Level Up

“Video games teach us about failure, and about trying again after you fall. They show us that improvements are earned through hard work and experience. Much like writing, games require us to be creators, not just consumers, as they put us in charge of the destiny of the many characters we inhabit. I mean, what’s NOT to love here? Game rule, dang it. Flat out.

There are so many lessons to learn from gaming. So many ways to ‘level up’. And, dear writer, you’re already putting those patterns into practice…” —Dustin Hansen, Game On!: Video Game History from Pong and Pac-Man to Mario, Minecraft, and More

Even if you don’t play video games, anything worth doing in life always requires “leveling up.” Want your blackbelt in karate? You’ve got to level up. Want to be at the top of your class in school? Level up. Want to be a better human being who changes the world? Take one step at a time, and always be leveling up.

For this year’s theme, we’re excited to see YOUR interpretation of Leveling Up. From video games to adventures to science fiction to romance and any other genre you can think of, there are always ways to level up. Show us those in your amazing short story!


Alayna Beck, Alefiya Presswala, Alivia Parker, Amanda Grant, Andrew Polder, Ariana Harrison, Claire Croley, Dierdre Maness, Elijah Lewis, Ella Prichard, Emma Charles, Emma Nash, JaymeLee Womack, J.S. LaMay, Kate Goforth, Katherine Perry, Kendra Bradford, Maria Yates, Ryan Aitchison, Sree Kandhadai, Suzannah Maness, Tanager Ryan


Penny Lounsbury, Ashley Wilson, Shion Cook, Finley R. Keck

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Dustin Hansen spent years directing and creating video games before becoming a writer and illustrator. His published works include the Microsaurs illustrated chapter book series and Game On!: Video Game History from Pong and Pac-Man to Mario, Minecraft, and More.

Beyond that, he is an incredibly wise and kind human being, and he’s the perfect person to talk about “Leveling Up” in our upcoming anthology. He will also be teaching at the conference in Provo, so don’t miss out on your chance to meet him.


Hannah Stiles Smith is an educator, has a BA in History, and has worked for years as an editor, helping bring fabulous books to their full potential. She spends her spare time escaping between the pages of a book, and a foray into publishing seemed like the best way to channel that energy. She lives in rural Virginia with her husband and four rambunctious children.


Shelly X. Leonn is the author of The Broken Series and the upcoming YA Thriller, Cabin Redemption. After graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in journalism, Shelly worked at her hometown newspaper as the web and youth editor. During her time advising the youth staff, Shelly realized her true calling was teaching. Her years in education have been spent in middle school and high school language arts classrooms. She is also an adjunct professor.

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CATEGORY: Anthology | Contemporary | Fantasy | Science Fiction | Humor | Teen

AGE: Young Adult, 12+


March 25, 2022  | 284 pages

Paperback: $12.95

Ebook: $2.99

Print: 978-1-958109-00-7 | Ebook: 978-1-958109-01-4