Gratitude Challenge Day 4

I hope you are all having a great week! It’s that time again—day 4 of the Gratitude Challenge! Looks like we’ll be back to all things Cosmothea and the Cosmoverse shortly. I’ve been squeezing in time on wrapping up the book, Arcane Synthesis (so close now!), but I’ve been working a lot of hours painting for a mobile games startup and also had to take a break to write a skit that will be performed in the Philippines this Summer, and tackle other things on my plate. So on top of everything else, I’m grateful that I have these 7 “days” of Gratitude to post as a stalling tactic till I can jump back on my regular blog postings! I think you’ll find ‘em interesting though, as I’ve said before, so they aren’t really filler.

So if you’ve missed days 1-3, in a nutshell, minus the cool bits:

1) Valley experiences, Mountaintop experiences and yep, even lackluster days (read the post to know why!)
2) My amazing wife and two sons!
3) My incredible, lifesaving, patient, loving God, 3 in 1 awesomeness!

And today’s post? Three huge areas in my life: Drama, Ministries and Missions! Here goes!

1. Drama: I formed the Drama Guild in 2001 to write, produce, direct and act in plays and skits, which is ironic, since I have a poor memory and had some bad experiences acting when I was a lad (I told myself I’d never act again). But I quickly fell in love with writing plays and found I had some talent for acting (and God flat out did a few miracles during some performances that I’ll never forget and was deeply encouraged by), and I’ve been having a blast ever since! I’ve made a lot of great friends through the Drama Guild, and have even been able to help missions teams with their drama projects and even perform at other churches, and special events both here and abroad, for which I’m very grateful!

2. Ministries: Thanks to my wife’s heart for serving others, and to God for opening doors, I’ve been a teacher of every age group except High School, have worked in the nursery, have both hosted bible studies led them, have served as an usher, been a guest speaker at churches, been a part of a church council, assisted with various special events and other ministries I can’t even recall the names of off hand. I am not boasting. I’m grateful for each one of those opportunities and am pointing these out because it has been an honor! (For example, being able to meet so many kids, watch them grow, help to shape them – wow, what a blessing!) I think sometimes people think that serving others is a burden. It’s NOT easy. It’s NOT convenient, but what an honor and blessing it is to serve people! Seriously! Knowing that you are doing the right thing, that you are making life a little easier and maybe a little better for someone else— I feel lucky to be able to do that! Further, I’ve met so many great people while serving, people I might never have gotten to know well otherwise. God promises our labor is not in vain (1 Cor 15:58) and desires to bless us as we serve him. Praise God for the opportunity to serve others!

3. Missions: I’ve only been to the Philippines twice, but they have been two of the most important and wonderful trips of my life! I’m grateful for Wayne Whiteman and many others at Meadows Fellowship and beyond who made it possible for me to be a part of those trips – you are all amazing! Lord willing, I’ll be able to go there again in 2-15, but whether or not that happens, I carry with me wonderful memories of all the incredible people I met and fell in love with there. I also gained a better understanding of just how good we really have it in America, and how much God loves us. Those trips gave me a better perspective on life, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to be a part of some great things God’s been doing over there. It was an honor to assist with construction efforts and visit schools, and a blessing to be a part of opportunities to share God’s Good News, pray for and encourage others, and to be encouraged by the amazing people I met there!

If you think Cosmothea, the Cosmoverse or my occasional tangents into life, the universe and everything is something your friends might enjoy. Spread the word and I’ll be eternally grateful! See ya next week for Day 5, folks. Cheers!

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Gratitude Challenge Day 3

Welcome to Day 3 of the Gratitude Challenge! This one gets a bit spiritual, so you’ve been warned. On this day, I move the focus away from my direct family, but I don’t stray too far. I consider God part of my family, or rather I’m part of his family, as he has adopted me. The process was far easier than I thought it would be way back in the 80’s. I assumed I’d have to jump through some hoops to make it into heaven—that I’d have to be a really good person and do lots of good works, but he made it clear in the Bible that I didn’t have to. I just had to accept the gift of salvation Jesus offered through his sacrifice on the cross, and love him as my Lord.

