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.

dzyecg7v4aagrsv

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.

Back to Old habits: sports and wringing groups.

Here are some things we learned since our last entry, in no particular order.

My daughter has gone back to NAU where she belongs.

Clay Buckholtz is now firmly the #3 starting pitcher for the Diamondbacks, who are inexplicably leading the NL West at this writing. You can point to Paul Goldschmidt if you want, but the real reason they are ahead of the Dodgers and Rockies is solid pitching and league leading interior defense. If Nick Ahmed doesn’t win a gold glove this year something is rigged.

Feels good to be jabbering about sports here again.

I have kinda committed myself to producing a distributable PDF version of Go Action Fun Time by month’s end, which may impair other projects. I am looking at making it a Drive Thru RPG product to test the market if no other reason. I’m pretty happy with the text (V 1.4) but there are a lot of details regarding layout that will suck up a lot of time.

We have some notes from tonight’s writer’s group.

One of our alumni has pushed a project into print!

Ivy Millicent Learns About Diabetes was work-shopped in our group a few years ago.

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Alas, the phrase “in the limelight” has nothing to do with plague bodies being tossed into glowing lime pits. That would be awesome, but the internet disagrees.

Limelight comes from the chemical lighting process that replaced gas lighting in theaters by the 1860’s, and was the standard for lighting vaudeville and melodrama until practical electric lights came about by the 1920’s.

Finally, the Zapfino font:

 

zapfinoone

Available here.

Now we know.

Go Action Fun Time Full Beta season has some time/space coordinates

Go Action Fun time is my role playing game about teenage superheroes travelling through time and space.  More on that project can be found here: https://sites.google.com/site/goactionfuntime/home

GAFT cover image

This is from the “Pilot Episode”

In the spirit of emulating a TV cartoon show, episodes are organized into seasons,and the first full Beta season is being finalized, and we have dates and times for  the first three episodes, and approximations for the first half of the season.

Many of these episodes will be played out at science fiction/fantasy conventions, or gaming conventions in town over the summer. In most of those cases, participating would require having a membership at that convention.

Others will be hosted at my house – where all you have to do is show up.

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.

These are the known episode Time/space coordinates:

 

The Dinosaurs of Old St. Louis: [S01;E01]

Arizona Game Fair – part of Phoenix Comic Fest at the Phoenix Convention Center

West building, 2nd Floor

RPG Room, Table 4

26 May 2018 3:00pm.

A Tyrannosaurus Rex has emerged through a crack in time into 1854 St Louis. You will return it. Try not to attract attention.

hill-prehistoric-survivors-fb

The Blistering Death  [S01:E02]

Arizona Game Fair – part of Phoenix Comic Fest at the Phoenix Convention Center

West building, 2nd Floor

RPG Room, Table 4

26 May 2018 7:30pm.

A plague is ravaging the tribes along the prehistoric Congo. You will cure it.

GAFT Foxhunt color2

The Fox Who Hunted Back [S01;E03]

Arizona Game Fair – part of Phoenix Comic Fest at the Phoenix Convention Center

West building, 2nd Floor

RPG Room, Table 2

27 May, 2018 11:00am

Package delivery in far future Scotland is hampered by berserk security, moving piles of garbage and an uplifted fox holding an ancient grudge.

 

The Silk Road Part 2 [S01;E04]

My house

9 June 2018. Time TBD.

You will transport the goods you bought in a future episode (because time travel) along the fabled Silk Road, across the burning wastes of 7th century western China.

 

Yes, That Lusitania.  [S01;E05]

Leprecon 44 – Doubltree Hilton North (Metrocenter)

22-24 June 2018

Solve a mystery aboard the great luxury liner hours before it sinks.

 

“We are all Sam” [S01;E06]

Leprecon 44

Doubltree Hilton North (Metrocenter)

22-24 June 2018

Confront the terrible secret beneath a besieged city full of clones.

 

Ragana’s Tower [S01;E07]

Leprecon 44 – Doubltree Hilton North (Metrocenter)

22-24 June 2018

Rescue the princess from the dragon, whether she wants you to or not.

