Friday, June 23, 2017

Fun and Games - 5 Favorite Rock Albums / Happenings In The Outhouse 23-June-2017

Some writers listen to music while they write.  Depending on my mood, I do.  And what I listen to varies.  Honestly though, I don't listen to music.  From my Amazon author page: (my) genre interests are as expansive as his musical tastes--from classics like Mozart and Beethoven to heavy metal like Poison and Metallica.

I grew up listening to country music--honestly, there wasn't much else, so it was a bit forced upon me--but when the 1980's came along and I was in high school, I became a huge fan of heavy metal/hard rock.

I thought of my top five rock albums--sort of a collection of what I would love to have with me if I found myself stranded on a desert island (and either an endless supply of batteries or some unusual power source to boot).  One caveat to this list is that I love all of the songs on these albums.  These are, and in no particular order:

1) Poison - Open Up and Say . . . Ahh!

Note: this was the very first hard rock album I ever bought.

2) Motley Crue - Dr. Feelgood

3) Metallica - Metallica (better known as the Black Album)

4) Skid Row - Skid Row (their first album)

Note: this album has an interesting history for me.  I read a lot of heavy metal magazines, from Hit Parader to Metal Edge, and one band that kept popping up was Skid Row.  Then I finally brought down and bought it at the local Ben Franklin store.  Holy cow!  From the first song, I was hooked!

5) Guns N' Roses - Appetite For Destruction

There are others, of course, but these five are the main ones.  Others added to the list are Def Leppard's Hysteria, Tesla's The Great Radio Controversy, Bon Jovi's Slippery When Wet, Aerosmith's Pump, Megadeth's Countdown to Extinction, and so on.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Check Your Attitude / Happenings In The Outhouse 16-June-2017

It disheartens me when I hear people say, "OMG, 2017 absolutely sucks!"  Or, replace 2017 with 2016.  I've heard it all before.  The only thing that changes is the year.

Today's post is about one's attitude and how your attitude affects your life.  One can always find something bad . . . if that's all they're looking for.

Let me tell you right now, 2011 freaking sucked for my family and I.  But there were lessons learned and events that have a profound affect, even to this day.

In January 2011, within two days of each other, our van was taken away for repossession and we received foreclosure papers on our home.  I wasn't even a month into a new leadership position at my job and already things took a turn for the worst.  Fast forward a month, the van was back and the house was no longer in foreclosure land.

But wait!  There's more!

On April 11th, my wife was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia (AML).  She spent the bulk of 2011 in Rochester, MN, at the Mayo Clinic.  I took over 20 trips down to visit her.  Around Christmas, a good friend of mine was complaining and being all bah-humbug.  And he had absolutely nothing to complain about!  He didn't go through anything like what our family went through.  Now, I could've acted like this too.

But I didn't.  I was thankful my wife was still around and healing.  Fast forward to today, she's still not 100%.

I came across a YouTube video my sister-in-law put together after a benefit in May 2011.  I watched it numerous times years ago, but it had been a while.  Watching it again, and seeing all of the people present, brought back a host of emotions.

One of those emotions was thankfulness.  I was thankful for all those who helped.  I am also thankful for all that happened in 2011.

Friday, June 9, 2017

What Sacrifices Are You Making To Achieve Your Art? / Happenings In The Outhouse 09-June-2017

In mid-May, Steven Pressfield wrote a rather interesting post titled "Warriors and Mothers."

I highly suggest reading it first before we go on.


Okay, let's go.

In this post, Pressfield talks about what sacrifices mothers make when they're pregnant.  Typically, they may stay more at home while others seem to be out and about all the time--or, at least, they give that perception.

This got me thinking of my college years at Bemidji State University.  I wrote (and finished) my first novel while in college.  There were many nights where I was up until two or three in the morning, hunched over my Brother word processor, cranking out page after page.  Now, this novel (which as yet may or may not see the light of day) was just over 1,000 pages when I was done.  Yes, you heard correctly.  1,000 pages.  And, with roughly 250-350 words on a page, depending the amount of "white space," this horror novel was . . . yes, 250,000 to 350,000 words.  A quarter-million word horror novel.  When I hear that most nowadays are around 75,000, this one was incredibly long.

But I still worked at it.

I learned how to write.

And finish.

I made sacrifices.  When I had friends who were going out to the bars 3-4 nights a week and were involved in multiple activities, I limited my activities outside my little dorm and worked on my art.  But the friends who were truly friends knew what I was doing, and encouraged me to do it.

As a side note, the second novel I ever wrote and finished was also of the horror genre, and I will guess to be close to 400,000 words.  This one may see the light of day in a year or so as I am considering breaking it up into a short series (probably 4-5 books).  But, more on that at a future date and time . . .

Friday, June 2, 2017

Remember To Keep Learning / Happenings In The Outhouse 02-June-2017

Last week, I mentioned that our son graduated from high school.  I also mentioned that his choir teacher had gave him some valuable advice, in front of his classmates, their parents, and other members of our town.

"Remember to keep learning."

One should never stop learning.

Dean Wesley Smith, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, and their team at WMG Publishing have created a very affordable set of courses for writers.  I'll tell you this right now, I will be starting my way through these courses.

Based on an article Dean did in April, I am also going to try my hand at learning how to do covers myself.

