Catching up with some quick lessons

I took a vacation, followed by back-to-back conventions in and around an extended visitation from Earl, and now that is all over, and I have my life back, and some time to reflect.

For those that know and/or care about Earl Hedges, he has left for Rochester NY on adventures, and will not have reliable internet for some time. That is what I know.

Now, some brief lessons learned in more or less chronological order:

My Vacation

Lo Lo Mai Springs Resort is what any KOA wants to be: over-priced and still worth it. I paid $40 a night for a tent site (which is twice what I might have paid at Dead Horse Ranch State Park, a few miles down the road) and I did not feel cheated at all.

First of all, we had the place nearly to ourselves until Friday.

Second, our tent site was right on Oak Creek. (Wading around in rivers works leg muscles you did not know you had. )

camp at LLM

Third, they all the KOA-like amenities such as showers, and a store etc. The store is cash only – a handy fact to know in advance.

Fourth, the neighboring property has a group of Alpaca’s, to which Cheryl is partial.

cz w alpaca

Cheryl and friend.

Yes – it was quite warm, hence our extensive experience with wading around in Oak Creek.

And yes – we were able to hike the West Fork of Oak creek without disaster.

occ by cz 1

Photo by C Zierman

 

I found I had to choose between quality time with my girlfriend, or documenting antics for Are We Lost Yet? I no longer have the bonuses to do both (if I ever did). AWLY? has not been updated in some time. I regret nothing.

There is probably still a market for a Arizona winery book. Meanwhile, we have these resources:

Verde Valley Wine Trail

Screenshot_2019-09-08 VVWC_Map2018(3) - Map-inside-brochure-wineries-8-18 pdf

CoKoCon

This is still CopperCon in size and spirit (and personnel) .

I played some Go Action Fun Time and moderated some panels.

Spoon theory, I now know after moderating a panel on it, is a metaphor for rationing personal resources while managing a disability. I did not have much to add, as whatever my disaqbilities, energy is not something I have ever had to ration.

RPG’s and writing: “You have to accept your godhood.” – Beth Cato

Do You Need an Editor? Yes.

“Write with abandon. Edit with extreme prejudice.” T.L. Smith

Five Rules of Writing (amended)

  1. Show – Don’t Tell
  2. Avoid Cliche’s
  3. Keep your ass in the chair
  4. Use adverbs sparingly.
  5. Just get there.

For rule 5  “there” is the story. Start where things start happening, and get to the end expeditiously.

Good world-building insulates you from characters (and player characters) going off the map. BUT BUT BUT the reader only needs to know enough about the world to follow the story. Just get there.

Things that appeared in my inbox:

Remedial crash course in website design: How Not To Suck at Design

Emmy Award-winning showrunner of The Office, Brent Forrester, shares his rules of writing comedy.

And finally some oddly edited but nerdily fascinated backstage action from the Drottningholms Slottsteater.

Drottningholms Slottsteater backstage 5 min from Drottningholms Slottsteater on Vimeo.

 

Now we know.

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Go Action Fun Time’s Strange Convention Time-loop

This will be the last GAFT-centric post for a while. I really do have other things going on with my life. But we are in the middle of a run, here, and I have a few notes.

A quick announcement:

GAFT cover image

This is from the “Pilot Episode”

I will be running Go Action Fun Time – The Dinosaurs of St Louis (The “Pilot”) at the RPG West gathering at Scale and Feather Meadery in Avondale next Saturday, August 31, 2019 at 1:00pm.

{An image from the meadery website would go here, but someone worked really hard to make that impossible. Copyright is the enemy of marketing.}

 

I went 0-3 at MaricopaCon. None of the adventures actually happened. One was just a bad time slot, one I had one player who made a character just to test the system and give me some feedback, but didn’t actually play, and one that was about to start, but parents came and pulled 3 out of 4 of my players.

My biggest problem with running Go Action Fun Time for kids (assuming they are old enough to read and add up dice) is keeping them at the table. And this is not because of the kids. Honestly, once I get them into it, they will stay around. They won’t stay in their chairs, but they will stay at the table.

The trouble is the parents.

I schedule 4 hours for this game when I have any control over such things. That is, so you know, fairly typical for table-top RPG’s at conventions. (At someone’s house they can go 6-8 hours). So this is not something you can send the kids down to do just to get them out of your hair for half an hour.