 

The Silk Road Part 1 [S01;E08]

Crit Hit

Doubltree Suites – Phoenix (Airport)

320 N 44th Street

14 July 2018

The fabled Silk Road stretches across the breadth of Asia and was used as a central trade route for centuries. You will buy something here in 2nd century China and sell it on the other side … someday.

 

Sparkle and Bleed [S01;E09]

Crit Hit

Doubltree Suites – Phoenix (Airport)

320 N 44th Street

15 July 2018

Attend the homecoming dance in a small town in 1950’s Nebraska along with warring gangs of vampires and werewolves.

 

The Silk Road Part 3 [S01;E10]

My house

28 July 2018

A thousand miles across western Asia, racing mongol hordes and  your fellow time travelers.

 

Living Forever in the City of Gold [S01;E11]

MaricopaCon

Hilton Garden Inn Phoenix Airport

3422 E. Elwood St.

11 August 2018

Mayan mythology is seriously messed up. Really. OMG.

 

How the West was Shot to Hell [S01;E12]

MaricopaCon

Hilton Garden Inn Phoenix Airport

3422 E. Elwood St.

12 August 2018

An auto-race across the apocalyptic west surrounded by killer robots and zombies and aliens.

 

Yi and the Nine Suns [S01;E13]

CokoCon

Doubltree Hilton North (Metrocenter)

1 September 2018

Did you know Earth once had nine suns? Well, maybe they were spaceships…

 

Something Rotten 2kms over Denmark [S01;E14]

CokoCon

Doubltree Hilton North (Metrocenter)

1 September 2018

A murder mystery in a floating castle of the far future. Based on Shakespeare – sort of.

 

The Peak of Mount Atlas [S01E15]

CokoCon

Doubltree Hilton North (Metrocenter)

2 September 2018

The highest mountain in Atlantis is sacred and forbidden. Climb it anyway.

 

This is as far into the future as I dare speculate.

Yes, I have been busy. We will fill everybody in as time allows.

The Moments of my Balls in the Air

When something spins around an axis, engineers measure it by its moments. That’s one of the many things I’ve learned studying for my ETCP Theatrical Rigging certification. Because we have a client that wants to see one. I’ve been doing this ore than 20 years, but its still a big, complex, convoluted technical discipline, and I learn a lot every damn day.

  • The top channel in a pulley, where the rope goes in, is called the “swallow, and the bottom part, where it plays out is called the breech.
  • Manila rope is graded by something called the Becker Value. It measured with photoelectric reflectrometry (so by color) and is obscure enough that you may know more about it right now than most rope dealers.
  • Manila rope is also stronger than hemp rope , so it is no real loss than you can’t readily find hemp rope in the US. Theaters would buy manila anyway.
  • Calculating the forces on three point bridles is insanely convoluted. Like skip that question and come back if you have time because there are literally 17 steps.

So my approach to studying, after flailing around a bit, is to alternate between three textbooks:

I try to read a chapter a day in each book, and do the problems in Rigging Math.

So that’s one ball in the air.

I still try to market my hiking guides and still contribute to the blog my publisher set up for that purpose.

The latest is here: http://trekalong.com/arewelostyet/2015/09/18/taking-the-inner-basin-off-of-my-bucket-list/

In writing that I learned that it takes about 3 hours to put together an 800 word article with pictures. But I couldn’t hike inner basin without telling someone about it, could I?

Another ball far from my hand but not forgotten is Go Action Fun Time

It turns out that marketing a new Role-playing system has an extreme degree of difficulty.  The trouble is the learning curve vs the plethora of established systems that people are already familiar with.

Scott Thorne, of Mongoose Publishing cites: “Lack of interest by customers in venturing outside their comfort zone.  There are very few “Igors” (cue Dork Towerreference) who are willing to try a brand new RPG just because it pops up on the new release shelf.  Most stick with the tried and true, going for the new PathfinderDark Heresy, or, much less than in days of yore.”

http://rpgr.org/news/scott-thorne-on-future-of-rpg

My quest for game masters to play test this thing remains at zero hits.