Back in my college years, while I was involved with the Tae Kwon Do school at both Bemidji and on campus, the late Grandmaster Spencer Brandt and his wife Cindy taught a weekend seminar to a small group of students who were interested in running their own school in the future.  I attended this seminar (there was less than 10 students present, if memory serves correctly) although I never did start a school.  One of the instructors was a tax accountant.  I learned more from him than most other "money" books I've read since.

My Mom, since I was a very young age, ran her own business: she was a daycare provider.  And a successful one to boot.  Anyway, around tax time, my parents always got hit with a massive tax bill.  They never talked about money much with me, but I knew this was a strain on their finances.  When I advised them what I had learned from the seminar, they couldn't believe it.

So, they called their accountant.

They discovered there were deductions they could've taken.  All they had to do was tell her (the accountant).

But how can one know what to ask if you didn't know it existed?

Needless to say, my parents got a new accountant, who taught them much more about taxes.  They were flabbergasted at the amount of deductions they could've taken, if only they were taught.

Remember: always keep learning.

It's the way I run my indie writing business: I keep learning.


Friday, May 26, 2017

"What Are You Gonna Be When You Grow Up?" / Happenings In The Outhouse 26-May-2017

Today, our eighteen-year-old son graduates from high school.

We're very proud of him.  There are things he's accomplished at such a young age that, when compared with thousands and thousands of kids his age, he's so far ahead.  Even though he didn't apply for any scholarships and hasn't been gifted with being the most athletic on the planet, he has accomplished far more.

Has it been an easy road with him?  Oh, God, no.  We've battled with him on grades, cleaning his room, and even some "medical" situations that I will not elaborate on.

But we've worked through it.  And he's turned into a better person because of it.

A few weeks ago, at the spring choir concert, the choir teacher lined up all of the seniors and reminisced about how long she's taught each of them and what she remembered most.  Our son was last on her list, and I must say he got the hugest reaction from the entire crowd.  Our son is extremely knowledgeable about current events, including politics and issues plaguing today's society, and has no problem expressing his opinion.  The teacher even said our son is a wealth of knowledge and odd facts, and even though his current plans in the near future doesn't include college, he has found ways of learning new things.  The teacher concluded with, "Just remember to keep learning."  He replied with his typical, "Okay, I will."

And he will too.

He has a YouTube channel and has even created podcasts and movies.  He constantly puts himself out there. And for the critics, he handles them very well.  No kidding.  Very, very well.  In fact, if the critics are harsh enough, he'll make fun of them and create a YouTube video of it.

(Insert smiley face emoticon here)

At tomorrow's graduation reception, there will be many people who will ask about his future plans.  It's the old, standard "What are you gonna be when you grow up?" question that all graduates get.  I hate this question.

A better question is: where do you envision yourself in five, ten, twenty years?

With the Internet, knowledge about a new topic is just a click away.

Where will you be in five, ten, or even twenty years?

Now, ask yourself: how will you get there?
That is the right question to ask.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Busy Times, Yet I Still Have Time To Write / Happenings In The Outhouse 19-May-2017

The past month has been extremely busy.  Two weeks ago, I had a daughter who got confirmed at the Lutheran church were we attend, then another daughter had her first communion the Sunday after, and now, on the 26th of this month, our son graduates from high school.

To top it all off, we are going on a 10-day trip to Tennessee, to visit some of my wife's family, less than a week after graduation.

Yet, even given all this chaos, I still have the time to write.  Most of the time.  Let's us be honest, there have been a few days where I have not written a single word, but other days I've made up for it.  And these events I just listed (from confirmation to graduation) doesn't even count for all of my time.  There are plenty that I am busy with, from yard work, cooking, cleaning, being a Dad and a husband, and . . . the list goes on and on.

Storming The Hill, the third book in the Shadowkill trilogy, is around the 50,000-word mark.  I am slowly nearing the end.  I have been averaging 850 words a day.  Depending on any interruptions, I have cranked out 500 to 700 words in a thirty to forty-five minute stretch.  A few Sundays ago--this was probably the day of our daughter's confirmation--I topped 3,000!  My personal goal is to finish the first draft by graduation.


I will not say that I'm a master at time management, but I do the best I can.  I also know my limitations when it comes to my health.  If I'm utterly exhausted, I'll either take a nap or go to bed.  Even if it's one of those haven't-written-a-word day.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Make A List, Check It Twice / Happenings In The Outhouse 12-May-2017

I messed up.

I have a laundry list of lists: a two or three-year list, an annual list, and even a quarterly list.

But nothing less, like a list for the week or month.  Not sure why?  I typically do, but for whatever reason I have forgotten.

This past Saturday, I changed that.  Boy oh boy, did that make a difference!

Now, my lists have a tendency to ramble on and on, almost like I was clearing the grime away to reveal more that I never saw before, but that's okay.  I then wrote out a weekly list, and immediately went to work.  I have 7-8 items on there, and, as of Wednesday, two are close to be complete.

Some items I list are "pie in the sky", and in a way you need to have some items on your list that will either stretch your abilities or dedicate more of your time.

Don't worry, Netflix will always be there.

I am currently around the 46,000 word mark on Book 3 of the Shadowkill trilogy.  I am nearing what I feel is the third act, where everything is coming to a close.