If I force some quick decisions with pre-made characters, simplify the combat, and cut the plot in half or more, I can get the game over in around two hours. But that is my minimum. If you can’t spare your darlings for at least that long, do us all a favor and tell them no in the first place.

Relatedly, I am once again trying to run Sparkle and Bleed and The Whole They Crawled Out of at a Convention, this time CoKoCon. 

This is becoming a time-loop. Let me paste from last entry:

Sparkle and Bleed

FRIDAY AUGUST 30 6:00 PM

In a small town in 1958 Nebraska, your teen-age time-traveling super-heroes have been given a task that will chill them to their very marrows: find a date to the Homecoming Dance. Also of interest: murder, mayhem, the living dead and the town’s unsteady relationship with time and space.

 

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The Whole They Crawled Out Of

SUNDAY SEPT 1 6:00 PM

The village is surrounded by mutant zombies. You are here to help. Of course it’s worse than that. Because the only thing more terrifying than constant war with your neighbors is being forced to agree with them about every little thing. A cross-over adventure with Sage and Sand.

YES – you need to be a member of the con to attend the games.

This will be the last organized con at which I plan to run games for this year.

Over-all,  about 1 in 3 scheduled games of GAFT actually happen at membership conventions. I’ll take that chance in Phoenix, where I can control the expenses, just for the little bit of outreach I manage.  But those are poor odds to take out of town, with all the expense that entails.

I will be organizing a Meet-up specifically to run this game in town, at my house or any other venue that will have me, to get some playtest hours underneath this thing. But, this blog is a poor spot to announce such things. We have other business. I will announce and organize those events by Meet-up and Facebook. If you are not a part of either platform, and you want to play, make sure I have your e-mail.

Now we know.

 

The Regular (Sample) Cast of Go Action Fun Time and Where and When They will appear next.

I have, at long last, finalized the “Cast Members” for Go Action Fun Time, my table-top role-playing game about a reality TV show where teenage superheroes travel randomly through time.  I have concocted 30 Cast Members, heroes all drawn from the fantastic past or the speculative future or more modern origins.  Before I go into details one them, some announcements:

I will be at MaricopaCon this weekend. We will play Sparkle and Bleed on Saturday Night, and The Whole They Crawled out of Sunday  morning (whether the organizers realize this or not.). Yes- these were both on the schedule at Crit Hit, but Sparkle could use another round of play-testing, and Whole didn’t get enough players to go.

Yes- you need to have a membership at the Con in order to play.

mcon2019-gold-413x413

Sparkle and Bleed

In a small town in 1958 Nebraska, your teen-age time-traveling super-heroes have been given a task that will chill them to their very marrows: find a date to the Homecoming Dance. Also of interest: murder, mayhem, the living dead and the town’s unsteady relationship with time and space.

Scan2019-07-07_000727

Some Parts and Portions that crawled out of The Whole.

The Whole They Crawled Out Of

The village is surrounded by mutant zombies. You are here to help. Of course it’s worse than that. Because the only thing more terrifying than constant war with your neighbors is being forced to agree with them about every little thing. A cross-over adventure with Sage and Sand.

 

The Sample Cast

GAFT cover image

Left to Right: Cypher, Gideon Gunn, Rose Red, Cosmic Kid, Brass, and an early concept for Xinji.

These characters were mostly derived from tropes I have seen in the source material from which Go Action Fun Time was drawn: Saturday morning cartoons, the anime and late night cartoons that succeeded them, and the books and serials that preceded them. This may or may not have been filled out by characters rescued from other RPG games.

I have 30 Cast Members, six each of five general types:

  • Fighter A – combat specialists who have actually trained for combat.
  • Fighter B – Solid combatnts who are ot specifically trained for combat, but whose abilities make them tactically formidable anyway.
  • Rouges – Thieves and spies and detectives.
  • Wizards – primary spell-casters, but also includes scientists, mad or otherwise.
  • Other – Either support types (healers) or those who defy any of the four categories above.

THE CAST:

[Alphetically, by type.] Characters in italics are planned, but have not been written yet.

Fighters – Type A

BRASS the HUNTRESS – A daughter of Zeus. Brass hunts monsters.

GGunn lineart

“Keep pointing that spear at me and there will be some loud noise.”

