Metatopia 2015: Experiences and brain-dump

threadbareThere were a lot of experiences– both amazing and not-so-amazing– at my first Metatopia last weekend, where I brought Threadbare to playtest among strangers and other professionals. Totally not intimidating, right?

I went with my friend Toby, and we practiced the buddy system quite a bit all weekend. This meant I was less likely to go insert myself into groups the way I normally do, but also meant that we always had someone watching out for each other, making sure we ate and hydrated, and going to bed at reasonable(ish) hours. Also, having someone split a bar tab with you is always nice.

There was a meet-and-greet with other female and non-binary designers on Thursday night, which was fun and exciting and involved a lot of arts and crafts. I was exhausted, having been up since about 2:30 that morning and having spent 3 more hours than I was capable of spending at the Newark airport before we finally caught a ride and got into the hotel. Nonetheless, not having any overly structured things on Thursday really helped us settle in.

Continue reading

Posted in Game Design | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

I ordered from Amazon Prime Now: This was my experience

I came home from a convention this weekend with a sore throat and promptly drank the last of the Yogi Throat Soothe tea. Which was awesome, but my throat started hurting again 2 hours later, and although it improved a little, it was still sore today.

And then I remembered that Amazon Prime Now exists and became available in Las Vegas last week. I installed the app and checked it out.

My tea was in there for about $5/box (that’s comparable to buying it at Whole Foods). When I went to check out, the app let me know that the minimum purchase is $20, so I ordered my daily moisturizer because I had just finished the bottle, and, still $2 short, a $2 bag of “health brand” peanut butter pretzels. primeproducts

The pretzels were the only real impulse buy item– everything else would have been bought eventually, at the grocery or drug store. They would have been bought at separate places, however, and not conveniently in the middle of my workday.

There’s a line for a tip, and a note that you can change the tip up to 48 hours after delivery– and that 100% of the tip goes to the driver, which is awesome. I placed the order at about 11:30. The bag was delivered at 1:45 by a prompt woman who introduced herself by name and said she was with Amazon Prime Now. She made sure to confirm my name when handing over the bag.

All was well. I shut the door and promptly logged into the app to tack on an extra buck to the tip. Before it arrived, I was thinking 20% was reasonable. After, I thought “what the hell. This woman just brought me shit in the middle of my workday. I didn’t have to go out and run an errand. And she’s awesome for having done that!”

This is the kind of service that is going to make middle class white people stop going outside, but it was really, super handy to not have to run out to two different places to get the tea and moisturizer. It was super handy to not interrupt my day to buy tea– I wish I’d thought of this yesterday, when I was really uncomfortable and just didn’t have spare time or energy to go shopping.

It’s definitely a tool of privileged people– you don’t use this if you can’t afford to kick a few bucks over for the tip, or if you really need to go below retail for prices (Prime Now doesn’t appear to beat Amazon’s low online prices).amazonbag

It would be completely worth it, however, if I lived in a food desert, where a $5 tip offsets the time and money it would cost me to get out of the food desert and find a grocery store. It’s worth it when you’re sick and just don’t even want to move off the sofa. It’s going to be worth it some night when it’s 2 AM and I’m crying and need chocolate so much it physically hurts not to have it. It’s going to be worth it when I’m working a really long day and I only need one thing from the store, but I can’t deal with the prospect of standing in a thirty minute line at the grocery store at 5 PM. It would be worth it if I had small kids at home– sweet Jesus, can you imagine not having the wrangle fussy toddlers just to get that one box of cereal that they won’t live without (and have the bonus of not having to take them down the Checkout Aisle of Sugar And Tears)?

Posted in Personal | Tagged | Leave a comment

October 2015 Books and Games


#25: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (f)

#26: Coming of Age at the End of Days (f)

#27: Helen of Sparta (f) – I abandoned this book about 28% of the way in because “rape as character development” is tired, I’m tired of it, and the main character didn’t inspire me enough to want to keep reading.

#28: Cold Kiss (f) – This is YA fiction, but I really liked it. There were echoes of The Fault In Our Stars in it– that sense of being so deeply in love and loss.

Posted in BookReviews-text, Gaming | Tagged , | Leave a comment

#nerdy9th: NaNoWriMo is Coming! And World-Building!

It’s #nerdy9th, and that means time to share some geek-deep love of something!

PrintI’ve been participating in NaNoWriMo since 2002, and have written several unpublished novels in the program. Sometimes, I write with a hope of publishing, but mostly, I write for the sheer joy of writing. It’s like when I was a kid and my favorite vacation involved holing up with a typewriter for a week.

Many years ago, I wrote a world-building website I as part of an exercise in writing CSS. In 2004, I adapted it into a 30-day world-building guide for potential novelists and gamers to use for creating a setting. It takes about 15 minutes a day and it doesn’t make a static world. It makes a rough draft of a setting that you can then use in your creative work. It focuses on the mood of your piece– what are you trying to get people to feel when they read your novel– and then throws all the creative ideas around. Every week, there’s a check-in with the mood, however, and you toss out or set aside anything that doesn’t support that mood in your setting.

That guide has been used in classrooms, writing groups, gaming groups, and online websites. I CC-by licensed it, so anyone can use it with attribution, even if they sell it. It’s been translated into a few languages, and is one of the things I’ve written that probably has had the widest reach. I’m proud of it, even though there are spots where the science is a little weak (the geography bits are informed by my college science courses.)

This year, I am planning a Choose Your Own Adventure style novel for NaNoWriMo. I don’t fully have the title yet, but it’ll come to me soon. The mood is a dark, broody adventure in which the setting shifts slightly as the reader goes through the various paths.

Oh, yeah. If I win this year’s NaNoWriMo, I will have written half a million words as a direct result of the project. Some good, some terrible. Some amazing moments in writing that reminded me that I love to write fiction, and to keep doing it.

NaNoWriMo. Because why should “professionals” get all the fun of making art?

Posted in Writing | Tagged , | Leave a comment

August and September 2015: Books and Games


#20: Cloud Atlas (m)

#21: The Martian (m)

#22: Assassination Classroom #1 (m)

#22: The Fault in Our Stars (m)

#23: Younger (f)

#24: The Lost Art of Listening, 2nd Edition (m)


#64: Love Letter

#65: Cthulhu Live (played twice over Gen Con weekend– once in July, once in August)

#66: Magical Fury

#67: Red November

#68: Ssh!

#69: Love Letter

#70: Roll for the Galaxy

#71: Incredible Expeditions (5 players)

#72: Trail of Cthulhu (4 players)

#73: Spirit of 77 (5 players)

#74: Fate Accelerated (3 players)

#75: Fate (3 players, new campaign, character creation)

#76: Our Last Best Hope (5 players, all female game)

#77: Monster Under the Bed (2 player, female designer, horse in the race… this is the┬ácard game I’m working on)

Posted in BookReviews-text, Gaming | Tagged , | Leave a comment