Some scattered notes between festivals

Some short doses of things we have learned over the past couple of weeks, mostly without context. But first, we are between events. So…

UnObtanium Bazaar will be at the Las Vegas Pirate Fest this weekend!

And Cheryl will be dancing with Shifting Sands.

Feb 29, 2020; Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

I’ll admit it: I groaned when My Beloved Suns traded Ricky Rubio for Chris Paul. After all, in the shortened 2020 season Rubio was averaging more assists than Paul (who then playing for the Thunder) while scoring only 3 fewer PPG on a Suns team that really didn’t need him to score anymore.  And they went 8-0 in the Bubble with Rubio running the point.

The difference is defense and a culture of defense. Rubio is a good defender, but not the legend that Chris Paul is (6 time steals leader, 9 time All-Defensive team).  And while Rubio was an established veteran who had won championships in Europe, he did not have the credibility or personality to herd a bunch of young wildcats into playing team defense.

Chris Paul is on those boys All The Time, and they are responding.  Sometimes I wonder if Monty Williams’s true role is to attend meeting with management and do the paperwork.

You still feel for Rubio – who was doing a good job, and looking forward to a near-certain playoff run with the Suns this year, instead of maybe playing into the playoffs with his final destination, the Minnesota Timberwolves. But then I reflect that he’s still a millionaire, and the Suns are legit contenders now.

The little mountain range that separates Yuma from the rest of the damn desert is called the Fortuna Foothills. The Border Patrol no longer regularly operates the checkpoint going east into the pass, but it has become a favorite haunt of the Arizona Highway Patrol.

The speed limit on the winding, splitting I-8 through that portion is 55. Not 65.

Just east of the pass there is a safety pull-out and the Az state trooper will be happy to follow you into it, if, for some reason, you are pulled over coming down the pass.

Sometimes its good to be 54, with papers in order.

There are a ridiculous number of online traffic schools listed with azdrive.com.

I got my first vaccination shot. The day after, I came down with what passes – for me- as COVID symptoms: achy with no temperature, but likely elevated blood pressure. (I did not check). This might have been compounded by my thinking “Nah, my arm doesn’t hurt enough to stop me from finishing this yard work”.  Two hours later I’m putting away the tools because it has become clear I will not have the energy to do anything else. I was laid up the rest of the day.

I have to bury that story in my blog instead of telling it on Facebook, because I don’t want to hear about from the crazies. Two days after the shot, I was able to go to work, and the only pain I have is clearly from yardwork.

Over on Are We Lost Yet?, I learned how steep Picacho Peak really is.

After next weekend, I do not have a scheduled author or UnObtanium event until July. You know what that means…

Go Action Fun Time! Every other week.

Also, I am officially in the editing phase of Taliesin’s Last Apprentice (the sequel to the Beanstalk and Beyond) and we are hoping for a November release date.

Now we know.

Promises made to yourself are inherently negotiable.

An announcement first. Stand back a bit.

UnObtanium Bazaar will be at the Arizona Ren Faire at Hidden Lakes in Buckeye January 15-17.

Well, we are 90% on this, anyway. We’ll know more, and yell about it here, next week.

I have never been big on judging years as good or bad. It depends entirely on what criteria. That said, if you are a US resident and not an established member of the investor class, this has been a troublesome past 9 months and counting. If you are an investor, it has merely been annoying, and perhaps overly dramatic.  

I had, until very recently, avoided most of the painful impacts from Covid. My day job has been largely unaffected (we have, in fact, been slammed), and, despite being out and about on “essential” work, I had avoided infection.

Until three days before Christmas. So, bah humbug. But even that consisted of what felt like a head cold, and passed just as quickly. I am now out of quarantine, at least by county standards, and back to work.

https://www.maricopa.gov/DocumentCenter/View/58863/Home-Isolation-Guidance?bidId=

The guidelines feel like they had heavy input from the chamber of commerce, but they are the standard my work goes by, so off I go.

Now that we’re caught up on all that:

A little more than a year ago, I vowed that 2019 would be the last Christmas for which I did not have a book out. For various reasons, not all of which were avoidable, I missed that deadline.

By late November it was clear I was not going to be able to produce The Secret History of Empress Em (the final title of One of 64) by year’s end. The budget for cover art evaporated into an unexpected expense, and I’m kinda holding out for not doing my own cover art.

As late as December, an improved version of Go Action Fun Time Basic Rules seemed possible by Christmas. But, UnObtanium and surrounding hoo-hah (see last few posts) had set me behind, and then perfect became the enemy of done. Mostly the latter – mostly on my end.

I made the decision that I would forgive myself for breaking my promise to myself if the end result was a better product by mid-January. It was not like I was going to see any Christmas retail bump anyway.

That said, the new Go Action Fun Time Basic Rules Deluxe Edition will be in the transom by the end of the week, and available probably by my birthday later this month.

Deluxe means a new cover, slightly fewer typos and an index. But also some substantial editing of the rules for clarity and consistency.

This should be a downloadable PDF on Drive-Thru RPG by the end of the week. I also plan to have Lulu print me about 25 copies for physical sale. Then I will investigate other outlets.

