The inevitable mess from progress

The dog had different ideas about where things should go.

My house is a mess, but I am not bothered by it the way I would have been in the recent past. Things got done. We just haven’t cleaned up the inevitable mess from progress.

Much of the mess is from the creatures that live with me. With increasing heat, my adult cats found the courage to face the big dog and the tiny kitten that had scared them into the garage and the yard beyond.

My Problem has returned

They have found their way inside, and established that they are bigger than the kitten – and do not want to play. Also, Pippa (the dog) mostly remembers she’s not supposed to chase cats in the house.

Problem is even here helping me xfutkdo right now.

A better photo of Rey’s damn dog

My humble residence has become the party spot for Rey’s gang of friends. Because it is an actual house with a working TV you can play games on, and an actual yard you can smoke in while you pretend to play with the dog.

That leaves the kind of mess you would expect.

Some of that mess is from creating things. Rey creates long,mutant attrocities from old Furbies and a stash of sewing supplies.

You can buy this from her.

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Not one of the pets.

Long time readers (meaning from the start of this year – or four posts ago) may recall that Cheryl and I were on the verge of running a vendor booth at the Las vegas Pirate fest and tpoints beyond. That would have been in April – so it didn’t happen.

But we still have inventory – all over both of our houses, and I hope to have a website to hype by the end of the month.

Verity and Rattletrap in their natural habitat.

Last week I wrote about the truck – which I have named Verity – and how I got what I paid for. I paid more – the radiator cracked in addition to the wonky brakes, but all is relatively right now. She is road worthy, unless you try to stop for fast food. Then you will learn that the windows will not go down.

I’ll care more about that when it stops being 106 at night. (that’s right – as I write this, at nearly 10pm, it remains 106 F outside.)

(Still better than snow, as we say in the valley – but I begin to have my doubts.)

It’s a mess now. Cheryl (my girlfriend) talked her mother into selling the house her mother no longer actually lives in, and the worst outcome came to pass: it sold nearly immediately. This meant a lot of trips to Congress, a lot of moving crumbling cardboard boxes in the heat, and hauling loads to Las vegas and Phoenix in verity and the ressurected trailer I liberated from Cheryl’s mom (who does not have the means or inclination to tow it).

I call the trailer Rattletrap.

A trailer can sit for 20 years and still work if you:

  • Grease the bearings (not complicated, but extremely messy)
  • Replace the tires
  • Replace the wiring and lights.
  • All told about $250 and a bottle of whiskey for the hero who helped me grease the bearings.

It is harder to teach yourself to tow it, especially an old one with a short tongue, but I got it from Congress to Las Vegas to Congress to Phoenix without undue disaster, and it now sits in my yard.

A scene from the last episode.

My game room is covered with Go Action Fun Time game materials and artwork, all being scattered by the dogs and cats. I am trying to get regular episodes going on Discord (that’s Zoom for 20-somethings, being both irreverent and free).

A few lessons from that first session:

  • It was suprisingly painless to make a fill-in PDF for charater sheets. Perhaps my Adobe subscription is worth something after all.
  • I need a table mic. My current system works for me facing my laptop, but that’s not how I run games, particularly with people also playing in person.
  • I might have to look into some dice-rolling bot.
  • It is possible to play You-Tube videos (or other sound sources) such as the unofficial GAFT Theme song (an acquired taste – you were warned!) through discord with the aid of some bot the kids hunted up for me.
  • Discord runs in the background unless you actually disconnect from the session, so your find can come on-line and haunt you for several minutes until you figure this out.
  • The Go Action Fun Time discord general sever can be found here: https://discord.gg/tQrW5a

I’d update the writing – but look at the time: It’s 10:48 pm, and the temperature outside has plummeted to 103.

Now we know.

Why I am not walking the dog.

Arizona is under curfew tonight, so I couldn’t walk the dog even if I wanted to. 

What dog? Regular readers may ask. Hang on. 

Let me just say that this curfew is inexplicably state wide. So sitting here in Phoenix, I can argue whether it’s helpful, but I could at least follow the logic of it. If I were sitting in Gila Bend or Ajo or Snowflake, I would – I would probably find another reason not to walk the dog. It’s somewhat inconceivable that they are enforcing it in those places. 

