Playing Solo

Solo Gaming

Solo Gaming

As we all know there has been very little chance of playing any form of social gaming during the last three years and I really needed to scratch that gaming itch now.

So over the last couple of weeks I’ve got my PS4 back out of storage (Still not played anything yet) and bought a few solo mode board games.

My main criteria for these right now is that they have to be small box games with a built-in solo mode, can’t be bothered searching out fan-made solo modes for games yet.

The first three I’ve got are Friday, Lux Aeterna, and One Deck Dungeon: Forest of Shadows due to this small box restriction, and due to the fact I got great deals on eBay for them.

I’m watching some playthroughs right now and really want to start with One Deck Dungeon, so watch out for updates on that.

I may also be able to have a 10 for 10 challenge this year!

The complete list of what I want is here and will be updated as I get the game or find another I fancy:

– [ ] The 7th Continent
– [ ] The 7th Guest
– [ ] Aeons End
– [ ] Aerion
– [ ] Arkham Horror LCG
– [ ] Arkham Horror Board Game
– [ ] Altar Quest
– [ ] Apocrypha
– [ ] Artefact
– [ ] Black Sonata (Print and Play)
– [ ] Blackstone Fortress
– [ ] The Bloody Inn
– [ ] Castellion
– [ ] Chronicles of Crime
– [ ] The City of Kings
– [ ] The Cleaner (Print and Play)
– [ ] Cloudspire
– [ ] Coffee Roaster
– [ ] Crystallo
– [ ] Cuba Libre (COIN games)
– [ ] Deckspace games
– [ ] Deep Madness
– [ ] Deep Space Deep 6 (Print and Play)
– [ ] Descent
– [ ] Detective: A Modern Crime Board Game
– [ ] Dinosaur Island
– [ ] Dungeon Alliance
– [ ] Elder Sign
– [ ] Eldritch Horror
– [ ] Empires of the North
– [ ] Escape Room: The Game
– [ ] Everdell
– [ ] Ex Libris
– [ ] Fallout: Wasteland Warfare
– [ ] A Feast for Odin
– [ ] Fields of Arle
– [ ] First Martians: Adventures on the Red Planet
– [ ] Fuse
– [ ] Gaia Project
– [ ] The Gallerist
– [ ] The Game
– [ ] Gem Rush
– [ ] Gloomhaven
– [ ] Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion
– [ ] Heroes of Terrinoth
– [ ] HEXplore It: The Forests of Adrimon
– [ ] Hoplomachus
– [ ] Horrified
– [ ] Hostage Negotiator
– [ ] House of Danger
– [ ] Legends Untold
– [ ] Lisboa
– [ ] Lord of the Rings LCG
– [ ] The Lost Expedition
– [ ] Mage Knight
– [ ] Masmorra: Dungeons of Arcadia
– [ ] Mint Works
– [ ] Nautilion
– [ ] Nemo’s War (2nd Edition)
– [ ] Nusfjord
– [ ] One Deck Dungeon
– [ ] Onirim
– [ ] Outlive
– [ ] Palm Island
– [ ] Pandemic: The Cure
– [ ] Parks
– [ ] Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Core Set
– [ ] Pax Emancipation (difficult, solo mode)
– [ ] Project Elite
– [ ] Rangers of Shadowdeep
– [ ] Robinson Crusoe
– [ ] Scythe
– [ ] Set A Watch
– [ ] Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective Games
– [ ] Solar Storm
– [ ] Spires End
– [ ] Spirit Island
– [ ] Sprawlopolis
– [ ] Star Wars: Outer Rim
– [ ] Sub Terra
– [ ] Subdivision
– [ ] Sylvion
– [ ] Tainted Grail: The Fall of Avalon
– [ ] Tapestry
– [ ] Terraforming Mars
– [ ] That’s Pretty Clever
– [ ] This War of Mine
– [ ] Thunderbolt: Apache Leader
– [ ] Tiny Towns
– [ ] Thunderstone Quest
– [ ] Too Many Bones: Undertow
– [ ] Troyes
– [ ] Unbroken
– [ ] Under Falling Skies
– [ ] Utopia Engine (Print and Play)
– [ ] Victoriana
– [ ] Warlords of Erehwon
– [ ] Warp’s Edge
– [ ] Wingspan

