Happenings IRL

(My friend Stef at Happimess Media uses the phrasing Happenings IRL to talk about her In Real Life goings-on via Patreon, and I am stealing it. Sorry Stef!)

October, October, where have you gone? Wisconsin was treated to a nice autumn in October and Halloween’s weather couldn’t have been more perfect to walk around the quaint little town of East Troy, WI. There were hundreds of pumpkins carved by the town kids lining the square, the weather had a bite but my skeleton onesie kept me warm, we saw a light show, I clung to the back of Keri’s purse throughout a haunted house as we screamed, and we saw tons of friendly, familiar faces around town.

I neglected my blog and game reviews for several weeks. If you read this blog and enjoy it, fear not. I am back to it.

By way of explanation, here are a few things about me that have happened, do happen or are happening. 

Panic Mode!

First and foremost, I created a card game that has been in the works for a couple of years now (ugh, embarrassing). I launched a Kickstarter campaign in May of 2018 and failed in June of 2018. It made a lot of sense because my interested audience was not a good overlap with crowdfunding, and because once I hit “Launch” I basically was done. I am terrible at marketing and as much as friends and acquaintances tried to shove me in front of cameras, that’s not me and there is no part of me that wants to do that. 

A 3d rendering of the game used in the Kickstarter campaign. Pretty, right?

I decided to make the game anyway, and thus began a churn of thoughts around what kind of files are needed, will I need to redo everything? How many can I even sell? What is the price break at various manufacturing levels?

By making the game, connecting (albeit lightly) with Tabletop Kickstarter groups and sharing to a specific audience of 20,000 on LinkedIn I found some very helpful people, some cheerleaders and some people that said nice things in passing that kept me going. Many of the educational game people encouraged me to do Print-on-Demand. That means I decide how many to print and it costs a fortune, because it’s not at scale. But those games, by nature of being educational, can cost more to the end consumer too. In fact it is frequently a company with a budget making the purchase and not a person.

I don’t want my garage filled with my game for the rest of my life, but it just didn’t feel right to leave behind the regular person that might want the game (I know you’re out there!). Eventually I decided on printing 500 Print-on-Demand out of Madison WI and picking them up so I save all shipping costs, something only someone near Madison can brag about. These copies would still cost me a lot to make, though. I was setting myself up for basically no profit. I shared this update to my Kickstarter backers and ended up in a brief but interesting back and forth with one of my backers that shifted my thinking and I again determined to print with one of the major manufacturers meaning I needed a 1,000 print run minimum. It was time to show I believed in my own game as much as a bunch of people I met through it did.

Several years ago I used to work in Research and Development, and one of the things I learned very quickly in that position is that you have to create your own sense of urgency. You are making things that don’t exist and no one is waiting on, so you have to manufacture a sense of urgency to keep up with all the balls in the air. At least, I did. 

At any rate, I know how to create my own sense of urgency. I found a manufacturer, I got an updated quote from my old, before-paper-prices-went-up one, and I paid them the 50% down. And the game was afoot! 

So I, who am terrible at design and generally Adobe anything, had to create my deck of 250 cards in a ready-to-print format. I had to take my old box design that I paid someone to make, and translate it into a different sized template. 

I submitted files and got requested changes back. I got template changes. All the fun. The bonus was that I got to enjoy the, “That’s it! I’m DONE!” feeling multiple times. I am riding that high (although now it’s more a “I’m done?” feeling) even as I write this. The pre-production copy should be in my hands next week or so. 

If you work in IT, please check out Panic Mode. It’s a great team building exercise, it is a fun time and it offers an opportunity for discussion. I am proud of it, and I am done? with it. For now.

The sheep

Bill and I raise Icelandic sheep. We have been doing this about six years now. They honestly don’t take a lot of time, but they are part of our world, so they are always top of mind and if anything does happen it is extremely top of mind. 

We had a pretty easy year with a nice group of large lambs. We sell a lot of lambs in October, some in November and it’s usually done by then. We shear twice a year, including in October. Fall shearing is exhaustive because it includes not only our typical population but (for us) around 38 extra buggers. 

Fall shearing went well this year. We have not had any health issues with the sheep. We didn’t get a great hay crop and have to buy hay, which I do not like, but essentially all is well. However the sheep are worth mentioning as something requiring attention, particularly in the spring but also in the fall.

FUN FACT: We name the sheep each year based on a theme. Our favorite theme was the year we used the Dungeons and Dragons name generator, which happened to be an early year where we kept many lambs. Examples of beloved sheep still on the farm: Searos Ironbone, Marlove Gemviper, Gursys Killdeer (she’s my fave), Magcaryn Smilebeard, Kozyne Shieldskin, Thalquar Hingeblade and more! I can’t recommend that name generator enough. 

This is my Gursys as a new, fresh lamb. She’s 5 now!

