“Blocks Away!” finished and lessons learned!

Woohoo! Got another app done for the Android Market!

Winter is in full force, and my husband and I are still just as unemployed as ever – which certainly has its benefits (getting to work on projects for our company) and disadvantages (making little $$ and going stir crazy cooped up indoors). I think I’ll talk more about that in a different post…

What I have enjoyed about the process of making apps for Android is that we can reuse both code and graphics from other games or projects that we have completed. Neither one of us are talented artists, so while this may not seem like a victory for some people – it is for us! 🙂

Lately, we’ve been getting quotes for vector and promo art from a variety of art studios – US and foreign. We sent them some art specs for another app we want to do, and holy moly – it can get pricey!

So far, the lowest quote we have received is at $3000 – the highest at $30000 (->the US company being the most expensive thus far).

That is one hell of a motivator to:

a) raise some dinero fast

b) learn to do as much of the art as possible myself.

On that note, I got to try my hand at some simple backgrounds for “Blocks Away!”  – not super fancy, but better than staring at a blank screen! Thank goodness for free/open source software like Inkscape and Gimp!

Lastly, after much googling and research, we realized that we needed to put ads in our games as another possible source of revenue. Since yesterday – we have made 2 cents using Admob! XD

I know I know – doesn’t sounds like much, but I think a lesson in persistence, patience, and awareness is going to help us in the long run, even if our is slow like the tortoise instead of the hare.

Anywho! So excited to have made some progress!

Shameless self-promotion bit:

Just posted up “Blocks Away!” on Android! Will be available for FREE, and should be able to download it today! XD

Direct Link: https://market.android.com/search?q=blocks+away&c=apps&start=24&num=24 

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VA Self-Employment Program

Ok. Biz time!

My husband and I started an independent game development studio officially a few months ago, though we have been working on a few products these last two years or so.

As we are both veterans of the military, we decided to look into the VA to see if we could qualify for retraining under CH31 benefits – i.e. Vocational Rehabilitation (now called VetSuccess I believe).

Just like applying to use your GI Bill, you have to apply for CH31 and meet with a VA counselor who will determine if there is a need and what level of need is to be given.

In our case, her official recommendation was “self-employment as a means to employment”, and she referred us to a self-employment counselor in our area.

Before going further, keep these 4 things in mind when it comes to the VA:

1. VA has a self-employment program (surprised? So was I)

2. Nothing with the VA is a guarantee – if you have been found to qualify for any type of benefit or assistance, remember the “hurry up and wait” motto.

3. VA counselors aren’t always forthcoming about what you can and can’t do – research like mad, ask questions,have a good attitude (I know sometimes that one can be tough) and be extremely persistent.

4. If the VA says a document must be no more than 10 pages, single-spaced, Arial font – they will absolutely throw it out/reject it if your doc is 11 pages, 9.5 font, Times New Roman – you get the idea.

That said, I met with a self-employment counselor a few days ago, and today – finally got a hold of the template that the VA uses for business plans – the general requirements are similar to any business plan, but the format is a bit different from the one I used for my original business plan.

(If I can find a link to the template, I’ll post it here later)

This isn’t the only way to write a good business plan of course – SBA has a good outline, as well as any Small Business Development Center (non-profit agency that helps small businesses get started – free service!):  http://www.sba.gov/content/templates-writing-business-plan

Anywho – back on track->

Here’s the short list on what the VA asks for, in the order is was given to me:

1. Cover Page

Company name, contact info, owner’s name, mailing address, phone, email addy, webpage/site addy, privacy statement

2. Executive Summary  (written last)

3. Marketing Section

Company mission statement: include competitive environment, source of competitive advantage, and competitive analysis

Marketing ‘Mix’: includes product or service, price, promotion, and channels of distribution

4. Organizational Section

Legal form of business, license and permits, human resource management, record keeping and tax preparation, insurance needs

5. Financial Section

Customer Investment: include equipment and supplies, and capital

Funding Needs: include a description of purchases, ‘break even’ analysis, and revenue projection

6. Appendix

Attach supporting documents – reference appendix docs throughout the text.

