Category Archives: funnel productions

Organized? HA!

I’m actually not a very organized person at heart. If you take a look around my messy room or office at the books and files I have “strategically placed” in utterly nonsensical locations, you’ll know that’s true. It’s a fact of my personality that I can’t change, and because of this I have to compensate.

At any given time, in addition to my other responsibilities, I’m also juggling several writing projects and school (PhD program and an MFA program). This can lead to some definite confusion when it comes to deadlines if I’m not careful. So I’m ultra careful!

I rely on quite a few programs to keep me in line. They probably seem excessive, but you have to know the totally disorganized me to understand why I need such constant support.

In a way I’m like a cyborg – hooked up to all kinds of computer software, kept alive only by the grace of the Internet.  🙂  Awesome.

First, I keep a Word document that lists personal To Do items for each day, broken down into simple categories. I (roughly) plan this ahead for each month, and I update it every day. It’s nothing fancy; a typical day looks something like this:

Wednesday, August 11:
SCHOOL
Read (insert book title and chapter here)
Read (insert other book title and chapter here)
Critique

FUNNEL
(insert list of Funnel to dos)

BLOG
Write about organization

WRITING
Android play, scene 3
Dystopian novel, chapter 20 outline
Submit (insert short story title) for publication

MISC
Exercise
Clean

Not everything gets done, and that’s okay. It feels nice to delete items as I go, and it gives me an idea each morning of what my time looks like for the rest of the day. I’m also pretty forgiving when things need to change.  🙂  Because many of these are personal deadlines, I remind myself that they are, for the most part, flexible.

I keep folders on my desktop that are clearly labeled for each project I’m working on, and I maintain backups of those.

My online calendar reminds me of important dates along the way. It sends daily email reminders about my appointments, and it text messages my phone an hour before each event or deadline.

To track where I have submitted work and when, I keep an Excel spreadsheet.

Like most other writers, I imagine, I also use Word docs for my works in progress – well, most of them. For plays I use Scrivener. It has a bit of a learning curve, but this program has been very useful to me for drafting scenes.

So, there you have it. There are actually a few other little things I use (example: the WordPress publishing scheduler), but the ones I listed here are definitely the biggest help. Excessive? Probably. In fact, many people see what a tight shop I run on my own schedule, and they assume I’m a very organized person. Ha. Hahahahahahahahahaha. *wipes away tears of laughter* These programs are quite organized; I’m only the lesser, human component that the software struggles to keep in line.  🙂

What about you? Do you count on The Great Computer to keep your day running smoothly, or are you naturally organized?

Alternate Reality — NOT a game?

“In an alternate reality game, the goal is not to immerse the player in the artificial world of the game; instead a successful game immerses the world of the game into the everyday existence and life of the player. Once again, this implies that the very name – alternate reality game – is misleading…” (Szulborski, 31)

Dave Szulborski, the late and incredibly talented mentor of puppet mastery to us all, addressed this issue in his book, and it’s been debated countless times since.

So, what exactly do we create when we write things like Man of the People, Transition Village, Myth of the Seeker, or Purity Towers? Are these games? Interactive stories? Chaotic fiction?  Transmedia tales?

I like the term “transmedia,” because, as several people have already mentioned, it works better than “alternate reality game” for potential new players or clients. It’s not that I don’t embrace the alternate reality of the worlds we create around our audiences/players. In fact, the interactivity between audience and character, and the sense that fiction has mysteriously bled into the real world are some of the most important draws of ARGs. It’s the word “game” I dislike.

This is a connotative issue, I believe. Today, “game” means “console” to a great deal of people. Yesterday it may have meant “board and dice.” The day before it may have meant “casino.” There are very few people, in the present or the past, who have heard the word “game” and instantly thought “story/email/phone calls/treasure hunt/riddles/interaction/social networking/websites/real life/and more.”