Of course if you love your father, you desire to serve and obey him, and so good works is not a requirement, but rather something I do because I love him. Of course living for him isn’t easy, but then neither is the alternative, though it may seem otherwise without close inspection.

There are so many misconceptions about who God is, and how he feels about us (all of us). But I know I’m not perfect, of course. I make mistakes too, so I’m not trying to give anyone a hard time who may have thought something bad or made some harsh statements about him, not taking the time to get to know him better to understand what he’s all about.

If you want a close relationship with your spouse or a friend, you have to spend lots of time with them—invest in them. Without doing that, it’s easy to misunderstand someone, and get the wrong impressions. Anyway, I figured God was worth at least one day of the Challenge! So here goes—three things I’m grateful for today!

  1. God the Father: Not sure how he pulls off three distinct, co-equal, eternal persons all in one, immeasurably powerful, unbelievably patient and amazingly loving being, but nothing is impossible with God! Thanks to his grace, I am saved though faith in Jesus and have him with me 24/7 though the Holy Spirit living in me. Do I fully understand how that’s possible? Nope, but he’s a lot smarter than I am, so that’s understandable. Does it really matter that I don’t have all the answers? Nope! God knows what he’s doing. I’m just glad that he cares so much for me and desires a personal relationship with me. I’m grateful for your grace, Lord. Despite my faults, you never stop loving me! Thanks for putting up with me, Lord!
  2. God the Son, Jesus Christ: God in the flesh. John 14:9 “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.” Jesus is called “the Word” in John 1 and according to that chapter, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Thanks for making it so clear, God! It goes on to say in John 1:14: “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” He clothed himself in a frail, fleshly body, lived his whole life without sinning or worrying about his own needs, sacrificed himself to rescue us from our own sins and returned on the third day just as he said he would, to bring eternal life to all that accept him as their savior. He paid the price so we don’t have to. Yeah, God’s that awesome!
  3. God the Holy Spirit: He dwells in the hearts of those who accept Jesus as their savior—those who devote themselves to him. He is our advocate (John 14:26), he guides us (John 16:13), regenerates/comforts and renews us (Titus 3:5) and reveals God’s will to us (1 Cor 2). He desires to bless us as we live in obedience to him! He never leaves us, nor forsakes us. Talk about a patient, loving, tolerant god, wow!

Ok, so God is really only one being, but I am grateful for all three persons—for the system of order that he’s set up (he is a god of order, setting up the days of the week, and the basic system of government and marriage for our benefit). His commandments weren’t to put a stranglehold on us, but to show us that we need him—that we can’t make it on our own. As a god of wisdom, common sense, logic, love and order, he doesn’t expect us to know everything, do everything, but has created positions and systems so that things get done and we don’t have to tackle it all ourselves or struggle as much through this rollercoaster life. I think God deserves at least one day all to himself, wouldn’t you agree?

That’s all for Day 3. Hope to see you in a week! Take care!!!

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Gratitude Challenge Day 2

Hi folks,

It’s that time again. Day 2 of the Gratitude Challenge! Today’s a new day. You will not get it back. Make it count and see you in seven! I’ll get back to all things Cosmothea and the Cosmoverse following Day 7.

Ok, some days will be more inspiring than others, but as these are all things I’m grateful for, I’m not going to sweep them under the rug just because they may not directly apply to your life or make an interesting movie. I’m not just going to make stuff up for entertainment value, but if this post doesn’t do it for you, come back and I’m sure many of the others will. As always, feedback is welcome. Cheers!

