Tag Archives: Martial Arts

NaNoWriMo – Chap 3 & 4 – Black Magic Bullets

This is only my second day working on my NaNoWriMo novel. I wasn’t sure about joining in on the festivities, but after writing a short 800 words yesterday, I felt like I might be on to something. Also, had an encouraging Twitter comment from a very kind reader comparing my scant pages to Jim Butcher’s The Dresden Files. Wow! Those are big shoes to fill! Although very flattering, and it certainly made my day, I won’t let it go to my head.

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I got up early and after helping my wife get off to work, and feeding our cat, I wrote the 1st draft of the 3rd and 4th chapters. I made word-count easier and quicker than expected. Sometimes it works out that way. I’ll take it. While I might write more later, I still have the 3rd draft edits of an 80,000-word horror thriller on my plate and some short story work I need to revisit.

award-honorable-mention-wotf

While I have you here, I  wanted to mention I’m now officially listed as receiving an Honorable Mention in the 3rd quarter of the L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future Contest. My story ended up in the top 2% of all submissions. This is one of the most prestigious contests in the Science Fiction and Fantasy genre with thousands of entrants every quarter.  A contest like this can make your career. If you write SF&F, you will be well served to enter this contest. Bring your A-game and strive to be better every submission. And like Han Solo famously said, “Never tell me the odds!” If you want to see all the contest winners along with the Finalists and Honorable Mentions, click the link here.

Never Solo

 

I know I owe you another The Scribes Arcanum blog, where I talk about short fiction sales, and I hope to post more shortly.

Now without further ado, the next first draft chapters of Black Magic Bullets. Click here to read chapter 1 and 2.  Let me know what you think in the comments or on social media. I wish you all the best with your writing.

BLACK MAGIC BULLETS

An Urban Fantasy

by

David North-Martino

Working as an Inhuman Resources Recruiter is no walk through the cemetery, especially when you’ve been cursed and your head is filled with stollen secrets from one of the most powerful occult groups in Boston. To survive, you might just need a few…

BLACK MAGIC BULLETS. 

Chapter 3

As I approached the elevator bank I caught sight of a young brunette, very well put together, very corporate, stepping out of the cab. She stopped for only three-tenths of a second. Gave me a once-over and then headed out to, I could only imagine, a trendy restaurant for her lunch break. Almost a full foot taller than me, I mussed that dancing might be out of the question. 

Feeling like a geek all my life, I was taken aback. Did that girl just check me out? I wasn’t used to it, but I couldn’t say I didn’t like it. Must be my new suit. 

They were waiting for me when I stepped off the elevator. It wasn’t the 666th floor but the ascent felt like it. My ears popped more than once on the way up. 

“Jasmin Stone, Executive Vice President of Human Resources,” the woman with the black silk skirt suit and the morticians smile greeted me with a cold handshake and spidery fingers. 

“Harrison Thorne,” I said

“Do you go by——?”

“Just Harrison,” I interrupted. Hate is not the word for what I think of nicknames. 

“I’m not a fan of names with three syllables,” she said with a wink. 

“Harris,” I said, trying not to sound exasperated. Seemed like a fair compromise. 

“Well then, Harris,” She said splaying her fingers palm up, directing them toward a man in an equally shiny silk suit. “This is James Peal III our Director of HR. We’ll be conducting the interview. Come this way please.” 

Instead of a cold clinical corporate headquarters, the expanse of hallways and offices exuded warmth and reflected the refined taste of the CEO and executive management. Yet, instead of classic prints or success platitudes, oil paintings that can only be described as ghoulish adorned the walls. I wondered if they had been purchased from a serial killer’s estate sale. 

The conference room held nothing out of the ordinary, a long mahogany table, set with a water pitcher and glasses on a tray in the center, with plush crimson chairs surrounding, and a 75-inch flatscreen obelisk hanging on the wall, as reflective as any mirror. 

