Writing

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
The Update – July 2018

The Update – July 2018

It has been another month and much has happened since last time I posted.

Chuckanut Writer’s Conference

The biggest thing being the Chuckanut Writer’s Conference. This was the first writer’s conference I’d ever attended. I made a handful of new writer friends and met a few published authors. I attended quite a few wonderful talks, a couple of which were way over my head, others were amazing and ultra inspiring.

The highlights of the conference were the sessions involving author Jonathan Evison. I’ve not yet read anything by him, but after hearing his infections energy-infused sessions I feel like I could tackle and succeed at any number of novels. I ended up purchasing his book, West of Here and made sure to get it signed. He mentioned that this particular book has a divided audience. People either love it or hate it. I think I’ll like it since it is a century spanning story taking place out in the Olympic Peninsula. I’m always reading up on the Peninsula for my own story research, it’s one of my favorite obsessions.

Open Mic

I also achieved a major milestone at the Chuckanut Writer’s Conference. It was the first time I’ve ever read my own work, out loud, in front of an audience. I did this at the fiction open mic held after the end of the conference. The audience was small, and I don’t think any of them were really into my dark fantasy story setting, but I still consider it a success. Melissa and my son came to support me, and Melissa said I sounded good. I even felt like I did alright reading it. It felt nice to finally get over the hurdle of reading my work for an audience, and I sort of look forward to doing it again in the future.

Current Projects / Abandoned Projects

So, I’m just about done working on my short story for submission to the Village Books Writer’s Corner Anthology. I finished off the next revision yesterday and sent it off to the editors. I feel pretty good about it, and, if it doesn’t get in, I will definitely submit it to other publications.

My post apocalyptic future short story is also coming along. I sent my first draft to the rest of my friends who are also publishing in this joint self-published anthology. I’ve received critiques on it from my fiction work-shopping group and plan to start going through that feedback next month.

There is bad news though. For a couple years now I’ve been slogging away at a horror novel. I’m about 35,000 words in, which does not feel like very much at all. I think that my interests have changed since I started writing that story. Also I think I may have taken on too many main character arcs, especially for a first novel.  And so, I am currently planning on setting that project aside indefinitely. I’m keeping all of the notes, just in case I get the itch to give it another go in the future.

Camp Nano

Now that I have officially announced the abandonment of my first real attempt at a novel, I need to start a new project. After attending the conference I am itching to give a new novel a go. But I do not yet have a real idea of what it will be about. Right now the plan is to set it in the same universe as my post apocalyptic short story, as I have quite a bit of world building to work from. By the time you all read this I will be diving in, as I plan to write the first 30,000 words of this new project in the month of July for Camp Nanowrimo. This is like a mini Nanowrimo, but you don’t have to commit to a full 50,000 words and can set your own goal instead. A few of my local writer friends are doing joining in on the fun, and have also set themselves goals of 30K. So, after this month, hopefully I’ll have an update for you on the beginnings of a new novel.

Other News

In other news, I turn 35 this month. I think that officially counts as ‘middle-age’. I’m not really sure what that really means to me yet. Does it mean that I should be wanting boats and fancy cars? Because I don’t really have the urge to buy those things. Right now I’d really love to just have all of my student loans magically disappear and for us to own our dream home. But those things take time.

I think there is something more attainable for the shorter term. To be published. I mean, there is a high chance that I’ll have a couple short stories published soon in a couple anthologies. And that will be wonderful, my work will be out there. But, for one I’m pretty sure there is no payment, and for the other, I doubt there will be a ton of sales.

Really, all I want is to get my writing out there, and possibly make a little money from it. Not a ton of money, I know that the chances of striking it rich as a writer are slim to non-existent. Just a little bit would be nice. So, this year, I will focus on producing and submitting my work to different venues. We’ll see where that takes me.

Wish me luck!
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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
The Update – April 2018

The Update – April 2018

Another month, another update.

It's been awhile since my last post, I've not had as much time to create content for my site. Between work and trying to find time for writing projects I've had to neglect the blog. I've even shut down my Patreon for the month.

But I have not been idle.

Anthology Madness

I've yet to be published, but now I have not one, but two separate opportunities to get in anthologies.

The first is the Writer's Corner anthology, put together from the best writings from the multiple writing groups at Village Books, a local independent book store. I'm about halfway through a first draft for about a 4,000 word story. This story is set near the logging town of Forks, WA out on the Olympic Peninsula, and involves murder and retribution.

The second is an anthology some friends and I are working on. For this one I'm putting a ton of work into world and setting development, as I plan to use this new story universe for many short stories and possibly novellas and novels. All I'll say is it's a version of Earth with supernatural problems and a substantially higher sea level.

A New Group

In other news, I'm also in the process of starting a new fiction workshop group. I love the one I'm in over at Village Books, David does an amazing job of facilitating, but it has grown too large. At the last meeting there were 20 writers present. This is a lot of people for one group, even with 15 active submitting members each person is only getting read about once every two months.

And so, with David's blessing, I am working with the store owner to create a second 'official' fiction group. We're still working out the final details before we kick off the inaugural meeting.


So, as usual, there is an inordinate amount on my plate. Hopefully in the near future I will get things under control and begin to post more frequently. For now I will settle with posting when I am able. Be on the lookout in the coming months for info on a Patreon reboot.

Posted by Joe in Writing, 0 comments
February Writing Update

February Writing Update

It is time for my monthly writing update. January was a month of regaining momentum. After writing the first draft of a novel in November, I spent much of December mostly avoiding writing. With the new year I’ve been slowly easing back into my writing projects.

Writing Group

Earlier this month the writing critique group at Village Books here in Bellingham read the first chapter of my current novel in progress. I received some awesome feedback that I put into immediate action.

Last month I’d mentioned another group I was going to check out. For now, I’ve decided against this. They sound like a wonderful group, but I only have so many days a month to devote to meeting with writing groups. The Village Books group meets twice a month, which means about 28,000 words of fiction I am reading and critiquing every month for others. This takes up a sizeable chunk of time and, thus, do not want to add another group I’d have to read for. At least for now.

Writing Projects

As noted above, my writing momentum is slowly building back up. I am still trudging away on my novel. Currently I’m writing chapter 12 while simultaneously going back and revising the early chapters for the Village Books critique group. Someday I will finish this book. It won’t be anytime soon, and I’m okay with that.

I’m also attempting to brainstorm some new short story ideas. I’ve got a few cooking in the brain pan. I’m hoping to soon transition my Patreon content from chapters of a novel to different short stories or a long running serial. I’m still planning that out. Once I get those ducks in a row I want to do a new drive to collect a slew of patrons. The money I make on Patreon pretty much goes towards paying off student loans for the time being.


In other news, I’m thinking about setting up a newsletter for my monthly writerly updates. So be on the lookout for that. And, as always, if you like what you see here and would like to support my creative itch, be sure to support me on Patreon. For as little as $1 a month you can live the dream of supporting art in the making. For $2 or more you will get a brand spankin new chunk of fiction from me every month. For February it is Chapters 1 thru 6 of my current novel in progress: Shadows Beneath Us.

Posted by Joe in Writing, 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
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
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
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