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#OdysseyJam is happening as part of #WaterRead in March

January 18, 2017
To tie in with #WaterRead in March we are also doing something a bit different – an online interactive story writing challenge with a watery theme, specifically Homer’s The Odyssey – an ancient tale of Odysseus’ journey home across the seas after the Trojan War, with a mix of fantastical mythical creatures, gods and mortals. The challenge will be hosted on the itch.io game site and will run from 11th – 27th March 2017 and it is open for anyone at all in the world to submit an entry… whether you’ve written interactive fiction before or not. All types of text based games are welcome, including interactive fiction and visual novels. Even though the focus is on creating a written interactive story, it can include other media too – images, sound, video etc. If you’re looking for visual inspiration we’ve sourced hundreds of ancient Greek images from the British Library, which you can use freely in your entry if you want to. If you do use them, be sure to give the British Library a mention in the credits of your game.

The Odyssey was epic, but your entry into #OdysseyJam doesn’t have to be a long piece of work. It also doesn’t have to cover the whole of the Odyssey – you could create something that focuses on a small part of the story, and you don’t even have to set it in ancient Greece, just use The Odyssey for inspiration. For example, this French/Japanese cartoon Ulysses 31 took the original Odyssey story off into space. Why not take this epic tale somewhere new?

You can also work as part of a team, or it can be a solo effort.

Want to join in but never made a text based game before?

Why not try using some of this free software – all of which are focused on creating interactive fiction and text adventures.

As Homer said in the Odyssey “There is a time for many words, and there is also a time for sleep.” … and now’s the time for writing many words for #OdysseyJam.

If you post anything on social media please use hashtag #OdysseyJam.

Start 2017 with #firstread for #rwpchat

January 1, 2017

#firstread

firstread

Felix’s first book by Sarah Horrigan Flickr Commons

There is nothing like the experience of falling in love with a book; it can’t be repeated. You can read the book over and over, loving it more each time, but you can only read it for the first time once. Thankfully, there is no end to books, films and games to discover for the first time, and many other ways to start off the Read Watch Play year with #firstread.

What was the first book you remember loving? The first book you read in a  beloved genre? The games we first played always have a special place in our hearts, and the music that was popular in our teenage years cannot be beaten. 

Our own lives are full of firsts we can celebrate, and so are those of others. Explore  scientific firsts, space travel firsts, exploration and adventure firsts. The first time someone murdered, fell in love or got a job.

 Have you read the first book your favourite author has written, the first album released by a favourite artist? How do the firsts compare with the most recent? Though not the first novel written by Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre was the first published, so we can definitely start our year off with the best.

Debut novels can be hard to follow up, but you could read your way through this list of second novels, or just pick the first from a huge number of top tens.

Whatever you choose to read, watch or play this month, it’s all going to be your first for this year so definitely fits the #firstread theme.

There will be a twitter discussion on January 31 starting at 8.00pm Australian Eastern Daylight Savings (Summer) Time.  6.00pm Singapore Standard Time, 12.00 noon Central European Summer Time, 9am – 11am; 2pm – 4pm; 6pm – 8pm BST (UK).  Note this is a staggered discussion.

Please use the tags  #firstread and #rwpchat as you discuss your reading, watching, and playing that is your experience of  #firstread, so that others can join in the conversation too.

First experiences #firstread #rwpchat

December 30, 2016
keep reading with yourself

First read (copyright Istock User4e1de8b2_617)

This month’s theme is #firstread.  Our lives are full of first experiences. Our first cry uttered as a new born baby.  The first time we crawl across the floor to find what has become our favourite toy.  The first foods we eat, eventually managing to feed ourselves.  The first word we speak to try to communicate.

The first steps we take as a toddler which leads to our first pair of shoes being bought so we can walk outside.  The first time we run which sometimes ends in falling over and scraping our knees.  Then our first day at playgroup arrives and hopefully the chance to make friends with the other children.

As we near five our first day at school looms and we are bought our first school uniform.  Then there is our first school sports day and coming first in a race if we are lucky.  The first time we finish a book on our own after learning to read.  The first time we are taken to the dentist or the hairdressers.