Ducey’s order has so many exemptions the only thing it actually prohibits is protesting, and therefore would not stand long in court.  For example:

[Exempted:] Individuals traveling directly to and from work; attending religious services; commercial trucking and delivery services; obtaining food; caring for a family member, friend, or animal; patronizing or operating private businesses; seeking medical care or fleeing dangerous circumstances; and travel for any of the above services.

So not only could I plausibly walk this dog (though it would be a stretch), I could absolutely go to the topless bar down the street, which is now open despite the state having met basically none of the actual criteria the CDC set out for opening.

Last month, while we were under a more defensible curfew,  was the year anniversary of acquiring my 2015 Subaru Forester. I bought it at 48k miles. It just ran past 85k. That’s 30k miles in a year and probably not sustainable. 

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A year and 30,000 miles later my opinion hasn’t moved much: with the exception of the turning radius and the sound system, it is an upgrade in very way from my poor old Kia Soul. I’ve had some off-road adventures with it,but most of my miles are on the highway, where it is, actually, above average. 

I consistently get in the mid 20’s for gas mileage. Her preferred cruising speed seems to be 80 mph. I’ve become pretty adept at shoving things into it.

Even so, I had a moment of mild crazy and bought a second vehicle.

  • It is troublesome sharing a vehicle with Rey (for both of us) and
  • I really do need a back-up vehicle as Ruby is staggering into older-vehicle country and
  • I need to tow a trailer from time to time, and that is not in the Subaru’s wheelhouse so

I bought a 2001 Dodge Dakota for $4600 cash.

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The yet unnamed truck – priced as if dealer’s fee and tax did not exist.

And – I got what I paid for. 

The brakes are wonky – and likely about to fail. One of the headlights is out. The cruise control is long gone. And it overheats. I’ll know more once I get it to the mechanic. 

But its a truck with a tow hitch. And the first vehicle I’ve bought with cash since the 1980’s. 

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“Get down, Pipa! Now!”

Rey’s persistence at the pound yielded a 3 year old boxer named Pipa, who scares the crap out of my poor cats, and moves shoes and other objects around the house at random. When Rey is home there is a steady background of the phrase “Not for Pipa!”

I am convinced that the dog means no harm to the cats, but my cats are emphatically unconvinced. How do you train courage into adult cats? I do not know. So they hide outside except for a few hours in the early morning when the dog is firmly ensconced in Rey’s bed.

The kitten is not afraid. This is why I have some faith in Pipa. 

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Fireball is helping…

A small fluffy kitten Rey dubbed Fireball has wandered into the house and made herself at home, and plays with the dog.

My cats are also scared of the kitten. I dunno. 

 

WORD COUNT:

In the past seven days I:

  • Edited 20k of the 64 novel, in hopes to have a beta-read copy soon = 2000 words
  • Designed, drew, and colored two badge art proposals for MaricopaCon = 200 words.

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Not the finished product.

  • Edited about 10k words of the rulebook forGo Action Fun Time= 1000 words.
  • This blog = 1000 words. 

 

That’s 6000 out of 5000.

 

I’m still not walking the dog. That’s Rey’s job.

 

Now we know. 

 

Procrastination produces groundless optimism

I am supposed to be editing One of 64. That requires some big decisions that I am putting off until I feel like it I have more certainty.

Meanwhile, autism + optimism have led to beginning Big New Stupid Projects:

At Curious Continuity (yes – it still lives) I detail the Multi-Fantastiverse:

traveller

I have, partly through my own efforts, and partly from the efforts of friends who have lost the means or will to store such things, acquired shelves full of various RPG supplements. Many times I have stared at this wall of dead trees and for the most part abandoned projects and wondered if all of this could be combined into a single universe.

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Not my work. Not yet. Not by  a long way…

I have also re-engaged with Blender– with has a new – shiny update.

[Longtime readers will remember we have started up this trail before...]

The Tutorial Site – because it really is hard.

[Relatedly, I have just learned their is an Emily Padegimas who puts blender recipes up on Pinterest, and that will distort search value results.] {Pinterest links are only for Pinterest users, and against this blog’s policy.}

WORD COUNT:

I have proof edited 10k of what is now called The Secret History of Empress M. That should  be 5k right there.

I have decided that the transit time through wormholes is essentially instantaneously – but they add a several hour safety buffer. Now I am changing a bunch of references.

