March 20, 2017

Post-FanX Links

I had a great time talking to so many new writers at FanX. It's always great to see so many people who are excited about writing!

I recommended a few things to people, and thought I'd just put the links here, so they're easy to find:

The Submission Grinder. This is like Google, but for short story markets. You can put in the genre, the word count, and what pay rates you want to look at (anything $0.06/word and above is considered pro-paying, though there are also good markets that pay less). From that list, you can go on to read magazine's individual guidelines. Use it! Submit those short stories!

Life the Universe and Everything. This is both one of the absolute cheapest and absolute best writing conferences I've ever been to. It is packed with panels and classes, taught by all kind of amazing authors. It's in February, so you'll have to wait until next year, but seriously. LTUE. It's amazing. Barring the zombie apocalypse (and maybe even then?), I'll be there next year.

Fyrecon. This conference focuses on classes and small critique groups. They've got a bunch of great authors coming, and I'm excited to have something like this happening up north (it's in Layton, UT). It's also very cheap, with steep discounts for students. And they've got a track for teen writers, which -- as someone who was a teen writer -- just makes me ridiculously happy.

Critters.org. This is an online workshop. You can get your short stories critiqued here, as well as swap novels with people. I've run a number of now-published short stories as well as Drift through Critters. Critters will also give you lots of practice critiquing other people's writing, which is invaluable as well.

March 16, 2017

FanX 2017

I'm headed to FanX! You'll be able to find me at the Xchyler Publishing booth (#713). The nice folks there will have both Drift and Hidden Paths in-stock. I've also got a number of readings at KidCon -- Friday at 3:00 and 4:30, and Saturday at 2:30. Hope to see you there!

March 10, 2017

Favorite Kids' Boardgames

With pretty pictures, here's a list of some of our favorite board games for kids. I've played all of these many time with my kids, and they have our mutual seal of approval.

I put the ages as recommended by the BoardGameGeek Community, rather than the manufacturer. If you're playing a lot of board games, though, and have a kid who generally "gets" games, a lot of the 8+ games can be easily played at 6 or 7, too.

Check out Board Game Geek for more information for these games, or The Dice Tower's many reviews. Dice Tower has very nice videos that show the games and give you the general idea of how it's played.


Ages 3+

Animal Upon Animal: An adorable Jenga-like game of stacking chunky, wooden animals on top of each other.

Ages 4+

Sequence for Kids: A turn-taking game with interesting choices! Players use their cards to try to make four-in-a-row on the board.


Robot Turtles: Youngsters use some very basic programming ideas to navigate their robot turtles through puzzle-mazes.


Spot It!: There's also a Junior version of this game. Fast-paced matching.

Ages 5+

Story Cubes: A game? An activity? Roll the dice, look at the pictures, tell stories together.


Enchanted Forest: One million times better than Candyland.

Ages 6+

Catan: Junior: Here's a really in-depth review of this game and its strategy that I wrote. Yes, I thought about it that hard.


Carcassonne: I know, I know. Someone's looking at this like I'm crazy. If you simply don't score farmland, this becomes a MUCH simpler game, one that younger kids can play. When they're older, you can put those rules back in easily. It's great!


Labyrinth: A puzzel-y, spatial reasoning game of finding treasures in an ever-shifting maze. Delightful. Challenging for adults and kids.


Sushi Go!: Adorable, and delicious, card-drafting game.


Black Sheep: I've got a review of this one, too.

Ages 7+

Dragonwood: Card hand management and push-your-luck, all while battling fearsome forest creatures! I'm not a huge fan of the cover on this one, but the interior art is bright and eye-catching.


Kingdomino. Okay, here I split the manufacturer's recommended age, and the BBG recommendations. The gameplay is elegant and simple -- like a streamlined, shorter version of Carcassonne. But scoring does require some multiplication (usually 2x or 3x, something 4x or 5x if you've played really well), which could be frustrating for younger players.

Ages 8+

Alhambra: Buy up buildings for your Alhambra! Requires quickly being able to add sums up to thirteen.


Castle Panic: Everyone plays together as a team to defend their tower from invading monsters. We've played this one so much our board has worn in two.


Forbidden Island: Another co-op. Everyone plays as a team to recover four artifacts before the island sinks.


Forbidden Desert: This one's a bit harder than Forbidden Island, but on a similar theme. Players work together to find the pieces of an airship to escape the desert.


The Adventurers: The Pyramid of Horus: Get the most loot before the pyramid collapses on you. This is probably my favorite push-your-luck game. My kids love this one, people who don't usually play board games like this one, and my board game fanatic friends also love it.


The Hanging Gardens: Spatial-reasoning card-laying to build the best gardens. Really elegant gameplay. I considered not putting it on the list because I know it's out of print, but I hope someone eventually reprints it.


Mondo: Tile-laying world-building goodness.


Monopoly Deal: So. Much. Better. Than actually Monopoly.


Ponte del Diavolo: Abstract 2-player spatial game.


Quixx: Hard choices with dice. I always lose this one. Badly. Still love playing it.


Scattergories: Okay. This one said for older kids, too. We usually make up our own lists on topics that the kids can easily relate to (Things At a Park). Scattergories is nice because we can play even when there are little kids running around -- there's no board to mess up.


Smallworld: It's kinda like Risk. Except better, and with more interesting choices.


Ticket to Ride: Build trains across the country to earn the most points. There are SO many expansions to this. The base game shown here has a map of the USA, though I think my favorite one is Switzerland.


Munchkin Loot Letter: A deduction game that always has us laughing.


Behind the Throne: Great card game that isn't about trick-taking.

Liar's Dice. This is an old game in the public domain. All you need is a cup and five regular, six-sided dice for each person playing. Read the rules here.

February 18, 2017

Research For the Fantasy Writer

As promised to all the great attendees at my class, here are the slides from my presentation! Thank you all again for coming -- I had a blast getting to talk about my favorite subject.

February 16, 2017

Free Ebook

I've been working on this for a quite bit! I wanted a way to thank everyone who joins my newsletter, and I've finally put together a trio of short stories, including "Golden Chaos", "A Veil of Leaves", and "The Temple's Posthole". I think they're three of my best, and I hope you enjoy. You can sign up for my newsletter in the box above.

January 24, 2017

Cookie Cutter Ravioli

More Instructables! This time, I've written up Cookie Cutter Ravioli, with lots of tips for cooking with kids. My son was the one who got us into pasta making, and we had a lot of fun creating this together.