The Writer’s Craft #41 – A Boy Who Dreams of Saving the World

Mik Murdoch by Michell Plested
Mik Murdoch by Michell Plested

Michell Plested has been reading Science Fiction and Fantasy since he was six years old and writing for almost as long. He is an author, blogger and podcaster living in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. He writes in multiple genres spending most of his time with Science Fiction, Fantasy and YA Adventure. He is the host of the writing podcast “Get Published”, a 2009 and 2011 Parsec Finalist and the Science Fiction Comedy podcast GalaxyBillies which has been called “Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy meets Beverley Hillbillies” by his listeners. Michell’s first book, “Mik Murdoch, Boy Superhero” is scheduled for release in early 2012.

I believe everyone has at least one story to tell. Personally, that story is about a boy who has dreams of saving the world.

In many ways, the story is somewhat autobiographical. I grew up reading comic books. I made wishes on the turkey wish bone at Thanksgiving and Christmas and I tried various things to get superpowers of my own. It never happened, of course. But, I never lost the dream.

It wasn’t my first book, however. The first book I wrote was a fantasy novel that took me seven years of painstaking work. I finished it that book the year I first heard of NaNoWriMo.

NaNoWriMo is an interesting challenge, but what to write?

It was finally time to write the YA Superhero story that had been lurking in the back of my mind. I did a few notes on what I thought the story might be and anxiously waited for November 1st to arrive. When it did, I started a frenzy of writing that saw me surpass 50,000 words in a mere 22 days.

knew the story needed a lot of revision but I also knew I had something special.

I did multiple revisions of the story before testing the marketplace. I sent twenty queries out and received six responses. Three of them requested a partial. For those of you who have ever received a request for a partial, you know just how thrilling that can be.

One publisher asked for a full manuscript, which was even more exciting. The publisher ultimately passed on the story, but I was more certain than ever that my story would find a home. Over the next couple years I had a few more requests for fulls. And I kept writing more books about my boy superhero.

I met several publishers along the way, some through conventions and more through my “Get Published” podcast. Get Published is a podcast for amateur writers like myself. A few times, while discussing current projects with a show guest from the publishing industry, I was asked to submit my work. So I did.

That actually accounted for my first short story sale. Before I knew it, I had three sales of short fiction under my belt.

And then it happened.

Mik Murdoch, which I had pitched (by invitation) to one of my publisher guests, was accepted after some requested revisions. The feeling, after all the time I had already spent writing, revising and submitting my work is hard to describe. One part disbelief, several parts giddy euphoria with a bit of cautious optimism thrown in for good measure.

I know my publisher (Five Rivers Publishing) and my editor believe in the book as much as I do. I’ve seen the cover, and in my humble totally biased opinion, it is amazing.

The road is long, but, well worth travelling. And the even more exciting thing is, I know the road is not a dead-end. We are branding this book as part of a series, so I will have the fun of writing more books in the coming months and years.

I’ll admit, there were times when I felt like quitting. I didn’t think I would ever make the grade. I’m glad those moments of weakness were ignored and I persevered and can now live my superhero dreams through my characters.

Were you once a boy or girl who wanted to save the world? And have you been influenced, in your own writing, by your childhood dreams?


11 thoughts on “The Writer’s Craft #41 – A Boy Who Dreams of Saving the World

  1. Mishell- I read this 4 times, hehe. How timely, since I just discovered ‘nanowrimo’ last night. I”ve heard of it here and there, but finally decided to understand what it was. Do you still sign up for it? And really, 200,000 people are trying to write novels??? Oi, that’s daunting.

    What ever happened to your first book, the one that took 7 years? Can you recycle/use it?
    How do we find your podcast?
    You mention going to conventions, what are the better ones for fantasy fiction?

    Do my childhood dreams influence my writing… no. As a childhood I was completely absorbed by outer space. I insisted on getting a telescope for christmas, and spent many evenings looking up at the sky, fantasizing who might be out there and what worlds they lived in.

    My writing takes place on earth 😦

  2. Hi Kari,

    Thanks for your comments. Go to the NaNoWriMo Site>/a> and sign up early because it will be VERY busy come November 1.

    I still expect the first book to be available in some format… eventually. It may be podcast, it may be rewritten. I don’t know at this point. I do know that the characters still call to me asking for their stories to be finished (I have two more books in mind). We shall see.

    My “Get Published” podcast can be accessed via iTunes (search under Michell Plested and you will find it) or on my Irreverent Muse website.

    I would suggest you watch for local conventions and see if they have a strong writer’s track. I know here in Calgary, the “When Words Collide” conference is excellent. I’ve also heard many good things about the “Surrey International Writer’s Conference”. Then there are some of the very big ones like “World Fantasy Convention” too. You will see several SciFi/Fantasy fan conventions. Unfortunately, they usually don’t have much to satisfy the burgeoning writer.

    There is nothing wrong with writing outside of your direct experience. That one story (or more) can be about anything. The trick is to use your experiences to enrich the story you tell. 🙂


  3. Awesome story, Michell. I’m especially struck by how hard it must have been to get the request for a full and then have it rejected and wait years before getting it accepted. Way to go man, I’m so proud of you for sticking with it. I’m really looking forward to this book coming out, so keep up the hard work on those edits.

    1. Thanks Tim. I think what I have discovered is, the people who get their work published are the ones who stick with it; perspiration and perseverance will win over raw talent just about any day.

      That isn’t to say that a writer cannot get lucky with his or her first book. Far from it. Just that if you want it badly enough and if you keep at it, you will get what you want.

      I have two new resources I have developed over this journey. Patience and a thick skin. 😉


  4. Hi Michell:

    I would like to add my congratulations and say that your story ought to be very motivating to those (like me) who write in fits and starts and lose faith.

    Great job,


    – John

    1. Thanks John. Trust me, we all have those moments when we doubt ourselves. The best thing I’ve done when I feel that way is take a step back and remind myself that I’m writing for me, first and foremost. I give myself a couple days and let the stories pull me back in.

      Good luck with your writing.


  5. The first thing I wanted to be when I was a kid was a lawyer, not very super powery. But I find myself reflecting as I read your article, Mitchell, and boy oh boy was I a imaginative storyteller. I was always locked in some adventure whether in my head or intensely played out with my lego collection.

    It’s only gotten worse as I get older (I shudder to use the word adult) and now, on my third sci-fi novel, more ideas just keep coming. Needless to say the lawyer thing didn’t work out, my imagination has taken over. I didn’t want to save the world when I was child, but I certainly saw it to be a much more colorful place than the one we’ve currently made and I let that childhood wonder loose with a vengeance when I write.

    Thanks for sharing your story, it gave me quite a grin.

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed it. I think our best writing sometimes comes from those times when we let ourselves loose in a flight of fancy. 🙂 Remembering when we were kids can certainly do that.

  6. Enjoyed having you on the writer’s craft, Michell. I can relate to the childhood dreams. I just never stopped playing, and from hence my writing sprang. When I get book 10 of the Okal Rel Saga done, I might just have to grow up. 🙂

    1. Thanks for having me, Lynda. I’m hoping to never grow up so much that I can’t still remember what it was like to be a kid (and maybe even act like a kid once in a while too.) 🙂

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