They sat across from me, my puny resume placed in front of them. I had no experience to speak of and very little education. What did I have to offer? 

“We don’t care about your resume,” Jasmin said as if reading my mind. If the rumors were true about Dreadstone, maybe she could. She tore the paper in half leting it float back to the tabletop. 

I didn’t know what to say, so I said nothing. My heart raced and my palms felt clammy. I placed my hands below the table to wipe them on my pants. 

“What Ms. Stone means,” Peal said interjecting to break up the silence. “Is we’re not interested in your previous work or schooling. We want to see if you can recruit for us. It’s a very special type of recruiting that only those who have spent time in the environments you have could accomplish successfully.” 

“How will you know?” I asked. It was no idle curiosity. I had a very bad feeling about what was going to happen next.

“We’ll test you,” Stone said, with a mischievous sparkle in her eyes. 

“How?” My mouth went dry and I found it hard to wrap my lips around the word. I pointed toward the water pitcher. Stone nodded. I waited a beat but when it didn’t look like Stone nor Peal were planning on playing gracious host, I reached for a glass and helped myself. 

She sat patiently until I’d hydrated before continuing. 

“There is a… place we call the Collective. The old joke is that you can’t get there from here. That is more than true. You can’t walk there or call an Uber. No bus, train, or plane can reach that destination.

“It says here that you have martial arts training,” Stone said, pointing to the ripped resume before her. 

Not having much work experience I had listed my black belt and assistant instructor status, but I was really pushing it with that. The assistant instructorship wasn’t anything formal.

 “Have you pursued mediation?” 

“Yes,” I said, then qualified, not wanting to oversell myself. “A little.” 

“Good,” Stone said, a smile coloring her voice. “The best and safest way into the Collective is through transcendental meditation, but it will take time for you to develop the skill.” 

“What do I do until I gain the ability?”

“I’m glad you asked that,” Peal chimed in. “You might not be, though.” 

With that, they led me out into a hall and to another room.

A placard read: RITUAL 667. 

What was I getting myself into?

 

Chapter 4 

The ritual room was more refined than any I had visited. In my teenage years, I hung out at The Chasm in North Hampton. Even in the wilds of Western Massachusetts, the owners went to great pains to hide the place from the inquisitive and the hostile. 

Normals fear what they don’t understand and during The Chasm’s early years someone threw a brick through the decorative plateglass window. After that, the owners had cast a masking spell around the store.

A friend I had met at another occult shop had given me the procedure to get in. 

I would pull up on the opposite side of the street, and shut off my mother’s Hyundai. Looking across the way, I’d see a cluster of businesses accordioning in on themselves. 

My retinas didn’t register The Chasm. It stood all but invisible until I closed my eyes and relaxed, pushed away my desire to visit, and remained still. 

As my mind quieted my body calmed, my heart rate slowed, and once I opened my eyes again, I’d see The Chasm as if it had materialized out of nowhere. 

Maybe I wasn’t giving myself enough credit. 

The ritual room in the basement had been outfitted similarly but was more utilitarian. I had only walked through the ritual space at the Chasm, never having the confidence nor the courage to do more than observe some basic wizardry or a local coven celebrating the change of the seasons during Samhain or Beltane. The sexually charged Beltane rituals were always my favorite. Can you blame me? 

Here the ritual room had been tiled, the same as the hall, in a rich black stone. A ubiquitous pentacle had been etched into the floor, porcelain white over ebony granite. 

Dim red recess lighting kept the place dark and reminded me of a photography darkroom. 

Yet, the glow remained bright enough to reveal all the tools of the trade: a small portable altar, stick incense–I could see that it had been hand-dipped, the kind of quality and attention to detail that relieved the inhaler of headaches caused by caustic additives–very expensive–a bakers dozen of double-sided antheme blades, a bowl for the creature of water, and another for the creature of salt. A solitary black candle waited on the alter for the creature of fire, and a red, blue, green, and yellow candle stood on pedestals at each cardinal compass point. 