– [x] Friday
– [x] Lux Aeterna
– [x] One Deck Dungeon Forest of Shadows

Greg Howard – Q&A

Greg Howard

Greg Howard

Greg Howard was born and raised in the South Carolina Lowcountry where his love of stories blossomed at a young age. Originally set on becoming a songwriter, Greg followed that dream to Nashville, Tennessee, where he spent years producing the music of others before eventually returning to his childhood passion for writing stories. Greg’s critically acclaimed, debut middle-grade novel, The Whispers was nominated for an Edgar Award and is currently being adapted for film. His second middle-grade novel, Middle School’s a Drag, You Better Werk! is being adapted for television by Harry Potter producer David Heyman, Heyday Television, and NBC/Universal.

Greg writes for and about LGBTQ youth, creating the kind of books he wishes he’d had access to as a young reader. Also, the author of the young adult novel Social Intercourse, Greg’s latest middle-grade offering, The Visitors, is in stores now. When he’s not writing books, Greg enjoys traveling, reading, hiking, and spending time with friends. He lives in Nashville with his two rescued fur-babies—Molly and Riley.

Greg can be found at:
Website: www.greghowardbooks.com
Twitter: @greghowardbooks
Instagram: @greghowardbooks
Facebook: @greghowardbooks

Tell me what inspired you to write your (debut) novel?

My debut middle grade novel, The Whispers, was inspired by my mother. She and I were extremely close – I was a mama’s boy – but she died when I was very young. The Whispers was also inspired by my childhood and growing up with that grief. I escaped into my imagination quite a bit, and the main character, Riley, is somewhat trapped inside his mind since his mother went missing. I wanted to tell my story through Riley.

What came first the characters or the world?

The character of Riley is largely based on me when I was his age, so for this story, he definitely came to mind first. The world around him was pieced together by my own experiences.

How hard was it to get your first (debut) book published?

I already had an agent, so I can’t say that it was “hard” to get the book published. I was very lucky. The waiting was the hardest part. There was about a four month period of complete silence after we went out on submission. We finally started hearing back from editors and the book ended up going to auction with five publishers bidding for the rights. I spoke to the editors from those houses, but really connected with Stacey Barney at Putnam/Penguin. It helped that Penguin’s UK imprint Puffin was also very interested in publishing the book. Eighteen months later The Whispers was out in the world.

How long did it take to write?

The Whispers took about five months to hammer out a first draft. Then, my agent and I worked on it for about another month or so, fine tuning and revising. I’m lucky to have a very talented editorial agent. The book would not be what it is without her guidance.

Do you have a writing playlist? If so do you want to share it?

Sometimes I will create a playlist of music that “feels like” the story I’m writing. I did this for The Whispers and it included over 50 tracks and had a cinematic feel overall. Some of the artists on that playlist were Max Richter, Ólafur Arnalds, Chad Lawson, Celtic Woman, and David Arkenstone. I still listen to it from time to time and it puts me right back into the story.
https://open.spotify.com/playlist/5CquIcStKRkivvYWmZgz7D?si=b66c015128a64d03

What kind of reactions have you had to your book?

The thing I hear the most is about readers bawling their eyes out at the end. The Whispers is first and foremost a book about hope, but it seems to pull all kinds of emotions out of readers. I promise I wasn’t trying to make people cry! Others appreciate the representation of an eleven-year-old gay boy in the book.

What’s the favourite reaction you’ve had to your book?

It wasn’t so much as reaction, but I received a video from a mother recently of her daughter reading a section of The Whispers and it made my heart smile. I had never heard a young person reading my story aloud. That was magical.

What can you tell us about your next book?

I’m writing a new middle grade novel in which a twelve-year-old boy finds a doorway to the past and attempts to alter history in order to save his family. The working title is The Travelers.

