Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Roads to (un)Recovery

Last week wrapped up with my head buried in several local projects. We have, from time to time, worked on books for the local schools through our Chenault and Gray Publishing company. I had a few on my desk that had been there since last Spring. So I spent last week laying those out, finishing the covers and getting them prepped for printing. I also worked on getting more office paper work and email taken care of. Its been my intent to not let any email go over 3 weeks without being answered. I'm so far doing pretty good.

Friday caught me in the mix of writing and paper work. I've been itching to work on C2 Shades of Mist for some time, so I spent too much time on that project. About four hours or so Friday morning. I finished up another 2000 words and rewrote much of what I had written a few days previous, bringing more structure and organization to it. I used the rest of the day on orders and the like, wrapping up around 4 or so and calling it a day.

I had intended to spend a relaxing weekend of reading and writing but Saturday saw me laid up with a bit of the a cold. It got worse on Sunday and worse still on Monday. So my week of tackling the East Mark Folio didn't start as well as I had hoped. I put in about 5 hours on Monday but my head hurt too much to maintain it. Tuesday started much the same, though I was again itching to write. I worked out about another 1500 words on C2 and moved onto the East Mark. Here I was enlightened that some entries had been left off the main Area map and had to be put in. I turned it over to Peter Bradley as that is his domain. While he was in there he redesigned my Key for the Area Map and cleaned it up, making it look much nicer. While he did that I laid out the covers for the school books.

By this time my head was killing me and I thought to clock out but I discovered a fractional flaw in the relation between my school book covers and interiors and had to go back over and readjust some mess. After much consultation Davis and Mark assured me that they can work with the files and took them from me late last night. Somewhere around 530 I clocked out, staggered up stairs and listened to the talking heads on the news channels drone on about some crap or the other. I dumped some dayquill and advil in the system hoping to stir the pot up and get myself motivated to get to writing a little. That failed as I lay like a lump in a chair for the better part of the evening, drumming up only enough strength to shout at the phone.

Yesterday's highlight came with the submission of a really cool graphic of the World of Aihrde. Its been posted on the boards in some capacity, but I post it here for your enjoyment. You have to view it in a browser to get the thing to work I understand.



This morning Peter turned over the final versions of the Player and CK Wilderness Maps as well as the Area Map. I finished the Key for the City map and now all the component parts of the EM Folio are ready to go. They should be printed tonight and ready to ship in the next day or so.

This afternoon: back to the Darkenfold and the Shades of Mist. Also, tomorrow or Friday I think I'll address the CKG, TLG adventures and other C&C source books in the works like M&T II and The Adventurer's Back Pack.

Thanks for Playing!
Steve

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Brick Walls

To start in the middle of the story. Yesterday I took a load of orders up to the Post Office. I was in a bit of overdrive trying to get things done before the noon hammer falls. I whisked in there, saw in the mirror that only one couple was in line and thought to myself "Ah, this is good. I'll be in and out in no time." Well. Not so fast. Before me was a delightfully calm elderly couple who were mailing one letter. They had some xx penny stamps and needed a particular combination to get the regular postage (which for the life of me I can't think of what that amount is at the moment). They didn't want to go over, nor have too many stamps on the letter. They went through several options and Janice (postal clerk) went to get them specific stamps. She was out of one of the particulars. So, back to the drawing board. For me, I thought, "this is like a road runner cartoon with elevator music. I come barreling in here and . . . slam! I've hit a brick wall. And now I'm just standing here listening to these gentle souls discuss penny stamps." I could almost hear the music. They proceed to prolong it as they needed yet more stamps to take home and then paid for it all in the exact change. It was all quite funny, and of course I smiled and nodded when they turned and joked some.

I like stamp people. They are generally very calm people.

I zipped out of there after mailing the packages and headed over to the print shop to get books out of the warehouse as we had had a Diamond order come in and I was out of Gygax's Book of Names and Players Handbooks. Once done, I filled the Diamond Order out and headed over to UPS, the Bank and then off to North Little Rock to visit my Aunt in the hospital. Picked up kids and then back to the office to work. You might ask yourself (you might not) why I was whisking all over the place in such a hurry. Well the Mortality of Green of course. Yesterday morning, before my brick wall at the post office, had begun better than expected as I began writing on C2 Shades of Mist very early, about 8:15 in the a.m. But 10-11 or so I was close to 2000 words on before I had to go to the post office. I was quite anxious to get back to the project as my working outline was fleshed out enough to allow me to write loads in a short time.

