Report from Life the Universe and Everything Symposium 2016

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I just got back from the Life the Universe and Everything Symposium held in Provo Utah. They brought in some fantastic authors and artist who presented great content at the various panels over the three day conference. I think the highlight for me was Shannon Hales’ keynote address about gender inequality, especially on how we unknowingly under-represent girls and artificially limit what we allow boys to experience. All her points also apply to race, even more so. It was thought provoking for sure.

I have always been drawn to the female protagonist in stories, and one of my favorite when I was a kid was Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley. I also loved The Blue Sword and Outlaws of Sherwood. To the credit of my parents and older brother, I didn’t know that it wasn’t cool for boys to read women authors or read stories about girls. I’m grateful that I read so many. Two of my favorite books are The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin and His Majesty’s Dragon by Naomi Novik. Still, I was the boy who played with his G.I. Joes and He-man figures, though I would act out long-drawn out stories with my Joes, including the female Joes. I professed to hating girl (though I really didn’t) for most of my childhood.

Brandon Sanderson was great in all of his panels I attended. He is definitely in his element at these cons. Great guy. I attended koffeeklatches, which are sit down sessions with authors in a small group, with both Dan Wells and Howard Taylor (both of Writing Excuses podcast fame). Both were great. Dan Wells is a board game enthusiast, and the only big time author I approached. I told him that his podcast was a big motivator in starting my own podcast and gave him a Meeple Nation business card.

The Writing Excuses Podcast Panel at LTUE
The Writing Excuses Podcast Panel at LTUE

Speaking of Writing Excuses. I attended the live recordings of the podcast, which was awesome. They did a great job and anyone who listens are in for 6 good episodes whenever they come out. I wish I had a chance to listen to Mary Robinette Kowal in more panels. She is amazing.

I paid for a pitch session with an agent, and the experience was kind of weird and sort of helpful. I chose to be a part of a group session with 4 other hopeful writers. Our agent was running late and gave us our ten minutes, but was quickly scanning our paper content for errors. She did give us a bit of good advice and gave me two nice comments on my phrasing in my opening page. Still, she didn’t comment on the overall pitch and worth of the story. It didn’t feel like she had any intention of actually considering our stuff. I guess it was worth the $20 bucks for the experience.

I have more to write, but I’ll save it for another post.

Mad Science in Agent Carter, Season 2 (spoilers)

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Agent Carter season 1 was full of wacky mad science, which I enjoyed. In fact, the entire season was centered around collecting wonky scientific devices stolen from the lab of Howard Stark, our resident mad scientist/playboy. The light implosion bombs were clever, though they were used up rather quickly. Most of the technology was used as a MacGuffin to move the season’s plot along, including Steve Rogers blood.


Howard Stark and his son, Tony Stark, are an interesting version of the mad scientist. They are generally seen as “good guys”, but are both arrogant, selfish, and often criticized for their lack of caution when inventing. The line between good and evil is a constant theme with this type of mad scientist. How much good have the Starks done vs. how much collateral damage have they caused? That factors a bit into my own story about Anika Frankenstein. Her mad-scientist father believes that his ends have justified his means and that the good he can accomplish in the future justifies his current actions.

Agent Carter

But alas, this post was about Agent Carter season 2, where we’ve seen dark matter, the freezing of people, the phasing out of the scientist, and the Return of Howard Stark and his science proficiency. Howard makes a spray that can make Jason Wilkes reappear, and somehow, spraying into his throat makes him able to talk. For a spy/agent show, Agent Carter is built on not only science fiction, but wacky mad science fiction. I like it.

Howard Stark in his lab

Peggy comes from a world where Captain America was created in a lab by scientists. She is more than happy to use Howard’s technology to close her cases. But she doesn’t have much to do with the science herself. She doesn’t fit into the “mad science” trope, but stands apart from it. I wonder what this show would be like if it didn’t use mad science. I loved Jarvis as Howard’s lab assistant, helping him with the wacky.

