Year in Review 2018

Each year I create a list of goals for every area of my life. Throughout the year I work on my goals, track my progress, and then commit to posting my top accomplishments. This is my 10th year!

 

Writing

Novels

The Tower (working title- 97,000 words)

  • Completed the first draft of The Tower (working title). The manuscript clocked in at 97,000 words. 
  • Began 2nd draft. 

Year of the Assassin (94,000 word crime thriller)

  • Completed 1st draft of both a 10 page and a 2 page Synopsis
  • An editor for a large independent publisher asked to see the full manuscript based on the query letter. I submitted the full manuscript.
  • Queried with samples to 3 agents. I researched and wrote targeted letters. 
  • Sent query letters to 2 independent presses.

Fantasy Novella, (20,000 words)

  • Researched and wrote targeted letters.
  • Edited 2nd draft. – Put The Tower aside to work on edits.
  • Completed 20k word manuscript and cover letter.
  • Submitted to open call at major publisher.
  • Submitted a revised version 16,000 words to major science fiction and fantasy. magazine. “There’s some good writing here. Hope you’ll consider us in the future.”
  • Submitted revised version to a major contest.

 

  • Short stories

This year I spent  extra time on short fiction.

  • Wrote or reimagined 7 short stories approximately 25,000 words in total.
  • Submitted stories  to 11 markets.

 

Reading – Notable Fiction read in 2018

  • The Big Bopper by Reb MacRath
  • The Fall of Hyperion by Dan Simmons 
  • The War of Art  by Stephen Pressfield
  • The Terror by Dan Simmons 
  • American Assassin by Vince Flynn
  • The Moore House by Tony Trembley 
  • Headhunter by Michael Slade 
  • Legion by William Peter Blatty

 Reviews 

  • Reviewed The Big Bopper
  • Reviewed The Moore House

Martial arts

Unlike last year, I spent less time attending martial arts seminars and more time writing.

  • Attended Drowning in Kali III at the Derderian Academy of Martial Arts.

Home training included:

  • Stick, double stick, stick & knife, Filipino Boxing.
  • Western Boxing, JKD combinations, kick boxing, shadowboxing, heavy bag work. HIIT training.
  • Karate/TKD/TSD Kata/Hyung.
  • Kendo sword cuts.
  • Weight Lifting.
  • Body weight exercises.

Health

  • Ophthalmology – No change = good!
  • Optometry- Slight change but no need to change glasses. 
  • 1st Dental cleaning – gold star.
  • 2nd Dental cleaning and X-rays – gold star.
  • Signed up for temporary insurance and than insurance at Patty’s new job. 
  • Had to get new referrals for specialists.
  • I was able to reduce Pepcid AC usage. 
  • Blood work and fasting glucose. All testing normal. 
  • Annual physical – Gold star. My weight was up 3 lbs since my last physical, but the doctor didn’t seem concerned with it. It’s all muscle, I tell ya! 
  • Got a flu shot.

Family

  • Celebrated Patty’s milestone birthday at Toyo Japanese Steak House.
  • Called parents twice a week to keep in touch.
  • Visited Grand Niece and Nephew in CT for birthday.
  • Went to see a movie with my parents.
  • Went to see a movie with my dad.
  • Wished and/or celebrated family birthdays. 
  • Celebrated my birthday with a Grandma’s of New England coffee cake (my favorite!). Patty ordered and had it shipped to me.
  • Had my first Facetime chat with my Grand Niece and Nephew.
  • Kept in touch with my former college English professor through email.
  • Attended my Brother-in-Law’s mother’s funeral and attended the fellowship at Kamahlot in Templeton. 
  • Called to wish my Aunt a happy birthday.
  • Called my brother.
  • Took my mom, dad, and aunt to Texas Roadhouse for Mother’s Day.
  • Went out with my mom and dad for Pizza for father’s day.
  • Congratulated my 2nd cousin on his 7th dan in Judo (5th dan from Kodakan). 
  • Babysat for my Grand Niece and nephew.
  • Had breakfast with my parents at Foxwoods.
  • My Auntie Anna passed away this year. She will be missed.
  • Assisted Patty with her transition to a new job.
  • Celebrated Christmas at Junior’s Deli at Foxwoods with my parents. Brought my brother and sis-in-law in on the celebration through FaceTime.
  • After Christmas get together and house warming with Patty’s family at sister-in-law’s new house in CT.

