Monday, July 24, 2017

First Lines From Famous Author's Short Stories

I'm overwhelmed and sad at our current political situation with the travesty that is the Trump administration. So, I thought side stepping into something light and interesting in the realm of writing might be handy.

I recently had to go through my old papers and found a wealth of story ideas, notes (many written on bar napkins from the 1980s, and odds and ends of things I'd written going back decades. One was two hand written pages where I had gone through a book of short stories and copied their first opening sentence of nineteen of the stories in the anthology.

There's others out there to be sure. But this is mine for myself from many years ago. Like, 50 Best First Sentences in Fiction. But I was focusing on science fiction. Another is, The 7 Types of Short Story Opening, and How to Decide Which is Right for Your Story.

My thought at the time was to study the opening lines from great authors and attempt to gain some insight for my own stories.  This is that list.


I got these from 100 Great Science Fiction Short Stories, when I wrote these down sometime after it came out in 1985.

A  Loint of Paw, by Isaac Asimov
There was no question that Montie Stein has, through clever fraud, stolen better than a hundred thousand dollars.

The Advent of Channel Twelve, by C.M. Kornbluth
It came to pass in the third quarter of the fiscal year that the federal reserve Board did raise the rediscount rate and money was tight in the land.

Plaything by, Larry Niven
The children were playing six-point Overlord, hopping from point to point over a hexagonal diagram drawn in the sand, when the probe broke atmosphere over their heads.

The Misfortune Cookie, by Charles E. Fritch
With an ease born of long practice, Harry Folger cracked open the Chinese cookie and pulled the slip of paper free.

I Wish I May, I Wish I Might, by Bill Pronzine
He sat on a driftwood throne near the great gray rocks by the sea, watching the angry foaming waves hurl themselves again and again upon the cold and empty whiteness of the beach.

Science Fiction for Telepaths, by E. Michael Blake
Aw, you know what I mean.

FTA, by George R.R. Martin
Kinery entered in a rush, a thick file bulging under his arm.

Trace, by Jerome Bixby
I tried for a short cut.

The Ingenious Patriot, by Ambrose Bierce
Having obtained an audience of the King an Ingenious Patriot pulled a paper from his pocket, saying: "May it please your Majesty, I have here a formula for constructing armour-plating which no gun can pierce...."

200, by Edward D. Hoch
The children were always good during the month of August, especially when it began to get near the twenty-third.

The Destiny of Milton Gomrath, by Alexi Panshin
Milton Gomrath spent his days in dreams of a better life.

The Devil and the Trombone, by Martin Gardner
The university's chapel was dark when I walked by it, but I could hear faintly the sound of an organ playing inside.

Upstart, by Steven Utley
"You must obey the edict of the Sreen," the intermediaries have told us repeatedly, "there is no appeal, "but the captain won't hear of it, not for a moment.

How It All Went, by Gregory Benford
At first they designed MKCT to oversee radar signals from the Canadian net and the Soviet Siberian net, to check that one did not trigger the alarm system of the other.

Harry Protagonist, Brain Drainer, by Richard Wilson
Harry Protagonist, space-age entrepreneur, had been planning the project since the Gus Grissom shot.

Peeping Tommy, by Robert F. Young
Tommy Taylor? Oh, he's coming along fine.

Starting From Scratch, by Robert Sheckley
Last night I had a very strange dream.

Corrida, by Roger Zelazny
He awoke to an ultrasonice wailing.

Shall The Dust Praise Thee?, by Damon Knight
The Day of Wrath arrived.

That's it. I don't know what that might tell us, but there it is.

According to a Wikihow article on first short story sentences:

How to start a short story introduction?
Part 2 Choosing Your Type of Beginning
  1. Start in scene. Many short story writers will try to start their stories in a scene, usually a scene that feels important and engaging. ... 
  2. Establish the setting. ... 
  3. Introduce your narrator or main character. ... 
  4. Open with a line of strong dialogue. ... 
  5. Present a minor conflict or mystery.
So, for what it's worth, even if the above tells you nothing (and it should), the first sentence is important. But don't let it seem so important that you never get to the second sentence, or the last.

Monday, July 17, 2017

A Woman's What?