I’m attending LTUE in February!

posted in: Writing | 0

This year I’m make a concerted effort to begin my writing career. I plan to get my writing published with a plan to keep publishing. In order to do that, I’m going to attend the Life the Universe and Everything Symposium ( In addition to panels on writing and the business of writing, I’ll be able to mingle with agents and other professional writers for 3 days. Another feature of LTUE is that several writing agencies will be holding pitch sessions, and I plan to pitch my YA novel, my MG novel, and my epic fantasy novel.

I followed all of the agents on Twitter and will be following any tweets for the foreseeable future. I’m also going to make a greater effort to tweet more. Follow me at @RyanPDecaria to keep up with my micro musings. Also, I’m going to post regularly on my blog, so check back here often. Time to make it happen.


UPDATE: I’m all registered for the conference and have sent in my request for a pitch session.

Let 2016 begin!

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2015 was another mundane year for me. My new purchases were a water heater and a furnace, and a slew of medical bills for my family. My highlights are starting this website and continuing my podcast, Meeple Nation, past the year mark. I invest a ton of time into my family, but I also tend to waste time doing things that aren’t going to get me where I want to go. So, for 2016, I’m going to do things a little differently. This year, I’m going to invest in myself.
My entry into my work's crazy hat contest for the Holiday Party.
My entry into my work’s crazy hat contest for the Holiday Party.
This year I’m going to get my writing published in some form one way or the other.
  • Start a comic book. I even have the first 6 scripts written. I need to find an artist to partner with, or I need to find some capital to invest in the art.
  • Enter a screenplay into the Nicohls fellowship contest. I have a draft of the script. I need to make it the best I can in the next few months. The early deadline is March 2.
  • Enter the Writers of the Future Contest every quarter until I win it. That is 4 short stories a year. The next deadline is March 31. I already have a draft of the story I will submit.
  • Attend as many writing conferences as I can fit into my schedule. This first will be Life the Universe and Everything Symposium in February.
  • Send out 5 queries and/or submissions every week.
  • Write every day, including updating this website regularly.
  • Make it happen!
So far, I’m off to a great start. I entered a short story into the 1st quarter of the Writer’s of the Future contest on Dec 31. The story is about a pop starlet who wakes up from cryosleep 300 years after the fall of civilization to find the last boy on earth and his unstable mother. I like how it turned out.
So this year, I’m going to do more, do it better, and enjoy the process. New Year–New rules.
My new life rules for 2016:
  • Invest in myself.
  • Write as much as I can.
  • Put my writing out into the world.
  • Enjoy the process

The Podcasts I Listen to Regularly

posted in: Podcasts | 0

I’ve been podcasting for over a year now, and Meeple Nation has a small but loyal following from all around the world. We talk about board games. We have some industry contacts and get to meet cool people. We play a lot of board games.



I also was a host of a science fiction podcast, The Agent’s of Scifi. We aren’t active at the moment, but we had fun producing about 15 episodes. Each episode, we talked through a scifi topic like distopia, robots, cloning, and FTL.


I like podcasts. The following are the podcasts I listen to regularly:


Writing Excuses (

This podcast is like a writing class, except that it is better and free. This ‘season’ they are even giving homework assignments. Brandon Sanderson and cohosts deliver excellent writing advice each week in 15 minutes. This is always a great start to the week and makes me want to keep going because I want to be doing what they do. I recommend all writers check out this podcast.


The Nerdist Podcast (

This podcast is like sitting down with your friends and having a long chat, except your friends are famous people. Chris Hardwick and company offer so many great guests and offer so much of themselves to appease their audience, which is  so hungry for honesty and sincerity in their entertainment. The language isn’t for everyone, but if you want to escape for an hour, this is a fine way to do it.


Scriptnotes (

This podcast is really the best. John and Craig talk about the business and day-to-day minutiae  of screenwriting. This is an insider look at the business and these guys are pros in every sense of the word. They are also delightful to listen to. If you are a writer of any kind, you should check them out. If you are interested in Hollywood, you should listen to Scriptnotes every week, religiously.


Tip Off (

I am a huge fan of the Utah Jazz professional basketball team. I have been since I was very young. The statues (John Stockton and Karl Malone) will forever be my heroes. That was a long time ago. Today, the Jazz are struggling, but I’ll always be a fan. On this podcast, David Locke does an outstanding job keeping me up to speed on all the intricacies about how the jazz are doing, and he gives his educated opinion on what is happening around the league. If you like the Jazz, you should be listening to him every weekday morning. If you like the NBA, you should at least listen to the first 5 minutes.


