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The Update – August 2018

The Update – August 2018

Last month’s update feels like it was a lifetime ago. July was such a ridiculously busy month. Here are a few things that went down:

  • I turned 35
  • Weekend trip to the coast for our 14th anniversary
  • Failed at finishing Camp Nanowrimo
  • Did the next round of edits for the Village Books Anthology
  • Slipped into a writer’s slump
  • and went on some hikes

I’m sure there were more things that I’m forgetting as well.

The Hikes

Let’s start with the hikes. I went on four of them last month. The first was the Ridley Creek Trail. This one was crazy. It is an unmaintained trail which starts near the headwaters of the Middle Fork Nooksack river and clambors up the southwest base of Mt Baker, eventually leading to a fire lookout at Park Butte. Apparently this is the long way to get to the fire lookout. At three hours in and around 1,500 feet of elevation gain in dense forest I turned around when coming to a small gully I would need to climb down than back out of. I was already pretty tired, and I still needed to make my way back to the car. I later learned that I was only another half mile from the end of the trail, but it would’ve been another two miles to the fire lookout anyways. I plan to attempt the shorter/easier route to the Park Butte fire lookout very soon.

I also hiked the local Rock Trail, here just south of Bellingham. This is a newer path that may as well be called the ‘Mile of Stairs’. Because that is what it is. It is one of the more interesting trails in the near vicinity that I’ve been on though. There are some massive sandstone rock cliffs and massive boulders that the trail winds around. At the bottom I made way around the back side of Lost Lake. I wanted to get to a waterfall marked on my map. I was a bit disappointed when I got there, since it was only a trickle running off from the lake. It was an extremely quite hike; I only saw a handful of other folks out there. Two of them were a couple of mountain bikers taking a quick skinny dip in the lake (that’s where I decided to head back).

The last hike was only a couple days ago. I attempted Heliotrope Ridge again. This is one that I’ve tried three times in the past, each time I was not able to make it to the end, which is an overlook view of the Coleman Glacier. The first couple times I was unable to get past the last couple creek crossings due to dangerous currents. The third time I took my son with me, and he dunked his boot and soaked his socks half way in. But this time, I made it! Those last creek crossings were a bit scary though. I used some water shoes to get past one, and on the last I dunked and soaked my socks. Luckily I brought a spare pair (which were waterproof) for the hike back. The image at the top is the view from the Coleman Lunch Bluff.

Celebrations

Yep, I’m now 35 years old. I’m not sure what exactly that means for me. I guess I’m finally getting to middle age. Do I have to accept that I’m “old”? Nah, that’s still years away. Right?

Also, Melissa and I celebrated our 14 wedding anniversary. For this we spent a weekend out in Forks, WA. We didn’t go out there for the vampires, but we went instead for the coastal beaches. On the way we swung by Hurricane Ridge, north of Port Angeles, as well. We drove up through the clouds, which cleared away at the last moment revealing the snow clad Alpine-like Olympic Mountains. The beaches the next day were awesome as well. We hiked down to Second Beach, just south of La Push on a Saturday morning. It’s a fairly short hike. The only downside is the massive piles of drift logs you have to clamor over at the end. Later that night we watched a fireworks show launched from La Push for Quileute Days from Rialto Beach. It was an awesome experience.

Writing

My writing ventures have really tanked this month. I just was not inspired most of the time. I’ve mostly cut out photography, though I do still love going on photo hikes. I’ve also almost completely cut out television and movies. This month career stuff has bled outside of work hours a bit, and the anthology edits took up quite a bit of time.

I’m still working to find a successful balance between family, career, writing, etc.

This all being said, Camp Nano in July was a failure for me. I got about 4000 words in at the beginning, but then I just stalled out. I think I will still carry on with the project, but I have some doubts about it and need to spend some time developing the idea. I need to evaluate that I truly am writing the things I want to write. Am I writing the things that I would want to read? This is a tough question, and one I need to make sure the answer to is ‘yes’.