Spiritual

  • Continued nightly prayers.
  • Lit candle in remembrance of my sister.
  • Had Good Friday and Easter dinner with Patty.
  • Kept Passover to the best of my ability.
  • Brought Patty to the National Shrine of the Divine Mercy.

Cars

  • Patty bought a 2017 Mazda CX-3 Grand Touring fully loaded for work. -Top goal!
  • Performed general maintenance on Patty’s car.
  • Performed general maintenance on my car.
  • Upgraded to AAA Plus.

House

  • Had a chimney sweep company clean our chimney.
  • Leak test completed on our AC system.
  • New condenser coil installed.
  • Bees exterminated.
  • Cleaned and organized walk in closet.

Fun & Travel

  • Stayed at Marriot Renaissance in Providence, RI.
  • Met one of Patty’s old co-workers for lunch at Mohegan Sun at The Hash House.
  • Spent a weekend in Freeport Maine.
  • Visited the Capron Park Zoo in Attleboro.
  • Attended Steely Dan & Doobie brother’s Concert at Xfinity Center.
  • Went to see James Taylor at Tanglewood with one of Patty’s Co-workers. Watched. Fireworks on July 4th in Albany NY. Stayed at Fairfield Inn & Suites for 3 nights. Got a deal by buying points.
  • Attended the Mohegan Sun Whiskey Union.

Whiskeys sampled:

  • Laphroaig 10
  • Ardbeg An Oa
  • Glendalough 7 – Irish Whiskey
  • Highland Park 12
  • Macallan Sherry Oak 12
  • Nikka Coffee Grain Whiskey
  • Ragtime Rye
  • Singleton 12
  • Suntori Toki
  • Glenfiddich 15
  • Monkey Shoulder

 

  • Sampled Bulleit Burbon – at Foxwoods.

 

  • Traveled with Patty for work to NY and utilized the time for a writing retreat.

AV/Tech

  • Upgraded Drop Box for Scrivener files.
  • Upgraded to High Sierra and Mojave.
  • Canceled PS Vue and switched to Directv Now.
  • Canceled Sprint and returned to Verizon.

Movies Watched at a Cinema

  • 15:17 to Paris – Cinemaworld in Fitchburg with parents.
  • Death Wish (2018) – Cinemaworld in Fitchburg with my dad.
  • Mission Impossible: Fallout  – Providence IMAX
  • The Nun – Providence IMAX with Patty.
  • Peppermint – North Attleboro Showcase 4k projection and recliners.
  • Halloween (2018) – Regal Cinemas Fishkill, NY. 
  • Creed II – Regal Cinemas Fishkill, NY.

That’s it for 2018. See you in 2019… Happy New Year!!!

 

 

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Tony Tremblay Makes Evil Houses Scary Again!

The Moore House

 

As a fan of Tony Tremblay’s THE SEEDS OF NIGHTMARES I expected great things from his first novel-length outing. I was not disappointed. Tremblay creates a colorful cast of characters: excommunicated nuns with empathic abilities, a priest with sins of his own, a mysterious pawnshop dealer, and a character I can’t describe for fear of spoilers. Tremblay demonstrates a deft hand keeping plot threads together and characters cohesive. This extremely enjoyable novel provides twists and turns galore. The story moves at a brisk pace and provides one shock after another.  You won’t soon forget THE MOORE HOUSE. Could a sequel be in the works? I certainly hope so. Read and enjoy.

Buy THE MOORE HOUSE here!

DNM’s Review of The Big Bopper by Reb MacRath

 

TBB

 

Reb MacRath spins off his Boss MacTavin mysteries with this first novel in a new series, bringing Boss’ vertically challenged sidekick DB into prominence, and transforming him into the tall-walking Chief Armstrong. Those who can’t get enough of Boss will be happy to see more involvement of our beloved Southern Scott—getting in and out of trouble the way only Boss can—during the second half of the book.

Even with the inclusion of Boss, this is still DB’s story, and we get to follow him as he assembles a team, becomes acclimated to the mean streets of Seattle, and unravels the threads of a mystery.

