March in Review
The momentum continues… I guess this is turning into a newsletter of my life. I hope it’s inspiring you to keep a list of your challenges and accomplishments throughout the year. I promise you that goal setting will change your life.
- I signed the contract for inclusion in the 3rd annual New England Horror Writers anthology. You’ll be able to find my horror science fiction story “Sat Down Inside Her” in that collection this summer.
- Halloween’s Child Redux–the reimagining of this horror thriller short story has been slow going, but I’m already 3,500 words in. That’s 500 words over the original word count. I’m thinking this one could end up at 6k+ by the time it’s complete. A new title will, of course, go with this new version.
- I also worked on the reimagining of another short story (I never list short story titles until they sell. This way editors won’t have any way of knowing how long my story has been in circulation once it lands in their slush pile. I’m tricky like that). I had already completed the new version of the story, but wasn’t happy with the ending. I found a way to strengthen the conclusion, but I have no idea where this will find a home.
- I began reading the new issue of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction with an eye toward submission. We’ll see if I get any ideas.
- Year of the Demon (Conspiracy/Crime Thriller): I’m slogging through the edits on this 90,000 word novel. I need to spend more time on this polish edit, and then go onto the next phase of the process.
- The Tower (Paranormal Haunting/Woman in Jeopardy Crime Thriller): I’m now just under 25,000 words, approximately 97 pages.
- Proxy Mate (Dystopian SF): I ended up putting this novella on hold this month. We’ll have to see what next month brings. I still feel pretty good about this one.
- I finished The Vanishing Magic of Snow by Reb MacRath and deemed it a MacRathian Masterpiece. You can read my review here.
- I’m still working through the Indie Author Power Pack. I’m 68% in and just finished Let’s get Digital.
- I read and enjoyed Richard Chizmar’s The Box. The story is available to read through free pdf. Follow the link to give it a read.
- My copy of Submerged (signed Limited Edition) by Tom Monteleone arrived. It’s a beautiful book. I hope there’s an e-version eventually. The book is so nice I’m afraid to crack it open.
- I continued to keep up with my writer friends on social media.
- I bought passes to Anthocon.
- I made reservations at the hotel for the convention weekend.
- I continued to work on editing a novella for a writer friend. I’ve been very slow getting to the edits.
I researched using MailChimp for a mailing list. I read that mailing lists are the most underutilized marketing tool in a writer’s tool chest. I learned that to meet federal law I need to list my address in the signature of any emails I send out. This would mean getting a P.O box or mail drop if I want to ensure my privacy. I’m going to wait at this point, but I’ll keep it on the radar.
- Called my Mom & Dad twice a week on average this month.
- Called my Aunt and wished her a happy birthday.
- Donated to ONE Spirit in my sister’s name.
- We got haircuts.
- Put a St. Paddy’s Day card as a surprise in Patty’s lunch.
- Sent a B-Day card to one of my nephews.
- Purchased Ron Balicki‘s Filipino boxing DVD set. I was really amazed at how much information he included in this set. I had the opportunity to watch a sample of the JKD video set and was very impressed with the production, the breadth of information, and the clarity of instruction on the DVD set. I decided to begin with Filipino Boxing, but I’m sure I’ll be picking up his 8 disk JKD instructors series in the near future.
- Luckily, because of my 27+ years of experience in martial arts, along with a pervious teacher who integrated some Filipino martial arts and Jeet Kune Do Concepts into our training (he never mentioned it, but because of my research, I can see it now), and a small amount of Kali and Bruce Lee’s “Original” JKD training from seminars, I’ve been able to incorporate the drills and concepts into our home training.
- We worked Filipino boxing (punching and kicking drills) 2x a week. We also began working on a joint locking flow drill. Patty has found this curriculum the most interesting of any martial arts we’ve practiced.
- I continued to practice Kali sinawali.
- I continued to practice the chain punching/straight blasts I learned from Sigung Taky Kuimura and his staff.
- A Kali Guro invited us to stop up and train on a Tuesday night. It’s been a little difficult lately to make the time commitment, but it was very nice to be invited. Hopefully we’ll be able to stop up soon.