As a result, when an audience member tells her friend, “I’m playing an alternate reality game,” or when a production company pitches to a client, “We make alternate reality games,” there is often a long and confusing discussion that must follow – most often focused on defining the word “game.”

The term transmedia experiences, or transmedia tales, removes the problematic word “game” and replaces it with a more accurate one. What we write are stories that exist in many different media. Someone new to the idea will hear the term and instantly be ready to think of several kinds of media – not just something that happens on the PlayStation.

Unfortunately, the experience of an ARG is so complicated that I doubt there is a magical title for the genre that will reduce discussion times down to one or two minutes for a comprehensive understanding. To truly explain what one is requires a pretty thorough conversation, regardless of what we call it. But removing the word “game” can only help, in my experience.

Sure, ARG has a nice, piratey ring to it, and I will likely always use that with people who already understand the genre. But for others who are just learning, I think I prefer to say that I write transmedia tales. It starts our conversation off on the right foot – and, hey. It sounds more professional.  😉

What do you think? Is there a better way to define ARGs? Do you even know what they are?

Welcome back.

Hello, world. It’s been a while.

I promised myself I’d take a pseudo-break from blogging, etc., and that went well. But now it’s time to come back. I was getting a little tired of being quiet.

While I was on blogging break, several things happened. Let me catch you up on a few events:

I bought an iPhone.

I got married.
I visited New York.
And I started settling into married life. Still working on that one.  J It’s a ton of fun so far, but I can’t get used to the words “husband” or “wife.” Those are for grownups only, I thought!

If you follow Funnel Productions (Creepy Luny Inn, Transition Village, Man of the People), you’ll know there’s another fun experience afoot, and of course that means I can’t comment about it here. Just know I’m quite busy with a very fun project that just started, and I’m having a ball with it, as usual. More about that in the future.

Oh – other news: I fell in love with the Southern Vampire Series (Sookie Stackhouse/ TrueBlood), though I haven’t yet seen the HBO episodes. In July, author Charlaine Harris came to Gainesville, and my mom and I got the chance to see her speak. She’s just as funny and likeable in person as she in on the page. That was such a thrill.

What has everyone else been up to?

Secrets revealed


I write this as I sit in our “studio,” recording the last video for Myth of the Seeker. I’m squished up against a wall with my laptop on my legs and four of my best friends around me. This is a fun night.

Myth of the Seeker is the name of the secret project I was unable to announce before, and it’s a major experience that has taken up a great deal of my time for the last two months.

Why would I lose eight weeks of sleep over this independent project? Well, for one, it was a lengthy promotion for my book. But it was so many other things, as well: a chance to exercise my creativity every day, another great step for Funnel Productions, and an incredible experience with some talented and dedicated fans.

There is nothing more invigorating than positive reactions from your audience. They’re an incredible motivator, and Funnel owes our listeners a huge amount of thanks. Yes, we read the message boards, and it was comments like these that not only kept us going, but made each day extra-special:

“Just finished listening, incredibly enjoyable, better than what I listen to on REAL radio.”

“Wow, that was great. … Is it just me, or is Creepy awesome? Sooo my kind of lady…”

“Well written and well performed. This was a wonderful way to start the day.”

“this story is getting way better than I ever expected. “

“This has been a lot of fun. I’m really glad this was my first ARG. It has been quite whimsical, which has made all the difference.”

“Really the writing was superb and the pleasure was ours.”

Snorkle256, FSURobbie, Ifihadahifi, Sheep, Tiffany48, Amandel, and everyone else who played along, the pleasure was at this end. Thank you!

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Alternate Reality Games (ARGs), I recommend you check them out. You might find another genre of storytelling that thrills you!

If you’d still like to listen to the radio show, don’t worry! All eight episodes are available to stream online. While you’re there, be sure to check out the fan page, where some incredible fan work has been posted. (and then take a look at From Light to Dark to have more fun in the worlds of the myth!)

And, of course, please let me know your thoughts.