Friday 30 May 2014

Day 150 - UK Games Expo day 1 - Not all quiet on the Birmingham Front

Day one of UK Games Expo, front desk style...
First impressions, more people than last year?  Absolutely, easily up fifty percent on where we were last year, the games are selling out and the games library was nearly empty by just past eleven with all the people wanting to go play things.  A lot more people and interestingly enough, a lot more nationalities as well, particular the americans and the germans, all of whom are starting to pay attention to the convention.  A lot of things going on tomorrow, a lot of announcements for new games that I can't talk about yet, but there's going to be lots to put on for tomorrow.  

One problem...

If we get fifty percent more on things from last year tomorrow, then we're going to need a bigger venue...

What's near the Hilton Metropole that might be useful....?

Didn't get off the desk today, spent the whole time getting people in and getting people around, getting people into games and helping them to have a good time (most didn't need the help...)

Tomorrow then...

Tomorrow the gates really open...

And it's likely my post will be late, if present at all....

This is John Dodd, Still on top of the gaming world, and Goodnight England, Wherever you are....

Thursday 29 May 2014

Day 149 - Ground Zero, UK Games Expo the day before it all kicks off - No words done today, or likely for the next three days....I'll catch up...

So up very early, and down to the NEC to set up for Expo tomorrow.  First ones on the scene, computer mishap in the morning having been dealt with by Tony, leaving us with our man who does all the marking up overnight already on a very early morning, which does not bode well for the evening.  
Initial meeting with the Hilton went very well, they've taken on board a number of our problems from last year and assigned us a person who's very good at what they do, understands that we have needs and can't always accept "I'll get back to you" as an answer, and has been very forthcoming with meeting what we need and changing the plans as we need them, not simply giving us blanket negatives like we were faced with last year.

Tickets have now been counted, games have been sorted, envelopes have been filled...

Oh how I wish Skynet was online, we could just get the machines to do it all...

But then if Skynet was active, they'd have us doing this anyway, because it's too dull, even for machines.  

Still, all is ready for tomorrow, tables in place, front desks built, cloth on tables, boxes of envelopes ready, all is ready...

Saw a few of the guys as we were just heading up to bed, so a big hi at Graham Spearing, Pete Griffiths, Steve Ellis, and Neil Gow, good to see everyone and we returned upstairs to find complimentary goodies on the table...

This pleased all present in the room, and now it's an earlier night to make sure we're up and about for tomorrow, and there would be photos, but the windows in here are set for preventing anyone from going anywhere and the flash is just making everything a blur.

So tomorrow for those...

This is John Dodd on top of the gaming world and goodnight England, come and see me tomorrow...

Wednesday 28 May 2014

Day 148 - So much for catching up.... - Required 407000, Achieved 398905

Because running the show is more important than keeping up the count, which I can try and catch up on later....

So, last minute fun as always, but we're getting through it and the world is getting better :)

Down early tomorrow to Expo and finally at it after all this planning, I hope to see all of you there, I'll be on the front desk, most likely looking like I'm planning homicide, let this not confuse you, I'm having a great time, I always look homicidal when I'm having a great time.....

Show details tomorrow, including set up photos and other things direct from the show

This is John Dodd, wiped out but ready, and Goodnight England, Wherever you are...

Tuesday 27 May 2014

Day 147 - All the last minute things - Required 404250, Achieved 397885

It's always the way, last few days before Expo and everything in the world kicks off.  Strange to think it's come around so fast this time, hardly seems a year since we were doing this last :)

Still, there's going to be a number of posts going on over the next few days, most of them in the mid afternoon to early evening, all of them likely to be about Expo, so if you're not into games, really save yourself the time and block them out :)

The Insurance drags on, but at least, on recorded phone call (Thanks work...) I got them to admit they'll pay all the hire car charges, which is a load off my mind, and means I'm showing up to Expo and making everyone think we're really well off (we're really not....).

And the rest goes well, I'm currently flying an idea about something for Ocean of stars, anyone interested in seeing it?

This is John Dodd, on the edge of the Desolation of Tanis proceeding to Argents Breath, and goodnight England, many light years away...

Monday 26 May 2014

Day 146 - An old friend in touch today - Required 401500, Achieved 397053

Which can only be described as a good thing, and has cheered me up no end :)

I'm going to be doing a bunch of reviews of the days at Expo as the convention goes on this week, including photos and a variety of other things as well :)

But more on that tomorrow when I have time.

This is John Dodd in the Socialist Republic of South Yorkshire and goodnight England, Wherever you are...

Sunday 25 May 2014

Day 145 - A better day for writing today - Required 398750, Achieved 392493

So I'm liking the very fine fountain pen, even if I have to leave it upside down when I'm not using it, something to be done about that shortly before it becomes a problem.

Got a bunch of writing done though, which is all good, and averaging nearly 500 words a page rather than 300 can't be a bad thing :)

Still, late in the day and things to do

So this is John Dodd in the socialist republic of south yorkshire and Goodnight England, wherever you are...

