Here we go again, with the existential crisis about game design…

While waiting for everything for Teratozoic to get here, I’ve been developing a card-drafting game. At first it was built around storytelling/story-building, a version of my first game, Paved With [my…] Intentions, expanded to create a complex multi-act storyline instead of a vignette… but I ran into technical and existential problems with crafting the story-space my imagined/envisioned game would take place in, so I dropped the theme—but my brain kept thinking about card-drafting games. (I’m sure, in part, because I bought several other card-drafting games to study, and have been playing them a lot.)

So over the last week, a complete game sprang forth from my mind & hands, with almost fully functional mechanics and no theme. By mid-week I picked a placeholder theme and re-skinned all the cards, and now I have a fun, fast-paced, competitive card-drafting game in need of more play-testing. The proto-theme is ‘Black Friday shopping’ and the best name I’ve thought of so far (which I haven’t yet Googled) is “Black Friday Blitz”, and it’s got an interesting double-drafting mechanic, where players are drafting from two different decks at once, passing cards in one based on where they’re sitting at the table (as in most card-drafting games) and passing cards in the other based on how fast they drafted from the first deck; it takes the fast-paced mechanic of card-drafting and adds a race element to it.

So far it’s tested pretty well, and I’ve already ironed out some kinks & shortcomings in the initial design, but the artwork is … basic. Nearly every “graphic” is actually a dingbat from one of the many dingbat fonts I have (or found, specifically for this project), which is nice on one hand (all vector graphics!) but is also … fairly weak, and somewhat incoherent (since they come from several different dingbat sets) and not really the sort of thing that, say, people would get excited about on Kickstarter. If I wanted to produce/sell it as more than a prototype, I’ll have to redesign the cards, probably from the ground up, and create 24 unique pieces of art (several of which represent abstract concepts, not easily presented by representative art styles) for the various cards in the current version of the game.

Unfortunately, right now I don’t feel like my own capabilities as an artist are well-suited to delivering on the ideas contained in “Black Friday Blitz”. This becomes a self-fulfilling situation; this is in the nature of being a creative person, that you can usually only do what you believe you can do. Additionally, the tone & style of the artwork which I envision matching that of the theme & gameplay is one which … I almost wouldn’t want to put my name behind. Which I almost certainly wouldn’t seriously consider buying, myself. I have no idea how to sell it, or who to sell it to. Which makes, say, including the cost of paying to hire an artist in a Kickstarter goal to publish the game… even more difficult.

I’ve been targeting POD for this game, trying to keep the rules simple enough to present on cards (since DriveThruCards doesn’t print rules), so I wouldn’t need any big, up-front investment to publish it. That doesn’t work without art. To hire someone else would probably end up costing $1k-$3k, which is no big deal if you’re raising $15k+ on Kickstarter to pay for mass-production, or if your last game was profitable, but my last game raised ~$6k and is projected to net me around $300 (in part because my printer died right before I needed to be able to print ~300 shipping labels, an unexpected extra expense)—I can’t afford to pay an artist to work on this game with the last one’s sales, and I can’t reasonably expect this one to outperform the last one by 3x+, when I can’t imagine who would even buy it. So then we end up back where most of my work lives, with me doing all the work—in this case, all the artwork.

Which brings me back around to my old existential crisis. What am I doing this for? How much effort do I want to put into creating a game I don’t think people will actually want to play? What’s it all for/mean?

I mean, I’ve been really excited & motivated to design the game, and even to play-test it. Like, after the last time it was played (Friday night), I made a couple of small adjustments to the game flow (and wrote out the basic rules for the first time) and I’m still itching/eager to test the new setup. Like, super excited to improve, polish, and play my new game. So on one hand, that’s great. I still love designing gameplay, and playing (at least at first) my new game designs.

