Posted in For Readers, For Writers

Halloween Soundscape

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Halloween Soundscape

It’s that time of the year again! Halloween is around the corner, and if you haven’t gotten my Halloween Soundscape album, it’s available from iTunes, Amazon, and other online stores. Eerie ambient music inspired by classic stories. You can read the liner notes over on my Gymshoes Music site. Besides unsettling trick-or-treaters, it’s nice dark music to accompany your scary Halloween reading this month. Enjoy!

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Fantasy Fiction Podcasts for the Holidays

Podcastle, a weekly fantasy podcast, annually features a Christmas story by Tim Pratt and Heather Shaw. (I enjoy listening to podcasts while doing Christmas baking.) Below is a chronological list of these imaginative stories for the Christmas season. (And keep an eye on Podcastle; if they do a Christmas story this year, it’ll probably be later in the month.)

2010: The Christmas Mummy

2011: The Ghost of Christmas Possible

2012: Catching the Spirit

2013: Seasonal Disorder

2014: Elf Employment

2015: Winter Jinni

 

 

Posted in For Readers, For Writers

The Most Fun You’ll Ever Have With New Year’s Resolutions

IconI just recently discovered Habitica. I’d seen mention of it somewhere, but since I’m not a gamer I didn’t pay any attention. But this is in many ways not quite a game because it’s a productivity tool that makes developing good habits (and getting rid of bad ones) fun, as well as motivating you in silly ways to work your way down your ever-growing To Do list. I’d noticed on some writing sites that getting badges for goals or streaks were insanely gratifying, and Habitica has all kinds of little cheesy icons that pop up as well as graphs and color-changing lists (Habits, Dailies, To Do). Their FAQ and Overview For New Users is great for getting started and the Habitica Wiki has been a excellent resource for getting me oriented — without sucking away huge amounts of time. Even though I’m on a writing break in December, I’ve set up a small list of things to do Daily, Habits to do often, and moved my To Do list into it. I’ve gotten a stunning amount done, without feeling like I’m doing anything much and I’m just waaaaay too pleased about my tasks. LOL (BTW, they have just released a new app which is very nice, with more advanced features to be added soon.) I know right before Christmas is not a good time to start new things like this, but there’s a option to set certain Dailies to begin at a point in the future. My writing-related Dailies go into effect in January. You can also set certain “Dailies” to be done, not daily but on certain days of the week. Which is helpful for things you want to do weekly. You can even set your dailies to not be in effect on weekends. Or you can “rest in the tavern” which means that your “character” in the “game” is inactive, neither gaining nor losing points until you “check out of the inn”. Click on over to Habitica, and look over the info links above. Then set up a couple of small things as Habits, add something simple like “load/unload/run dishwasher” for a Daily, or “stretch”, or if you’re a writer, set a small word count goal, just to start, just to get the feel of how Habitica works. Add more stuff after you get oriented, maybe after Christmas is over. There are Challenges set up by Habitica members which you can join (I joined the Read A Christmas Carol challenge, and Writer’s Health challenge) which will get you points. Some are open ended, some have a set end time. There are also Quests and Parties, which you can join (I haven’t yet). You’ll get random drops of eggs, hatching potions, and food for your pets/mounts. I haven’t hatched anything yet, but I’m acquiring rewards and leveling up at a good rate, so I should start working on becoming a Beastmaster (or something like that). Even if you’re not into gaming at all (like me) the little popups telling me I’m advancing with each click, the line graphs, and the tiny icon rewards are very gratifying and motivating. There are Guilds you can join so you can find like-minded people who share some of your same goals and interests, so there’s some very nice peer support too. So far, everyone has been very nice and helpful. Since this is a “game” that aims toward self-improvement, helping people better their lives and reach their personal goals, it isn’t too surprising that it’s such a supportive environment. And it absolutely is the most fun you’ll ever have implementing New Year’s Resolutions! 🙂

After I got the hang of Habitica I did a series of short posts about using the site.

  1. The Enchanted Land of Habitica
  2.  Habitica: How I’m Playing the Game
  3.  Habitica: Linking Habits and Dailies
  4.  Habitica: Quests and Parties
Posted in For Readers, For Writers

The Truth: Santa For President

More fun for the holidays! The Truth, a radio-drama podcast, has released a new episode, Santa For President, a little humorous look at what happens when Santa is approached by two political operatives about running for President. You can listen or download from the link. This is kind of a sneak peek because it will be aired on NPR on Christmas Day. You heard it here first. 🙂

Posted in For Readers, For Writers

More Holiday Fun!

There’s some nice free and wonderful goodies out there. I’ve already done a couple of posts, but the hits keep coming! Neil Gaiman reads A Christmas Carol from Dicken’s own performance copy and NPR has a First Listen for It’s a Holiday Soul Party by Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings if you want to try before you buy. The Gaiman reading is available for download via iTunes or your podcatcher app. Search for New York Public Library podcast. It was originally posted last December.

Merry, merry, happy, happy Everything to Everyone! Peace on Earth and Goodwill to All!