ArmadilloCon!

In other news: This weekend I had a pretty amazing time at Armadillocon.

For those of you that don’t know, Armadillocon is a SFF literary convention in Austin Texas. They’ve got an excellent writer’s workshop, a wide number of panels covering the business of writing for a living and dealing with social issues, and a chance to meet with authors, editors, and publishers. There’ve been quite a few other write-ups, but here’s the highlights of my weekend.

Writing Workshop

Marshall Ryan Maresca put on an amazing workshop this year. I got a chance to meet several published authors, several aspiring authors in the area, and generally have a great time. Special thanks to Marshall for putting the workshop on, Martha Wells and Rebecca Schwarz for leading my little critique group, everyone for taking the time to read and give feedback on my story (which felt like a hit, though definitely needs some work), Steven Brust for allowing me to mumble at him about how much I loved the Taltos books, Stina Leicht for being a fount of clever,  Derek Johnson for some of the best advice on what not to do, and Ken Liu for an authorial Silent Bob. (by which I mean, during several of the workshop discussions he would sit and listen to different camps go back and forth on a point, then drop some poignant remark that effectively tied up and closed out the conversation)

It was well worth my time, inspiring, and I’d suggest that if you’re an aspiring author and find yourself in Texas next summer, you should sign up.

Panels 

I scheduled myself from early morning until late into the night each day of the con. The panels covered topics from Research to Humor to Feminism to Silkpunk to Lovecraft to the Hugos and everything in between.

I learned so much, but my biggest takeaways were:

  • Learn to be ok with failure and rejection
  • You won’t know how good you are until you try
  • Listen to others, especially if you are writing from their view point
  • Talk to people after panels. You’ll make new friends.
  • Research
  • Read

Side note: If you ever get a chance to see a panel with Marguerite Reed or Justin Landon, it will be worth your time. If you get a chance to see a panel with Marguerite and Justin, it will be worth skipping out on something else that’s worth your time.

Dinner 

Another awesome thing that happened occurred while I was hanging out at the bar, downing a ginger beer and conversing with a few of the authors about life, writing plans, and the like, when someone brought up food. I mentioned that I was fine, as I’d had a grand total of three candy bars since that morning and should be able to grab something once I got home around 11pm. Fortunately for me, they insisted that I not starve myself to see more panels and we wound up at the hotel’s restaurant. So, a big thanks Derek, Gwen, Stina, Marguerite, and Marshall for letting the new kid tag along and break bread with you. The conversations were delightful, silly, and made me feel at home. Someday I hope to be able to do the same for someone just starting out (and to hang out with you all again). You folks rule.

TLDR: 

I had a great time, learned quite a lot, and made new friends! All in all, a great experience.

I seem to have caught the con bug. Next stop: Nerdcon!

(but for now, back to the word mines)

— Fred Y.

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Day 2: Game face

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I lied when I said 3 candy bars. I had forgotten the words for cashews and fried apple pie. Probably still good I ate.

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Marguerite and Marshall on Day 3

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Pass 1 through the dealers room

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After the third and final pass through the dealer’s room. So, so broke now.

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DogeFace was happy when I got back. Actually, I have no idea why this picture is here, but it’s cute, so I’m just going to run with it. Something about being hard at work on revising my story after the workshop.

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Bring a #kittenConsul Party to Austin

Just so I’m covering all my social media bases, I figure I’ll post this here too.

Exploding Kittens is a card game that broke a number of kickstarter records. #kittenConsul parties are a chance to beta test the game, and I want to bring one to my hometown.

If enough people like our application video, then we could get a play test party at Dragon’s Lair, one of Austin’s best shops for all things nerdy.

So do me a favor, watch the video, and click like. When we reach 200 likes, we’ll post a video of outtakes and our cat person friend doing her thing for several minutes.

Tabletop Review: Diamonsters

TLDR:

  • Game: Diamonsters
  • Play Time: 15-30 Minutes
  • Challenge Rating: 3/10
  • Level of Competition: 1/10
  • Pros: Really fast, easy to learn, cute art, friendly game
  • Cons: The challenge stems entirely from the people you play against, so your caliber of playmates can effect the replay value.
  • Overall Rating: 7/10

Detailed Review:

I picked up Diamonsters on my last Dragon’s Lair run for three simple reasons. I liked the box art, on the cover it said “From the makers of Machi Koro”, and my wife also thought it looked like fun. Machu Koro happens to be one of my favorite games that I’ve played this year, so that was the strongest selling point.

Diamonsters is incredibly simple to learn and play. So simple, in fact, that hardcore tabletop gamers might be a bit turned off. The goal is to collect plastic diamonds, which do by matching up cards in front of you that you win through fast paced bidding. If I’m not explaining it well, just play around. I promise you’ll pick it up quickly.

In my experience, each round (winning a round earns you a diamond) takes less than five minutes to play. If you have two players with a similar betting style the game may run longer, but I’d still be surprised if you managed to stretch a single game to over an hour without taking some type of break.

The real challenge comes from learning and adapting to your opponents betting style, and then changing your style to confound them. The game is entirely about advancing your own interest as opposed to taking aggressive actions against your opponents. This, combined with the ultra fast run time, makes Diamonsters a great game for families, parties, and times when your don’t feel like hating your friends.