Some scattered notes between festivals

Some short doses of things we have learned over the past couple of weeks, mostly without context. But first, we are between events. So…

UnObtanium Bazaar will be at the Las Vegas Pirate Fest this weekend!

And Cheryl will be dancing with Shifting Sands.

Feb 29, 2020; Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

I’ll admit it: I groaned when My Beloved Suns traded Ricky Rubio for Chris Paul. After all, in the shortened 2020 season Rubio was averaging more assists than Paul (who then playing for the Thunder) while scoring only 3 fewer PPG on a Suns team that really didn’t need him to score anymore.  And they went 8-0 in the Bubble with Rubio running the point.

The difference is defense and a culture of defense. Rubio is a good defender, but not the legend that Chris Paul is (6 time steals leader, 9 time All-Defensive team).  And while Rubio was an established veteran who had won championships in Europe, he did not have the credibility or personality to herd a bunch of young wildcats into playing team defense.

Chris Paul is on those boys All The Time, and they are responding.  Sometimes I wonder if Monty Williams’s true role is to attend meeting with management and do the paperwork.

You still feel for Rubio – who was doing a good job, and looking forward to a near-certain playoff run with the Suns this year, instead of maybe playing into the playoffs with his final destination, the Minnesota Timberwolves. But then I reflect that he’s still a millionaire, and the Suns are legit contenders now.

The little mountain range that separates Yuma from the rest of the damn desert is called the Fortuna Foothills. The Border Patrol no longer regularly operates the checkpoint going east into the pass, but it has become a favorite haunt of the Arizona Highway Patrol.

The speed limit on the winding, splitting I-8 through that portion is 55. Not 65.

Just east of the pass there is a safety pull-out and the Az state trooper will be happy to follow you into it, if, for some reason, you are pulled over coming down the pass.

Sometimes its good to be 54, with papers in order.

There are a ridiculous number of online traffic schools listed with azdrive.com.

I got my first vaccination shot. The day after, I came down with what passes – for me- as COVID symptoms: achy with no temperature, but likely elevated blood pressure. (I did not check). This might have been compounded by my thinking “Nah, my arm doesn’t hurt enough to stop me from finishing this yard work”.  Two hours later I’m putting away the tools because it has become clear I will not have the energy to do anything else. I was laid up the rest of the day.

I have to bury that story in my blog instead of telling it on Facebook, because I don’t want to hear about from the crazies. Two days after the shot, I was able to go to work, and the only pain I have is clearly from yardwork.

Over on Are We Lost Yet?, I learned how steep Picacho Peak really is.

After next weekend, I do not have a scheduled author or UnObtanium event until July. You know what that means…

Go Action Fun Time! Every other week.

Also, I am officially in the editing phase of Taliesin’s Last Apprentice (the sequel to the Beanstalk and Beyond) and we are hoping for a November release date.

Now we know.

The Rise of the Creatives is still a climb

My girlfriend read and embraced Richard Florida’s 2002 pop-sociology book Rise of the Creative Class, postulating that creative talent would be in demand in an information-driven economy. I haven’t read the book, but from 2020, the premise seems obvious enough.

I often quote Hunter S Thompson who came to the sme view sideways:

When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.

There’s news on that front, but first let’s get tomorrow out of the way.

If I am in town, I prefer to vote in person, on election day. Mostly that is to give down-ballot candidates and issues the full window to make their case. Also, I am a difficult voter to challenge, being registered, white, male, and relatively well versed in law. I don’t expect trouble (I am also a master at finding the dull hour to vote) but I might be hoping for it more than I should.

So you know, it is expressly illegal in Arizona to be on school property with a fire-arm. So if you are seeking a safer place to vote – half the polling places are in schools.

If it bothers you that I feel compelled to write that sentence – it should.

I’ve made my endorsement over on Brazen Wonk.

I have on the table the contract from New Link Publishing for Taliesin’s Last Apprentice, the sequel to Beanstalk and Beyond (which they also published). So settle your wagers accordingly.

This will be a thing.

Also a thing:

Last weekend we set up the event pavillion for the upcoming Mojave Renn Faire (see last entry).