A dozen-plus suit valet lined the far side of the room. 

Why are those here?

I didn’t have to wait long for my answer. 

“Undress,” Stone said simply as she and Peal to-the-third-power led me over to the valets. 

“What?” Had I heard her right? I didn’t see a changing room.

“What, are you that modest?” Stone asked before her crimson lips upturned into a devious smile. “I was under the impression that anyone who made time at The Chasm or Phantasmagoria would have no problem disrobing around others.”

My mouth went dry again and all I could manage was a nod. 

Sure, I had observed Beltane rituals, one of the few nights where outsiders to the covens were allowed to watch the Alexandrian or Gardnerian witches do their thing skyclad, but I had never been the one disrobing. 

When in Rome, I suppose.

Averting my gaze as much as my curiosity would allow, I tried not to stare at Stone’s porcelain skin or her chiseled curves. I didn’t want to embarrass myself. 

Now with all of us metaphorically clad only by the sky, Peal removed a portable breathing mask connected to a canister from a draw in the valet. 

“You’ll need this if you hope to enter the Collective,” he said, handing it to me.

“What’s in it?” I managed, not relishing the idea of inhaling some unknown substance.

“Ethylene gas,” Stone answered. “You’re holding a concentrator. Turn the valve one turn widdershins when you’re ready and breath deeply. No more than that at a time. This is the same inhalant, with a couple extra additives, used by Pythia the Oracle of Delphy. If you over concentrate you’ll end up babbling gibberish and will be no use to us. Not only will you fail the test, but you could end up dead. No pressure.” 

Yeah, no pressure. Sure. 

To be continued…

 

 

 

 

 

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.

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  • 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 

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  • 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!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Year in Review 2016

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 my challenges. Then, to keep myself honest, I commit to posting a list of some of my top accomplishments and challenges, and some of my smaller ones as well.

I challenge you to create a list of goals, keep track of them during the year, and then celebrate and post your accomplishments at year end. If you do, please let me know. I’d love to look at your list.

Writing Career

writing1

Novels

  • Major goal accomplished: I completed the final draft edits and formatting of my 90,000+ word crime novel, Year of the Demon.
  • Sent Year of the Demon to the Minotaur Books/MWA First Crime Novel competition.
  • One of my favorite authors read and gave me feedback on the YOTD manuscript.
  • Commissioned a new cover for Wolves of Vengeance from Lynne Hansen Design.

WOV-Cover-Refresh-web

  • Currently at 65,000 words of a projected 90k on my paranormal thriller, The Tower (working title). I set this book aside to complete YOTD and to take advantage of some other writing opportunities.
  • Having seen a publisher’s open call for military horror/creature novels, and having an idea for a novel length story that meets the guidelines,  I decided to bring back Captain Amanda Rann from WOV and begin a draft. The open call doesn’t have an end date, and it’s very likely that they’ll close submissions before the novel is complete. If that happens, I’ll be ready when they open again.  I’m currently 20,000 words into the manuscript. No matter what, this is a story that has to be written. Another opportunity came up, one with a very defined set of perimeters and end date, and I felt I needed to put this novel on hold for a short time while I worked on the new project. See below:
  • Another publisher has an open call for novella length fantasy stories of varying sub-genre, fantasy worlds that are inspired by cultures other than the usual stories based on ancient Western civilization. I finally came up with the perfect idea and began writing. I’m over 10k into the story, and hoping I can finish by the 12th of January when they close. This one requires so much research that the deadline may very well be impossible. Tor may extend the date depending on how many viable manuscripts they receive. Either way, I have my fingers crossed.

writing2

Short Stories

  • Wrote a horror noir short story (5K).
  • Wrote another horror noir story based on an old story, reinventing it with everything I’ve learned over the years (5K).
  • Wrote the first draft of a dark fantasy flash fiction story (1K).
  • Began an edit of a previously written story for an open call anthology but abandoned in favor of a new story.
  • Began an edit of an old story, but decided to abandon it for now. I might return to it if the right market opens up.
  • Performed a virtual reading of Sat Down Inside Her from a room at Mohegan Sun. Sat Down Inside Her
  • Sent out short fiction to 4 markets. I spent most of my time working on long fiction this year.
  • Wrote two short stories. Again, I decided to spend my time on novels this year.