Among many other things.

Plus I wrote 1500 words about deep nerd Traveller settings, plus the 500 word bonus for posting.

Plus my writer’s group is a going concern on Zoom. So 500 for that.

Now we know.

Be well.

 

 

How drunk can I get and still use a three-hole punch?

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My natural habitat

If I hadn’t run out of paper, I have a physical pass-around copy of Taliesin’s Last Apprentice or The Voyage of the Sun Seeker in a three-ring binder, ready to hand over to any reader willing to actually read it, and brave enough physically receive it.

(In my defense, it runs 450+ pages printed out).

Or – I can e-mail you a PDF. I’m not sending one by text or Facebook or whatever. I need your e-mail.

The rest of it is printing out behind me as I write this.

I was delayed by arithmetic. I somehow miscounted the number of characters who actually go on the doomed voyage, and this number matters in the continuity, so I had to find “nineteen” and replace it with “seventeen” in like 18 places throughout the work.

Anyway it’s done. Whiskey!

I actually submit to the publisher of Beanstalk and Beyond next week. I am not under contract, so we’ll see what happens.

In other news, my household is well. Rey has a job at a grocery store in addition to their studies. I still program lights on construction sites. The sate of Arizona considers both of our roles “essential” so we still go out and brave the oogy-woogies.

I’ve had Ruby Vroom for a year, and I have some thoughts about that, but that will wait until next time.  I am late for whisky – and hole punching!

Ruby Vroom

Ruby – in younger days.

Let me know if you want to read the new thing!

Be well.

Logical Enemies

There are concepts that are the logical enemies of other concepts. Some are obvious: good is the enemy of evil, smart is the enemy of stupid, meetings are the enemy of sanity. Here are few worth considering in detail:

As a quick memo to the US Senate: Perfect is the enemy of Done. If you’re not comfortable with the terms, put a time limit on it and pass the damn thing.

We’ll come back to this.

Sanitary is the enemy of sustainable. One thing I learned when my mom went through chemo-therapy is that modern sanitary practices make great use of the disposable nature of our technology. Yeah, you can sterilize the dishes, but it’s even better to throw them away. Yeah, you might be able prepare pre-packaged meals in your own kitchen, but even better is having a commercial kitchen prepare it, and bring it to you – in disposable containers. (As long as it’s hot!)

Dish towels are the enemy of sanitation. If you’re immuno-compromised, or just trying to get past a virus, you are way better off using paper towels.

Security is the enemy of Productivity. I see this all the time on construction sites: guys getting paid $X/hour waiting for some one to find a key so they get get into the otherwise empty room and continue their jobs.  But I have seen this happen in much more developed and supposedly functional work spaces – where no one can get where they need to go to do their jobs.

Or they are not authorized to help a customer.

We are not and never have been besieged by a constant invisible menace of terrorist criminals. Most things stolen from (non-retail) businesses were stolen by employees who had access anyway.

Another thing I see all the time while we’re on this subject: The reason the temp of the over-hire just stare at you when you ask them to go get the thing is that they do not have keys. You’ll have to give them yours and trust they’ll come back with both the thing and your keys.

Distrust is the enemy of Society. If we are going to work together to solve a problem, we have to able to trust each other. There is no other way. On any large scale this requires trust in basic institutions – whether they’ve earned our trust or not.

If you do not believe government is ever helpful or that media is every truthful or that you have any obligation to participate in a collective action that you do not wholly believe in, then you are as part of the problem. You might as well be an active criminal.

But if I have to explain that to you, you didn’t read this far. Too many words.

Speaking of too many words, and getting back to perfect vs done:

WORD COUNT:

I am editing Taliesin’s Last Apprentice (because it is finally written). I have yet to settle on a formula for word-count equivalent, but I should be done by the end of the month.

(TLA is the sequel to The Beanstalk and Beyond).

That is basically all I did writing wise last week, and all I expect to do next week.

Next month I final edit One of 64.

In May I expect to do a full edition of Go Action Fun Time

I still have a job (I work off-site anyway), and things would have to get three orders of magnitude worse and stay that way for that to become imperiled. But our slow season has gotten slower, so I expect to actually make real progress editing.

Unsurprisingly,  there is no upcoming event, either game or festival wise, that I have enough confidence in to announce at this time.

Stay well.