Saturday 24 May 2014

Day 144 - A new pen, more words :) - Required 396000, Achieved 386907

So still 9k words behind, but that's only three days, and things should get easier from the end of next week (By which point I'll probably be 30k words behind and paddling like a mutt....)

Have found the finest fountain pen in existence though and it is good, suddenly 450 words appear on page rather than close to 300, page scanned for reference, and yes, the big blue blots were where the new pen leaked momentarily.....

The words are from the background to a steampunk yorkshire story, and now you all know how I keep track of written wordcount, page count at bottom, total at the top...

So, insights not withstanding, this is John Dodd in the socialist republic of south yorkshire and goodnight england, wherever you are...

Friday 23 May 2014

Day 143 - Expo scheduling finally closed, lots of other catching up to do, Required 393250, Achieved 384469

Between Insurance and Expo, this week has been almost completely eaten in dealing with logistical issues that couldn't go anywhere else.

The Insurance is now being dealt with by Insurance and we'll see where that goes, hopefully not too long a wait, but you never can tell with these things, in the meantime I'm trying not to let it get me down.

So, Short and sweet, another chapter of Ocean of Stars for those reading

And Goodnight England, Wherever you are...

On the subject of Customer Service at Expo....

There was a single person I couldn't sort things out for at expo, a mistake I made (And held my hand up to), and they sent a ranty response, it would be unprofessional to send a rant in response to their rant, thereby engaging in Rant to Rant combat, so this is the response I didn't send......


We're volunteers, all of us, we do this because we love the hobby, and in the years we've been running we've taken it from a convention of less than a thousand to an expected attendance of ten thousand, every penny that gets made at Expo goes back into making it bigger and better the year after, and that's why it's doing what it's doing, that's why there's more than three hundred games running this year.

You presume the system is automatic and everything just happens?  Well let me enlighten you Mr Wizard, the system isn't automated, because the computer doesn't know that you can't put Cthulhu next to Dungeon Bashing... so it requires a human to put these things in manually and make it so that atmospheric games don't run next to screamers, so everything, I say everything requires that I have a hand in it. This isn't like where you put sign up sheets up and then go find a table, this is booked months in advance and needs everything to be allocated, from disabled access to ensuring that the games aren't over booked.

We get hundreds of emails like this, ranging from "I want to change my game slot for the ninth time" To "I'm not coming, give me a refund", to "I didn't get the games I want, do something, DO SOMETHING." Every year, and every year we do our very best to make sure everyone gets what they want. Do you know what I was doing the weekend before this happened? I was in Plymouth organising another convention on my own time to promote the hobby, the weekend after? Another convention in the Ricoh Arena promoting the hobby.

Do I get paid anything for this?


Have I done everything I can to make this right?


Did I make one mistake in amongst everything else I was doing?


Do I see that my one mistake has caused you an issue?


Did I make that mistake in the course of getting you something you'd legitimately missed out on, which a computer would have just told you to feck off over?


Tell you what, take a look at, that'll show you just how busy I actually am doing these things, I deliver a professional service every year, and I do it for free, and just once in a while, I make mistakes.  Funny thing, everyone else understands that I'm busy, that this isn't just the press of a button and everythings sorted, and for the most part, the answer is "It's okay John, I know you're doing what you can." 

How many emails have I had ranting that they should have been prioritised over everything because what we do is easy?


and I'll let you in on something, I was nearly killed last week and I'm feeling more than a little raw at the moment, so I'm probably just ranting back at you, but I'd appreciate it if you'd drop by the front desk when you come to Expo, because I'll be there, and you'll be able to see that I put my heart into this, every year, for more than three quarters of the year, and on the day, when everyone else can turn up and enjoy themselves and have fun at the biggest and best games convention in england, I'll be on the front desk working, sorting out problems, and making sure everyone else has a good time.

Because that's what I do, that's what I'm good for...

But a word of advice, Mr Wizard, when you turn up at that desk, you'd better have a flag, it had better be white, and you'd do well to have a mattress behind you in case your over inflated sense of self righteousness doesn't do well as a shield........

Big Kiss


Thursday 22 May 2014

Day 142 - And life will not be back on track as fast as I had hoped - Required 390500, Achieved 383853

Because for some reason the people who were happy to settle out of court a short while ago now want to go through insurance...


Not to worry, things will resolve, but it's more messing about before getting the hassle of arguing with insurance types over the fact that they'll undoubtedly offer less than the car was worth and then argue about everything else.

In other news, a week from now it's Expo!

And ten days from now we'll start all over again :)  All is good :) It just means that between now and a week from now I need to build up a 7k advance from being 7k behind now so I've got the words in hand to post :)

Why am I smiling about this.....?

Because despite being rabidly annoyed at the tactics of insurance people (do you know it raises your premium if you even report an incident on your policy, even when it's nothing to do with you and you're declared as no-fault...?), and annoyed at the delaying tactics of those who should be paying out and aren't, I'm refusing to let it get me down, I'm not going to let all this s*** ruin the main event of my year, and I'm going to see loads of you down there, which will be very cheerful :)

So this is John Dodd, Invictus, and Goodnight England, wherever you are....

