A few quick lessons from real numbers

First: Go Action Fun Time next Tuesday May 4, 2021. It will be weird, but it will have nothing to do with Star Wars. I will post Discord and Owlbear info in this space when I know them, and we are close enough that they will not expire.

Now traffic:

Given the amount I drive, and how little of that driving occurs under the speed limit, it is amazing that I am not an expert regarding the ins and outs of traffic court. But, as reality plays out, I have not had a ticket since 2001, when paying over the phone wa weird, and paper checks were still sort of normal.

If, hypothetically, you were to receive a traffic citation in Yuma County AZ, [see last post] it is cheaper and easier just to pay the ticket than to try a go to traffic school. Let’s say, for discussion, the cost of just paying the ticket was given by the AZ Highway Patrol as $247.

But according to one of the hundreds of traffic schools, this would be the cost of taking the class:

Calculate Total Cost

Violation DateBefore 04/01/21As of 04/01/21
Course Fee$27.95$27.95
Processing Fee$10.00$10.00
State Fee$24.00$24.00*
State Surcharge$45.00$45.00
Court Fee$160.00$160.00
Total Cost$266.95$266.95

The only advantage to going through this exercise is to keep the points off of your license.

If you’re in your fifties, and haven’t had a ticket in 20 years, as I have, there is no effect on your insurance rates.

So I paid the bastards, or rather their 3rd party internet service, and felt shame.

Now, business:

Pirates rarely got rich.

For UnObtanium Bazaar, the Las Vegas Pirate Fest represented a best case scenario for gauging the economics of vending. We had reasonable fees (Cheryl is local to Las Vegas), and a huge gate and, as it turns out, a great location across from the turkey legs.

So we did well. We made more money on the Saturday than we had made in the entirety of any previous festival.

Even so, our gross for the weekend was still well under my bi-weekly salary check. So we aren’t about to quit our jobs for this.

That said, our worst case scenario, being London Bridge Renn Faire (Small market over Easter weekend during a heatwave) still made us some money.

So the hobby reliably pays for itself and a little more. Good enough.

Proposed artwork – but damn!

I actually have some editorial deadlines.

I have until May to finish my editorial review of Taliesin’s Last Apprentice – the sequel to Beanstalk and Beyond.

It has a tentative release date of November.

I am also under deadline for a Tooth and Talon sequel that will really serve as a monster manual for Go Action Fun Time.  That is words and art.

So I gotta go.

If you need something more to learn from the interwebs, I have been enjoying Our Fake History.

Now we know.

This is not a post-mortem of gloating.

We must not gloat. 

Gloating is the habit of losers beating the odds. You score a touch-down, you’re allowed a fist pump or the like, but then toss the ball to the ref like you were supposed to make a touchdown. 

You don’t need to keep the ball. There will be more. Because you did the work. You figured it out. You learned from your mistakes and adjusted. Competence wins out over time, all the time. 

Luck is consistently 50/50, not just by definition, but mathematically. Your fate is as much a series of coin-flips as anything else. Smiley-face/frowny face = 50/50. 

It is said that a person needs three lucky breaks in a row to improve their status. Not impossible, but generally unlikely. There’s really nothing you can do to change the odds on the coin flips. Luck is famously indifferent to effort or even competence. The coin spins how it spins. 

But let me propose, based upon my own experience, and observations of others, that prepared and competent people can move ahead in two lucky breaks, which is far more plausible. 

Which brings us to the recent Mojave County Renaissance Faire. [https://www.mohaverenfaire.com]

https://westernnews.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/photos/2020/11/17/joust_1_use_web_MS2ZIAo_t715.jpg?529764a1de2bdd0f74a9fb4f856b01a9d617b3e9

https://westernnews.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/photos/2020/11/17/joust_1_use_web_MS2ZIAo_t715.jpg?529764a1de2bdd0f74a9fb4f856b01a9d617b3e9

{If you were hoping I was heading towards politics – sorry. Not this post.}

The event, which actually happened  November 13-15, despite the rising tide of COVID even in windswept Kingman, drew about 3000 visitors over three days (according to the Kingman Daily Miner https://kdminer.com/news/2020/nov/17/kingman-renaissance-faire/)

Our home away fromreality.

Our booth did well. Even though we were the farthest in, we were also right by the jousting exit, which balanced our fortunes. After expenses, we did not make enough to quit our jobs, but we made enough to want to do it again. 

Catch the coin, lift your hand: smiley face. 

Cheryl (right) and friend in character.