This was posted recently with the obvious desire for comment. You know sometimes there are subjects you never ever want to get involved in, but then something comes up where you just have to say something. Especially on topics where people are standing up for some people's rights while abusing other's in the process.

This just felt like one of those times. I'm not anti alternative lifestyle, or anti gender anything. Since I do accept others for who they are in what their actions are, I really do not care about certain aspects of their world as it pertains to me. I'll treat you decently. But if you push your racism in my face, I don't really want to hear it. Or your gender issues (for or against). Just be a person around me and try not to complicate our relationship. Yes, it may get to that point where it's addressed. But feel that out and deal with it at the right time and place.


I have a comment.

A woman's penis? Look, a penis is a penis. Male gender has penis. Let's not over complicate things. And I say that with love. Yes, a woman can have a penis. Yes it's a complicated subject. But one that some revel in the complexity of and the specialness of being in that realm.

You know there was a time when some aspects of sexuality just weren't public. After all some mystery in life isn't so bad. I say that tongue in cheek, but there is some veracity to it.

This whole gender business has become pretty messed up and confused. For both (and all?) sides. And not just in that arena, but in many in the country today. Especially in politics.

As in this case in the post, it may be considered a "woman's penis"...to the owner But to the straight participant it is not, and it is homosexual behavior for him to participate and it shouldn't otherwise be pushed on HIM as such. It is by definition a homosexual act too for the owner, but not in today's PC climate where one gets to decide what one is regardless of the reality of the physicality of the individual who apparently can simply choose whatever they are. Seriously?

 Look.... I get it. Some people have a sexuality that is very complicated and some have one that is effectively screwed up. It is however also unfair to expect others to buy into your reality without accepting some responsibility for how the world is. You don't live in a bubble, but if you want to, do not expect others to. Just accept that, have a good sense of humor about it and go on with your life.

Don't let others affect you and bring you down. Go out and be fabulous, or awesome, or whatever. Because you are if you want to be. But we have been expecting too much of others too much of the time of late. And no I'm not saying Neo Nazis should be able to be assholes. I'm saying that there are limits and boundaries even to being politically correct. But how many genders do we really need when we start with two. By one count, 63 I hear now. Really?

My point isn't that there aren't 63 (or however many) genders. It's that it's not within many people's realm of importance. And that's okay, too. I get that it may be important to you. But trust me, there are things very important to me that no one else seems to care about. I just deal with it and move on. Though admittedly I do get rather passionate about it at time. But that's on me, not you. Still, I get over it and move on and try not to bother others too much about it. Except in the appropriate environments and situations.

Recently Washington DC and Oregon have decided to add an "X" along with an "M" for male and "F" for female to their driver's licenses. A move that is getting praise by many who have desired such a thing. I think this is a good idea. And it supports my point here.

We do have to be careful about not having a common understanding of reality however. That's what standard schooling was originally all about. I've always been a proponent of diversity but of late I've found a downside to it.

Whenever we go out of our house, we walk into a social contract with the rest of humanity.

Social contract:
An implicit agreement among the members of a society to cooperate for social benefits, for example by sacrificing some individual freedom for state protection. Theories of a social contract became popular in the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries among theorists such as Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau, as a means of explaining the origin of government and the obligations of subjects.

A social contract is also about interpersonal levels of comfort. In part what all this talk about one's selected gender is, is a way for that individual to have a desired level of comfort. However, it has come at the expense of other's comfort levels. Not quite fair now, is it.

What that means is we don't go outside a reasonable degree of comfort, especially for those we do not know or have just met. We don't overtly come onto, especially someone you don't know or want to be hit on by;  we don't act racist toward others; we don't share too much personal or private information.

That is also how it used to be about religion. We kept our religion to ourself. But now it's being shoved into our public and political spectrums when this country was based upon keeping religion separate form the State. Usually it's being forced into political issues for all the wrong reasons. It makes it harder for us to see one another as equal, when one is always pushing how special they are by way of their actions.

And that is the thing. TMI, too much information, has almost become a way to say hello anymore. It's really kind of weird and usually not very desirable to many people. Except for those with a need to feel different or special or to over share. Our self esteem and priorities have gotten confused and convoluted and that needs to change. And it is, and has. At some point however, we need to regroup from time to time as to continue on can become defective for all involved.

