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.

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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.

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.

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.

 

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.