Much of what we learned is specific to our booth logistics, and not of general interest, but these lessons might be:

  • Absolutely worth it to take a day and set up the booth and take it down in controlled conditions. (see last post).
    • So you have time to go to the store and get the things you now know you actually need.
    • And have some idea of how it’s going to take to set up and tear down. 
    • The more complete the better. The elements we did not have available, or skipped, during the dry tech (to use the theater term) were the elements we struggled most with in the field. 
  • If you are hoping it won’t blow out of the trailer on the freeway, it will totally blow out of the trailer on the freeway. Don’t load the trailer with hope. 
  • Price tags mean you can leave the booth with someone while you go pee. 
  • The Square reader paid for itself in an hour. We believe we had a 20% bump in sales because we could take credit cards (or magic, as we called it in character, “Will that be coin or magic?”)
  • Relatedly, it was totally worth it to have a couple hundred in small bills on hand. We made several sales based upon our ability to break a 50. 
The sun sets on the clearance rack.

Yeah, it was our first booth as primary vendors. (I have sat in such things for my publisher, but all I had to do was show up), but most people were surprised to learn that. 

We are also both career production professionals who have been on the organizing side of fairs and conventions. We were supposed to score a touchdown. And we did. 

Also worth noting: I sold more books (Beanstalk and Beyond) at this fair than I have at any publisher sponsored book event. 

http://www.mysticpublishersinc.com/store/product/beanstalk-and-beyond/
An actual book you can buy!

Funny we should mention that.

I have signed the contract for the sequel (Taliesin’s Last Apprentice) and hope it will be out this summer. 

So next November, you can come up to Kingman and buy both books from me. Signed of course, at the fair price of $15/each. Cash or magic. 

[Tosses ball back to ref. Goes to the sideline to drink whisky.]

How drunk can I get and still use a three-hole punch?

writertears

My natural habitat

If I hadn’t run out of paper, I have a physical pass-around copy of Taliesin’s Last Apprentice or The Voyage of the Sun Seeker in a three-ring binder, ready to hand over to any reader willing to actually read it, and brave enough physically receive it.

(In my defense, it runs 450+ pages printed out).

Or – I can e-mail you a PDF. I’m not sending one by text or Facebook or whatever. I need your e-mail.

The rest of it is printing out behind me as I write this.

I was delayed by arithmetic. I somehow miscounted the number of characters who actually go on the doomed voyage, and this number matters in the continuity, so I had to find “nineteen” and replace it with “seventeen” in like 18 places throughout the work.

Anyway it’s done. Whiskey!

I actually submit to the publisher of Beanstalk and Beyond next week. I am not under contract, so we’ll see what happens.

In other news, my household is well. Rey has a job at a grocery store in addition to their studies. I still program lights on construction sites. The sate of Arizona considers both of our roles “essential” so we still go out and brave the oogy-woogies.

I’ve had Ruby Vroom for a year, and I have some thoughts about that, but that will wait until next time.  I am late for whisky – and hole punching!

Ruby Vroom

Ruby – in younger days.

Let me know if you want to read the new thing!

Be well.

The Things You Learn Time Traveling

First off, in warning, both pizza and commercial quality whiskey are relatively new things. They can only be found in recognizable form from the late 1800’s onward.

I accidentally set myself up for some difficult dives in Go Action Fun Time. There are three adventures where the cast travels down the Silk road, with merchandise bought in China, hoping to sell it for a profit in – well I wrote Byzantium, but that’s not actually on the Silk Road. Least of my problems.

Currency. Not so much for a specific episode – I can look up, to a point, the currency of China circa 250 ce (where the journey starts). But when I’m writing rules for commerce, i need some exchange medium that will translate across different times and economies.

This is a good quick primer.

In the existing rules,I defaulted to a prevailing day’s wages, but that would take too much research for the average Executive Producer (the game-master in GAFT). Plus, compensatory wages are also a relatively new thing. But I may be able to come up with a table of shells= animals= salt = silver = gold that will take us into recorded history.

It takes about 60 days to cross the Taklamakan Desert on foot via camel caravan. I mention that because it was a hard fact to come by, and basically had to be deduced. 6-4-1170x658-1

The sixty days assumes taking either the north or south route arond the edges of the desert. No one goes straight across. Taklamaka supposedly means Desert of No Return. It is one of the driest and one of the coldest deserts in the world. Some years the only precipitation is a brief dusting of snow. There are zero water sources in the deep interior. It is a sea of sand.

The Silk Road takes up three episodes, and I plan to eventually publish them.

 

e-deck-watermark

Yes, That Lusitania, in contrast, is likely to remain a convention only episode. This is mostly due to my reliance upon the Lusitania Resource site. Any published document I produce would have to re-write and re-present the historical accounts, and re-render their maps, and that’s all way beyond fair use. So I just open up a laptop at the convention game room.