On the other hand, I can’t seem to sever things like choosing an art direction and creating the art from the ideas of marketability, audience perception/snap-judgements, and the reactions game reviewers had to Teratozoic’s art style. Which makes even thinking about what the card art should look like transform into this evil, hulking, acidic thing I don’t want anything to do with. It associates the idea of taking the game from a prototype stage to a publishable stage with a feeling of failure, with pain, with suffering, with the idea of how far off the rails my life went to try to raise ~$6k for Teratozoic and how much worse trying to raise $15k+, especially for a much-less-obviously-marketable game, would be.

Now, there are potential alternatives. Perhaps I’ll come up with an easier-to-conceive-of-marketing theme to paste on, over the top of the existing mechanics & theme. Perhaps I’ll start taking mind-altering pills every day which will help me grind through the 24 pieces of art without collapsing into a pit of despair—and can then just dump the thing on DTC and forget about it. (That’s actually my current best-case plan.) Perhaps I’ll put together a compelling package & sales pitch for the game [mechanics] and sell the thing to a publisher which will figure out a workable theme, hire an artist, and otherwise take care of the things which are bugging me, right now. Perhaps I’m just experiencing a temporary mental and emotional slump, a part of my lifelong journey of depression, and I’ll have no trouble completing the game if/when my brain stops doing … whatever it’s doing. Perhaps I’ll be okay with setting the game aside once the gameplay has reached a satisfactorily polished conclusion, without art or public availability, like most of my prototypes.

I’ve definitely set up my life & business so as to not be dependent on continuous sales or product releases. I certainly don’t create with the intention of making money or accumulating fame. That I create at all has more to do with maintenance of my own mental health than with any other factor.

I think that right now I’m just testing out the limits. I don’t want to go *too* far into doing things which upset me or otherwise compromise my mental (&physical) health, but perhaps it’s not a good idea to shy away at the first signs of discomfort. Perhaps I should try to stretch myself, being wary of going too far.

Last time I went too far.

With Teratozoic, I went too far. Much too far.

This time, perhaps I can figure out a way to publish a game without going too far.

Nevermind, I’m an artist. Maybe not a good one, but an artist nonetheless.

I apparently haven’t posted here since November. Oops.

I’ve been putting plenty of long (-for-Facebook) posts on my Facebook account, and I’ve been writing the occasional private journal entry (in the Day One app), and I suppose this online journal has ended up a little dry. I’d been decidedly infrequent in my posting since early 2005, but rarely fewer than one or two posts a month until now. Oh, well. Things change.

Additionally, about a year ago I started a tumblr account. I had the intention of working more on art in 2013 than I did. I had a lot of intentions. I won’t detail here my failures in that department. I will say that my intention for the tumblr is to post my creative output, my drawings & stories, preferably immediately—drafts, roughs, et cetera, theoretically in addition to polished/finished stuff as I complete things. Not a lot of stuff there, yet. But I’ve been working on card art for the games I’ve been developing, so that’s there.

You may recall a few months ago I made a long post questioning my interest in and capabilities related to creating art. “Maybe I’m not an artist, after all.” I had prototyped a deck-building game, the gameplay was reasonably fun, it was narratively meaningful, it taught behavioral changes through its mechanics; it could have used more polish, sure, but I was satisfied with having created it, and I considered it a successful effort. I want, eventually, to be able to bring my game designs to market in one way or another, and had thought I could take that game forward, so was working on developing the artwork for all the cards. If I recall correctly, I needed something in the neighborhood of 60 or 65 unique pieces of art for the different cards… and it was torture. You can read the whole post for the details. Basically, I was having so much difficulty even getting myself to sit down for twenty minutes to sketch stick figures that I was questioning my entire existence.

Anyway, I ended up shelving that game. I disassembled the prototype and recycled it. I started working on other ideas. NaNoWriMo came along and I tried working on a writing project; it stressed me out too much and I immediately remembered why I’m on hiatus from writing & publishing right now. Luckily my brain had been working on some new game ideas, and a couple of weeks into November I was saved from my anxiety and stress over writing by suddenly developing the core of a small deck-building game in one night of insomniac mania. Over the next few days I worked on the math and developed the theme, printed out a prototype, played a few solo rounds, made changes, played a couple rounds with my wife, made more changes, and got a pretty solid little game… with no art.

