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.

A few notes before I bury myself

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

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

The scheduled Episodes are:

FRIDAY 5 JULY @ 7PM Sparkle and Bleed

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

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

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

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

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

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

So it’s on.

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

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

See you on the other side.

 

Sorry but not sorry about missing word count

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Things I learned in no particular order:

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

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

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

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

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Ruby Vroom at the end of the road

 

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

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

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

Of course, I went for the company:

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Fiona (mid transformation) in Ruby Vroom

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

Even if you are not in costume.

My link dump from the Con:

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

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

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

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

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

Bookmarks because someone on the internet is Wrong:

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

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

You might infer what they are wrong about.

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

 

Switchbacks and word-count

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

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

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Submitted but not used for 5 Star Hikes Flagstaff & Sedona

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

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

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

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

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

WORD-COUNT

From last blog to this:

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

Transcribing a previous chapter of same = 1500

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

Thursday night writer’s group =500

This blog entry= 1000

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

And now a pretty octopus:

You’re welcome.

Notes found while cleaning my desk

A near tragedy forced a rare occurrence: I lost a check and cleaned my desk trying to find it.  Before we get to the collection of strange notes that unearthed, i’d be remiss if I did not get some self-serving marketing out of the way:

Go Action Fun Time has a Facebook Page. 

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This is from the “Pilot Episode”

 

While making it, I discovered that Facebook is very helpful – nay pushy about tips to increase traffic to your page.  The punchline for most of those tips is how you should spend money on ads, which should not have surprised me.

I also discovered Facebook provides more immediate and accessible metrics than any web-page I have used, including the WordPress back-end for this one.

“Being an immortal, indestructible calico cat does not make you a good storyteller.”

Wisdom from Matthew Howard, author of the Meteor Mags series, in which Patches, the above referenced cat,  is a regular character.

I have a note about minds.com which seems to be a curated version of Google Plus.

On that same card I found ” Phoenix Publishing & Book Promotion” with no context. (The link came up with a Google search). Its is “A blog by authors for authors (and would-be authors)”. Which the internet needs like another porn site, but good for them trying.

They are, I should note, an arm of the Meet-up of the same name, which I think I have joined, but I have never attended a meeting.

Another note reads Hiding places of God, which I assume to refer to The Hiding Places of God by John Cornwell, as it is the only search item for this phrase that is not scripture commentary, clearly insane or clearly insane scripture commentary.

Siddhartha also appears on that card. Let’s say it refers to the novel of the same name by Herman Hesse. Both novels deal with a search for the spiritual by the initially skeptical, and both books have also in common that I have not read either of them.

And now I can recycle those cards.

A search for octopus+toilet yields mostly toilet paper holders shaped like octopi.

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I am here because I am JPG.

Marketing tip for sellers of books and octopus toilet accessories: If you want random bloggers to repost your cover or product images (and you do) you have to present them as JPG’s – which should not be hard.

 

One more note: avocado pits are surprisingly bouncy.

Well, they are.

BTW: I found the check.

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.

A few quick notes because this blog is not dead

I have been on the road for the past five days, both personal and business reasons, so I might be a bit punchy. What follows are items worthy of note, but not, of themselves, worthy of their own posts.

A memo to my conservative friends, mostly the ones on Facebook: Venezuela is not a dumpster fire because it is socialist. Socialism is just the paint on the dumpster. It is a dumpster fire because the Maduro administration is both corrupt and incompetent. (Compare with his predecessor Chavez, who was merely corrupt). Somalia has almost no socialist programs. Sweden has a good deal more. If I have to explain how that deflates your analogy, you are not the world-savvy observer you claim to be, are you?

It is totally worth it to fill the car with snacks at the start of a journey rather than relying on gas stations as you go. Rural gas stations suck. Get a good cooler and load it up in civilization.

I mentioned to a couple of people the importance of the Jumping Frog Fee for designers, and they just stared at me blankly. I may or may not have promised to e-mail the link to this trove of wisdom, but I totally forgot who these people are.

So: The Jumping Frog Saga from 27B/6.

Also, while three hours at $75.00 does equate to $225.00, the total cost to recreate and sent your business card artwork would be $450.00 due to the Jumping Frog fee.

