Joe’s Photo of the Week – Mt. Larrabee

Joe’s Photo of the Week – Mt. Larrabee

Here is another hiking shot from the end of the fall hiking season up hear in Washington State. It was only a few weeks after this shot was taken when the snow rolled in, making many hikes in my area unreachable with my vehicle. I do not have 4 wheel drive.

This is Mt Larrabee as seen from the top of Winchester Mountain. Here’s a video I put together from that hike: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YOM0JkqRV24

Mt Larrabee is the front peak. American Border Peak is right behind it and slightly left. And beyond that is Canadian Border Peak and the exotic lands of Canada.

Posted by Joe in Photography, 0 comments
Dark Tower Re-Read – Part 3: The Talisman

Dark Tower Re-Read – Part 3: The Talisman

Be sure to check out the previous posts in this series:


Are you ready for the next installment of the Great Dark Tower Re-Read? Right here and now?! (The words echo across the vast plain before you and bounce back from the granite cliffs in the distance. [maximum drama!])

If so, be prepared. For here are my thoughts on The Talisman by Stephen King and Peter Straub. For many people, this book is their introduction to Peter Straub, one of modern horror’s most successful authors. This was not the case for me though as this was my first time for The Talisman. My first Straub book was Shadowland. (A totally awesome book, worth checking out. Maybe I’ll do a write-up on Shadowland in the future.)

What is it?!

The Talisman is a story about a teenage boy named Jack Sawyer who moves out to the east coast with his widowed mother trying to hide from Jack’s nefarious Uncle Morgan Sloat. Jack’s mother, a b-movie actress past her prime, is slowly dying of lung cancer and he learns from Parker, an elderly black amusement park repair man, that the only way he can save his mother is to go on a quest for a powerful talisman. To do this he must “flip” to an alternate reality called the territories and travel back to the west coast.

Along the way he comes across many obstacles including the mechanizations of the powerful Morgan Sloat.

Good Stuffs

The Talisman was a pretty good book. All through it you are rooting for Jack to save the day and thwart the bad guys. My favorite character of the novel, by far, is Wolf. He appears about half way through the story and becomes Jack’s companion in his adventures. Wolf is a werewolf and, in the Territories, werewolves are not evil creatures, but shepherds. The do still transform into bloodthirsty wolves under the full moon, and they are very dangerous than. Otherwise, Wolf is very kind and innocent.

Not-So-Good Stuffs

Like many of King’s works, this book was way too long. I’ve only read one other book by Straub, but I’m fairly confident that the blame for the gratuitous length of the book lies on SK. There was a very large portion in the second half of the book that could have been totally cut.

I’m sure this is a controversial opinion but, this means completely cutting a fairly important character from the book: Richard Sloat. Richard is Jack’s childhood friend/cousin and Morgan’s son. He does have interesting story significance, as he creates a nice dichotomy between Morgan/Richard and Phillip(Jack’s suspiciously dead father)/Jack.

There’s some stuff that happens at the end that gives Richard’s character importance, but I feel that the book would be just as strong with Richard completely excised. This would take a good 100 pages or so off of the grand total.

Feel free to skewer my thoughts down below in the comment section.

Dark Tower Connections

So, why did I read this book as part of my Dark Tower Re-Read? Well, I’m not completely sure yet. I can see similarities between Midworld of The Dark Tower and The Territories. I’ve heard that there is more of a connection with sequel (Black House). It was still worth the read though, and would recommend it if you’ve read all of the DT books and need more of something similar.


Do you disagree with my thoughts? If so, let me know below. Let’s talk about it!

Posted by Joe in Reading, 1 comment
Joe’s Photo of the Week – You Schmuck

Joe’s Photo of the Week – You Schmuck

This week I figured I’d share something a little different for my Photo of the Week. Living in the Pacific North West as many perks; and one of them is only being hours away from where The Goonies was filmed!

Name that scene!

Here are my wife and son standing outside of the jail, which a film museum.

Posted by Joe in Photography, 0 comments
January Writer Update

January Writer Update

Happy New Year!

New Groups

Since last time I’ve joined a little writer group. Once or twice a week we get together and just write. It’s a wonderful group of fun writer folks, most of whom I met going to write-ins during NaNoWriMo.

I’m thinking about trying out another local writer workshop group as well. I like the workshop group I already attend at the local independent book store, but this new one is more focused on genre fiction, and may be a better fit for me. Next month I’ll fill you in on how it went.

Also, the workshop group I’m currently in is reading chapter 1 of my current horror novel in progress this month. I’m looking forward to getting some feedback from other local writerly types.

Patreon

Yep, I still have a Patreon page. https://www.patreon.com/jwdonley

After last month’s controversial fee debacle (you can read more on that here: https://www.engadget.com/2017/12/13/patreon-will-not-change-its-fee-structure/) I still have my page. Before they announced that they were not going to go through with the fee changes I was on the verge of shutting my page down.