The fact that the game works and is fun when it’s just numbers and math (with a very thin suggestion of theme) is a very good thing. (For a while I was very happy about that. (I’m still happy about it, just somewhat less so, for reasons I’ll explain.))

I kept working on it, played with a few more people, got some good feedback, made more adjustments, played some more, and then began working on the card art. I began working on the card art with some trepidation, stemming from the trouble I’d had earlier in the year, with the other game I’d taken that far into development. I started carrying a paper sketchbook with me when I knew I’d have time & space to work (such as to NaNoWriMo write-ins). I got a pressure-sensitive stylus (the Jot Touch 4) so I could try drawing on my iPad. I drafted up some templates to sketch into, and I tried different drawing apps, and I spent a few weeks thinking about and sketching out basic ideas for what I wanted from the card art.

It was slow-going and a little difficult at first, partially because I felt like I needed to be creating print-ready quality in my first drafts. One or two pain-staking drawings (over a couple of weeks) in, I dropped that pretense for a while, and a couple dozen new sketches (extremely rough) poured out in a couple of days. It was going okay.

Then I had the opportunity to play with another new person, and discuss the game and its mechanics with some new perspectives, and in the context of producing and seeing and thinking about the art, I had a new idea for the game. A relatively major alteration to the game, actually, and to the way I needed to think about the art of at least 1/3 of the cards. And here’s the worst part, the explanation I promised earlier:

I won’t know how the changes affect the gameplay until I have a prototype with art.

The game could be unplayable, or just un-fun. It could be unbearably slow, where the last prototype was very fast-paced. It could be awesome, an excellent marriage of theme and mechanics with art that really sells the concept and hooks players, without slowing down the pace too much. It could have crossed the line and become too complicated. It might have been unbalanced by the creation of the starter decks. Anything. I won’t know until I have a prototype with art (and updated card text, and rules) and can play the updated game. So that’s a bit of a worry, and why I’m less than very happy with how well the art-free prototype worked, since the game has moved forward since then but hasn’t been tested yet.

So for the last couple of weeks, I’ve been working on the art in a new way, based on the requirements of the new round of changes to the game. I’ve been doing it all on paper, and in my art studio. I’ve actually been doing it “actual size”, which would be “totally wrong” if I intended these drawings to be the actual source of the final card art—you’re supposed to do everything orders of magnitude too large; yes, yes, I’ll do the digital files in high resolution, and will entirely re-draw (and color) all the art with one or more of my pressure-sensitive styluses. Anyway, I’ve been working on the art, and here’s where I suppose we get to the point of this entire post:

I’ve been having a really good time working on the art for this project.

Not every day, and not by any means early most days, I’m still depressed, but I’ve been getting up in the morning and sitting down to work on art all day. Putting in four or six or eight hours of good, solid work on drawing monsters’ body parts for these cards, day after day. (Well, I was too messed up (emotionally) a couple days last week, but I accomplished other things with my time, instead, knowing art wasn’t going to work.) Last Friday I had finished a major milestone in the art creation process, and over the weekend I figured out that at the rate I was going I should easily be able to finish these rough (but totally usable) drawings for all the card art (66 different pieces of art are needed for the 66 cards) before the end of the month, only working weekdays. (I generally spend my weekends with my wife.) Over the last three days (Monday was a holiday), I’ve gotten up in the morning, gotten dressed (relatively nice, wearing my button-down shirts rather than t-shirts; how you dress affects your mental state, you know), and gotten to work—and somewhere in there I noticed that I’m really enjoying it. I’m enjoying the work, I’m enjoying the project, I’m enjoying the process, I’m happy with the results… It’s all going quite well.

