shannon_a: (Default)
Kimberly says that Labor Day is her least favorite day of the year. It's because of the block party, a loud, raucous affair with blasting music that takes over the next block around lunch time and continues through the day. I've long thought that the people putting it on are horribly abusing whatever permit they get from the city, because it's decidedly not a block party, it's a party to which they invite all their friends from the entire East Bay.

But there are some fights to be fought, and some not.



So today I suggested to K. that we should go out to Glen Park, and we did. We were out of the house before 10 and walking up into the park by 11 or so. We had a nice lunch from the overpriced but tasty Canyon Market that we ate in the park and then hiked along the canyon walls, a trek that was supported (literally) by the new walking poles that K. got recently.

We really had no desire to come home afterward, so after the hike, we hung out at a park/playground for a few hours, me writing and K. working on her iPad, then walked back the long way to 24th & Mission BART.

Ironically, the first time we went up to Glen Park was Labor Day, 2013. I didn't write about why we went that day, but obviously we were avoiding the obnoxious block party then too. Afterward, we did the same walk down through Diamond Heights to 24th and Mission, and I remember being really tired out by it. Not at all today — not by the climb up the canyon and not by the walk down to the Mission. So yay for improved physical fitness (particularly walking) over the last three years.

And by the time we got home the party had only an hour or so left to go.



The rest of the weekend I've been out and about too. On Saturday I walked from our house up to Lake Anza in Tilden via the fire trails above Clark Kerr and Strawberry Canyon. I used to think that Tilden was far away, so it's pretty great to to hike up there and to think nothing of it.

On Sunday, I mostly lazed around, but after dinner I did a quick (well, 100 minute or so) 5-mile hike from the south side of Clark Kerr to the UC Botanical Gardens and back.

It's really cool to have all those trails to accessible, so close, and offering so many different possibilities.



I've been doing plenty of writing, of course, working on three really tough histories this week for DMSGuild (and ultimately for my sequel to Designers & Dragons). I can't quite say they're about three major products for D&D, but they are about two major products, and one other that was deserving of a major history. They'll be up on DMSGuild over the next two weeks and total about 6,500 words between the three of them.



And I'm getting ready for a semi-surprise trip to British Columbia. Oh, and I'd known it was a possibility since late July, I think. C. idly mentioned it and I realized I needed to get out of the house the next day to get my passport renewed, since that was just 7 weeks out at the time.

Surprisingly, my passport arrived just two weeks after I requested it. That helped make things stress free, especially since I was a bit worried about my name change, which had never been reflected on a passport. But no problem. (Apparently.)

Then last Monday, C. confirmed to me that I was being invited on the British Columbia trip, if I thought I could deal with all the people for a full week.

The reason is a company retreat for the blockchain company that C. is now working at, and that I've been doing tech writing and editing for. I really have little idea what to expect, but I've liked working with them, and I'd liked to be included going forward, so it seemed like a good thing to do.

The venue looks beautiful, but as I told C., I hope I actually get to see some of it, and not just be stuck in a hotel the whole time. (He says there are breaks in the schedule, but we'll see how it all works out.)

Anywho, I've been trying to get books read and histories and reviews and APs written before I leave; starting tomorrow I also need to get more serious about getting a few Skotos things out of my hair.

And then it'll be off into the blue for a week away from home. Busiest year in maybe forever, since they'll be my third major trip, after Hawaii and New York.

Lucky we aren't ending up in Hawaii for Christmas too, like we'd originally considered.
shannon_a: (rpg stormbringer)
So it turns out that Designers & Dragons did win one award: a gold ENnie for Best RPG-Related product.

I'd said that I wasn't too concerned about the ENnies because it was mostly a popularity contest. Which, it is. And if I hadn't won anything I would have continued to be not concerned. I thought that winning them would be the same: I have a couple of Origins awards in the closet, from when I worked at Chaosium, and the fact that those Cthulhu products with my name on them won someone wasn't that meaningful, and that's what I was basing my thoughts on. But the difference is those votes were primarily for Chaosium's carefully-created property, while this was for mine. For my Designers & Dragons.

So, cool. And cool to know I have fans too.

(Thanks fans who voted!)



One of the reasons this is cool is because I am continuing to work on Designers & Dragons books. A lot of that centers around the writing I've been doing for DnDClassics. Every week I write 1-3 histories for them of individual D&D books. I've been doing so since the start of 2013. If you do the math, you can see that I should have 125-375 histories done (exact count: 385, probably due to a rush at the start).

My goal right now is to continue writing these as my main thing through the end of 2016 (hopeful count: 550-600), and then in 2017 see what would be needed to fill in the gaps to have complete books describing the history (and some additional info) on every single D&D product ever put out by TSR and WotC.

This type of work is really time-consuming, because I have to research every single individual product and there's something like 1,000 total. I don't think I could ever do it without the weekly regimen required by having to prepare them as DnDClassics releases them week-by-week. So, I'm grateful to the DriveThruRPG folks for that (continuing) opportunity and the continuing demands, which keep me on track.

I've been slowly working on an outline for these D&D histories, which would (I think) put them at three books. My word count is already a ridiculous 282,000 words, but I'm pretty sure redundant text would get streamlined as I put them into books.

(Thanks DTRPG!)

I'm also thinking about a Designers & Dragons mini-book called something like "Designers & Dragons '00s to '10s: The OSR". I want to position it as the fifth core book of the line, and a good bridge while we're waiting for the opportunity to write a complete '10s book. And, I think it would go well with the TSR and WotC D&D books. Right now I'm just collecting information on the OSR movement and a couple of the first companies I'll write about, so this is a ways off. I thinking this might be a half-sized book at 200 pages or so, covering maybe 7-8 "companies".



And speaking of roleplaying, I did some today. Mary's Achtung Cthulhu campaign kicked off, and it was my first opportunity to actually play in a game since her very short-lived Dresden campaign (which was in 2011).

I had a blast. Kevin and I had fun when we created characters by randomizing most elements, and today I got to bring my character out to play for the first time. He's an overconfident American guerrilla expert. So I stepped into the fire time after time and kept quoting line and verse of what we should do based on my lessons back in guerrilla school (which I'd never before used in the real world).

My favorite was setting fire to the guard shack after we'd killed the Nazis there, in the village where we were continuing to operate. ("Rule #7: Never leave resources for the enemy".) Sadly our GM didn't take advantage of that potentially horrible choice. But I got to set something on fire.

(Thanks Mary!)
shannon_a: (rpg glorantha)
Designers & Dragons was nominated for the Diana Jones Award last month. That was a big deal. Designers & Dragons is a 4-book history of the roleplaying industry that represented 10 years of my (free-time) work. It was my biggest & most important contribution ever to an industry that I've enjoyed being a part of since I first played D&D in the '80s.