GALAHAD – A knight of the Round Table. Almost but not quite exactly who you think he is.

GIDEON GUNN – An indestructible wanna-be Texas Ranger.

OKUNINUSHI – Cyber-samurai with a magic sword.

RUBIA LaROUCHE – Pirate Princess.

SABRE – Genetically modified super-soldier who really just likes flowers and puppies and K-pop dance music.

Fighters – Type B

BARKLEY “BEAR” DICKSON – Just a good ol’ redneck wear-bear.

CAPTAIN VICTORY – Cloned super-athlete created for marketing.

CapVictory GAFT fullcolor.png

110% effort 110% of the time!

COSMIC KID – A normal, average modern teen filled with the Power Cosmic.

KROMAG – A caveman with super-strength.

LUNK – An actor/singer/dancer, but one who has been genetically modified to survive on a high gravity planet with an acidic atmosphere.

XINJI – A young girl kept alive in a military grade cybernetic body.

Rouges

ALEX KITT – a modern teenager who is also a super-spy. You are not authorized to know why this would make any sense at all.

dopple-color-1.png

Not his (it’s?) true form.

ARIA – Entertainment superstar from the near future with superhuman charisma.

DOPPLE –  A young footpad from the mean streets of 19th Century London, who also happens to be a shape-shifting alien.

SHADOW-CAT – Genetically and cybernetically enhanced cat-burglar

SPARROW – Former sidekick to the 1930’s millionaire costumed vigilante Gangbuster.

VALORIE KEENE – Girl Detective.

Wizards

CYPHER – A historian from the far, far future.

DOCTOR JUNIOR –  A wheel-chair bound super-genius.

FELICITY MOORE – A sitcom witch. Don’t tell anyone – it’s a secret.

DR. OPPERNOCKITTY – A Victorian techno-wizard who may be the last gnome.

OPENER-OF-WAYS – A lost daughter of Thoth to whom every word is readable and no door is closed. Cannot keep secrets or tell lies.

THE WIZARD TIMM – A young Atlantean Enchanter who may or may not be a younger version of a certain Monty Python character.

Timm RCM

The reason behind the explosions

Others

ABLE – An exploration android.

BROTHER MU – An initiate of the Brotherhood of the Over-mind, who trained him how to use his psychic powers.

GREYCLOAK – Elven Fighter/Magic-user/Thief. You’ve played this sort before.

Princess Moonfire color(1).png

Worship my precious adorableness – or else!

PRINCESS MOONFIRE: – Every magical princess trope rolled into one.

RIGEL WATSON – A promising space cadet attending space academy.

ROSE RED – A lost princess with the power of Kindness. The sister of Snow White.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Routine vs Actual Progress

Rey is back at college, and I have the house to myself again. I could settle back into the old routine that got me here. Or I could reflect on how that got me here, and make some changes.

Before we get to all of that, some brief announcements, pending more formal (louder) announcements to come:

mcon2019-gold-413x413I will be running Go Action Fun Time at MaricopaCon on August 24 & 25.

logo-cokocon2019

 

I will be running even more Go Action Fun Time at CoKoCon August 30th to September 1

 

I will be speaking at a couple of panels at KABAM Fri-Sat, Sept 20-21, 2019.

new-header_1

 

I  hope to be at the Phoenix Library Local Author Fair on November 2nd. That is pending application, and the link below, while no secret, is for my reference.

https://www.phoenixpubliclibrary.org/ServicesForYou/Pages/Just-Read-Local-Author-Fair-application.aspx

I have always viewed routines as a potentially dangerous addiction. Some of this is the autism – which loooves routines – but most of this come from a life in show business where routines, as most people would understand them, are well-nigh impossible.

I have a day job, and a house to myself. I can have routines, and I do. I can go from stopping the alarm to starting the car in 45 minutes, with breakfast and coffee and lunch in a cooler. That this routine exists and is reliable brings me more pride and joy than I am comfortable admitting to.

You will be relieved to know that I am not about to describe said routine. Also worth noting: this is basically the only routine I follow with any consistency.  The laundry is a process rather than a routine, in that it is not time-sensitive. I can do it in a long afternoon, or I can spread it out over three nights. If I do it in an afternoon, though, it is a routine.