Wednesday 21 May 2014

Day 141 - And soon life will be back on track - Required 387750, Achieved 381168

Because between the utter annihilation of the car and the run up to Expo, I'm finding very little time to write things, but to be honest, I've been this far behind before and caught up, and I'll manage it again.

Got the report back on the car today, the impact not only managed to crush the boot frame and shred the wing, but it also hit hard enough to Bend the chassis....

For those wondering, the second fuel cap on the lower image is where the LPG goes....

So, as the insurance won't pay anywhere near what the car is worth, I'm approaching the company who owned the vehicle directly with a reasonable request of replacement like for like and cover my inconvenience charges (hire car, work days missed.) Will let everyone know what they come up with.

And if they don't come up with anything reasonable, I'm likely to let everyone know who they are as well...

This is John Dodd with a ringing in his ears that he hopes goes away soon, and Goodnight England, Wherever you are....

Monday 19 May 2014

Day 139 - Insurance, Caveat Emptor... Required 382250, Achieved 378551

So, a mild amount of frustration today, it seems that with insurance of a motor vehicle nature, in the event that you're in an accident and the damage is reasonably severe, you get a couple of options.

1: Your insurance company move to immediate write off, without knowledge of what's happened and without proper understanding of the damage caused, this is their preferred option, because then you pay the excess and you get to have what they say is the value of your car (it's not...)
2: You've had an injury in the accident, at which point the compensation vultures are all over it like flies, going so far as to run the claim up even when you've pointed out that the only aches and pains you had were from the workout you did the day previously...
3: You go to the other parties insurance and deal with it all yourself...

Options one and two invalidate your no claims bonus, unless they can prove total liability for the opposition, and option three requires that you spend all the time in the world dealing with your own things that you thought you'd paid insurance to take care of.

So, more on this tomorrow, it's likely I'm going to take the matter directly to the people who owned the other vehicle, as the driver of said vehicle admitted everything and was still double the alcohol level when they tested him again three hours later, and in a move of remarkable alacrity, is in court next week for the offenses, leading me to believe that for once, justice may indeed be swift...

Still, another chapter on Ocean of Stars for those in the story group and I'll be back on the air tomorrow.

This is John Dodd in the Socialist republic of south Yorkshire and Goodnight England, Wherever you are...

Sunday 18 May 2014

Day 138 - Mobile phones should come with Taser options - Required 379500, Achieved 377123

So, back at work today, things have not changed there, but if I have learned a single thing, it is that I prefer being on the phone end of the breakdown to the breakdown end of the breakdown.  That said, for all my increased empathy, I also find myself less in empathy with the ones who call up and the call goes like this...

"I'm broken down."
"Alright, where are you?"
"I'm here."
"A little more specific please?"
"I'm on a road, there's nothing nearby."
"Alright, we'll come back to that, which vehicle are you broken down in?"
"This one."
"A little more specific please?"
"It's a truck."
"Alright, we'll come back to that, what's happened to the truck you're in?"
"It's broken down, are you stupid or something, I just said that...."

I believe, I believe in my heart that mobile phones should come with a boot option, whereby the phone can be compelled to extend taser needles into the hand of the idiot carrying it and deliver shocks that correspond in intensity to the stupidity of the comments being made.  In the event of Cab phones, the jolt should be delivered squarely to the posterior....

In this way, much gnashing might be prevented...

But I digress, if there were not people like this, I would be in different employment...

And cheerfully, some things I write faster than others, so the word count is up again...

This is John Dodd in the Socialist Republic of South Yorkshire and Goodnight England, Wherever you are...

Saturday 17 May 2014

Day 137 - No surprise, the word count didn't improve much.... Required 376750, Achieved 371514

See earlier posts for reasons, I suspect I can be excused.

On the subject of close calls in games...

So, had a fun day today, got the car rear ended at a massive speed and quite possibly written off, if it’d been a smaller car I was driving, there’s every possibility that the young drunk knobber who smashed into the back of me in the borrowed vehicle might have done something more serious.

And when I got the car back to the driveway, the thought (after a cup of tea, because tea makes all things better) was “What if it happens again?”, particularly summed up when I had a moments pause when getting in the hire car at the rental depot...

Now to be honest, the thought wasn’t a long thought and because I’m a big cheerful psychotic, it didn’t last any longer than the time it took to get me out of the hire car bay and into the road, which is perhaps for the best.

However, it did get me thinking....

Adventurers, Investigators, Brave Souls all, go through this on a daily/weekly basis, get injured, have bad things happen, and the next day, because they’re piloted by us and the harm is no more real than seeing it on a film, they get up and go do it again.  There are very few mechanics in games that I’ve known or played that deal with the psychological ramifications of near death or serious injury.

Now being honest, I don’t think there’s much call for them, but I thought to get everyone elses thoughts on the matter... 

