Defining moments – J.R. Murdock

Apollo_11_first_stepAfter being invited to a military retirement ceremony where the retiree talked about the defining moments in his career that shaped his life, I thought it would be interesting to ask other people about their defining moments. Many of these will be very personal, some of them will mean nothing to anyone but the person who is writing about them but for all of us, we understand the idea. There are moments in our life that shape us and change us forever.

Defining Moments by J.R. Murdock

Life is filled with many things that will change a person forever. Many are things that a great number of people will experience. Yes, these things will change your life, sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse. Marriage (or finding a partner to spend your life with), getting a degree or two or three, children, burying one or both of your parents. It’s the course that life takes. For me, the biggest life-changing events were in moving.

There are other things that also change your life forever that may never happen to another person. Possibly a course of events that put you into a position to make that life changing event.

At thirteen I was living in a very small town. I had no prospect of a better life. Things were what they were. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I hated physical labor, but living with my mother and step-dad in the back woods of Minnesota, you did physical labor. Mowing lawns for spending money. Shoveling driveways. Raking leaves. Cutting wood. Helping neighbors. Going to a worksite to help shovel gravel, sand, cement, or carry roofing material. Never a shortage of things to do.

Then my mother left my step-father. Life took a turn I wasn’t expecting. My father, a man I’d only spoken to on the phone a handful of times over the years and gone to visit twice, wanted my brother and I to move and live with him.

The jump was made and we moved from the little town of McGregor, Minnesota to Durango, Colorado. Life was easier. Still, there was no shortage of things to do. The winters were a little lighter, but there was still snow to shovel and grass to cut. Fewer trees meant no leaves to rake.

After only a couple of years, my father decided to move back to Minnesota. My senior year in high school was in an even bigger city, Minneapolis. I liked the big city and I loved the house we had moved into. I didn’t like the cold and I hated the snow. I needed a change.

When I was eighteen, I joined the Navy. Sure, millions of men and women have joined the military. For me it was a chance to get away from the life I’d always known. I had dozens of reasons to join, but mostly it was to get away from home. To become my own man. To do my own thing. I moved from coast to coast while in the Navy. I lived in Orlando, Florida, Pensacola, Florida, Lakehurst, New Jersey, Seal Beach, California, Long Beach, California, back to Pensacola. In a few years I’d been on beaches from the Atlantic, to the Gulf of Mexico, to the pacific, and back again. Each time I drove across the country, stopping and seeing everything I could see. Before I was twenty-two, I’d been in over half of the lower forty-eight states.

When I got out of the Navy, I moved back to Durango. When I was in high school, and in the Navy, I played drums and bass. My best friend had lived in California while I was there and he’d moved back to Colorado. I moved there so we could start a band.
We did.

Durango isn’t known for its music scene. So we packed up everything we had and moved to San Diego.

At twenty-six, when I finally decided that the band thing was never going to work out, I was fairly confident that I would never marry, and I would never have kids. I had been to the bottom as a starving musician. Being a musician was awesome, but starving really sucked. I needed to reassess and start over.

I got myself back into school. I got a degree. I got a good paying job. Then I got a better paying job. I met my wife. Got married. We had my favorite daughter.
One thing doesn’t seem to have changed, though. We still move from place to place to get ourselves into a better place.

If it hadn’t been for all the moving I’d done throughout my life, I would be a completely different person. Now, at 45, I’ve lived in 24 different places across six different states. I’ve stayed in hotels in more than a two-dozen different cities and driven through at least 30 states.

For me, change is constant. Many things will never change, but I’ve settled down so many times, that I can call almost anywhere home. Yes, growing roots for many helps define their life. For me, it’s all that moving and uprooting that’s helped define who I am. Sometimes I think I don’t want to move any more. Then I find myself moving yet again. For me, that’s just a part of life. Something that will probably never change. Sometimes, I hope it won’t. It keeps me guessing just where I’ll lay my head next and when the next adventure I will have.

