The Ins and Outs of Recent Events

Things come and things go. Here are some recent ins and outs.

IN:

Rey, from Flagstaff, moving back to Phoenix, and back in with me. A combination of academic and financial misfortunes has driven her from NAU. (Without a scholarship, NAU is 3x the expense of ASU). (You can infer the fate of that scholarship.).

The plan is to attend community college for a while, and take care of the generic core requirements until a clear path emerges.

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Rey in the new, taller kitchen

OUT:

The false ceiling in my kitchen. While this hid atrocities, it also provided a causeway for vermin and subconsciously annoyed me. So I have taken step 1 in a 50 step process of remodeling the kitchen.

My grandfather, the original owner of this house, had extended the air vent.

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Yes, that is a can of some sort “adapting” the tube to the vent grate. Sometimes innovation is overrated.

That’s all sitting in the yard now.

 

 

IN:

Some Christmas presents: an office chair and a 3D Printer!

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That’s a Creality Ender 3 FDM (additive) 3D Printer.

It is considered one of the best of the low-end 3D printers, and is a gift from my son, Ben,  who has an earlier model.

I have been thinking on this subject for some time.

We have already spent numerous hours turning plastic filament into garbage, and sometimes silly little sculptures.

This has turned out to be a pain to dial in, which – to be fair – comes with the price point. But I’ve had some fun playing with it so far.

And I actually spent as much time assembling the office chair as I did the printer -so there’s that.

 

OUT:

Excessive caution.

Before I start on this, do not confuse this with some new year’s resolution. In 2005 I made a New Year’s resolution to never make another new year’s resolution, and I ahve kept that. The timing of this announcement is coincidence. The realization dates back a few months ago.

I spent the last few years of my marriage playing not to lose, which is different than winning, and ended up losing the marriage.  (The professional decisions were a net gain, but that’s as much dumb luck as good judgement. I lucked into a good employer.)

I have less to lose as a point of fact. I do not own the house I’m renovating. My nest is supposedly empty. I am consistently solvent and building a little surplus. I can go for it on 4th and 2.

Hence the self-publishing and other projects that aren’t ready to announce yet.

You were warned.

My Last Christmas Without a new book out

 

I finished at least the rough draft manuscript for Taliesin’s Last Apprentice, which is the place-holder title for the sequel to  The Beanstalk and Beyond.  I did this with 10 minutes to spare before my self imposed end-of-November deadline. (see two posts ago).

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The beginning of the end.

If you’ve written a book you know that I have a LOT of editing to go before its a thing that normal people will enjoy reading.

 

In particular, because first drafts of Jack are always hand-written, I do not have the last four chapters even in Word yet.  When it goes to word, each chapter is its own document for a while, until I finish a section. Then I edit each chapter and compile it into a section (TLA has 5 sections). Then I will edit it again before compiling it int a full draft manuscript.

That is my task for December. My goal is to have a beta-reader friendly manuscript (or two) by the start of 2020. Then a submission by the end of January.

Then a book by next Christmas.

This is not my only pan in the fire.

aOne64 prologue coltxt v3

I have regained the uncontested rights to The 64-the place holder title for my sprawling space opera.

The first full novel in that series, The Secret History of Empress Em,  is in the can, and set to begin editing in January.

I am the publisher. My hope is to get this out in some form by summer 2020.

(I adapted the first chapter into graphic novel form if you want a bit of a preview. )

I will also be looking for beta-readers for this, sometime in the spring.

If you were enjoying a break from Go Action Fun Time, too bad. That’s the third iron in the fire, and I have some announcements:

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Go Action Fun Time Christmas Special: All I Want for Yuletide is the Graal of Plenty

A parade of Arthurian tropes including the secret origin of Galahad!

Saturday, December 7, 1:00pm at the Scale and Feather Meadery.

This is a co-event with Crit Hit West.
 
Scale and Feather has a wide selection of mead but a limited selection of food.
GAFT basic rules cover
Between Christmas and New Years I will run the Silk Road Pt 2 at my house.
Also in the works:
  • a revised Basic Rules set
  • A Cast Directory and
  • A Setting Bible.

Some of that material is available in protean form on the website:

There will also be a non-fiction project starting in 2020, a guide to either Arizona wineries, or hot springs and swimming holes, depending on my sense of the market, and logistics.
One more promise to myself before I go: the next post here will be about something else besides my writing.
I promise.
You were warned.

The Sun Shines Brightly on distant shores – and other notes.

First, some announcements:

 

Go Action Fun Time returns:

Go Action Fun Time info.

[For perspective, for the last game session, I drove like a madman from Vegas to make the game on time, and one person showed up. If that pattern continues, I have a back-load of other projects that need attention.]

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My artwork. 

Episode 2 – The Fox Who Hunted Back

In the far future, an uplifted fox holds an ancient grudge.