Well back to the office meant phone calls (Casey Christofferson and Green Ronin), emails and some contract issues I had not settled for some projects or the other, ad copy for Gord the Rogue to Diamond (that cover has completely changed by the by). The day puttered out without me returning to the work at hand.

Tuesday was a little less productive (remember I started in the middle of the story) as I spent the day working on Jared Blanco's map of Yggsburgh for Gary's Town Expansions that have just begun seeing the light of day (Town Halls on RPGNow) and trying to get caught up packing orders (note above) as Mark is still embroiled in the East Mark Folio, getting it ready for shipping...to which the Blanco map is critical. My afternoon was hemorrhaged completely with trying to catch up on further TLG financial issues that I had left to sit for far too long. We all worked late into the night at the print shop Tuesday night, with me running back and forth with corrected files and what not.

Today is a new day of course, its a Thursday, and these are my best days. I'm on email duty, packing again, and will shortly return to C2.

Thanks for Playing.
Steve

Monday, October 22, 2007

Entitlement

Mark wrapped up the shrink wrapping on Aihrde Friday and we got the last of them out the door and shipped to Ft. Wayne. This is a huge load off, and clears the floor to get A4 Usurpers of the Fell Axe and the East Mark Folio prepped and shipped. We are hoping to have all these out this week. In the meantime Davis is looking to put the wraps on Chimera's Roost (which apparently we don't even have on the *#&@ website) and keep up the steam on the CKG.

I worked for a bit on Friday, taking shipping to the UPS office, post office and getting pay to people 's checking accounts. Of course I forgot to get poor Alvin paid, which drives him and me insane (he does layout on the Crusader). Gary and I started work on some Lejendary Adventure modules that we hope to see pop up in the schedule in the next few days. And of course as soon as that discussion started I got embroiled in some legal issues that took awhile to work on, and though they didn't sap my physical time, they certainly did my mental energy. I had planned on wrapping up Monsters of Aihrde III, but instead spent the afternoon going through various financial and legal folders.

Updates have hit the website, be sure to check out the Anvil page and the Coming Soon products download on that page. We are looking at ramping up the LA schedule in coming weeks and should have more info on the CC Basic set by weeks end.

Today is more house cleaning, catching up with Gary's adventure discussion and theoretically working on a press release. We are short handed again so I'll be back in the mailroom within the hour packing orders and the like.

On a personal Note: There's this great scene in the Clint Eastwood movie, Unforgiven. Clint, playing the bad guy, has just shot down everyone in a bar, including the sheriff, played by Gene Hackman. Hackman is laying on the floor dying. He reaches for a gun and Clint knocks it out of his hand. Having just reloaded his spencer rifle he aims it at the prostrate Gene. Gene looks up at him, fearlessly, and says "I don't deserve this. To die like this. I was building a house. " Clint winces, and remarks "Deserves got nothing to do with it." And shoots him. That's pretty much my thoughts on entitlement. Deserve has nothing to do with it, if you think your entitled. Your not.

Here is a good link for the scene (it has some profanity): Unforgiven

Thanks for Playing,
Steve

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Topping the Hill

We gamed last night (for those of you who don't know, Wed. is our official game night). It could have been better, but the funniest highlight was Todd. I described a room with mist in it and Davis asked: "Is it Smoke?" I said no. Mac asked "Is it Fog?" I said no. Todd said...drum roll please..."Is it Smog?" LOL

The latest round of TLG re-structuring has about wrapped up. Mark and I worked in the mailroom the other night for many hours. He shrink wrapped the bulk of the AWD books and I boxed them for shipment. These went out to Ft. Wayne on Wednesday's UPS truck. As I3 Felsentheim had shipped out Monday we'll have two releases this week. We've begun wrapping up work on the East Mark Folio, and recently received Gary's signed copies, so these will begin shipping late next week. We probably won't bother to shrink wrap the direct to consumer orders as that is just more work and waste. And I'm not really found of wasting (I avoid grocery bags if possible, many a time I stagger out of Kroger with my hands full of crap thinking...'just get a grocery bag'.)

