More than a Game

Lynette M Burrows, spooky apple orchard,When I was a child, about eight- or nine-years-old, my mother went to the hospital to have her third child. My brother and I were packed off to an aunt and uncle’s house. Now, this aunt and uncle had five children. The two oldest were off to college. The two youngest were about the same age as my brother and I. The middle child was a teenager, uninterested and uninvolved in the lives of children.

My aunt and uncle lived in an old farmhouse that had been updated. There was an attic with two bedroom spaces, each holding a pair of bunk beds. The second-floor held four more bedrooms. A living room, kitchen, dining room, and den made up the first floor. And there was a basement, the realm of the children. The basement had several rooms of bookcases and cabinets and a door to the outside.

Outside was a wonder. A  grape arbor and an orchard gave us plenty of room to be rowdy kids running around.

The three boys and I invented an adventure game. Being the only girl, I was the heroine or the damsel in distress, depending upon the turn of the play. The boys were the heroes and occasional victims. The evil villain was invisible, an unknown who left threatening notes. We dashed in and out of the basement, zig-zagged through the spooky fruit trees and grabby grape vines, uncovered clues and threatening notes, did heroic deeds, and wore ourselves out with fun.

Lynette M Burrows, grabby grape vines, Heather Hopkins

I’m certain we had quieter activities after a filling evening meal, but I don’t remember those. I do remember climbing upstairs to the attic bedroom, into the lower bunk, and falling fast asleep.

I woke gasping for air. Ice cold hands were around my throat, choking me! I couldn’t see who the cloaked villain was but screamed for help. The three boys rushed to the room and pounded the villain with their fists. Lights came on, the villain disappeared. I sobbed my tale of fear to my aunt and uncle.

The boy heroes identified the dastardly villain as my teen-aged cousin. He was punished. I was soothed. The visit was short (probably not to my aunt and uncle). My brother and I went home and welcomed our new baby sister.

Today, I feel bad for my teenaged cousin. He took the game a little too far, perhaps, yet, the choking was minimal and momentary, or I wouldn’t have been able to scream.  Looking back, I was frightened, but the fright was temporary.  I have a fun-to-tell memory, my brother and cousins got to be real heroes, and I got a story, two blog posts, and a novel out of the adventure!

What do you recall fondly? Childhood memories? Adventures as a Teen? Trials and Tribulations of being an adult? Any lessons you learned from these? Please share your story below in the comments below.

 

Images: “Vines at Dusk” via  Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of Heather Hopkins.

“Spooky Apple Orchard” via Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of R. L. Rose

Listen & Learn: Podcasts on Writing

 

Wikimedia Creative CommonsBusy lives mean we must be creative in the ways we use our time. For me, that means when I’m doing housework or driving or tallying columns of numbers I listen to podcasts.

LISTEN OR READ

Last week I shared three of the science themed podcasts that I listen to. One reader lamented that her lifestyle didn’t lend itself to listening to podcasts and I realized I’d forgotten to mention that many of the podcasts make transcripts of the show. These transcripts are available on their websites. Want to take a look at the science podcasts I recommended? Go here.

There are many, many more podcasts on nearly every topic under the sun. They are available on your favorite podcast carrier (Apple iTunes oStitcher or Android). Download your system appropriate app and discover a whole new world of spoken shows and radio.

Learn from Writers on Writing

Looking for a podcast on writing? Well, I have a few I can recommend.

The Creative Penn is an hour long show that is broadcast every Monday by Joanna Penn, a New York Times bestselling thriller writer and nonfiction writer. She is a self-publishing guru who interviews other authors and creators both from her native Great Britain and around the world. Her interviews are always worth a listen. You can visit her nonfiction site here. Her podcast transcripts are here. She also puts the interview portion of her podcasts on YouTube.

Writing Excuses is a fifteen minute (approximately) podcast hosted by Mary Robinette Kowal, Brandon Sanderson, Dan Wells, and Howard Taylor. I love their tag line, “Fifteen minutes long because you’re in a hurry, and we’re not that smart.” They may not think of themselves as smart, but they put on a smart show. Often with guests, they discuss various aspects of the craft of writing. Every broadcast they recommend a book, not just science fiction and fantasy. The book always has a link in their liner notes. Go here to see their podcasts on their website. And they host a cruise! Once a year, a cruise with writing workshops for science fiction and fantasy writers. A cruise I plan to attend someday. Peruse their previous seasons or subscribe to their current season, you’ll find gold.