Earning that nomination (or being placed on the shortlist, as they phrase it) really made me understand the clichéd phrase, "It was an honor just being nominated". Because, it was. In fact I find that nominations are the most honorable part of most awards. That's because most awards have judged or juried nominations, then throw the actual awards out for mass voting, turning them into popularity contests. So, for example, I'm really honored that Desigers & Dragons was also nominated for a few different ENnies this year, but I have no illusions about winning the gold ENnie awards: they're all going to the Dungeons & Dragons game, which saw a new edition this year. (The possible exception is the RPG-related category, but it seems most likely that The Temple of Elemental Evil board game will win that Gold.)

But the Diana Jones Award isn't like that. It's still an honor to be nominated, because the nominating committee is made up of some of the most forward-looking and most knowledgeable folks in the industry, but it would really, really have been an honor to win, because those same people make that final decision.

Sadly, Designers & Dragons did not win the DJA. Instead, that honor went to Moon Design's Guide to Glorantha.

And, though I would have liked to win — though it would have meant a lot for people to say the writing I've been doing is important and meaningful — if I had to pick another winner, it absolutely went have been the Guide to Glorantha.

The Guide is a huge coffee-table style book describing Greg Stafford's world of Glorantha, put together by Rick Meints and Jeff Richards at Moon Design. It's a very impressive tome, and my instinctive feeling once I read over the Diana Jones short list was that if Designers & Dragons didn't win the DJA, then Guide would ... which it did.

I saw someone on Twitter say that they thought the Guide shouldn't win because it wasn't really a game book. And, they're right about the game book part. The hefty tome, full of dense essays on the world of Glorantha, isn't the sort of thing you're going to pass around the gaming table. I mean, you wouldn't want Cheetos-stained fingers touching those glorious, glossy pages, but beyond that, it's not the material you're going to need when your Sartarites get in a fight with a roaming band of Lunar oppressors. (All Hail the Reaching Moon!) But, that's not the point. Or perhaps it's the opposite of the point. Moon Design's Guide to Glorantha shows how the world of Glorantha has transcended the world of gaming, how it's become a secondary world of fantasy that's larger than any RPG, bigger than any tabletop, and more expansive than any publisher. Ironically, that's exactly what Greg set out to create 49 years ago, before roleplaying games even existed. (For more of which, see Chaosium in Designers & Dragons: The '70s).

My congratulations go out to Greg, who is one of my favorite people in gaming, and was my first choice for writing the intro to Designers & Dragons: The '70s. (He did.) And to Rick, who was kind enough to put me up in the outskirts of London when I went there in 1996 ... for a Glorantha convention. (We are all Orlanthi.) And to Jeff, who as far as I can tell is the main force beyond the massive and impressive books that Moon Design has been putting out for the last several years. (He's the only one of the crew I don't really know.) It's well-deserved, friends. Very well-deserved.

There certainly is sadness over having the biggest and most notable project I've ever written passed over for the industry's top award. And, there's definitely a feeling that I won't ever create anything as notable as Designers & Dragons again. But Designers & Dragons first appeared as an inkling of an idea in the aftermath of Gen Con exactly 10 years ago. Who knows what I'll be doing 10 years from now. (And, I'm still very grateful for appearing on that shortlist!)

I was struck by two ironies:

1.) I actually wrote material for the precursor to the Guide to Glorantha, which was called "World of Glorantha". I wrote a section on Gloranthan elves, my previous writing obsession before I started in on Designers & Dragons ten years ago. Unfortunately the writing was done for Issaries, Greg Stafford's old Glorantha publishing company, which closed up shop around the time that I actually wrote that article, in October 2006. That means that my article got lost somewhere down the road, between changing companies and changing priorities. I'd lay odds that Rick and Jeff never saw it. Maybe my article would have ended up in the Guide if I'd been paying more attention, but my focus was elsewhere. However, I can easily imagine a world where I had material in two of the top contenders for this year's DJA. That would have been cool.

(Also ironic: Greg, one of just two two-time winners of the DJA, did have material in two DJA nominees this year, since he wrote that intro to Designers & Dragons: The '70s.)

2.) The biggest problem with the Guide to Glorantha is its cost, which is $150. It's totally fair for the glossy, hardcover, small-press release, but it was more than I could afford with my tight budget, because it would have been several weeks of my "recreational" money. However, I finally was able to buy a copy of the Guide earlier this year ... thanks to money I earned from Designers & Dragons.

Thanks again to the Diana Jones folks for the nomination, and congrats on selecting a very deserving winner for 2015.
shannon_a: (Default)
I hit another milestone on Designers & Dragons this week. Last night I finished signing our "premium" copies of the book. I signed about 320 books total, which isn't too horrible of a number — just three hours of work or so. But it's very careful work of a sort I'm not used to. I called it "mindful signing" because I had to concentrate on each signature to make sure I wasn't descending to my usual chicken scratch. I ended up doing it in 3 lots of about 100 books each, and I found that each time my hand started hurting about 90 or so books in, but that it was my mind that take the biggest hit. (I offset it on Saturday with some caffeine, since I had a game to run right afterward, but the other two nights I was toast afterward.)

So what's left?

  • Pictures. I'm still collecting these for the Platinum Appendix. I mostly finished this tonight, but I need to put out queries for about a dozen books that I don't have myself. This will be my next-to-last major thing.
  • Proofing. I may need to answer proofreading questions for the Platinum Appendix, and I'll need to look over the layouts as they come. In the scope of things, this should be pretty minor.
  • Indexing. Finally, I'm going to do the index myself for the Platinum Appendix. This'll be the last major effort for the book.

I'm not going to start my next big project until the new year, and I expect to have most other writing for the year done before we get far into December. So, that means that this Christmas break will be the first one in some years where I don't have a big project I'm working on (minus the possibility of having an index to put together right then, but that's probably just going to be several hours of work; and minus the possibility of a new article to write for Hasbro, but that should again be a discrete amount of work).

As a result: I might relax. Huh.
shannon_a: (Default)
Designers & Dragons. This weekend I finished up work on the "Platinum Index", our free supplement to Designers & Dragons backers. It contains four new histories, plus edited, commented versions of the yearly reports I've written on the industry for 2008-2013. It totaled about 31,000 words, which as I say in the introduction isn't bad for a couple of months work. To be fair, I had about 12,000 words of yearly reports in advance,but there's a lot of great new text as well. All told, that's about a quarter of one of the printed books.

This is basically the end of my writing and editing work on Designers & Dragons this year. I do still have: (1) signing of Kickstarted books; (2) interaction with editing, proofing, and layout of the Appendix. But, I'm not doing anything new for the series until 2015*. Whew.

More generally, I'm going to take as much of the next week as I can off from extracurricular writing, and enjoy some rest in the evenings instead. Also whew.

* Except I was really tempted today to start in on histories of Morrigan and Khepera for some future book. Must. Show. Discipline.