So, if you’d like to support my writing, that is still the best way to do so. With a $2/month pledge you get a new chapter or short story emailed to you every month. The money I make from Patreon, after paying a couple artists I follow on Patreon, all goes towards paying the bills.

Current Projects

I’ve got a couple writing projects I’m tackling this month. The first is a short story. If you are a Patron of mine, you received a version of it in your email on January 1st. It’s about a book that knows what you want. There are also gardening of sheep-like plants and wolves involved. I want to get this story ready for submission to professional magazines.

My other project is the horror novel I’ve been working on for years. I want to get the first draft done. Like all the way done. And I want to do this within the next few months. Last week I sat down and jotted down all of my ideas for scenes for the rest of the novel. I still think I’m missing major swathes of the story, but I have something to work from now. Wish me luck!


As always, thank you for reading my blog. Are there any writing projects you are currently working on? Do you need a little help or just need someone to bounce ideas off of? Feel free to contact me if so. I love talking to fellow writers.

Posted by Joe in Writing, 0 comments
Joe’s Photo of the Week – Happy New Year!

Joe’s Photo of the Week – Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

I wanted to start this year off with a bang and share my very favorite recent shot. This was taken a couple months back at a night photography workshop I attended.

The white light is a fellow photographer’s headlamp. All of the red light is also from the other photographer’s head lamps. I like the extra light, that’s what makes this image fun to me.

 

Posted by Joe in Photography, 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?

Posted by Joe in Random, 0 comments
Joe’s Photo of the Week – Tiny Mushrooms

Joe’s Photo of the Week – Tiny Mushrooms

It’s time for another photo of the week!

And I give to you, another awesome mushroom photo!

This one my son helped me take after a couple hours in on a hike. We set up the tripod for the only time of the whole day out, and got out the remote trigger in order to keep the camera still. These mushrooms were less than a centimeter tall each.

Posted by Joe in Photography, 0 comments
Book Review: Brotherhood of the Wheel

Book Review: Brotherhood of the Wheel

So, I just finished reading this very interesting horror novel by R. S. Blecher: The Brotherhood of the Wheel.

What’s it about? Well, way back in the olden days, the Knights Templar Order took it upon themselves to protect the peoples traveling the road to Jerusalem. Since than the order has changed and now protects the roads of the modern world from monsters, both human and supernatural.

Jimmie Aussapile

The story follows Jimmie Aussapile, a member of the Brethren (current name of the knights) as he takes down organizations of serial killers using the highways as hunting grounds and beasts feeding on the innocent. Jimmie is an awesome representation of the ‘every-man’. He’s a truck driver with a wife, kids, and a mortgage.

Supporting Actors

Other characters in the book were impressive as well; such as Heck, the motorcycle club member recently returned from serving in the middle east, and Lovina, the police officer with the tortured past. Though, none of the other characters seem quite as fleshed out as Jimmie. I’m probably a bit spoiled on reading too much Stephen King lately, but I would have loved reading more back story on the other characters.

There is one group of characters, I’ll call them the Ava Bunch, that could have been given more back story. The way they are included they are more plot points than people. I would have reveled in any extra time spent in this story world.

One character I would love to had more back story and more ‘screen time’, is Max. She is a member of another branch of the ancient Templar Order, the Builders. They collect information, unlike the Brethren who act as the muscle doing the actual footwork and dying. She sort of reminds me of Abby from NCIS.

Luckily, there are possibilities left open for further explorations of Max and the intricacies between the different factions.

All of the Song References!

One thing that could have been toned down were the constant song references. It seemed like every scene had [random hit from the 70s] playing on the car stereo or on the bar’s jukebox. It was distracting at times.

Conclusion

This story is an intense thrill ride smushed with Supernatural and that odd M. Night Shyamalan movie, Lady in the Water. Like these things this book is an amalgam of folklore and urban legends. Belcher has pulled many disparate creepy things into a believable narrative. Here are some items that come up: shadow people, black-eyed kids, truck stops, black dogs, the wild hunt, the zodiak killer, lay lines, the Illuminati, greasy diners, etc.

Some of the violence is a little graphic, so, I wouldn’t recommend this to younger readers. But, for the mature audience, this is a fun read. Highly recommended book.

I give it 4 of 5 semi trucks:

I look forward to devouring the next book when it comes out and falling further into this fictional universe.

Until next time,
The Wheel Turns

Posted by Joe in Reading, 0 comments
Joe’s Photo of the Week – Big Mushroom!

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!

Posted by Joe in Photography, 0 comments
The Writing Update – December 2017

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.

Posted by Joe in Writing, 0 comments