That I’m still working on the same project two months later says a lot, in itself. I’ve got more than a couple books on my shelves which I conceived, wrote, edited, designed, and published in less time than I’ve been working on this game. That I’m still working on it and not hating it, or giving up on it, but am actually enjoying working on it and happy with the results coming out of that work – it speaks volumes. Plus, there’s the art. I’m creating art again. Some of it –a lot of it– is art I’m really quite happy with, both visually and conceptually. Certainly there’s a portion of it which needs more work, but most of the groundwork is solid and some of the pieces are (to me) brilliant. Beautiful. Elegant. Communicating clearly. Evocative.

I’m learning and progressing as I go, but a lot of what I’m capable of doing this week is because of the sketching and thinking I’ve been doing for the last eight. And right now I’m at a point where, assuming I can get this finished and posted soon and get to sleep and then get up at a reasonable hour of the morning, if I get as much work done tomorrow as I got done today, I’ll have a drawing for all but one card (Conceptually, I just don’t know what to draw for that card. Yet.) by the end of the day tomorrow. I’ll be able to spend all of next week working on the digital side of creating an updated prototype, and still get it done by the end of the month. (I’m having a small game night on the 1st, and wanted to see how a new group of players take to the game—if I can have the updated prototype ready by then.) This is almost twice as fast as I’d been hoping to be able to get the art created, and that could only be possible because of how much joy the whole thing has brought me.

So, yes. I’m an artist. And I still get joy from creating art. And I still have ideas, I have things I want to express, both visually and through other means (words, gameplay, et cetera). You may not think the art I’m creating is any good. You may not think the ideas I have to share are of any value. Still, I’m an artist. A creator. And that’s a good thing.

Maybe I’m not an artist, after all

There’s a bit of a lead-in, here. A longish story. Stay with me.

So, for the last couple of weeks I’ve been working on a new game. A deck-building game. This isn’t the first one I’ve tried to create, but all the thinking I’ve been doing on the subject over the last year or so got me to the point where, combined with the new freedom of being on hiatus from working on new books, I was able to create a brand new, playable, engaging, and fun deck-building game in under two weeks. The mechanics are pretty solid. It has a fair amount of complexity, but is easy to pick up and play (especially if you’re already familiar with deck-building games). It also does a whole lot of other, layered things, which I won’t get into here; suffice it to say that it tackles narrative, theme, and teaches players subtle moral lessons, all through the gameplay mechanics. For the play-testing decks I’ve been printing (and cutting, and sleeving, myself), I did a relatively quick (but professional-looking; I’ve been doing graphic design for almost 15 years, now) layout and dropped in stock photos I stole from the Internet as the art for about a third of the cards. (The rest are blank; I wanted to get to playing, rather than spend hours and hours putting together art I knew I’d have to replace later.)

This brings us to the problem at hand. I’ve been polishing the text on the cards and the mechanics of the gameplay based on how it plays and how people have reacted to the game/cards; no problem. But now, if I want to move forward with this, even just to have a nice version printed up for my own use (to say nothing of the ridiculous challenges inherent in attempting to turn it into a commercial product), I need art for all the cards. Realistically (and, according to the law) I can’t use stolen images, even just for a single set of cards for my own personal use; no printer would (knowingly) print it, and technically what I’ve already done is a couple million dollars’ worth of copyright violation. So I need new art for all the cards.

On one hand, the use of stock photography works reasonably well with the game, as it exists now. In fact, I feel it adds a bit of light-heartedness the game certainly needs, considering its themes. The careful selection of stock photos could make this into a complete and very enjoyable game, and if the game is strictly for my personal use, I can legally license a set of images for under $100. Possibly for under $50, depending where I get them. For any sort of commercial use, the licenses for the stock photos would cost something upwards of $4k-$6k. (Interestingly, hiring another artist or artists to create illustrations for all the cards would also cost me at least that much, and possibly over $10k-$20k for high-quality/highly-detailed work.)