Optometrists. Last Tuesday I was back to Berkeley Optometric Group yet again. We're theoretically working on getting a new pair of glasses, with prescription verified by a different optometrist and placed in a different frame. So I spent 45 minutes this time looking at frames (really, I let the techs do the looking), but the only place the techs could find similar frames to what I have was in a catalog, so they've ordered them and I get to go back yet again this week.

While I was working with the techs, one of them apologized and said I'd been very patient with the whole process. Which is true, but it really made me think about my one and only appointment with Dr. Chun at BOG. My problem wasn't just that he was trying to dump me as a patient, but also that he continually tried to invalidate my experience. He was so busy explaining how the screwed-up glasses were in spec and that he'd never had a problem like this that he refused to listen to me explain how the glasses were unusable and worse than what I had, that one lens was a blurry smear when I tried to look out of it.

Doctors that don't listen to you? Unfortunately common. Doctors that try to convince you that you're wrong in your personal experience? BAD.



Rain. Yay! We've finally had some real rain this year. It was actually a misty day when I went out to bike last Saturday (the 25th) and I found it joyous, with the smell of damp dirt in my nostrils and the wet air, and I even saw a rainbow on the way home. (And got doused for about a minute at the Knox Miller Regional Shoreline). Then this last Friday (the 31st) we had some real rain again. Still below seasonal norms, but it felt good to see some water falling from the sky.



Halloween. Friday was of course Halloween. Lucky for the kiddies, that rain cleared up before the eve. I generally enjoy Halloween because it feels different than any other US holiday, more about joyous experience than brainwashed merchandising. K. and I always go out to dinner on Fridays, and so I chose Nation's so that we could have a delicious Halloween pie afterward. Sadly, her pecan pie was still in the fridge last I saw, due to ongoing problems with nausea.

Then afterward I got groceries. Riding through north Berkeley, I saw troupes of kids and parents trooping about, which was fun. We don't see that sort of thing in our neighborhood, though it picks up a few blocks south of us. And at Safeway I saw college kids dressed up, with a homemade looking Peter Pan being the best.



Gaming. We rather shockingly had our roleplaying fall off for two months(!). First I was in Placerville, then the next week I was finishing up the Designers & Dragons: The '00s index. Then Mary & Donald were unavailable for three weeks running, with Dave S. unavailable each week too.Then we almost got together on the (rainy) 25th, but Eric F. didn't tell us he was available, so we cancelled, then he showed up at the session(!).

But on Saturday (the 1st), we finally got together to continue Kingmaker! Whew. We're still traveling the River Kingdoms, and I'm trying to push as much RP as fightP, so it's been enjoyable. I feel hopeful that we can have more regular attendance of sessions through the end of the campaign, but who can tell. We also counted up many of the loose plot threads (evil fay, silver dagger, Penny's dad, wedding), but I honest to goodness have them all on the horizon. We probably won't be finishing by the end of the year, but I'm hopeful that maybe we can before Hawaii '15. If we can game regularly.

And after that: Mary might run Achtung! Cthulhu or The Tyranny of Dragons or I might run 13th Age or Burning Wheel or Dungeon World.



Hawaii. On my TODO list: making reservations for the trip to visit my folks in Hawaii next year. They've offered us a stay in their condo in Honolulu for a few days, so the question is whether we can make a three-leg reservation like that work without increasing our costs too much. So, soon to fight with the bureaucracy of online flight reservations.
shannon_a: (Default)
I was caught up enough in Saturday's San Franciscan adventures that I didn't write about the other exciting events of the last few days.



On Friday I took a break from work to have lunch at Picán with what was described as most of the Evil Hat West crew. Fred H. was in town for BigBadCon. The dinner also included me, Eric V., Chris H., and Chris R. We were noticeably missing Eric L. and Sean. There was much talk about upcoming plans. We also got to celebrate the success of the recent Kickstarters done for Eric V. and myself. Yay! I also broached the topic of possible future Designers & Dragons books — which we're all enthusastic about. (I swear, I'm going to wait until the New Year to start anything new though; really.) Finally, I received an advance on my first quarterly payment for Designers & Dragons, which was substantive and well-appreciated.

The Menu: a variety of food that felt like it was Cajun influenced. I enjoyed a "BLT" that included a spicy guacamole and shrimp. It was delicious. Also, a chocolate cake which was OK to good. Unfortunately, the owner of Picán has been fighting against the improved minimum wage bill that's up for vote in Oakland next month, despite the fact that studies have shown that minimum wage increases don't have an adverse effect on restaurants, so that'll keep K. or me from eating there in the future.

The High Point: I felt more like a part of a tabletop game publisher than I have since I left Chaosium just more than 15 years ago. It's great to be part of that sort of creative community again.



On Sunday Kimberly and I celebrated my aforementioned advance from Evil Hat with dinner at Angeline's Louisiana Kitchen, one of our favorite restaurants in Berkeley.

The Menu: I had what I always had there, which is a shrimp po'boy sandwich. They have lots more that sounds great but we go there infrequently enough that I have to have my favorite. We also, of course, had hush puppies for an appetizer. They've changed their desert menu, and they now have a French chocolate pudding which was absolutely spectacular. Mmm mmm!

The High Point: Late in the meal I told Kimberly, "This is the first time I've ever gotten an advance on a book and it was big enough that I took someone out to dinner to celebrate." It made my feel like a "real" writer.
shannon_a: (Default)
Did my best to have a relaxing weekend to bleed off the stress of recent weeks/months/years. From how I felt this morning (relaxed, energetic), it was successful.

Saturday: Point Pinole. We've had some troubles getting the RPG gang together this month, so on Saturday I again had a biking holiday. I considered SF once more, but instead decided I'd prefer to return to my beloved, quiet Point Pinole while the weather remained good. And so I did, and it was restful.

Sunday: Open Streets. Sunday was our third annual Open Streets in Berkeley, so once more Kimberly and I got out there at the crack of 11am, when the Streets Open, and walked Shattuck up to the Commons in North Berkeley. This year there seemed to be more activism going on, and on the way back we saw more music being sung. As with last year, we stopped at Saul's for lunch before heading back. The highlight of our day was definitely hearing a group called The Blondies sing at the Pedal Powered Stage. A cool concept (bicycle-backed audio) and a good band.

Monday: R&R. Today I mostly lazed around. OK, I biked up to Lake Temescal the hard way (up past the Gateway Emergency Preparedness Center and over 24, which altogether requires some 100 feet or so of climbing over where Lake Temescal is), but that was just a bit of time in the afternoon. Taco Bell for dinner; what could be better.

The Work. Lest you think I totally vegged, I did do some work this weekend. A couple of histories for DnDClassics, so I don't lose my lead. And a fair amount of work on the extra histories we promised for Designers & Dragons after the Kickstarter. I finished a draft of my history of my local gaming group (sponsored by Dave S.) and I started in on the history of women in the industry.

