Well, that game didn’t take two weeks. I finished Empire: Total War yesterday evening. That means that I’m back to 80+ hour weeks until I finish my taxes. If my taxes take long enough—they’ll also include reconciling my game company books for the end of the year—I’ll call that good and start a new game. If not, I’ll probably leap straight into getting DbC 3 ready for submission.

As a side note, for those following at home, I think I said that I play Rise of the Tomb Raider next, since it’s a Christmas present. I realized last night that it might be the only game that’s 4k HDR ready I actually own when I get my new computer with my tax return, so I’ve bumped it to the end of my Christmas present list. Either way, I probably have one more EU4 game in me before I burn out on it, so I’ll try the Ottomans next and then retire that game from my schedule. At that point EU4 will surpass everything but Skyrim for hours played in my library.

This has been game chat.

Back to the subject at hand. Taxes. I had an embarrassing moment last week when I learned that I’d been overly cautious in sending out 1099s to my freelancers over the years. So I’ve already sent them email statements on what they earned last year and apologies for making them wait for 1099s in the past. Anyway, I called my tax guy and he (or rather one of his assistant) straightened me out.

So last night I published the Actuator RPG for James Wymore. This is a slightly different product for us because it isn’t involved with any of our lines (and I didn’t write it or help develop it). But when James told me he was doing it, I knew that if he handled the art, I could have it edited and pagemade with relatively little effort, and I already have an RPGNow/DriveThruRPG store in place, but that stuff would be a headache for him on his first time releasing an RPG product. Also, I knew that that I’d see lots of pitfalls and have some insight he’d need, which mainly involved me saying, “It isn’t that kind of a market,” or “This is what you’d need to do that,” in Facebook chat every time I saw him thinking of something that might get him into a little bit of trouble. (And by trouble, I mean that the product wouldn’t do what it can do, most efficiently, not that he’d get into literal trouble. He didn’t try to violate copyright law or anything.) Anyway, most of my job there was just reminding him how small the RPG marketplace is compared to the fiction marketplace, so his expectations are realistic. I felt like the Grinch most of the time. Also, my editor and I badgered him into offering it for free.

Meanwhile, right now I’m ramping into the climax of DbC 4. I should finish the long night of the soul this week, and maybe the first chapter of the climax. That means that in two to three weeks, that book will be done, so I’m plotting 5 in earnest. Five looks to be shaping into a heist/con style story, which is a genre I haven’t written before. Luckily, my friend Dan Willis has, and he sent me his plotting notes, which was very helpful. Also, I’m watching lots of movies like The Sting and Ocean’s Eleven to get the rhythm. I’m a plotter, but this will have to be tightly plotted, even by my standards. I need to know every twist on page 1 if I’m to pull them off on page 300. They can be fixed in rewrites of course, but the more I have to do that, the more painful those rewrites will be, so this is definitely a “measure twice, cut once” situation. I’ve been laying groundwork for it throughout DbC 4 as well, so hopefully, it all comes together nicely.

One nice bit of happenstance: I have three audiobook queues. One is the list of authors I read actively. I think there are currently 28. One is the queue of audible books I’ve purchased for other reasons, such as sales, that don’t fit in that first queue. The third is a slot for a “Project-Related Work.” With DbC, that’s usually a comedy, to keep my “funny juices” flowing. Podcasts will force books into my schedule not in those queues, but those are the organized ones. But this week Mary Robinette Kowal’s excellent Valour and Vanity happened to make it to the top of that first queue. Imagine my delight when it turned out to be a heist story. Checked two boxes with that one.

Anyway, that’s my week and my month, and hopefully not more than that. I will stare my taxes in their steely eyes and stab them in their heart. Then I’ll conquer Eastern Europe.

The next installment awaits...
Slouching Towards Amazon: LTUE Post Mortem