I’ve been told to pay strict attention to financial projections – VA wants to see a 5 year projection that must show growth beyond the initial investment. These projections must include at least 3 quotes for resources/services we intend to purchase (in our case – we have to get at least 3 quotes for art, music, and marketing/advertising so far).

After typing this, I’m getting the urge to get back to grind on updating my business plan, as it is taking a lot more research and editing than I had originally thought.

If there is anyone else thinking about applying for this program, here are some websites to check out first:

http://www.vba.va.gov/bln/vre/   (general voc rehab/vetsuccess info)

http://vabenefitblog.com/self-employment-tips-with-voc-rehab/   (details of self-emp program)

http://www.disabledveterans.org/2011/12/29/rehabilitation-program-blocks-many-entrepreneurial-veterans/   (good/bad perspective – found this pretty helpful)

TL/DR:

What’s the point of doing all this?

If approved, VA will give my business a grant for up to $25K – it’s going to be a long process, and one that doesn’t promise anything – but at this stage, I have nothing to lose by doing the work anyway! 😉

Letting Go

Attempt at a poem with a similar style and format as another poem by Nancy Willard. I think I was having some trouble with syntax here, but decided to leave it alone for now.

Letting Go

When the small child cried on the beach
and her tears turned into the ocean
and her hair turned into the seaweed,
she was taken by the churning waves
which my thoughts brought forth blackened clouds
which my fears brought forth rolling thunder

which my exhale brought forth glimpses of sunlight
when I heard an echo of laughter
when I awoke upon the sand.

PMO/Ponix7

Two

Pair of sad, lonely, and confused brothers back home in AZ – for so long I wished I could help them, until I realized that sometimes the best thing one can do to help another is just to let them be.

I have no doubt that someday they will find their way 🙂

Two

by ~Ponix7

There stands the long shadows of two men –
similar stature
similar appearance.
Trace the top of their shadows to see whose feet
they cling to…
Your eyes do not deceive –
they are the prepubescent feet of young boys.

How do they bear the shadow of ‘man’
whom stand so tall against the setting sun?
Two puddles of muddy gray
side by side;
Two boys – brothers
stand solemnly,
side by side.
They, too, a deep, muddy shade of gray,
whom seem to be yearning
for something…

or perhaps –
someone who will come with sticks and grass
and an earthen palette.
Someone who will come
to fill in their muddy gray bodies,
their ever-stretched, dreary shadows;
who shall paint them and paint them
until even their souls are saturated…

Who will rise to fulfill their wish?

You cannot.
I cannot.
Although,
if we could reach them –
to give them their own brushes and palettes,
then they,
two,
may choose to paint themselves into the men they wish to be
and resolve the emptiness and sorrow
of the child inside of each.

PMO
31 May 2010

(This one also located at: http://ponix7.deviantart.com/gallery/#/d2qt8ly)

The Aging Italian

The Aging Italian

The aging Italian

finds time for a jig,

and celebrates with

energetic limbs like twigs.

Although his students

snicker and jeer,

he chuckles, ‘they won’t

understand for many years’.

So he dances and smiles

for the joy of being alive-

not to waste a moment

to bounce and jive.

23 January 2008
P.M.O.

Pepperpoems

Hola! Again!

I decided that I should try to get my ‘blog on’ and write something again. I’ve been feeling a bit of a block with writing in general, so I’m hoping to reinvigorate myself by forcing myself to get back on task before procrastination becomes a convenient excuse not to do anything.

Poetry is a passion of mine, though I have no formal training. I don’t claim to be the shizzle, but I do think that poetry is a fun way to pull thoughts and feelings outside of oneself – for the sake of both pure expression and learning about “us” – people, places, cultures, idealogies, objects, and all things that the mind can conjure up.

I’ll include a random sampling of poems I’ve written over the years – some common themes range from happy times, to humor and mischief, to sadness, and ’emo’ before the emo was cool (lol – or existed).

My other poems may be found at: http://ponix7.deviantart.com/ under the pen name PMO or Ponix7.

Thanks and enjoy! 🙂