The Shipping Schedule (Alternatively: "Why We're Not Doing NaNoWriMo This Year")

The calendars are arriving here at Chez Tayler tomorrow (Wednesday, November 19th.) I have a few hundred sketches to do, and those will be queued up on my game table so I have stuff to do when I want to take a break from working on the comic itself.
 
(Yes, I take a break from work by doing different work. No, I do not have a workaholism problem. I work, I fall down, no problem.)
 
The books and slipcases will be arriving at the Hypernode Media warehouse sometime the following week, hopefully on a day where they do not collide head-on with Thanksgiving plans. Regardless, as soon as they're in hand, the hundreds of to-be-sketched books will get queued up on my game table, and I'll go straight through on those as quickly as possible.
 
This sequence of events, which features me as the prominent bottleneck (which in turn means that no, this operation does not feature enough processes running in parallel [and certainly not massively so]), means that the contents of the box you ordered will dictate when that box ships.
 
Here's the schedule: 
 
  • Unsketched calendars (but no Massively Parallel books or slipcases) will go out starting on Wednesday, November 19th.
  • Orders with sketched calendars (but no Massively Parallel books or slipcases) will go out starting on Thursday, November 20th. The last of them should be out by Monday, November 24th.
  • Unsketched Massively Parallel orders (including those with slipcases, calendars, and book bundles) will start shipping sometime between November 25th and December 1st, depending on when the merchandise arrives. All non-sketched orders should be out the door by December 2nd.
  • Orders that include Massively Parallel sketch editions (including those with slipcases, book bundles, and sketched and unsketched calendars) will go out as soon as there are sketched books to go in them. They should start shipping by December 2nd, and the last of them should be out the door by December 9th
 
What does this mean for delivery in time for Christmas?
 
Per the USPS site, Domestic Priority-Mail orders will all arrive in time. We plan to ship them by the 9th, and USPS says we need to have them out the door by the 20th. No problem. The 11-book bundles will ship in two packages, though, so don't panic if only half the books arrive. The rest are probably right behind them.
 
International Priority Mail: We're going to attempt to fill these orders first, and according to USPS we should hit the delivery-by-Christmas dates for all packages except those going to Central and South America, and Africa. We'll do what we can to move those to the very top of my sketch pile, but they have to be out the door by December 2nd.
 
This will be our biggest and most complex shipping event ever. The amount of material arriving at the warehouse, if stacked precariously upon a single, indestructible pallet, would be about 10cm lower than an Olympic high-dive (10 meters [forty-ish feet.]). Most orders contain at least two things, and across all orders there are exactly 80 separate inventory items to be queued up for inclusion.
 
We'll get pictures. Also, we're not going to build an Olympic high-dive in our warehouse.
 

 
 
Are we two weeks behind our original schedule? Yes. Yes we are. Funny story...
 
Both the calendars and the books were delayed by errors we caught and fixed in the proofs. The calendar error wasn't that big a deal. The printer's software munged four pages of the file, and they fixed it. It only cost us four days.
 
The book error, however, was a hair's breadth away from disaster. One of the page images slid down during a copy-edit (totally our fault) and we didn't catch it until after the pages were printed. Fortunately, we caught it before they'd glued bindings on any of the 5,000 bundles of pages, and we were able to have them reprint the final signature (16-page section) of Massively Parallel. It cost us about $1000, plus two weeks and three anxiety attacks.
 
We caught that one on the Friday night (Eastern Time) before the Monday morning (Hong Kong time) when 5,000 covers were scheduled to be attached. Which means the breadth of a hair is about 44 hours, or zero business days, and please please pick up the phone before you pick up the glue.
 
"Funny story" indeed.
 
And speaking of stories, as much as Sandra and I both love to write, NaNoWriMo hasn't worked out for us in the past, so we didn't even consider it this year. Those of you who are doing NaNoWriMo can lord it up over us all you want.
 
(cross-posted from howardtayler.com)

Big Hero 6

Big Hero 6 ended up being less than what I had hoped for thanks to the trailers.

In order to explain why, I need to risk spoiling some things, which I do with great reluctance. Before I start, if you haven't seen the trailers for Big Hero 6, stop reading this and go see the movie! It's got lots of heart, and is beautiful, exciting, imaginative, and fun. And the trailers are misleading.

SPOILER ALERT:

The trailers make it look like our inciting incident is the scene in which Hiro and Baymax (the boy and the balloon-bodied robot) are attacked by a man in a Kabuki mask who is operating an army of tiny robots.

Nope! Our inciting incident (the thing that sets the whole story in motion) occurs half an hour earlier, and most of the first act is a complete surprise for those who watched the trailers. Unfortunately, the direction of that first act is NOT a surprise, so I spent the first third of the film waiting for a moment that had been described in great detail in the trailer. "Come on, movie, get on with the story you promised me!"

I know, I know, it's hardly fair to judge a movie by the trailers, but I've never claimed to be fair. I had less fun at the theater than I wanted to, and while the film easily clears my Threshold of Disappointment, it didn't clear my Threshold of Awesome.

I also had some non-trailer problems with the film, and they're the same sorts of problems I have with the Iron Man films. If, however, you are in the superhero frame of mind, you'll enjoy things just fine.

Probably.

Don't watch the trailers!  

(Aside: The short which preceded Big Hero 6 was wonderful.)

(cross-posted from howardtayler.com)

Interstellar

I am quite happy to have looked up the length of this film prior to scheduling a trip to the cinema. Per Twitter:

This one didn't clear the Threshold of Awesome, but it worked well in spite of the way it shamelessly luxuriated in those 169 minutes. Unlike a lot of genre films, Interstellar gives the viewer time to process what's going on, and to feel what the characters are feeling. It's good art.

Still long, though.

I have two major quibbles with the film: it is deeply pessimistic (or at least it strikes that tone in order to present a cautionary tale) and it deploys the dreaded deus ex machina. Sure, it's a great story, and there is plenty of human heroism in it, but those two elements dampen my excitement about science, and I'm pretty sure that's almost exactly the opposite of the reaction the film makers had in mind for me.

In context of those two issues the bad astronomy and crazy astrogeography were only mildly annoying. I know why the film makers did what they did, and those decisions made for a much more powerful human story, but now I want a space travel hard SF movie that doesn't invoke magic. But if you're going to invoke magic, you can't do it much more beautifully than Interstellar did.  

(cross-posted from howardtayler.com)

World Fantasy 2014 this weekend

I'm at the World Fantasy Convention in D.C. this weekend. I'm not exhibiting, and I'm only on one panel. It's kind of relaxing. I have a badge, and I can wander around aimlessly without getting in trouble. It's a little bit like a vacation.

There are a few panels and readings that I've penciled into my schedule to prevent complete aimlessness, and my social calendar has the right amount of delightful company and delicious calories, so I'm certainly not going to be bored. That said, VACATION. A little bit of bored is okay.

And yes, I have some writing to do. That's what vacations are for, right?

2015 Calendar Wallpapers

The 2015 Schlock Mercenary Monthly Calendar is just about ready to go to the printer. One of the things that is included with it is a digital version with desktop wallpapers. Here are a couple of samples:


These are designed to work really well in a desktop slide-show. The background texture remains static, but the colors shift with each Maxim. I've been using them this way for a couple of days now, and they're nice. 

You can still pre-order the calendar, and sketched editions are still available, too.

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