I may be quiet a short while, Car Crash this morning

Other person 22 years old, three times over the limit driving a Q7 at well above speed, straight into the back of the Mazda...

So here's me, alive, intact, fear not people, takes more than that to drop a Dodd.

But I may be quiet a while till this gets sorted


Friday 16 May 2014

Day 136 - Tough Day, much organising, little writing - Required 374000, Achieved 371166

But on the other hand, most of the Expo organising is now done, now the breathless wait for two more weeks....

And I hit the gym earlier, for the first time in a long time, Marks spending more time with his lady recently, which is excellent, but it means that my spotting partner of many years has been conspicuous by his absence and all the muscle I have is going south, which will not do....

So, back to the gym, an hour of high intensity, and I managed to get home without crawling, for which I was intensely cheerful...

Now to catch up on everything else.

Saw Godzilla yesterday, good film, very true to the originals, humans utterly irrelevant :)

And saw the trailer for Interstellar when we went to see it, oh my, that might just be some good....

and yes, I'm a sucker for Evey Reborn (the music in the background), but that still looks epic...

More on Quest hopefully tomorrow, but if not on Monday, and another chapter of Ocean of Stars for all those in the book club, as always, anyone wanting in just ask.

This is John Dodd in the Socialist Republic of South Yorkshire and Goodnight England, Wherever you are...

Quest RPG - Where's the mystery in the Monster Manual anymore?

Personal bugbear (No pun intended) of mine, creatures done up in all the colours of the world looking like they've just stepped out of a photoshoot.  It's not so bad in science fiction worlds, but when you're looking at a fantasy setting (as I'm doing), you get the idea that the people doing the images would be looking at it from a distance and sketching the bits that were the most memorable about the creature in question.

The problem for me comes in the suspension of disbelief, here's the red dragon, voracious, vicious, lethal, and unless you're a hobbit with script immunity, will quickly turn you into crunchy soup...  In the monster manual you can see it as clear as day, surely that removes something of the mystery involved in the game?  How many adventurers have actually seen a red dragon, how many adventurers have lived to tell the tale, surely creatures like this shouldn't be obvious to everyone, surely only a few should know what one of these things looks like...

I always liked the idea that the creature wasn't in the monster manual, that it was something that no other adventurer had ever seen, and it's that that I'm working on for Quest.  Creatures come in three different classifications, Green, Red, and Black, as gauged by the exploration guild.

Greens are mostly harmless, not likely to attack, and as such have most of the detail in them, creatures such as the Ceverill.

Reds on the other hand aren't immediately dangerous, but will attack if provoked and are far more dangerous to encounter, you can still get a good drawing of them if you're not too close, creatures such as the Burle.

And finally, a creature classified as Black is dangerous in the most extreme, they attack on sight, are extremely territorial and very dangerous, creatures such as the Cheni.

And the Carenan Devils

I haven't had them properly laid out yet, but I'm interested to hear everyone elses thoughts on the mystery of creatures in RPGs

Thursday 15 May 2014

Day 135 - Busy Busy - Required 371250, Achieved 369584

Lot of feedback on the RPG posted earlier, all gratefully received, nearly finished with the Expo prep (which is good because it's on us in two weeks...), got my team sorted for the front desk and nearly all the stuff set up for the presentation to the Dragons Den...

A new Chapter of Ocean of Stars for those on the Story channel, and there'll be more on quest tomorrow to look at things.

This is John Dodd in the Socialist Republic of South Yorkshire and goodnight England, Wherever you are...

Quest RPG - So what's in a character sheet....

Beginning today, I'm going to be putting out some of the artwork and details for Quest, my new game.  The first thing that I'm going to be putting out there is the Character sheet, because I believe it's the most important bit of artwork in the entire game.

Character sheet as artwork?


Because for all the fantastic artwork you can get in a book, that's the shop front, that's not the game, that's just showing you all the shiny so that you go in there and take a look around.  What matters for many is that the game can be played and played well without having to spend a lifetime giving your character a life...

But of things that you look at around the table every time you sit down to game, the character sheet is always there, and it needs to be something that people enjoy playing with.  It can be a whole list of numbers and details and lists of skills and everything else, but that doesn't give it personality, and it get you involved in the game, a group of adventurers in the wild would know what each of them was capable of, they would know where everyone was strong, or weak, and they would know who to look to in each situation.

So, for me, the point of a character sheet is to have a sheet that lets not just the player, but all the others around the table, know what they could do, and from that, make things easier for everyone to play.

The first draft for a character sheet for quest was this

It had everything you needed, including a complex honour and heroism scheme I thought was required to allow everyone to see the nature of the people around them.  Then I thought that perhaps people didn't want others to know what they'd been up to, and that's their right (just like in real life) to keep that a secret.  I have a core of playtesters, some who actually provide feedback, and a whole bunch who just like getting freebies.

Let me assure you, the ones getting freebies have all they're going to get, the ones who've given me the feedback I needed to make this better are the ones I'm taking with me when I set off.