Saturday, November 9, 2019

1:00 PM

Scale & Feather Meadery

1050 N Fairway Dr, Building E, Suite 112

This is part of the regular Crit Hit event. You do not have to be part of that group to participate.

Scale & Feather has excellent mead, but limited food. 

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Not my artwork. 

Episode 3 – The Blistering Death

A mysterious disease threatens to wipe out the pygmies in the prehistoric Congo. You will find a cure. 

Sunday, November 10, 2019

4:00pm

My house.

If I have no players on Saturday, we might play Fox Hunt on Sunday. 

There will be a third episode – Likely Silk Road Part 1 – over the 3rd weekend in November. It will be the Friday night, unless I have to travel, in which case it will be the Sunday. 

 

Now to content:

I will admit it freely: I predicted, to myself mostly, that with an actual starting point guard, and with any improvement from DeAndre Ayton, and with any production from whoever plays power forward, the My Beloved Suns had a shot at 30 wins, and a ceiling of maybe 38 – which would be double their win total from last year.

They just beat the previously unbeaten Philadelphia 76’ers in a game they would have been blown out of a year ago. 

Now we are all thinking play-offs – even in the brutal, brutal Western Conference.

Even if they fall short, they will be in the hunt until the last few games, and it is awesome to have basketball that is not painful to watch again.

 

Regular readers will recall that I go back and forth from Las Vegas for reasons. Last week I learned about the Inescapable Resort Fee, but on the plus side, I discovered a Brit bar (The Crown and Anchor)  that serves Scotch eggs. Those are the dish of choice to go with your Guiness for brunch. 

Consequently, I get a lot of ads across my social media about Vegas things. And I ignore them. I have other sources I consult. 

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No resort fee…

Now, I am getting ads about Iceland.

Events in the Jack sequel I am writing  (to Beanstalk and Beyond) take place on the Reykjanes Peninsula in Iceland, which, I know from research, is home to like 90 species of birds at various times (none of them puffins) and three species of land mammals, one of which is technically invasive. 

I have no idea how the name would be pronounced.

It has also seen a good amount of volcanic activity since 498 ce (when the action takes place) so I feel free to make up some details about the coastal features. 

I have lost track of word count, but we have been going good the last few weeks, in spite of the travels. I do not normally play Nanowrimo, but I am committing myself here to finish this manuscript by the end of the month. 

Google maps is also keeping track of Jack’s journey:

 

Now we know.

Quick Links to giant man-made octopi

I will maintain until the day I die that octopi is the plural of octopus. Even though I am technically incorrect, it just sounds better and cooler.

Serendipity, followed by a quick search term placed the tales of these three projects before me upon the screen.

 

Thereoctopusseafoodrocks2018_large is a giant octopus made of garbage in Clogherhead, Co.Louth, Ireland.

 

 

 

Worth seeing the photo where it lights up.

 

 

“Talented artisan Jeffrey Michael Samudosky of JMS Wood Sculpture in Gig Harbor, Washington has created an absolutely stunning giant pacific octopus that he carved with a chainsaw into a large piece of wood from a fallen redwood tree. “

Link here.

giant-pacific-octopus-reflected

 

Finally, the tale of the Kraken sculpture destined to become a Carribean coral reef along with the derelict ship it floated in on.

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And there’s video:

 

Now we know.

Debriefing from Kingman

Despite the best efforts of the universe, I not only made it to K.A.B.A.M, but I made it there on time. (My day job had sent me on a side-quest that I accepted without realizing that one of my presentations was on the Friday).

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For those of you who missed my obscure notice several posts ago, I had two presentations (with power points and everything). One was on the realities of the Slush Pile, and the other was on world-building.

Writer at work

Not actually used in the Power Point

Slush Pile

[From my summary:]

Of the 1000 manuscripts added to the Slush Pile this month:

500 are unreadable.

250 are unpublishable in any form.

150 could be publishable with serious work that should have been done before submission.

90 are unoriginal or inappropriate for this market (and likely need more work anyway).

5 are likely good books, but not for this house.

3 could be good books for this house, but the marketing director won’t see an angle within 15 seconds, so why drag out the meeting?

2 are books we should buy, but there’s only budget for

1 book that we actually buy.

So if you write a good book, and do your submission research, you are competing with 10 manuscripts instead of 1000.

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World Building:

[Again from my summary:]

THE BEST WAY TO KEEP TRACK OF ALL THE DETAILS OF YOUR MADE-UP WORLD IS TO WRITE THEM DOWN – SOMEHOW.

THIS IS CALLED WORLD-BUILDING.

IT IS NOT A WASTE OF TIME.

That looks less shouty in the Power Point.

My presentation distilled work I had had already presented across several blog entries:

Magic Systems

The Three Questions about the future:

 

And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the update to Are We Lost Yet? about my campsite: Camping Over Kingman: Hualapai Mountain Campgrounds.

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I got better cell reception here than in downtown Kingman.

 

Now we know.

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.

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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.

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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.

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.