April 16, 2014

Ricochet Robot Turtles

Time for a board game comparison. These two games are similar in many ways, one aimed at kiddos, one at adults.

Robot Turtles: This game is designed to sneakily teach programming skills to tots. Okay -- I was actually skeptical about the game when I first learned about it. I've seen some "educational" games that try to teach letters and numbers at the utter expense of game play. I hope my kids have fun and learn critical thinking skills with board games, so I'm aiming for a different kind of "educational".

But this game hits "fun" and "critical thinking" on the nose. The game is actually a maze  that the kids work their turtles through -- a maze that the adult (or senior child) designs every time you pull out the game. The players use their cards to "program" their turtle's movements. The Turtle Mover then follows those exact instructions, regardless of intent. Don't worry; mistakes can be rectified with use of the bug card. It was fun and refreshing to play a game where the whole point is to let them figure out how it works, instead of spending the first few games teaching rules. The game also nicely adds complexity as you get better at it. This is still a big hit at our house -- many, many programs later.

Ricochet Robot: In this game, you try to find the shortest path for the robots -- who can only move in straight lines -- to reach their targets. It's very spacial, almost maze-like, trying to use the various walls and/or other robots on the board to bounce off of just right.

There is no turn-taking. Everyone tries to solve it at the same time,  so the game plays as many people as you can fit around the board, which is nice. There's also a great catch-up mechanism. If you've solved more puzzles than anyone else, you have to focus hard to stay ahead. If you're behind, you've got a very good chance to catch up in the scoring.

Neither of these games is particularly cut-throat and they're low on player interactions. They're more like puzzles that you solve independently (Turtles) or a puzzle that you're trying to solve faster and more efficiently than the rest of the players (Robots).

But I love both of these. I love the logical planning efforts in Robot Turtles, and I love how after a few rounds of Ricochet Robots, my head either hurts or I start to get really good at it (or both). They're mind-stretching and full of spacial reasoning. Both come highly recommended.

April 14, 2014

April 12, 2014

Updates, Again

Stuff for DRIFT:

Final copyedits are in! The book's gone to the printers!

The release date has also been moved back to mid-June to give reviewers with ARCs ample time to read them. I think, overall, this will be a good thing. :)

Other Stuff:

I sold a novelette! I'll have more details later, after everything's all signed and super-official. This means that I now have three pieces of new short fiction accepted at three different magazine. They should all be out this year, I think.

I finished a novel draft! My first drafts are always horribly messy, but I'm really happy those initial thoughts are down. Editing is always fun for me. This makes for the twelfth book I've written. DRIFT was #4. I'm currently looking for a new agent, but I'm hopeful that I'll have more news on the novel-front to share sometime.

March 17, 2014


It's hard to believe it's been a month since LTUE. Kinda late for a conference report, but I had a great time and am very grateful for the many people who helped me juggle the non-writing parts of my life so I could attend. I got to meet new people, catch up with old friends, and lead some crazy-awesome brainstorming in my class on Narrative Drive.

In other news -- I got my ARC (advanced reader copy) of Drift! I'd take a picture to share, but my neighbor has already run off with it. The book's release is just around the corner.

Time seems to be going by very, very quickly right now.

February 13, 2014

Cover Reveal!

Hi! I'm at LTUE, so this will be short, but Tu Books revealed the cover for Drift today! You can read all about the cover creation process at the Lee & Low blog, then click on one of the blogs at the bottom of the post to see the cover. It looks amazing!

February 10, 2014

Short Stories in a Nutshell

On Friday at LTUE, I'm giving a presentation on writing short fiction. I'm not going to have a computer at LTUE (well, probably not), so I thought I'd put this up in advance. 


NOVEL-LIKE (traditionally plotted, common POV): 
Nanny’s Day” by Leah Cypess
The Judge’s Right Hand” by J.S. Bangs
Rejiggering the Thingamajig” by Eric James Stone
X Marks the Spot” by Kat Otis

Movement” by Nancy Fulda
“Un Opera Nello Spazio: A Space Opera” by Oliver Buckram (The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction Sept/Oct 2013)
The Wanderers” by Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam
They’re Made Out of Meat” by Terry Bisson
How to Love a Necromancer” by Jess Hyslop

Buy You a Mocking Bird” by Eric James Stone
Neighbours” by Rob Butler
Dark Swans” by Terra LeMay
The Last Seed” by Ken Liu
“What We Ourselves Are Not” by Leah Cypess (Asimov's September 2013)

Critters.org: an online critiquing workshop
The Leading Edge: local SF/F magazine where you can volunteer to read slush and learn more about how magazines operate -- invaluable opportunity if you live in Provo
The Submission Grinder: a searching tool to find short story markets
SFWA Markets: a list of markets that count towards SFWA membership

*Lamely, Blogger explodes when I try to add the authors' names as labels, due to the length. Sigh. I apologize that there aren't author tags on this post.