On the other hand, I could illustrate all the cards myself. Theoretically I’m an artist (though I’m definitely not an illustrator; I have almost no experience doing illustrations/drawings of any kind) and I could maybe just whip up five dozen images. It’s my game, right? Why not just do everything, like I’ve done with all my books? My biggest concern with this approach is that I haven’t spent the last ten to fifteen years practicing drawing and illustration, or even much of that time looking at drawn and illustrated works (no, I don’t read comics, generally). I’ve been painting mostly-abstract and generally-non-figurative works, and focusing on portraying emotional content, rather than literal content. So drawing, say, a person, or a building, or a room full of people, is not something I have any practice with.

And, sure, I could use this as an opportunity to begin working on my illustration skills. I’ve been putting off starting from scratch and teaching myself illustration for over three years, now. This is, actually, something I frequently think I want to do. That I don’t do. So a couple of days ago I decided, “Yeah, let’s try it! I’m going to try to illustrate my own cards.”

Except then I ran into the problem of the theme: The game basically describes everyday life. There are cards for going to work. There are cards for sleeping. Cards for going to school. (Online Classes. Night Classes. Summer School. MBA Program, et cetera. What do you draw for each one of those to differentiate them from one another at a glance?) There are cards for different sorts of work you might do, from fast-food all the way up to Manager/CEO, but again, how do you show, at a glance, the differences between these jobs? Heck, how do you illustrate someone working at any job less

specific than fast-food? Most of the cards are these sorts of everyday things, everyday activities. A few are specific locations or obvious activities (a church, a police station, a library, a karate tournament, et cetera) which would be relatively easy, at least to know whether the image was of the thing described, but most are really referring to abstractions. What does a promotion look like, when I also have to have a card for the job you’ve been promoted into, which you can easily differentiate? Or working overtime? Or all the things we do on computers? How does ‘Online Classes’ look different from ‘Database Hacking’, ‘Craigslisting Old Stuff’, or working on a ‘Personal Project’ (this last one also needing to look different from all those other ‘working’ cards)?

And on, and on, and on, and this, this, is what’s making me think maybe I’m not really an artist, after all. If I can’t come up with a few dozen ideas for images to illustrate the ideas of all these different cards, what sort of an artist am I? Heck, why do I think I could find enough different stock photographs for these ideas? If I don’t know how to illustrate everyday life … *sigh*

So then I go back and forth, and even further than before. Not just back to photography, which I do think I could find enough images from, but all the way back to whether I ought to spend any more time/effort on this project, at all. I created it, it was playable and fun, and maybe that’s enough. Maybe I don’t need to take it all the way through to a theoretically-finished ‘product’, professionally printed and all that. And then further forth, to the idea that I’ve been wanting to try to develop games of this sort, and games for sale/distribution, for about a year, already; that going through this process, even if I don’t ever intend to make this game commercially available, would be a good learning experience for me. To give me a first pass at trying to illustrate an entire deck-building game, and at working with a professional game printer & distributor, and at what it takes to bring a project of this scope not just to a playable Alpha version, but to a beautiful First Edition. And it’s a struggle.

Plus, my mind has already been dreaming up expansions for it. Ways to create a small set of cards (say, 70 to the existing game’s 250+) which by addition or substitution to the set I have now, significantly alter the nature of the game. Such as a ‘Supers’ expansion, which adds super powers and super villains to your attempts to navigate everyday life. Or a horror expansion. Or whatever, but generally of the sort where it would be difficult to continue to use stock photography to depict the new card ideas. Which is actually the sort of thoughts which led me to the above “let’s try it” exclamation; clearly, for the game and its expansions, some sort of illustration, and possibly some sort of cartoony, simplified illustration, to keep a certain level of lightness-of-tone, would be required.

So, this is my current struggle. Except for the hours of frustration spent staring at blank pages and/or terrible illustrations I’m trying to create on them, the last few weeks have been really nice. The simple act of following my muse, creating freely and without real concern for commercial possibilities, but just because it was what I felt like creating, had made me really happy. I’ve especially appreciated the idea that in order to successfully ‘Kickstart’ a proper commercial run of a game like this, I’d have to hit at least a $10k goal (easily $30k, if working with other artists), and that my fundraisers tend to raise $300 or $500, total, so in there being no hope of success, there has been no pressure to even try; I know I’m only making this for me and my friends, right now.

