Monday, April 30, 2012

Why do 1,209,600 seconds make such a difference in life decisions?

What is it about 1,209,600 seconds that seems to make such a difference for me?

I was just thinking about major life decisions I have made in my past and it seems that it's about that many seconds, or if you prefer, 203,493 minutes, or 3,391 hours, or 14 days, or two weeks, or a fortnight as they used to say, seem to make all the difference in the world to me in making major life decisions.

Before I went into the military, I spent two weeks thinking about it. I researched the world's situation. What was going on in the world? Where might I end up? If I joined the military, the Air Force as it turned out, what would happen to me? I read newspapers, listened to the news, talked to people. I "educated" myself about what I was about to get myself into.

Then, before I started college I also spent two weeks thinking about it. What's there to think about? I considered that before college, I was to some degree both knowledgeable and ignorant. After I finished college, I would then be some larger degree of both knowledgeable and ignorant. More ignorant? After all that learning? Wouldn't I be less ignorant? Actually, no. Because the more you learn, the more you learn how much you do not know, and so by increasing your degree of "smarts", you are also increasing your known degree of ignorance.

And that actually in part, was what I spent two weeks thinking about.

So, did I really want that increased knowledge and hopefully, wisdom (experience plus knowledge)? I was blissfully ignorant before college. I knew that. But once I got a degree I would have increased my knowledge of the world, History and the universe and I would then know more about what was good and what was evil, if you will. Anyway, the Yin and Yang of the Universe, overall more knowledge of Life. I knew I would increase the quality of my life in learning more about the Arts and Sciences, but I also knew I was be more aware of the evils in the world, possibly (probably) many things I should know about, but maybe do not want to.

And so, I "educated" myself about getting an education. Along with great knowledge, can come great heartache, great responsibility. Could I handle the painful side of acquiring a university degree as well as the fun and happy side? I really wasn't so sure at first.

But in the end, I decided that the military was my best option at that time. After I got out I decided that going to college was also my best option, at that time. I went for a two year degree and got it. Then, considering I had hated school in my K-12 years and although I swore when I graduated High School that I would never step foot back in school ever again, I had to decide if I wanted to continue on.

I liked the idea of a University over that of a college, because you are taught by Professors who have to have a Doctorate. You are not taught by teachers with only a Masters degree. Don't get me wrong, a Masters degree is a better than just a B.A. degree, but I have always tried to get the best instructors and teachers I could find.

As it turned out, in some ways the Military wasn't the best choice for me, for my personality, as it isn't for a lot of people, I'm sure. But I made it through and it woke me up to life (like getting a "wood shampoo", hit in the head with a wood bat, repeatedly), and I also got my college education paid in full. So even though I pretty much hated Military life, I loved going to college and really loved university life. I liked the people, the learning, the stretching of your mind and your limits, much in how I did in the Military. The Military taught me that I could do anything. College taught me things I couldn't have learned if I hadn't first had that basic understanding that I could do it, I could achieve seemingly impossible goals. Then the University tightly packed massively more amounts of information in my head.

At my two year college, my Philosophy teacher (a guy with a Master's degree who was working on his doctorate while he taught us), said that if we decided to go to a University and get a four year degree after we get our two year A.A. degree, that it would seem at first a shock and impossible. It would be painful, but he believed, he told us, that we could, all in his class there before him on that day, "rise to the occasion when necessary.

In fact he said that for the most part, people do tend to rise to the occasion", as we tend to do in life when are called upon. But we tend to spend a lot of time worrying about how we won't rise up and so frequently we won't end up in those challenging situations. Fear can drive us sometimes not to try. Which many times, is simply too bad for us. Because then we never get a chance to experience just how much we can achieve when we have to.

And to be sure, on my first day of my University life, at 28, my first Professor ever told us to read forty pages out of the text book for tomorrow's lecture. I was a little stunned but I thought, as did the others I spoke to about it after class, that we would just somehow, get it done. Now, many of us were used to showing up the first day of school (for all our lives up till then) only to do nothing until the next day, or in some schools, the next week. But this was a University. Time was short between classes so we all headed to our next class with only a little trepidation.