Problems with this character sheet were that it wasn't immediately apparent which skills were with which stat, there were no delineations, the nature of Hazard, Honour, Heroism, Diplomacy, and Excellence were abstract concepts for most, and when the system came together, there was the understanding that you needed to have a place for everything.

This is where the feedback came in.

The character sheet now looks like this...

The top concepts have been removed, replaced with tangibles like Race, Homeland, and Origin, things that are central in character creation.  Some skills have been changed, Replacing Deft with Build. Some have been removed in favour of others that made a more rounded system, Throw (now a function of the Range skill) being replaced by Perform, which a number of people wanted in there.

The quadrants are now clearly defined with the colours being chosen to represent the particular statistic, Red for Muscle, the colour of the blood in our veins, the eyes of the animal above to counterbalance the green of the vines opposite.  Yellow for Verve, the colour of the sun and the time in which we train our bodies to do what we do.  Green for Mind, the colour of the world and all the things upon it, the vines and leaves representing nature. Finally Blue for Spirit, and the stars above that we look up to and dream of things beyond that which we can touch with our hands.

Weapons and armour now have sections all their own with space for the stats, and the experience point section has been shrunk down to allow space for the character accumulated wealth.

And so to the character itself

The primary stats govern those skills in their colour, the circle in the middle is derived from the primary stats, each character has the same points to spend at the start of the game, how they choose to spend their points is up to them. 

In playtesting, overwhelmingly the point has been made that the way the characters are generated makes for real feeling characters when you first pick up the book.  You may have ideas to make a Rogue or a Fighter, but there are no character classes in this game, you are what you are, what you choose to call yourself is up to you.

Ten points to spend in the primary stats, no stat below one and have a good reason if you want a six in something, it's possible to make Conan at character creation, but he'll be Conan the wanderer who's good with a sword and crap at everything else. Whatever points you put into the stat, you get four times that many points to put into the skills that the stat governs, with the first point in that skill costing a single point, the second double that, the third double that, and so on, so it's not possible at starting out to have a character that's got a level six skill in anything, you can get a level four and save your beginning experience to get level five quickly, but you've put all your points into it and everyone who looks at the character will know it.  Compare the two different character sheets here.

Put all the points and background options into getting a fighter and you get Oran the one Dimensional, sword for hire.

Anyone looking at the sheet can see you've got a few points in other places, but it's obvious where you put the majority of what you're doing.  If by contrast you make a reasonable character, you get Weylyn the well rounded, a fighter mage who's not that much worse at fighting than Oran and has a whole bunch of other skills to work with as well.

Evident even on the small scale that it's a more well rounded character and has a number of skills that will get it much further than Oran.  To be honest, the system was designed to favour more well rounded characters and while minmaxing can be done, it doesn't pay to do it in this system.  

However, it's possible for everyone around the table to see what your character can do, easier for the GM to plot the game in a way that everyone can contribute and be included.

That said, this is my opinion, I'm interested in everyone elses....

Wednesday 14 May 2014

Day 134 - First day without a Story update to the world - Required 368500, Achieved 367759

And slightly down on the wordcount because I'm having to do revisions on previous works, but that's the price of being a writer doing commissions.  I'll make up the difference tomorrow.

In a different post today, I'm going to be releasing the character sheet for Quest, my new game, and then possibly some of the creatures and locations within the world, feedback as always is appreciated.

This is John Dodd in the Socialist Republic of South Yorkshire and Goodnight England, Wherever you are...

Tuesday 13 May 2014

Day 133 - Today was the first time that I may have achieved what I set out to do - Required 365750, Achieved 365169

Today I was approached by someone who asked for my help on something. Never one to turn anyone down, I asked what it was, and they said that they wanted to know how I wrote things all the time.

I should point out that I am literally writing all the time, it's the only way I can keep up with the number of words I need to crank out, so when I'm on the phone on hold, I'm writing, when I'm watching TV, I'm writing, I simply don't stop.

So I explained how I do it (just don't stop) and why (because I want to) and said that if they wanted to write a story, just put it on the paper, don't check it for grammar, don't worry if it holds together, don't worry about the plot, don't worry about massive overuse of Comma's when you know better....

Just write...

Gave them my details and told them to check in if they needed a hand with anything.

But four and a half months in and someone came to me because they wanted to write, and because I'm writing all the time, they thought to do it too... I was so cheerful I could have wrote their story for them :)

But I won't, because then they wouldn't write, and that would be bad...

So here's me, writing still, World War Wolf finished today, let me know what you all thought of the ending, and now there's no more stories coming out to everyone pages every day, just an opinion piece and the daily count, unless you really want to be reading the stories that are still going to be written, in which case let me know and I'll include you in the group that can see them...

This is John Dodd, Two books down, three more (at least) to go, and Goodnight England, Wherever you are...

Post 300 - Respects must be paid...

