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Who the H*** is Jacqui Murray and Why’s She in my Inbox?

February 17, 2011
jacqui author

Jacqui as the Next Great Idea arrives in her brain

If you became a writer—what E. L. Doctorow calls ‘a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia’—late in life, we are kindred spirits.

In fact, most of my life, I spent not writing. Not because I didn’t want to but because the world was too darn busy. I graduated from college with a BA, then got another, then an MBA, followed by a high-flying job and a husband. We bought a house in Southern California, and a car, and another car, followed by two rollicking kids, two rambunctious dogs and a devious cat. I had to keep that corporate job to pay all those bills.

Sound familiar? When the kids finally grew up, I dumped the job, kept the husband and dogs and took up writing. Why? Because—and I’ll paraphrase Toni Morrison—there were books out there that needed to be written. The task fell to me. You understand—because we’re kindred spirits.

What flowed first from my keyboard was non-fiction. I started as editor of a tech book series for kids, then wrote two of my own, as well as a how-to book for college-bound high schoolers. That cracked the shell of my creativity and the fiction started. First, I wrote historic fiction out of a need to understand what made us what we are. Then, I moved to thrillers, both military and political, still trying to understand the world but through the people with a bias for action.

But novels take a year to write. Or more. A long time to wait for the good feeling that comes with completing a project, so I spiced things up by writing columns for blogs, then added five of my own. Now, I get a weekly sense of accomplishment by finishing ten to twenty 400-word postings while I slog through the next five chapters of my novel.

Along the way, I’ve committed every error possible as it applies to writing. Here, on Write Anything, I’m going to share them with you. I’ll definitely chat about how to write, the secrets of thrillers, the joy of writing a blog, but for those of you who want—or need—to pay a few bills with your writing, I’ll share my experiences on publishing, ebooks, marketing your work and that sort of topic. I’ve learned it the hard way (as Jack Reacher says). Maybe I can save you a few bumps and bruises.

Well, I might as well tell you a secret I don’t share with many people since we’re opening up to each other. Umm. I’m a geek at heart. Sigh. I organize my novels on an Excel spreadsheet before transferring them to Word. Find-and-replace is second nature. There. It’s out. You might even know my alter ego, Ask a Tech Teacher. Every week, I answer reader questions about tech in their lives. On Write Anything, I’ll share tech tips for writers that go beyond plot and character, things like how to use social media, how to succeed at blogging, how to promote the business end of your writing obsession without going broke. This stuff, I know. And now you will, too.

So, where would you like me to begin? Post a comment. Let me know.

If you need to reach me and I’m not here at Write Anything, try my office at Worddreams or my tech classroom at Ask a Tech Teacher. Office hours are 24/7.

  1. February 18, 2011 8:26 pm

    Really excited for your column! Sounds like you’ve got the best of both worlds in terms of giving advice. I love to hear different people’s takes on the business side of things (mostly because I can’t stand the business side of things and am looking for a way to make it less painful for myself). Looking forward to more!

  2. Jason Coggins permalink
    February 19, 2011 9:11 pm

    That’s one impressive CV you’ve got there Jacqui! I look forward to checking out your wisdom in the coming months in the hope of picking up some repairs ideas I can use on myself and my writing.

  3. February 21, 2011 10:41 am

    Hey, Cayla. Thanks for the welcome. It’s nerve-wracking going to new places. We writers tend to be pretty much loners–by virtue of what we do–so it helps to have people drop in and say hi.

    I love the business end of publishing our babies. It’s like a puzzle. I just got back from a conference where I learned lots of new tricks to share with you-all. One of the best speakers was a Harlequin writer (as you are). It sounds like they require a lot of their writers, but make it possible to earn a living doing what we love. I’m going to search your blog for details on your take on things.

  4. February 21, 2011 10:47 am

    Thanks for the greeting, Jason. I love problem solving. It’s my geek side. The business end of writing plays right into that interest. I look forward to reading about you today–when I get through all the email I ignored this weekend!

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