A great entry point for readers new to all things Boss, this is an introduction that will leave you craving more. After you breeze through this one, you’ll be raring to work your way back through the Boss MacTavin mysteries (starting with Southern Scotch) to get a stronger connection to the characters. By that time, you’ll want to see what Chief is up to on his own. Good thing MacRath is hard at work on a sequel!

Heavily researched from how a short man can look taller, to the modern diamond market, to the ancient Greek fighting art of Pankration, MacRath keeps things interesting. Hey, do you know how big a fortune Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield blew through and what they bought in the process? Interesting stuff. Read this book and you’ll know soon enough.

The Big Bopper oozes cool, a quirky mystery populated by colorful characters, dark humor, and scathing wit. An upbeat pulp neo-noir that bops you once or twice about the noggin, drags you through the underbelly of the Emerald City known as Seattle, and leaves you gasping, smiling, and wanting more.

Buy The Big Bopper here! 

Year in Review 2017

Each year I create a list of goals for every area in my life. Throughout the year I work on those goals, track my progress, and then commit to posting my top accomplishments and some smaller ones as well.

Writing Career

Novels

-Year of the Demon (working title) 94,000 word crime thriller

  • Wrote a competitive analysis for YOTD.
  • Researched similar authors and novels for marketing purposes.
  • Reordered the beginning chapters of YOTD to make it more engaging and marketable.
  • Changed the name of YOTD to a name I won’t disclose yet.
  • Wrote query letters for YOTD.
  • Began sending out YOTD query letters to agents and editors. This was one of my major goals for the year.

-The Tower (working title) supernatural thriller

  • Retitled The Tower (novel), but will keep new name under wraps for now.
  • Currently at 81,000 words of a projected 90k words.

-Untitled Thriller Novel

I heard the opening lines of the book in my mind, and 8,000 words later I had the beginning of a new manuscript. I’ve put it away for now while I finish The Tower.

  • Began 1st draft of thriller novel (8k so far).

-Untitled Creature Horror Novel

I put The Tower on hold while I blasted through 20k words of this novel idea. I began writing with the idea of submitting to an open call, but the publisher went out of business, and I returned to my WIP (work in progress). I will probably return to this manuscript in the near future depending upon what opportunities materialize.

  • Wrote 20,000 words of 1st draft.

Wolves of Vengeance

  • Re-enrolled Wolves of Vengeance in KDP and changed categories to see if it would affect sales.

WOV-Cover-Refresh-web

Novellas

-Fantasy novella

  • Finished 1st draft of fantasy novella (20,000 words)
  • I wrote this novella for an open submission period for a major publisher. I knew I didn’t have enough time to finish, as I found out about the opportunity too late. I was so captivated by the idea, I had to complete the story. I’m letting it cool now until the market reopens or I identify another market that might be interested in the narrative.

-Untitled Dystopian SF Novella

  • Another novella submission deadline I had no hope of meeting, but the opening pages flowed out of me and so I captured them anyway.
  • Wrote 4,250 words of the first draft of a dystopian SF novel.

Short Fiction/Flash Fiction

  • Completed fantasy flash fiction short story.
  • Waiting on reply from a pro horror short fiction anthology market for over a year. I take that as a good sign.
  • Wrote a horror short story (5K).
  • Sent horror short story to anthology market.
  • Rewrote the ending of another horror short story.
  • Fixed formatting on horror short story.
  • Wrote an alternative ending for The Witch (2015) and posted it on my blog for fun.
  • Magic Moment. An actress from LA contacted me on Twitter to tell me that she liked my alternate ending to The Witch (2016) better than the orginal. Read it here.

Martial Arts

Nate TMI

Demonstrating Chi Sao (Wing Chun/JKD) with Sifu Nate.

 

  •  5-hour intermediate and advanced FMA seminar, Drowning in Kali II, held at the Derderian Academy of Martial Arts.

Kali IV

  • Attended the Jeet Kune Do/Panantukan/Silat Trapping Seminar with Sifu Nathan Marione at Britt’s TKD.