That is all

Monday 12 May 2014

Day 132 - A change of perspective - Required 363000, Achieved 362879

So after 56 chapters of split screen mayhem, finally the two protagonists of World War Wolf meet each other, Last chapter tomorrow and I still don't know how it's going to end, only that it's going to end.

Thoughts would be appreciated...

To the rest, got more writing to be doing shortly, which is good for enthusiasm all around, and then there's two more books to be written as well.

I need some honest comments on World War Wolf and Shift, I already have two forthright ladies commenting on Shift (You know who you are...) and I'm taking the comments to make the revised version better, I just need more comments on WWW and I can make that better too.

Up next is either Ocean of Stars, one womans adventure in a universe not her own, or Rolling Yorkshire (Working title) where the rocket scientists of E.L.I.T.E battle against the villainy of the Legion and the machinations of the Red Men.


This is John Dodd in the Socialist republic of South Yorkshire and Goodnight England, Wherever you are...

Sunday 11 May 2014

Day 131 - Long Weekends - Required 360250, Achieved 359140

Miserable day today, nothing but rain and s*** everywhere outside, which even in the mile munching machine was no fun at all...
As to the rest, World War Wolf is coming to an end shortly, there's a few chapters left to be done and the ending might be a little controversial, so feedback would be appreciated.

Beyond that, I'm tired and I'm going to bed :)

This is John Dodd in the Socialist Republic of South Yorkshire and Goodnight England, wherever you are...

Saturday 10 May 2014

Day 130 - The Munching sound you hear is the noise of the Eurovision eating todays Chapter.... Required 357500, Achieved 355946

So I'm posting the first Chapter of Ocean of Stars instead, just to give you all something to read :)

More wolfness tomorrow.

At least we beat France.....

This is John Dodd in the socialist republic of South Yorkshire and Goodnight England, wherever you are...

Friday 9 May 2014

Day 129 - The Shaving thing is getting easier - Required 354750, Achieved 355000

Shaved again today, haven't really needed to before now as the previous shave really did lop it back somewhat, caught myself briefly in the underlip area (always a problem with a chin like mine), and so got to use the Alum block on it.

Interesting sensation that, it really does seal the cuts instantly and leave your face feeling like someones pulling it tight, very efficient though, no blood at all within a half second of use and then clear till I washed it down and applied aftershave.

Really quite impressed with this whole proper shaving stuff, as indeed is the Tiny Wife, who's very much liking the unbristly (I know it's not a word) chin.  All else is well, World War wolf is probably going to be finished within a day or two, as you'll tell from todays installment, and then it's on to Ocean of Stars, which will be getting a preview for everyone, and then the installments for those in the million word club.

This is John Dodd in the Imperialist District of NoBristles and Goodnight England, wherever you are...

Thursday 8 May 2014

Day 128 - Of Conventions and games - Required 352000, Achieved 351950

So, the Gencon games are sorted, Expo games are nearly sorted, Wyntercon to arrange, and in general, things are starting to look up.

Of course, that's just the edge of the cliff before you fall of it, but still....A man can be hopeful.

Busy couple of weeks, more tired than I have been in some time, and going to bed shortly :)

This is John Dodd in the Socialist Republic of South Yorkshire and Goodnight England, Wherever you are.

Wednesday 7 May 2014

Day 127 - Off to see friends, so short update - Required 349250, Achieved 349651

And slightly late already, so really swift update

More death and doom in World War Wolf, I honestly don't know if anyone's going to be left at the end.

But we'll see, the drawback of putting out every chapter instantly is you can't go back on it....



Tuesday 6 May 2014

Day 126 - My Friday - Required 346000, Achieved 347568

Strange thing about working weekends, your friday arrives on a tuesday :)

Down to see my friends tomorrow, so tomorrows update will be early, but now World War Wolf is taking a turn for the serious (not that it was a light hearted romp in the first place), the imagery is really only suitable for adults (and I still haven't figured out how to turn on adult only notifications on this thing), and like the shift, there's not long to go on it.

More tomorrow

This is John Dodd in the Socialist Republic of South Yorkshire and Goodnight England, Wherever you are...

Monday 5 May 2014

Day 125 - Serialised Fiction and Free books - Required 343750, Achieved 344068

I have a core of dedicated followers who read all the things I put out, and a larger group that read the opinion pieces, and the thought occurs that as my good friend pointed out, reading serialised fiction is a bit of a crunch, so I'm probably going to stop putting out the fiction in chunks.

Which is not to say I'm going to stop doing the fiction, only that I'm probably going to change how I put it out there. What I'm going to do is make books out of it, and the put those books up on Amazon with covers and ISBN's and all that other good stuff.  I'll put the first few chapters up here as a taster, and then the rest out there commercially.

But I want to thank all those that are with me every step of the way, so here's the kicker, anyone in the followers group (specifically in the followers group, and if you have to ask, chances are you're not in it.), gets the books for free when I release them.  All I ask is that if you get a free copy, put me a review up on whatever site you got it off.