The Media. But, really, I relaxed a lot. Among other things I finished The Crippled God, the 10th and final book of the Malazan Book of the Fallen. Whew! 5 years I've been reading those books and they're pretty great, but very, very dense. And now I'm done with the core series. I also made some good progress through Kurt Busiek's Astro City comics; I'd been wanting to reread the fist five volumes, which I probably haven't read for a decade, and I'm now on the fifth. That stuff is so instantly iconic that a few of the stories actually felt stale to me, because they'd made such a deep impression when I first read them. The ones that felt fresher to me, though, were still great. Oh, and The Walking Dead season 5 premiere rocked!

And that was my three-day Columbia weekend.
shannon_a: (Default)
So we hit another major milestone on Designers & Dragons on Monday. Adam and I worked through the final errors in the '00s book, and afterward he sent everything off to Fred to send off in to the printers. And, as of now, I believe the book is at the printers and someone should be getting proofs soon to look at.

The Monday work was a little more stressful than I would have liked, as it ended up being a little last minute, but so it goes sometimes when you have people scattered across multiple countries each working their own schedule. Virtual work has plenty of advantages to.

This theoretically means that the main books are ready to go. However, I have at least two other major milestones on my schedule: (1) finishing the work for the Platinum Dragon PDF we're producing, which I have scheduled to be done on November 2, and which is well on its way already; and (2) signing piles of books, presumably in December.

So, I'll be able to announce I'm done a few more times.



There are other projects in the offing.

Chris and I have a largely done book on co-op game design. We're not sure on its audience and thus where we can place it with a publisher, but it's a cool, big tome of my writing on a very different topic.

I've also been working on a book about Michael Moorcock's multiverse that I think reflects my Designers & Dragons writing style. I'd hoped to finish it this year, but it's required reading most or all of his books, and that turned out to not be a rational goal for a year. But, it'll be well along by the end of the year, and hopefully I'll be able to finish it in 2015 when there's still a publisher (Gollancz) who has most of his books in print.

And then there's more Designers & Dragons to think about. The Kickstarter was successful enough that I think there's a strong audience for more books, but I'm going to put off thinking about that until I've really finished all the final tasks for Designers & Dragons. So, end of the year.



Otherwise, life goes on.

We had a heat wave over the last several days, which kept it quite hot. The first couple of weeks of October are very frequently our hottest times of the year here in Berkeley.

I biked out on the Bay Bridge again during out hot Saturday as I thought it'd be cool right on the Bay (and I was right). It was fun to see the old Bay Bridge in partial deconstruction, and the views through the gap in the old bridge are breath-taking.

I'd been thinking about going out to San Francisco and visiting a new museum in the Presidio, but opted out due to a huge concert in Golden Gate Park that I feared would jam the BART trains, making it hard to get my bike there and back; maybe this coming Columbian weekend instead.

And I've been taking it easy yesterday and today after the stressful Monday. Yesterday, after the work day, Kimberly and I went out for some dinner together, and then I sat on my butt all evening reading, which is a huge luxury that I almost never do. Then today I went to my regular gaming at Endgame, but didn't try to squeeze in some work when I got home (unless this journal entry counts). I'll get back to my regular schedule of evening work tomorrow or Friday. Mostly to the final Designers & Dragons platinum article as I've cleared my schedule of WotC history articles for the indefinite future and I don't have any DnDClassics articles due until November.
shannon_a: (Default)
We're back from Placerville for a week now, and it feels like a return to reality. Amazing how much away-time you can squeeze into a couple of important, active days like that.



Designers & Dragons continues on, but now we're knocking down major milestones.

The first major milestone was the end of the Kickstarter, which today feels like it was a billion years ago.

The second major milestone was the complete polish of the final index, which I finished a few hours ago. This is a pretty big deal.

A minor milestone beyond that will be my OKing the final corrections on the book, which should happen in the next week and should be my last work of note on the print books.

The third major milestone will be completing all of the new writing for the "Platinum Dragon Appendix" PDF. I got a bit more than half of the new writing done before I got the '00 index about 10 days ago, and now it feels like it's been forever since I worked on it. I'm currently planning to get back to it on Friday or Saturday. I'm scheduled to finish it all for October 31st, but there are so many moving pieces (writing, verification, corrections, editing), that I'm not sure if it'll all fit or not.



Skotos continues on too. There have been some kerfuffles in recent weeks and annoying internet-wide security issues, But I've also been helping Chris with some nice privacy writing and we have a co-op gaming book just about ready to go, so there's good stuff going on there too.



After having spent last weekend in cars, this weekend I went out for a long bike ride, about 32 miles — up to Hilltop Mall, out to Miller Knox Regional Shoreline, and back. Nothing new, but it was nice, and that's pretty much been the story of this summer.

Of course when I was out was when I got some of my weekend writing work done. "R"-"Z" in the '00s index bit the dust while I was at Miller Knox yesterday.



In the media world, the new fall TV season has begun. Thus far we have just one new show, Gotham. I found that the pilot last week had interesting characters but was over-directed and over-musiced. There was way too much over-dramatic (dark, sweeping shots and loud, booming music) in both of those things; I was pleased this afternoon to find another reviewer who said the exact same thing. I'm hoping that gets polished out and the show improves with the first new episode, as the pilot was interesting enough but it made a disadvantage out of what I thought would be advantages.

We'll have Constantine next month, but sadly my hopes there are even lower than for Gotham. At least it doesn't star Keanu Reeves.

Over on DVD, we just started watching Dexter (quite good, once I got the taste of the mediocre but exciting books out of my mouth) and Arrow (OK, primarily due to characters and fan service to DC readers).



And in the reading world I am close to finishing The Malazan Book of the Fallen. Been reading that (occasionally) since 2009, and whew those are dense, long books. The wikipedia page says 3.3 million words or 11,000 pages. Still, they've been pretty great for their world creation, their deep characters, and their plotting, in that order. I've even gone back and reread the first one already, and I plan more rereads of my favorites. (I think #3, Memories of Ice will be next, then probably #5, Midnight Tides.) So I guess I'm only sort of almost done (and I have over 700 pages still to go on #10, The Crippled God).
shannon_a: (Default)
The Designers & Dragons Kickstarter is over. Now when I hit the KS page, I find that the totals are sadly unchanged. It's a weird change from the last five weeks.

The Kickstarter brought in $115,348 from 3,046 backers. Before the KS had started, I thought we'd raise somewhere between $25,000-$50,000, and once we got going, I thought we'd just hit $100,000. Suffice to say, the Kickstarter exceeded all of my expectations. Clearly, that's ultimately thanks to all the great fans and interested readers. I'd like to think that some of them came to the Kickstarter from the histories that I made available through RPGnet, where they always earned strong acclaim. However, ultimately I have to thank Evil Hat for most of the success.