And I just sent the complete manuscript to  Beanstalk and Beyond to my publisher. That’s right, they signed a contract for a book they had yet to actually read. Good thing they signed it with me, huh?

Some reasonably relevant links:

NPR on how book sale numbers are lower than you imagine, and perhaps generated by voodoo.

http://www.npr.org/2015/09/19/441459103/when-it-comes-to-book-sales-what-counts-as-success-might-surprise-you

and author Kameron Hurley has some cold facts on that same subject:

http://www.kameronhurley.com/the-cold-publishing-equations-books-sold-marketability-love/

Now You Know.

Leprecon 39 Game Master Rules

What’s new? I’ll tell ya:

I am the Gaming Director for LepreCon 39, the annual science fiction and fantasy convention with a special emphasis on SF/F Art.  Below are my various collected information blurbs on this subject, so that you, dear reader, may know the truth – and that I have a site I can direct people too when posting all or part of the blurb seems too unwieldy.

LepreCon 39 will take place May 9-12, 2013 at the Marriot hotel in downtown Mesa. There is a full badge and a gaming only badge. You’ll have to refer to the website for current pricing.

http://www.leprecon.org/lep39

The theme is Warriors of the Rainbow. Really.

A Gaming Only pass provides access to the gaming area, the Dealers Room, the Art Display and the Con Suite (where the snacks are!). It does not allow access to panels or other non-gaming events. It is only good for the weekend (May 11 & 12) as that is when organized game activity begins.

Our dedicated gaming area will have several tables available for running role-playing games, miniature simulations, board games, or as a central point for LARPing. Some tables can be reserved, others will be just there for the taking.

We will have a library of board games and a stockpile of props and miniatures available to check out. There will be sign-up sheets for scheduled games.

We are particularly interested in hosting LARPs, tournament games (RPG or otherwise) and demos of games no one has played before (perhaps because you just wrote the rules). Anyone willing to organize something along those lines would find in us a receptive and enthusiastic host.

Gaming inquiries can come to me directly, through any of the means listed below. Vendor or general convention inquiries are best directed at the directed to the Co-Chairs by contacting Patti Hultstrand at lepreconprogramming@yahoo.com.

PROPOSED RULES FOR GAME MASTERS – PARTICIPANTS

(These aren’t final, but they will be very close).

LepreCon wants and needs game masters to run games at the convention, and to that end we offer Participant badges. There are some rules.

A GM must sign up in advance to run at least three sessions of a published game (or a scenario based on published rules). We expect these games to go 2-4 hours, but this a default, not a requirement. We do need a fairly realistic estimate of time required when signing up so that we may schedule accordingly.

Participation in a panel or workshop counts the same a game session.

Published means that it is available for sale commercially from someplace other than the hands of the author. If it is for sale in the Dealer’s Room, we will count that.

A GM may run a game with unpublished rules and qualify for a participant badge provided that GM joins the Game Designers Collective detailed below.

Game Designer’s Collective

While we would like to provide a place to incubate and play-test home-brew and unpublished systems and scenarios, they are notoriously poor draws for participation. To mitigate the problem of Game Designers sitting at their empty tables looking sad, we have some special rules – er incentives for GMs of unpublished games:

You will qualify for a participant pass if you join the Lep39 Game Designer’s Collective. This club exists only for the Leprecon 39, but you will meet some folks, and get feedback on your game. Who knows what could happen afterwards.

The requirements are as follows:

  •  Members must provide at least four readable, playable copies of the rules to their game (and any other required elements needed for the game). (This is a guideline – the bottom line is that we need to be able to learn and play the game from materials available at the table.)
  •  Members must agree to run/demo at least two scheduled sessions of that game.
  • Each Member must agree to play every other member’s game at least once.
  • Give feedback to each other as if you were grown-ups.

Of course, you are always free to buy a badge, and then run whatever game you want whenever you want it, so long as there is an open table.

TRANS-DIMENSIONAL  TOURNAMENT OF CHAMPIONS

Can a 18th level paladin take on a space marine? Let’s find out!