Despite what you may think, J.R. Murdock did have a normal childhood. If you consider swimming in lakes, playing hide and seek in the woods, and spending more time with his imagination than a television, then yes, it was normal. There are those times when little voices will talk to him inside his head. This was never a frequent occurrence and he learned to ignore them. Most of the time.j.r.murdock_1361732631_04[1]

His first book was attempted over several years (probably closer to a dozen) and somehow that book about Dungeon and Dragons characters just never really worked out the way he wanted it to. Someday it might! Just you wait and see. Those characters will not stay down. They will have their story told! I’m telling you here and now…

Shhh, calm. Relaxed. Don’t scare away the nice people that have come to this page and might want to buy a book (or three).

Where were we? Oh, yes, the voices inside his head. They like to talk to at inappropriate times. Fortunately they also talk to at appropriate times and that’s when books happen. Yes, the voices must have their story told or they just keep talking over one another and it’s just a big old jumbled mess and nobody will want to read anything like that, right? So it’s good that they get their chance to come out so that you’ll have something to read and enjoy.

When not listening to the voices inside his head, J.R. Murdock spends time with his wife and his favorite daughter (yes, there is only one daughter that’s why she’s his favorite). They reside in sunny San Diego which is about as close to paradise as you can get and still be in a big city.

Find out more about Mr. Murdock
http://jrmurdock.com
http://ofgnomesanddwarves.com
http://about.me/j.r.murdock

If you would like to participate this this and submit your own essay please use the contact form below to let me know.
Thanks,
Jeff

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BLOG HOP – TAG – Doc Coleman

As I said in my bloghop post I would be tagging two other authors in the blog hop thing.

The second of those two authors is my friend and voice actor extraordinaire, Doc Coleman. (See the Questions for Zachary Ricks)

Doc has this to say about himself:
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Doc has been working with computer technology for over twenty years. He started working with mainframe computer systems and has transitioned to client based systems using Windows based PCs, and then to platform independent web-based infrastructures. Through all this time, Doc has been the go-to guy when any of his co-workers have had problems because of his ability to discuss complex technological problems in simple, easy to understand language.

In February 2010, Doc took his skills online and created The Nifty Tech Blog in an attempt to share his enthusiasm for technology with those who can best benefit with letting the technology do the work. Since that time he has discovered a love for writing and new media and has embarked upon a number of different projects.

In July 2010, Doc turned from writing technology articles and started writing fiction as a contributing writer for the Every Photo Tells… podcast. Three of his short stories were nominated for the 2011 Parsec Awards, but he was shut out of the Finalists list by fierce competition in the Best Speculative Fiction Story (Short Form) category. Doc continues to write short stories, and has also written an article on writing that appeared in the February 2011 issue of Flagship Magazine from Flying Island Press.

Doc ventured into the podcasting world in the summer of 2010, going on microphone with Tee Morris in a six episode crossover series between The Nifty Tech Blog and Tee’s Bird House Rules podcast. Sadly, a dispute with Tee’s publisher has prevented the last episode of the crossover from going live.

Doc returned to the world of podcasting as a guest on Flying Island Press’ podcast Galley Table in September 2010. The Galley Table crew invited Doc to come back any time. And he did. After several guest appearances, Doc was made a part of the Galley Table crew as the Galley Table Stowaway.

Doc also started his own podcast in December of 2010 with The Shrinking Man Project, a journal of philosophy and personal change. He shares his experiences and observations in the hopes that others will be able to discover their own solutions to dealing with their weight by talking about their issues with others making the same journey.

And Here are my questions for him:

1. You seem to be a very regimented person. I might be wrong about that, but how does that translate into your writing process? Where do you fall on the seat of your pants / outlining scale?

2. A lot of writers get the question, where does your inspiration come from, which is a pretty meaningless question if you ask me. But on the other side of the coin is the question what inspires you to write? For example, do you hear the stories in your head, and feel the need to get them out.

3. When do you find time to write, and when you are writing what does it look like? Do you have a certain time and place you have to be, are their any other requirements for when you are writing, quiet, music, special pen, pre-writing warm-ups?

4. Have you had a mentor in your writing process? And if so, how has he or she influenced your writing? If not, can you point to something in your life that has most influenced your writing, and can you share that with us?

5. You have written short stories and novels, you have done voice work and produced podcasts on your own. from all of that, what would you say was the greatest take away for your creative process?

6. Do you have any other things about your writing process that you would like to share with us?

Your post is due on Monday May 12th 2014

Blog Hop – TAG – Zachary Ricks

As I said in my last post I would be tagging two other authors in the blog hop thing.

