December 30, 2017

Exhaling Memories and the end of 2017

My short story "Exhaling Memories" is out from Aliterate! The setting is inspired by the Inca, and the story's about what happens after your empire controls the Fountain of Youth.

This has been a busy year. I set high writing goals for myself, and hit most of them. I'm very happy to have three stories already slated to come out next year.

I've also enjoyed digging into other projects. I tried out my first real project using a jigsaw and ended up with a nice toy pram.

And the winter garden has been flourishing, helping chase off the winter blues with greenery and radishes.

It was lovely to be able to spend the holidays with family. I hope everyone had a great 2017, and that more good things find you in 2018!

October 3, 2017

The Eternal Army

My short story, "The Eternal Army" is live at Daily Science Ficiton! Romans, necromancers, and Marcius Curtius. Read it here!

September 27, 2017

Story Sales & ComicCon

I've been quietly updating my bibliography, but I've sold three more short stories -- "Exhaling Memories", "The Eternal Army" and "Glass in Frozen Time". I'll let you all know when they come out!

ComicCon went swimmingly. I got to meet lovely people, talk about books, moderate a panel, listen to Dick Van Dyke, and learn how to play both the My Little Ponies Collectible Card Game and Century: Spice Road. I've been coveting the later game for some time now, and it was a delight to play and see that yes, it was everything I'd hoped for and more. Maybe a longer review on that in the future. I also played in the MLP: CCG tournament -- the first gaming tournament I've been in -- and placed horribly while having a blast.

I hope everyone else had a lovely weekend -- I'm back to writing now!

September 21, 2017

Salt Lake Comic Con!

I will be at Comic Con tomorrow! Here's where to find me:

My books will be available at Booth 639, under the big Xchyler banner. I'll be there for large chunks of Friday as well.

Friday at 4:00 I'm on "Disney Princesses: The Hero in All of Us", room 155

Saturday at 3:45 I'll be doing a reading at KidCon.

Hope to see you there!

May 23, 2017

The Chaos Village

Part one of "The Chaos Village" is live at Podcastle! Yes, this is a sequel story to "Golden Chaos." Yes, it's in Rob's POV. Heath Miller is back as narrator and he does an absolutely fantastic job with Rob. I'm terribly pleased with all of this.

UPDATE: And here's part two!

You don't need to read the first story to dig into this, but if you want to start with it, click here.

May 16, 2017

Fyrecon Schedule

Fyrecon is coming up fast! Here's my current schedule:


12:30-2:20pm -- Everything You Need to Know About Writing & Selling Short Fiction (Teen Track, 2-hour class)

4:30-5:20pm -- Cat Saving for Fun and Profit: Various Story Structures (Panel)


9:30-10:20am Vivid Description (Teen Track, Class)

1:30-2:20pm Fantasy: More than Magic and Elves (Panel)

6:30-7:20pm Narrative Drive (Writing Track, Class)


12:30pm Underused Conflicts: What are They and How they Make Your Story Stronger (Panel)

2:30pm 3-to-1 Editing Group

5:30pm Author Spotlight

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. 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.

January 21, 2017

LTUE 2017 Schedule!

LTUE is coming up! I absolutely love this conference -- it's full of so many amazing panels and classes for writers, and it's incredibly accessible (i.e., $5 for students, and still really cheap for everyone else).

I'll be carrying around postcards and some cool new bookplates, so feel free to ask me for book swag. Here's my schedule:

Thursday, 10:00am. Research for the Fantasy Writer (presentation).
Real-world research is a gold mine for fantasy writers. Research can spark an idea for an epic novel, give an author just the right detail, and sidestep glaring errors that will make sword aficionados (or any other kind of enthusiast) toss your book aside. Come learn from M. K. Hutchins how to dig into the research that will make your book shine. (Arches)

Friday, 9:00am. Ancient Technology (panel) 
Though they may not have used electricity, many ancient civilizations created ingenious technologies to build cities, make calendars, and travel the world. This will highlight some of those technologies. (Maple)

Friday, 4:00pm. Scarcity and Innovation (panel)
From 30-second ad spots to still suits: resource scarcity leads to unique challenges that call for specific answers. This panel will look at real and fictitious examples of innovation that is driven by scarcity. (Canyon)

Friday, 6:00pm-8:00pm. Book Signing! Seriously, it's a huge room of dozens and dozens of authors signing books. It's awesome. 

Saturday, 3:00pm. Culling the Classics: Fantasy
Classic fantasy books, new and old, everyone should read. (Maple)