Dead Man's Hand by author Luke Murphy






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.

Short Bio:

Luke Murphy lives in Shawville, Quebec with his wife, three 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).





Hi Luke. We'd like to get to know you a little better.


1.  Please tell us a little about your book, Dead Man’s Hand? Where can our viewers find it?

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.

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.

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.

Both Kindle and Paperback are available on Amazon: http://ow.ly/hd4Xv

It’s also available for Nook and Kobo. It’s on Goodreads, iTunes, Createspace, Barnes & Noble and anywhere else on the internet.

The Paperback is also available at any local bookstore.

2.  How did you get from being a hockey player to writing Dead Man’s Hand? ** How I went from Pro. Hockey Player to Published Author. Comparing Hockey and writing.

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.

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 hockey in Oklahoma City, I found myself with a lot of time on my hands, and a new hobby emerged. 

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 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.

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 and made friends (published and unpublished authors), bombarding them with questions and learning what it took to become successful.

Feeling that I was finally prepared, in the winter of 2007, 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 the Jennifer Lyons Literary Agency.

My dream was finally realized in April, 2012, when I signed a publishing contract with Imajin Books.

  1. Being a writer, what steps do you take when you sit down to write? Do you have any set formulas that work for you?

I started writing when I was young and playing professional hockey. A couple of hours a day on the ice and in the gym and then the day was mine. I also suffered a serious eye injury and couldn`t play, so I had a lot more time on my hands. Now that I`m older, with a family and full time job, makes it a lot harder to find the time to write.

These days I don`t have a schedule or routine. Right now, I`m too busy playing ring-around-the-rosie and duck-duck-goose to write.

But when I do write, I find that I am most productive in the morning, and I always have to have a mug of steaming tea in front of me.

Before I even sit down at a computer, I have hand-written notes of ideas for my book. This could be anything from plot, scenes, setting, characters, etc.

Once I sit down, I just write. No editing, no looking back, I just let it flow. Unless I`m certain, no title until after I`m done. As I write, I keep notes by hand on the timeline.

When my first draft is complete, I go through it twice, once for the creative editing process and the next for flow, repetition, etc. Then I have my former English professor read it over and she gives me her thoughts. I edit it myself again. Then I send it to my agent for her thoughts, then I edit it again myself. Only once my agent and I feel ready do we send it to publishers.

For me, the most difficult thing about writing has nothing to do with actual writing (ideas, flow, writer`s block, etc.), but it`s finding the time.

4. How did you develop your characters?  ** Creating an "unlikable" Protagonist and Character conflict.

Many people have asked if I can make any real connections to the main character in my novel. The answer, as for my connection…no, I have never been involved in a homicide investigation, LOL. The plot is completely fictional. Although I am not a 6’5”, 220 pound African-American, I’ve used much of my athletic background when creating my protagonist Calvin Watters. Watters past as an athlete, and his emotional rollercoaster brought on by injuries were drawn from my experiences. His mother died of cancer when he was young, as mine was. There are certainly elements of myself in Calvin, but overall, this is a work of fiction. I did not base the characters or plot on any real people or events. Any familiarities are strictly coincidence.

As far as characterization goes, Dead Man’s Hand’s protagonist Calvin Watters faces racial prejudice with calmness similar to that of Walter Mosley’s character Easy Rawlins. But Watters’ past as an athlete and enforcer will remind other readers of (Jack) Reacher of the Lee Childs series. The Stuart Woods novel Choke, about a tennis player who, like Watters, suffered greatly from a dramatic loss that was a failure of his psyche, is also an inspiration for Dead Man’s Hand.

When thinking about creating the main character for my story, I wanted someone “REAL”. Someone readers could relate to. Although it is a work of fiction, my goal was to create a character who readers could make a real connection with.

Physically, keeping in mind Watters’ past as an NCAA football standout and his current occupation as a Vegas debt-collector, I thought “intimidating”, and put together a mix of characteristics that make Watters appear scary (dreadlocks and patchy facial hair), but also able to blend in with those of the social elite. Although he is in astounding physical condition, handsome and well-toned, he does have a physical disability that limits his capabilities.

He’s proud, confident bordering on cocky, mean and tough, but I also gave him a softer side that readers, especially women, will be more comfortable rooting for. After his humiliating downfall he is stuck at the bottom for a while, but trying hard to work his way back up.

He has weaknesses and he has made poor choices. He has regrets, but Watters has the opportunity to redeem himself. Not everyone gets a second chance in life, and he realizes how fortunate he is.

Calvin Watters is definitely worth rooting for.

5. What steps do you take to market your book?

My marketing started with the writing of my book. I always had a plan, an idea of the plot, but now I had to think about the characters and setting, and I had to think about my target audience in this stage.

I wanted characters who readers could relate to. Characters that were real, not fictional to the point of unbelievable. My protagonist, Calvin Watters, is as real as they come, with faults and weaknesses like us all. Because of my sports background, I wanted Calvin to also have an athletic background. I was a pro hockey player, but I decided that hockey would be fine for a Canadian fan base, but I wanted to cater worldwide, so I chose football. I believe that more people follow football than hockey.

For the setting, I needed a major market in the United States that people would want to read about, so I chose Sin City, Las Vegas. Everyone is interested in this fast-paced, party-all-night lifestyle and city that is party-central.