But, my next Professor said the same exact thing at end of class. I couldn't believe it, what was the deal with forty pages, again, and by next class time. By end of school day, I ended up with over one hundred pages total that I had to read before the next class. Needless to say, I was in shock. By end of day, my girlfriend and some of our new (and old) friends were also in shock.

But I survived. And so did they and eventually, two years later, we were all graduating and considering, should we go for a Master's degree? Which was another two years of classes. Having seen what my Master's Teaching Assistants (TAs) were being put through, I decided I wanted some time off and so, I now only have a Bachelors of Arts and Letters from Western Washington University.

Still, it all comes back around to those nearly a million and a quarter seconds that I had to take to make up my mind about making a major life change; whether or not to go into the Service, and then whether to go to college, or not. Those are only two examples in my life of the two week period of education and rumination and there have been others. But for some reason two weeks seems to be my cutting off point.

So whenever I do have the luxury of time, I try to use that two week period to learn about the decision I'm about to make, and the really think about it, over and over. Not to stress out about it, not at all, but to academically, emotionally, even spiritually, consider all the obvious and newly learned about elements, and then in the end, feel that I can effectively and hopefully accurately, make a good, solid, informed, decision.

But why two weeks?

Monday, April 23, 2012

Considering switching careers and becoming a Fiction Writer?

Three years ago next month I decided to switch careers and finally, after many fitful starts and stops over the years, to get something going with my writings. I'm currently still in IT in the Health Insurance industry. That's not been doing that great or being as stable as it once was. There's been many layoffs over the past years and I had to face facts that it was entirely possible I could be out of a job at some point. But I've been one of the lucky ones who has retained my position and I'm still there. It has paid the bills, raised the kids and gotten them out the door to adulthood. So now I'm living alone, writing, and taking it as a full time job, as well as maintaining my full time day job.

Since I started three years ago, I have begun a Blog with now over 1,000 articles on it and I'm not ever sure how many readers there are with all the feeds going on. Originally I was doing two blogs a day and now I'm down to once a week, simply due to lack of time. I joined Twitter where I now have over 13,000 followers at the time of this writing. As of recently, I have a several websites including, and two for my books,, and

And please feel free to drop by my new interview with Indies Unlimited, live as of yesterday.

Because of my screenplays that I have online on, I was asked to adapt the first book of a paranormal romance book series. That began several professional relationships, got two of my short stories into two separate horror anthologies (both for charity), I got my first short story on Amazon (Simon's Beautiful Thought, which has a very nice review on it there now), my first Horror book, Anthology  of Evil is now on Amazon and Smashwords as both ebook and paper versions; and my first Horror Sci Fi book, Death Of Heaven about to go up on those sites.

I completed a horror comedy screenplay "HearthTales", which I have been told, could easily go into a franchise film series just from the two female Steampunk demon hunter characters alone (named, Gray and Lover). To get an idea of their dynamic and how well this worked, see "Lost Girl" the TV series. They are still very different characters than the TV show, but you'll get the idea; and I created them before that show was ever on the air. I have also worked with a mentor/producer on a Frank Capra type, small town America screenplay and well, I have many more concepts to write in various formats than I have time for. Basically one of the things keeping me from being more productive is my day job.

I still have to write around that job and it's a lot of work, but as my son pointed out when I got burned out a while back, I have really accomplished quite a bit since I start all this. As he put it, I kept thinking I was on the bottom rung in making this all happen, when in reality, I was several rungs up already, and that was a year ago.

Had I waited till now to get all this going, look at how much I would have to achieve to catch up. That just screams that if you want to make changes, Now, is the time. My goal and dream at this point is to quit my day job and I have a series of reasonable financial goals to achieve leading up to that point, and after. I figured that since any new business makes it or fails in 5-7 years, I am doing pretty well over all, even though at times it all seems rather hopeless. But really, that has a lot to do with keeping one's energy up and available. And using it economically. It's a marathon after all, not a sprint.

I started all this with the concept of working two full time jobs for a while, set fully in the front of my mind. After all, if you play with this as a hobby, you are probably wasting your time. Though not necessarily. I'll grant you, there are "accidental" over-night successes, but really, they are very few and very far between when you consider the number of writers trying in that way, and failing. If you are serious, you really do have to put in the sweat labor.