I've long thought that the average author who decided to do self-publishing through Amazon or other means was shooting himself in the foot. The fact is, the average author isn't a people person, and so he's not going to be great at talking to people about his project or at marketing it. He's also probably not a logistics guy or a financial guy. Certainly, he might have two or three expertises under his belt (I'm a writer, computer programmer, and a researcher, for example, to count my top three proficiencies), but he's unlikely to be able to do everything well. And that's why we have publishers: to do everything well.

In that regard, Evil Hat created a great Kickstarter page and really thought through how to bring people into the project. They did a terrific job of getting the word out and keeping people enthusiastic — and by they, I mean some of the core people at Evil Hat like Fred Hicks, Chris Hanrahan, and Carrie Harris. Alongside that, they had the connections and experience to hire great folks like Adam Jury (layout), John Adamus (editing), Karen Twelves (proofreading), Rita Tatum (indexing), Daniel Solis (graphic design), and Andrew Bosley (cover art) — and to have project manager Sean Nittner keep everything moving.

I certainly could have published Designers & Dragons myself in this world of Kickstarter and the internet. It would have raised substantially less money, and the result wouldn't have been as good, because I wouldn't have had the same wherewithal or the guts to put out the money to make this a superb production. So that's why we have publishers. I've said it for years; I'm glad I stuck with those convictions when I had my own book to publish, even after a few tries with publishers that didn't produce what I'd hoped. And I'm glad that I was ultimately proven right in my beliefs that publishers are great. Or at least that Evil Hat is.

And Evil Hat was great throughout this entire process. They committed to printing the first two books if they raised $7,500 and all four if they raised $22,500. As Fred explained in the fifth update, that just covered the printing costs, not all of the costs of actually producing the book (which came in at about $9,000 per book for all that art, proofing, editing, and indexing). It's a pretty awe-inspiring feeling that Evil Hat was willing to put $36,000 out upfront for something that could have been a hard sell. I'm very appreciative of their trust and faith in Designers & Dragons, and I'm glad it paid off.

I'm also very glad that I entered into a partnership with Evil Hat for this project; instead of royalties on each sale, I only get paid out of profits after those costs. I was given both options, and the partnership route felt like the right one to me, because my first goal was to get the books out, and if anything my second goal was to make sure that Evil Hat's faith in my books didn't result in them losing money (or at least that I didn't get paid if they did). Now, because of that decision, I'm probably going to get more money back for my 10 years of work than a royalty deal would have allowed. So, cool, and another thanks to backers.

In retrospective, it's interesting to look at the final numbers for the Kickstarter. As I said, we earned $115,348 from 3,046 backers. Of those, 2,060 backers paid $28,828 for digital copies of the book. The scary thing about that number is that it's about $8,000 less than the the costs of the book (not even including my writing). Another $4,500 came from pure premiums (signatures and platinum dragon patronages), which means that $82,020 came from 986 backers buying physical copies. Though the 2:1 ratio of electronic:physical backers clearly shows the enjoyment of new digital media, without those physical backers we wouldn't have the money to produce books! Which is probably why companies like Hachette are fighting with Amazon over the cost of eBooks. Though cheap books are good, publishers having enough money to produce great books is better.

Though the Kickstarter is over, my work is not. I'm still managing corrections coming in from readers, and I still have one other large task prior to publication: the polishing of the '00s Index. That'll all keep me more busier than I'd like until the index is done, at which point the books will go off to print. After that I have a 20,000-25,000-word book(let) to put together, including four new (short) histories. I've started work on those already, with "The Aurania Gang" finished yesterday and "The Hero Auxiliary Corps" started tonight.

I'm happy to say that almost ten years after I started this project, I still love researching and writing new histories. As I said in one of my interviews, I attribute that love of history in part to my 11th grade history teacher, David Dal Porto. Ironically, I think D&D was the other major influence on my love of the puzzle pieces that make up the world of the past.
shannon_a: (Default)
Weddings Away. My sister is getting married in three weeks' time. (Less than that now!) So, I spent some time this weekend prepping for that. After Kimberly intelligently contacted my Dad and Mary about dress code, we learned that I could get away with something pretty casual, so I spent part of Saturday hunting for a new Hawaiian shirt at Hilltop Mall. I ended up finding one that I really liked and one that I thought looked fancier for a wedding, so I bought them both. Amusingly, Kimberly liked the one I liked better too, but when she saw me wearing them both, agreed that the other was dressier for the ceremony. I also got my hair cut. That had needed doing, but I'd been putting it off until it was closer the wedding.

Biking. I've written little about biking lately, because I've used up the newness of most of the areas in easy biking distance. However, I've continued on with my regimen of 30-50 miles a week, even extending out to 30-60 miles a week. Lately my rides have been taking me to my two favorite places in the north (Miller Knox Regional Shoreline past Point Richmond and Point Pinole which is way up in the corner of the East Bay) and my couple of favorite places in the hills (Wildcat Creek Canyon, Tilden Botanical Garden, Lake Temescal, and Shepherd Canyon above Montclair). So this weekend I went over to Hilltop Mall, and then past that to Point Pinole on Saturday (for a round trip of 32 miles), and up to Lake Temescal on Labor Day (for a round trip of a lot less). I did writing in both places, which had been my wont.

Writing. I continue to be writing and editing obsessively. The Designers & Dragons Kickstarter continues to eat some of my time as it generates various tasks, most recently verifying and logging error corrections for the "completed" books. I've also been working on new articles for Mechanics & Meeples, a new board game review, new articles for DnDClassics, and a new article for Wizards of the Coast. Whew! With a little bit of effort I'll soon have all those other things completed through the end of September, which means that I'll have a clear schedule for wedding attendance and for the last push on Designers & Dragons (which will be mainly more error verifying and the index for the '00s, plus work on what we're calling the Platinum Appendix).

Kimberlying. Despite my other busyness, Kimberly and I spent some nice time together this three-day weekend. We wandered around town and got ice cream and enjoyed a "date" on Sunday, then today we had an unplanned brunch out — which was primarily to get Kimberly some nice food after a week of mushy food due to oral surgery.
shannon_a: (rpg stormbringer)
1.) Early in the week, I had to make an unexpected trip with Kimberly to a doctor's appointment. The doctor's appointment wasn't an emergency or anything as it had been on her calendar for a few weeks. But she wasn't up to going on her own due to fuzzy head. Fortunately, I was finishing up work on a book I've been editing for Skotos, so I was able to push it over to my laptop and work while I was out and about.

2.) On Friday, Kimberly had oral surgery. I'll have to say that my exhaustion related to this is certainly much less than hers, but I have been busy doing extra housework, collecting extra groceries to give her soft food she can eat, and generally staying on top of things.