Similarly, I have a process for cleaning the house, and even a process for writing, but these are steps-in-order, they are not a choreographed ritual that is my  workday morning routine.

I should be more systematic about the writing routine: reflection, warm-ups, that sort of thing. There really are creative best-practices (but stay away from “Creativity exercises” business trot out when trying to “brainstorm” or whatever word they use for it now. You can’t force creativity out in a scheduled meeting.)  But I am often surprised by opportunities to get creative work done (“I know they said 9am, but they actually meant 1 pm”) and have learned to summon the magic without a great deal of preparation.

Routines are time consuming, though. It is within my autism to schedule every minute of my day doing plausibly useful things that wold maintain and enjoy the quality of life I have right now perpetually. Instead, I rather imagine progress. I am not unhappy with my life as it is now, but that is largely because I see it as a process rather than a routine.  If the last few years have taught me anything, there are precious few constants we can rely upon in life.  Even my precious morning routine is quite different than it would have been four years ago.

Other views on routine:

Fast Company says they are essential.

Jonah Mailin on Medium disagrees.

Productivity Blogger (this is a thing, I suppose) Dean Yeong has a best routine listicle.

I am up much later than I planned to be. I am drinking whiskey. Those are also solid routines.

Now we know.

 

A few notes before I bury myself

I have set some ambitious deadlines for myself and this may become one of the many other things in my life that gets neglected in those pursuits. Which will disappoint maybe six people. But to you brave six, my apologies.

Looming first is Crit Hit 4, where I have 3 scheduled episodes of Go Action Fun Time, one of which is actually written. Yes, you will need a badge to the con to attend any of these games.

The scheduled Episodes are:

FRIDAY 5 JULY @ 7PM Sparkle and Bleed

In a small town in 1958 Nebraska, your teen-age time-traveling super-heroes have been given a task that will chill them to their very marrows: find a date to the Homecoming Dance. Also of interest: murder, mayhem, the living dead and the town’s unsteady relationship with time and space.

SATURDAY 6 JULY 2019 @ 10AM  Fear and Loathing in the City of Gold

A Rescue the Hostage adventure drawn from actual things in Mayan Mythology. Which, so you know, is really messed up. Really. You will not believe…

SUNDAY 6 JULY 2019 @ 10AM The Whole They Crawled Out Of

The village is surrounded by mutant zombies. You are here to help. Of course it’s worse than that. Because the only thing more terrifying than constant war with your neighbors is being forced to agree with them about every little thing. A cross-over adventure with Sage and Sand.

The other quest is that I have dared myself to finish Taliesin’s Last Apprentice by the end of the month. That would require 2 chapters a week – no exceptions, as opposed to the current pace of a chapter a week unless I don’t.

So it’s on.

When I come up for air I have a few things to reflect upon, a few adventures to brag about, a few lessons to share. Until then, if it’s not on fire, or actual paying work, it drops below these foolish deadlines.

I am determined to be the single biggest problem in my life. This is how you do it.

See you on the other side.

 

Sorry but not sorry about missing word count

I was out of town most of last week. I got a little bit of artwork done, but nothing else of substance creatively. So that’s the word count update. Beyond that, I learned a lot, and have a bit of news.

Before we get to the past, let’s look at the future a little bit.

I had plans to run Go Action Fun Time at G3: Gaming for Charity Game Marathon next 14666105_1480832878599345_5973039576855210945_nweekend, but they did not actually schedule my game. It has always been my policy that I do not announce events that do not have actual time/space coordinates. I’ll have GAFT in my car when I attend, but I cannot guaranty that it will be played.

Note to game event organizers: struggling game designers are willing, nay even eager partners in drubbing up publicity for your event, provided that you actually include them.

I’ll show up anyway, drop some money in the fishbowl and maybe just play for once.

In contrast, I have three games scheduled for Crit Hit 4, and I will be loudly announcing the particulars in the coming days.

Last week I went to Flagstaff on business, camped in the forest, then went to Las Vegas to attend Amazing Comicon, then went back to Flagstaff to pick up Rey, as she is spending most of the summer at my house. (Which, FTR, is her legal address anyway).

Ruby Vroom vs bugs.JPG
Ruby Vroom vs all the bugs on the highway. (with Rey)

Things I learned in no particular order:

Ruby Vroom, my 2015 Subaru Forester, has an ideal speed that is appropriate for picking your way down jeep trails without startling elk.