I also decided in the beginning that I wouldn't turn down any job offered and there were a few I would normally have turned down, but I didn't. Most of what I have achieved up to this point wouldn't actually have happened, had I not given myself those two initial challenges; to write as a full time job and to accept any offer if it was reasonable and I could fit it in. All, so that I would make more connections, acquire more finished works in my catalog, and learn, learn, learn.

So, for any of you who are trying to do this, all I can say is:

And never say die!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

My Indies Unlimited Interview goes online today at 11AM Pacific

FYI, this is today in 10 minutes, my interview with Indies Unlimited. Thought I'd mention it, because they asked me to, but also so people will know it's a, well, an interview and a potential source for writers from Indies Unlimited.
Do note that there will be nothing on the page until after 11AM today Pacific time.
As an added benefit my book will also be featured in the Indies Unlimited Store.
Please stop by. I hope to "see" you there!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Rejection slips and wearing your endurance on your sleeve

I was just reviewing an old folder with all my rejection slips going back to the 1980s. I got so many I had to start a second folder. Oh, I really don't think I recommend this journey down memory lane for anyone. It's making me want to jump off a cliff. All the frustration came rushing back up off those pages and smacked me hard, in the face.

This blog article is for those new writers who have never been published. But also for those who are still trying to get somewhere and thinking it will just never happen. I can think of three things you need for it "to happen". You have to have skill, perseverance and, action. Anyone can write. Pen to paper, move it in the form of letters, words, sentences. Put a few sentences together in a cohesive theme and you have a story. Come up with a unique "voice" and an unusual story, hit your right market (at the right time) and there you are, you've sold a story.

But in putting that all together just right and in having the Luck to hit it at just the right time; that is, get it to the right publisher at the right time when the have room and need it, especially if it is at its Zeitgeist; then you will have something happen.

One of those rejected stories of mine is now published in an anthology with other authors. Yet, it had rejection after rejection. Of course, I had brushed them up over the years and learned a lot and had become hopefully, a better writer. In some cases I was ahead of things. A story I couldn't sell in 1980 sold just fine in 1990. So sometimes, that has something to do with it. Being progressive, ahead of the times, is all fine and great, but being too far outside the scope of popular understanding can really work against you.

I once heard one of the most famous writers in American history say that you should start a hobby of collecting your rejection slips. Wallpaper your home office with them and when the wall fills, fill another. When the walls all fill, do the ceiling. When the office is full, start on another room. Fill your house if you have to. The point being I think, not to give up.

I put my heart into it. So, I started to just collect rejection slips with no thought to actually selling something. Therefore, I was no longer looking for an acceptance letter. I wanted a rejection slip. I have rejection slips from The Twilight Zone magazine, and others (see below). I started focusing my submissions on magazines I wanted to be rejected by. Of course, the hope was always to be accepted one day by one of them, but more importantly I needed to survive yet another rejection, and then go on to submit to another story, to most likely get another rejection.

As a writer you have to survive. Somehow. Tricking oneself, works.

All that being said, here are some of my favorite rejection slips....

Seriously, how could I NOT want to get a rejection slip from The Twilight Zone? "Dear Writer." At that point it became a "thing" to get a rejection slip with other than a form letter, with a personal inscription of some form on it.

Still a form letting, but so what? It was Playboy! I'm not sure there is really anything to really say about this one. What guy wouldn't want to have a story published in Playboy? As I remember it, stories went for $2,000, going up $1,000 each successive story sold. A great deal for a writer that got hooked up in that system. But it was an almost impossible market to break into.

Now this one is interesting. The short story they are rejecting there is now in an anthology published in 2010.

I remember when Omni started up. I have the first issue still, somewhere around here in a plastic cover. I would have loved to have had a story in Omni. But, I knew I didn't have a shot. As you can see, I was trying hard to get published but I was also making it a game. I LOOKED forward to getting a rejection slip from Playboy or Omni. That really went a long way toward buffering the rejections at magazines where I thought I had a chance and really wanted a story published there.

I would say I probably sent of 1 in 10 submissions where I knew I had no chance of getting accepted but you have to shoot for the stars sometimes because you never know when something might click, and you get a boost in status where maybe you shouldn't have. We have to "pay our dues" but what's wrong with jumping a rung on the ladder here and there? Right?