The finished – enough result

Relatedly, last week, I learned that creating your own custom font and then turning that into stencils is more time consuming than you think. (Like three whole evenings) (What does that mean in word count?)

Three nights of my life…

So you’ll excuse me if I plead exhaustion and cut this short without a pithy ending. I’m tired, and I still have to get up tomorow, go to work, and defend democracy.

Now we know.

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

writertears

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.

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.

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. 

hill-prehistoric-survivors-fb

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.

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. 

57536216_10156408069268790_5050263760590077952_n

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.

Markers were passed in our absence

So I’ve been busy, even if I haven’t been scrupulous about documenting that all here. Between my last post and this, some markers were passed, and we note lessons from those here. This is the personal part of my personal blog here. If you were hoping for random Facts about Odd Things, that must wait for later posts.

Last year vs this year: same guy, better lighting.

I have been an official resident of this house for a year. At just about that time, I wrote down some goals. I am pleased to report that a year later I have made maybe 60-70% of the progress towards those goals as I would like. Some of those shortfalls – particularly sorting the garage and the bookshelf situation – were unintended consequences of hosting Earl indefinitely.

Earl is in Louisiana working with the Salvation Army at least through Christmas. I do not know his plans past that, and I suspect that he does not know them either.

The follow-up to One of 64 is on hold to make room for pushing Go Action Fun Time into a real product. I have abandoned self publishing One of 64 for financial reasons. Every time I put together the money to move that forward some disaster cuts in front of it in line. So now it sits with a publisher awaiting a Decision. That decision would inform the pace (and perhaps direction) of the sequel.

http://www.mysticpublishersinc.com/store/product/beanstalk-and-beyond/

An actual book you can buy!

The sequel to Beanstalk and Beyond, provisionally titled Taliesin’s Last Apprentice, moves along decently. I’m only a few months behind on that.

Some of the shortfalls – particularly wordcount issues in the last few months – came as a result of having a girlfriend (I am cleared to use this word I believe) who does not live in town. It has been my serious philosophy that building relationships is not a waste of time, but the 5 hour drive time one way does expand the amount of time I am not really wasting.

It was loosely a year between the time I accepted emotionally that my marriage was over, and my accepting emotionally that this woman I am driving across the desert to see is my girlfriend.

 

KIMG0759

Still going…

Relatedly, I have passed 100000 miles in my 2013 Kia Soul. At that mileage, the only mechanical failures are the CD player, and I cannot roll down two of the windows from the driver’s door console buttons (they still roll down from the individual switches on those doors). That’s it. Everything else works. On we go.

I did get some writing done.

BCDT-from-track

Are we trespassing yet?

Over on Are We Lost Yet? we explore the remains of the Black Canyon City Dog Track.

And you can poke around in crumbling remains of how men once made money from shadows by getting dogs to run around a track as fast as they could. But watch your step.

While researching that, I found the Rogue Columnist – who chronicles the underside of Phoenix, among other things. I got lost in his work the way I usually get lost in TV Tropes.

Over at Curious Continuity, I muse about time travelers creating scars in time – into which they cannot travel. By time travel standards, that sentence makes as much sense as most.

40ORWXq-a6gmLeTQNGwIqvNynJnE3FMirg6leoK8rg8

This can never happen – and not just because of copyrights.

And we are editing Go Action Fun Time into something more like a published product and less like internal notes.

GAFT cover image

This is from the “Pilot Episode”

If you made it down this far, we’re friends. And friends sometimes want to know what I want for Christmas. I’m a middle-aged man with more stuff than I can store, so consumables (whiskey!) are always appreciated. Also, I am currently without a decent BlueTooth speaker like all the kids have.

Or the means to play a CD in my car.

Now we know.

 

What Value Book Events?

As I am calculating my word count for the week, what value, in words, do I put on sitting most of Saturday at the Payson Book Fest?

Sure, it took all day, but I only sold 2 books – and that counts a trade with another author. And this is at a book festival – presumably my target audience.