The score

In September, Bill and I found ourselves in a very interesting situation that we will probably never stop talking about. 

Bill is a toy dealer, and he checks certain websites every so often to see what types of sales might be happening. He came running into my office one day waving his phone and showing me a sale that was happening about an hour from our house in a couple of days.

The person selling their stuff was a huge fan of a sci-fi television show that I am also a huge fan of (Bill is also a fan, but I will probably focus selfishly on my own fandom in this post). The sale had items from this show that had no business being in such close proximity to me, both physically and just in general really. It’s not an unknown show, but is BBC and fairly obscure here in the states (it is not Doctor Who, despite below references to those characters; there was a lot of sci-fi stuff there). For this huge collection to be nearby was bizarre. 

The sale started on a Thursday and we were always going to go. It was like being invited into a museum with on screen props and costumes from your favorite television show, but you can BUY THEM. I had already made a purchase over the phone earlier for some random item (it was a mechanoid head) that I had never assumed was on screen but was happy to have, so we were going to pick up this item and I planned to spend time with, touch and admire all of the other items out of my price range.

So we arrive and I head straight to the basement, where the best items always are. And it was jaw-dropping amazing. How often are we invited so anonymously into a world we would never otherwise cross? I was met by a full-sized Tardis, Dalek and Cyberman as soon as I entered the basement. I was surrounded by mannequins. I passed a full size, very familiar spacesuit into a bedroom and turned away from an ancient, ornately carved, wooden bed that commanded attention into a closet and was overcome with flashbacks from a TV show I have watched and loved since high school because the iconic costumes were right in front of me. It was unreal.

Anyway, the details here are not important to the story. Suffice it to say that Bill and I worked with the (friendly, clever, interesting) seller to purchase enough items at this sale that we rented a U-Haul the following day and packed and moved all day. We said nothing to John and Keri, just, “Will you help us unload this U-Haul?” Our group chat is still titled “Mannequinsanity.” John is very good at group chat titles.

This event has impacted our lives in a number of interesting ways. It sounds like a brief event but has a tail to it. It has led us into worlds that we would not otherwise enter and meet people with passions that we would never otherwise have met. We are learning a lot, meeting a lot of fun people, and I still can’t believe any of it. We are finishing a portion of our basement to give us a place for Bill to work (that has long been a plan) but also a place to store some of the items we purchased. We were on some weird kind of natural high that I think took me at least a week to start to come down from, and I can still catch the tail of it sometimes. It’s strange.

FUN FACT: Another one of my favorite television shows in this world is MTV’s The Challenge. I love it, and when it’s Wednesday it means I am watching The Challenge (I don’t watch real-time) after work. In September I fell a full five days behind. By October I had fallen a full week behind and had the amazing luxury of watching two episodes in a row. This speaks to my circumstances only – the show remains incredible – but it was perhaps the most clock-like and unsettling way I had to track how off I became in my routine around this time. 

Bill called the sale incident a folie a deux as soon as it happened. I think that’s pretty accurate. Me being my creepy self just suggested that we died in a crash on the way to the sale and the rest has been heaven. 

I was so worried about my garage being filled with my game that no one wants, and here it is full of fleece, mannequins and full-sized robots.

Yes, that’s where I park my car


For the unfamiliar, Nanowrimo is National Novel Writing Month, and I love it. It takes place every November. I have participated a number of times. I have only written one thing (I lovingly call it my blob) that feels like it pokes me on the shoulder like, “Hey, I’m a thing. Finish me.” My other nano’s just have nice nuggets inside of them. Nanowrimo is the best.

Truth be told, this Nanowrimo piece is one of the drivers behind my sense of urgency to finish Panic Mode. It demands a particular head space, and I can’t do both at the same time. So I need to be done with one to focus on the other. 

And have I mentioned yet that it’s November? Again. It’s November again. 

I tried to do a short Nanowrimo in September and even pulled in some friends. I personally was semi-successful, because I wrote some of my favorite scenes, but also the whole weird sale thing happened. I had to digest that for so long, seriously. It was weird. But I did write some great stuff in September which told me I can plug back into something I originally started to write in 2015. And that’s what I needed to know. 

My next goal is to self-publish this novel. It is very dark, very dense and very manic. But I kind of like it, and maybe I can make it even better. I will still suffer from my own marketing woes, but I will feel so great when it’s just out there and done.

Stay tuned

I have some great games waiting in the wings, all played but in various states of review. We’ve got The Mask, Dick Tracy, Barbie “We Girls Can Do Anything” Game, Clay to Win, Monster Mash, Whose Baby is this Anyway?, Heart-throb, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Topple, Wildcraft, Pac-Man, Personal Preference, The Joke Game, Perfect Match and at least that many more. 

If you read the blog, thank you for your patience. I was just waiting for my “I’m done?” to become “I’m done!” Because that’s a big deal. I’m not there yet, but I am so, very, close. 

How was your October?