Debriefing from Kingman

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

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

Writer at work

Not actually used in the Power Point

Slush Pile

[From my summary:]

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

500 are unreadable.

250 are unpublishable in any form.

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

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

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

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

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

1 book that we actually buy.

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

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World Building:

[Again from my summary:]

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

THIS IS CALLED WORLD-BUILDING.

IT IS NOT A WASTE OF TIME.

That looks less shouty in the Power Point.

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

Magic Systems

The Three Questions about the future:

 

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

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I got better cell reception here than in downtown Kingman.

 

Now we know.

Catching up with some quick lessons

I took a vacation, followed by back-to-back conventions in and around an extended visitation from Earl, and now that is all over, and I have my life back, and some time to reflect.

For those that know and/or care about Earl Hedges, he has left for Rochester NY on adventures, and will not have reliable internet for some time. That is what I know.

Now, some brief lessons learned in more or less chronological order:

My Vacation

Lo Lo Mai Springs Resort is what any KOA wants to be: over-priced and still worth it. I paid $40 a night for a tent site (which is twice what I might have paid at Dead Horse Ranch State Park, a few miles down the road) and I did not feel cheated at all.

First of all, we had the place nearly to ourselves until Friday.

Second, our tent site was right on Oak Creek. (Wading around in rivers works leg muscles you did not know you had. )

camp at LLM

Third, they all the KOA-like amenities such as showers, and a store etc. The store is cash only – a handy fact to know in advance.

Fourth, the neighboring property has a group of Alpaca’s, to which Cheryl is partial.

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Cheryl and friend.

Yes – it was quite warm, hence our extensive experience with wading around in Oak Creek.

And yes – we were able to hike the West Fork of Oak creek without disaster.

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Photo by C Zierman

 

I found I had to choose between quality time with my girlfriend, or documenting antics for Are We Lost Yet? I no longer have the bonuses to do both (if I ever did). AWLY? has not been updated in some time. I regret nothing.

There is probably still a market for a Arizona winery book. Meanwhile, we have these resources:

Verde Valley Wine Trail

Screenshot_2019-09-08 VVWC_Map2018(3) - Map-inside-brochure-wineries-8-18 pdf

CoKoCon

This is still CopperCon in size and spirit (and personnel) .

I played some Go Action Fun Time and moderated some panels.

Spoon theory, I now know after moderating a panel on it, is a metaphor for rationing personal resources while managing a disability. I did not have much to add, as whatever my disaqbilities, energy is not something I have ever had to ration.

RPG’s and writing: “You have to accept your godhood.” – Beth Cato

Do You Need an Editor? Yes.

“Write with abandon. Edit with extreme prejudice.” T.L. Smith

Five Rules of Writing (amended)

  1. Show – Don’t Tell
  2. Avoid Cliche’s
  3. Keep your ass in the chair
  4. Use adverbs sparingly.
  5. Just get there.

For rule 5  “there” is the story. Start where things start happening, and get to the end expeditiously.

Good world-building insulates you from characters (and player characters) going off the map. BUT BUT BUT the reader only needs to know enough about the world to follow the story. Just get there.

Things that appeared in my inbox:

Remedial crash course in website design: How Not To Suck at Design

Emmy Award-winning showrunner of The Office, Brent Forrester, shares his rules of writing comedy.

And finally some oddly edited but nerdily fascinated backstage action from the Drottningholms Slottsteater.

Drottningholms Slottsteater backstage 5 min from Drottningholms Slottsteater on Vimeo.

 

Now we know.

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.

 

Go Action Fun Time at Leprecon 45

This weekend!

I will be running two episodes of Go Action Fun time at the local ASF/F convention.

Leprcon 45 – Double-tree Metrocenter. Bottle-brush conference room – 2nd floor.

10220 N Metro Parkway E, Phoenix, AZ 85051. It’s by the Metrocenter Mall off I-17 at Peoria Ave.

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Dice Monster will also be in attendance

9:00 am Saturday [April 20]

Ravenna’s Tower

Rescue Snow White’s daughter from the dragon  whether she wants you to, or not.

1:00pm Sunday [April 21]

We Are All Sam

Confronting the terrible secret beneath a besieged a city full of clones

 

Does this all seem thrown together at the last minute? That’s kinda the theme of the whole con. Come play if you are inclined.

Go Action Fun Time is designed as a drop-in role playing game. You do not need to have participated in any of the previous episodes to be included in the next. I will have pre-generated characters available.

 

A jumbled history that never was

That’s how I describe Steampunk. I spent the last weekend at WildWestCon 8 at Old Tucson Studios. Yeah- I should’ve publicized it more, but it’s basically a costume convention with just a dash of literature and almost no gaming. I moderated some panels to earn my keep.

I’ve never been much for wearing costumes at cons. The few times I’ve tried it, years ago,  they were all thrown together last minute, and consequently more troublesome than impressive. I wear loud tropical shirts and tell people I’m a time traveler – but one that’s completely burned out.

Then I started dating the costumer I met at a Con.

Before we get to that, though, I have an announcement. You might want to stand back a bit there….

Go Action Fun Time is LIVE at Drive-Thru RPG!!!

https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/268196/Go-Action-Fun-Time-Basic-Rules

GAFT basic rules cover

Go Action Fun Time is an open-ended, rules-lite role-playing game invoking action/adventure cartoons. You can play basically any character you want and have them run amok through any setting. Adventures can be played in one session. Characters can pop in and out without affecting continuity. And sometimes … dinosaurs.