Nate - Britt's TKD

  • Jung ki Hapkido Master and acupuncturist Chris LaCava first stop on his Massachusetts Beat ’em & Treat ’em Tour 2017 was the Anatomy of the Takedown Seminar at Britt’s TKD. I love the shirt! I also grabbed some of his authentic Dit Da Jow to heal injuries, and some amazing apple butter made by his wife and children.

Beat & Treat

  • My home training included working on various kata/hyung, working on improving my stretch, kicking and boxing on bag, shadowboxing/kicking, JKD chain punching, kali sinawali, single knife and stick, espada y dagger/stick & knife, bokken/mok gum/wooden sword and, nak bop/ukemi/ rolls and break-falls.

Health

  • Utilized P90X, dumbbells, and resistance bands to build muscle.
  • Utilized incumbent bike for cardiovascular health.
  • Utilized HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) for general endurance – Bas Rutten MMA CD program.
  • Dental Cleaning 2x – gold star!
  • Switched primary care physician  as our doctor left for a practice in the Veteran’s Administration.
  • Began using hair booster. I shall not age gracefully! Haha!
  • Annual Physical – gold star! I am the picture of health.
  • My weight, by my physician’s scale, is trending downward and I am down at least another 3 pounds.
  • Had  flu shot. Okay, I got the flu anyway, but the shot ended up only rated at 10%.

Family

  • Called my parents on average 2x per week.
  • Celebrated Patty’s birthday.
  • Celebrated my birthday.
  • Got Patty roses for valentine’s Day.
  • Visited my Mom & Dad at Foxwoods for breakfast during Chinese New Year.
  • Kept in touch with my old Gothic & Arthurian literature professor through email.
  • Kept up with friends on social media.
  • Visited friends at various martial arts schools.
  • Met up with friends at Twin River Casino for the whiskey fest.
  • Bought Super Bowl Champions hats for our Dads. Early Father’s Day presents.
  • Met our new grand nephew.
  • Easter at Wicked Good Bar and Grill at Twin River with my parents.
  • Easter dinner w/Patty at home.
  • Passover seder dinner with Patty. We got our food pre-made from whole Foods.
  • Attended my grand nephew’s birthday Party.
  • Celebrated our 22nd wedding anniversary.
  • Visited Patty’s Sister in CT.
  • Called my Mom for her birthday and Mother’s Day.
  • Met parents for lunch in July.
  • Met In-laws for lunch.
  • Visited my parents for breakfast in August.
  • Received a generous gift from my Uncle.
  • BBQ at in-laws.
  • Visited father-in-law for lunch.
  • Visited my parents for breakfast at Foxwoods for their 47th anniversary.
  • Vacationed in Chicago Land
  • Celebrated the 25th anniversary of our first date.
  • Went to the Big E with Sister-in-Law and grand niece and nephew.
  • Went to lunch with my mother and took her shopping while my dad was camping.
  • Called my Dad for father’s day.
  • Celebrated Veteran’s Day with my parents and with my aunt and uncle. We had a nice meal at Texas Roadhouse, and my Dad and my uncle ate for free, as they are both veterans.
  • Thanksgiving at the Outlaws. This would be our last Thanksgiving with my father-in-law. Almost everyone was able to make it, and we are left with great memories.

Kalel

  • My father-in law passed away surrounded by his family. He was one month shy of his 83rd birthday.
    Gordon North Obituary 
  • Attended memorial service for my father-in-law
  • Met up with friends we haven’t seen in many years and spent time reconnecting.
  • Had to skip both Hanukkah/Christmas breakfast with my parents (I will reschedule) and my new grand nephew’s 1st birthday because of flu.
  • Had a late Christmas gathering with outlaws.

Cars

  • Bought a AAA membership after having a problem with the Subaru Club (Cross Country Motor Club) last year.
  • Had my exhaust system fixed.
  • My car passed MA state inspection.
  • Patty’s car passed MA state inspection.
  • My car had a crack in the windshield. Fixed by Safelite and paid by insurance.
  • Replaced blower motor again, and the cabin filter in Patty’s car.
  • Decided on recommendation of our mechanic not to replace head gasket in Patty’s car.
  • Rear break job for my car.
  • Had rattling heat shield removed on my car.

