Mar 092020

3/9  Evanston, WY to Monument, CO  – 486  miles

To see the entire road trip visit

I’m sure anyone who is really paying attention (maybe two of you), they are asking themselves, what does Amarillo have to do with your next stop in Dallas for AllCon? Not a thing other than it is on my way. Or maybe I should say nothing directly.

Let me ‘splain. My writing career started, innocently enough in Amarillo, TX, a town I’ve never been in. I love making people scratch their head. I specifically said career because I had been writing long before one incident led me down this rock infested route to where I am now, huddled in a box 8x6x4 in the middle of the freezing night in, of all places, Evanston, WY. The incident in question was selling my first piece of fiction, which I never intended to do.

I spent a good number of YEARS of my life devoted to playing a game called Star Fleet Battles. It is a very complex game based around the original Star Trek. You fly ships around and try and blow each other up. The producers of the game, Amarillo Design Bureau (don’t get ahead of the story), produced a fanzine once a year named Captain’s Log. I eagerly bought up each copy the moment it hit the stands and would devour it cover to cover. Invariably the magazine held one or more stories about something happening in the fictional universe we all played within, but, also invariably, the fiction sucked. No, not just bad. I mean it hurt even after I am dead kind of suckage – bad characters, shaky plot, logic holes you could throw a bantha through (oops.. wrong series), and more. Sometime in the eighties, one of those Captain’s Logs pushed me over the edge.

I stoked my computer with coal (it was a long time ago) and when the steam came from the stack, I hammered out about an 18 page short story. Took me about two hours. I then wrote a cover letter saying that I loved CL but that whomever wrote their fiction needed to have their liver repeatedly eaten out by giant eagles, or something like that. I said I’m enclosing a story and you should be writing stuff more like this. There not yet being internet, I placed it in my pony express pouch and held it out for next passing rider.

Now I have to interject. I really had no intention of being published. I hadn’t even considered it a possibility. I merely wanted to give them something that they could compare the shoddy crap they had been publishing against. Call it a yardstick. What did happen is history. I received, by carrier pigeon, an envelop with a check and a letter saying in short, make these changes and we’ll publish it in the next CL. I literally stood in my living room looking back and forth between the check and the letter. “Let me get this right, someone will PAY me to do something I love? Where the heck was that part on our high school vocational aptitude tests.” BTW, my story got the cover!

So getting back to ADB, they are the publishers of Star Fleet Battles and Captain’s Log. Steve Cole, Leanna Cole, and Steve Petrick make up the core of ADB. While I’ve had a tempestuous history with ADB, I also recognize the debt I own them. Countless hours of fun, and more importantly the conditions that allowed the seed of my writing talent to first poke its green leaves above the soil.

Which brings us to Amarillo. I figured as I was going to be so close (Dallas), and I’d never met the oft mentioned Leanna nor seen the shop that started the worldwide phenomenon of SFB, that I’d stop by if they’d have me. To my surprise, they agreed.

That is why the next stop is not a convention but rather a small gaming design / manufacturing company in the panhandle of Texas. 

More stuff about road tripping. When you plan, and find just the perfect storage places for all of your items and everything is neatly put away before you leave, realize it won’t stay that way. You don’t have a huge amount of time and facilities to get everything just so on the road as you do before you leave. So, if you have packed to the point where there is zero tolerance, you will find yourself with less than zero space and patience. Let’s take a couple of simple examples: Laundry. Just by living you create dirty clothes. You may even have a space dedicated for that dirty laundry to go, BUT after its has been cleaned, you need to put it back. Where do you fold it? Will it get back into the neat little cubbies that you originally stored it in?

How about things you use every day like your computer, recharging batteries, business cards, et al. You need to be able to access them, move them around. Are you going to live in one of those little numbered puzzle games where you need to move your recharging batteries, to move your laundry, to move your computer, to have a spot to eat dinner? It is infuriating doing this moment by moment in an overstocked, under-spaced location. And remember I dropped off a good deal of stuff before I left. My advice, like writing a story, when you think you have everything perfect, whittle off an additional 10% no matter how much it hurts. I do have a minor luxury in that realm, I’m selling books as I go along, so my stock is shrinking increasing space for other things. Helps but isn’t good enough. Cut deeply my friend. You will thank me in spades for it.

Looks like I lost my first pair of glasses. My computer/reading glasses seem to have vanished. With forethought, I carried a spare of each of my two pair of glasses with me. I still don’t know how the other disappeared I’ll keep looking but it is not corporeal in my current space.

Next: The Best Laid Plans

 March 9, 2020  Uncategorized  Add comments