J. W. Donley

Writer, Photographer, Programmer

Joe’s Photo of the Week – Big Mushroom!

How is everybody doing out there in the world?

I hope well. If not, this should cheer you up. Here’s this week’s

Photo of the Week!

This time I bring you a shot I took on a little mushroom photo tour with a local photography group. It was tons of fun, even though it was raining the whole time. But the rain is part of what made the experience different and interesting.

All of the leaves and ground cover were soaked, as was I after I chose to lay in the wet mud to take this picture. Before I go out to take more forest floor macro shots I need to invest in a small tarp or some rain pants.

The Mushroom

As for the mushroom, it’s a strange looking fungal beast. I don’t know what kind it is, but it looks gnarly. The rain made it appear extra slimy. I think mushrooms are beautiful. They are so different from other forms of life that we, as humans, are used to. (like puppies and lettuce)

They are like strange alien things from the covers of 70s Yes albums.

This one even has crazy dark horn/nub things covering the cap. I love it!

The Writing Update – December 2017

December has arrived, and I can come up for air.

NaNoWriMo Victory!

I just finished spending the month of November slinging out 50,000 words for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). I’d attempted this twice already in the past, and failed both times. This time, I pushed through and crossed the 50k mark on the last day. Please gaze upon my amazing chart of word progress.

Now I have to dig in and revise this 50k steaming pile of hastily slung words. Having finished a NaNoWriMo, I’m still trying decide if quantity is better than quality. I had quite a few days during November where I felt like I’d put a bullet in the head of quality and wrapped its body in plastic before driving over the state line with it in my trunk. But, oh well. At least I have a chunk of raw material to work with.

If anything, I hope that I’ve developed a better, more consistent, habit of writing. I want to use the momentum I’ve gathered to finish some other projects.

Not NaNo Writing Projects!

Now that NaNo is over, I can turn my focus back to my preexisting writing projects.

I’m still working on my Shadow novel, and publishing the chapters each month on my Patreon. I would love to finish the first draft of the full novel in order to move on to a new big project.

(Speaking of Patreon, you should definitely check out my page. For $2 a month you get a brand new chapter of my horror novel in progress, Shadows, delivered directly to you. It is a novel about an heir to a drug cartel who is fighting a rising evil trying to escape the world beneath our shadows.)

I’ve also got a short story I need to polish up. It’s been through a few rounds of revision. I need to address the last round of comments, then put it through a rigorous editor, and then start submitting it to magazines for publication.

It’s an awesome feeling so close to done with a project, even thought it’s just a short story.

Writing Groups

As for writing groups, I’m still attempting to find a critique group that is just the right fit for me. So far, I’m involved in a large one at a local book store. It’s a wonderful group, and I will continue to attend and submit. Though, I’ll only be read at that group about once every other month.

There is one other I’d like to check out, but their meeting night keeps conflicting with other items on my calendar. I’m hoping that next month I’ll be able to sit in on their group for the first time. I’d like to get a feel for how the group flows and functions before I submit my own work.

Wrap Up

And that is all for this month. My writing progress has gotten exciting, and I want to ride the high of the NaNoWriMo success for as long as possible.

Joe’s Photo of the Week – Back Trail Waterfall

Guess what time it is…

Its Joe’s Photo of the Week time!

Yeah!

And this time I have a wonderful shot for you from the first time I hiked Heliotrope Ridge. After the first major creek crossing, the trail goes up and up steeply for a ways, following the creek you just crossed upstream. After a bit you come across this view:

Hiking Winchester Mountain

A month or so ago I tried out a new hike in the area.

Winchester Mountain

This was about a 2 mile out a back trail that takes you up to the peak of Winchester Mountain. On this peak sits an old, refurbished, fire lookout.

The trail itself isn’t too difficult. It’s all up, but it’s not overly steep. Really, the hardest part about this trail is getting to the trail head.

The Drive

It lies at the very end of a 7 mile one lane forest road. And the last 2 miles are not maintained. I made it up in my front wheel drive semi-high clearance vehicle, but I would not suggest it in anything lower. Also, I would not dare attempt the drive if it were raining or if there were snow on the road. I had no trouble in the conditions I drove in, but there was one point when I approached a wash-out where I seriously began to question my choices that morning. With a little momentum I made it over that last hump, and just around a turn were the Twin Lakes and the parking lot at the trail-head.

The drive is pretty, but also avoid it if you are afraid of heights. It is a one lane road that runs along side of a very steep hill with no guard rail and then there are steep switchbacks. (I loved it!)

The Hike

The hike starts between the two Twin Lakes and quickly starts to climb and snake back and forth across the face of Winchester Mountain. All along the way you are treated to amazing vistas of massive forested valleys and picturesque views of Mount Baker in the distance.