 

 

Explaining Rules is Hard

First off, let me get to this before upcoming events make it all quaintly irrelevant:

I plan to vote for Elizabeth Warren in the upcoming AZ Prez Preference whatever (which is not the regular state primary). I am a wonk, and she is the wonkiest of the wonky-wonks, and I am going with my people here. How often does a genuine wonk make it this far?

I would not, however, bet money on her.

My Approved Portraits

“I’d explain it to you – but you’d die.”

Bernie Sanders got 50%+ of the Latino vote in Nevada. If he duplicates that in Texas or California, he’s the nominee. Because math.

And for the partisans hyperventilating about the stigma of socialism, let me be clear: anyone who doesn’t understand that Democratic Socialism isn’t Communism is voting for the other side anyway.  Trump is Lord of the Ignorant, and you aren’t going to get those votes away from him.

It’s hard to sell new ideas – even to smart people, but they are your only plausible market.

Marginally related, I have made a couple of tweaks to the core Go Action Fun Time Rules. That’s going to be the rest of the post, so if you don’t care, thanks for getting down this far.

Go Action Fun Time : “We Are All Sam…”

Saturday – Feb 29, 2020 – my house. 6pm. Because leap day is for time travel. 

AllTheSams.jpg

GenCorp Base 29 is under siege, and the VP in charge of the base doesn’t care. And the inhabitants … well, they’re only clones. Clones aren’t really people, are they?
Are they?
They are, but the Problem is that they are small parts of something much more frightening.

Games will take place in my west-central Phoenix residence unless we find someplace better. It is a house. There will be cats. I will pay for pizza. You are on your own for beverages – or if you somehow do not like pizza.

For this episode only I may grill meat earlier that afternoon, and all would be welcome to it, for I will grill a lot. You would still be on your own for beverages.

There will likely be fire and libations afterwards for all interested.

The event on MeetUp.   The event on Facebook. 

I have simplified the Plot Point development formula, particularly as it takes place after initial character creation.

  • Gone is the formula. The new formula is just new value times the multiplier. The multiplier depends on what sort of ability you are increasing.
  • You can only increase any ability by one between any two episodes. You can increase multiple abilities by one, but you can’t go as far as +2. I could make a logical case for this, but slowing it down just feels better.
  • When you initially create the character, it’s still the multiplier/point. You can just buy them up in any order and as far as you want to pay. The previous value of the ability does not affect its cost.

Abilities reduce Difficulty in addition to adding to the roll – at least for uncontested tasks. Each +1 reduces the Difficulty by one dice (and inverse for negative values).

See? That’s a pretty straightforward concept that proved hard to write with any grace.

Maybe that’s why I admire warren. She’s pretty good at just that.

But she’s rolling against a lot of dice.

WORD COUNT:

The actual last chapter of Taliesin’s Last Apprentice – 2nd draft (transcribed into the Word). = 2000 words.

Editing Go Action Fun Time for the above rule changes, two column format, and moving Powers to the front of character creation = 2000 words

Writer’s group = 500 words

If I had written this yesterday, I would have been over quota – but I’m under by 500 words.

 

This version of Warren would be up by ten points – just saying.

Now we know.

The Things You Learn Time Traveling

First off, in warning, both pizza and commercial quality whiskey are relatively new things. They can only be found in recognizable form from the late 1800’s onward.

I accidentally set myself up for some difficult dives in Go Action Fun Time. There are three adventures where the cast travels down the Silk road, with merchandise bought in China, hoping to sell it for a profit in – well I wrote Byzantium, but that’s not actually on the Silk Road. Least of my problems.

Currency. Not so much for a specific episode – I can look up, to a point, the currency of China circa 250 ce (where the journey starts). But when I’m writing rules for commerce, i need some exchange medium that will translate across different times and economies.

This is a good quick primer.

In the existing rules,I defaulted to a prevailing day’s wages, but that would take too much research for the average Executive Producer (the game-master in GAFT). Plus, compensatory wages are also a relatively new thing. But I may be able to come up with a table of shells= animals= salt = silver = gold that will take us into recorded history.