Chicks who Script (

This is a newish podcast by three talented screenwriters who offer a great voice, a fresh look on the business, and great guests. They talk openly about the joys, trials, and tribulations about writing screenplays and being in Hollywood. If you want to be a screenwriter or want to be a part of the Hollywood scene, check them out.


We’re Alive: A Story of Survival (

Another podcast I listened to for a long time was We’re Alive: a Story of Survival, which was a scripted zombie apocalypse show like an old radio play. The podcast ran for 4 seasons until they finished the story. The ideas were great, and the voice acting was serviceable if not stellar. They successfully kickstarted a follow up show called Lockdown. I’m excited to listen to this show again.


Are there any other podcasts you think I should be listening to?

Listen to me on the Meeple Nation Board Game Podcast

I play board games.
Siedler box
I try hard not to play bad board games. I play excellent board games created by talented designers, developed by smart companies, and produced well with quality components. I owned Settlers of Catan and El Grande in 1997 (both in German) and proudly shared those games with as many people as would listen. Board games were back, baby!
 El Grande box
Since the late 90s, board games have skyrocketed to one of the best things you could be doing on a Thursday night with your friends. The best board games of the last 20 years are so well designed and developed that they set an extremely high standard of entertainment. All games published today must create a play experience good enough to attract the attention of gamers with so many options available. Each year, thousands of new games flood the market, and the best ones always rise to the top.
I talk about board games on a podcast called Meeple Nation. You can find Meeple Nation on iTunes, Stitcher, or whatever podcatcher you like. You can also find us at My excellent co-conspirators are Nathan Howard and Brent Mair. Meeple Nation is currently on episode 74 in its second year. We review board games, discuss issues in the industry, and interview game designers and publishers. Some of the insiders we’ve interviewed are Seth Jaffe and Michael Mendes of Tasty Minstrel Games, Ryan Bruns of Mayday Games, Ben Hillyard of Daedalus Productions, Chris Urinko of Daft Concepts, and Max Holliday of Ginger Ale Games.
Check us out.

Why I don’t have a favorite color

First published at Meeple Nation on 

Is it weird that I don’t have a favorite color? My brother’s play red and yellow respectively. At our gaming group, one dude plays orange, one green, and one purple (or blue if purple is not a color in the game). Me? I have no preference, at all. Really. The reason has everything to do with the board game Clue.


Which may seem weird as the characters in Clue are named after specific colors. Mr. Green, Miss Scarlet, and Col. Mustard are iconic figures of my childhood. Color Identity in Clue is even more apparent because you are representing that person in a story. So, why then do I not have a color identity, preference, or favorite.

I have a lot of older cousins. These cousins and my older brother loved playing games, and developed a strange affection for the game Clue to the point of not only claiming a specific color but also adopting the nicknames of their Clue avatars. My older brother already decided that he played Red, so he had no qualms about playing as Miss Scarlet, though he didn’t claim the nickname.

The problem was that I was the annoying younger cousin who wouldn’t go play with the little kids, and kept trying to play with the older boys. By the time I was deemed worthy to join in the fun, all of the colors had been claimed. Green, red, blue, white, purple and yellow were all taken, and not just for Clue. My brother and cousins claimed their favorite colors for all games, and life in general.

And I never claimed a color, even though there was still a significant part of the rainbow remaining. Even away from the table top, when asked what my favorite color was, I would reply that I didn’t have one. Even after the release of Master Detective Clue, where new colors and characters were introduced, I found no real interest in claiming a character/color, and my younger cousins quickly claimed them. I didn’t really mind though, because not having a favorite color was something that was unique about me.

Decades later, my brother still plays red. Occasionally, my cousin still refer to each other as Plum, Green, and Mustard. We don’t play Clue much, but we all still love to play games. I still don’t have a favorite color, and I don’t mind at all. I like all colors and all meeples equally.