It's good we're more aware of OUR subgroups. Because these are all OUR subgroups. I know moany theists or conservatives would disagree about trans people or gays being a party of their subgroups. This is America. Deal with it. But do we really need to find even more ways to make interacting even more complicated than it already is? Many are already overwhelmed. If they need to understand those out of norm people's needs, they too need to understand those of the larger group.

I don't care what or who you claim you are. Go with it, have fun. Feel normal, whatever. But to push others to accept your form of reality, of a norm, outside of a certain realm, is not only unfair and ludicrous, it can be mean and no, I'm not talking about reverse racists type of points of view.

All this while we hear not accepting other's reality for their personal beliefs and way of life are being treated unfairly by people who don't even know what they are talking about. After all, life is complicated enough without further complicating it. Yes, I keep saying that. Complicating it to reality is one thing, but into obscurity is kind of just wasting all of our time.

You be you. I fully support that. I also don't have to accept what you believe or you what I believe, I just have to treat you in a civil manner and accept you as an equal, for the most part. Just don't expect everyone to understand everything.

Be gracious enough to be you and not feel the need to share too much personal information with others especially in some cases, certainly with those whom you do not know and will never see again. I honestly don't care what gender you are. I don't care what race you are. Why is that even an issue? If I can't tell by looking at you, that's my problem? Obviously, and you know it, it's your problem. So don't bring it up. Have a thick enough skin to let it go in polite conversation.

Telling me as soon as we meet what you have devised and selected as your "gender" is kind of over the top and more info than is needed and it only puts people ill at ease and over complicates the social interaction. If we're going to have a long term relationship of work or whatever, then it may be appropriate. And it may not.

That is on you for either choosing to be or simply in being as fate has devised you, as who you are. I'm who I am. I don't expect anyone to care or bother about it. And they don't. But then I'm perhaps lucky in being male and heterosexual. Pretty uncomplicated reality in its complexity.

The problem here is we've confused several things in our becoming more aware of various elements of reality and the universe and we have learned how to further and further confuse things through desire and belief.

Partly out of a desire for people to not have their feelings hurt, to simply accept oneself rather than put in the work to better deal with reality. Yes, there are exceptions to that rule, no doubt about it. But we are seeing this bleed into other areas where that really is not the case. Who should judge? Good question.

As I said, it's also ebbed into our politics further obfuscating things (typically on purpose) and well, just how is that treating ya?

It's like it is with some obese individuals. It's far easier to accept one is fat, rather than to do the emotional, educational, physical work and make the possibly massive life changes to lose weight and thus potentially better your end of life years as well as your overall general health situation. As well as you're reality, today, and that of others.

Losing weight can also (usually does) require a change in lifestyle which many are unable or more typically simply not willing to do or even consider and so, they do suffer emotionally. Yes, it's better to accept you're fat and be happy rather than drive yourself into sickness over body shaming... or suicide even. But it's also better to work to deal with reality and change things for the better rather than shoot for shortcuts just because it's easier.

We have confused making someone accept themselves as they are in order to be happy until they get to a healthy point where they can then deal with their issues and do the work necessary to really get to where they wish to be (we kind of just decided it's easier to simply forget the latter hard part).

Yes, some should just accept it and go on and be happy with themselves. some have those situations where that is the wise thing to do, the smart path to choose. Many, many others however should really just do the work, put in the effort and drastically change their lifestyle. But they see these others and hear people chanting to accept thyself and viola, that becomes their mantra, the new reality. It's much easier. And it's instant after all.

Not to mention the of millions of pounds of fat nationally and how it affects our domestic economy as well as the wear and tear on our infrastructure. But that is after all, another issue.

As are drugs from a psychiatrist. One takes drugs to stabilize, to get to a place where they are functional enough to do the actual work required to achieve a healthy mind and personalty, and life. We seem to have much too often just stopped at the "just take the drugs" initial stage. Our follow through has decreased more and more over the years.

When what is really needed is a change in life, or in doing other work that isn't all that easy. Maybe a massive change in life that most aren't willing or cannot (or think they cannot) do. Just keep popping a pill. Done. Move on. Cuz surely, that never goes wrong. Just ignore the suicides caused by many anti anxiety drugs.

