7 Minutes with an Author

WELCOME LEE MURRAY!

So glad you could pop in and share a little about yourself and your writing.  

Hi Efthalia! Thank you so much for hosting me on your blog. I’ve been a Fan of 7 Minutes with an Author for a while now, so it’s a thrill to appear here. (I’m glad that you’re here.) 

1. What is the theme of the book you are working on?

I’m currently working on the stand-alone sequel to Into the Mist, another military thriller with mythological and cultural connections. (Oh, I’ll be keeping my eye out for it.) 

2. What is one of the hardest things about writing one of your books/current manuscript? (Did you or do you want to throw it in the fire  like Frodo?)

I’m a slow writer. It’s so frustrating. I see other authors posting comments about their daily word-count and I feel so inadequate. I’ve tried all sorts of brain gymnastics—nothing seems to work. It might have something to do with the editor in me, which, for the life of me, I can’t switch off. And yes, I am the annoying person in the group who points out the misplaced apostrophe in street signs. (Hahaha. The truth be told Lee, we need some annoying friends.) 

3. Because everyone always wants to know. Are you a panster or plotter?

Definitely a pantser, although I like to have a vague idea of where I’m going. It’s a bit like my life really: I have an end point in mind, but with the freedom to go off and explore the tangents. (It’s about what works best for you.) 

4. How important are reviews to you? Do you get upset when they aren’t favourable? (Like stalk the reviewer and wish they get infested with a thousand fleas.)

They’re important, but mostly because of their effect on the discoverability of our writing. Of course, I’m not immune to a bit of flattery: I glow when a positive review comes in, and anguish over what I might have done to improve the work and please the naysayers, but as many other 7 Minutes contributors have already said, you can’t please everyone. Readers are just part of the story. At its essence, as writers, I believe each of us has a responsibility to ourselves, to write the story that resonates for us and in a way which best tells the story we intend to impart. We write the books we want to read—we’re our own target audience—and if we want to stay motivated, if we wish to continue craft work that we are proud of and can stand behind, then perhaps the only review that counts is our own.

5. How do you market your books? Any events you want the reader to know about e.g. Coming appearances or signing?

It’s a good question, because even traditionally published authors are required to contribute to publicity these days, which means blog posts, podcasts and radio interviews, guest articles in magazines and newspapers, and readings and appearances at conventions and conferences. Whenever I can manage it, I like my publicity to add value in other ways, so I tend to jump at opportunities to judge writing competitions, edit charity collections and mentor young writers. It’s good publicity for me and also important work, helping to develop writers and writing and promoting their work to a wider readership. Where am I appearing next? In a few months, I’m heading across the ditch to participate in Book Expo Australia in Sydney (8-9 October, 2016), contributing to a panel on mythology and appearing alongside some of my Cohesion Press colleagues like Greig Beck, Alan Baxter and Kaaron Warren, all of whom I’m excited to be meeting in person. If you live in the region, please stop by and say hello. (Sounds exciting!)

6. Social Media – Love it or hate it? Where do you hang out the most? Any tips to share?

I have a love-hate relationship with social media. I love the opportunity to connect friends, but there is a superficiality to it, which is frustrating. It’s understandable: after all, it’s human nature to want to put our best foot forward, but are we seeing anything real? On the other hand, some of what we see is simply too real: the brutality of recent news reports almost undoing me. I’m on Facebook and most days people can find me there, talking about my family life and, occasionally, my latest book projects. One caveat, if you’re tempted to join me there—I’m almost afraid to say this—I’m not a big fan of cats.  

7. What is your favourite motivational phrase or positive saying?

“I meant what I said and I said what I meant, an elephant’s faithful, 100%.” — Horton the Elephant (Dr Seuss). (Love this!)

If you want to know more about Lee you can find her here at: 

leemurray.info

Into the Mist

Buy link: Amazon

When NZDF Sergeant Taine McKenna and his squad are tasked with escorting a bunch of civilian contractors into Te Urewera National Park, it seems a strange job for the army. 
Militant Tūhoe separatists are active in the area, and with its cloying mist and steep ravines, the forest is a treacherous place in winter. 

Yet nothing has prepared Taine for the true danger that awaits them. Death incarnate. 
They backtrack toward civilisation, stalked by a prehistoric creature intent on picking them off one by one. With their weapons ineffective, the babysitting job has become a race for survival. 

Desperate to bring his charges out alive, Taine draws on ancient tribal wisdom. Will it be enough to stop the nightmare? And when the mist clears, will anyone be left? 

Greek Gods and the Olympics: From Myth to Reality

When we explore the birth of the Olympic games we come across several foundational legends that are embedded in myth, naturally Zeus sits in the epicenter of it all, but on the outer rims we are introduced to the heroes that contributed to the Olympic spirit and formation. Having said all this we cannot however, form one general assumption on the mythological beginning and history of the games, because evidence stems from more than one stratum. It is wise to commence with the early myths and work our way forward in order to establish how the Gods might have contributed to the very fundamentals that constituted the onset of the Olympic games. Bear in mind that the Greek myths were a shifting paradigm, one that moved fluidly with the ideologies of the Ancient Greeks.  

GREECE – CIRCA 1960: A stamp printed in Greece from the “Olympic Games, Rome” issue shows sprinting, circa 1960. (Image purchased from Shutterstock)

In the 13th Century BCE on the hill of Kronus, the early immigrants made sacrifices at the altar of Gaia and preformed rituals in honour of the goddess. Festivals were held in honor of the fertility goddess because the people believed that land its self was connected to the gods and goddesses and everything around them arose directly from the gods.

In the 12th Century BCE, the Achaeans arrived from the north and laid claim to the area then the worship of the goddesses disappeared and in their place the great Olympian father, Zeus was instituted. One myth tells the story of how Zeus cast a thunderbolt and it landed at Olympia, and there where the bolt scorched the earth, a temple was erected to honor him.

The Ancient authors that have gifted us with their literary works wrote their accounts many centuries after the commencement of the Olympic games.  One of the Western Canonical poets Pindar, attributes the foundation of the games to the legend of Hercules. The myth goes a little something like this; one of Heracles labors was to clean the stables of Augeas which where never cleaned and several feet deep in animal dung.  So Hercules bargained with Augeas that if he should clean the stables in a day he would receive a tenth of Augeas cattle. Augeas agreed, believing that it would be unmanageable. Hercules accomplished his task by diverting a near by river through the stables. Augeas refused to pay Hercules, so he killed Augeas and his sons and took all the spoils to Pisa. There he carved a sacred precedent in honour of his father Zeus. The best items from the picking were offered as dedications to Zeus and hence the birth of the Olympic games commenced. Whilst this is not the only version of a foundational myth, it does claim more popularity than some of the more gruesome myths. 

Athletics were an integral part of Greek society and all that it encompassed because it was an act of worship, by participating the athletes were honoring the gods. Religion was the focus of the games and the most important part was the sacrifice, which took place on day three of the festival.  A procession would walk through Olympia and to the temple of Zeus where a multitude of oxen would be sacrificed. In the evening they would burn the oxen as offerings to the god Zeus, this was followed by a banquet for all the attendees. The games ran for five days and included; boxing, wrestling, discuss and running.  These games were a competition of greatness. There was no second or third status, only the position of one victor. To succeed meant that brutality was a given in the process but not without structure and rules. Winning was everything because the victor received more than the olive wreath upon his head. The winner would be seen as a demi-god. The victor’s home city would bestow on the winner honours fit for a king, a life time pension, olive oil supplies, seats at the theater and many other privileges including that of a priesthood if the victor desired it.

The olive wreath also known as kotinos was the prize for the winner at the ancient Olympic Games. (Image purchased from Shutterstock)

To illuminate how the Ancient Greeks saw and participated in the Olympic games we must understand that they were an extremely competitive society, who were driven by excellence and there was no room for second best. The Olympic games were one of the oldest Greek festivals, people travelled from every corner of the Ancient world to participate in a five-day event that showcased sporting brilliance.

The modern day Olympics also brings together Athletes and people from all over the globe. For the duration of the games people cheer each other on in good spirit and support. The Ancient and modern athlete share one thing in common; they are both worshiped as something divine, with the distinction being the ancient athlete was given a wreath and material provisions and the modern is awarded with a gold medal and sponsorship. There is an un-doubtable echo that the victors today are also seen as sporting demi-gods.

Welcome to My New Blog and Website

Welcome everyone! Good to see you all here! Firstly some news. It’s been a long time in the making (since 2011) but I can firmly say that Phantasma – A Phi Athanatoi Novel is just around the corner from publication. It has been held up for some last minute edits that were a necessary evil. Just  because we choose to self-publish doesn’t mean we should deter from giving our work the time it needs. I truly hope I have done a good enough job for my first publication.  Phantasma by Efthalia

I’ve also decided to do a big market push and that takes time and planning because nobody really knows who I am. To me it was imperative to consider that as a self-published author I need to introduce myself to readers and industry based professionals.  

In the coming weeks  I’ll be sharing a little of my journey with you all(one will be posted right after this post). Yes the preverbal if I knew then what I know now and the common trials and tribulations of the writing process. Warning: Crazy rambling will occur. 

Now for the fun stuff, I will be running a MAMMOTH GIVEAWAY, which will be open internationally. So look out for it. 

To finish, I should have some concrete news for you all in the next few weeks, about Phantasma….watch this space.

Big smiles, Efthalia     

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