Networking

  • Wrote  reviews of books I enjoyed.
  • Included in a writing round table with some fantastic authors.

Down and Dirty: The Ultimate Writer’s Round Table Joust: Part 1

Down and Dirty: The Ultimate Writer’s Round Table Joust: Part 2

Martial Arts

me

kali-jujutsu

  • Made some fun martial arts videos:

Early Morning Kali Stick Work

Shadowboxing Workout

Ukemi on Hard Ground 

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kali-gardner-2

taky-benefit-1

taky-benefit-2

taky-benefit-3

  • I brought my old Wave Master Training Bag into the corner of the living room and put down a puzzle mat to create a small dojo/dojang/kwoon in the living room! Don’t tell my wife! 😉
  • Attended Master Larry Tatum’s Kenpo Karate Seminar at the Derderian Academy.

tatum-kenpo

  • Worked on Kali stick work, Panantukan – Filipino Boxing, and JKD mitt drills with Patty in our home training group.
  • Practiced Kali Sinawali and single stick drills
  • Worked JKD boxing drills and all my kicks, on training bag.
  • Utilizing JKD and FMA as a conduit, I was able to integrate all previous martial arts training. This has taken me years to accomplish.
  • Focused on Naihanchi (Tekki) Sam Dan & Jindo (Gankaku Kai) forms.

Health

  • Had two ophthalmologist appointments. Glaucoma medication increased.
  • Had two dental cleanings. Began using fluoride rinse.
  • Got an eye infection. Antibiotic eye drops cleared it up.
  • Had annual physical and taken off of low oxalate diet.
  • My weight has fluctuated, but overall it is down.
  • Increased weight training.

Family

  • Called my Mom & Dad 2x each week.
  • Had lunch with my parents and took them to see 13 Hours at the cinema.
  • Had lunch at Olive Garden with the in-laws/outlaws.
  • Celebrated our grandniece’s birthday.
  • Visited my Mom & Dad at Foxwoods.
  • Visited Mom after attending a martial arts seminar in the area.
  • Celebrated our 21st wedding anniversary.
  • Breakfast with outlaws at Meadowbrook Orchard.
  • Helped my uncle with a computer issue.
  • Attended an educational PowWow at the Foxwood’s Mashantucket Pequot Museum & Research Center with my parents and danced with my Mom
  • Visited the outlaws new townhouse.
  • Brought my parents to see a movie in Worcester.
  • Contacted my brother and let him know about money the state owed him.
  • Celebrated our 24th anniversary of our 1st date.
  • Had breakfast with my Mom & Dad in Webster.
  • Kept in contact with my aunt.
  • Visited my father-in-law for lunch and fixed his wifi and set up his laptop.
  • Had Thanksgiving breakfast with my Mom & Dad
  • Donated in my sister’s name.
  • Sent my grand niece to see Doctor Strange.
  • Visited my parents for a pre-Christmas/Hanukkah breakfast and then went to the Townsend Rod & Gun Club where my Dad taught me how to load and shoot a black powder rifle.

black-powder

  • Attended my niece’s baby shower.
  • Attended Christmas gathering at the outlaws.
  • Became a Great Uncle for the 3rd time.

baby

  • Went to see Adam Carolla at Foxwoods. Ate at Junior’s Deli.

 

Car

  • Patty’s car –  Inspection, oil change, wheels rotated and balanced, brake job, airbag recall, replaced broken sun visor, replaced ignition coil (under warranty) and wires.
  • My car – B service, wipers, airbag recall, replaced battery, brake job.
  • Had an accident in my car and had car repaired.
  • Had a part fail and had to go back and have them replace the part.

