Friday, November 16, 2018

Lessons learned from Clingmans Dome / Happenings In The Outhouse 16-Nov-2018

In early June 2017, my in-laws took my family on a trip to Knoxville, Tennessee.  We stayed at the Grand Timber Lodge near Pigeon Forge, and if you click on this link you get a snapshot of the gorgeous scenery.

While we were there, we visited Clingmans Dome, which is the highest point in the Smoky Mountains.  From the parking lot, there is a 0.5 mile hike up to the dome.  Now, you would think that walking a half-mile could be so grueling.  Periodically, there are benches along the semi-steep path, which I utilized every chance I could.

But I made it. All 800 meters (or 0.5 miles).

Reflecting on the grueling hike up now, I also think about my writing career.  While hiking, there were people who passed me, people who quit, and plenty who didn't take the journey at all.  There were also others who passed me and then quit--why, I have no idea.

Where are you on the journey?  For myself, no matter where I am, I will still continue to climb, one step at a time.

(For more information on Clingmans Dome, here is the link to the Wikipedia page).

Friday, November 9, 2018

400,000+ / Happenings In The Outhouse 09-Nov-2018

The number is estimated to be between 200,000 to 400,000, and depending on what reports you read that number could be well over 400,000.

Why such a high number?  For budgetary reasons.  It's honorable that some of the world's wealthiest have banded together to fight such diseases such as malaria and AIDS.  Even fighting the evils of cancer and diabetes brings the battle closer to home.

But what is this number I'm talking about?

Untested rape and DNA kits.  The evidence linking victims with the perpetrators.

Imagine for a moment, you're the victim of a violent sexual assault.  Or your daughter, son, sister, mother, grandmother, aunt, father, brother, uncle are the victim of a brutal murder or rape.  Horrible to imagine, right?  Imagine for a moment that this vicious act took place years ago, decades ago, and the evidence of the crime is sitting, untested, in an evidence locker, waiting to be chosen.

In a simple rudimentary search, the cost of testing these kits range from as little as $600 to $2000.  That's a rough number of $240 million to $800 million just to clear the books.

How many crimes could be solved, and how many future crimes could be prevented, by having these kits tested and the perpetrators sent away?

Friday, November 2, 2018

Power of brainstorming / Happenings In The Outhouse 02-Nov-2018

I've covered the topic of brainstorming before on this blog.

But I came to a realization this week, about something I've been struggling with for much of this summer.  As you know, I've started writing the second romance book (under a pen name) and then put it aside to write a completely new story.  Even though the new story is going well with over 8,000 words, I've been hitting roadblocks on where the story is going.  I sat back one day to reflect on my writing career up to this point, not once experiencing what I have been now.

Oh, sure, I've hit a rough patch or two in my writing life, but the stories I want to write just don't seem to want to be written.  Reflecting on my past, I knew what I had done before that I somehow quit doing.


Not quite outlining, but some may see it as such.  I went to work one day, armed with a notebook, and wrote out a few pages of thoughts.

If you ever find yourself in a rut, reflect on what may be the issue.  Brainstorm your thoughts.  You may be surprised what may happen.

Friday, October 26, 2018

What is your story? / Happenings In The Outhouse 26-Oct-2018

I saw this sign at the doctor's office a few months ago.  Oh, how the words to this rang true to me.

For those who have read this blog for quite some time may already know this, but for those who haven't my wife was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia in April 2011.  Even though she is still in remission after all these years, the affects of her treatments are still present to this day--her poor eyesight being the more dramatic.

Yet with all the setbacks, cancer (or anything horrible that affects your life) is all but a chapter in your entire life.

What is the story you want to tell?  What is your legacy?  Don't let cancer or diabetes or a poor family background or (fill in the blank) define the rest of your life.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Review goals daily / Happenings In The Outhouse 19-Oct-2018

Aside from my lifelong goals, I have broken down my goals into a two-year plan as well as a quarterly.  I write out new goals at the beginning of each quarter, depending on what I accomplished the previous quarter, but I suggest reviewing those goals daily.  Put them up where you can see them.  Because it's easy to forget about them.

This is exactly what occurred to me this past summer.  Yes, I got lazy and forgot them.

Now, I didn't exactly forget them.  I still wrote, just not as much.  In fact, the current work-in-progress then stagnated and stalled altogether.

Then I got the energy to start a new story and I'm currently around 7,000 words into it.  I don't know if this will be a novelette or novella, depending on the word count, but it's been fun so far.

Keep your daily goals in sight.

Review them.  Add to them, if needed.

But always push yourself to complete them.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Refreshing ideas / Happenings In The Outhouse 12-Oct-2018

An odd thing happened a few days ago.  As I was reflecting on what I had written--and not published--so far, I looked at the four novels sitting in the proverbial trunk.  Three are horror and one epic fantasy.  I have plans to publish the epic fantasy and two of the horror novels, but only after completely rewriting them.  I will use what I had written before as an outline--yes, you know I dislike outlines, but trust me on this one.

My very first novel--a deer hunting zombie horror story--was not one to be placed in the publish pile.  Then, it occurred to me that the fictional town it was written in had a few other novels set in the same town.  I have not written these, but I do have ideas for them.  Then, a what-if occurred to me: what if I placed all three in the same saga-like series?


I'm optimistically cautious with this, for the first novel had so much wrong with it.  I will bet, when I come around to it, only twenty-five percent of it will remain.  I am a much better writer now, and I have confidence in my skills to also make the story better.

As of now, it may be 2019 or 2020 by the time I get around to it.  At the moment, I am currently 5,000 words into a new story.  I plan on finishing it by the middle of next month at the very latest.  When it comes closer, I'll share what I can with you.

Friday, October 5, 2018

Definition of a small town / Happenings In The Outhouse 05-Oct-2018

I grew up in a town with around 2,300 people.

I went to college (for 5 years) in a town of a little over 11,000 people.

I currently live in a town with around 1,400 people.

Forty-five minutes away is a town of over 56,000 people and an hour away from that town is another with around 120,000-plus.

Yet, when I read articles or listen to podcasts, and they mention small towns, these generally range around the last two: 50,000-plus.

Sorry to disappoint you but these are not small towns.  When there are malls and multiple McDonald's locations and Starbucks (or two or three), they are not what I consider small.  Even my old college town was not small in my opinion.  I've lived near town where, if you blink, you might miss the town.  Seriously.

Now, I'm just having a little fun here as well as a mini-rant.  There is a true crime podcast called Small Town Murder, where they really do focus on what I consider small towns.  A few may skirt the edge of my definition, but by and large they do a great job.

I know, I know, those who live in cities would call towns like Fargo, North Dakota, with over 120,000 people small.  I do not.

And that is where we have to agree to disagree . . .