This Month

This month is much more quiet. I should have a little more time to come back to my writing and dig myself out of that rut. I will also, most likely, go on a few more hikes and take a few more pictures. I am also catching up on a handful of reading. It is important, as a writer, to always be reading. And, I need to finish my final draft for submission to the Village Books Anthology. I think my story for this is the most polished one I’ve ever written. A ton of work has gone into it in order to get it to this point. And it does still have a couple warts, but I should be able to smooth them out. I’m hoping that it will get voted into the anthology. (Wish me luck!)

Until next time, you all have an amazing month.

Posted by Joe in Random, Writing, 0 comments
June 2018 Update – Doing all of the things!

June 2018 Update – Doing all of the things!

Hello all of you folks who find me from across the interwebs! How are things going for you?

They are moving along nicely for myself. I’m still chipping away at a few different writing projects. I’m just about done with the first draft of a story for one anthology, and I’m working on a revision for another story for submission to another anthology. Once I get those done I will either go back to working on my novel, or do some more short stories. I haven’t decided yet. And, of course, I’ll let you know where you can get copies once available.

The fiction writing group I run at Village Books is still going well. By the time this has posted we’ll have met for our 4th meeting. It is an interesting experience facilitating a group like this. Facilitate really is the proper word, because I don’t feel like I’m controlling the group, I’m more leading the group along in order for everyone to get the most possible out of the experience. At least that is what I hope for. So far I’ve gotten positive feedback but I’m always open to suggestions on ways to improve the group.

In other news: in order to try and become more efficient with the use of my time, I’ve started using a ‘Bullet Journal‘. For those who don’t know what that is, it’s a fancy way of using a blank notebook for personal time management. The basic system is great and I highly recommend it if you are in need of finding more time in your days. Mine is nowhere near as pretty as examples found across Pinterest. On there you’ll find beautiful hand drawn intricate layouts designed by professional graphic designers with washy-tape everywhere. Mine is very utilitarian and functional (I can’t draw). But I like it. In the past month of using this system, my little notebook has become an appendage, a second buffer storage for my brain. Maybe in the future I’ll share some of my more interesting pages on here.

Oh, and another plus of using a Bullet Journal is that it’s a great excuse to buy stationary and stationary accessories, ‘I tell you what!’

Posted by Joe in Random, Writing, 0 comments
May 2018 Update

May 2018 Update

Time is a precious thing. There are only so many hours in a day, so many days in a week, and so on. It is hard to find time for everything I strive to do.

Over the last couple months I’ve pared down greatly on blog posts and I even turned off my Patreon account. I’m hoping I can re-launch the Patreon again in a few months time, but for the moment I just do not have the time for it.

Right now my main focus, outside of family and day job, is running a new fiction workshop group, finishing a couple short stories for two anthologies, and editing a pile of stories for one of those anthologies.

Village Books Fiction 2 Group

I absolutely love the VB Fiction Group, but it reached a point to where it took over two months for the reading rotation to come back to you. Also, it happened to meet on the same night that to the local tech user group meets. For my day job I write code for a giant tech corporation, and it is important to network and stay up to date with industry standards in order to stay current.

So, starting this 2nd group has two benefits.

  1. Smaller group with faster submission rotation
  2. Better fits my schedule

We’ve had two meetings now with the new group, and it has been wonderful. The feedback has remained high quality and the other writers that have joined me are wonderful people. Though, I will miss the folks from the other group.

Anthologies!

And now for an update on my anthology submissions.

I’ve finished the first draft of one and submitted it for feedback to the editing group. So far the feedback has been positive. I’ve gotten some amazing notes on ways to improve the story. I’ve also learned that Kudzu doesn’t group out here in the Pacific Northwest.

I’m also in the editing group for that anthology and I have 11 short stories to provide feedback on by the end of the month.