And it’s not as if no one was selling. The well-known and extroverted author across the aisle was selling a book an hour. He had several titles, the ability to cut deals, and a well-worn patter: “Hi! What do you like to read? Well, right here I have a book that’s vaguely like that. But just today I’ll sell you the whole series as a bundle for $12…”

My informal tracking had him landing a sale one out of three times.

I sold one, and she bought every separate title at our table, and had her money out before I even made my pitch.

I am not shy, but I am not pushy. I lack the chutzpah to pull people in like a carny. And, for the record, I am totally one of the people the extroverted author does not sell a book to. I have an elevator pitch “The adventure of Jack after the Beanstalk...”  and a few other lines from my marketing pitch, but you would have to come to me.

A few did, and they listened to my pitch, and said they would think about it and maybe come back. None did.

How do we value a well-intentioned waste of time?

Or was it wasted?

Besides the fact that I sold two more books than I would have binge-watching Narcos, there may some real, if hard to quantify value for doing these events. Because a lot of people go to these things and only buy a small fraction of the books they will eventually purchase. And a lot of them just come to window shop.

There is a vague thing in sales called the Rule of 7, which states, essentially, it takes seven contacts, or “touches”, with a potential customer before they even begin to think about a purchase. Those seven touches (on average) (and this theory varies widely by source) are why sellers add marketing on top of sales.

So if I think of it as marketing, then maybe some good? Maybe those two or three near misses I had  will buy the book later.

http://www.mysticpublishersinc.com/store/product/beanstalk-and-beyond/
The book you didn’t buy. There! I touched you!

That’s an awful lot of maybes to clear a Saturday for. But I camped afterwards in the coolish pines, and that was definitely worth it.

hammockrig

The part that was worth it.

 

WORD COUNT:

 

Last week’s WHWL? = 1000

Last week’s Monday night group = 500

Editing Go Action Fun Time with the new mechanic, and just cleaning up the copy, 3 hours at 500 words/hour = 1500

Thursday Night group = 500

Handwritten draft of Taliesin’s Last Apprentice = about 500 words.

(Written at the  Book Fest, as I was not barking like a carny).

If I count a Book Event at a thousand words – I hit my 5k goal.

In the end, it’s worth what I say it’s worth, isn’t it?

 

Now we know.

Word Count Returns

I have made word count for the first time in over a month and I am…

Wait. I have to shout something first. Stand back a bit, will ya? Thanks.

 

I WILL BE AT THE PAYSON FESTIVAL OF BOOKS ON JULY 21ST!

cropped-7k9a7367-1400x750-ver21

Yes, Payson – that dry little city in the pines where it will not be (quite) a hundred and fuck. I will be there selling books, officially, Beanstalk and Beyond, and unofficially, I will have some hiking guides handy as well.

Particulars:

The Payson Book Festival [http://www.paysonbookfestival.org/] will be held Saturday, July 21, 2018 from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Mazatzal Hotel and Casino, Hwy 87 mile marker 251, Payson, AZ 85541.

Authors from throughout the state will sign and sell fiction and non-fiction books of many genres. “Buckshot Dot” will share her original western poetry and songs. Other presenters include Liz Warren, fourth-generation Arizonan and nationally known storyteller, who will spin tales, YA author Janette Rallison, Science Fiction author J.L. Doty, author and screenwriter Tom Morrissey and APW author Patricia Brooks. Kids can meet the Cat in the Hat and Story Monster at storytime sessions. [website]

I’ll be at the Mystic Publishing booth #61 (out of 61).

https://goo.gl/maps/gC8uK5DakSD2

We have been warned that area hotels are full, (not from our event) so this may test my speed-camping skills. Normally, this would segway into a camping spot discussion, adorned with a link to my hiking blog, but that blog is still caput. {click here to see for yourself how well my publisher supports me}. {Yes, I am still angry}

I know places, though. Not a question of will I find a place to sleep. Just a question of whether I can make the meet and greet. 

Now that I have some control over my creative time, rebuilding that Are We Lost Yet? needs to make the agenda.

It competes, at the moment, with Go Action Fun Time. My day at Crit Hit filled me with renewed optimism for this project (both my game sessions filled) and I have developed a streamlined dice mechanic that made those sessions much easier to manage.