Day 2:

  1. My wife: My amazing wife, Joan! We’ve been married for over 22 years and love each other more than the day we got married. Her sacrificial love and passion encourage me. She’s smart, witty, driven, organized, and is a good example, continually surprising me with her heart for helping others, without worrying about gaining any attention for it. I would not be the man I am without her, and our family would be much less than it was meant to be if not for her incredible strength to press on and look beyond our own walls, and for these things, I am forever grateful.
  2. My oldest son: Haven! He continues to amaze me with his passion, ability to remain calm regardless of his surroundings, his quiet, analytical, creative mind. His hidden depth, ability to focus, his appreciation for things others don’t always notice. He often strives in silence when I would have grown weary in similar circumstances. I’m impressed with his wit, gentleness, extraordinary insights and creativity, and I’m proud to have the honor of being his dad.
  3. My youngest son: Adam! He’s a joy to watch. Full of energy, always pushing himself physically and mentally, eager to meet challenges face on, confidently, and surprising me with his ability to master technology and anything else he puts his mind to. He’s empathic and has the ability to press on when others would have buckled under, to overcome personal and physical challenges and not only survive, but thrive. I’m proud to have the honor of being his dad too.

Okay, you didn’t answer this last time, so I’m going to give ya another shot. What are you grateful for? Writing about what’s actually working in your life—what really matters—the positives you can claim in your life—this is healthy, therapeutic, if you will. I’ve said it before, but even if things aren’t going so great, I’m betting you have it better than you think!


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Gratitude Challenge Day 1

As promised, I’m going to do a series of posts on gratitude and then once that’s done, I’ll return to what most of you came here for, more on all things QT Games, like our Cosmothea Blended-Genre Roleplaying Game, Cosmoverse Campaign Setting, Arcane Synthesis anthology, and other fiction and gaming goodies.

I was challenged on facebook recently to list 3 things every day for 7 days that I’m grateful for. Why should you care? Well, maybe you won’t, but I did more than list them—I tackled these things and put ‘em into a headlock! Er, I mean, I searched my heart, not just slapped out easy answers and I think you might find them interesting—at least some of them.

There might even be one or two that you might even find inspirational (or maybe not—you tell me!) At the least, they ought to be good reminders of just how good we’ve got it, even when things aren’t going so grand! I’ll post these once or twice a week, and then post an update on Arcane Synthesis and get back to square one with QT Games. Ready? Here goes!

DAY 1:

  1. Valley experiences: Because when times are hard, we have the greatest opportunity for personal, relational, and spiritual growth, and such experiences enable us to encourage and empathize better with others who are going through similar difficulties.
  2. Mountaintop experiences: Because it is during these highs that we can catch our breath and be refreshed, knowing that we have overcome, been rescued from or are finally through that valley, and can dream again and have hope for an even better tomorrow.
  3. Lackluster days: Because if every day was a valley or a mountaintop, we’d get little rest, being caught up in either concern or rejoicing, when sometimes, as when returning from a long vacation, what we need most is to slip into familiar surroundings, knowing that while we aren’t on the mountain, at least we aren’t in the valley and therefore life isn’t so bad after all.

What are you grateful for? If you haven’t done the 7 Days of Gratefulness challenge yet, I encourage you to try it. You might be surprised that things are actually going better than you thought! Till next time, cheers!

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Time Flies Whether You’re Having Fun Or Not!

Hi all,

I’m sorry it has been so long since I’ve posted. We have been down to the wire finishing things up at QT Games as we prepare to publish Arcane Synthesis: A Blended Genre Anthology. I’ve been working long hours wrapping that up and so I haven’t been blogging. Further, I recently had to go out of town for a couple weeks on a family emergency and just got a full-time art job, so with all that on my plate and being out of town, I’m playing catch up! Time has flown by, so, an update is in order!