Maybe, maybe, if/when I finish all the art, I’ll also make it available as an expensive POD game from someplace like, or just put a print-and-play version up for free at But from what I know, my attempting to actually do anything commercially meaningful with this (or anything like it) would just be a stressful waste of everyone’s time and energy. (And I kinda like it that way.)

Anyway, I’m going to keep trying to work on the art for awhile, and either find success or give up on it and move on, and I think either one of those will be okay. If you know me personally, and are local, and you want to play, email/message me and I’ll invite you to one of our game nights. Your feedback on it would be welcomed, as well as your company.

I guess I could blog…

So. November came and went. My 2nd novel crashed and burned at around 32k words – if you follow me on Facebook, or are in my NaNoWriMo circle on G+, you already know the details. It took a wrong turn within the first 2 chapters, for example, veering away from my initial conceptual intent. Then, at nearly every opportunity, the characters & the writing veered the book away from any opportunity for plot, conflict, or in some cases for meaningful character growth/development – usually by skipping beyond the need for it. Solutions were cropping up before I’d reached the problems, nullifying whole sections of the plot. Interactions and conversations were demonstrating depths of character before I’d been able to express the flaws which the events of the book were meant to turn into that depth. And so on. Right now, I don’t even want to read that draft. I’m considering sharing it with a few trusted people (Let me know if you’re interested; you’re willing to give constructive feedback and can be trusted not to share a terrible, unedited, unfinished book around, right?), to get them to read it and tell me what they like about it, what they hate about it, and what they think I can do to improve & develop it into something that works – and then still not read it, but instead, later, write the whole thing from scratch. Probably with a plan, an outline, or some such thing prepared, first, rather than running in blind and on a very tight schedule.

The Death Noodle Glitterfairy Robot Saga book came out fine. I haven’t read that yet, either, but I know at least the first half is quite good. (The half I wrote this summer, which I did read, before beginning to write new material.) Tentatively titled Deep Noodling, I’m definitely looking for Beta Readers for that book, which I hope to have in print this Spring. I have a feeling that some of the descriptions need clarifying, and that my arguments on both sides of the Extreme-Copyright-Enforcement vs. Everything-Is-A-Remix argument could use some work, but I’m pretty sure the emotional arcs, the tone, and the world-building all turned out better than I’d hoped. Reading/writing this book made me want to read the rest of the books in the DNGR Saga… None of which exist. Yet.

If you’d like access to the Google Docs Drive document where I copy/pasted the first draft chapter by chapter as I wrote it, let me know your Google email address so I can share it with you. I’d love to get as much feedback as possible before going to print. And this one, I think, needs a lot more work than Never Let the Right One Go did.

I also need to ‘get off my butt’ and get to work on drawing. I’m hoping to create a series of illustrations for the DNGR book, as well as a cover unlike anything I’ve attempted to date. I just need to start by figuring out how to draw a set of characters whose descriptions were, at best, still quite surreal. I mean, how can a noodle, while remaining noodly, also become skeletal? What does it mean for my protagonist to be a noodle? Is he a humanoid version of something like the FSM? Does he have hair? And Glitterfairy… I’m pretty sure she’s basically just a cloud of glitter which appears to express the silhouette of a fairy when you look through it. Except she can play musical instruments and interact physically with people and the environment. And then there’s Robot. Who is a robot, of alien design/origin, at least vaguely humanoid, capable of excellent drumming, and … metallic, I think, may have been the only physical descriptor I used?

Maybe I won’t try to draw them … but then what do I put on the cover?

I don’t know…

Anyway, after my brain broke over that 2nd novel like Batman’s spine over Bane’s knee, I’ve spent the last couple weeks recuperating. Too crazy and messed up to accomplish anything much. Playing video games, mostly – did I explain that here, before? About how I’ve been using video games this year to distract myself from thoughts of suicide and other mental/emotional danger zones? I’m still super-broken, right now.