It takes about 60 days to cross the Taklamakan Desert on foot via camel caravan. I mention that because it was a hard fact to come by, and basically had to be deduced. 6-4-1170x658-1

The sixty days assumes taking either the north or south route arond the edges of the desert. No one goes straight across. Taklamaka supposedly means Desert of No Return. It is one of the driest and one of the coldest deserts in the world. Some years the only precipitation is a brief dusting of snow. There are zero water sources in the deep interior. It is a sea of sand.

The Silk Road takes up three episodes, and I plan to eventually publish them.

 

e-deck-watermark

Yes, That Lusitania, in contrast, is likely to remain a convention only episode. This is mostly due to my reliance upon the Lusitania Resource site. Any published document I produce would have to re-write and re-present the historical accounts, and re-render their maps, and that’s all way beyond fair use. So I just open up a laptop at the convention game room.

It doesn’t always load – so there’s that.

Also, as excellent as that map is, it does not have the level of detail you would need for a tactical encounter. There must be, logically, ladders of some sort from F deck tot he boiler rooms, but they are not indicated on the floor-plans.

The deck plans are from design blue-prints. They are not as-builts.

Also, Lusitania – which starts hours before the ship sinks, involves known, historical people with real living relatives, and that would require a more sensitive treatment of the subject than GAFT time typically achieves. The narrative voice of GAFT can get flippant.

My real problems are not research.

My problem with the existing product is that I am not yet confident that someone could make a character, must less run an adventure, without me being in the room to interpret what I wrote.  As much as I want to Just Do It, we are probably 30% through the playtest/revision process, rather than the 80% I once assumed.

A note from writer’s group mostly for my own reference (while I still have deck-plans left):

The Flea by John Donne

Still the Lusitania goes on…

So one more history note, this one about Jack’s on -again/ off-again mentor, the legendary bard Taliesin.

There are extant poems reliably (by Dark Age standards) attributed to a historical Taliesin, who served the lords of Rheghed in the early 6th century. This actual bard, though was, well, mediocre, judging by those works, which were mostly songs praising his patrons.

Good for him, but it doesn’t justify the legend.

My head-canon is that the bard of Rheghed took Taliesin’s name, but is not actually that legendary bard.

The Taliesin I write about (in the sequel to Beanstalk and Beyond) would never write any of his own poetry down anyway.

Now we know.

 

 

The recursive nature of goals

There are goals and then there are goals. There are the larger, universal goals of a happier,, more generally successful life, and there are the smaller, more concrete goals contrived to mark the way to the larger goals such as mow the lawn, or eat healthier or put on pants. At what point does pursuing a goal become the goal, rather than the means to achieve a larger goal?

Maybe at the point where you start asking these questions.

I finally had a moment to write out my monthly goals for February. They largely consist of unmet goals from January. Some of that was over-ambition. Some of that was other emergencies. Some of that was poor use of time.  I have those factors in roughly equal measure.

The goal I met:kitchen lts.JPG

I finished the kitchen lighting despite the spooky wiring left by previous owners. In daytime the dark slot would have a bit of skylight in it.

So we (the kids helped) learned that you can’t trust any of the neutrals to go back to a common bus.

And despite what I promised last post, I have not abandoned caution when it comes to electrical work.

 

I also got an episode in of Go Action Fun Time. I’ll go over that in a separate entry.

The project that was not one of the goals:

I ended up spending a week at Cheryl’s house helping her recover from foot surgery. She couldn’t walk. She has a large house with stairs. I had a week of vacation to burn.

My Butler name is “Handsy”.

I did get some writing done. And I appeared in a promotional video for the Las Vegas Pirate Fest. Well, I did. Which brings us to:

The goal that is not from January:

We will have a booth is said pirate fest. By we I really mean Cheryl, and her room-mate, Captain Blackheart, who heads one of the factions guilds that organize the event.

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We will have one of these:

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A vendor booth, not unlike the one pictured, not the bystanders

 

Blackhearts’ Boutique is the trial run for what may become a more permanent enterprise. We will have Artifacts, Relics, Apparel and Sundries available for the particular adventurer. I’ll have a whole thing with photos as we get closer. But if you follow Cheryl or Rey on Facebook, you’ve already seen things.

Everyone involved in this has an expanding To Do list.

Past this event we plan to call the enterprise the Unobtanium Emporium.

Goals becoming goals.

Also I have to mow my lawn, and eat better.

And put on pants.

Watch this space.

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).

Image

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:

Image result for Graal of Plenty"

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.