This one would have just been cool. I thought I had a chance and I was kind of sad about this rejection, but then, as I put it in my folder with the others, I felt good in having one from them and now I knew what their rejection slips looked like. Not everyone could say that, could they?

Analog is another one that would have lead to a big party, had I gotten other than a rejection slip from them.

Don't you love that? "Dear Writer." So personal. Makes you feel all warm and ugly inside. I mention this particular rejection slip for a good reason. No matter how hard I tried, I would still from time to time, run into a magazine that had gone dead after I found information about them, or sometimes, way before I had found them but my information was, for whatever reason, completely out of date. I remember at least one instance where someone told me I should submit and when I did, I got a nasty letter back saying they were no longer in publication. Hey, you takes your shots.

So yes, sometimes I got chastised by the editor for bothering them when I had sent them a story and they were no longer publishing, or it was just the wrong genre. Or as in one case, they had gone out of business and even when they were publishing, had only published non-fiction. That one really was my fault and a complete waste of time. Of course, even though it was only a few stamps and an envelope or two envelopes actually (an SASE for a return of my story), it was a waste nonetheless.

I found that in the end that you do the best you can and you simply never give up. Not completely, anyway. From time to time you have to bolster your ego, boost up your energy and take another full contact attempt at it. It is a long term marathon kind of endeavor and by no ways a sprint. The efforts can come in waves of productivity. Some people misinterpret that and quit. Don't. If you find you've slacked off, ask yourself, "why?" If' it's because it all seems useless and pointless, look at why you feel that way, reorient yourself, get up some steam and hit it full force again. Then just do that, over and over and over and--

Presently, we have many more options open to us as writers than I did when I received those rejections above. I suggest you find what those are now if you want to get published. Resources are everywhere online now. Use all of them. If you do, you will get published somewhere, eventually. Just keep going.

Under those circumstances, you almost can't avoid it.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Does your TV show run a minute longer now?

Have you noticed that lately some TV shows are running just a minute over their normal thirty or sixty minutes time slots? If you have noticed, have you wondered why? Did you think, "Oh, awesome. An extra minute of my favorite TV show!"

First of all, are you actually getting an extra minute of your TV show? Or are you getting an extra minute of advertising? Do you use Tivo or a DVR to record your shows? Do you ever record two shows when one is on a different channel and one is running a minute long? It is really annoying. Especially, if you are trying to record three different shows on two different stations. My HD DVR can record two separate stations at the same time. If some of you still have systems that can record only one station at a time, this may not be as interesting an article as it will be for others.

Some DVRs have a fix for this extra minute beyond the 30 or 60 minute show; it just "clips" a show for that minute. Excellent. Well, maybe. My old nonHD Tivo DVR does that. The one that is now in my bedroom. But my new, more expensive, main HD DirecTV Tivo DVR does not have that capability. One might wonder why, right? Wouldn't you think that the more expensive system would have the extra capabilities? I would too. Yet, it doesn't.

What does this extra minute being added to shows mean then?

I submit that it is just one more abuse heaped upon the viewer by the networks and the middle media suppliers like DirecTV. It's bad enough that we have the studios and networks, now we also have to contend with the middleman of cable and satellite providers. No, this is nothing new really, it's just that it got me really annoyed this past week. Why? Because it's happened before, and one has to assume that it will happen again; and probably get worse in ways we have yet to think up.

I don't know about you, but I'm tired of it. I'm sick to death of being abused by these companies internal issues. Last week I put on "House", one of my favorite TV shows and now in its last season. I sat down, turned on the recorded show on my DVR while it was still recording, and all I got was a static screen saying they are sorry but the FOX Network is to blame as they forced them to not carry their signal anymore due to lack of payment, or agreement, or something, and they (DirecTV) hoped it will end soon. After all it wasn't their fault, it was the fault of the big bad FOX Network. Right. Lovely.

I think back to when there was only the big three stations, ABC, NBC and CBS and this was something that would never have happened. Why? Because they had advertisers to answer to, they had the public to answer to. And back in those days, probably the FCC. If this happened back then, someone would be getting fired, or God knows, going to jail or something.

