Guest Post: From Professional Hockey Player to Published Novelist

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Dead Mans Hand by Luke Murphy


It can almost be said with certainty that I didn’t follow the path of the average writer. As a child, I never dreamed of writing a best-seller, never aspired to write the next classic novel, I wanted to be an NHL superstar…period.

I was born in a small rural community in Western Quebec. Like every boy growing up in Canada, I aspired to be an NHL superstar.

With the death of my mother in 1992, losing a battle to cancer she had fought so hard against for years, I sensed it was time to get serious about reaching my dreams, and moved away to pursue hockey.

From 1992-1995, while playing for the Pembroke Lumber Kings in the Central Junior Hockey League, I noticed a shift in the game of hockey and realized that the odds of making it to the NHL were unfavorable for a kid who stood 5’9’’ and weighed 160 pounds. So, my goals shifted. I accepted a hockey scholarship to Rochester Institute of Technology. If I couldn’t make a living playing hockey, at least I could achieve an education and open doors for my future.

After four rewarding years at College, receiving a Bachelor of Science degree in Marketing, I wasn’t ready to give up on the game I love. I’d been told my whole life that I was too small, not a good enough skater, and I didn’t have what it took to make it.

The summer after graduation, I received an invitation to the Florida Panthers Rookie Camp – I wasn’t about to let this opportunity slip away. I trained hard during the summer, on and off the ice, and showed up for camp in the best shape of my life. I had a successful camp, scoring the game winning goal against the Ottawa Senators (I still talk about that goal with my buddies and after a couple of drinks, it becomes an end-to-end rush with a top-shelf finish)

Unfortunately, I broke my hand in an awkward hit in my fourth exhibition game that ended my camp, but my hard work paid off. The Panthers offered me a Minor League contract, $500 a week to play the game I love. I spent six years in the minors (ECHL, UHL, CHL, etc.), and retired in 2006 with no regrets.

From a family of avid readers, even as a child, I always had a passion for books. Whether it was reading novels on road trips or writing assignments in school, literature was always part of my life.

In the winter of 2000, after sustaining a season ending eye injury while playing in Oklahoma City, I found myself with a lot of time on my hands, and a new hobby emerged.

Some of my favorite authors are Greg Iles, Michael Connelly and Harlan Coben. I love suspense-thriller books, movies and everything about the genres.

One day, with an idea in mind, I sat down in front of a computer and began writing. I wrote a little every day, around my intense rehabilitation schedule and before I knew it, I had completed my first manuscript.

I didn’t write with the intention of being published. I wrote for the love of writing, as a hobby. Ever the perfectionist, I didn’t see my novel at the level to compete with best-selling authors across the country. I continued to hobby write through the years, honing my craft, making time between work (hockey) and family obligations.

Then I made a decision – I enjoyed writing so much, I decided I wanted to take my interest one step further – write a story with the intention of being published and making it available for friends, family, and readers around the world to enjoy. I realized that I wanted to be like my favorite authors – entertain readers and allow them, like when I read, to escape reality and for a moment be in another place and time.

I’ve never been one to take things lightly or jump in half way. I took a full year off from writing to study the craft. I constantly read, from novels in my favorite genres to books written by experts in the writing field. I continually researched on the internet, reading up on the industry and process. I attended writing conferences, made friends (published and unpublished authors), bombarding them with questions, learning what it took to become successful.

This was when my experience in hockey really paid off. My competitive edge kept me going. Breaking into the publishing industry was a lot like competing in the world of hockey – many candidates vying for very few spots. It takes hard work, patience, and persistence.

Feeling that I was finally prepared, in the winter of 2007, with an idea in mind and an outline on paper, I started to write DEAD MAN`S HAND. It took me two years (working around full time jobs) to complete the first draft of my novel.

I then worked with editors and joined a critique group, doing anything I could to learn, to improve my writing and my novel to point where I could create the best possible novel.

I sent out hundreds of query letters to agents. After six months of rejections, I pulled my manuscript back and worked on it again. Then in my next round of proposals, I was offered representation by Ms. Jennifer Lyons of the Jennifer Lyons Literary Agency.

After months of work with Jennifer, and more rejections from publishers, my dream was finally realized in April, 2012, when I signed a publishing contract with Imajin Books (Edmonton, Alberta).

My one piece of advice for all aspiring hockey players and writers…you need to be persistent, patient and thick-skinned. You’ll get a lot of “no’s” along the way and people trying to bring you down. But remember, it only takes one “yes”. Stick with it. Anything is possible.

 What happens when the deck is stacked against you…

From NFL rising-star prospect to wanted fugitive, Calvin Watters is a sadistic African-American Las Vegas debt-collector framed by a murderer who, like the Vegas Police, finds him to be the perfect fall-guy.

…and the cards don’t fall your way?

 When the brutal slaying of a prominent casino owner is followed by the murder of a well-known bookie, Detective Dale Dayton is thrown into the middle of a highly political case and leads the largest homicide investigation in Vegas in the last twelve years.

 What if you’re dealt a Dead Man’s Hand?

 Against his superiors and better judgment, Dayton is willing to give Calvin one last chance. To redeem himself, Calvin must prove his innocence by finding the real killer, while avoiding the LVMPD, as well as protect the woman he loves from a professional assassin hired to silence them.

Dead Man’s Hand is a pleasure, a debut novel that doesn’t read like one, but still presents original characters and a fresh new voice.” Thomas Perry, New York Times bestselling author of Poison Flower

“You may want to give it the whole night, just to see how it turns out.”—William Martin, New York Times bestselling author of The Lincoln Letter

Luke Murphy lives in Shawville, Quebec with his wife, two daughters and pug.

He played six years of professional hockey before retiring in 2006. Since then, he’s held a number of jobs, from sports columnist to radio journalist, before earning his Bachelor of Education degree (Magna Cum Laude).

Murphy`s debut novel, Dead Man`s Hand, was released by Imajin Books on October 20, 2012.

For more information on Luke and his books, visit:, ‘like’ his Facebook page and follow him on Twitter!/AuthorLMurphy

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