In today’s society, most people don’t realize that writing a book is more than just putting a good story down on paper. I learned this quickly. Agents and publishers want someone with a “platform”, someone who already has a fan base and is guaranteed to sell books. It’s risky for a publisher to take a chance on a new writer, because there is no telling how many books they will sell, no matter how good that book may be.

In 1999 I graduated from Rochester Institute of Technology with a degree in Marketing, so I felt I had a running start at promoting my work.

Once my publishing contract was signed, then the real work began, building my “platform”. I knew that when I signed on with a smaller publisher that the bulk of the promotion load would fall on my shoulders, and I accepted that.

I did four things quickly: created my own website, started a blog, and opened a Facebook page and Twitter account.

Now, I have been fortunate to have had many jobs in my life, jobs that have created interest in not only myself, but what I do.

Here are some things I did next:

-          I scribed a letter to all of my email contacts (2500) and all of my FB friends (2500).

-          I scribed a letter for all of the media outlets (radio, TV, print) in the cities where I played hockey, or have contacts. One of the benefits of playing professional hockey was that I went through a lot of interviews with personalities in all forms of media.

-          I picked out the site for my launch party and spoke with the owner about it.

-          I played hockey for teams and leagues all over North America, creating a fan base in a variety of cities, and also worked in hockey camps, so I already had some followers that I contacted.

-          I was a reporter on the radio for a couple of years after retiring from hockey, and my radio reporting was a presence on the web as well as in radio.

-          My sports column (2006-2009), Overtime, which was a main feature in The Pontiac Equity, not only had a following but helped in writing concise and exciting prose.

-          I composed a list of local stores for potential book signings

-          I compiled a list of local stores to sell my book

Next I picked out my target audience and searched the web for them:

-          Thriller readers looking for an atypical thriller hero—an African-American who is no saint.

-          Sports fans will be fascinated by Watters’ struggle to recover his decency and win, a kind of Blind Side story with little sentimentality and few illusions.

-          A Las Vegas setting—the world of The Hangover movies and many youth films like Bridesmaids—will appeal to 20s-30s readers.

-          Watters’ romance with a former prostitute will appeal to younger female readers.  The marital tension between Detective Dayton and his wife will interest adults. Both men and women will enjoy the twist on the femme fatale figure of the murderer’s lover, who has her own schemes.

-          Lovers of history, as the term, “Dead Man’s Hand”, is a legend dating back to the Wild West of the 1800’s.

I started creating relationships on the internet through Facebook and Twitter. I met not only authors, but fans of the genres I write.

When my book was released in October, 2012, I felt I had a solid foundation to stand on.
I contacted media for interviews, held book signings, joined shows and blog toured. I contacted anyone who wrote a blog and asked about being a guest. I joined Pinterest, Linkedin, and Google +, as well as sites created to support Indie authors. I did anything I could to get my name out there, get my book in front of readers.

My publisher set up special promotions where my book was FREE on Amazon for certain periods of time. All of this was done to increase my following, and expand the awareness of my book on a worldwide scale. This will hopefully lead to future sales with not only my debut novel, but subsequent books if I’ve fortunate enough to write more.

Since my book was released at the end of October, I didn’t have a full 3 months for my first quarterly royalty statement. But in just over two months, I sold: 511 kindle copies and 32 paperbacks.

I had no idea what to expect going in because this was my first book. I’ve been happy with the result thus far, but I don’t have anything to compare it to. I feel that the more books I write, the more success I will have. The more I get out there, the more excitement and interest is garnered.

It’s a marathon, not a sprint.J

6. What do you feel is the most important part of writing?

What I enjoy most about writing is that it allows me, for a short time, the freedom to leave my everyday world and explore new avenues, to be in another place and time. It allows me to get inside the head of characters—to think, do, and say whatever I want with no rules or restrictions. It means liberty and freedom to express myself.

7. What goal do you see yourself striving for in 2014?

I would definitely like to publish another novel. Even though writing isn’t my full time job, it is such a pleasure and passion to have the opportunity to do it. Just because I have one novel published, does not guarantee a second book will happen. So a second book would be a bonus.

8. What would you like our readers to know about you on a personal level?

I live in Shawville, Quebec with my wife, three daughters and pug.

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

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

I’m a true hometown boy. I moved back to the town I grew up in and bought my dad’s house, where I’m now raising my family. I’m teaching in the elementary school I attended and most of my friends and family are still in town.

My kids are in the same groups I was in, play the same sports I played, and are experiencing the same things I did as a kid.

I couldn’t be happier than I am right now…unless I became a bestselling author of course LOL

9. Do you have any new projects you’re working on?

I’m currently working on my second novel, another crime-thriller, following the career of rookie, female LAPD detective Charlene Taylor.

I would love to write another book. Right now, I have a full time job (teaching), a part-time tutoring job, and three small children (all girls, YIKES!!).

I don`t have much time to write, but when I get a chance, I do all I can. It could take some time, but eventually I would love to write a series of novels featuring Calvin Watters. But I will not limit my novels to Calvin Watters, as I would like to write a variety of novels, all in the crime-thriller genres.

10. Share your website and links you’d like us to know about. Do you have upcoming events? 

For more information on me and my books, visit: www.authorlukemurphy.com, check out my blog www.authorlukemurphy.com/blog, ‘like’ my Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/pages/AuthorLukeMurphy and follow me on Twitter www.twitter.com/AuthorLMurphy

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