The answer really isn't better living through chemicals. Well, cannabis and alcohol in proper doses and well spaced out enough at times actually can aide in enhancing the quality of one's life. Until they don't if and when abused. Being Americans, we overdo everything and think if some is good, more is always better. It's not. That takes no thought. Finding balance is hard and we tend to reject that outright.

The psychiatric drugs are only ever really meant to help people finally be able to address and deal with their actual issues, to do the hard work, to get down to the business of actually healing and building a better mindset. And again too often the answer is to drastically change one's lifestyle. To dump the girlfriend, to divorce the husband, to quit the job or simply to move forever away from one's friends and family. Yes, sometimes that TOO can simply be the answer. But people would prefer to do drugs and stay in their toxic situations.

Yes some people do need to be on drugs forever. Always exceptions to the rule. That however does not neutralize the rule as some like to immediately think just because they threw up some (at times, potentially untrue) anecdote.

Some people do have gland problems with their weight issue. But those are not the norm, not the large numbers we're seeing who would claim such a situation. Most people are not "big boned" or have a "gland problem". They just have a lifestyle that leads them to binge eat, or stress eat, or not exercise, or whatever. Or again, they may be trapped in a need for a massive life style change.

And so we have these ridiculous exchanges as we see in the snapshot above.

As we see the rise and fall of such groups and beliefs as are exemplified with ISIS around the world, of late in the Philippines, one has to wonder, just how is it different in its fundamental emotional components and affect in satiation?


Is mass delusion running rampant across the planet? Just in different forms and degrees? Isn't our right wing more or less delusional in many ways? People are listening to shows like InfoWars. Even Fox News has some assigned blame for what is going on. As do Congressional conservative Republicans and certainly our oh so questionable president.

Is this all a normal function in life that it is happening at this time, or is it caused by something else? A conscious element or external force? Theists love to talk about intelligent design. Is that what we're seeing? Or is this just another pendulum effect swinging wide due to our more evolved, if not more technological society? Is this just what happens ever so many years and nothing is new or different, just the technology and weaponry?

Yes, people are indeed odd. Different. Unique even. But also very much the same. I usually celebrate th7all at. But really now, come on, let's call a bullshitter a bullshitter when they raise their lovely necks onto the chopping block of social discourse.

As for a woman's whatever to paraphrase the president, we all need to seek our bliss and I celebrate and support that. But let's have some reasonable boundaries and accept that others are not always responsible for who we are as unique individuals.

Or surely, I could just be 100% wrong.

Yeah, that's probably it. I'm just absolutely incorrect.

Cuz after all, that's just a lot easier....

Monday, July 10, 2017

So Begins the War on Capitalism - Finally

Years ago I said I was a capitalist. I didn't know what else to call it. Then I wised up. I also used to say we need a businessman to run this country like a business so it runs smoothly because obviously politicians can't do it. But back in the 90s I figured out that was a huge mistake.

Now I'm seeing capitalism is the cancer we are infected with and we've been fighting the wrong things. The riots in Hamburg today are on the right track as anti capitalist protests. They've got it, finally and will it spread from there around the world? Hopefully.

Now we have a capitalist running the country (running? LOL, okay okay).

Look they got people to chant stupidly how bad socialism is. But that's not the case.

It's not that socialism is bad, it's that pure socialism is bad. I've been saying this for decades. Pure capitalism for that matter is pretty much as we're seeing, pure evil. AS we're seeing....

Pure nothing is good for living things. Pure oxygen kills you, and rots things. Living purely on water kills you, robbing you of nutrients. Sure, there's exceptions to every rule. But that's not the point, that's taking the capitalist's platform. Pure humanity doesn't work, it needs some capitalist, or something. Pure capitalism forgets humanity. As we're seeing.

Capitalism breeds binary thinking. Bottom line thinking. Profit thinking. And most dangerously, Corporate thought.

The point is, we need as we have had, a hybrid of things to make the country run smoothly.

But we have to start with eliminating big money from elected officials in making rational decisions. We need people making decisions for people and not a few. We need to stop thinking we're rich, when we're not. We need to all start thinking.

First up, eliminate those we can clearly see aren't thinking by our standards.

Seriously. It's not rocket science. Well, maybe to Trump.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Happy Independence Day ebook giveaway!

Happy Fourth of July! Have a wonderful safe holiday! If you need something new and different to read....