If you’ve played Go Action Fun Time, the next paragraph will make some sense. If you haven’t, I will not fault you for skipping down.

GAFT does not yet have a separate blog in which I would drivel on about the new mechanic, so let me spew it out briefly here: Instead of Core + Stats + Talents + Focus each adding (or subtracting) dice from the roll, only the Core ios represented by dice. The rest are just straight adds to the roll.  Much faster. We tested this at Crit Hit.

GAFT Foxhunt color2

The (evil) uplifted fox inexplicably survived.

I have a tentative  commitment to a gaming con in California in October (because my rescue hobo talks me into this sort of crap), and my ambitious goal is to have a published version of the game for sale by that point, even if only a PDF.

But I have to re-write the rules between here and there.

WORD COUNT:

We go Sunday night to Sunday night.

WHWL from July 9 = 1000 words.

Monday night writer’s group counts as 500, even though, because of rain and vacations, I was the only one who showed up.

Fantastical History from July 10 about lessons from Leprecon  = 1000 words.

Editing One of 64 in preparation to hand off to an editor (in preparation for eventual self publishing) = 500 words.

Submitting a short story to Clarkesworld (which they efficiently rejected = 500 words.

[I over-value submissions because I want to encourage myself to submit).

Thursday night writer’s group = 500 words.

Two playtests of Go Action Fun Time at Crit Hit = 1000 words

[500 words each – as a critique group meeting, because it has a similar function.]

Finishing the hand-written draft of the Isle of Monks chapter of Taliesin’s Last Apprentice (the sequel to Beanstalk and Beyond) = 1000 words. (well, likely closer to 750.)

So 5750 words.

That means good whiskey.

Well, moderate whiskey – I’m shaving some costs to make that bet with the credit card company.

Now we know.

[660 words]

 

Tempe ComicCon is still kicking my ass

Last Saturday I spent the day sitting under my publisher’s canopy at the Tempe ComicCon. Or Comic Event, Or whatever. Ever since San Diego sued Vegas, no one knows what to call themselves anymore.

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Where books sales do not actually happen.

I came away with two sales of Beanstalk and Beyond – both to people I knew – and an upper respiratory infection, likely triggered by allergies. That’s not a good return on investment.

I am not a hard-charging sales guy. I’m going to sit in the corner and doodle on my pad until you ask me a question. We had a few more extroverted authors who chatted up the few folks who stopped inside long enough to be chatted up. One of them sold a book to someone she didn’t now. But our total sales for the day was five, and that counts a trade.

This cannot be The Way.

I must confess here that I have long known this to be a poor strategy. Long ago, I swore to myself that I would not be that author sitting at a con with three books on a table in front of him that no one wants to buy; just sitting there looking sad. These events are distribution channels, but they are not marketing opportunities.

Very few people will impulse buy a book at an event like this. Nothing you do in  the booth is likely to change that. You do your marketing somewhere else.

Behold actual evidence:

gallup-poll-how-readers-select-books

This is taken from a good article by John Brown. It’s just one survey, but I have seen similar results elsewhere.

Let me summarize the factors driving book buying decisions, in order, in larger font:

  1. Previous positive experience wit the author’s work.
  2. Recommendation from a friend
  3. Browsing in a bookstore or library – or rather – the cover.
  4. Reviews
  5. Subject or genre preference

Other factors drop off steeply from there. An increasing part of factor three is search engine positioning. That’s becoming the new bookshelf.

The point of all this is that I had a lot of time to think, while blowing my nose, and I may be forming a Plan. But not enough of one that I can just blurt it out on a blog.

WORD COUNT

2000 total words on Taliesin’s Last Apprentice (the sequel to Beanstalk).

1100 on Echoes (the sequel to The 64)

900 on last week’s WHWL?

1200 word equivalent finishing a page for the One of 64 webcomic. (Not the page posted. I’m still a few weeks ahead.)

And I’m going to give myself 1000 words for sitting in that damn booth all day.

That’s 6200. No wonder I’m beat.

Now we know.