Made of awesome and win.
So many things to say about Stan Lee, but I have no words still.
Made of awesome and win.
So many things to say about Stan Lee, but I have no words still.
Sunny days and crisp weather have arrived here, and that always puts Dungeons and Dragons on my brain– because way back in 1983 a bunch of us would hang out behind our high school on days like this and play through a very freeform megadungeon game of my own creation. I particularly remember a moment I’ve written about before, where one of my players (who always wanted to run ahead on his own) opened a door, only to be informed that behind it was a massive chamber with 200 orcs… to which his response is “I slam the door and run away!” Fun times. XD
At the time, I didn’t use the D&D rules, partially because I had all of a Holmes Basic Set and an AD&D Dungeon Masters Guide to work from (making for an incomplete and often contradictory ruleset to begin with), but mostly because I didn’t have the patience to sit down and puzzle it all out.
What I did have the patience for, for whatever reason, was to create my own ridiculously kloodgey homebrew system that took bits of D&D and blended it with bits of Heritage’s Dungeon Dwellers series and then, at the table, was mostly ignored. This game system was called “Mid-Evil,” which I was very proud of at the time. >.>
Did I mention I was 13?
A year later, I tried to leverage this same mostly-nonsensical system into an espionage/modern action game called “I Spy,” which was just as nonsensical and took the inspiration for its one usable scenario from a segment of “The Bloodhound Gang” from 3-2-1 Contact.
So, yeah, “ambitious, but not sophisticated,” about sums me up in those days.
But as dorky and sophomoric as all these things were, they had fire and a pure love of the game that still makes me grin to remember. As I began to develop more sophistication I moved on to MERP and from there to the HERO System, becoming ever more enamored of “realism” and “maturity”– mostly because I was still young and insecure about such things.
A lot of my games from this second period were very sophisticated by comparison– I had a “street-level superheroes” campaign that delved into dark topics and psychology and presaged things like The Killing Joke by a matter of years. But at the same time, a lot of my gaming sessions felt like work– we were trying so hard to Make Art out of the game, that we would lose sight of the fact that we were a bunch of nerds sitting around a table rolling dice to control the fate of fictional characters.
These days, I’d like to think I can have the best of both worlds. I have primarily returned to D&D (using the actual rules, even), but I work with the players to integrate their characters’ personalities and background into the campaign. There are random encounter tables, but they are built with an eye toward reinforcing the theme or environment of the adventure instead of being a giant kitchen sink of weirdness. There are serious NPC allies, enemies, or wildcards, but there are also moments of pure goofiness.
But most importantly, I remember these days why I fell in love with the game in the first place– those crazy moments of shared story that we were all creating together, where the stuff on the paper was there if we wanted it, but also didn’t matter if it didn’t actually make things more fun. And I’m always grateful for D&D weather, because that’s what it reminds me of.
This weekend was my first full training session with Accomplishment Coaching. It was an intense crucible for everyone involved, bringing up a lot of intense emotions, but also providing the coaches-in-training with some powerful and useful tools, not just for the nitty-gritty administrivia of contracts and billing, but more importantly for jumping right in and providing value to clients immediately.
Of course, before a coach can help clients, they need to find some! This being Day One, my docket is currently empty, other than peer-coaching sessions with the rest of my team-in-training, and I am still building the framework for the business. I have some mid- to long-term plans around this (including a practice name, URL for a future website, and so forth), but as of today I am still grinding away at the basics– things like liability insurance, arranging an accountant, getting my billing methods in place, etc. As of today, my most visible step has been to update my LinkedIn profile, but hey, ya gotta start somewhere.
At the end of the weekend, we set declarations of intention around what we were going to build before the next session (March). Figuring that finding two clients would be a “safe bet,” I declared that I would get four. In my mind, for better or worse, that’s the “pass/fail” number. But I have also set a “stretch goal” for myself of actually getting six.
So… hey! Anyone out there looking for a success coach… or know anybody who is? Here’s a quickie synopsis of what coaches do (c/o the International Coach Federation):
Professional coaches provide an ongoing partnership designed to help clients produce fulfilling results in their personal and professional lives. Coaches help people improve their performances and enhance the quality of their lives.
Coaches are trained to listen, to observe and to customize their approach to individual client needs. They seek to elicit solutions and strategies from the client; they believe the client is naturally creative and resourceful. The coach’s job is to provide support to enhance the skills, resources, and creativity that the client already has.
And that’s what I do! I’m champing at the bit to get started, so seriously, I’d love to hear from anyone who wants to connect about it. Shoot me an e-mail via firstname.lastname@example.org and we can schedule a call or chat to figure out how to start bringing the awesome. 🙂
So recently, at Barnes & Noble, my attention was drawn to a hardback on the “fantasy new releases” table, featuring what was described as “flintlock fantasy with airships, a touch of humor, and an engaging female hero.”
I nearly burned the place down. ¬.¬
After the writing, revising, submitting, re-revising, submitting again, and so forth that Sky Pirates of Calypsitania has gone through, to see this thing sitting there made me want to scream at the top of my lungs, “THIS SHOULD BE MY BOOK!”
