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.

 

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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.

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.

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.

GAFT trex color2.png

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.

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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.

 

Poorly blogging about smoke alarms in 3 or 5 acts

Every once in a while all I have learned in a week cannot be connected by anything particularly clever, and I just spew random facts.  I don’t even have anything to yell about. Next weekend I will be in town doing nothing that is open to the public or of general interest.

The most interesting parts of my life right now are off limits to this blog: the antics of my house-mates, finances (in any detail), and my still essentially non-existent love life. There is, to be clear, no actual news on any of those fronts. But there are plans, some clearly insane, and they are off limits here. Because I don’t want to break news to (or tip off) people who actually know me through my silly blog.

So lessons learned that are in-bounds, going roughly backwards through the week.

GAFT cover image

This is from the “Pilot Episode”

In the draft of Go Action Fun Time, I write at some length about how episodes (aka adventure or modules in other games) are broken into the traditional 3 act structure for a lot of reasons.

Episodic TV actually runs in five acts. But, in our defense, those are hour long dramas. We are simulating a half-hour action cartoon. Besides, I like what I wrote, and I am keeping to 3 acts.

I may though, go to 12 pt courier on everything, in line with these standards. 

 

On a busy construction site, late in the game (when guys like me saunter in) there will be active smoke alarms. And if your work makes a lot of smoke or dust, you will set these off, and this is bad. Especially if you’re working (as a hypothetical example)  on a partially occupied hospital. You might be tempted, rather than go through the process of filling out forms and getting clearance to bypass the alarms, to just tape over them. Don’t. Not just because it’s not the Right Procedure, and not just because the tape might not work anyway, but because the act of removing that tape will absolutely set off the alarm.

And then you find yourself standing in the warm sunshine of a late August morning in Phoenix with every other person on the jobsite while the GC goes on about this at some length, and threatens to dismiss the next clown he catches doing this.

Writer at work

The cheesy graphic Patel used. I learn from the best!

On occasion my curiosity mixes with abit of greed and I wonder how I might make some money off a blog. This leads me predictably to other blogs blogging about monetizing blogs. The best I’ve come across in NeilPatel.com, where the always upbeat Patel will explain with a breezy blog voice and a ton of screen-captured statistics how everything I do here at WHWL? is wrong.

  • My posts are too short (1800-2400 words is what you want for Google to take you seriously and yet still have a chance of someone finishing the article.  My posts weight in around 850)
  • My posts are not focused on a  single topic that would be known to attract readers. They are usually a little more focused than this, but not much. But I do not research possible topics by SEO strength.
  • My posts are not structured. I do not do number lists or this-then-that explainers.
  • I don’t have consistent video content.
  • I don’t have pop-up boxes asking you to subscribe.
  • I don’t buy targeted advertising

What impressed me most about Patel though is his easy-breezy writing voice that whisks you through some relative thick material before you even know it.

https://neilpatel.com/blog/how-to-become-a-better-blog-writer-in-30-days/

https://neilpatel.com/blog/content-marketing-works/

https://neilpatel.com/blog/the-future-of-seo/

 

There is no decent place to eat breakfast on a weekend morning in Show Low unless you are local. Conversely, I was able to get a decent breakfast with little drama in the far smaller burg of Overgaard. Go figure.

Bongo Overgaard

Breakfast in Overgaard

I was up in and around Show Low for a friend’s wedding. I shouldn’t get seriously drunk at wedding receptions, it seems. I’m still a bit too bitter.

I enjoyed the drive home though.

Bongo SaltRBridge

WORD COUNT

Last week’s What Have We Learned? = 1000 words

Monday Night Writer’s Group = 5000 words (even though I was the only one who showed up). (Again.)

2 hours editing Go Action Fun Time = 1000

2 hours revising my novelette “Enrinyes” = 1000

Good thing too! The file labelled “submittal copy” still had “2nd draft” pasted in the header among other problems.

Thursday night writer’s Group = 500 (this group is still well-attended!)

Hand-written draft of Taliesin’s Last Apprentice (the sequel to Beanstalk and beyond) = 900 words.

4900 words. Close enough.

[750 words]