But before I do that, let me just say that we’ll be in flux for a bit—till the book is on the market and I can get back on my feet. My guess is that will be about 5 weeks or so. I still want to do the blog, and get back to posting regularly on all things Cosmoverse and Cosmothea roleplaying and also on our other QT Games projects like our card and board games, but for the next several blog posts, I’m going to post a series I wrote about gratefulness that I think you’ll find it interesting (and tide you over for our regular fiction and gaming posts). I wish I could post on our roleplaying and campaign setting goodies every day, but it is what it is. Even so, we’ll be back to that shortly!

Update on Arcane Synthesis
We have put the book through its last editing phase and are wrapping that up. Then I’ll incorporate any changes into the manuscript and give the layout another look over in InDesign and then begin converting the book for ebook formats (pdf, ePub and Mobi, possibly others down the road). Once we get that out to our backers, we’ll be looking at releasing the printed hard and softcovers and releasing the ebooks to the world at large as well! It won’t be long now, but we’re a few weeks behind schedule with all the headaches we’ve had and family emergency.
If all goes well, 3rd Quarter 2015, I’ll have my second book ready to roll on Kickstarter: The Living Train (it’s already about a third done, but I have to get Arcane Synthesis out the door before I jump back to this latest one). After that, we have the Divine Synthesis anthology planned and then possibly a card game or setting book. We’ll see. It partly depends on financing and what the fan base wants. We have a pile of cool products waiting for funding and time. But during this crunch time, I hope that you will find my next several posts encouraging, if unrelated to our usual fiction and gaming content, and then before long we’ll dive back into the blended-genre Cosmoverse that we love and hope you’ll fall in love with too. You’ll get your first big taste of it in Arcane Synthesis! Yep, just getting warmed up! Cheers, and as always, I’d love to hear your feedback and also let me know what you’ve been up to!

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All about Words, Writing and an Anthology Update!

Words-art-for-blogIt has been awhile, friends! If you don’t hear from me, or see  me post, it’s not because I’ve forgotten you, it just means I’m crazy busy writing, editing designing games or painting (whatever is on the hot plate). I’ve been slammed working on our fiction anthology coming out soon! As those of you who backed our Kickstarter and/or read our fan facebook page know, we brought on board Phil Athans (TSR/WotC – Forgotten Realms) to assist with editing and also Darrin Drader to write a short story for the book. But I’ll give you a bigger update on all that later. Today I wanted to talk briefly about word counts.

Over the years I’ve noticed something odd about stories: There are numerous definitions on what lengths short stories, novelettes, novellas and novels should be (That’s not even including the various terms for even shorter stories!) I’ve seen the numbers differ considerably over time.

Personally, I don’t think it’s that big of a deal what they are called or why there needs to be so many categories or so much fuss over it. I’d only make maybe three categories likely (short story, Novella and Novel), but then there are organizations that hand out rewards completely based on word counts and so I guess more categories means more chances to win, so I can’t really complain there!

My own notions on proper length for the various categories don’t quite mesh well with the Word Count wiki on the topic, but as it seems that organizations that reward seem to be using similar numbers, I suppose that’s the one to go with, not the myriad of articles out there giving their own opinions and rules for them.

As for my own stories . . . well, I love digging into my characters heads, introducing complex storylines with lots of subplots and other details and as we’re talking the Cosmoverse Campaign Setting with so many interesting and largely unknown races, cultures, magic and other goodies that require description (if it were Star Wars, I could simply toss out keywords like Jedi and the Force and not have to explain it as much, but strangely, we’re still an unknown, heh), so my brain works and thinks more in the novella to novel category according to the wiki.

Somewhere around those two categories is sweet spot. My stories tend to have several characters and a lot going on. I don’t try to shoot for high word counts—I’m just saying that my mind tends to insist on certain things in my stories that tend to require higher word counts, at least when I’m writing something other than skits and plays. What about you? If you write stories, what word count tends to always come out on top as your sweet spot? Do you care about word counts? Do you think any of us should? For that matter, do you think rewards should be categorized by word count, and if not, by what method?