Fitness & Health
- I lost just about two pounds of fat this month. Notice I said fat. I didn’t say water or muscle. That’s an important distinction. I’ve lost almost an inch off my belly and a half inch off my waist.
- I’m still working to get out of the Biphasic sleeping pattern. I tend to go to sleep too late and wake up too early, requiring that I nap before doing anything that requires cognitive function. New habits need to be established in order to permanently change my schedule.
- I grabbed a pair of Reebok Crossfit 2.0 cross training sneakers. I’ve been wearing them during all my workouts and martial arts training. They’ve been great on my feet and very good for my knees.
- I continue using MyFitnessPal to log my calories. You can’t manage what you don’t measure.
The terrible roads and potholes caused a sidewall bubble in one of Patty’s tires. Fortunately and unfortunately she only had the tires for six month. On the fortunately side, the tires were new enough that we only had to buy one new tire.
We had purchased MONEY Master the Game by Anthony Robbins in ebook and I also had a chance to sample the audio from the first chapter. I belive that’s the only chapter that AR reads. I also found a great summary of the key points that was left in an Amazon review. Here’s the key points that I put in my notes.
- Understand the power of compound interest and save/invest 10-20% of your income.
- You can’t beat the market.
- Fees kill your returns. Look at America’s Best 401(k) or Fees to see how your 401(k) fairs.
- Hire an independent fiduciary adviser.
- Use a Roth IRA or Roth 401(k) and pay taxes now as much as possible, since they are likely to rise in the future.
- Forget Target Date or actively managed mutual funds. Use index funds instead.
- Know how much you need in order to retire (use the free app to find some rough numbers. Make sure to take inflation into account since the app doesn’t do that)
- Come up with a solid asset allocation: a secure bucket (bonds, CDs, cash, etc) and a growth bucket (stocks, real estate, commodities, etc). Re-balance regularly. Take the Rutgers University risk tolerance quiz to find out how much risk you can stomach.
Naturally, I keep my finances close to my vest and don’t share much online. That doesn’t mean I’m not working on this category, though.
- Continued general cleaning and maintenance.
- Wrote up a project plan for next month’s Spring cleaning.
Whisky Tasting and Mixology
- Patty and I have never been big drinkers but we’re having fun exploring the world of liquor and wine. We purchased a double walled cocktail shaker and a jigger and I’ve been playing the part of mixologist, whipping up whiskey sours and matadors.
- I tried a sample bottle of Glenmorangie Lasanta 12. It’s aged in sherry casks. This whisky isn’t very complex, but has a nice mouth burn and is very enjoyable on a cold night.
- I tasted Glen Garioch 1797 founder’s Reserve. I got sucked in by advertised characteristic. They claim sweet vanilla, butterscotch, fresh green fruits, sweet buttercream, and citrus. It tastes like cough syrup and leather to me. Actually, it tastes like Talisker 10 without the peat. I can only stomach it in very small drams.
- We visited Julio’s Liquors in Westboro. They have a great selection.
I revisited the Anthony Robbins Time of Your Life/RPM audio program.
Began reading The Winning Mind Set by Jim Brault and Kevin Seaman. Kevin Seaman was gracious enough to sign and inscribe a copy for me. My first impression is that it’s a very nice personal development workbook. Much of its contents are grounded in NLP and cognitive behavioral psychology. Great stuff! I think it will make a great refresher. And since both of the writers are also martial artists, I think I’ll enjoy many of their illustrative examples. I plan to work through each section and see where it takes me.
Non-Stop *** Better than I expected. Implausible ending.
We came home to a small (what we believe to be a) screech owl perched on the light by our garage. The owl’s eyes were but slits in the daylight, but he still watched us as we made our way inside. Once we closed the door, he puffed his body out for warmth and went to sleep. As soon as the sun set he took flight to destinations unknown. I take the owl’s visit as a good omen of positive change to come. Here’s a photo of our unlikely visitor.
That’s about it for March. See you in April…hopefully sooner.