Do you take notice of online reviews?

Sparingly. I usually don’t read the negative ones because, nine times out of ten, they are not literary critiques of merit – which I don’t mind at all – but rants about how LGBTQ characters and stories don’t belong in children’s books or in schools. I don’t have the time or patience for those. Plus, it’s very emotionally draining to read them, because it’s the kids who are the real victims there, not me.

Would you ever consider writing outside your current genre?

Absolutely. I would love to write an adult queer lit mystery and I have several ideas for such stories. I will get around to it one day. But, I owe Penguin this new middle grade novel first!

What did you do before (or still do) you became a writer?

I was in the music business in Nashville, TN for over thirty years. I retired a few months ago. It’s nice to focus on writing now.

Which author(s) inspire you?

Pat Conroy is my favorite writer. I’m from the same area of the American South that he was, so his stories speak directly to my soul and his writing is just so beautiful. I’m also inspired by the works of Toni Morrison. She makes me want to be a better writer.

Which genres do you read yourself?

I mostly read adult genres – literary fiction, queer lit, mysteries, and thrillers. Depends on my mood.

What is your biggest motivator?

The young readers out there who don’t have access to books in which they can see themselves. Representation matters. It can save lives.

What will always distract you?

Great television. I devote way too much time to “my stories,” as my grandmother used to call them.

How much (if any) say do you have in your book covers?

I have some say, especially in the beginning of the process and in choosing an illustrator for the cover. The final say is out of my hands, though. I have book covers I love, and a couple I don’t.

Were you a big reader as a child?

I wouldn’t say that I was a “big” reader as a child. That came later – when I was in my early twenties and I would read anything and everything. I didn’t know to be intimidated by a 900 page book then!

What were your favourite childhood books?

I absolutely loved the Encyclopedia Brown books and the Box Car Children series. How To Eat Fried Worms was also a favorite!

Do you have a favourite bookshop? If so, which?

I’m lucky that my favorite bookshop is located in Nashville, TN, where I live. Parnassus Books was founded around eleven years ago by Karen Hayes and #1 New York Times Best Selling author, Ann Patchett. It’s going stronger than ever. The staff is amazing. The customer service is amazing. The book selection is amazing. The events are amazing. And the shop dogs – you guessed it – amazing!

What books can you not resist buying?

Anything a bookseller recommends to me while I’m shopping.

Do you have any rituals when writing?

For some reason I have to be on the sofa, on my laptop, with my dogs piled around me. And usually first thing in the morning is the best time of day for me to write, before my head gets clouded with life stresses.

How many books are in your own physical TBR pile?

I just counted nine on my end table. But that doesn’t include my audiobook wish list.

What is your current or latest read?

I recently finished Lark Ascending by Silas House. One of my favorites this year.

Any books that you’re looking forward to in the next 12 months?

The Shards by Bret Easton Ellis. I’ve never read one of his books. It’s time.

Any plans or projects in the near future you can tell us about?

A film adaption of The Whispers is in the works. It’s being produced by Peter Spears who also produced Call Me By Your Name and Academy Award winner for Best Picture, Nomadland. The screenplay is currently being written. Also, my middle grade novel Middle School’s a Drag, You Better Werk! is being adapted for television by NBC/Universal and Harry Potter and Paddington producer, David Heyman.

Finally, what inspired you to write the genre you do?

As a gay kid growing up in the American South, I didn’t have access to books about boys like me. That made me feel incredibly alone, and like I was the only boy in the world who liked other boys. One book, one story in which I could have seen myself would have made all the difference to me. It would have let me know that I wasn’t alone. It would have given me hope. And I know from talking to kids today that there still exists problems of access and representation. So, my mission is to write the kind of books that I wish I would have had when I was young. I want to give those kids hope. And I want them to have their happily-ever-afters.

Wild Garlic Risotto

Wild Garlic Risotto

Wild Garlic Risotto

Yesterday’s evening meal (at the end of March) took inspiration from a walk down to the River Tees (and what we had left in the fridge). I needed a non-computer day and a bit of a change of scenery and this is one of my favourite walks in Darlington.