I mean, yesterday (or the day before, or … some time this week – time/space/dates are flowing/blurring together for me, lately; was it last week?) I read someone’s brief blog post about how they’d approached publishing a book in an out-of-traditional-order way, by podcasting one set of stories before going to print with another (related) story, and were considering some third route for their next book. All stuff I’ve done, mostly stuff I’ve seen others do, even the stuff they’re thinking of as new/original, just things I naturally did in those untraditional ways from day one (over a decade ago, now) of my publishing adventure. Anyway, there was some throwaway line in the middle about how their podcasting had helped them build interest in the book before it went to print so they were able to sell 1,000 copies as soon as it was available – and characterizing that as not having been enough to consider the book’s launch a success.

So, then I spent a few hours (days?) having a slow-burn anxiety attack. At first, I didn’t even realize what was happening, or why. I just felt like dying, like being crushed, like death, like pain and acid and suffocation, and like failure and disappointment and giving up. Because, in a way which oughtn’t be so deep down, it hurts me that my highest-volume title has sold fewer than 80 copies, and that my highest-revenue title has netted me around $450, while other people sell 1,000 copies in a day of their first book and don’t consider it a success. I’ve built a profitable business out of my dozens of sales; can you imagine what I could do with hundreds, thousands, or tens of thousands of sales? And this doesn’t feel like jealousy; it feels like failure.

And I know, I know, and am handily reminded by people like Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer, that what I create is worth creating, even if there are plenty of other creators out there, and even if my work doesn’t have mass appeal or doesn’t have a broad reach. And I know that even affecting one person’s life means that my work was worth producing. And that there are (at least) a dozen people I’ve never met who have been moved enough by my work to reach out and let me know. Probably dozens. I have no way to count, not really, and certainly not right now. But there are some. There are people who have been moved by my work. Changed by it, their minds or hearts thinking differently, beating differently, even just for a little while, because of what I’ve created. I know there are people who are very happy to hang my art on their walls, and/or who are very excited to read my books. It isn’t hundreds of people. (That I know of.) It isn’t thousands of people. But I tell stories that only I could tell, in ways only I could tell them, and when I put them out into the world, they enter and alter people’s lives. And I know this. I know this.

I know.

But still, my heart aches sometimes. My heart aches to be stilled. I ache. To give up. To end.

I’m a bit broken, right now.

Perhaps I’ll be well enough to create more great work in January. To finish the DNGR book. To get back to my YA Adventure research & planning (or at least to definitively give it up). Soon enough to move forward with one or the other of the big projects I pushed back for NaNoWriMo, only to go from a little broken to completely shattered in just a few short weeks. A few more weeks, and … well? Well enough, anyway?

Art Sale Reminder – last chance?

This is just a quick reminder that all the art I still have available is “on sale” – name your own price, no reasonable offer refused. You can see most of it at, and a few other pieces in a blog post I did, earlier this year. This post is also a warning.

Among other projects I’ve got lined up, one of the things I’ll be doing in the next few weeks is taking all (or nearly all) the art off my walls and putting it into storage. That’s everything left which hasn’t sold. (With one or two possible exceptions.) I’m going to do a little bit to keep them from being damaged (I bought some cheap plastic sheeting to wrap the art in), but then they’re basically going into nearly-outdoors storage. I’ll probably have to split them between a room that is more-protected from the rain, but not really climate-controlled, and an old, rusty, somewhat leaky shed which will subject them to extremes of heat, cold, humidity and aridity. I don’t have a better option for them, except your homes.

That is: If you don’t buy them now, they may not survive. This may be your last chance to own these pieces.

On one hand, I don’t want to simply paint over them (with one or two exceptions), or to throw them away. On the other, I want them out of my sight.

Getting them on the walls of people who want them there was my initial goal, but casting them aside is the next step, and it is approaching rapidly. If you have any interest, at all, in any of these pieces, please: Let me know. We’ll work something out.