Anyone else wanting in on this, let me know, from now till the end of the year it'll be around 650,000 words worth of (I like to think at least passable) fiction.

Feel free to let anyone who might be interested know

This is John Dodd in the Socialist Republic of South Yorkshire and Goodnight England, Wherever you are.

Sunday 4 May 2014

Guests wanted for RPG/Sci Fi Convention, England, South Coast, Halloween

I'm ideally looking for people involved in the RPG industry, but particularly those with connections to the steampunk and Scifi genres.

Get in touch if you're interested (or if you know someone that might be), full details available on request.

Day 124 - I think that sometimes the people we help don't know how much we help them - Required 341000, Achieved 341289

Or indeed why, or indeed how thoroughly upsetting it is when we're trying to help them and their own ignorance will not let them take the help offered because they're too busy trying to prove they're right to understand that we know they're not and we're trying to save them from looking like an idiot...

Make Sense?

If not, I'm probably just rage mumbling, it's rare that ignorance of such a level hits home like this and that they followed it up with threats is mostly likely why I'm still annoyed several hours later.  Anyone who works in high impact customer services will probably have some understanding of where I am, so, curry, then Star Trek 2 (the real one, not the one for Cumberfans....).

This is John Dodd in the Socialist Republic of South Yorkshire and Goodnight England, Wherever you are...

Saturday 3 May 2014

Day 123 - Sometimes it's really hard to write things - Required 338250, Achieved 338837

A major character lost in World War Wolf today, and one of the hardest things I've had to write in recent times because I know who that character was based upon.  Hopefully that came out in the writing, and I'm sure I'll find out when I read it again in a few months to do the edits.

Beyond that, all is well, twelve hour shifts, Nuff said...

This is John Dodd in the Socialist Republic of South Yorkshire and Goodnight England, Wherever you are...

Not all the words for the million word challenge can go up on the net as I do them...

Some are for future publications, so when that happens, I can provide a link to where the work is being published. The most recent of those was the latest anthology from Big Pulp and they're running an Indiegogo campaign for the wider distribution of things.

So here's me doing my bit to increase the awareness :)

Friday 2 May 2014

Day 122 - Of many matters - Required 335500, Achieved 335989

And so I've been busy most of the day, between testing out new razors (See earlier review), testing out new forms of blotting to clean up the mess that followed, writing a variety of things, testing out new inks in the pen, and other things, it's been a rather good day.

And I'm ahead again, which is always cause for celebration in one form or another, not long till Expo now and all the work I've put in this year which is looking like it's going to be an excellent year.

And a better one next year.

I also got two things through the post this morning, the first being a TMNT themed T shirt for Tiny Wife, who hasn't stopped grinning about it since she got it, I suspect wrestling it off her will be the way forwards to get it in the wash...

The second being a kickstarter I backed some time back,

Oh my, it's a bit on the fun side, but more on that tomorrow, onwards, updates already posted to both World War Wolf and the Red Skull escapade.

This is John Dodd in the Socialist Republic of South Yorkshire and goodnight England, Wherever you are...

And so I have a face that looks like I've been duelling....

Which is not a million miles from the truth, I have been using sharp bladey objects near my face, but only of the shaving variety.  Of interest perhaps only for the men on the list, but if any ladies are considering things to remove all their leg hair, read on...

Today I started shaving with a safety razor, now, to those who aren't familiar with the nature of a Safety Razor, this

is a safety razor, it works using a single razor blade and care in slicing at your face (which I don't possess yet) rather than a hundred million razors mounted in a cartridge.  I've been reading about it for some time and with the costs of razor cartridges going up seemingly every damn month, I've been increasingly considering how people did it years ago and how it worked for them.  Certainly in most of the archive footage that you see these days, you see clean shaven gents of all manner and all they had to use were just this sort of thing.

So, ordered one yesterday, got it today and set about defoliating with the exuberance of Livingstone in the darker parts of the world.  I should point out that I had read that you have to be more careful with these things as they will bite at any opportunity.  Certainly I didn't feel any biting while I was merrily shaving away (Using my shaving brush and stick, I really did do the reading up on it.), but when I was finished, there was a brief minute where I admired the closest shave I've had in years, then in the manner of a stephen king novel....

Everything went red.

Not that this is a bad thing, certainly getting used to the idea of using it will take a little time (and a little less hacking,), but as I've now handed over all my cartridge razors to shorty, I'll have to get used to this.  On the plus side, the wife kiss test passed with flying colours, and the razor (pictured above) itself is a really nice tool to work with.

More later when I've had chance to mutilate myself some more (be a few days to get stubble back I think), but I think this might be the start of something new for me.

This is John Dodd, imitating the Red Skull without any makeup, and Good Evening England, Wherever you are...

Thursday 1 May 2014

Day 121 - Back with the guys for the first time in three weeks - Required 332750, Achieved 330578

You miss sometimes how fast the days go by, I was in birmingham last week and london the week before that, so I haven't seen the Monday Knights in a few weeks, but we caught up this evening, good to see them both again, and talked of many things, but mostly writing.