3.) Saturday was another Pathfinder run, and one that required quite a bit of prep. We've been shockingly consistent lately, just when I've gotten very busy. Unshockingly, side treks keep the campaign ending in the distance. This would be the campaign I was sure would end in 2013.

4.) Early in the week I also got the index for Designers & Dragons: The '90s, which meant that I suddenly had 10-15 hours of polishing to do in my evening and weekend hours.

5.) Late in the week I also got the second draft layouts for Designers & Dragons: The '00s, which meant that I suddenly had several hours of review to do in my evening and weekend hours, particularly on an article that I'd done a piecemeal revision of after it was in layout.

(I had long dreaded the possibility of simultaneously getting high-priority Designers & Dragons work from two different sources on our team — which is the danger of pushing 4 books out at the same time!)

On the bright side, things are quieted down now! Kimberly is safely ensconced with good food and hopefully recovering. My RPG session went well. All of the immediate Designers & Dragons work is done (the layouts at midnight last night; the index at 11pm tonight). The Kickstarter itself is going quite well. I even spent about 2 hours today on a restful bike ride. I went up to Lake Temescal, finished the first pass on the index there, enjoyed the sun, and then returned. Sadly, a couple of the roads were totally jammed on the way back (Old Tunnel Road & College) because students and student-families are filling the town, but having a bike I was undeterred.

Tomorrow: Back to Skotos work.
shannon_a: (Default)
So this last Tuesday was the 14th anniversary of my and Kimberly's wedding. It used to be called the ivory anniversary, but that's no longer PC, so husbands give their wives shortbread cookies now. For those married less than 14 years: take note.

We had dinner out at Skate's on the Bay, which is located out on the Berkeley Marina. It's actually hanging out over the Bay, which means that it's going to be the first up against the wall when the Global Warming Revolution comes.

The staff was all very nice and attentive, and the sea food was good, but we were really paying for the view, and we definitely got that. Per our request (and we had reservations, of course), we got a window seat looking west. That means that as we ate we got to watch the sun slowly drop down through the sky, then behind the Marin Headlands. We really couldn't have asked for a much nicer day to watch the sun set. There were enough clouds about to paint the sky interesting colors, but not enough to block out the view. And having a day in Berkeley when we could still see the sky at 8pm is nothing short of miraculous.

Overall, it was a nice evening when we got to just relax and enjoy each others' company. Then we got to enjoy the fresh (but cold) air out on the Bay for about 5 minutes before the bus came and took us home. (Yeah, we took the bus to our nice anniversary dinner, and that's not the first time we have; last year it was a different bus to downtown Oakland, then a walk to Jack London Square.)

So that was our shortbread anniversary.



It was good to have some downtime because the week leading up to the shortbread anniversary was just exhausting for me. As I wrote last week my RPG history book, Designers & Dragons when live on Kickstarter the previous Monday.

I'd suspected it would be emotionally draining, but it was even moreso than I thought, plus there was the work figuring out stretch goals because the Kickstarter took off so spectacularly, plus there were questions to answer, plus a history to suddenly rewrite, plus, plus, plus ...

Agh.

I could really tell how tired I was on Saturday. (After I ran an RPG session!) I got home and only then realized that my bike odometer/speedometer wasn't working. The fact that I hadn't paid attention to it the entire way home means that I really wasn't paying enough attention to be biking ...

So on Monday I went up to Lake Temescal and did some quiet writing there from dinner time until the sun went down, and then on Tuesday we had our anniversary, and then I did some gaming on Wednesday and Thursday. And between all of that I've destressed. The Kickstarter has revved down to its long-term burn, which helps, and we've probably figured out the stretch goals for where it's likely to run ...
shannon_a: (Default)
So Designers & Dragons, my RPG history book, went out to Kickstarter yesterday. It's here if you want to take a look.

I'd say it was a roller coaster of emotions, but really it's just been an emotional high. The Kickstarter is just 36 or so hours old, but it's done exceptionally well. We've had 1,000 people sign on to get the book in some form, raising $40,000 to date. Before things started yesterday, I was pretty confident that we were going to raise the $22,500 needed to fund all four books, but this has really been beyond my expectations. And we're just a day and a half into to a month-long marathon. In any case, I'm very grateful to all of our backers, and very happy that I've been able to build up a group of enthusiastic fans while I've been working on this project, and very grateful to Evil Hat who has clearly contributed many terrific fans of their own.

Of course Kickstarters have their most popular period in the first and last 48 hours, so I should remember not to get depressed when things slow down to a trickle over the next month. For now, though, I feel like I'm on a sugar-caffeine high -- and I haven't had either all day.

This is all particularly gratifying because I've been working on Designers & Dragons for almost a decade. That's a lot of my time and effort, plus emotional energy, gone into it. I started the project in 2005, writing about Imperium Games mainly because I wanted to figure out what had happened to them. Then I wrote more and started publishing some at RPGnet and then I got a publisher enthused about the project who unfortunately decided otherwise just as I was finishing up the book. Then after a year or two of burnout in response (one of my lowest points creatively, I must admit), I started working on an updated edition of the book that Mongoose published but with a print run that was a lot shorter than I'd hoped (somewhere in the 550-700 range; the book was released to the mass-market around Thanksgiving and out-of-print the next March, as I recall). And then after it went out of print, and I recovered my rights, I started talking with Evil Hat almost immediately about an edition that could go out further and to more people, as I'd imagined it. Another year and a half or so of solid work followed.

With absolutely nothing bad intended toward the previous two publishers I worked with, Evil Hat has put together the edition I'd always dreamed of. I think the division of the book into four decades is a brilliant idea that was partly or mostly thanks to Fred. The books use tons of art, like I'd always wanted them to. (At this point I've collected about 2,000 covers of RPG books.) And the editing on this new edition is strong.

And, as I said, the response on Kickstarter is gratifying. I've heard multiple people say that it's very enjoyable reading, and that's something that I've always prided myself in for my writing -- that it's casual and hopefully enjoyable -- but that hasn't always been appreciated.

So, good days. Though even the surplus of good emotions has left me a little emotionally drained ...

Wipeout!

Jul. 29th, 2014 10:12 pm
shannon_a: (Default)
So the busy-ness has continued.

Two weeks back I got to take a couple of days off after my second (and final) dental appointment for the year and after completing the proofing of the '90s Designers & Dragons book, but then it was right back to more Designers & Dragons work. This time it was polishing the index for the '80s book. It's very tedious work of the sort that I can do, and that I can do well, but that I don't have a lot of patience for, and that I find exhausting. I spent about 13 hours over it over 9 evening and weekend days and was pretty exhausted when I was done.