As we grow up there are still more firsts: our first CV we write in order to obtain our first job, possibly on a Saturday and being able to buy something with our first wages.  The first time we learn to drive and hoping to pass the driving test first time; although in reality it will take several attempts; and having our independence.  Our first kiss which leads to our first relationship and the heartbreak often associated with that.

We still continue to experience firsts no matter what age we are: the first time we travel to a continent we have not visited before and discovering new places or the first time we take up a new hobby.

Monique (Surrey Libraries)

join the #joyread discussion today for #rwpchat

December 20, 2016

There will be a twitter discussion, today, 20th December (no-one will remember on the 27th!) starting at 11am and 8.00pm Australian Eastern Daylight Savings (Summer) Time. 6.00pm Singapore Standard Time, 12.00 noon Central European Summer Time, 9am – 11am; 2pm – 4pm; 6pm – 8pm BST. Note this is a staggered discussion.

Use the tags #joyread and #rwpchat as you discuss the reading, watching playing that is your experience of #joyread, so others can join in the conversation too.

Christmas #1 Kevin Dooloey

Christmas #1 Kevin Dooley

#joyread

The act of reading is a particularly joyful one for many people, regardless of what is being read, and is the perfect way to achieve or enhance the joyfulness expected at this time of year. Joy may, for you, be watching the Dr Who Christmas special, playing board games with the family, or cooking up a storm using cookbooks released in time for the giving season.

Share your love of reading with children over some beautifully illustrated picture books, discuss the books that bring you the most joy with your book club, or at your office Christmas party, where cheesy eighties’ music plays.

Feel the joy with Underwater Dogs by Seth Casteel, and laugh at others’ expense with cat shaming. Continue laughing with P. G. Wodehouse or David Sedaris. If you find yourself becoming overwhelmed, pull out the pencils and start colouring, or get crafty in any way that takes your fancy.

Get back to nature, out on a bushwalk or watching David Attenborough documentaries, or explore non-fiction books about joy, happiness and motivation.

Don’t feel the need to conform to light and sweet, however, if horror brings you joy, then go for it! That goes for dark humour, too. How are you going to read, watch and play with joy this month?

The joy of feeding llamas #joyread #rwpchat

December 6, 2016
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A group of llamas eating (author’s own photo)

For a fun day out visit the Llama Park next to Ashdown Forest in East Sussex which is what my husband and I did one Saturday in the summer.  Admission was £7 each and for an extra £1 we bought a bag of food to feed them.  It was a lovely sunny day so after lunch in the café we headed outside to see the llamas.

The llamas were very amusing and pleased to see us especially when they discovered we had food for them.  Soon they were jostling each other in their stall to be the first one to be fed.  The expression on their faces was extremely comical.  One kept moving along and popping his head out of each section pretending we hadn’t just fed him at the other end of the stall.  I hadn’t laughed so much in ages.  In fact we enjoyed feeding them so much we went back to the shop to buy another bag of food.

Other people were having fun feeding the llamas and the sound of joyful laughter was heard often as selfies were taken with them.  We also saw a group of people who had been walking with llamas, which costs £35 per person, who looked as though they had enjoyed the experience.  A number of people do this for a birthday treat which would be an entertaining day out.

Monique (Surrey Libraries)

Join the #joyread discussion this month for #rwpchat

December 1, 2016
Christmas #1 Kevin Dooloey

Christmas #1 Kevin Dooley

#joyread

The act of reading is a particularly joyful one for many people, regardless of what is being read, and is the perfect way to achieve or enhance the joyfulness expected at this time of year. Joy may, for you, be watching the Dr Who Christmas special, playing board games with the family, or cooking up a storm using cookbooks released in time for the giving season.

Share your love of reading with children over some beautifully illustrated picture books, discuss the books that bring you the most joy with your book club, or at your office Christmas party, where cheesy eighties’ music plays.