And, for my third choice . . . The Story Grid with editor, story grid creator, Shawn Coyne, and new writer, Tim Grahl. Tim bravely submits a portion of his work-in-progress for Shawn to critique on air. It’s fascinating to hear both the professional editor and the struggling writer discuss how to build a story. I recommend starting with the Story Grid website to learn the terms Shawn Coyne uses or read his book, The Story Grid: What Editors Know. Then start with the first podcast and follow along as Shawn guides Tim in the completion of his first novel.

There are so many more podcasts that are worth mentioning, but your needs and interests probably differ from mine. Look around the web, I know you’ll find one that you find worthwhile.

Your Turn

If you find one, or you already listen to one, won’t you share the title and a little about it in the comments below?

 

Image courtesy of Raster via Wikimedia Creative Commons.

Listen & Learn: Podcasts

We’re all busy, right? We have lives, children (two-legged or / and four-legged), spouses, and chores to do. Some of us have more than one career we juggle, too. So how does one make time for everything?

NO TIME TO READ?

In my busy lifestyle I find it difficult to find time to read. But I have a lot of tasks that I do that keep my hands busy like dishes, yard work, and data collection. During those times I sometimes listen to audio books but more and more lately, I’ve been listening to podcasts.

DISCOVER PODCASTS

According to Wikipedia, “A podcast is an episodic series of audio files which a user can subscribe to so that new episodes are automatically downloaded via web syndication to the user’s local computer, mobile application, or media player. The term podcast was invented by BBC  journalist Ben Hammersly in 2004.

Podcasts are usually free of charge. Some charge a small fee, others use sponsors and ads, still others use Patron to cover the cost of production.

The user can listen to current podcast episodes or archived ones. Podcasts are produced by a wide range of people from professionals working for well-known corporations to a beginner working out of her own home. This means that quality can be all over the place. But don’t avoid a podcast done by a beginner. Sometimes their enthusiasm for their subject more than makes up for the poorer sound quality and production values.

WHERE, OH, WHERE?

Where do you find podcasts? Primarily on Apple iTunes or Stitcher, which was initially designed for android phones. Some podcasters have links to the podcasts on their websites.

A word of caution: I’ve never used Stitcher but have seen reviews that suggest it may not be working well.

WHERE TO START?

There are thousands of podcasts, maybe millions, covering nearly every topic in existence. It’s hard to sort through the titles to find the ones that speak to you. Here are a few that I enjoy.

You Are Not So Smart (YANSS)—hosted by David McRaney this podcast takes a look at flawed perception and reasoning. McRaney interviews experts that are always fascinating. He also taste-tests cookies on air, that are made from recipes sent to him by listeners. The YANSS website with more information and a link to the podcast is here.

Science Friday (SciFri)—hosted and produced by Ira Flatow, SciFri is a podcast that started as a public radio show in 1991.  It “is the source for entertaining and educational stories about science, technology, and other cool stuff.”  One of the topics in a recent episode was about advances in the field of prosthetics for amputees that sound like something out of the Bionic Man. The Science Friday website with a link to the radio show and the podcast is here.

Flash Forward—hosted and produced by Rose Eveleth. This podcast explores the future with a ‘what if’ sensibility. Eveleth begins each podcast with a short audio play that reflects a future where this month’s ‘what if’ is reality. The bulk of the podcast is interviews with experts about the advantages, disadvantages, and probabilities of the ’what if’ becoming reality. The Flash Forward website with a link to the podcast is here.

Entertaining and informative, these three podcasts are my current top picks for the sciences. In the future, I’ll share the writing podcasts that I enjoy.

Do you listen to podcasts? If you don’t, will you try one now?

If you are a podcast listener, which ones do you enjoy?

Audio-Tehnica headphones via Flickr Creative Commons