Looking at the numbers on that wiki, it looks like they’d rate nearly all of the stories in Arcane Synthesis as novelettes and some as novellas. Interestingly, my next project is going to be a novella, but since the wiki is claiming a novel can be as tiny as 40,0001 words (crazy short in my mind—I’d put a novel closer to the 75,000+ category), I guess we might be looking at a novel, folks. I’ll find out when I’m done!

One problem I’ve had is that I have way, way too many stories in the works and ideas for stories and outlines for stories and I don’t have time to write them all during my lifetime, so I’m starting to look at the concept of the novella a little more closely. It is for this reason that I once again did a little search into word counts to see if anything official ever popped up. Seeing such low word counts, I sighed over it as I ate my breakfast this morning.

There’s always been such a disparity between some instances of the various definitions. I think the reward system is what is causing some kind of finality here. If that’s how they are rewarding, then I suppose that holds more weight, even though it was kind of arbitrary to begin with. And there are oddities in some of the word count systems.

One site I found stated a novella was between 20,000 and 50,000 words, but a novel ranged from 70,000-90,000 words. What does that mean for the author who wrote something between 50,001 and 69,999 words or over 90,000? Does the story tear a rift in the fabric of the universe? Do ninjas drop down from the ceiling, and hack you to pieces or throw shurikens at your computer to wipe out the anomaly? Seems kind of silly that anyone would suggest a system like that!

There’s been a number of great novels written at the higher word counts like George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire books, The Order of the Phoenix, Fellowship of the Ring, The Grapes of Wrath, Last of the Mohicans, Les Misérables, and many others, some of which are much longer in length.

Anyway, I can’t wait for you guys to read Arcane Synthesis: A Blended-Genre Anthology. The stories are turning out very cool and I’m sure you are going to love it. We’re making good progress and hope to have it all ready around January of 2015, if all goes well! We’ve had some setbacks, but things are rolling smoothly and I remain hopeful!

As I mentioned, our next project is going to be a novella/novel that is partially finished. If we get the finances we need (hopefully via Kickstarter as we don’t have the budget for it yet) we expect that to come out around third quarter of 2015 and have no doubt you’ll get a kick out of that as well! Good stuff heading your way. The more fans and finances we get, the more top-notch products that will be coming your way. Never stop dreaming. Never give up. Never lose hope!


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Taking Your Life and Work to a New Level (Part 2)

Hi folks! It’s been awhile. You can be assured that if you don’t see a blog from me, I’m either sick, or more likely, I’m working like mad on our latest offering (in this case: Arcane Synthesis: A Blended-Genre Anthology – our successful Kickstarter project). But in case any of you are reading this blog, I wanted to get Part 2 out to you before anymore time passes. Today, I’ll be talking a bit more about moving forward and also about some of the design decisions I’ve made for the Cosmothea Blended-Genre RPG. Sound good? Great, let’s get started! (If you missed Part 1, be sure to check it out here!)

Cosmothea-roomTAKE IT BACK!
Before you can take your life or your work to another level, you have to take it back. You have to own it, believe in it, commit to it 110%. If you can’t do that, you can’t expect anyone else to invest in it either. But to get to that point without being egotistical and therefore biased, thinking since you came up with it, it must be brilliant, take a hard look at it. Spend some serious time brainstorming, looking at your dream from different angles, talking to friends about it and listening to their advice. i.e. you need to do your homework if you want to succeed.

Let me explain. If you don’t do your homework, you won’t be knowledgeable enough to do it right. If you can’t explain it, you can’t convince someone else it’s worth investing in. If you can’t share it because “it’s not ready” or “someone might steal it”, well then there’s a good chance that a) No one will ever see it so it doesn’t matter anyway, and b) If you wait until you think it’s done before sharing it, chances are fewer people will invest in it (since fewer people will know about it) and it’s likely not as good as it could have been if you shared it, got the feedback you needed and improved upon it.