Feel the joy with Underwater Dogs by Seth Casteel, and laugh at others’ expense with cat shaming. Continue laughing with P. G. Wodehouse or David Sedaris. If you find yourself becoming overwhelmed, pull out the pencils and start colouring, or get crafty in any way that takes your fancy.

Get back to nature, out on a bushwalk or watching David Attenborough documentaries, or explore non-fiction books about joy, happiness and motivation.

Don’t feel the need to conform to light and sweet, however, if horror brings you joy, then go for it! That goes for dark humour, too. How are you going to read, watch and play with joy this month?

There will be a twitter discussion on 20th December (no-one will remember on the 27th!) starting at 11am and 8.00pm Australian Eastern Daylight Savings (Summer) Time. 6.00pm Singapore Standard Time, 12.00 noon Central European Summer Time, 9am – 11am; 2pm – 4pm; 6pm – 8pm BST. Note this is a staggered discussion.

Use the tags #joyread and #rwpchat as you discuss the reading, watching playing that is your experience of #joyread, so others can join in the conversation too.

join the #flightread discussion today for #rwpchat

November 29, 2016

There will be a twitter discussion, today, 29 November starting at 11am and 8.00pm Australian Eastern Daylight Savings (Summer) Time. 6.00pm Singapore Standard Time, 12.00 noon Central European Summer Time, 9am – 11am; 2pm – 4pm BST. Note this is a staggered discussion.

Use the tags #flightread and #rwpchat as you discuss the reading, watching playing that is your experience of #flightread, so others can join in the conversation too.

Photograph: Simon Dwyer (Flying out over Sydney, 2013)There are lots of opportunities to read, watch and play – up in the air.

For science fiction fans there are works about flying through space (classics such as Star Wars and 2001) as well as flying through time with Dr Who. For those who prefer their science without the fiction there are many examples that document the history of space as well as the history of the different space programs.

Fantasy has seen many characters airborne from dragons to the rescue, by eagles, of Frodo and Sam in The Lord of the Rings. Such escapes reflected in real life through flights to safety attempted by asylum seekers and refugees.

2014 witnessed numerous commemorations for the Centenary of the Great War, with 2015 marking the Centenary of ANZAC, prompting many readers to reflect on conflict. As marks of respect for the fallen continue to be offered throughout 2016 there are various #flightread works available for readers, watchers and players. Airborne conflicts were significant components of World War I and World War II as well as subsequent conflicts including Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and the ongoing ‘War on Terror’. Another anniversary, in 2016, is the 100th anniversary of the birth of Roald Dahl who, famous for a writer of children’s stories, was also a Hurricane fighter pilot during World War I.

There are also histories around the business of moving people through the air, including histories of innovation and invention, histories of travel, histories of great aviators and aviatrix, as well as histories of space and the rise of commercial carriers such as Qantas and Virgin (and the occasional fall Ansett and Pan Am). Sitting alongside these works are stories that tell of flight disasters – fiction and non-fiction.

The natural world presents lots of #flightread examples, think: bats; bees; birds; and insects; and those that almost fly – flying fish, flying lemurs and gliding possums in addition to fantastic creatures such as cherubs, fairies and devils. Flying is also about sport and recreation from balloons to kites, from fly fishing to quidditch.

Flying and flight inspires us from airline captain to superman, from meteorologist to metallurgist there are so many special interest groups in aviation, covering a wide range of applications. The ability to move people and goods great distances quickly fascinates us. Travel to exotic places, movie sets, quiet escapes, or ancestral homelands, once took months by sea, then weeks by early aircraft is now measured in hours. We travel to broaden our horizons and examine other places and cultures, some even travel just for the experience of flight. You can prepare for these adventures through a range of podcasts including: Airplane Geeks; Plane Crazy; and Airline Pilot Guy. Or, you could test your own flying skills with games such as Flight Control or you could try a Flight Simulator.

Most flights now feature some sort of entertainment – be it hundreds of audio visual programs, games or in flight wifi. There are two entertainment options that never need batteries, rebooting, new software or an upgrade: the aircraft window; and a good book.

Simon Dwyer @ausspin / Rachel Franks @cfwriter