Month: July 2018

My GenCon Indianapolis Schedule

I will be spending the next week in Indianapolis to attend GenCon. If you’re also at GenCon or at the GenCon Writer’s Symposium, I hope you’ll make time to find me and say hello.

I have a lot of scheduled events, but in between them the best places to look for me are either in the Writer’s Symposium common areas or in the Dealer’s Hall at booth 1649.

5pm Freelancing Life
A panel discussion about freelancing that takes place in the Ballroom of the Marriott Downtown.

9am Breaking Through the Blockages
A solo presentation on overcoming writer’s block. Austin room in Marriott Downtown.

3pm Cover Design Principles
A solo presentation about the basics of cover design intended both for people who want to create their own covers and those who are working with design professionals on covers. Austin room in Marriott Downtown.

4pm Public Face, Private Life
A solo presentation about balancing the need to be public online as a creative professional vs maintaining privacy and emotional balance. Austin room in Marriott Downtown.

6pm Worldbuilder’s Party
Howard and I will be hosting a game of Munchkin Starfinder as part of the Worldbuilder’s party. We hope you’ll stop by and play with us.

9am Structuring Life to Support Creativity
A solo presentation about ways to arrange your life to allow time and support for your creative pursuits. Austin Room in Marriott Downtown.

12pm AMA (Ask Me Anything) with Howard Tayler
Howard and I will be sitting in a room ready to answer questions. Hopefully some people will be there to ask questions. Atlanta Room in Marriott Downtown.

3pm Schmoozing 101
A co-presentation with Elizabeth Vaughn. We’ll be talking about social skills, introductions, starting conversations with strangers, tools for keeping conversation going, and how to gracefully exit conversations. Among other things. Austin room in Downtown Marriott.

The State of Things and Cats

Life is not slow in the weeks before GenCon. It is also not slow when I’m in the middle of Kickstarter fulfillment. Particularly not when the first batch of shirts arrives incorrect and my contact at the manufacturer seems to have a magical ability to answer questions I didn’t ask and not quite answer questions that I did. It is like every communication is a near miss. I’d already decided never to do another t-shirt related kickstarter, I’ve also decided not to work with this particular company again. Which is sad because when we used them a few years ago, they were great. However, as of Saturday I have all of the items I ordered and 5/6th of them are correct. At least I think they are. Monday’s job is to carefully count quantities of colors and sizes.

In between dealing with shirts, I spent most of my week scrambling to put together promotional materials for GenCon. The last several years at the booth we’ve said things like “I wish we had Schlock URL cards” or “It would be really good to have a single sheet about Planet Mercenary that people could look at.” It is a lost opportunity to spend so much time, effort, and money to run a booth and then not have these basic marketing tools. This year we will have them. finally. They’re done and I just have to go get them printed up on Monday.

On the home front, one of my kids has finally decided to take their medicine (literally,) and their world has gotten measurably better. Which is what medicine is supposed to do. I’m still in the emotional place where I’d really like for the solution to be that simple, but I’m not quite believing that it is.

It’s also been about a month since we added a third cat to our household. His name is Milo and he’s a littermate of Callie, who we adopted last February. Last February the people who owned both of them planned to keep Milo as an emotional support animal. But this summer they realized that the ways their lives are changing, Milo would be happier if he could be reunited with his sister. He came to us on July 3rd. We’ve spend the requisite few weeks acclimatizing all the cats to each other. Callie and Milo hissed and growled at first, but now they get along great.

It is interesting to watch how the differing personalities of the cats fit different emotional needs in our household. Milo is the one who is content to be held and snuggled. Callie continues to be charming and a creature of instinct. Kikaa is less grouchy about the intrusion of other cats now that the younger ones pounce on each other instead of attempting to pounce on her.

All is going well, and I have a busy week and a half ahead of me before I depart for GenCon.

Quick Thought About Today and Dreams

In preparation for my presentations at GenCon, I’ve been reading materials about breaking creative blocks and organizing a creative life. A thought I keep encountering is that my days should match my dreams. Any future with my words published begins with a today where I wrote those words. Any future where I am healthier begins with a today when I took time to tend to my health. I won’t have the life or dreams that I want unless I am willing to sacrifice pieces of today’s time and comfort in service of those dreams. The hard part is that every thing I want to do requires me to give up some other thing that I also want to do. Even worse, many of the things which carry me closer to my dreams require me to give up something that is comfortable/happy in order to do something that is uncomfortable/difficult. However if I just do a few things every day, over time they become easier to do, less uncomfortable, and I begin to see progress.

Switching Gears

I shipped out the last of the RAM books this morning. That concludes a Kickstarter that began last October. I was also notified that the big shipment of shirts will arrive on Friday. Once that arrives and is shipped out, I will have completed the second Kickstarter. It is possible that by the time I leave for GenCon I will have zero pending Kickstarters. Even if we pull of an amazing scramble to get the next two Schlock books ready, I’m not likely to launch that Kickstarter until I get back from GenCon.

Right now our business plan and personal finances have us going from Kickstarter to Kickstarter. The landscape of ways that audience, internet, and software tools interact means that we have to constantly be evaluating what combinations are best to supply stories to our audience while also being able to pay our bills. One of the next experiments on the list is to try out Print on Demand products like shirts. Because I am never again planning to do a shirt based Kickstarter. The logistics on this one have been convoluted at every step. In theory POD products give customers more choices and me less inventory to manage. It is a worthwhile experiment.

Through all the business experimentation and shifting, both Howard and I are constantly aware that pretty much all of our income is based in Schlock Mercenary. We’d like to have other income sources, other books, other worlds. Unfortunately it is sometimes difficult for me to shake free from all of the administrative work so that I can focus on the creative work necessary to make other income sources happen.

When I was young and trying to picture my adult life, Small Business Owner was nowhere on the list. I did not know that to be an author also requires me to run a small business.

GenCon is looming large in my attention. I only have three weeks until departure. Most of the organizational work is done, but the writer’s symposium schedulers expressed an enormous amount of faith in me. I pitched five presentations expecting them to pick two or maybe three. They put all five on the schedule. I’m excited about this, but I have to make sure that I am up to speed on all of the presentations. I need to do this well, and that means brushing up in advance and making sure I have the latest available information.

But first I need to get past this week, which has a cluster of appointments for family related things.