I’m still working on the first draft for the other story. I wanted to have it done last month, but life got in the way. The current goal is to finish the first draft of that one in the next couple weeks.

Organization

With all of these deadlines and projects going on I decided I needed to revamp my time management tools. Starting this month I’m attempting to use a ‘Bullet Journal’. This is a super flexible way of doing a hybrid journal / todo list. There are so many beautiful examples of how people have customized there own Bullet Journals, but I do not have the drawing and calligraphy skills all of the folks on Pinterest have. Mine is super simple so far, just sticking to the basics of BuJo as laid out by its creator Ryder Carroll, with just an index, future log, monthly and daily logs, and a couple collections and trackers. Go here for more info on Bullet Journaling  – http://bulletjournal.com

Maybe after a few months I’ll share how I’m using my bullet journal.


Well, that’s all I have time for this month. Hopefully, over the coming months I’ll be able to return to a more regular posting schedule.

Thanks for stopping by!

Posted by Joe in Random, Writing, 0 comments
Monthly Update – March 2018

Monthly Update – March 2018

Well, another month has passed and things are crazy as usual. Somehow I always seem to be more and more busy between my different interests. I find myself having to give up other hobbies to focus on my career and only one or two other items.

Photography Winding Down

You've probably already noticed that I've not continued my photo of the week series.

I've nearly stopped practicing my photography as of late. Thought this may be a seasonal thing. With the sun setting so early, and being engrossed with my different writing projects in the evenings photography has gotten pushed to the corner. I have started to upload my work to stock photography sites to try and earn a little money on what I have done. And I plan on taking a passive approach to taking new photos. By 'passive' I mean I will just take my camera along with me on little trips and take some pictures if I am inclined and not feel like I have to take amazing photos every day.

Family Olympic Peninsula Trip

With that being said, I did get a few nice pics a week back. We took a little family trip out to the Olympic Peninsula and spent a few days at a small fishing resort in the off season before prices starting going up. On the first day we did a hike out to Shi Shi Beach. Some say that this is the most picturesque spot in the Pacific Northwest, and I agree. It was a two hour hike through occasional rain, heavy winds, and extremely muddy conditions, but it was worth it.

The next day we went down to Forks to get my son some new boots, since his were still soaked in mud from the day before and visited Rialto Beach before heading back north and hiking out to Cape Flattery.

I've got more pictures, but I haven't had a chance yet to edit the rest.

Fiction Workshop

In other news, the fiction workshop group I'm in reviewed the second chapter of Shadows Beneath Us, the horror novel I'm currently working on. The feedback was amazing and, as usual, I came out of the meeting energized to continue working on the story. I do have a ton of improvements to make on that chapter and all following chapters based the feedback received.

From this meeting I learned that I need to focus on maintaining tension. For each scene and detail I need to ask myself if it adds to the tension of the story. I horror story without tension will be lacking.

Finding time to write

Here's what sucks though. Even though I'm all energized to get this writing done, I'm finding myself with less and less time to actually write. Between my day job, making sure I am still up to date with current industry practices, and normal family life, writing time has dwindled. To make up for this I've started to whittle back on my other hobbies (photography, hiking, guitar, etc). Things should start to settle down soon.

Writing Distractions!

It also doesn't help that I keep getting distracted from my main writing project. After the little family trip to the peninsula I want to write a ton of stories set in the gloom of the Olympic Forests. The logging industry has me enamored at the moment. Also, I want to throw together a story for possible entry in a locally published anthology. I am seriously considering setting aside Shadows Beneath Us for a bit to try a couple side projects.


I think this is all will ramble about this month. I hope it was of interest to you. I will report back next month! Bye!

Posted by Joe in Random, 0 comments
February Crazy Awesome Stuff from the Internet!

February Crazy Awesome Stuff from the Internet!

It's that time again. What time? Time for crazy awesome stuff from around the internet! This is the post where I share with you three ultra interesting things I've come across online in the past month

The Links!

