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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Guest Post: M.R. Merrick, author of The Protector Series

I'm extremely excited to have the awesome M.R. Merrick stop by my blog today with an equally awesome guest post!  

Merrick's books continue to rock my world! I loved Exiled, adored Shift and was totally blown away by Release! If you missed my reviews of these extraordinary books, I'll leave the links below, be sure to check them out! 

Taking the Plunge: Leaving the Day Job for a Dream
A Guest Post by M.R. Merrick, author of The Protector series 
In July 2011, I published my first novel, Exiled. It was a terrifying and exciting moment in my life. One I’ll never forget. Finally, after spending years jumping from job to job, I’d found something that could truly hold my attention. Something I looked forward to doing every day, and something that allowed me to be creative. I loved everything about it. 

Although I’d published my first novel, I knew writing was a hobby, not a career. At least not yet. But that didn’t stop me from having the same dream as most writers do, and I let my imagination wander into the realm of seven-figure advances, hitting the New York Times Bestseller list, and making a living creating imaginary people on blank sheets of paper. Of course, I was well aware that this was fantasy, but I write Fantasy. It’s my thing, right? So I let myself enjoy those dreams, knowing full well the chances of them becoming reality were slim. 

I continued on with work during the day and writing at night. It was a good routine and when the sun went down, I was thrilled with what could happen. Although I had been unhappy at my job for some time, this was not unusual and so I tried to focus on writing. You see for me, a job was exciting until I hit roughly month eleven. After that I became bored and frustrated, generally looking to something new for excitement. However, rather than quit my job this time, I tried to envision it as a means to an end. I had writing to keep me excited and captivated, and eventually I would publish more books and make enough money to write full time. I told myself that over and over until all of a sudden, I did. My books sales started to pick up with no rhyme or reason. I had published my second book, but otherwise I hadn’t done anything different on the promotion front. Regardless of how it happened, I was smiling ear to ear. Each month my sales grew substantially until for three consecutive months, I made triple what my job paid me. I was well aware that this could be a complete fluke and soI hadn’t planned on doing anything rash. Instead, I told myself I’d spend spend another year working a day job and if sales remained steady, I’d try my hand at being an author full-time. During that year I would put away a reserve “just in case” fund and make sure I was comfortable with leaving behind any semblance of security. That was my plan. I had tried to be smart and think ahead, but then it happened—my boss crossed a line. I didn’t like that he crossed that line and I quit on the spot. I usedthis event as a catalyst to launch myself into a self-employed future with no security, no reserve or fall back, and some serious up and down issues with my writing confidence. But with the support of my incredible wife, I made my decision and took the plunge. 

Within one week, sales dropped by seventy-five percent.My heart had stopped for a few days due to fear, but I kept on with a zombie-like pace and told myself not to freak out; I hadn’t made the wrong decision. But alas, sales continued to fall. It became more terrifying than publishing Exiled only a year prior and I was generally concerned. But when I released my third book, I learned a valuable lesson; sales are a game of ups and downs. You have to enjoy the good months and plan for the bad ones. And I learned that if I wanted to be in this game, I had to develop a thicker skin and a better understanding of how the business works. 

