I am closing up Highmoon Press for good. The short and sweet of it is that I am choosing to dedicate my time to other endeavors in my life.
During the month of August, I am running a grand sale on both my own webstore and DriveThruRPG.
All my zines in print have been priced to move, so I can clear as much physical stock as possible. There will be no reprints, so this is it. Likewise, all my PDFs I have created or published over 15 years in game publishing are on sale. On September 1st, all products will go offline, and leftover print zines will be donated.
If you are interested, please visit my webstores, and maybe share the news as well.
A hike in the snow on Bryan’s Field Trail at White Clay Creek State Park. It was my first snow hike, and the trail was an absolute wonderland, prompting me to simply share the hike with only an intro and outro narration.
It’s in the air, it seems. A feeling of defiance for the establishment. A desire to seek out our own path. It’s not surprising, really, considering the absolute chaos that 2020 turned out to be, how one year broke down the illusion of normalcy we had been duping ourselves into believing simply so we could go on. I know I have felt it, this defiance. And so have the creators of Unqualified and The Outdoor Evolution.
Unqualified with Berin Kinsman is a podcast about minimalism, defiance, and inner peace. Creator Berin Kinsman is an independent author who has been talking about and living a life of minimalism before there were Netflix documentaries about it. With Unqualified, he takes his message to a podcast format in ridiculously convenient 10-minute episodes, starting out with an episode on why the show is called thusly. See, I’m unqualified. Berin is unqualified. Chances are so are you. It’s a reference to all those voices that seek to drown our dreams, our desire for far more than the bare minimum, to all those voices that say, “you can’t do that, you’re not qualified!” In Kinsman case this takes the form of being told, after five years of successfully supporting his household as a self-published author, when is he gonna get a real job? For you it probably is something different, but it’s definitely something many of us have heard before.
With lo-fi , utilitarian production that roots both creator and message in a bygone punk aesthetic where urgency of dissemination is far more critical than bells and whistles, Kinsman traces a clear line from minimalism, to defiance, to inner peace that is easy to follow and, more importantly, easy to learn from and emulate in part or in whole. Unqualified empowers a quiet defiance that is nonetheless powerful and radical, and I can’t wait to hear how this show develops and grows.
The Outdoor Evolution Podcast is a show by Darwin Rakestraw, who through his YouTube channel, Darwin OnTheTrail (sic), is already something of a celebrity in the outdoors social media world. It is precisely this microfame that fuels Darwin to create his new podcast where, if the first episode is any indication, he’s out to take that niche notoriety and put it to the best use possible, influencer stats be damned. In The Outdoor Evolution Podcast, Darwin wants to ask serious questions, have proper conversations, on topics that affect the outdoors community and environment, a definite far cry from the videos about hiking and gear reviews that propelled him to notoriety. And that’s exactly the point: he wants to do more than that. He is, Darwin argues, more than just the version of him that people know from those videos; he’s a hiker, yes, but also a a bikepacker, a filmmaker, a documentarian. He’s someone with serious interests, like the stewardship of public lands, and when he finds those other sides of him weren’t not only not well received, but actively panned, it forced a moment of self-reckoning. In many ways, the podcast is the result of that moment.
Darwin urges of himself and his audience a defiance that dares to ask more of his particular community (one I feel I belong to given my interest in hiking), but really, of anyone listening. Are we content to be unidimensional people interested only in the superficial (the YouTube gear reviews, the awesome Instagram photos), or are we willing to explore our multidimensionality (and accept that of others) and use it as the launching point for thoughtful conversation? I am greatly enjoying the conversations coming out of this podcast, in many ways because the host is enjoying finally being able to be all his various selves in pursuit of the whole. But go listen to Darwin tell you himself; after all, as he very much stresses, I don’t know him.
I’m taking a month off from social media. I logged off Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram (with one exception) and after only one day, I can feel both the antsiness of not having something to fidget with every couple minutes, and the relief of not having the barrage of posts flying at me.
Social media has been a lifeline for me, allowing me to stay in touch with friends all over the States and other parts of the world, especially during the pandemic where any hope of meeting with local friends and acquaintances was pretty much nil. But that benefit comes with the garbage of 24-7 doomscrolling as the world burns. And yes, there’s a good argument for being staying informed of important events in the nation and the world, but you also get the dumb stuff that passes for news as well as a non-stop barrage of news and reactions that make you lose all hope for humanity.
