Crunch Time

In advance of GenCon there are a hundred tasks to be done. Each task is simple taken by itself. The tricky part is remembering to do all of them and sorting them so that they are accomplished during the right windows of time. Merchandise must be shipped early enough to arrive. Ditto Banners. I have to put a credit card on file with the hotel, but that can’t be done earlier than a week in advance. The cash register must be updated. Schedules must be coordinated between the seven person team that is required to run the booth. Each of those listed tasks actually breaks down into a multitude of little steps and I have to remember them all. My task list is always full in the weeks before a large convention.

We actually have two large conventions coming. Salt Lake Comic Con follows GenCon by only two weeks. It is a slightly simpler convention to prepare for, partly because it is local, partly because we have a smaller booth and smaller crew (only four people.) Also some of the work done for GenCon can double for SLCC. We’ll just use the same banner, for instance. Yet there are some time-sensitive tasks related to SLCC that I must also track.

During the week between these two large conventions, my kids will start school. For the younger three, this means we’ve been doing wardrobe assessment and discovering that most of them need some new clothes, underwear, or socks. They’ll use the same school bags that they had last year, but we’ll stock them with new folders and binders. I’ve also been having the kids sort and organize their bedrooms so that they’re both mentally and physically organized for the school year to come. On top of that, Patch had some over-the-summer homework which we ignored until this week. For Kiki “starting school” means that she’ll be packing up all of her things and on the Saturday after Howard comes home from GenCon, I’ll be driving her back to college. Kiki does her own packing and organizing these days, but there are a few tasks, such as making the tuition payment, which require my participation.

Speaking of kid things, between now and the end of August is the time frame that we’ve declared for the completion of Link’s Eagle Scout project. We made a fantastic start with selecting the project, getting it approved, and clearing the site. Then for the last week we’ve been stalled, waiting for someone to get back to me with information. She never did. Instead I had to go shake the information out of an entirely different person and unfortunately the information wasn’t “Sure you can have a donation of materials.” It was “Before we can consider your request we need you to get tax ID numbers for Habitat for Humanity and your scout troop.” The request is reasonable, but it means I’ve left messages with additional people and now I’m waiting for them to call me. I hate waiting. I also hate not being able to clearly see how this project will fit with all the other things. Am I going to spend portions of next week helping Link set up construction help or am I going to spend the next week helping Link figure out how to secure funding? I can’t know until people return my calls and we then go petition in a written letter for a donation of materials.

To make the next few weeks even more interesting, we’re trying to push to send Massively Parallel off to print by August 30. I approve of this push. We need it to line up the Holiday season in the ways it needs to go. It means a pile of work for Howard. It also means work for me, but we’d really love to have the book done in time to let people buy it for Christmas.

I have another book I’d hoped to have ready for Christmas, the Cobble Stones holiday-themed book. There is still time, but my timing sense is telling me I’m already late in prepping it. I should be half way through sending it through writer’s group and I haven’t submitted any of it because I haven’t yet revised any of it. Because I’ve barely had space to do anything that wasn’t already on my task list. It seems like all the minutes of all of my days are spent juggling my priorities so that nothing falls apart. Writing so seldom gets juggled to the top. I know the common wisdom is that I must then seize the time for writing. That is the writer-correct thing to do, but I get very tired. Except tired isn’t quite the right word. I’m not sleepy, I just run out of focus. Writing flows when I have spaces to think and consider. I haven’t had those lately. I probably won’t have them for weeks more. So instead of having words flow naturally out of my thoughts, I have to find the force of will to untangle them from the rats nest of other thoughts which haven’t had time to settle.

Other things that are taking up space in my brain this month:
We’ve had to renew our life insurance policies. This required meeting with an insurance agent whose job it is to first make us very afraid of death and then to convince us that we should salve that fear with large policies. We opted for a policy that will give us two years to find a new normal rather than the set-for-life policy which would have cost more than we can afford annually. Then we had to answer health questionnaires over the phone which made us realize that we’re not the golden life insurance prospects that we once were. It costs more to insure us now. On Monday a tech is going to come and do some blood tests and other basic health measures. After which the insurance company will tell us how much we’ll owe as an annual premium. Whee.