Before I sent Go Action Fun Time off to print, I had a moment of clarity regarding the introductory material and the cover art – deciding I could do both better. (You can see the cover art in question on the previous post.)

Perfect is the enemy of done but I can do better, so I will.

Due to travel and its distractions, word count is disastrously low this week, but we did update Are We Lost Yet ? about Bloody Basin Road. 

Now we know.

 

Promises to myself made on a blog

It is known that if you write your goals down, you are more likely to achieve them. What if you write them down and then blog about them? Let’s find out.

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So we’re clear: this is not my personal goal.

I have concluded that it is achievable to publish the Ruleset for Go Action Fun Time at least in PDF form by the end of the month. That said, the written goal is end of the quarter. There are LLC and ISBN issues to be worked through, and I am a prisoner of administrative response times.

After the Ruleset comes the Cast Directory of sample player characters, and other useful non-player characters, and then the Setting Bible with my lunatic visions of the fantastic past and speculative future.

There exists an online version of the rules, which I am still editing. I was doing these in conjunction with the text version, but that proved too time consuming. Character Creation is fairly consistent. Doing Things is synched with General Task Rolls and Movement. After that, you’re looking at older language and sketchy links.

A draft of the Setting Bible is also on the site, with original typos and everything. Use with caution.

I have a great admiration for people who design blank character sheets. That proved more difficult than any other single aspect.

The Ruleset may be the only book I write for this game with active links. Because geez.

Some other lessons:

  • Think through your outline and use it. It will save your sanity.
  • Pick a font early and stay with it. I spent a lot of time fixing fonts.
  • Remember you are teaching. It is OK to repeat things. If you are not sure which way to present the information, present it in all of the ways. People learn differently.
    • Examples! And give those some thought so as to be instructive.
  • Simple is the enemy of detailed.
  • Perfect is the enemy of done.

Later in this space, we will have more on ISBN numbers, and maybe the LLC process.

GAFT cover image

This is from the “Pilot Episode”

On more personal notes, we will soon blog about how hygiene is the enemy of sustainability, and the sad, but hopefully improving reasons that I know this.

We will also learn about my stupid and wholly self-created first world problem and its consequences. Hint: I currently have (and am paying for) both Dish and Cox cable – at least for the next 30 days.

Relatedly: don’t lose your contracts during a move – you may find a need to refer to them before making stupid decisions.

 

WORD COUNT:

I  edited a 30k document in two weeks.

Also, I turned a 400 word narrative into a thousand word epic poem because I hate myself. And I need to fix a bunch of meter issues, because I still hate myself.

But I have finished this blog entry, and I promised myself a cocktail. That promise I shall keep.

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.

 

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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.

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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.

 

Goofing off is maintenance. Yeah. That’s it.

I have managed my sleep schedule poorly over the past few days, and here I am still awake. And it is not so much what I have learned but what I must remember: relaxation is maintenance.

There are studies. You’ll have to look them up yourselves – I’m on like 3 hours of sleep.

I have binge-watched the final season of House of Cards so you don’t have to. At it’s best it was kinda a mirror-universe West Wing with a little bit of Godfather. The last season is more Godfather than West Wing, until it just hits the side of the shark tank and descends into soap.

Spoilers: they are all eaten by sharks.

Is it wrong that I was kinda rooting for Doug Stamper? I guess because he was not beholden to any interests other than his own insanity.

Earlier this week, useful things were done.

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The enemy of productivity

If you are worried that I will drown poor Vet Bill in a bucket, don’t. We are warming up to each other. Currently, most of my problems with her are kitten problems rather than psycho-stalker problems. I have removed her from my desk four times while writing this post – and counting.

You can still have her if you want – but there is no emergency.

(I see that smirk.)

I have the house to myself, and mostly back to the way I want it. But I still have a lot of soda and chips that I will not eat. Open to suggestions.

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Point Reyes National Seashore

Over on Are We Lost Yet? I recall backpacking at the Point Reyes National Seashore.

I am about to throw the kitten off my desk again. Excuse me.

Over on Curious Continuity, we review the first half of the new Doctor Who season.

 

And on Fantastical History, I explain how folktales about Jack are based upon his autobiography. Or the other way around. 

 

Maybe I’m tired for good cause?

I have thrown Vet Bill off for the 6th time.

Now we know.