Good to spend time amongst others who write, it reminds you that there's other people out there with the same interests as you, who have the same problems and triumphs.

Another project upcoming that involves media, for which I will probably ask opinions, but in the meantime.

This is John Dodd in the Socialist Republic of South yorkshire and goodnight England, Wherever you are...

So why do I game?

When I first started, I enjoyed gaming because it was something different.  Growing up in West Yorkshire is the late seventies and earlier eighties wasn't the most cosmopolitan lifestyle a child could have, but luckily I had an uncle who was into "Weird" hobbies, one of which was a set of books that comprised first edition AD&D, a set of dice in a chinese puzzle box, and all the pencils I could sharpen.  I created, I created worlds (all dungeons with numbers in the rooms), I created monsters (none of which you'd ever take seriously if you saw them), and I created adventures to send my brother and his friends (all my friends thought they were too old for this make believe stuff) through.

It was the beginning of the longest love affair I've ever had, between me and my imagination.  I wrote and wrote and wrote, there were no computers for us in those times, no way to type at the ridiculous speeds I do now, so it's all in books, most of it I still have and occasionally read with a wry smile to remind myself that I'm a little (only a little) more evolved than the boy who started doing this all that time ago.

I game because it's a new world out there, and its a new world you're only ever going to get to with the help of other people, you can't do it yourself (Well, you can, but it's real dull because you already know what's around the corner), so you have to go and get friends and together, you go out into the world not as the children you are, sitting around the kitchen table while mum makes you egg and home made chips (Thanks Mum, still the best chips in the world), but as the adventurers you were always supposed to be.

A good friend pointed out yesterday that I told him that if I make one person happy as a result of what I do, then it worth it.  It was true then, it's even more true now, because when someone comes to my table and goes away happier, I've brightened my corner of the world, ever so slightly and if only for a second, but I've brightened it. 

If I've learned one thing in my gaming, it's that everyone brings something of themselves to the table, the characters there are us, but writ large.  When we play, we give ourselves the freedom to be that which we want to be, not that which circumstances force us to be and we remember hope, hope that we can conquer the odds, no matter how insurmountable they first appear to be.

So my answer is that I do it because in the world I live in, it makes people happy, and that in turn makes me happy, and that, is worth it.

To paraphrase Vin Diesel for a second, "Ask any Gamer, any real Gamer, it don't matter if you're first level or thirtieth level, playings playing."

Just play :)

A million words in a year, one third in, and the key words...On Target

At the beginning of the year, I said I'd do a million words of new material in a single year in addition to the day job and the other jobs I've got (which include full responsibility for the roleplaying games at the largest UK games convention, organising another convention in its first year, arranging convention appearances, and arranging demonstration games for another games company.), and post up the words as I did them.

So this is the first of May, one third of a year down, the first novel of the year finished and up for everyone to read and a total of 330000 words into the challenge.

It hasn't been easy, there's a discipline involved in writing something every day, a discipline that I didn't have at the beginning of the year and even now I'm continually surprised that I'm getting the words in, but here's where I tell you it gets easier to write the more you do it.

Not entirely true.

It gets easier to write the things you've already written, and it gets easier to keep doing the things you were doing before.  The issue I had earlier in the year when I found myself a few thousand words down from where I should have been?  I'd been trying to write a scenario for something, and the scenario was so different from the stories I'd been doing that it stalled me completely and I lost nearly ten thousand words worth of work that I then had to make up.

Lessons Learned?

A lot of them to be honest.

What to write?

If you're not writing to brief and you're not having to do it to make your living every day, then you need to write what you want to write, don't pay any attention to anyone else, don't write the things that you think will sell, because by the time you've wrote them and made them some good (even writing at the pace I'm writing at), the market will have seen enough of it.  Publishers don't work by looking at something that just came out on the shelf, they knew about it months, sometimes years before it came out, they've had time to put the writers that work for them to the task and they already have a hundred things that imitate it.  Data sells books, and unless you're keeping an eye on the data, you're already months behind the trend, and if you're trying to write something you don't want to, then it'll take you twice as long and be half as good...

Don't try to be the copy of the next best seller, aim to be the best seller, write from your inspiration, not someone elses.

What if you fall behind on your word count?

Keep writing, don't stop writing because you had a bad day, especially if you had a bad day.  Anyone who's been reading the daily updates will see that this hasn't all been plain sailing, the whole point of it is to do more when you have the time and inclination to do it.

Must I do a set number of words a day?

Unless you're an idiot doing a ridiculous challenge like me?  Of course not, write what you can, it's not about how many words you write a day, it's about continuing to write.

I'm seeing that there's a continuous thread in these questions and answers, and yes, it boils down to one simple thing.

You must keep writing, nothing else matters, if you're not sure you can, stay with me, because I'm not sure I can, but I'm going to keep working at it and not give up, on that my word is given.

This is John Dodd in sunny (no not really) england, trying to get all the writers to write...