  • It had been long enough that I had to re-learn formatting PDF’s.
  •  Printable PDF’s need the cover included, but for-print PDF’s want the cover as a separate thing altogether. This proved an enormous pain-in-the-ass as neither Acrobat or Word make it easy to remove the first two pages without destroying the page number scheme I had coddled it into.
  • Making an index in Word somehow changes the page numbering, so do that before updating page references in the manuscript.
  • Using an outline in Word makes using the Thumbnails in Acrobat more straight-forward and makes HTML tags irrelevant. The TOC Thumbnail as a sidebar is actually easier to use overall.
  • The absolute last bit of editing, after the TOC, after the index, is find all the places you referred a reader toa page number in the document and insert those page numbers. This is the only way you will ever be accurate about that.

If you want to game-master Executive Produce Go Action Fun Time, contact me, and I will hook you up for basically free. Otherwise, the PDF’s go for $8.99 and the hard copies are going for $20.

Meanwhile, I am out of my Covid cave and ready to face another orbit around the sun. Cheers.

All my mess going forward

It’s all my mess going forward. 

The map of Arizona that now hangs in my Arizona room, and makes me irrationally happy.

I have finally cleaned the back rooms of the house including the hall bathroom. All summer, a pair of gender-fluid twenty-somethings used my hall bathroom as a make-up studio hair salon for themselves and their friends. It’s not spotless now (this house is old) but it no longer looks like that happened. 

I also mopped the back bedroom for the first time since I moved in. 

For those who don’t follow my antics in person or on social media, Rey and the entourage have gotten themselves their own apartment, and I live alone again. Which is sometimes sad, but mostly great. 

I can walk around naked. I put things places and they stay there until I move them. All the media devices are under my control. And any mess going forward is my fault. 

As it should be. 

Our best face forward.

Unobtanium Bazaar – the website – is live!

https://www.unobtaniumbazaar.com

There are products for sale that you can buy with your magic plastic. 

Unless you are in Europe – there’s a declaration I have to have on file about privacy, and I haven’t gotten to that bit yet. 

In the sinkhole of time that the Mohave Ren Faire created (see last three posts) I lost my chance of having my space opera come out as a book by Christmas. This would be a longshot anyway, mostly due to the lead time on cover art (even if I did it myself). 

I hate breaking promises to myself. But all is not lost. A revised (dare I say “Deluxe”) version of Go Action Fun Time is nearly complete. This will replace the one extant on RPG drive-thru. I just locked the main copy. I have an appendix or two to put together and interior art to add as it comes out of my ass mind. 

Interior art

I have a cover problem here too – but I am more comfortable doing my own cover art fort this project than an actual novel. Comic/cartoon is in my range. 

I’m trying to decide:

The original with a less cluttered background?

Or something like this?

The red oval is where the logo goes.

Chime in down in the comments.

To get either done, I’ll have to bury myself for a couple of weeks. 

Speaking of burying myself, you can read about my mis-adventure in Navajo country in Are We Lost Yet?

Bongo in Navajo country – trying to hide his disappointment.

Now we know. 

Entry Level Magic

Unobtanium is an old SF trope meaning any substance you made up because it is realistically unobtainable by known science. It is actually credited to engineers, who meant by the term the substance they wish they had. Worth noting that early SF writers were often engineers or worked closely with them.

To get unobtainium you need some hand-wave science (another SF term basically meaning science we made up) or outright magic. Around here, we have been attempting both, with some surprising if limited success.

We’ve talked abut the Unobtanium Bazaar (only one i) here before, and then we talked a bit about how Covid killed that initiative. (It killed the Vendor Walk we tried to hype up last post.) Well, the clouds may have parted a bit.

Kingman (technically Mojave County) is throwing itself a Renaissance Faire next November, and we will be there.

Mask up and head northwest if you’re inclined, and you can walk around at six-foot intervals.

We’re even listed as a vendor!

It’s OK. We will learn a lot.

I feel I am about 80% there on how to present merchandise on a Wix website engine. (You can check my progress in the most predictable link). A merchandise page is not the same as a gallery.

I purchased, mostly on impulse, a second 3D printer, this one a Cubic printer. Which uses LCD-based SLA 3D Printer, meaning it reduces resin with UV light as opposed to additive filament of my Ender (which is basically and advanced glue gun). They are both buzzing behind me right now.

The printer fresh out of its box and still full of hope.

(Again we note that not formatting your photo to be copied easily on the interweb defeats the point of modern marketing. The photo above is mine, of course.)

I’m trying to make some antlers to add to a stuffed rabbit. Reasons. I have limited confidence that either machine is up to that on this pass. But I will get there.

Rey is making abominations for Unobtanium.

Otis the Owlbear.

Also, they have a new cauldron and is, right now, making potions.

Entry level magic for all of us, but that seems to be the way forward now. Many of the norms, by which you could make incremental but dependable progress, have collapsed. We are all improvising now.

Well executed improvisation, combined with some luck, is indistinguishable from magic.

I have also, basically on a dare, worked up a card-game version of Go Action Fun Time for what is becoming Alcazar Games.  It is, predictably, a bit more complicated than we initially envisioned, but the first couple of things I slapped together for playtest worked well by playtest standards, so we press forward.

The end goal is to kick-start this thing.

The regular GAFT RPG is waiting on solving my audio problems with Discord. Meaning I have to buy  a real microphone.

On top of all that, I am still trying to push the novels forward.

So that’s why I don’t blog very often.

If you’re worried, I still have a job, and I am reliably making my self-imposed word-count – just not reliably with this blog.

There are no guarantees in magic, but I have a good feeling about what lies ahead.

Now we know.