For me, paying a little more for gas in Flagstaff is worth not having to glide into Kingman on fumes.

The nacho loco appetizer at El Capitan is just an absurd amount of food.

The north rim of Sycamore Canyon in the Kaibab NF remains one of my favorite areas to camp. Ruby and I found the end of Forest road 56C. I didn’t get any writing done there, but I got some thinking done, which is an important step.

rubyatFR56C.JPG

Ruby Vroom at the end of the road

 

The brief camping excursion was the only part of the journey that I did any real documentation on.  But that’s another post for a different blog.

Amazing! Las Vegas Comic Con is over-all a fine event for what it is, but I could not, in good faith recommend travelling to Sin City just for the event itself, especially not if you live in Phoenix. ALVC is a fraction of the size of Phoenix fan Fusion, and while the vendor hall is substantial, the porgamming is miniscule, and other events are non-existent. It is, in truth, more skewed to actual comic fans that Fan Fusion, and comics dominate the vendor hall and much of what programming exists. So if that is your focus, you might enjoy the weekend.

If you are a more casual fan, however, one day will be more than sufficient.

Of course, I went for the company:

fiona.jpeg

Fiona (mid transformation) in Ruby Vroom

Going to a con by yourself can be amusing, and maybe even educational. Going to a con with good friends is fun. Going to a con with your costumer girlfriend is very fun.

Even if you are not in costume.

My link dump from the Con:

Anomaly Comics are trying to combine augmented reality apps with regular graphic novels. Meh. But the novels themselves are good quality. http://www.experienceanomaly.com/anomaly/

They also put out tutorials: https://www.youtube.com/user/ExperienceAnomaly

Tiki God comics gave me a bookmark and are rewarded with a link: https://www.tikigodcomics.com/

Frameless hangars is an interesting product if you still ahve space on your wall. www.framelesscomic.com

Wayward Nerd is a travel site for, well you.  https://www.waywardnerd.com/

Bookmarks because someone on the internet is Wrong:

https://www.history.com/topics/great-depression/social-security-act

https://www.ssa.gov/history/InternetMyths.html

You might infer what they are wrong about.

Anyway, I did not make word count. So it goes.

 

Switchbacks and word-count

Every time I find myself frustrated wit the direction my life is going, which is more often since it was upended a couple years ago, I remind myself that I am on the switchbacks.

For the non-hikers, switchbacks are the trails that wind back and forth up or down a steep slope. They take forever to climb, but are easier (and healthier) than trying to charge straight up the slope. Sometimes the wind through a tunnel of trees bending over the trail in search of sunlight. Very often they are a shadeless, stair-well grade chore made worth it only by the destination.

Sunset open ridge.JPG

Submitted but not used for 5 Star Hikes Flagstaff & Sedona

I have a couple things I could use advice on, if you are so inclined:

I am tempted to abandon my six + blogs and combine all that content into one blog – this one. (My other blogs are all listed on the sidebar).

  • I may exempt Are We Lost Yet? because it actually gets a bit of traffic, and I’ve still paid for it. But when I have to re-up, that would be hard to justify at current traffic levels.
  • The only other blog with any traffic is Curious Continuity. Not so much for the occasional Doctor Who content, but for my longer essays on the possible future. Go figure.
  • I have abandoned Tumblr for customer service reasons.

The case for combining everything here is a greater frequency of posts. The case against is the potential sprawl of topics.  I dunno. But I’m pretty sure I’m not keeping all six.

My other issue is Chrome (on my personal laptop) will occasionally just refuse to launch, and I have to remove and re-install it to remedy the problem. This symptom started to appear about the same time something enabled pop-up notifications from Chrome. This is a nuisance, not a crisis but any ideas are welcome.

WORD-COUNT

From last blog to this:

1500 new words for Taliesin’s Last Apprentice (the sequel to Beanstalk and Beyond)

Transcribing a previous chapter of same = 1500

Wednesday Night Writer’s Group (this was a fluke appearance, but still counts) =500

Thursday night writer’s group =500

This blog entry= 1000

Plus some GAFT back-end stuff that doesn’t lend itself to word-count, but should. Last entry we learned some things about Facebook Pages, and maintaining that has consumed some words.

And now a pretty octopus:

You’re welcome.