I finished up on the index on Sunday (alongside editing 4 DnDclassics histories and polishing a Mechanics & Meeples article and writing the first draft of the first half of an article for WotC) and then yesterday evening I totally collapsed. From the time I got off work I did absolutely nothing worklike. I spent some time with Kimberly, played an iPhone video game for much of the evening, and then sat down and read a long graphic novel (The Infinity Gauntlet) cover-to-cover. It felt like a lost evening, which is a fine thing, and was clearly needed. Whew.

I've been thinking I should have a lost night each week.

Tonight I figured that I'd mostly relax, other than first-drafting a board game review. Except I started to receive the layouts for Designers & Dragons: The '00s to proof. Ah well. At least I'm not getting indexes and layouts at the same time!

So things remain a little too busy, but Designers & Dragons is coming along ... and soon enough my part in it will be done. Still pending (but none of it actually waiting for me yet): 6 more sections of layout for the '00s book (following the 2 I worked through tonight), index for the '90s, and index for the '00s.
shannon_a: (Default)
So I always take the last week of the year off work, from Christmas Day to New Years Eve. I worked at some job or another that did this, and I liked it, so I've made it into a regular tradition. Some years I spend that week reading and playing computer games ... but it's actually been a few years since I did that. Some years I spend that week finishing off a major writing project ... which is what I did this year.


The major writing project in question was Designers & Dragons: The '00s. I went into the vacation week already done with all the primary writing, but with little bits left: introduction, bibliography, section heads. However the biggest thing I had to do was edit the whole book, and that took some excessive amount of hours over the course of my vacation. I'd guess about 60 hours over the 7 days; yeah, I worked more over vacation than in a normal work week.

It actually took me until New Year's Day night, but Designers & Dragons: The '00s is now done. In fact, I finished up all four books in the series over the course of the year: the first two on January 8th, the third sometime in Spring, and the Fourth two days ago. However, this was all part of a longer sequence of writing that date back to 2005 and involves finishing the book(s) three times: once in 2008 (I think) for the publisher who opted out of it, though I only got partway through the final draft then; one in 2010 (I think) for Mongoose; and once now. According to my notes, the Mongoose version of Designers & Dragons was 362,000 words, while the new one is 535,000 words, so that's a fair amount of text added in the last 18 months -- which is how long I've been working on the new edition for Evil Hat.

There's still some little bits of work to do: some more collection of cover art and some corrections for the '70s, '80s, and '90s books that I've built up while working on the '00s, but the major work is done. Whew!

Mind you, in the last week I've been making a list of additional histories I *could* write and thinking about topics for the RPGnet column from when the Kickstarter goes live, etc ... but none of that will take the same concentration as writing the full books did.



My other big writing project for the year was histories for the D&D PDFs published to DnDClassics.com. I wrote 2-4 of those a week, for a total of 171 articles and 121,000 words. After some negotiation, the DriveThru folks were willing to let me retain ownership of the histories, so I'm planning to put a book together from them someday as an adjunct to Designers & Dragons.

I also wrote three history articles for DnDInsider's Daily D&D, all toward the end of the year.

Both of these should be continuing into the new year. (I'd kind of prefer to be done with the DnDClassics, because they're a fair amount of regular work, but if I ever want to do a book, I really need to do *everything* so onward it continues).



For the new year, I've got two big projects planned.

First, I'm going to write a book about the works of one of my favorite authors. I'm hoping I can sell this to a mainstream publisher (and already have one in mind). It requires a lot of reading, so my hope is to have it done by the end of the year.

Second, I'm going to write a book about one of my favorite games, including all of its variants. I'm hoping that I can use it to create a market for actual Mechanics & Meeples books.

I'm probably not going to push too hard on either of these until at least February, but I'm excited about them both ...
shannon_a: (Default)
Life has been very busy lately. About a month and a half ago I committed to finishing the fourth and final (for now) Designers & Dragons book by the end of the year. Since then, most of my "non-work" time has been spent writing, editing, and writing again. Tons of work for Designers & Dragons: The '00s, a constant parade of D&D histories for DnDClassics.com, and lately a few articles for Wizards of the Coast too.

Whew!

So when the weather report said that we were going to get rain on Monday or Tuesday, I stopped and said to myself, "If I don't go ride that beautiful (dirt-paved) Wildcat Creek Canyon Trail again soon, I won't get to until spring, because it'll be too muddy."

Saturday was our first RPG session in over a month, due to various things getting in the way (Hawaii for three members of our group; the Endgame party; Kimberly's art at De Young). Lately I'd then take it easy on Sunday (to catch up on writing), but instead I did that bike ride.

It was about 20 miles: down past the end of the Ohlone Greenway, up into Wildcat Canyon, and then through into Tilden. I quite enjoyed it, as I expected I would. My strength wasn't as good on some of the hills after a month and a half of lighter riding, but my stamina was quite strong (in that I wasn't falling down exhausted by the time I got to Tilden, as I have been in the past).

Life being as busy as it has been lately, I of course brought my laptop with me, and once in Tilden I found myself a picnic table and began working. I got in about two hours of writing D&D histories and entering corrections into Designers & Dragons ... and then it got to be too cold. I was wearing my jacket and my fingerless gloves but found myself shivering as I was writing my second history of the day ... so after I finished up a few final shivering paragraphs I packed up and headed back up over the hill to get home.

Sadly, winter has come.

But there wasn't rain on Monday and Tuesday.



Last night Kimberly and I decided to get some sandwiches and eat them in the local dog park for dinner. Even though we made it up there by 5.30, it was already pretty dark ... but that didn't stop people from taking their dogs out. There were lots of people, mostly bunched together in the dim dusk.

Dogs bounced around in the dark. Some of the dogs had lights on which bounced and spun in weird shapes. Other of the dogs were aggressive about our sandwiches, something which I attributed to their near-invisibility in the dimness. It was a surprisingly weird and fun experience.



Today K. seems to have come down with a cold, sadly. I've been a bit muzzy and tired too. Hopefully I'm fighting it off, rather than coming down with it. Tomorrow will tell ...
shannon_a: (Default)
Kimberly & I went to the De Young museum on Saturday. It was to see an "Art Slam", which was a slideshow of various art works -- including one great piece that she'd done.

Unfortunately, the experience was somewhat subpar. Her slide was literally first, showing before they had the window screen all the way down and before most of the audience even realized that the presentation was starting. They showed it for all of 5-10 seconds. Worse, three of her friends who'd come to see it all missed it because they were running later.

Worser, there were some people right behind us in the auditorium who constantly cheered and gushed and talked about every slide in a way that made K. (and, really, everyone else) anxious. (They were De Restless.) We had to move and then we had to leave. Kimberly's friend Jay gave us a ride home.

On the bright side, we had a nice trip out to the De Young and we had an enjoyable and decadent lunch of Andronico's sandwiches and deserts in the De Young garden before the show. And Kimberly did have a piece of art ever-so-briefly showing at De Young! It was fun to see!



Got home a lot earlier than expected, so I spent the afternoon and evening writing and editing.