We’re going to have to find a new health insurance provider between now and December 31. We’re probably going to end up enrolled in an ACA program. I’ve barely begun to think about this, but knowing I’m going to have to figure it out looms in my head a little.

We ought to meet with an estate lawyer and set up a living trust. I mean, while we’re dealing with thoughts of mortality, life insurance, and health insurance. Why not just get all the unpleasantness managed.

Last week Howard and I had a meeting where we laid out a timeline on the Schlock RPG, which is a project that requires a Kickstarter. Next year could be one that is completely taken over by running and fulfillment of Kickstarter promises. That’s fine. I’m excited by the things which we might get to make. This combined with everything else means that next year’s schedule is full. Already. Which is a daunting prospect when I’m only nine days into a month that promises to be packed to the gills all the way to the end of it.


My neck/back has continued problematic ever since I injured it last Tuesday. (While sleeping. Cosmically unfair that.) It is steadily improving. Regular stretching, heat packs, ibuprofen, and ointments have given back a range of motion that is almost normal. It is to the stage where I think it doesn’t actually need much more treatment. It just needs to stop being mad about being out of joint. I’ve picked a day next week and if I haven’t hit “all better” by then, I’ll go ahead and spend money to have it looked at. Less fun is the fact that I think the “out of joint” point on my back is also a hidden anxiety button. Not my favorite, but that is coming back into control too.

Gleek is home from camp. She arrived dirty and glad to be here. She gave me some hugs, but was far more interested in changing into short pants and getting on the computer than in sitting down to tell me all about camp. I do have a report from a leader that she was fine at camp, so that’s a relief. I’m just really glad to have her home. I missed her.

Stage one of Link’s Eagle Scout project is complete. The project has been approved. Papers are signed. We did the site clean up this morning to prep everything for a shed to go up. Stage two is more paperwork and drumming up donations to pay for the materials to build the shed. We have some leads, but follow up is necessary. Stage two is also more paperwork, because of course there is more paperwork. We plan to have the shed fully installed and the project complete by August 30th. After which there will be more paperwork.

I’ve completed a draft version of the Challenge Coin PDF. On Monday I commence emailing the contributors to get their approvals on the copy edits of their words. Howard will take a copy on the plane to GenCon so he can write the intro and create some cartoons for the interior.

Kiki’s final art show of the summer ends tonight. She’ll bring home all of the unsold pieces and put them up for sale in her etsy shop. Once they’re all in place, then Howard and I will both blog links to that shop. Though if you want a head start, she does have a few things there now. All of those proceeds will go directly toward her college tuition and living expenses while at school. She leaves in three weeks, but I’m not quite ready to think about that yet. I’ve really enjoyed having her home for the summer. She will be missed.

School starts in two weeks. I’ve paid most of the fees, got the schedules set up. Filled out the beginning of school forms. While Howard is at GenCon we’ll probably have the traditional end-of-summer family outing where I drag my kids someplace and then make them stand together for a photo. I do try to pick locations that I think they will like. Though it is possible that I’ll be so tired that I just make them stand together in the back yard. Or maybe I’ll just catch them at a moment when they’re all watching the same movie or playing a video game all together.

We’ve not done any further work on the dirt patch which used to be our deck. I do walk out there occasionally and look at the leaky sprinkler pipe I dug up. I was going to google sprinkler pipe repair and get it taken care of, but then there was an Eagle Project instead. I suspect this will continue to be the case throughout the rest of August. That’s fine. The cooler weather of September is probably better for fixing up the yard anyway.

While writing this post I scanned back through my blog to see if there were any other loose ends that I ought to update. It is funny how the events I chronicled in May, June, July seem simultaneously recent and long ago. August has barely begun, but it feels as if summer is pretty much over. Part of that is because once school starts, my brain assumes it is September. I’ve got two weeks left. I need to remember to stop, breathe, pay attention rather than rushing from one project to the next.