The first of those two authors is my friend and co-founder of Flying Island Press, Zachary Ricks.  (See the Questions for Doc Coleman)

Zachary has this to say about himself:

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I am a blogger/writer (here), editor/publisher (Flying Island Press), and attorney originally from Southeast Idaho. I attended BYU for my undergraduate degree, and Lewis and Clark Law School in Portland OR for my law degree. It was at Lewis and Clark that I caught the blogging and podcasting bugs. And also was inducted into the school’s Cornelius Honor Society for service to the school. I now reside in beautiful Austin, TX with my wife and daughter.

This website is where you’ll find my own short stories (as I write them) and longer works (as they’re written and I edit them into a releasable state), as well as my personal views on everything from political philosophy and education to video games and cool stuff I’ve found on the internet. In other words, this is the place where I practice all kinds of writing.

Random bytes of writing. Enjoy.

And since he is a writer, I have some questions for him about this writing process.

1. When you sit down to write, what does your process look like? Do you have certain hours each day that you write? Do you need to be in a certain room, with the music just right and your lucky socks on? Do you do anything like writing warm ups, prayer, reading, even singing first? Are you an out-liner or seat of your pants kind of writer?

2. How has your life, your career choice, you religion and faith, your early childhood, influenced what you write? Can you point to one thing that changed the way you think about your stories? Do any one of these things effect your writing process?

3. We are all very busy people, you have your job, and your now teen-aged daughter, church and professional classes, your family life, how do you balance all of those things and still find time to write and produce podcasts?

4. We can all look at the same thing and all see it differently. With that in mind, what piece of writing advice have you gotten that has effected you the most, and what did it mean to you? How did your process or writing change after that advice?

5. Research – Do you research, and how do you go about doing it? Are you like some people who book learning is enough, or do you have to actually go out and do things before you can write about them.

5. Do you have any other thoughts on your writing process that you would like to share with us?

Your post is due on Monday May 12th

Blog Hop – Writing Process – Interview

I have been tagged in a Blog Hop interview about my writing process.  I was tagged by my Alter-ego and Co-editor Michell Plested. Little is known about the origins of Michell as they are shrouded (or at least covered with a moth-eaten towel) by the mists of time. What is known is largely obscure and often contradictory. Oh and he sometimes speaks about himself in the third person.  He is The author of Mik Murdoch, Boy Superhero which was nominated for several awards and the forth coming sequel.  He has been faithfully podcasting his Great show about the writing process Get Published since 2009.

He has many more credits to his name, and you can find out more about him at his website michellplested.com 

Mike was tagged by Robert Runte, who was tagged by Joe Mahoney, who was tagged by Susan Rodgers… There is more, feel free to follow it all the way back to the beginning of the internet.

So on with the interview:

Michell: You are a very busy guy. Two jobs, a large family, a farm to tend and several projects on the go in writing, editing, slush reading and podcasting. How do you manage to juggle everything?

Jeff:  The best answer to this is a quote from one of my favorite books, Captain’s Share by Nathan Lowell
I apologize ahead of time if I get the quote slightly wrong.

Captain Delmen: How are you managing?
Captain Wang: The truth is I’m not, except by massive applications of avoidance behavior.

 

In all fairness. At this point I don’t have that much of a farm, our sheep have all been turned into food, or given back to their owners, and we just have chickens who really don’t take much work, but the sheep are coming back, and there is always the chance that we could fall off the grid at some point and go “full time farmer,” as my kids say. But back to the question.

The reality is that I just find a way to make time if it is really important to me. It is one of those things, if you have a lot of projects going on, no matter how busy you are, you can make time if you want to. It is a real balancing act, and I won’t lie, I have dropped a number of balls from time to time, but I usually manage to keep the important things up in the air. I wish I had a magic secret that I could share with you, but I really don’t.

Michell How do you balance having so many projects on the go? Do you work on one at a time for each one: or a certain number of hours; or a % of your writing time; or is it just a matter of focusing on each deadline as it comes up? Or do you switch from one to the other as you get blocked or bored with what you’re currently working on?