 

House

  • General maintenance and cleaning.
  • Fixed TV by taking it apart and cleaning the fan.
  • Replaced bathroom rugs.
  • Changed the high/low return air registers for Summer & Winter.
  • Maintained air cleaners.
  • Cleaned out house and brought junk to dumpster provided by the association.
  • Replaced a burnt out AC capacitor in our central AC unit.
  • Created a small dojo by installing puzzle mats.
  • Took down old shades and installed curtains in the living room and dining area.
  • Removed and installed new blinds in bedroom.
  • Patty utilized a shredding day to get rid of our confidential documents at work.
  • Cleaned behind the fridge and stopped it from overheating.

Travel

  • Portland Maine – Stayed at the Portland Regency Hotel & Spa. Went to Holy Donut, dinner at the Armory Lounge where they played blues music and we relaxed and had drinks. I tried Woodford Reserve Bourbon on the rocks and enjoyed it. Irish pub, Elevation Burger, hotel restaurant. We poked around the shops. Jewish Museum. Alex & Ani.
  • Mohegan Sun – I turned Patty’s three day work seminar into a writing retreat. While Patty was at the seminar I stayed in the deluxe king room and worked on a novel. We ate at Summer Shack, Michael Jordan’s 22 Sports Cafe. I tried a Woodford Reserve Double Oaked Bourbon and l really enjoyed it.
  • Bronx Zoo – We visited the Congo area, saw the Gorilla exhibit, rode the monorail, and went to jungle world. We also saw sea lions yelling at each other.
  • Boston – Stayed at the Onyx Hotel  on the Penthouse level. Ate at Boston Beer Works. Had a good time.

 

That’s it for 2016. See you in 2017… HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Review of Solo Training 3 50 and Older

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Solo Training 3 50 And Older is chock-full of information, drills, and exercise for the aging martial artist. Don’t let the title fool you; this book is great for any aging martial artist. I’m just hitting my mid-40s and I found the information in this book very helpful. I had the opportunity to borrow this book for free using my Prime Membership, and I’m glad that I did. If you find just one idea that you can put into use in your own training, then the time it took to read the book was worth it. I found plenty, and I was reminded of some drills and concepts that I had forgotten.

Christensen covers a wide range of subjects. He spends a good deal of time on resistance training—a very important aspect of solo training for any aging martial artist. He also covers proper diet, training your core, and speed training, among other topics.

This book is subtitled Karate, Kung Fu, and Taekwondo. That’s an important distinction. Christensen wrote the book with the traditional stand-up martial artist in mind. But even if you practice non-classical or reality based self-defense styles, I think you’ll get something out of it. Kata training is also covered. I’ve always felt that kata was best practiced at home anyway, leaving the time in class for drills and sparing that requires partners.

Chapter 14 gives you a fairly thorough look at “fight enders.” Just make sure you understand use of force laws before you employ them. But as we age, we don’t have time to mess around. If you’ve mostly focused on sports with rules, this is good information to know.

At the end of the book Christensen provides tons of drills that you can implement or modify to your liking. Inevitably a few reviewers will comment that anyone with an intermediate or advanced level of training could come up with the same or similar workouts. While that might be true, I just don’t see why anyone would want to reinvent the wheel. Christensen has done all the work for you in this volume, providing a template that you can modify to your heart’s desire. Since Christensen uses these workouts himself, you know they work. And that will save you time, and the trial and error of putting together your own workouts.

If you’re a student, you know you can’t improve enough by just training during class time. If you’re an instructor, you have to put in the time before or after class for your own improvement. This is a book that will help you to improve while reducing injury. It’s a welcome edition to any martial artist’s library. I know I’ll be adding a physical copy to mine.

Beginner Filipino Double Stick Techniques taught by Guro Raffi Derderian.

Raffi Stick

Here’s my review of the DVD Beginner Filipino Double Stick Techniques taught by Guro Raffi Derderian.