When I got there and was hit by the beautiful smell of the Wild Garlic and saw that the flowers were out I was instantly inspired to make one of our favourite spring risottos.

I also saw a sparrowhawk and a ringed-neck parakeet whilst out walking!

Serves 2

For the risotto

  • 140g risotto rice (I like carnarolli)
  • 2 medium white onions, chopped finely
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 litre (or so) of good stock (we use Marigold, lo-salt vegan), keeping warm on a cooker ring
  • 40g parmesan, grated
  • oil and knob of butter
  • 2 tablespoons of crème fraîche
  • handful of wild garlic leaves, finely chiffonaded (nice YouTube video on how to do this)
  • a few wild garlic flowers, to garnish (make sure you get all the little black bugs out)

For the cabbage

  • ½ hispi cabbage, finely chiffonaded and rinsed
  • 20g butter

Putting it all together

  1. Gently soften the onion and cloves of garlic in the oil and butter, try to aim for transparent with no colour to them, so slow and steady. Add a good grind of black pepper.
  2. Once onions done, turn heat up to a high medium, add the rice and stir to get all the rice covered in oil/butter.
  3. Once that’s done add a couple of ladles of stock to the rice, this will bubble furiously – don’t worry. Stir until the bubbling has calmed down.
  4. At this point heat the butter in a large sauté pan until slightly bubbling, turn to a low heat and add the cabbage, stir and put a lid on. Check this throughout the rice cooking time adding a touch of water if sticking.
  5. Continue to add ladles of stock to the risotto one at a time until the liquid is almost absorbed. You want the rice to be slightly al dente and the consistency of the risotto to be slightly soupy. This takes about 20 minutes from the first bit of stock being added, depending on the rice and the age of the rice.
  6. Once this is achieved add the wild garlic leaves and mix in thoroughly, then take off the heat and add the crème fraîche and parmesan to the pot, give it one stir. Let rest for about 4 minutes then stir to incorporate thoroughly.
  7. Plate to one side of dish, cabbage to the left and garnish with wild garlic flowers.

We often have this with a balsamic glaze which really adds a depth of flavour to the dish.

What was also really satisfying is this is the way that I’ve made risotto ever since reading Locatelli’s ‘Made in Italy’ and when we recently watched the BBC programme ‘Remarkable Places to Eat: Venice’ and Fred Sirieix and Angela Hartnett visited Trattoria al Gatto Nero and were surprised by how risotto was cooked there, I was thinking was there any other way, this is how it should be done.

As I was shown on the programme it turns out that I was making nonna’s risotto!


If you want to help and support this blog and my other projects (Indie Publishers and Indie Bookshops) you could become a Patreon which would help pay for my hosting, domain names, streaming services, and the occasional bag of popcorn to eat while watching films.

If you can’t support with a monthly subscription a tip at my Ko-Fi is always appreciated, as is buying things from my Ko-Fi Shop.

You can always email me on contact@bigbeardedbookseller.com with any suggestions.

3:AM Magazine

3:AM Magazine is an online journal of radical literature and philosophy. Featuring literary criticism.’Whatever it is, we’re against it. Since 2000.’

Submissions: All writers should  contact a relevant editor according to the subject fields listed on their contacts page — one query per piece per editor, please! – contact details at https://www.3ammagazine.com/3am/submissions/

Co-Editor-In-Chief: Andrew Gallix
Editors: Josephine Schreiber (criticism and non-fiction), SJ Fowler (poetry), Sylvia Warren, Isabella Streffen (contributing)


3AM: Magazine

3AM: Magazine


If you want to help and support this blog and my other projects (Indie Publishers and Indie Bookshops) you could become a Patreon which would help pay for my hosting, domain names, streaming services, and the occasional bag of popcorn to eat while watching films.

If you can’t support with a monthly subscription a tip at my Ko-Fi is always appreciated, as is buying things from my Ko-Fi Shop.

You can always email me on contact@bigbeardedbookseller.com with any suggestions.