Adventures in Tax Payments and Family Travel

We’ve been self employed for years, but we’re set up as a corporation, so mostly we’ve handled tax payments through withholding. Then our tax accountant told us about a different way to handle things which saves us money. It all makes sense, but it means that this is the first year that I’m paying estimated quarterly taxes. The first payment was due April 15, so I thought the second payment would be due July 15. Nope. June 15. I discovered this fact because fellow self-employed people were complaining on twitter. I confirmed it and then realized I was presented with a problem. All my accounting things are in Utah, including my checkbook. I am in California for another week. Truthfully it all could have waited a week. The government would probably not have argued with me if I willingly made payment before they had a chance to notice that it was late. But I don’t like to be late on this sort of thing. It makes me anxious.

This sort of thing is exactly why we planned this trip with Kiki going home to hold down the fort. She flew home this morning, which meant that I could call the house and walk her through the process of finding and filling out the necessary payment coupon. Howard was at home to sign the check. (I suppose if Kiki had not been there, I would have walked Howard through the process, but Kiki is really good about going into assistant mode these days. Howard’s assistant mode is really rusty. The dynamic feels backward.) I had the money ready and waiting because of the past few months of careful budgeting. In a way it was all reassuring. There was a problem, an important thing that was left undone, and then thirty minutes later the thing was done. It makes me feel like I might be competent at least a little bit.

I’ve spent some time looking at how I arranged this trip and examining why I made the choices that I did. I’m rarely certain that I’ve chosen right because I can see so many other options. Howard stayed home, which is the lowest stress option for him. It allowed him to recover from being sick and hopefully will allow him to rebuild the buffer. Yet I know that he misses out on some of the bonding which happens with a family trip. Much of that bonding occurs precisely because the trip is stressful. Less stress = missed shared experiences. I can’t see a way to have both. Knowing that I was sending Kiki back to manage the online store was the only way I could feel good about being absent for so long. The last time I spent two weeks away from home it was 1999 and we didn’t have a time-dependent home business. Even there though, I wonder how much of my decision making is driven by unreasonable anxiety. The world would not end if packages waited an extra week. So many of my urgent business tasks are far less urgent than they feel on a daily basis. It is only when I put myself in a position where I can’t jump and solve an issue at a moment’s notice that I’m aware how much of my day is spent jumping to solve issues as if they are emergencies. On this trip I jump and then don’t have any of my tools, so the next few minutes are spent explaining to myself why it will all be fine anyway. So far I’ve been gone for five days. There have been some lovely, long relaxed hours. There have also been hours where my brain jolted with adrenaline five or eleven times because of things remembered or half-remembered that for an instant had me convinced that disaster would result because I could not manage them right away. Those were not my favorite hours.

As of today the reunion part of the trip is over. Most of the relatives have departed home. My parents are off to Hawaii for their golden honeymoon. My sister has settled in to be with my Grandma until Thursday. Then we’ll trade off and I will stay with Grandma until my parents return the next week. That makes today the settling-in day. It is the day when I let the kids watch too much TV and play too many video games. I breathe deep and decide how I am going to spend the time between now and the day when I’m on duty to take care of Grandma. It is the day when I talk Kiki through the business processes that she’ll manage while I’m away. It is also the day where I think through how I arranged this trip and face my guilt that I put Howard and Kiki at home to work while I’m away with the other three kids. I picked the option with minimal work disruption instead of maximal family togetherness. I have to think about that choice. Because there need to be times when I arrange it the other way around. Of course, I could have just said no to the entire trip which would have resulted in zero life disruption and zero extended family togetherness. We all would have missed much with that choice.

I have more thinking to do, but after today we’ll have several outing days in a row which will likely interfere with the thinking. That in itself might be a good thing, as I probably think too much. For today, the kids are playing with cousins, Kiki traveled home safely, Howard is no longer alone in the house, and the taxes are paid. I’ll count that good enough for now.

LOTA shipping day 1

We sent out two thirds of the preordered LOTA books today. All of the unsketched and sketched with LOTA, Artist Choice, Ebby, TAG, Pi, and Para are in the mail. Thursday will be the final shipping day. All the rest of the orders will go out then.

This means my brain is fried. On top of the usual shipping brain fry, I’m also sick. So I don’t have a whole lot of complex thoughts right now. I do have a small smugness, to which Howard tells me I am entitled. Yesterday when I was printing postage there was a moment where I stared at the box and wondered if I’d printed enough. I looked at the stack, thought about the hours allotted, thought about who was coming to help, and realized it felt about right. My instinct was almost perfectly accurate. I used to have to stress and do math to figure out how much work to stage for a shipping day. I’ve now internalized the processes enough that I can eyeball it. Strange that my life had let me to a place where I have this expertise, but useful all things considered.

So I’m taking my small smugness to bed where we will sleep until tomorrow when I’ll begin lining up work for Thursday.

Learning to Divide the Load

At 2am this morning I had a brilliant opening sentence for this blog post. My brain worked, crafted, and whittled to make sure I had a sentence that was balanced and clever. Of course at that hour I was attempting to be asleep and so I did not get up and write it down. Naturally I can’t recall it this morning, partially because my brain is fogged from lack of sleep. Stupid brain.

I haven’t been writing much in these past few weeks. I’m juggling too many things and holding them all in my head. The logical thing to do would be to reach out to one of my many willing friends and say “Hey, can you help me with this?” That would make a lot of sense. Tasks like shipping 300 Strength of Wild Horses packages would be far more enjoyable with company. The trouble is that the things to do arrive in such small pieces. I always have trouble deciding that this one additional email means that I should stop and figure out how to reconfigure the load so someone else can help me carry it. It always seems like stopping to shift things around will delay progress. Surely I should just carry on. Besides, other people are busy too. I don’t want to bother them.

I want to say that this “do it myself” tendency is some sort of virtue or at least not a symptom of pride, but I suspect the opposite is true. It is a flaw which frequently leads to me being overwhelmed. I don’t have to be. Many people have told me on many occasions that they’re happy to help out. Yet somehow I always fail to stop and decide to divide the load.

I’m hoping to change this when Kiki gets home from college. She’s going to spend the summer with us dividing her time between art commissions and being a Tayler Corporation employee. I will have someone in my house to whom I can assign work because she is getting paid. I’m certain it will not all be sunshine and roses. I’m still going to have to fight my tendency to not want to bother other people. Yet hopefully by the time she heads back to college, I’ll have learned some things about where hired help is helpful in my business processes. Also hopefully, I will have figured out how to budget and pay for that help. It will be a learning experience for us both.

Of course between now and Thursday when I drive to fetch her from school, I have much work to do. Not the least of this work is turning our dungeon basement room into a space that Kiki can live in for three months without feeling opressed by the bare concrete walls. We don’t have the money to fund framing and finishing. Instead I’ve put up sheetrock on the one framed wall and I’ll be hanging unbleached muslin over the remaining concrete. ($40 can cover most of the room.) The walls will still be hard to the touch, but hopefully we can trade Dungeon-bedroom for blanket-tent bedroom, which seems lots cozier, if still odd. Planning how to make it work is one of the things my brain was considering late last night while also crafting the perfect blog opening.

Perhaps I’ll do some before and after pictures later today. For now, I need to head over to the warehouse. I have 90 more packages to mail and then I can call the SWH shipping complete.

These are My Current Projects

Between now and next Wednesday morning

Create a display with prices and marketing text for Schlock-related small shiny things

Modify and spray paint a cardboard box so that it becomes a useful bin for people to peruse art and posters for sale.

Make and laminate price signs for the booth. Be clever and entertaining with the marketing text while also being clear.

Make fliers with maps that go to Tracy Hickman’s booth and Travis Waltons artist alley table.

Print out labels for each individual art piece and affix them to the backs of the art pieces.

Figure out how much inventory to haul to FanX then stack all of that inventory in the test booth.

Make card sets for Strength of Wild Horses.

Assemble boxed sets for sale at FanX booth

Accept delivery of Strength of Wild Horses at the warehouse.

Make sure the point of sale system is updated with everything that will be on sale. Make sure I have back up means of managing if internet goes down while we’re trying to sell things.

Set up all the things in the booth, including lights and signs. Make it look like a welcoming little store where all the bajillion people at FanX want to shop.

Disassemble the charming little store in such a way that I can remember how to set it back up. Stack all of it to see everything will fit into my car or if I’ll need to borrow/arrange for an additional vehicle.

Begin putting things in motion on promotional pushes for LOTA and SWH. The SWH push is imminent because I’ll have books next week.

Make carpooling arrangements so that I can be in Salt Lake all day on Friday.

Stock the house with sufficient food that the kids can feed themselves Friday evening and all day on Saturday.

Wednesday through next Saturday

Set up the little store in the Salt Palace.

Run the little store amid masses of people. Hope they buy enough things to pay for the expense and effort.

Re-stock the store as needed each morning. (I really want to have to re-stock things, because that would mean that we sold things.)

Beyond next week

I need to package and ship SWH to my lovely backers. This will be about 300 packages.

Fix up the basement room so that Kiki can live there over the summer. Most notably we need to put up sheet rock on one wall so that she has a place to hang her whiteboards and the calendars she needs to track her work.

Challenge coin PDF

Cobble stones book cover redesigns, and the 2013 book. Maybe a Cobble Stones holiday book.

Promotional push for LOTA and SWH.

Mounting original art for sale on Ebay, timed with the promotional push for LOTA.

Other stuff. I know there is more stuff. Hopefully I’ll remember it once I’ve cleared some of this stuff away.

Convention Booths and Thought Patterns

Several years ago Howard and I were in the midst of last-minute planning for running a booth at a local convention. I don’t remember what the moment of stress was about, but I remember vividly that the words “I hate this” slipped from my mouth. I was shocked to realize that I meant them. It made me scared, because I was feeling such an emotion about the life we’ve so carefully built together. After consideration, I was able to come to the conclusion that it is okay for me to dislike some of the aspects of my job while still loving the work as a whole. No one expects parents to love changing diapers even if they enjoy parenting. There was something about running a booth that I did not like, and that was okay. The knowledge let us rearrange so that the booth running was done by other people more often than by me.

Today I enlisted help and used some of our warehouse space to set up a test booth for what we will set up at FanX. This is a luxury that we’ve never had before, having space to set up the booth and plan how it will look ahead of time. In the process I discovered something astonishing, it is possible that I don’t hate setting up and running a booth. It is possible that what I hate is the stress of showing up at a location and having to make all of the set up decisions on the fly. I particularly hate the part where Howard visualizes things one way and I visualize them differently and then we snap at each other because we don’t have time to think it over. Everything has to be decided right at that moment. FanX is going to be different. We’ll be agreed ahead of time how everything needs to look and all I have to do on the set up day is cart things in and set them up.

I’ve found another way that Howard and I were working at cross purposes around convention booths. For years Howard has requested to know how much we need to make in order for the show to break even. For years I tried to detach Howard from that information, believing that if a convention was not doing well, it would add to Howard’s stress. I thought it was better to just let conventions be what they were and to not measure success with dollars. I still think that the success of a show should not be measured only in dollars, but that was never what Howard wanted to do. He wanted to be able to evaluate the monetary component of a show quickly and easily. He wanted data so that we could decide later whether the convention was worth attending again.

So I sat down with myself and tried to figure out exactly why I was so resistant to making sure that Howard had numbers. The core of it is that some deep part of me believes that my job is to prevent Howard from feeling stress. This is a thing I identified in myself years ago, but apparently I’ve still not rooted out all the tendrils of habit. The belief structure goes like this: I’m the booth captain, therefore if the convention booth does not succeed, it is my fault. Booth failure to make money = my failure at my job. I don’t want to fail Howard. I want him to always be glad that he trusts me with his business. So if the booth is doing well, Yay, but I must still de-emphasize money as a measurement tool because some other time the booth not doing well will cause stress. If the booth is not doing well, I must de-emphasize money as a measurement tool, because then we can be less stressed about the show.

When I pull this thought pattern out into the light I notice some ridiculous things. Hidden in there is a belief that Howard’s good opinion of me is dependent on what I do in my job as business manager and is therefore in jeopardy if I make a mistake. If that is true then, instead of us being able to just suffer together if things go badly or rejoice together if things go well, I have to try to spin all of the information in as positive a light as I possibly can. Fortunately I have iron clad rules about honesty and full disclosure, so this twisty thought path has not led us to a place where I started deceiving to make sure things look good. Instead, Howard had to work far too hard to get some simple monetary metrics that would make his life easier, and I felt extremely anxious about setting up for and attending big conventions with Howard.

This is the year when I will stop doing that. “That” being trying to not stress Howard with the business aspect of the work that we do together. Sometimes the numbers are going to be unhappy and Howard needs to know about it. I need to stop interposing myself to prevent Howard from feeling stress. Howard needs reports, convention reports, book profitability reports, monthly profitability reports. He needs to be able to look at these things so that he can make strategic and tactical decisions about our business. Funny thing is the lack information was constantly stressing him. I was causing stress by trying to prevent stress.

I’m looking forward to FanX, which is not something I would have expected last September when Salt Lake Comic Con was such an emotional drain on us. However we’ve implemented a very different booth plan, we’ve partnered up with some friends, and we’ve got some very different sales strategies. I still expect the show to be exhausting. I really want it to be profitable because we could use the influx of money this month. It could still be a financial failure despite all our efforts. Sometimes experiments to not yield the hoped for results, a good experiment is still worthwhile. Perhaps big comic conventions are not the place we want to spend our effort, but until we give this another try, we can’t know. The experiment begins in two weeks.

Re-organizing My Office, Again.

When we remodeled my office a couple of years ago, it was my intention to create a space that was both lovely and functional. It worked, mostly. But then we acquired a warehouse and the room which used to be my storage and shipping room became Kiki’s home-visiting-from-college bedroom. In the shift, a whole category of items became homeless, namely art to be sold and the small stash of inventory which we keep at the house. These things drifted for months, stacked on various flat surfaces in my office. Today I finally gave up and installed a utility shelf in my office. It is not at all lovely, but it returns all of the flat surfaces to being functional. In exchange for one ugly corner, the rest of the space can be lovely again. Perhaps I’ll hang a curtain to hide it.

The truth is that, after seven or eight stable years, the living spaces in our house are going to be fluctuating quite a bit in the years that are to come. Kiki will be home for the summer, but after that none of us is certain. This year there is no money to finish the storage room, but next year may be a different story. Two and a half years from now Link will likely depart the house for college. I’m going to be reconfiguring spaces every six months or so for the next several years. I’m okay with that, particularly if it means I only have to stare at these utility shelves for six months.

It may even be a shorter time than that. It is possible that when I finally spend twenty hours doing organization over at the warehouse, I’ll figure out that it makes more sense for the art and matting supplies to take up residence over there. In which case, the shelves and most of their contents will get moved.

Our family and business continue to evolve. It only makes sense that our spaces should too.

Recalibrating the Finances

I’ve been co-managing a business for more than twelve years now. Since the business continues to support our family, evidence suggests that I have at least a minimal level of competence at the tasks that I must do. However I’m constantly aware that there are huge gaps in my knowledge, because I learn things as they become necessary instead of having a comprehensive knowledge. This means that sometimes I’m doing things the hard way. Once I had a successful way to get something done, I never stopped to wonder if there could be a better one. As one my goals for this year, I’ll be trying to redress this. I’ll be learning how to make reports and graphs so that more of our business decisions can be data driven rather than instinct driven. We have pretty good instincts, but those instincts will only get better if they’re fed data.

