right track.

But how do I stay on track? How do I make the newest book in the series do better than its predecessor?

Truthfully, I can’t. Only the people who read my books and enjoy them can do that. Word of mouth for a small press published author is absolutely critical. Positive reviews, picking up copies of the book for friends who you think will enjoy it are equally important.

In other words, the message that the book is worth reading must come from the readers. I cannot, through sheer force of will, coerce people to pick up the book wherever they might find it (btw, it can be ordered from the publisher or any online bookseller. Just saying.)

So how can you help?

Well, buying the book would obviously be a good start, I suppose. But even more important than that is, if you like Mik Murdoch (either Boy Superhero or The Power Within) tell someone. Tell parents of kids who want good books for their children. Tell other adults who might enjoy the story. Write reviews. Tell teachers.

The key here is spread the word.

And, if you want to get an early start spreading the word, drop me an email (author at michellplested dot com). I will get you a reviewer copy. The more reviews and pre-orders that are up prior to August 1st, the better.

And please let me know what you are doing. I just might have a little something I can share with you.


Everything is Coming Together

A couple days ago I received word from my publisher that my author’s copies were on their way. That was exciting enough, but yesterday the t-shirts and book cards I ordered arrived.

Those two events made everything feel more real than ever.

And to put a thick layer of icing on my cake, I got an email from my home town public library, inviting me to come back and do an author visit to promote the new book.

Just for the record, it took me almost eighteen months after Mik Murdoch: Boy Superhero was published to get my first visit. Being invited before the sequel is released is a definite improvement (and in the spirit of full disclosure, the library manager who invited me hadn’t even started the job when Mik 1 came out – he got me in after he was settled in the position).

So, now I need to arrange a couple interviews with other podcasts…get a couple (positive reviews out there…the book launch is set for When Words Collide…

I guess all that’s left is to hire that sky writer to start putting the message out over the city and I’ll be set. ;)

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