In the Gaming Room, I want to put together the Trans-Dimensional Tournament of Champions. Bring your baddest-ass character, and we will convert him/her/it to a common rule system (Likely GURPS – but I am open to suggestions), make a bracket and battle it out.

Prizes for the winner!

(So … that means I’m fishing for a sponsor as well.)

Now you know.

CopperCon 31 and a few other lessons

First – I’ve actually updated other blogs.

Are we lost yet profiles Elden Springs and my upcoming book signing / workshop.

DIRECT LINK TO THE REI EVENT

And at Writing Made Visible, there are some reposts about the accelerating sales of  e-books.

Small cons are great – because you can actually talk to people!

Buy some light groceries and keep them in the hotel room.

The art carries the story in a comic book (or graphic novel, or any variant). Words only get what little space is left over, so every word has to count. No small talk.

There is no standard for comic book scripts. Unless you’re writing for Dark Horse Comics. Their format is here.

Marketing (or anything else) via social media – a few rules:

1) Be social first! Pitch your crap second. The other way around just gets you deleted.

2) If you’re not comfortable with the format, don’t use it. You’ll likely suck at it anyway.

3) If you’re marketing yourself as a writer – write well. Spells words correctly.

4) No amount of social media presence will make up for a shoddy product.

The current estimate is that half of all star systems have planets, and the average may be 1-10 planets per star.

We find an awful lot of “Hot Jupiters” – gas giants closely orbiting a star – which goes against our model of how solar systems form. We know why we keep finding them – they are relatively easy to spot. We have no idea why they would exist at all.

Planets orbiting pulsars are very easy to find, even as small as the Earth. But the pulsar’s radiation makes life pretty much impossible.

Piratey sword-fighting was all about shorter movements with shorter swords (crowded ships and all).  And footwork – you live or die by footwork.

I’m over adapting anything to D20. It’s no longer supported for 3.5, and I have no urge to learn 4.0. I’m pushing forward with the game. Amen.

I’m thinking about writing it in Tiddlywiki. Seriously.

There might be a separate blog for that later on.

Finally New Scientist looks into the quantum-mechanics of human thought.

Now you know.

Finally coming up for air

Cause this blog isn’t dead. It’s just for the first time in 3 weeks, I’ve been able to come up for air. Haven’t been busy with one big thing. Oh no. A bunch of little things:

* swapped rooms in the house. My bedroom is now where the “family room” was. The “Office/lounge” is now where the bedroom was. The bedroom is functional. The O/L, where I now sit, not so much.

* Negotiated and finally signed a contract for Five Star Hikes in Flagstaff and Sedona and started work on that.

* Worked a selection of big, medium and small shows for Rhino. Then caught up with the install projects I had been ignoring because of those shows.

* Pushed forward on the space opera.

* Wrote a few articles for Fitness Plus

* Watched the Suns run over the Portland Trailblazers

* and played some Dungeons and Dragons.

I also kept falling asleep on the couch.

Did we learn things? Yeah

My house to the “Y” in Sedona is about 2 hours flat.

There is room in the market for a good hiking guide for Sedona and Flagstaff.

My old Garmin E-trex legend does not interface cleanly with the new Garmin Basecamp freeware. I need to upgrade. This is why I fear progress.

European power is all screwed up because of the French. (Of course, my source was British roadies).

There’s a swampy little lake near Casa Grande called Picacho Reservoir. And that’s about all I could learn about it. With 350 words t cover 20 lakes, that was all I needed to know about it.

This year’s  Suns squad is the best since 2004.

Good characters make even poorly designed systems (like 2nd AD&D) fun anyway.

Yeah, we’ll do some brazen wonk about immigration, but another night, ok?

Meanwhile, some links:

Strange Horizons gathers experts on zombies

What you always suspected, Jason Fried confirms: Why You Can’t Work at Work

Gamepocalypse chronicles how our culture is turning into one big collection of games

Thrilling Tales of the Downright Unusual is fairly close to how I’d like to present my space opera (except my subject is less satirical, and would be carved into bigger chunks).

And finally:

Res Ipsa Loquitor.

Now You Know.