Living Outside The Box Born-Again Techo-Geek Renaissance Man


Happy Thanksgiving

Posted by Jeff Hendricks

Closeup of message stones on white background.

I'm going to be traveling without internet access this week for the holidays, so I'll resume regular blog entries on Monday, November 30. Coincidentally, that will also be the last day of NaNoWriMo...

Happy Thanksgiving!


Update On NaNoWriMo

Posted by Jeff Hendricks


I'm past the halfway point in writing a draft for NaNoWriMo. I've written more than 25K words in the last two weeks. I'm a writer, and gosh darn it, I #amwriting.

I've had some successes, and some setbacks. This is not my first, or even my second (or third) attempt at winning NaNoWriMo. But I think I'm going to win it this time, and the funny thing is, it doesn't really matter if I do or don't. Maybe that's why.

I was able to outline my whole story plot, and let me tell you, it has made all the difference! It felt dumb at the time, but as I've plowed through the story, it's helped tremendously. I have no one to thank for that except Larry Correia and John Brown.

The down side to this is that I'm realizing my story is lacking in several areas as I go through it. Specifically, I haven't done enough world-building and fleshing out of the setting. It was vague, and for making an epic urban fantasy realm, vague doesn't cut it. It needs more detail, and so I'll have to dig deep and come up with something original.

I've also been watching and reading stories that are in the same genre as mine, to get a feel for what amount of detail is needed to really bring the world to life. Like, how do you write awesome fight scenes? What's involved in magic? What kind of weapons do they use, what kind of terrain is there, what are they fighting? I outlined some of that stuff, but not enough to make it really stand out.

Essentially, I didn't outline enough. Which is crazy, cause I spent like 2 weeks on just the outline!

Moving forward, I will try to throw in tidbits of detail to really bring the story to life, and hopefully the story will take on a life of its own.


Refreshed And Renewed

Posted by Jeff Hendricks

fall maple

Every now and then, you need time to refuel yourself. When you're the dad of four teenagers, and a supervillain, things get kind of hectic. Throw in writing a book on top of that, and it's downright insane.

This past weekend, my wife and I went to a retreat without the kids. It was probably the most fun we've had together as a couple in years. It was a marriage retreat, so we spent time talking about relationship issues, having fellowship with good friends, and generally just growing closer together.

This reminds me that as a married couple, we've gone through some really tough times. But somehow we've managed to not only stay together, but thrive and grow in spite of our obstacles. (One major obstacle, of course, is my inability to remember what day of the week it even is... but I digress.)

As a writer, as a spouse, as a parent, there will be times when you feel empty. During those times, you will need to recharge yourself spiritually and physically. Sometimes trying to find a way to recharge will seem like more work than just staying home! (I'm looking at you, Deb...) But we need to be recharged. It's not healthy to work non-stop. There's a reason God insisted that the Israelites honor the sabbath.


Podcast Guest Appearance

Posted by Jeff Hendricks


This week, I had the immense honor of being a guest on the Gospel Friends podcast, and we were able to discuss worship music, among other things. I highly recommend The Gospel Friends, and I'm looking forward to more!

(Shameless self-endorsement: Not Entirely Unlike Chiptune made the podcast's outtro music)


On Being A “Writer”

Posted by Jeff Hendricks


I don't know how they do it.

You know the ones I"m talking about: the writers who, in their spare time,  wrote novels that became international hits.

Writing novels isn't hard per se, as in it's not difficult to sit in front of a computer and type. But it's more difficult to produce a coherent, functioning story that can entertain people.

I want to make my story the best one possible, but I have to balance that with the reality of having a job and a family. I'm pretty sure I could crank out thousands of words a day if I didn't have a job that sucked up ten hours a day.


Thoughts on Masculinity

Posted by Jeff Hendricks


A few days ago, a dear friend of mine, an older brother in the faith, was talking to me about his van. It seemed like it needed a new battery, but we were discussing other things that could cause it not to start. I mentioned cleaning off the starter solenoid posts with a wire brush, and a few other things.

And then he turned to me and said something to the effect of, "You know, you're one of the most masculine guys I know."

I just kind of stared at him for a moment. I'm not tough and gruff. I don't hunt, or even own a gun. I'm not exactly a physically intimidating man. I'm balding. I said "Well, I haven't grown my beard out in a while..."

"No," he said, "it's not how you look. I mean, how you just crawl up underneath something and work on it, or how you're not afraid to get your hands dirty. Things like that."

I'll admit, I was kind of thrown off-guard. But after a day or so, it made me want to think about what I perceive as masculine, and what other people think of as masculine. Who defines what that means?  How does that affect me, and how does that fit into my life?

1. pertaining to or characteristic of a man or men
2. having qualities traditionally ascribed to men, as strength and boldness

Qualities such as strength and boldness? Hmm. I'm not that strong, physically. And boldness, I'm not too sure about.

But what if they're talking about a different kind of strength?


Words Counts And Plotlines And Drafts, Oh My!

Posted by Jeff Hendricks


Here we are, just over a week into NaNoWriMo. How am I doing? So far, I'm keeping up with the daily word count to hit 50K words in 30 days.

I'm also still blogging for 3 blogs, and a host of other projects.