So what does this mean now? Maybe that they just don't have us all to answer to anymore? So, how is that?

All this diversity in having so many channels available now has not only given us more viewing options, it apparently has given the studios, networks and media providers more options, too. Like to act unprofessionally and treat their customers like lower class citizens. It would seem that we just don't matter that much, anymore.

So we now find ourselves at the beck and call of those who should be at the beck and call of we the public, the viewer, the ones who are really, in the end, footing the bill for all this nonsense. We should all remember that they, believe it or not, work for us, and not the other way around. It is the same thing with all corporations now a days and we need to realize that this kind of thought has even been seeping into our government.

We the general public, have allowed ourselves to be pampered into submission so that now we take pretty much anything that is offered to us. We grumble and then allow it. Well, Occupy the Networks, Occupy the Cable and Satellite carriers! We need to kick some digital signal carrying ass!

We really need to speak up. Obviously, the best thing would be for all of us to just cancel them. This situation would end, overnight. But let's face it, that will never happen. No more than that internet thing that floats around every so often saying that on some certain day, no one is going to buy gas from the oil companies. Right! Like that is going to happen.

Still, we can make some noise about it. And we should. But I have to tell you, exactly what that noise will be, I'm still trying to figure out. If you know what that is, well, we're all ears.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Anthology of Evil free ebook through Friday April 6, 2012

"Anthology of Evil" by JZ Murdock Free through Friday, April 6th, 2012.

I'm also happy to announce that I got a mention on the very cool Indies Unlimited Freebie Friday list of free ebooks!

I am offering my new ebook free through Friday, April 6th. This is a unique opportunity to read a collection of my short Horror and Sci Fi stories. This includes a favorite of actor Rutger Hauer, that he chose in an international writing contest he personally selected, “Poor Lord Ritchie”. Previous blogs of mine give more detail, but what do you have to lose?

Oh, yes I did.... This is the "proof" copy

The final story in the collection, “Andrew” is the prequel for my epic coming out later this month titled, “Death of Heaven”. Check it out.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Controversy over Death of Heaven, my new book

This is similar but different, to my last blog article over the weekend about my new ebook having hit Smashwords and Amazon.

"Anthology of Evil" is of course, my collection of short Horror and Sci Fi stories. Look at my last article for the cover image. The proof just came in for the paperback version. Which is, awesome!

This time though I'm talking about my next book to come out, "Death of Heaven". Hopefully it will be out within a week or so. By the way, if you do read it and you had already read the Anthology, let's just say you will get an extra, added experience out of it all.

Now about "Death of Heaven". I'm pretty sure I am going to get some noise over it. I didn't intend for that to happen and I didn't even realize it might until I was more than half way through with the writing of it. At some point, and any author will tell you this, the characters can take on a life of their own, or the book just starts to write itself heading in a direction different from where you had planned to go. You then go where the story goes because telling a story that holds together, that maintains its conceit, is the main idea. Sometimes you don't like it, sometimes it's a real fun roller coaster ride.

What brings this all to mind is that today a reader of mine who is most of the way through the book now, warned me that this is probably going to get banned by some religious group or other. Well, isn't that special?

But that's not why I wrote it. I wrote it to entertain but also to supply a vastly different and more logical, speculative fiction story. That is to say Science Fiction and Horror in this case. An Alternative History of the entire Human Race; an explanation for everything we have believed up to this point that is radically different from whatever we had talked about before.

The name "Death of Heaven" actually made sense after it was written and so I named it that because it was so very appropriate. What will come after DOH (pun intended) gets published and read, only time will tell. Regardless of whatever ends up happening, it should certainly be interesting.

Feel free to stand by as specator as it would be an extra entertainment. One that could in the end open discussion and make people think, in Humankind's ongoing march toward lucidity, clarity and enlightenment, and away finally from the ironhold of the lunacy that it has been gripped in for thousands of years. If you find you agree in anyway feel free to speak up. Remember that it's not so important to preach to the choir, but to speak in the face of adversity offers the biggest chance at change and progress.

Of course, first we have to find people to read it. That is my problem to solve and something that I am working on. Also, we have to finalize the cover and we're working on that, too.

So, with all that being said there really is only one thing left to say: