Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Bit of Writing, Bit of Art

Well, this was a pretty productive day. I got a few sketches done AND I got some writing done. This was all before the school called to tell me the 12-year old had a 102 degree temperature and had to be picked up. The poor boy was pretty wiped, got him home, got some ibuprofen in him and he climbed into bed to go to sleep for a couple of hours. I am hoping he feels better tomorrow.
I cleaned up some of the writing for "St. Michael's" which is basically a "modern" City Streets location and I also finished up some sketches for it. Here is a sketch of the exterior of the chapel:

If you look at the G.U.P. website (http://www.genericuniverse.com/art.html) you can see a few more of my sketches. I am certainly nowhere near the artist I would like to be, but I feel like I am improving and, honestly, I am enjoying it.
Of course, the art and writing mean little if I can't get to work on the layout problems.

Well, I have a few more hours before bed and feel like I am "on a roll" so I am back to work.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Okay, I AM trying

Well, I am trying to post more often, but if it is a choice between getting work done and posting, well, I am getting work done.
Okay, okay, I will admit it, if it is a choice between getting work done, posting, or watching a REALLY good boxing match or MMA fight, well, the laptop sits here on my lap until it goes to sleep. Lately, the laptop has struggled for space with a teething baby, and often lost.
I have been getting bits and pieces done here and there. I would love to say that I have been working like crazy, but, well, hmmm, let's just say the excuse involves a teething 9 month-old baby and a SERIOUS sleep deficit. I have been playing more with art and sketching, some of it simple, basic practice on shading, lines, etc. and sometimes I actually make an effort to do a "real" illustration for an upcoming book. I have also gotten some more writing done and I've been playing around with Adobe InDesign because, well, my most recent layout "gal" emailed me that she can't do more work right now due to a "family event." The truth is, I believe this, but it hurts as I contracted someone to do something and promptly forgot about it for a few weeks. I am happy that she contacted me and let me know as the deadline was still a little ways in the future and she gave me more time to figure things out. So much for paying for layout I guess. Time to get cracking on that part on my own or find someone that I know personally to do it for me.
On to brighter news, earlier today we figured out that this coming Friday evening was going to be "free." This means, no practices, games, cub scouts, or daisies. We all decided to go out to eat this Friday. THEN my wife realized she was invited to a scrapbooking party. She told them she couldn't go. Yeah! Family Dinner! The truth is we try to do a nice dinner out with the family once a week. The hectic schedule of soccer practices means we pop various "simple" dinners from Costco in and out of the oven before eating and running off in various directions. The older two boys (12 and 8) play soccer competitively so they practice quite often. The oldest actually ENJOYS playing soccer when it is in the 30's (F) and RAINING. Strangely, my wife says that is my fault. People that know me tell me she is right. Our daughter, the lone princess, is 5 and she is playing spring soccer too! This wouldn't be so bad if I wasn't going to be one of her coaches. Even less bad if my certification for coaching U8 (under 8) kids was up-to-date. I have to (okay, "should really") go to another "coaching module" and recert. Come to think of it, my Class E is still good, maybe I can get away with that ... (if it doesn't make any sense, just pretend I am insane, it is probably true and, well, damn, it IS probably true)
Next week Tuesday and Thursday are going to be ugly. On the bright side, basketball ends this Saturday!
I think I posted about the really cool Palm Pilot my wife got me. I can color code the different events with colors for each kid and tell at a glance where the conflicts are. Yup, Tuesday and Thursday next week are going to be HELL!
On a related note, my 8 month old minivan now has 14,700 miles on it. When we finally pay it off (5 years, hey, 1% financing, that's the way to go) I will have over a 100,000 miles on it. Thanks kids! Have you stopped laughing yet! Yes, I said minivan. I suppose I should listen to Peyton Manning and paint racing stripes on it.
Okay, this post got a bit random didn't it? Oh well.
Tomorrow is a "work" day meaning my lengthy list of things to do is almost entirely for G.U.P. and mostly related to writing. It also includes a follow-up post here. That won't happen until late, but, ideally, it'll happen.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Recovery Time

Well, it has been a "long" weekend. The kids had a half day Friday and have today off from school. This means that today is gloomy, cold, and wet. Yes, the kids have been inside all day long. Saturday I went with my 8 year-old to a boy scout/cub scout event. We did NOT sleep overnight. We came home at about 9:00PM, after dinner and hanging out by the fire for a whileI am not ready to camp again, it has been a long time and we don't have any tents, etc. It got down to the teens (That is COLD for San Antonio, maybe not in Wisconsin where I grew up, but here it is cold) where they camped Saturday night. Yeah, I am very happy we did not stay. My son had a blast though, and really wants to go camping. I guess we'll have to work that out in the future.
I have a list of emails to respond to, some held over from Thursday when the cable was out for several hours in the afternoon when I actually had time to email people. I guess that is the way it goes.
Lately I have far more ideas than time. I expect this week to be much better. No award ceremonies at the school, no Memorials to attend (please, no more, not for a long time!), and no Call for my wife to throw schedules out of whack. In other words, I dread whatever is going to go wrong;).
I have a few minutes to get a little done before heading to the grocers to pick up something for dinner. We were going to go out, but, did I mention the weather is miserable?
Tomorrow I want to update the website a bit and take care of the forums.
Pretty much that means axing the forums. I registered for a free service that I was told was pretty good, but my luck at working with it, or even posting there, hasn't been good.
I would like to work on some layouts and some writing.
I also need to review a query and provide some feedback.
Then, I need to send some contracts off to 2 writers along with further feedback and formatting requests.
Okay, maybe starting to list things can get depressing.
We'll see how tomorrow goes. Off to draw for a bit.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Israel Martin Gomberg, You'll Be Missed

Martin was a great friend and a fantastic gamer. Sunday afternoon his wife called me to let me know that he died last Tuesday. She started apologizing for not being able to find my number sooner, I suppose that helped give me a few seconds to recover from the shock. There she was apologizing for not telling me sooner while I can tell that she is barely holding it together and, in reality, trying not to talk about it, but knowing she has to tell people. Apparently he died at work. He has had some problems controlling his diabetes and blood pressure lately, they think the combination somehow did him in. I guess he fell asleep and simply didn't wake up. I did my best to comfort Lisa, but it is difficult to know what to say. I took up telling some of the rest of Martin's gaming friends about his death and the small Memorial that was held this evening to relieve her from having to call more people and tell them about it.
I had to drag all of the kids with me to the Memorial (my wife is on-call and couldn't get out of it on short notice), which was really more of a get-together. Martin HATED things like that so it was very low key. The kids were all very good. One of the young guys that used to game with us is away at college, his father showed up on his behalf. I think that alone tells you what kind of person Martin was, and how much respect and love his friends have for him.

I guess that is probably all I want to say about this. Maybe I will say more another time.

Needless to say, no work got done today.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Grumble ...

Well, yesterday should have been a great workday for me .... Should have been.

I had enough things to do at the kids' school along with basic bills etc. during the day that I didn't really free up any time. There was a cub scout pack meeting last night, and there is a den meeting tonight. Due to soccer my 8 year-old has only made one den meeting all year long.

This means I still need to finish doing a couple of the things I was supposed to be doing, things I started on Tuesday but didn't finish. Well, this is about my time limit on the computer, the 9 month old is getting into trouble (again).

Okay, back again for more!

People are still digesting the recent Wizards of the Coast (WotC) announcement regarding the 4e DnD OGL. Necromancer Games is going to take part so I am guessing I should be able to see the rules in about 2 months (pending signing an NDA, etc.). I really hope the new game is a good one. I haven't been very impressed with the information released so far, nor have I been impressed with their marketing. Frankly, I think their marketing has been terrible, but that is just me, what do I know?

Several of the larger game companies that have done, or started with, d20 are going to look carefully at the OGL and what is or isn't allowed before they commit. So far the companies that have openly committed include Paizo, Necromancer Games, and Goodman Games. None of that is surprising as sales of adventure material and supplements that these companies produce is clearly linked to most actively used game system. Despite internet nay-sayers and 3.5e hangers-on, most people will switch to 4e and, more importantly, if you want to get something into distribution you'll need to go to 4e. Distributors aren't taking any d20/3.5 material at all. Companies with their own game systems to support can still do fine though. Paizo, Necro, and Goodman don't, it is a no-brainer for them to pay-up and gear-up for the new edition. Other companies have some decisions to make.
Well, time for more baby playtime.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Oh well ...

Okay, I probably wrote well over 2,000 words today, but much of that was on internet posts and a short story I started working on. Not exactly the 2,000 words I needed.
Half way through reviewing the submission that was sent before Christmas (yeah, my bad). Probably finish tonight but I won't get a chance to write up comments until Thursday. Tomorrow (Wednesday) is going to be, um, busy.
Sketches, well, nothing.
I guess I am 2 out of 3 on those goals. (okay, okay, more like 1.5)

However, I confirmed that I can pay overseas writers and artists via paypal without them taking huge hits at the bank to cash a check. In some cases they might take a hit due to exchange rates but nothing like getting charged just to deposit a check. I got all of the inside Christmas decorations put away (hours of work actually). Still have to get the outside stuff done.

I did waste time looking at (and responding to) the internet buzz about the 4th edition OGL info that came out today. I might copy one of my responses here tomorrow.

Okay, a little bit more left in the day so I am back to work.

I See Sick People

Okay, Tuesdays and Thursdays are my "days off" --in other words, the days I can focus fully on doing things for G.U.P. Well, the baby was sick over the weekend and that has spread to most of the rest of the family (not me, yet, but probably won't be long). So ... the baby is better and went to daycare but the older 3 kids are ALL home from school sick. My wife was on-call on Sunday so she has today off. She isn't feeling well either. So much for a day of getting work done and having a nice lunch date with my lovely wife.

Well, the day shouldn't be a total loss. I hope to get some work done in a bit. The problem is, I still need to get some Christmas decorations taken down, with people sick over the weekend I didn't get it done. Not thrilled with the idea really, probably wait until this afternoon and see if the kids are feeling well enough to help. My oldest was able to finish a piece of toast before dragging himself back to bed. He is the one that is truly very helpful, we'll see if he is recovered later.

Speaking of my oldest, he did a drawing for me a few weeks ago that I need to scan and put on the Art page on the G.U.P. website.
The cartographer in England that I have been hoping to work with got in touch with me earlier this week, as I figured the holidays hit him pretty hard with distractions. I was planning to wait until today to get back in touch with him but he contacted me first, a very good sign in my book. I did email him with some concerns though. A friend of mine told me that when he lived in England the bank would charge him the equivalent of $20 to deposit or cash a check drawn on a US bank (in dollars)--that is in addition to the currency exchange fees. I need to find a way to pay without someone getting hit with fees that essentially negate anything I am paying. I believe I can do this via PayPal, and I have the Paypal website up in another window to go check it all out.
Goals for today, review a submission that came in right before the holidays, finish up a couple of sketches, get some writing done (2,000 word goal for today). I will try to post later with how successful I am.

Saturday, January 5, 2008


Well, interesting things have been happening lately, along with, well, not-so-interesting things...

Short post as it is very late and I have dealt with a sick infant all evening long. Getting thrown-up on gets old very fast.

Anyway, I discussed my idea for a children's game with several game companies and some distributors last summer and in early fall. The main reason for setting up G.U.P. was to gain experience in order to eventually work on releasing the game. Distributors told me that it would be a difficult sell as it didn't easily fit into a classification. Well, one of the companies I talked to contacted me via email and is interested in "purchasing the outline and ideas." Interestingly, when I read between the lines, the wording seems to indicate that they might already be working on something similar and they have decided to buy me out too just because I talked to them about it before. Not really sure, but I will talk to them about it. I can call the person I spoke to before next week, or wait and meet with him in person when he is in San Antonio later this month or in early Feb. I don't see a reason not to sell the game idea, particularly if they are working on something similar, there is no way I can compete with a company that is already established making and selling educational games. After all, I proposed the idea to them first because I thought they could do it best.

This could create a bit of a dilemma for me. I am frustrated with the way some things have gone lately, and now the original reason for starting the company could well disappear. On the other hand, I HATE the idea of stopping the company due to this. I would much rather press forward. As it is, I already have several products very close to completion, I simply can't imagine stopping. Well, fading fast and the baby is actually asleep. I'll try to spout off more about it tomorrow, but knowing me that means Tuesday (my "work" day).

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Happy New Year!

Okay, this is a day late. I was going to post last night but I forgot my Blogger password and, well, was lazy enough while watching football that I didn't go look it up. The New Year is shaping up to be busier than the last, but that is how I keep out of trouble ;).
I have a number of goals for the year that I plan to post up here, and I can even put a few up here right now.
First, more focus and effort on G.U.P. I plan to do this by having set workdays and times dedicated to nothing but the company. I have done this by arranging things with my wife as well as daycare time for the baby. This started working very well during December and now that the holidays are over, it should work even better.
Second, better organization and communication. I need to have better lines of communication with the freelancers that are or might be working for me with G.U.P. as well as better communication with publishers that I am working for or want to collaborate with. This means that some of the "dedicated company time" is going to be set aside specifically to send emails or make phone calls. This communication includes time on my own company forums (that I should have open for connecting to sometime soon-they are set-up, I just need to organize the topics, etc.) as well as other forums.

Those are some major, long-term goals for developing the company. I have a few other short-term goals that are somewhat unrelated. These include things like, re-do the living room (new floor, probably re-paint, new furniture--yes, I have already budgeted for these, the money has been saved in the bank waiting to get this done), re-paint the boys' bedrooms and the kids' gameroom, and probably new carpet upstairs by the end of the year.

When I really start writing things down, well, the lists get pretty long. My wife surprised me at Christmas with a new Palm pilot. I have never really used an organizer like this before, but I am truly enjoying it. I can put all of the different events for the children into the calendar, and each can have their own color. This means a simple glance at the calendar shows any overlapping events in plenty of time to make carpool arrangements and/or other driving arrangements. It is also very handy for organizing addresses, phone numbers, etc. All of those can be categorized too.

Well, I am on "bonus time" right now as my wife just took the kids out to lunch. I need to get a few things done with the extra time. I wish they were all company related, but they include such thrilling things as changing lightbulbs, cleaning up a few things, etc.