It doesn’t always load – so there’s that.

Also, as excellent as that map is, it does not have the level of detail you would need for a tactical encounter. There must be, logically, ladders of some sort from F deck tot he boiler rooms, but they are not indicated on the floor-plans.

The deck plans are from design blue-prints. They are not as-builts.

Also, Lusitania – which starts hours before the ship sinks, involves known, historical people with real living relatives, and that would require a more sensitive treatment of the subject than GAFT time typically achieves. The narrative voice of GAFT can get flippant.

My real problems are not research.

My problem with the existing product is that I am not yet confident that someone could make a character, must less run an adventure, without me being in the room to interpret what I wrote.  As much as I want to Just Do It, we are probably 30% through the playtest/revision process, rather than the 80% I once assumed.

A note from writer’s group mostly for my own reference (while I still have deck-plans left):

The Flea by John Donne

Still the Lusitania goes on…

So one more history note, this one about Jack’s on -again/ off-again mentor, the legendary bard Taliesin.

There are extant poems reliably (by Dark Age standards) attributed to a historical Taliesin, who served the lords of Rheghed in the early 6th century. This actual bard, though was, well, mediocre, judging by those works, which were mostly songs praising his patrons.

Good for him, but it doesn’t justify the legend.

My head-canon is that the bard of Rheghed took Taliesin’s name, but is not actually that legendary bard.

The Taliesin I write about (in the sequel to Beanstalk and Beyond) would never write any of his own poetry down anyway.

Now we know.

 

 

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).

Image

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:

Image result for Graal of Plenty"

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.

The Sun Shines Brightly on distant shores – and other notes.

First, some announcements:

 

Go Action Fun Time returns:

Go Action Fun Time info.

[For perspective, for the last game session, I drove like a madman from Vegas to make the game on time, and one person showed up. If that pattern continues, I have a back-load of other projects that need attention.]

GAFT Foxhunt color2

My artwork. 

Episode 2 – The Fox Who Hunted Back

In the far future, an uplifted fox holds an ancient grudge.

Saturday, November 9, 2019

1:00 PM

Scale & Feather Meadery

1050 N Fairway Dr, Building E, Suite 112

This is part of the regular Crit Hit event. You do not have to be part of that group to participate.

Scale & Feather has excellent mead, but limited food. 

hill-prehistoric-survivors-fb

Not my artwork. 

Episode 3 – The Blistering Death

A mysterious disease threatens to wipe out the pygmies in the prehistoric Congo. You will find a cure. 

Sunday, November 10, 2019

4:00pm

My house.

If I have no players on Saturday, we might play Fox Hunt on Sunday. 

There will be a third episode – Likely Silk Road Part 1 – over the 3rd weekend in November. It will be the Friday night, unless I have to travel, in which case it will be the Sunday. 

 

Now to content:

I will admit it freely: I predicted, to myself mostly, that with an actual starting point guard, and with any improvement from DeAndre Ayton, and with any production from whoever plays power forward, the My Beloved Suns had a shot at 30 wins, and a ceiling of maybe 38 – which would be double their win total from last year.

They just beat the previously unbeaten Philadelphia 76’ers in a game they would have been blown out of a year ago. 

Now we are all thinking play-offs – even in the brutal, brutal Western Conference.

Even if they fall short, they will be in the hunt until the last few games, and it is awesome to have basketball that is not painful to watch again.

 

Regular readers will recall that I go back and forth from Las Vegas for reasons. Last week I learned about the Inescapable Resort Fee, but on the plus side, I discovered a Brit bar (The Crown and Anchor)  that serves Scotch eggs. Those are the dish of choice to go with your Guiness for brunch. 

Consequently, I get a lot of ads across my social media about Vegas things. And I ignore them. I have other sources I consult. 

karlinn

No resort fee…

Now, I am getting ads about Iceland.

Events in the Jack sequel I am writing  (to Beanstalk and Beyond) take place on the Reykjanes Peninsula in Iceland, which, I know from research, is home to like 90 species of birds at various times (none of them puffins) and three species of land mammals, one of which is technically invasive. 

I have no idea how the name would be pronounced.

It has also seen a good amount of volcanic activity since 498 ce (when the action takes place) so I feel free to make up some details about the coastal features. 

I have lost track of word count, but we have been going good the last few weeks, in spite of the travels. I do not normally play Nanowrimo, but I am committing myself here to finish this manuscript by the end of the month. 

Google maps is also keeping track of Jack’s journey:

 

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. 

57536216_10156408069268790_5050263760590077952_n

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.