Then today I biked up to Temescal and wrote and edited more. By the by, that turned out to be at the limit of my endurance as I'm still sniffling a bit from my recent (light) cold. And speaking of cold, the park was. After two hours, I headed home. It was 2.30, and I was chilled, and I decided the park was only getting colder from there. Sadly, Winter has come.

And tonight I wrote and edited more.

Total damage was about 8,000 words over Saturday and Sunday: three more D&D Classics articles (2,500 words total) and my eighth new history for Designers & Dragons: The '00s (5,500 words).

Whew!
shannon_a: (Default)
AUCTION. Today was the annual Board Game auction at EndGame. I *always* use it as an excuse to get unused games out of my house, but this year I found myself a bit challenged, as my percentage of great games that I want to keep has crept up year-by-year, thanks to the annual Endgame filter. So, I set myself a target of getting 20 games out of the house this year, and made that. I'll pick up a little bit of cash for selling those off the next time I make it to Endgame.

But today I went to see if I wanted to *buy* any games. I've been doing this for the last 4 years or so, and I've generally stayed for a couple of hours, and bought somewhere between 0-2 games. Which was what I did today. I picked up Fast Flowing Forest Fellers by Friedemann Friese (which I gave an 8/10 on BGG when I played it three and a half years ago) and Rune Age (which will give me something to write about for both deckbuilding and cooperative design stuff that I'm working on).

I was quite pleased, because those were both "A" list games for me -- not just stuff that I bought because it was cheap. (Though definitely cheap: $13 for the still shrink wrapped FFFF and $11 for the Rune Age; yes, you should go to the board game auction at Endgame if you're in the Bay Area.) I left around 12.30. While there (mostly before the auction) I also got to spend some enjoyable time talking to Aaron, Andrew, Bob, Eric, and other Endgame folks -- which is the other joy of the auction.

BIKING. It's really not going to surprise you that after Endgame (and lunch) I headed out and did some biking. I've long wanted to head up into the hills from downtown Oakland, since I've done the reverse a few times. Today I did. First I circled around Lake Merritt and it was *so* nice to see that you can now traverse the south side of the Lake without having to go out to the streets. I think that's been a mess for the 10 years or so I've been regularly visiting downtown Oakland. (Sadly, the paths down to the estuary aren't open yet, though they looked done; I'll have to visit that another time.) After that I took a road called Trestle Glen up into the hills.

I was pretty amazed that the second I hit Trestle Glen, the houses got really nice. (And the housing prices seem to reflect that.) Very nice houses, nice neighborhoods, lots of foliage. The entire street is a long incline too, though not too terribly steep. I was getting tired as I rode, but not horribly so. Then I entered Piedmont, and suddenly the road turned to very steep. I alternatively walked and rode various bits from there on up. (I've learned through my hill riding that walking stuff that feels overly tiring can keep me from exhausting myself.)

Exiting Piedmont, I entered what's apparently called the Oakmore area of Oakland, looming over the Dimond Canyon. My new road up there was Leimert (after crossing the historic Leimert Bridge). This was quite attractive too -- and I got to see some really nice views of the Bay, the further I got up. They were pretty neat views too, because they framed Oakland's downtown right in front of San Francisco's downtown, a juxtaposition that I don't usually see.

Eventually I made it toward the Montclair area and headed up to Shepherd Canyon. I didn't ride the whole trail, but I did ride far enough to find a bench, where I read and ate dark chocolate. It was nicely shaded and there were wonderful breezes. Very pleasant! I eventually finished Swamp Thing vol. 2 and that it was back home for R&R for the rest of the day.

WRITING. Well, mostly R&R, as I'm now back to work on _Designers & Dragons_ (and have a few more writing projects, besides). Back on Tuesday I started on the various administrative tasks I'd accrued for _Designers & Dragons_: getting illustrations (covers) in order, making some tweaks to articles based on recent events, etc. I'll continue with this for several more days, then next weekend or so get started on some real writing for volume 4.
shannon_a: (Default)
It has been a very busy week. Beyond the regular work-week, that is. I spent much of my "free" time working on finishing up the third Designers & Dragons book, focused on the '90s. It got heavy attention on Monday, Tuesday, and Friday night — then I did some marathon writing and editing Saturday night and finally finished it today. Whew! 132k words total.

And then there was one.



You'll likely have noticed that I left out Wednesday and Thursday from my worknights. On Wednesday that's because I was off watching The Coast of Utopia: Voyage with Kimberly.

Thursday's busyness was unfortunately less benign. That afternoon I went down to the co-lo mainly to swap some memory in one of our machines. Unfortunately I found that two others were experiencing problems. When I was moving around one whose power supply had died, I accidentally knocked out a third machine's power cord. And it's power supply died too. Aggh! So I was down at the co-lo from like 1.30 until 6, with problems just stacking up. Chris came and rescued me so that I could attend my Thursday night gaming session (since it was too late too cancel). Fortunately he'd also managed to turn up a spare power supply, which we swapped in after the gaming. It was still a loooong night.



Thursday was Kimberly's birthday, but we'd agreed that she was going to spend it with friends (a good thing, given my troubles of the day!), then she and I celebrated it on Saturday.

On Satuday afternoon we took some salads & wraps (and chocolate) up to Tilden Park and enjoyed some lunch and a little bit of a walk through forest trails to Lake Anza. Very nice. It was a bit gloomy when we got there, but it cleared up nicely (and didn't start raining until the evening).

That evening we also went to a special place for her dinner: La Mediterranee. I had the most delicious quiche, then I had delicious Ici ice cream afterward (mint chocolate chip), something that I'd never tried before. And then I discovered that I'd found my current limits for dairy, even with Lactaid, as I was sick much later in the night. Ah well, still great food.



Today I did part of my writing up at Lake Temescal — apparently making the tour of Berkeley lakes. As is often the case when I'm up there I found the editorial work really light and productive. Good and useful changes came to me easily and intuitively. But the ever-threatening weather finally sent me scurrying home, where I finished Designers & Dragons: The '90s after dinner. Whew.



Mostly been relaxing since, which is very nice. I'm in fact planning to take a few weeks off of Designers & Dragons, as I've been working at the new edition for 9 months and am feeling a little burned.

Of course in the meantime I need to do our taxes, catch up on my reviews, write the most recent AP for my Pathfinder game, run another Pathfinder session, get some games out for the Endgame Auction, and get ahead on DnDClassics. But I should still be able to relax more than normal. Seriously.

And if the weather allows & no late-season colds come knocking at my door, I'm also going to try and go for a long and new bike ride sometime before I get back to work. Maybe in San Francisco. Maybe up past Pinole. haven't decided.

I've decided I have until Tax Day, then it's back to work on the final book, Designers & Dragons: The '00s, which I've got lots of new material planned for.

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