I’ve had the pleasure of attending seminars with Guro Raffi. The training has always been informative and top notch. When I heard that he was coming out with a double stick DVD, I absolutely had to have it.

My wife watched the DVD with me and was so impress she decided she wanted to train with me.

For the last few weeks we’ve been systematically working through the beginning drills. We’ve found them to be clearly taught, each one building on the next, and haven’t had any problems progressing. And there’s plenty of material. You couldn’t ask for more on one DVD.

I also skipped ahead to the Heaven Six section. Watching Guro Raffi really helped me to smooth out my sinawali.

Like all Filipino stick videos, the material is sometimes presented quickly. This shouldn’t present a problem for students who are currently training in Filipino stick styles at a school or who have taken seminars.

Beginner Filipino Double Stick Techniques provides a great introduction to double stick. As an absolute beginner in the Filipino arts, with only a few seminars under by belt, assisting my wife as we go, I’m finding the drills on the DVD fun, challenging, and very doable.

Great stuff! Highly recommended! Purchase Beginner Filipino Double Stick Techniques here.

Guro Raffi Derderian is also available for seminars. Check out his rattan sticks. They’re the best.

April and May in Review

April was a challenging month to say the least. Had to use much time and energy to deal with some issues. May was a much better month, but very busy on the positive side.

Challenges

  • My insurance company billed incorrectly for an ER visit last year. This led to the hospital trying to bill me for the difference, and before I could get it resolved they sent it to a collections agency. Many phone calls, letters, and much stress later, it now seems to be resolved. It only took a month and a half.
  • A family member had a work challenge that continues. I can’t divulge much, but suffice it to say that it has taken time and stress to get it resolved.
  • We had a neighborhood issue that required phone calls and letters to resolve, and we’re still monitoring the situation.
  • Patty contracted and got over a bronchial infection.
  • We had to resolve a wireless network issue in May.
  • The sun was in my eyes!

Writing

Short Fiction

  • Halloween’s Child Redux continues slowly, now clocking in at 3,500 words or 14 pages.
  • Wrote a 30 word bio for AnthoCon.
  • Here’s the official cover reveal for Wicked Tales, an anthology that includes my short SF/Horror story, “Sat Down Inside Her.”

Wicked Tales Cover

Novels

  • The Tower (Paranormal Haunting/Woman in Jeopardy Crime Thriller) Now at 106 pages or 26,250 words. I’ve had to hunker back to move forward, requiring some fun research into Wing Chun Kung Fu as well as significant research into the nursing profession.
  • Year of the Demon (Conspiracy/Crime Thriller) I polish edited approximately twenty scenes, and I like how it’s all coming together. The actual editing is a tedious slog, however. This is the part I like the least. The only thing more tedious is the final proofread where I work thorough the book fixing typos and commas.

Non-Fiction

  • I began work on a non-fiction project that I may write under a pseudonym. I wrote 2,389 words or 9 pages.

Reading

  • Completed the Indy Author’s Pack.
  • Became a backer of Editor Rick Schober’s The Whole Shot: Interviews with Beat Poet Gregory Corso.
  • Purchased the Signed & Numbered Limited Edition novella (#18) of Baby’s Breath by Sydney Leigh.

Family

  • Called my Mom & Dad approx 1x per week.
  • Brought Patty to her dentist appointment and yearly physical.
  • Got haircuts.
  • Took care of Patty while she had a bronchial infection.
  • Visited my Mom & Dad in Webster for a Mother’s Day breakfast.
  • Spent a couple days at Mohegan Sun while my wife was in a seminar.
  • Made a 20th Wedding Anniversary trip to Kittery, ME. I figured some retail therapy was in order after dealing with me all these years.

Martial Arts

  • After Patty felt better we resumed the Filipino punching and kicking drills. We also worked in some basic boxing drills on focus mitts.
  • Purchased a new set of Hayabusa Ikusa focus mitts.
  • hayabusa_ikusa_focus_mitts
  • I practiced footwork drills.
  • Practiced sinawali stick drills.