First up I give you a reminder of why the internet and technology is ultra scary.

Meltdown and Spectre, the big PC security flaws hidden in your devices, explained

Your super fast and new devices could be easy targets for nefarious cyber folks


Next I give you the dystopian future of big brother watching your every move and grading you on your level of good citizenship. Say good things about the government and your 'citizenship score' goes up and you may have access to better loans and government programs. But if you say disparaging things your score goes down. This could affect your ability to buy cars and even sway the decisions of possible suitors. No self respecting citizen in good standing would want to risk dating someone with a lower 'citizenship' score.

This sounds like something right out of Brave New World by Aldous Huxley or 1984 by George Orwell; but it is the very near future for China:

Big data meets Big Brother as China moves to rate its citizens


And finally, here is a fun article on the intelligence of dolphins:

Why dolphins are deep thinkers

Posted by Joe in Random
January Stuff From the Internet!

January Stuff From the Internet!

It’s time for this month’s collections of cool stuff I’ve come across on the internet.

Modern History of Horror and Weird Fiction

First up this month is an essay on the history of modern horror and weird fiction written by my very favorite author: Laird Barron. Laird has been a driving influence in the genre of horror and weird fiction for the past decade. Be sure to check out his thoughts on how the genre has come to where it is today:

https://lairdbarron.wordpress.com/2017/12/21/the-black-barony-1/

The World For Millenials

It is easy for folks of previous generations to poke fun at us millenials. Us and our coffees and artisan firewood.But it’s not all sunshine and avocados, those previous generations have left behind a world that is not conducive to success for us and following generations. This next article is a very long read, but it is well researched, and the graphics are amazing. Give it a read:

Millenials Are Screwedhttp://highline.huffingtonpost.com/articles/en/poor-millennials/

Family For Hire

One of my favorite email subscriptions is the eNewsletter Glitchet. Every week I get a shot of news from around the internet relating to all things cyber and scary. A recent issue did not disappoint when it give me this gem:

The Booming Japanese Rent-a-Friend Business – https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2017/11/paying-for-fake-friends-and-family/545060/

This article was genuinely disturbing. In it they interview a man working for a company that rents out actors to pretend to be family or friends. In one of the examples the actor is in a long term contract to act as a father to a child who’s real father abandoned them early on. For years this actor is being paid to show up daily and act as a father to this child. This is so horrifying to me. As the actor, what do you do when the child is old enough to start figuring things out? Think on that for awhile.


Well, I think that is all for this month. I’ll scrounge up some more goodies for next time.

Posted by Joe in Random, 0 comments
Awesome Stuff from the Internet – December Edition

Awesome Stuff from the Internet – December Edition

This month’s first thing from the world wide web is something that has helped my productivity in both my day job and my writing.

Tomighty!

http://tomighty.org/

I know I listed this last time, but it really is that awesome, and has had a major influence on my own productivity.

This is just a simple timer. The idea is that you can force yourself to do something for 25 minutes. And once you’ve done that, what’s another 25 minutes? Plus Tomato! This is an oversimplified explanation of the Pomodoro productivity technique.

Go here if you’d like to learn more:

https://lifehacker.com/productivity-101-a-primer-to-the-pomodoro-technique-1598992730Go here if you’d like to learn more: 

Skyrocket Your Daily Word Count

Last month, during NaNoWriMo, someone mentioned an awesome article in the forums. (Thanks Corey!) In it Rachel Aaron talks about how she went from 2,000 words a day to 10,000 words a day. I know, this sounds insane. But she has some great points. I’m trying to apply some of them to my own writing routine. Sitting down and thinking through what I plan to write before starting a writing session really does help.

http://www.sfwa.org/2011/12/guest-post-how-i-went-from-writing-2000-words-a-day-to-10000-words-a-day/

Do you have any tools or tricks that you use to stay productive?

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Cool Stuff From the Internet: November Edition

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

Posted by Joe in Random, 0 comments