House

  • Had HVAC company refill freon in AC unit.
  • Cleaned patio and treated for gypsy moths.
  • Utilized association provided dumpster for Spring cleaning.
  • Had new washer and dryer installed.
  • Replaced oven hood filter

Fun & Travel

  • Saw John Wick: Chapter 2 at  the Showcase Cinema Deluxe
  • Went to Southwick’s Zoo -the largest zoo in New England.

 

  • Magic Moment: I had a nice conversation with a parrot type bird, I think a Macaw. An annoying woman tried to muscle in on our conversation, but the bird wasn’t having any of it. The bird turned his back on her as soon as we left. Good bird!
  • Magic Moment: Played with a baby monkey through the fencing of the cage. Interacted with the animal like it was a baby in a play pen. The adult female held the baby at times cautious of my shenanigans.
  • Magic Moment: I mimicked the sound of two apes communicating with each other. Patty said that I startled a zoo worker who then looked at me like I was crazy. I am crazy.
  • Magic Moment: Patty was startled when a pheasant screeched at her while she was taking a picture.
  • Magic Moment: I blinked my eyes at a dove and the bird blinked back. I was able to get rapport with the bird doing this. It’s funny, house cats do the same thing. I’m like Doctor Doolittle! Well, not really…
  • Patty was given an all expense paid trip to Chicagoland (Schaumburg Illinois) to attend a training conference. I tagged along. Then we spent a few extra days relaxing and exploring. We stayed at the Renaissance Schaumburg Convention Center Hotel. Highlights included Sam & Harry’s Steak House, Gather Bar, and the Woodfield Mall.

IMG_0024

  • Attended the Twin River Whiskey Fest for amazing food and drink.
  • We went to Mohegan Sun for the complementary Rock of the 80s concert featuring Autograph, Vixen, and Slaughter.

Patty & Dave 80s night

Audio Video 

IMG_0037

  • Canceled cable saving $80.00 after streaming subscription. Cordcutters are we!
  • Ordered a Playstation Vue subscription.
  • Canceled Verizon and switched to a year of free unlimited calling and data with Sprint.
  • Got an Amazon Music Unlimited subscription for .99 cents for 4 months with our Amazon Prime subscription.
  • Purchased Echo Dots and wireless lighting to begin converting home to a smart home.
  • Cleaned out and organized entertainment center.
  • AT&T replaced our land line phone under warranty.
  • Began loading out Fii0 X1ii with ALAC files to enjoy portable CD quality music.

Noteworthy Books  Read in 2017

  • Hyperion by Dan Simmons
  • Soda Pop Soldier by Nick Cole
  • Seattle Red by Reb MacRath
  • The League of Night and Fog by David Morrell
  • A Killing Art: The Untold History of Tae Kwon Do by Alex Gillis

That’s it for 2017. See you in 2018… Happy New Year!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seattle Red by Reb MacRath – Review

 

Seattle Red

Seattle Red

A modern two-fisted pulp, loaded with action, mystery, style, intelligence, and humor.
In this fourth book in the series, Boss heads to Seattle to take on Organized Retail Crime (ORC). Heavily researched, and highly detailed, we’re treated to firsthand descriptions of the seedier side of the Emerald City, and delve deeply into the world of ORC. Also heavily researched are the “Armless Arms” —weapons disguised as ordinary everyday objects. “Toyless is Joyless.”

Grounded firmly in the heavily researched word MacRath has created, we can gleefully enjoy a pulp romp with Boss and his colorful team as they go from one wild situation to the next. Boss tends to play the jester, but he never plays the fool. Rounding out the MacRathian trinity of tricksters is a an old geisha—or is she?—and the spirit of Mae West appearing in the most unexpected of locations.

As an aside, I have to comment on the Glenfiddich 21 Boss quaffs. I thought the author had inverted the numbers—but no! Boss drinks some really high-end stuff. And why shouldn’t he? Not only because he’s rich, but because we get to live vicariously through his good taste, and in so doing, we’re not even set back the price of a bottle!

MacRath never writes down to his audience, bringing in both pop culture and literary allusions. Authentic Seattle-speak also included! It is rare to find an action thriller/mystery this smart and also this fun.

If you like the snappy dialog of Elmore Leonard, and enjoy Quentin Tarantino’s brand of film making, you are going to go gaga over Boss MacTavin. Highly recommended.

The Witch (2015): Alternate Ending

Last night we streamed The Witch (2015) on Amazon Prime. This was the first time I had watched this film. I had heard good things, and I wasn’t disappointed. I usually spend time discussing the movie with my wife, and, if the movie has subtext, we spend time analyzing it. This analysis led me to think about an alternative way to end the film.  I like the original ending, I think it works, but I wanted to present a “quieter” version that I think works with the themes and still completes the character arc. Having some author friends who write novelizations, I was inspired to novelize a reimagined ending as fan fiction. Since the film takes place during the 17th century, I had a little trouble with the piece of dialog I needed to write. I still don’t like it, but I think it’s close enough to get the idea. And just so we’re clear, if you haven’t seen the movie yet–here be Spoilers!

bf

The Witch (2015): An Ending Reimagined

Thomasin looked down at her mother, the woman who had given birth to her, the woman she had just killed. Panic receded and was replaced with a wave of numbness. A sense of calm overcame her. She would not, could not, think of her family, or the preceding moments that had left her alone in this world. Instead, Thomasin picked up the bloodied billhook and strode off to her brother’s grave. Once there, she scooped up earth with her hands until there was enough of a depression that she could deposit the agriculture implement and bury it with loose dirt.

Retracing her steps, she began her preparation. She removed two eggs from the chicken coop and placed them in a satchel. Then she removed one chicken, the beast squawking as she did. She brought the bird over to her father’s tree stump where he had spent so much time splitting wood. Something that she had derided him for, but she wouldn’t think of that now. Couldn’t think of it. She had splitting to do of her own.

Using her father’s hatchet, she cleanly removed the head from the chicken. The force of the blade connected with the wood, making a hard thunk. Once the bird had stopped it’s spasms she placed the still warm carcass in her satchel, returned to the coop to snatch a second chicken, and then repeated the process.

Returning to her home for the last time, Thomasin thought about removing her bloodied garments but despite the disgust she felt wearing them, thought better of it. Instead, she grabbed more items she would need and placed a burlap shawl over her shoulders. All she wanted to do was sleep, but she could not. She had to be on the move before nightfall.

As her last act, she leashed Black Phillip with a rough braided rope. The goat gave no resistance. With her satchel strapped across her body, and Black Phillip in tow, she made her way back to the road she and her family had used to find their place in the world over a year ago.

Thomasin walked, thinking little, still numb, a numbness she wasn’t sure would ever recede. The forest around her had lost its color, and what there was of the sun had lost its warmth.

As night fell all around her, she had no choice but to stop and make camp. She tied Black Philip securely to a tree, far enough away from her camp that the rope would not allow him to reach her. She poured out some oats that would have been used to feed the horse, careful to give only enough to sustain him over night so that the food would last until she reached her destination.

Stoking a fire, (how many times had she watched her father or her mother do it? She couldn’t remember) the warmth of the blaze elusive to her skin, she plucked and then roasted the chicken over a spit, using branches whittled with her father’s hunting knife.

Her stomach filled, but her soul empty, she propped up against a tree and waited for daylight.

The next morning she broke camp. Black Philip had not escaped his confinement. Together they made their way down what felt like an endless road. How long this went on she could not remember, and her condition never changed. She could not shake the numbness or the emptiness within, and the world around her only reflected her depression.

Finally, the high walls that protected the plantation could be seen in the distance. The sight did not give her joy. She was sure nothing ever would. Once at the gates, she made a fist and pounded. Waited. Then pounded again. Finally the wooden doors groaned opened. The men who answered, who dressed in the same way as her father had, whose children she had grown up with, looked at her with pity. She did not want to be pitied.

They sent for the Governor and his two magistrates, and in short order, the three men who had sentenced her family to exile stormed through a growing crowd to look quizzically at the young woman, her clothing covered in dried blood, and the black goat that stood behind her on a leash.

“Mine family. Suffered I did to watch them die. Killed they be, by a hostile tribe,” Thomasin said, staring at the ground. Then she looked up. “Survived, I did. Alone.”

The governor nodded his head, a look of supreme sorrow darkening his expression. He waved her in, and the crowd parted to let her and Black Phillip through.

Crossing the threshold, they entered the throng, and the gates shut behind them.

End.