Health

  • Lost 2 pounds of fat. I continue to move in the right direction, and now I’m at the lowest weight that I have been in years.
  • Resumed physical therapy leg exercises.
  • Worked with Tufts to resolve a billing issue.
  • Weened off of Protonix.

 

Financial

  • Leveraged taxes to a tax preparer.
  • Made tax payments.

Charity & Community Service

  • Relay for life.
  • Nepal Relief Efforts .

Cars

  • Went to the dealer for C service and to replace the driver’s side headlight on Patty’s car.
  • Washed my car including undercarriage.
  • Washed Patty’s car including undercarriage.

House

  • Spent a significant amount of time Spring cleaning our townhouse.
  • Cleaned and polished kitchen cabinets.
  • Fixed scuff on kitchen table with wood markers.
  • Fixed scuff on floor with wood markers.
  • Rearranged living room and reappropriated organizing furniture from other rooms to cut down on clutter.
  • Changed HVAC filter.
  • Cleaned foyer.
  • Pulled everything out of the spare room and cleaned.
  • Prepped HVAC Vents for summer.
  • Resolved neighborhood issues.

Fun

  • Julio’s liquors.
  • New York Deli in Westboro.
  • Researched trips for May.

May

  • We ate at Juniors NY Deli at Foxwoods and then went to see The Tenderloins/Tru TV Impractical Jokers at the Foxwoods Grand Theater. We had center balcony seats. Great seats and a great show.

Jokers

 

  • Visited the new Cabelas in Berlin, MA.
  • Went to Mohegan Sun with Patty. We stayed in a Deluxe King Room, ate at Summer Shack. Then while Patty was in her seminar I had the breakfast Buffet, then a Starbucks iced Cold Brew with soy milk. Then I played some video poker and quit while I was ahead. The rest of the day I used the room as my writing retreat. After Patty got out of the seminar we had dinner at the buffet then played video poker and slots. The next day found me at the buffet. After Patty finished her seminar we played some more video poker. I won $10.00 in slot play, turned it into $36.00 and then cashed out. Haha! A win is a win! Then we poked around Brookstone, avoiding the sales girl. Another round of Starbucks and we were homeward bound.

Mohegan Writing Retreat 1

 

Mohegan Writing Retreat 2

  • Stayed overnight at the Coachman Inn in Kittery, ME. Shopped at the outlets and then had a nice dinner at Weathervane. The Inn provided breakfast the next morning. Then we shopped more and went to Kittery Trading Post. Back to Weathervane for lunch, and then some Starbucks Cold Brew to fortify us as we fought the Memorial Day traffic home.

Movies

Ender’s Game ** 1/2 I found this movie fun but it lacked an indefinable something.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes ** After all the hype surrounding this film, I was left disappointed. I found it vapid and cliche.

Personal Development

  • To get myself back on track I began listening to the Anthony Robbins audio program Get the Edge again.
  • Completed the goal setting workshop to fine tune my life’s direction.

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.

Writing

Short fiction

  • 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.

Novels

  • 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.

Reading

  • 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.

Networking

  • 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.

Marketing

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.

Family

  • 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.

Martial Arts

  • 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.

Cars

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.

Finances

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.

  1. Understand the power of compound interest and save/invest 10-20% of your income.
  2. You can’t beat the market.
  3. Fees kill your returns. Look at America’s Best 401(k) or Fees to see how your 401(k) fairs.
  4. Hire an independent fiduciary adviser.
  5. 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.
  6. Forget Target Date or actively managed mutual funds. Use index funds instead.
  7. 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)
  8. 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.

House

  • 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.

Personal Development

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.

Movies

Non-Stop *** Better than I expected. Implausible ending.

Magic Moments

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.Owl

That’s about it for March. See you in April…hopefully sooner.