Loose Ends

When I finish a project, it’s time to pick a new one. Last time, I brainstormed on Twitter. But I’m on a social media fast right now. So I’ll brainstorm right here.

Update: Added a licensed RPG Candidate!

The Candidates:

Jump the Shark 2

My fans demand a sequel! And I have already written it as a test of my Kids’ Pulp Formula, so all I need to do is create the illustrations.


  • Fun and easy to draw
  • Already written
  • Built in install base
  • Sells more copies of Jump the Shark 1


  • Demands color (but maybe I could start making ’em in black and white)
  • Is not a vital project (I won’t be too sorry if I leave this world without ever making it).

Jump to Monochrome

Make a black and white Jump the Shark book, and then proceed to produce the sequel in Black and White as well to test whether it’s viable as a format for short (30 page) kids’ books.


  • See last
  • Cheaper books for my fans!


  • I’ve already done the research, and despite being half the length of Hat Trick, Jump the Shark would be the same price. In fact, all books 100 pages or shorter would be the same price. So that’s not the best bang for the buck.
  • Same as last.

Hat Trick 2

Included for completeness, but what I really want to do is put together a crowdfund to make Hat Trick 2: Night Mare Nightmare a comic book. The month’s project would be making the videos and writing and editing the copy, making the mockup, and creating sample pages in black and white, colored, and painted styles.


  • Hat Trick is my Ninja Turtles. Of all my projects it has the most underlying power.
  • It is a vital project. If I die without finishing Hat Trick, I won’t actually be sorry because I will be without sin and therefore accept God’s wisdom in removing me from the picture… but the me that is currently alive would regret not finishing it.
  • Would quickly follow up my strongest book to date with a sequel, thus strengthening the brand.


  • I’d rather give Hat Trick a couple of months to win friends and influence people before asking for money.
  • I really want to work on something else for a while.
  • I’d be launching the Kickstarter in December if I made creating it my November project. Right when people are strapped for cash because of Thanksgiving and Christmas shopping.

Start an Indie Game Studio: 8 Lives Left

A top-down brawler about a vengeful cat. In this project, I’d make an ugly prototype over November which would be distributed to my adoring fans during December for review, and then January’s project would be revising it.


  • Has almost as good legs as Hat Trick
  • Would be easy and fun to make
  • Coding would be a nice change of pace from writing and drawing.


  • Not a vital project
  • Despite being very marketable and based around a gameplay mechanic I love, I’m not that interested in it.

Start an Indie Game Studio: Bestiary

A virtual pet in the fashion of Digimon. A phone game. And a bit of world-building. Same game plan as 8 Lives Left, but a different game.


  • Vital Project
  • Coding would be a nice change of pace from writing and drawing


  • Less marketable
  • Core game loop not well defined (I may have to spend the month testing and brainstorming rather than prototyping).

Kids’ Pulp Nanowrimo

I enter Nanowrimo. Instead of producing one 40K word novel in a month, I produce sixty to ninety 500-1K word kids’ book stories.


  • Succeed or fail, I’ll be set for a couple of years with stories to illustrate and sell.
  • I need to know whether I have it in me to write a story a day using my kids’ pulp formula. This would settle that question definitively.
  • By the end of it, I would be much better and more efficient at storycraft.
  • I’m working with another guy on a kids’ pulp business idea, and this would give me enough stories to prime the business and coast for a month while I switch to a different project.


  • Not vital (though it would directly benefit several vital projects).
  • I kind of want to get away from writing for a little while.

John Michael Jones Gets a Life

A story about a boy who gets sucked into a video game created as a test of whether video game graphics are an acceptable way to get color into my kids books despite my current limitations.


  • It’ll be fun.
  • It’ll be super easy to produce as a series.
  • It has strong potential to grow legs.
  • It can be converted directly into a game I’m interested in making (and replace or grow from 8 Lives Left and benefit Bestiary).


  • I have become increasingly convinced that I should use KDP to release cheap black and white content, and do color stuff through a more premium method (something that permits hardcovers).
  • Not vital (but it’s growing on me, so it may well become vital)

Lester Dent Nanowrimo

Instead of writing a 40K word novel, write four individual 10K pulp stories, then paint covers for them and release them.


  • Putting dollar pulps on Amazon could be a good way to create a strong brand and underwrite my other projects.
  • Specifically, if each month I begin the month by writing a dollar pulp, and then spend the remaining 3 weeks on my project of the month, it feels to me like everything gets stronger.
  • There are stories I want to tell that don’t seem like children’s stories to me. But then again they kind of do, because I think kids (and adults) deserve stronger stories than what they currently get.


  • Does not directly contribute to any of my vital projects (though it does directly contribute to my wife’s favorite project).
  • More writing.

Fight! (Defy Fate 1)

A small manual detailing a tabletop roleplaying combat system. With this book, you can make a couple of characters in 5-10 minutes and have them beat each other up in 5-20 minutes. Besides being a quick, self-contained game, it is the first of several small, cheap manuals that make a larger game.


  • Lets me test making KDP books in LibreOffice rather than scribus
  • Most of the work remaining is test playing it, which would give me some nice quality time with my wife.


  • Not vital.
  • Some of the mechanics are vaguely defined. Aspects in Defy Fate aren’t exactly Aspects in Fate, and I need to hammer out exactly what that means.

Start an Indie Game Studio: Licensed RPG

I have a concept for an RPG engine that would be fun, engaging, and make optimal use of my artistic talents. All it needs is a story.

The world has no shortage of storytellers who would like an RPG. I could increase their brands, while establishing my own, by joining forces.

In this case, as with the other Start an Indie Game Studio options, I would spend November making an ugly prototype of an RPG. December would be spent handing the prototype out for testing while I focus on some other project (e.g. a kids’ book). Then, in January, I’d improve it based on feedback, February I’d try and get one of my indie media allies to sign on with me, and so on. Round April or may, there would be a Kickstarter to fund the game.


  • RPG Engine/workflow can be used for vital projects like Hat Trick and Bestiary, as well as wife-favored projects like Wren Valen.
  • I boost the brand of someone whose success I desire.
  • Crowdfund is more likely to succeed because it hooks into an established brand.
  • It’s coding, so a nice break from writing and drawing.


  • Can’t think of much.


  • Even though I consider Bestiary vital, it is very vague and poorly defined in my head. That’s a red flag. Maybe I need to replace it with a monthly project that consists of defining what it is.
  • One of the big benefits of the last month, where I’ve been going through the challenges in 31 Days to Masculinity, is forcing me to consider my objectives in terms of my oncoming death. Dividing projects into vital and non-vital (my terminology) clarifies things greatly.
  • John Michael Jones, Licensed RPG, and Kids’ Pulp Nanowrimo are the strong horses in this set.
  • I’m probably going to do Kids’ Pulp Nanowrimo, but emotionally I hesitate every time I consider that. I need to figure out why. If it’s just the sheer volume of stories I need to produce, I need to embrace the suck. But if there’s another reason, I need to address that.


There is no conclusion. The purpose of this post is to define the problem. Over the rest of the day, I shall chew on it. Eventually, my path will become clear.

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