July is the annual Smashwords ebook summer giveaway!

Most of my ebooks on Smashwords are free through July while others are heavily discounted.

All these below and more! Check out my Author page on Smashwords to see other ebooks of mine that are included beyond these below....

Xibalba Unleashed - a short story written for an anthology that was so fun to write I accidentally went 2,000 words over the limit and had to write another story. It is a unique serial killer origin story based on Mayan mythology brought back from an expedition to modern America.

Andrew - Horror novella with paranormal overtones
As I mentioned, "Andrew" led to "Death of Heaven" and was one of my first stories.
Book Video Trailer

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/487748 - Serial Murder Horror
This is also published in The Undead Nation Anthology and is being worked on as a screenplay. It is my one of my brilliant cover artist's favorite stories of mine.
Book Video Trailer

Japheth, Ishvi and The Light - Zombies & Religion
Also published in my Anthology of Evil
Book Video Trailer

In Memory, Yet Crystal Clear - Sci Fi Social Horror and my first published horror sci fi story.. This is a story that in many ways may sound very familiar to our current situation in America.
Book Video Trailer

Poor Lord Ritchie's Answer to a Question... - Medieval Surreal Horror
Book Video Trailer

Sarah - Surreal Horror with Geographical overtones based on a true story.
Book Video Trailer

Quantum History - Comedy/Sci Fi of an experiment that went strangely wrong.
Book Video Trailer

These are some of the ebooks I'm giving away or decreasing price on over this month of July on Smashwords.com. Check out my page on Smashwords to find which ones you would be most interested in.

All are fascinatingly weird little short stories.

Andrew is a novella and a of foundation for my book, Death of Heaven (discounted to $2). The novella and the book are very different kinds of animals, with the one having grown up from the alien seed of the other.

Please feel free also to visit my Amazon Author page.

Have a great Holiday!

Cheers!

JZ Murdock

Monday, July 3, 2017

Intent

Does intent matter?

I hear this over and over. If someone harms you because of ignorance, maybe it's kind of okay, They didn't know what they were doing. Right?

But if someone does something to you that harms you, knowingly of what they are doing, though most likely not very aware of the full impact of what you experienced, isn't that person a worse person than someone who didn't realize at all what they were doing?

What if the person who completely didn't realize what they were doing, simply continued on in that ignorance after seeing the repercussions of their actions? Then they did that kind of thing and other things to others causing further damage. Then is THAT okay?

What if the person who knew what they were doing, went on to learn from what they had done? Probably then made other mistakes with others but didn't repeat the actions that led to your pain.  Is THAT okay?

It recently occurred to me that we value things in odd ways. That our priorities aren't what we think they should be. They are frequently misplaced priorities in using the wrong filters to view them through.

I would much rather have someone consciously hurt me, then later, because they were conscious of their actions, reflected on them and chose another path. Rather than someone who is seemingly oblivious to their actions, who goes on ignorantly following a path in life that is leaving a wake of harm behind them.

I think in part the problem there is that we believe we would be enabling in being understanding, or worse, in forgiving someone who consciously has done us harm.

The issue there is in the tense. The orientation and direction.

A good (best) friend at one time in my life had a way of living that I found semi repugnant. I made that clear. I said as long as I didn't get caught up in that net, I could be fine. Until I got caught up in that and that ended our relationship, and it made me rather angry.

Years later they got onto a good life path. I had been a part of that destructive life and path and until now in having no part in that path, in simply knowing no one any longer is being harmed (generally speaking), finally I can allay my feelings and passions about them. Though they are still no longer my friend at least I know they have changed their ways. Sometimes the damage is simply too great and bridges do get burned.

However, another "friend" is still just the same. They are nice, but still ignorant of their bad behaviors. One can therefore know, if they are still in that realm of influence, that they will eventually surely get caught up in it and regret it.

So who would you rather deal with now? The one hear eventually learned and moved on to better things, or the one who remains the same dysfunctional person?

In the past we typically would go for one over the other. Because in the moment, at the time, we have different values, different preferences.

If we receive the same harm from both, but the mere intent of one is better than the other, do we forgive them and not the other? Or do we recognize both are problematic as we will eventually suffer from either of them and avoid them both?

Just how much should we put up with before walking away and who do we forgive, or not?