Being a stay at home dad, I don’t have as much time as I’d like to dedicate to writing and as such, I have to divide my time carefully. I’ve reeled back on social media, almost completely cut out television (other than cartoons. I could never leave Jake and the Neverland Pirates), and I’ve become somewhat of a hermit. I don’t go out much and I hardly see my friends. These are some of the sacrifices I’ve had to make over the last year, but it’s all in the name of progressing forward as an author. In return, I get to create my own schedule, watch my children grow, and know that I’m here with them. I’m not dropping them off at some day care and letting someone else raise them for eight hours a day. I don’t have a guarantee of income, but I have income nonetheless. Some months are better than others, but I’m not angry or frustrated with my work. I know when I sit down to write, I’m doing something I want. I’m not chasing a dream, I living one, and it’s all because of my family. They gave me the confidence to move forward and take a leap of faith that I might not have been able to do on my own. I would have doubted myself and forced myself to stay at that job, or at the very least find another one. I don’t have to do that now. Instead, I wake up every morning, have coffee, and spend time playing with my kids.When naptime comes, I know it’s time to go to work and I look forward to it. That’s my time to take that blank page and paint it with imagination. I took the plunge and now I get to make up people and circumstances, fabricate new realities, and show the world that magic really does exist. And it all starts with a blank page and the nerve to say I can. It hasn’t been easy. It wasn’t easy to click publish when I had a day job. It wasn’t easy to leave that job and put my faith and lifestyle at risk for a dream. And it wasn’t easy adjusting to a life where income was in constant flux. But aside from leaning to take the ups with the downs, I’ve learned that rarely do worthwhile things in life come easily. They come with a lot of hard work, a lot of faith, and the ability to take the plunge. Sometimes you have to let yourself dream. Other times you have to grab that dream and hold on for dear life.

I absolutely love this guest post, thanks so much for sharing this insightful post with us, Matt! I think many part-time writers, as well as anyone else who enjoys reading/writing books, will find it extremely helpful and informative! Personally, I don't know if I would have the guts to do what you did (take the  plunge!), but I admire and respect you for that! Wishing you all the best, always!  

M.R. Merrick is a kick-ass YA Galaxy Defender! Check out Matt's MIYA-style photo:

(this is an exclusive MEN in YA2 photo that will be printed on the 2014 MEN in YA Calendar. You can enter to win one of two (1 of 2) copies of the exclusive calendar here, at Bookish, on April 30th). 

Author bio:

M.R. Merrick is a Canadian writer, and author of Exiled, the first installment in The Protector Series. Having never traveled, he adventures to far off lands through his imagination and in between cups of coffee. As a music lover and proud breakfast enthusiast, he's usually found at the computer, between a pair of headphones and in front of a large bowl of cereal.
Website | Facebook | Twitter 

Exiled by M.R. Merrick
Paperback, 1st Edition, 264 pages
Published April 12th 2012 by M.R. Merrick
My review: CLICK
Chase Williams is a demon hunter in the Circle, or at least he was supposed to be. On his fifteenth birthday, Chase stepped up to the altar to claim his elemental power, but it never came. Elemental magic is passed down to a hunter through the bloodline, but on Chase's birthday, the bloodline stopped.

Exiled without the Circle's protection, Chase has spent two years trying to survive a world riddled with half-demons and magic. When he has a run in with a frightened and seemingly innocent demon, he learns the Circle's agenda has changed: the Circle plans to unlock a portal and unleash pure-blood demons into the world. Vowing to stop them, and knowing he can't do it alone, Chase forms a reluctant alliance with Rayna — a sexy witch with an attitude and a secret.

In their attempt to stop them, Chase and Rayna find themselves in the middle of the Circle's plan, leaving one of them to decide what their friendship is worth, and the other's life depending on it..
Buy: Amazon | Amazon Kindle | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound

Shift by M.R. Merrick
Paperback, 350 pages
Published February 1st 2012 by M.R. Merrick
My review: CLICK
Devastated by a terrible loss, Chase is trying to balance the life he’s been left with, a family he’s still getting to know, and power he never thought he’d have. He doesn’t understand why the Goddess has named him the Protector and granted him two gifts: the Mark, a tattoo that now covers his back, and the ring. But between getting interrogated by the Circle and psychic attacks from Riley, the Mark is the least of his concern. There’s a demon inside Rayna that’s fighting to be released, and it’s not her inner witch. It’s something else—a monster threatening to tear her apart. 

As Chase struggles to control his magic, his enemies are closing in. Everyone has staked a claim on his ring, and destroying it may be his only chance to stop Riley. But Chase must decide if stopping him is worth risking the lives of everyone he cares about, or if protecting the ring will be enough to save his world.
Buy: Amazon | Amazon Kindle | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound

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