Teen-age superheroes from the past, present or future – real or imagined – have been thrown together to compete (as a team) (in theory) in a reality game show produced by chaotic and perhaps insane gods called the Executive Producers. These heroes now travel randomly through time, pursuing the strange and crazy challenges given to them by the Producers, and perhaps righting wrongs along the way.

It’s just $4.99 – because I want people to have a copy of the rules. These are very basic: no fancy typeset or watermarks, a few illustrations, all by my hand, some just pencil over graph paper. But this is all you need to start playing.

Where and when were we?

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Crank Hazard and friend.

I discovered recently – with some coaching, that I can put together a reasonable cowboy outfit out of means at hand. Not totally period ( I cannot abide actual cowboy boots) but it doesn’t have to be. Steampunk is forgiving like that.

I found myself inventing Crank Hazard, a cowboy, of sorts, who repairs time machines by way of trade. That’s fun and all, I can blather on command about the imaginary machinations of time travel, but Crank’s name is not on the cover of any of the books I am trying to promote at these events.

So I’m still trying to find that line.

More on the Steampunk genre here:

The term “Steampunk” originated in the late 1980s with a cheeky letter to Locus Magazine from science fiction author K. W. Jeter. Jeter was trying to find an accurate description of works by himself (Morlock Night), Tim Powers (The Anubis Gates), and James Blaylock (Homunculus). While Jeter coined the word, it was William Gibson and Bruce Sterling that brought the genre attention with the book The Difference Engine (1992). Best known for their offerings in cyberpunk, Gibson and Sterling took their intimate integration of man and machine back to 1885. In this alternative Industrial Revolution, Charles Babbage’s Difference Engine is not merely a curiosity but the norm, and now his Analytical Engine comes to fruition. The book centres around the struggle between the working class Luddites (who fear technology) and the upper-class “enhanced” elite.

Moderating panels, I learned:

  • Steampunk actually began with the dime novels of the day, where authors, desperate for new angles, would occasionally insert fantastic and rarely scientific elements.
  • BUT the TV show Wild Wild West was the first recognizable entry into the genre to gain any popular traction. And it predated the term “Steampunk” by several decades.
  • Technology does not let you make costumes and props any better necessarily, but it does let you make them faster.
  • The resource triangle: Good, Cheap, Fast. Pick 2.

 

Over at Curious Continuity, we talk about Warped Drives.

That’s all I have for word-count.

Non-linear time does not enable productivity.

Now we know.

Things I have done so you don’t have to

As usual, I have been busy: travelling, making things, dramatically reducing the amount of vegetation surrounding my house. Since this is supposedly an author blog, let me lead with that news.

I have uploaded Go Action Fun Time to Drive-thru RPG  and now await their approval.

GAFT basic rules cover

Yes – my artwork. If you think you can do better, contact me. 

It is only a PDF for now. That was enough of a maze without trying to reformat for e-pub or mobi.  I now know there are six different formats of PDF. And PDF/A is bad. Well, it’s fine, but the security features will lock up the bots at Drive-Thru. Also, compressed or linked JPEGs and transparencies are bad because Apple is i-fussy. I’m not clear what any of that is, so I don’t have to worry?

You, loyal reader, do not have to wait for Drive-Thru’s blessing to get this product. Contact me directly, and I will hook you up. With a commitment to playtest it for me, it would be free.

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Bongo at a river-side park in BHC.

I journeyed to Bullhead City on RC Lurie business, so you don’t have to. Bullhead City is a cluster of hills on the banks of the Colorado River, across from Laughlin Nevada – where all the money comes from. On top of each hill is a 55+ trailer park. The exception is along AZ95, the main drag, which is an extended strip mall. You might infer how much I enjoyed my stay.

I’ve actually been there twice. The first stint I stayed at a $40/night motel, where nothing was open after 11pm (I arrived at 10:30pm) and my door didn’t quite lock. They had a fridge and microwave but no coffee. I found coffee in the lobby in the morning, and I survived.

On my return trip, the client put me up in a casino.

Casinos are crappy places to stay when on business. The Avi Casino, south of Laughlin proper,  gave me a room with no fridge, microwave or coffee. It’s like they don’t want you spending time in your room at all.

In fairness, the casino cafe (Feathers – I think) is open 24/7 and I was able to get a decent breakfast and out the door in half an hour.

I had a better time in Las Vegas, as you might imagine. I don’t gamble to speak of, but I drink, and prefer to drink with nerds. For that, Vegas features the Millenium Fandom.

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Yes – I have a girlfriend.

True confession: I have never been much for cosplay. Cheryl (my girlfriend)

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Cheryl 

 is an actual costumer, though, and views these events as marketing among other things. I now own a pirate shirt, and several other items of clothing I would not otherwise possess.

I’ve done worse things for romance.

 

Closer to home:

I have finally bottled the mead I tossed last summer. It is sweet and fruity and bubbly – like magic unicorn sweet and fruity. I’m mildly disturbed. It’s called Wildflower, and she be recovering from bottle-shock by late April, early May.

 

The internet promised me that replacing my two exterior doors would cost about $800. I’ve had bids from $1800 to $3600. So … that’s a little more. Curiously, the two estimators who quoted me around $1800 took the most measurements and asked the better questions.

It likely come down who provides the better actual door.

There is a 4-6 lead time with door installation.

The tool of choice for removing dandelions from gravel is a pick-ax. A 30 gallon garbage bag stuffed full of decapitated dandelions weighs the better part of 50 lbs. I filled 9 bags.

My arms still hurt.

Now you 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.