But I'm also tired. Very, very tired. Not physically exhausted... no, I'm just mentally tired of running around and doing things. Or as one person put it, "I can't brain. Don't make me brain." I find myself getting weary when I'm not writing or working or listening or driving or working some more or... whatever.

Granted, over the last few years I've learned to push a lot of that aside and get stuff done anyway. But is that really how we're designed to live? Doing as much as we can, and not really being able to enjoy it?

I'd really like to be able to sit and *not* feel the crushing weight of a thousand things to do. Yes, I know some of them I took on of my own volition, but that doesn't make them any less real, or any less heavy.

Sometimes my brain tricks me into thinking my life is like a TV show, and when the action's over, nothing happens until the next episode. But real life doesn't work that way. It just keeps going, and going, and going, like the Energizer Bunny (I hate the Energizer Bunny!)

So yeah, I've been writing up a storm. Does it make me feel more relaxed? No. Does it make me feel more accomplished? Kind of... it's nice, but I've done it before. Does it make me a better person? Not really.

I'm very proud of who I am and what I've been able to do, but there are days when I don't want to be a Supervillain any more. It would be nice to be a normal, dumbed-down guy from nowhere, doing nothing.

Heh. Yeah, right! Like that's ever going to happen to me. I can't help but be who God made me to be, so I'll do what I can, and try to slow down long enough to not let life pass me by.

This past weekend, my eldest daughter turned eighteen. Eighteen. I don't even know where to start with that... I guess out of all my evil plans for World Domination, having kids was one of the best. Cause she's awesome, and crazy, and cool, and grounded, and all the things I wanted her to be. I don't think I could've asked for a better minion.

So, enough reminiscing. It's back to writing, and work, and everything else. I'll catch you all when I come up for air.

Filed under: Creativity No Comments

Weight Loss: Calories Vs. Nutrition

Posted by Jeff Hendricks


One of the things you're going to have to deal with if you're out of shape is slimming down and getting rid of unwanted fat. This is probably the least fun part of the ForgeFit process, but it's also one of the most important.

Almost everybody understands that obesity is directly tied to more diseases and health problems than you can count. Therefore, if you want to be healthy, you need to get rid of the excess fat. You will feel better, look better, and your body will be able to function correctly, without fighting itself just to stay alive.

I'm not here to convince you of the importance of weight loss. Everybody knows that.

I'm here to convince you that this is where the Forge mindset will change your life. You see, losing weight is a simple game of input versus output. If you burn more calories than you eat, then you lose weight. Pretty simple.

But when you factor in the hunger pains, cravings, nutrition, and all the other things going wrong in your body, it seems like an insurmountable task. "Who can lose that much weight?" you might say. "They're cheating, it can't be that simple!" People wave their bag of chips in the air and shout, "Being thin is hard!"


NaNoWriMo: The Journey Begins

Posted by Jeff Hendricks


For those who aren't aware, November is National Novel Writing Month. What does that mean? It means that thousands of people will be trying to write 50,000 words in 30 days. I'll probably do it, too.

The Bad News: If you need to find motivation to write 50,000 words, then you're going to have a hard time. Chances are if your story isn't just bursting out of your fingertips, you're going to struggle. You're probably going to feel like your story isn't making progress, and you'll feel frustrated if things don't end up the way you imagined.

The Good News: You can still write 50,000 words. It will be a learning experience, and you'll grow from it. You'll find ways to get around writer's block, you'll figure out what works and what doesn't.

If this is your first time attempting NaNoWriMo, then focus on learning to write consistently. That is more important than doing it "right" or making the perfect first novel (a bit of advice: that almost never happens). If you go into it understanding these truths, then your experience will be exactly what it's meant to be: a learning experience.


Building A 2-Wheeled Urban Assault Vehicle: Part 1

Posted by Jeff Hendricks


As I've written about many times, cycling is a great way to get fit and be practical at the same time. The toughest part will be getting your human-powered Urban Assault Vehicle ready for action. But fear not! We aren't going into uncharted territory. In fact, I'm going to show you just how easy it can be to build the Ultimate Pavement Bomber, on a budget.

Start With A Bike

Do you already own a bike? Good. You're better off than most people. Chances are you've got one of these three types of bikes:

  • Mountain Bike - fat/knobby tires, flat handlebar, possibly suspension fork and frame
  • Hybrid - skinny tires, flat handlebar, usually a suspension fork
  • Cruiser - fat tires, swept back bars, usually 1 speed (not always)

Any one of them can be pressed into service, with a few tweaks. If you already own a drop-bar road bike, then you're pretty much there. Hybrids are awesome for shorter trips (less than 20 miles) because the upright riding position is good for visibility in traffic, but longer rides can be hard when you've only got one position to put your hands in.

Let's assume the bike is in decent working shape: brakes and gears are adjusted and working, no loose hardware, and the bike is roughly the right size for you. If you have one of these rare unicorns, consider yourself blessed. If your bike needs work, then spend some time on Youtube learning how to adjust it, or bring it to a bike shop and have them do it for you (I recommend learning it yourself, for obvious reasons). Once your bike is in good working condition, it's time to make its conversion to the dark side complete!