While 2020 was a record year for doomscrolling, 2021 isn’t staying far behind either. And while I try my best to filter the world through my phone, it still affects me. I had already been thinking about taking a break, and when I found myself checking social media every 15 minutes caught up in the schadenfreude of someone digging their own metaphorical grave, I knew it was time to walk away.
I am keeping my DanielHighmoon Instagram active because it’s all about nature vistas and people hiking, and that makes me happy.
I already find myself with more time than I realized I had, so I’m looking forward to doing more productive things this month. I’ll be doing a month-long Bible study on Proverbs via He Reads Truth (wanna join me?). I also would like to read at least two books, get the backlog of hiking videos I left pending while I worked on THRU-HIKER produced and published, and write on this blog more. More than anything, I’d like to just be.
As I write this, THRU-HIKER has been funded on Kickstarter and we still have 10 days to go in the campaign. Right now we’re working on reaching the first stretch goal, having the game professionally edited. You can read the full update here. I’m excited about the reception the game has had so far, and I hope we can bring in more backers before the campaign is up.
I’ve been asked a couple of times how did the game come to be, so I figured I’d tell you why I wrote THRU-HIKER.
Back in late 2019, I started to look into solo roleplaying games as a way to indulge my hobby. At the time, I wanted to play something Star Wars-y, with a lone character having adventures in the galaxy, so I wrote the basics of a system to let me play such a game using a journaling format. After I’d done all the work, though, I shelved the game.
Last fall, I got back into hiking as a serious endeavor. It’s an activity I greatly enjoy, one that I can do by myself or with my daughters, and an excellent way to deal with the stress of being a nurse during a pandemic year. I absolutely love connecting with nature, and hiking is the perfect vehicle for that, a natural evolution of the journey I already was on to be more mindful of nature, and live a more sustainable life.
I learned about thru-hiking, the act of hiking long-distance trails, and in doing so, fell in love with the Appalachian Trail. On its way from Georgia to Maine, it cuts across Pennsylvania, just to the north of me, and dreams of thru-hiking the AT didn’t take long to bloom. Going on a 6-month hike away from my family and responsibilities isn’t something I can do right now, though, so along with watching thru-hiking YouTube videos, and reading hiking memoirs, I wondered how else I could nurture that dream. Then I remembered my shelved game.
I’m always looking for ways to blend my interests, and the idea was born to make a hiking-themed game using the system I had created for the solo space opera game. I thought about it, mulled it over, tweaked it in my head, and then I sat down to write; three weeks later, I had a finished game, THRU-HIKER.
That’s why I wrote THRU-HIKER, because I needed a game to help me daydream of thru-hiking, and because I knew I wasn’t the only one.
I’m writing this from a small barn-turned-cabin warmed by a wood-burning stove, the only sounds those of my wife turning the pages on her book, the crackling of the fire, and my daughters thinking out loud what colors they want to paint their doggie-shaped crafts (pink and black are the clear winners). Outside, a foot of snow stretches over the open field all around us, a beautiful carpet of frozen white. I’m living my snowy cabin dreams and I love it.
We took this much-needed vacation despite the heavy snow of a couple days prior because, honestly, the worst-case scenario being us getting snowed in didn’t seem that bad at all. Both my wife and I desperately needed this vacation, and we were rewarded with perfect winter weather. As a bedside nurse at a hospital, the last few months have been busy and downright brutal at times, and I’ve been running on fumes for too long.
Coming to the cabin has been the much-needed reset I needed. I was feeling as if the weight world was on my shoulders, and it’s been good to let the that go. At the very least (though quite importantly) I don’t feel physically ill thinking about having to go back to work next week. Regularly spaced days off at home help to keep the doldrums at bay, but it takes something a bit more drastic, like this winter vacation, to purge all that toxicity and start anew.
In that spirit, I’m taking the opportunity to carry that reset to other areas of my life. Without making a big fuss about it or any grand declarations, I’m recommitting to eating more in-tune with nature, to following more sustainable practices, to being more active. I didn’t exactly stop doing these things, but I certainly slowed down and compromised a lot more. I felt better overall while I was living those practices and ideals, so I know I can do it, and the benefits that come along with them.
I’m also resetting my personal projects arena to simplify and consolidate my creative work. I’m relaunching my blog and general online home under the “brand” DanielHighmoon.com. This will bring together my YouTube channel, my blog, and my written work in all genres, with Highmoon Press continuing to be the publishing imprint. My first project of 2021 will be the flagship of this new identity as I bring together all my different interests into a more synergistic whole.
So here’s to this much needed reset, and the new starts it brings. Thank you for being a part of them.