Along with trying to make our business flow more quantifiable, I’m also re-vamping our family finances. Last year we took on some significant additional expenses (college tuition, ongoing mental health care for family members, lessons) and we changed the way that we handle paychecks. Last year we had a large monetary influx that helped us cover all of that. We won’t have a comparable influx this year, so it is time to recalibrate our monthly budget. We don’t want to accidentally run ourselves further into debt instead of slowly digging ourselves out.

Both of these projects required me to spend most of my Saturday deep into accounting. I dug into historical records to create profit and loss sheets for each book. I sorted through papers to make sure I had everything in order. I sat down and re-learned the budgeting system in Quicken so that I can be checking our status every week, month, and quarter. I’ve assigned myself additional work for each accounting day, but I’ve turned it into routine work instead of stressful work, which is important. Stressful work gets avoided, routine work gets done.

Part of this recalibration is shifting our spending habits downward a bit. We don’t have to go into crisis mode, but I do need to dust off some of my frugal living habits and make sure that we’re using our resources wisely. This means I need to be paying attention on a smaller scale than I have been for the past while. I need to be pausing before buying. Sometimes I’ll buy anyway, but that pause is important because it allows us to prioritize. To use a metaphor, we don’t want to spend all our money on popcorn and not be able to afford movie tickets. At the end of all the mucking around with numbers, I feel better. I have a clearer picture of where we are financially and where we need to be headed. Now I need to go make dinner instead of waiting until the last minute and then buying one.

A Day for an Inventory of Creative Projects in Process

This morning my email informed me that the advance copies for Strength of Wild Horses should arrive at my door tomorrow. Opening that package will let me know if the books are everything that I want them to be. I’ve been through this with fourteen different books, but I still get nervous when I know the package is coming.

At lunch, Howard and I met with Tracy and Laura Hickman to talk about XPC (Xtreme Player Codex), which is the follow up book to XDM (Xtreme Dungeon Mastery). Howard and Tracy will be meeting again next week for a massive brainstorming and outlining session. I’m excited to see the results of that. This fall I will get to do the editing and layout for the book. We hope to release it next spring. So a new project is underway.

This afternoon I picked up a color test print of LOTA. This is for the final pass where I scan once again for errors that I’ve missed. I found some. Tomorrow I’ll find more. Then I’ll fix all of them. Then I’ll upload it and tell the printer “Go.” Two months from now it will be advance copies from LOTA that will arrive and make me nervous.

Also this afternoon I sent postcards and note cards off to print. These are backer rewards from the Strength of Wild Horses Kickstarter. Tomorrow Kiki will help me stretch the canvas prints so that they are ready to go. That only leaves the bookplates. Mid-April is when I need to have everything in hand so that I can mail books to backers. Then I will have fulfilled the promises I made.

This evening Howard and I sat down to watch Stripped, a documentary about cartoonists and cartooning. Howard is in it multiple times, which makes me quite happy. It is a brilliant work of documentary film making and made me glad that we participate in this amazing tradition. I highly recommend picking it up on iTunes and watching it. You can pre-order now. It releases on April 1, 2014.

Somewhere in the middle of the other things, I put together book binders for Massively Parallel and The House in the Hollow. MP is the next Schlock book and it exists in a binder because there are white spaces for Howard to fill. HITH you’ve never heard of before, because before yesterday I didn’t have a name for it. This is my novel in progress, which currently has a word count just over twenty thousand. I’m quite pleased that the name for it showed up, because I was pretty stumped. HITH gets a binder because I need to be able to glance at earlier chapters, scribble revision notes in the margins, and keep track of where I’m at. I’m used to paper as part of my editorial processes, so this seems like it will work for me.

As soon as I complete a few of the projects listed above, I’ve got lots of projects lined up to take the available space. The challenge coin PDF is of first importance. It represents an unfulfilled promise. There are family photo books, my printed copy of this blog for 2013, and then the 2013 Cobble Stones book. I want all of them done by July.

I’m glad that my life has so many creative projects in it. They bring me joy.