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.]

GAFT Foxhunt color2

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. 

karlinn

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.

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.

HMR Hammock 2.JPG

I got better cell reception here than in downtown Kingman.

 

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.

 

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

Pantsing a post

I’m really kinda alarmed at how much of a pantser I actually am. Ok, let me back that up for the non-writers. I’m really surprised at how much I make up as I go along.

Before we get to all that, a few quick plugs for things we learned on other topics:

Over at Curious Continuity, we have concluded our survey of FTL methods.

And at Fantastical History we recap some things we learned (including the pantsing thing) at Leprecon 45 last weekend. 

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Some people make and use plans.

In truth, I like to know what I’m going to write before I sit down, but the realities of time and life mean that sometimes I just have to sit down and tap away and see what happens. My problem is that I’m good enough at spouting out nonsense off the top of my skull that I charge into the void with unwarranted optimism.

And a lot of typos.

And then I tie myself up in a not when I actually have to pull the plot together.

My whole life goes like that. I have a bit of a plan, it fall apart from errant assumptions, I make a new plan? – no I just make stuff up until I’m out of it all somehow.

I abandoned a carefully researched plan to buy a car to snap up a car I assumed to be beyond my reach. (Ruby Vroom). I seem to be getting away with that.

Not really related, but something I learned: open both side of the dead swamp cooler before deciding to replace it. Sometimes the previous tenant had just disassembled the belt for some reason. Put it back together and – cool-ish swamp air until late July.

Back to things I make up as I go along – WORD COUNT:

I wrote 1000 new words on Taliesin’s New Apprentice (the working title for the sequel to Beanstalk and Beyond), and transcribed 1500 into the thinking machine. Add the writer’s group I read it for critique in, and that’s 3000 words.

GAFtdicemonster

As I hinted at a bit in my last post, I edited and ran two episodes of Go Action Fun Time at Leprecon 45. That’s a thousand word worth each.

So At the Monday cut-off I made my 5000. And at the end of this blog, I’m already at 3000. But I got more to transcribe for Jack to read in 22 hours.

So now we know.