There is one section that is fairly precarious though. The trail gets ultra thin as it crosses a steep face of loose mountain scree. It then goes up a steep chunk of orange stone up to a small ridge connecting the main mountain to a smaller peak.

Than you climb up the remainder of the trip around the back side of the mountain. Here you are treated to huge views of the valley between Mount Larrabee and Tomyhoi Mountain. Lake Tomyhoi sits at the bottom. Also, even late in the season, snow still waits in the shadowed north face of the mountain.

Once at the top, bask in your accomplishment and enjoy the even better views of the surrounding mountains and valleys. Also, be sure to check out the fire lookout, but be respectful of anyone that may be using it to camp for the night.

Joe’s Photo of the Week – Branch and Mountain

It’s time for, yet another, Joe’s Photo of the Week!

This week I give you a picture with it’s focus flopped around. Usually, picturesque mountains in photographs are the center of attention, but in this shot I wanted to blur out the background mountain and put your full attention on the evergreen branch floating in front.

Joe’s Photo of the Week – Shipwreck

Here’s a shot from our little anniversary trip out to the Oregon Coast.

Just west of Warrenton, OR is a little beach with the Shipwreck of Peter Iredale.

It is a gorgeous beach, but this decaying boat steals the show.

 

Cool Stuff From the Internet: November Edition

It’s time for a brand new type of blog post for me. I wanted to share with you some things I’ve found useful on the internet. There is no set topic, just whatever I decide to share.

Enjoy!

The Links:

 

This is Horror Podcast

First, I would like to recommend an awesome podcast for horror writers: This is Horror

http://www.thisishorror.co.uk/

They put out an author interview every week or so, along with book reviews, and general horror lit news. Check them out!

Tomato Timer

Next I present https://tomato-timer.com/

This is just a simple timer that runs in the browser to help you be more productive through the Pomodoro Technique.

Slick Write

Next is a tool I use for much of my writing. It’s an awesome freebie that will help you fix common mistakes in your writing. For example, over use of passive voice, repeated words and phrases, and more: https://www.slickwrite.com/#!home

Super Scary Reddit Story

I know that you are getting too much sleep, and so I bring to you a series of posts on Reddit that will gift you with sleepless nights:

Here is an awesome aggregation of many free online writing tutorials

https://www.reddit.com/r/writing/comments/7bjz0b/good_source_of_writing_lessons_for_writers/

Coffee!

Last, but not least, here is a huge list of tips for perfecting your pour over or chemex coffee brewing methods. I’ve tried a few different suggestions from here, and have definitely improved the taste of my coffee.

https://handground.com/grind/47-tips-to-make-pour-over-coffee-like-a-barista

Joe’s Photo of the Week – Lake Diablo

Are you dreaming of warmer, more sunny days?

Good! Because today’s Joe’s Photo of the Week is from back in sunny summertime.

The family and I took a little road trip out east on I-20 just to see what was out there. This is one of the many stops we checked out that day.

Lake Diablo!

 

Dark Tower Re-Read – Part 2: The Gunslinger

Part 1: The Movie

I have fond memories of reading The Gunslinger way back in college. It was one of the first books I read for myself after a very long break from reading for my own enjoyment. AP English courses in high school had killed any interest I had in reading. There was too much analysis and not enough just reading for the fun of it.

What drew me to this book was a mash up of a few traits. I’d not read any Stephen King yet, and was interested to try something of his. Also this looked to be a mix of western, horror, sci/fi, and fantasy.

Now that I’ve re-read this over a decade later, here are my thoughts on Stephen King’s The Gunslinger:

The Good

It was awesome getting to meet Roland and Jake at the beginning of their journey again. Roland’s control of his guns and the Mid-World dialect were like stepping into a well worn pair of comfy shoes.

The Bad

But, this book was no where near as good as I remember it being. Back when I read it the first time, the extra weight of it being my first real Stephen King book may have influenced my opinion as I read it.

The Fugly

This time around it felt rather disjointed. There was no real character building. This probably has roots in the fact that this really isn’t a novel, but a woven together collection of short stories. Originally these stories were published in the Magazine of Science Fiction and Fantasy in the 70s. In the early 80s SK put them together as a book. Then, again when he was finishing off the last three books of the series, he revised it again to add in references foreshadowing to the later story.

 

It was awesome going back into this journey once again, but I was let down by this first installment. I’m still looking forward to the next book in the series though, The Drawing of the Three. Lots of other readers claim that the series gets much better after this first entry. I do remember book three, The Waste Lands, being my favorite.

Next up in the Dark Tower Re-Read is a few books that aren’t in the series, but are other SK books connected to the series. Next up will be The Talisman by SK and Peter Straub.

Joe’s Photo of the Week – Mushrooms!

It’s time for another Joe’s Photo Of The Week ( week … week … week)

This time I’ve got something a little different for you.

Mushrooms!

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