So. Yeah. I was upset. Deep breaths. Let’s work this thing out.
On the positive side, clearly someone must think there’s a market for the kind of books I want to write. I mean, there it is. But I have to connect to it.
And to be clear, I’m pretty sure that the author of that book worked just as long and just as hard on it as I did on mine. My own personal green-eyed-monster popping out notwithstanding, I wish them success.
That doesn’t alter the fact that I had this extreme, intensely emotional reaction to seeing “my book with someone else’s name on it” right there on the very table where I have been trying to get my book for years now. What I have to do, is direct that energy in a positive direction.
If this is the team that put the book on the table, I reasoned, then it could serve me well to hook up with that team. A little research turned up the agent of not-my-book. I went back and rewrote the opening, again, to address feedback the book had received on the previous round, getting thumbs-ups from my beta readers, and sent it to that agent. Given that this particular agent has a strict “Don’t call us, we’ll call you,” policy, however, the response could easily range from an excited followup any day, to chirping crickets until forever.
I don’t intend to wait. As far as I’ve been able to make out, the main thing that makes a writing career succeed (besides lightning in a bottle) is sheer volume. The most popular and well-paid writers I know get that way by writing a lot of books. And as much as I love Sky Pirates of Calypsitania, it is only the one.
What this boils down to is, I need to work on another book. I’ll keep shopping Sky Pirates around as long as it takes, but I can’t leave my career on hold waiting for any one project to move.
I have been trying to write a more “mainstream” fantasy, and I got maybe a third of it done as part of last year’s NaNoWriMo, but I keep running into a fundamental paradox: in trying to adhere to more standard tropes in order to make the book “sellable,” I feel like I’m just aping other people’s work, which in turn makes for a book that I’m not sure I would read, myself.
Of course, it’s just the first draft of said book, and so there’s an argument that I should just finish the thing, with “rip out all the Tolkien” being one of the goals of the second draft. But if I know all the Tolkien needs to come out anyway, then leaving it in there for the first draft feels like creating work I don’t need to do.
So perhaps I should just leave that one in the drafts folder and start a whole new project that’s more like what I want to write.
But I need to do something. I need to get somewhere.
I pretty much stopped paying attention to new social media platforms a while ago. They were coming and going so fast, there seemed little point in getting invested in any of them because they’d just be gone the next day. So other than a foray into Tumblr, I’ve stuck with Twitter and LiveJournal for some time, and those three covered most of my needs or wants in the social realm. Except for one thing: I missed chat.
I dumped AIM and ICQ ages ago due to security holes and general bugginess, but doing so left a big hole in my connections with friends. Anyone who wasn’t on Twitter pretty much faded into the distance, and even on Twitter the DMs tend to be spotty and slow for a lot of things.
But this past weekend at Midwest Furfest, the phrase I kept hearing over and over again was, “Do you have Telegram?” Everybody and their sister was using it to connect for commissions, to plan meal outings, whatever. So I decided that I’d better look into it. A quick download and a few keystrokes later, I was up and running on both the desktop and my phone.
My first thought? “Wow, it’s like the glory days of ICQ again!” You don’t get the adorable little “Uh-oh!” when a message comes in, you just get a beep, but you’ve got a friends list (based primarily on your phone’s contacts), in descending order based on how recently they’ve posted something (basically a less binary “online/offline” notification) and you can toss in emoji, “stickers” (which are basically GIF images like meme posts), and so on.
The best part, for me, is that I immediately restored contact with people I hadn’t been in touch with for years, or at best had sporadic contact through slower channels. We didn’t necessarily have real deep discussions beyond “Hey! You’re on Telegram! I’m on Telegram! We can chat again, yaaaay!” but it had the warm and happy feeling of coming home.
Given how depressing Twitter has become since the election, I would not be surprised if I spend less time there and more time on Telegram, where I can have more focused conversations with friends and “opt out” of the relentless barrage of bad news when I need a break. Over the years I’ve had amazing and transformative discussions with friends via chat, and maybe that can start happening again. 🙂
As things have developed, both public and private, I have decided that my I need to change my priorities in the upcoming months. To that end, I need to put By Elves Abandoned on the back burner and work on other things. Instead of working on those other things and feeling guilty about not hitting wordcount goals for NaNoWriMo, I’ve decided to simply let that go.
The book still has a lot of potential, and I expect to pick it up again before too long, it’s purely a matter of timing. Maybe my own personal NaNoWriMo will come in February, we’ll see!
Suburban Jungle will keep going, and punting on NaNo will hopefully give me time to fix up lingering issues I’m having with the current storyline and the direction the comic is taking generally. Fortunately, that only takes me a couple of days a week and could be done at night or on the weekends as needed. I am also still working on finding a publisher for Sky Pirates of Calypsitania.
How Not to Suck at Overwatch is also going to go quiet for the foreseeable future. It was a fun project and I enjoyed it (and I’m very grateful to the friends and fans who made it possible), but at least for now I have other things I need to concentrate on.
As for what I am working on, that’s not in a stage where I’m ready to tell the world. But when the time comes, I will! But until then, I’ve got commissions to finish and a comic to draw, so I’d better get to work.