My Project Backlog

posted in: Writing | 0

I have a large backlog of stories, projects and ideas that I am going to complete soon. These are mostly recent projects that I’ve been working on the last two years, projects I believe are worth publishing and worth other people’s time and money to read. I am seeking representation and publication. I am going to take one project and self publish it, though, to get it out there and try that avenue. So, to get it out there, and as a promise to whoever reads my blog, these are the works you’re going to see soon.


  1. I’m currently polishing a young adult novel about a modern-day science fair girl who discovers her estranged father is very much a mad scientist, the CEO of a laboratory of mad scientist. Instead of some Daddy-daughter time, she is force to attend the local high school, and she quickly discovers the parents have been experimenting on their children. She finds her life threatened, but uses her science and wit to escape all but her father’s malicious plans.I am going to try to publish this novel through traditional means.
  2. BethyMy second novel is a Middle Grade fiction that I co-developed with my blind daughter (8-years-old at the time). Her favorite stories were the Capital Mysteries and Cinderella, so we mashed the two together. Cindy is a blind girl whose father marries the President of the United States. She moves into the White House and struggles to find her place. Soon her father dies and her stepmother becomes very wicked toward Cindy, forcing her to do chores, hoping to get Cindy to find a new home. Cindy accidentally overhears things she should not, and her life is now in danger. With the help of a young Secret Service agent, Cindy becomes a spy in the White House, hoping to stay ahead of her step mother’s plans to get rid of her.I’m planning to self publish this story. I think it has an audience that will enjoy this very much. I think the actions and behaviors of my protagonist reflect a blind girl her age. I am modeling how being blind affects her after my own daughter.
  3. I am in the rewriting stage of my high fantasy novel, currently at 56,000 words. I need to expand several scenes and finish the side plots of a few characters so I expect it will end up around 90,000 words when I’m finished. This world has a unique magic system and I love the characters. It needs a lot of work, but will be my project after I get the 1 and 2 out the door.

Comic Books

I love comic books, and I grew up reading whatever books I could get my hands on. I have several projects in mind, and have writing scripts. I need to find an artist to collaborate with on these projects. I don’t have the funds to invest in the artwork, so the collaboration would be on spec. If you are interested, please email me at and provide some samples.

  1. I have the first 6 scripts written for a comic book about aging a group of rugged Vietnam vets who escourt a winged princess back to her world through a portal deep in the Vietnam jungle to regain her thrown.
  2. I have a script for a one shot about a British princess who, after insisting on joining the military, becomes trapped behind enemy lines.
  3. I have another script for another one shot about a women who, after losing her leg in Afghanistan, goes to a water park with her friends, exposing her scars to the world. They find the park swarming with secret service agents protecting the President’s daughter, who is in attendance. The woman quickly discovers a plot by the agent’s to kidnap the daughter and jumps into action to save her.


I am also polishing a full-length screenplay, which I hope to enter into a contest soon. This story is my ode to the movie Real Genius, which is one of my favorite movies.

Short Stories

I also have a few dozen short stories that I am planning to finish or turn into something larger.

  1. I want to enter a story about a girl who wakes up in a bio dome 300 years after her death to find that she is part of a project to save humanity. The only other people alive are a young boy and his sanity-challenged mother. To keep the project going, she must get stay alive long enough to get pregnant.
  2. I am going to put up a few of my older short stories on this website for free. Look for them soon.

Let the MAD SCIENCES begin!

posted in: Writing | 0

Hello. I’m Ryan and I write fiction. I’ve been writing fiction most of my life, though I don’t have any publications to show for it yet, largely because I’ve been working a day job and raising a family. My day job is technical writing, which is sort of like writing fiction, but instead of writing interesting things like characters and plot, I write about resin and bushings and software. My family includes a wife and three children. One of my children is blind, which has brought many challenges, but has also brought our family many opportunities.

Still, I have been writing and not publishing. In the past, I would write something and then when it was almost finished, I would move on to the next thing. This was likely because of fear of rejection or whatevers. Well no more! I’ve decided to follow in the footsteps of the great Dr. Frankenstein and take the silent death of all the characters in my fiction and create for them the life they deserve, published and out into the wide world.


Basically, I’m going to mad science the shit out of my writing!