Mark is putting more hours in these days and Davis is hard at it, taking over many jobs I've had to previously do. This has freed up some of my time which I will devote to pushing TLG books and games into deeper markets. Spent Tuesday afternoon on several sales calls to retailers and distributors. I've been down on this aspect of the business lately as the several 'retailer' promotions we've done have not been fruitful. But in watching an episode of "The Office" I got rather inspired. It was two weeks ago I think and basically the new regional manager is replacing sales staff with computer/online ordering. Funny show as the sales staff tried to battle the computer and the manager set off on the trail to drum up business. He fails of course in an embarrassingly funny manner, but in one scene, while pitching his product, after being rejected and on his way out the door he turns and says to the potential customer: "By the way, don't let you daughter have the such and such nuts as they some such in them and she is allergic (I'm paraphrasing as you might be able to tell)." The camera stays on the customer for a long moment as he realizes that this salesman knows him personally and the subtext is obvious "we're loosing the face to face business." It gives no lesson or judgment, but it did make me pause. After some thought I'm going to try to become more interactive with my retailers. That is part of my job.

With the greater organization around here, we have more time and with that I am happy to announce that I'm going to recommence work on four projects that have languished in my inbox: The Basic Set, CI Shades of Mist, Dwarven Glory II and Monsters of Aihrde III.

In a personal note, I was up at the kid's school today and noted a big display of Andy Warhol stuff, some kind of celebration or the other and contest. I thought to myself and said outloud "are they going to have a Rembrandt celebration?"

Thanks for Playing,
Steve

Monday, October 15, 2007

Mondays

Today was a typical Monday. I had scheduled some light shipments in the early morning and then geared my whole day to continue working on our RPGNow and DriveThru RPG pages as they had been reformatted some time ago and needed cleaning up and organizing. Also, we have many products available that we have not released into pdfs and others that need bundling.

Shipping proved more than a bear. The boxes set to go to Impressions were short a number of books and I had to round those up or locate the source of why they were missing. Once done I went to UPS, enroute I discovered that the truck was out of gas. Dropping those boxes off I went to the post office to check our mail and then to the gas station. I accidentally typed in the PO Box Zip and it posted an error on my card (or rather said 'see cashier', which to me defeats the whole purpose of using an ATM in the first place). So off I went to regroup. A few resubscribes in the mail meant I had to go the bank, I needed to get some soda for the shop, which meant I needed to go to the grocery store and I still had orders to pack and to ship via the post office. After packing up 10 of them and sorting through several problems with several I loaded back into the truck, went to the bank, the post office (where I missed the before 11 lunch hour by about 10 minutes and ended up staying for over 30). Then over to the grocery store and back to the office.

By this time it was noon and I hadn't even started on the pdfs. So, after eating lunch I saddled up to the computer and began working. They launched a new system over there a few months ago and I haven't had a chance to familiarize myself with it so it took some doing and I screwed up a number of things. It was close on to 3 before I had it all down. Despite this I uploaded three new products (I2 Under Dark and Misty Ground, I3 Dogs of War and LA's More Beasts of Legend) and updated another (I1 Into the Unknown).

Not a great day, but not a bad one. I'll hit it again tomorrow.

Thanks for Playing,
Steve

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Toe Jam

An interesting day. It began early for me as Davis was off at the shop working on Other World books and the After Winter Dark Folio books. He's breaking in the new cutter and learning as he goes. I was on the phone with him and we were discussing various and sundries. I'm not fond of the phone and tend to pace or scroll on the net while talking. I was pacing and moving pretty fast and smashed my toe on a chair leg. It hurt like a devil, turned black after awhile and now its rather purple/black. Apparently I broke it. Still hurts like a devil and walking isn't very fun. My greatest fear is my 2-year old and the pain he will no doubt visit upon it!

But despite that the AFW Folio is almost ready to ship to distributors. We have the books all cut and the Folio's mostly stuffed. Hopefully this week.

I also made corrections on the Vakhund and Dragons of Aihrde covers, bringing them in line with the new cover layout.

Now for a couple of renditions by Dean and I'm going to hobble off to bed.

Thanks for Playing,
Steve

Friday, October 12, 2007

Rio Bravo

Todd, Mark and myself were treated to a showing of John Wayne's Rio Bravo last night. One of the local theaters had a Free screening of this great western movie that also stars Dean Martin and Angie Dickinson. It was the first time I've ever seen these screen giants on the big screen and it was great fun. A little sad that we were the only ones in the movie house. But there you have it! It wrapped up a rather difficult and rushed week here at the troll dens that included moving a 1000 lbs piece of machinery, and pulling a set of French Doors out of the shop wall to fit said equipment in the shop.

Here's a little of the movie for you. A short piece that served as the quiet in the storm where one of my favorite singers hums a tune:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l2OHR0F5GIo

Thanks for playing,
Steve