Jeff: Yes! It really is kind of a combination of all of those things. Obviously deadlines play a pretty big role in determining what I work on but that is only part of the story. I usually will work on something until I get stuck and then jump to the next project until I get stuck there, and them come around to the next one. Since I don’t really have any dedicated writing time I can’t say if I spend a % on any one project or another, but I do try to give any given project my full attention while I am working on it.

Michell What is your writing process? Where on the “just sit down and write <—> detailed notes/outline” continuum do you fall? Do you revise as you go, or first draft and then revise? Any routines or rituals that need to be followed?

Jeff: My writing process. Ha! What writing process? That is not really true. I have a process, but it is much more of a by the seat of your pants kind of thing than most people would like. I don’t outline. I have tried several times and usually end up just tossing the outline out the window by the point I get to point # 2 on it. For that reason I tend not to do it, as all the time I spent outline ends up being wasted, and I have precious little time to create in the first place. That also means that I tend to write much shorter works a lot more often then I do longer ones.

As far as once I get writing, I will often sit down and write an entire short story in one go. There is something about the momentum that allows me to just get it out there. I do not revise as I write. Occasionally I will correct a typo that is really bothering me, but most of the time I tend to leave them until I go back to do an editing pass. Because, as I said I write by the seat of my pants I do find myself re-writing stories from scratch sometimes. That seems counter intuitive as far as not having enough time, but once I get that initial idea down, the rewrites come very quickly.

Probably the thing that surprises people, is a lot of times when I sit down to write I don’t have a clear idea of what I am going to write.  Some times I have a general idea.  A very general idea.  Something like, a writing prompt, a picture I have in my head or some times even just a character that I want to explore.  Once I have that Idea, I just start writing.   I make something up until an idea clicks.  Usually this consists of writing a scene that I have decided to put my protagonist in, until something happens.  A lot of times these opening scenes get trashed, but that is ok since they are really just there to get my creative juices flowing.

Michell: You have written short stories and novels. You have edited anthologies and you have produced podcasts. From those experiences, what stands out as the most important learnings and principles or advice so far?

Jeff: It is going to sound rather trite be you need to write.  It does not matter how good it is, or even if you get published.  If you want to write then you have to do it.  Don’t make excuses why you can’t, just do it.

Feedback.  Getting feed back is essential.  If you don’t get any feedback, you have no idea what people think of your work.  You might be making simple mistakes that you can’t see.  You have to ask for feedback sometimes.  But accepting feedback gracefully is also very important.  Understand that you might not be the best writer, podcaster, whatever, right out of the gate.  It is going to take time, and there is no such thing as an over night success.

Like everything else writing is work.  Sometimes it is a lot of fun, sometimes it is a lot of work and you are going to hate it.  But in the end it is ultimately worth it.

Michell Anything else you’d like to add on your writing process?

Jeff: I have a very unique process.  In the 20  or so years I have been working with other writers, I have never found anyone who writes just like I do.  The reality is that everyone has a different writing process.  I tried very hard in the beginning to make my writing process like other peoples processes, and I really struggled.  Nothing I was writing was very good.  And I really started hating writing.  Then one night I sat down and wrote a story.  I wrote it the way I wanted.  At first it felt like I was cheating or something because I was not being regimented or sitting at my writing desk or wearing my “special writing socks.  Then I showed it to someone and they liked it better than what I had been writing.  What had happened was that I was able to incorporate some of the lessons that I had learned by studying other people’s processes styles, into my own without really changing the way that actually wrote the stories.    The moral of this story, do what works for you but don’t be afraid to study and learn from other people’s methods and styles.

 

So that is it for the interview.  Thank you Michell for tagging me.  This was a lot of fun.  Later this week, I will post links and questions for the two people I have tagged.

 

Gypsy In The Attic – Interview

GITALogo[1]Recently I was interviewed by my good friend and Arch Nemesis Laura Nicole for her podcast / vodcast Gypsy In the Attic. The interview was myself and My good friend Zachary Ricks. We talked Flying Island Press, Audio production, podcasting and the future of our works in audio form.

Ha! I just realized that if you look closely when I am on screen, you can see what is left of the “portal” that inspired the “There’s a Portal Under My Sink and Stories of Portals to Places You Don’t Want to Go”

Thank you so much Laura for having us on.

Here is the interview.

Check out the rest of her podcast and future video interviews, at her site gypsylaura.com/