As for ideas being stolen, I don’t know if any of my ideas have every really been stolen over the years or not, but I can tell you that quite a few have appeared in other games. I could have been the one to get some credit for some cool concepts, but because I didn’t publish them, others got the credit and glory. If you keep writing and rewriting, you’ll never publish or you’ll publish so late that by the time you do, your concepts have likely appeared elsewhere whether you’ve kept it a secret or not, as ideas float around and when the time is right, one or many people come up with them. I believe it’s called Parallel Design.

You think only one guy invented the wheel? It might have been that way, or half a dozen people, but people only ever hear about the one that did something with their invention, their dream. Got it out there. Get over yourself, get over your invention, get it done and get it on the market, or you might very well either never publish anything at all.

Before you can improve something, you must realize it can be improved and then brainstorm the best way to go about it. Sounds simple, right? But creative types can quickly become so wrapped up in their work that they get tunnel vision and not realize there’s a better way of doing something. Before you can take your life or your project to another level, you need to commit to another level and make a battleplan of how you are going to achieve it. For me, that meant hundreds of hours of brainstorming, trying out different mechanics and concepts and also bringing on board other talented folks. Iron sharpens iron and all that! Collaboration can either be a nightmare, or if done right, it can be a very beautiful thing!

A lot of hard decisions need to be made when it comes to putting together a campaign setting or roleplaying game. I already touched on the Why, previously, and on its Blended-Genre nature. This blog post is already getting longish, so I’m going to go over a few decisions I made along the way and what seemed to work (and what didn’t), but I’ll spend most of the next blog post focusing just on this topic. So, if you are tired of my life discussions, you’ll have some more game designer meat in the next blog. I hope you’ll stick around for it!

One of my early decisions was that Cosmothea would be a mainstream game. A mainstream game is one that tackles popular concepts. This doesn’t mean it focuses on tired genres, recycled garbage that everyone thinks they want or should want. But it isn’t a micro genre.

One of my philosophies behind this decision is that a successful game needs to balance between two extremes: being too familiar and being too obscure. If a game is too familiar, then who needs it? We already have D&D. If it is too obscure, who can understand it and how many would really want to play it? This was a big decision, but only one of several.

There are a number of designers only making micro niche games. By that I mean an entire RPG devoted to some cool topic like roleplaying the servant of a god or evil master, running around as a zombie or ghost. I have nothing at all against them. I’m just not doing that.

Another decision I made was that I wanted any products I make to have high production values. So, I want very clean layouts, high-quality graphics, color, quality editing, etc. I could take the road so many other small publishers have (and actually get published way sooner – like decades ago), and I see why so many publishers haven’t gone down the route of high production values (though I’ve seen some nice covers and nice b&w art over the years, so I’m not putting any publishers down). There’s some great lil products out there, but Cosmothea is not a small game, so in order to afford high production values for a big game, it takes longer, more money, and a bigger audience.

Just as Cosmothea covers a lot of cool genres, all blended together in a nice montage (and still leaving some worlds single genre for those that love that sort of thing), I wanted to make sure to keep that trend going when it came to resolution systems. Most games have one resolution system. With Cosmothea, there’s four, plus a 5th micro add-on. I enjoy playing with different mechanics and I wanted to minimize the number of gamers saying things like, “Your game uses X? I hate games that use X to resolve conflict!” or some such. A related decision, I wanted to make sure you could swap between the resolution systems if you so felt inclined, so they are all compatible to boot! Now, my goal isn’t to make a game that is the be-all, end-all, but I felt these decisions and others were a good fit for what I am trying to achieve. So far, so good!

Interested in learning more about the Cosmothea Blended-Genre Roleplaying Game and what we’re up to? Check out our next blog post (I’m officially transitioning out of my life + RPG mode with the next post and will therefore have shorter posts, more often) or head over to our forums or website! As always, feedback is welcome!

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