Posted in Handy tools, Reviews

A handy tool! – oTranscribe

Do you have to transcribe a lot but don’t want to pay for it and hate switching back and forth, always having to jump between your media player and your document to fast forward, rewind or pause? Well, I do and hate having to do that. So in a desperate desire to find an easier way to avoid it, I scoured the internet and found oTranscribe!

It’s a handy little free to use browser based application that allows you to transcribe from audio files and YouTube videos. It lets you pause, rewind, much more easily than if you had to constantly jump between programs. I usually upload all my interviews on to non-listed videos on YouTube so I can use them on oTranscribe to make my transcription process easier. Sure its not as easy as paying a company to transcribe a video for you, but we don’t all have that kind of dough to hand out, particularly in these trouble times.

It was created by Elliot Bentley, though in 2018 he turned it over to MuckRock.

Check it out!

Posted in Books

A surprise from JM Hart for Books-And-Games readers!

I have a surprise for you all! JM Hart has been kind enough to share her newest book with us! The first 100 people to use this link will get a free copy of her novel The Devil’s Harvest, which is, in my opinion, her best book in the Supernatural Chronicles series so far. Now remember this link is for a limited time so if you want to get part of this amazing series free of charge you need to click before we run out!

Also, if you read the book make sure you review it! Reviews help writers sell their books and well as improve their next story for their fans!

Use this link to get your book!

Posted in Books, Interview, Reviews

The Chronicles of the Supernatural and JM Hart!

The Chronicles of the supernatural by JM Hart is a brilliant series about a battle between good and evil. The series begins with The Emerald Tablet, followed by Realm of Lost Souls, and most recently, The Devil’s Harvest, with another installment set for next year. I dove in to The Emerald Tablet after receiving a review copy from Voracious Readers Only at first I was unsure of what to make of it. I rarely read books set in a modern time or actual world, but figured, hey why the heck not? What do I lose? I enjoy a pleasant read. I stepped in to it expecting some kind of cliche supernatural fantasy. What I got was an epic story of good vs evil spanning a decade! The story has a bit of everything, adventure, fantasy, horror, but most of all, the characters are fantastic.

The characters are entertaining, believable and relatable. The author does an amazing job of bouncing between characters and slowly building up to the meeting, and once that happens, the characters work well off of one another. The fate of the world is resting on the shoulders of young people with extraordinary gifts. Sure, it sounds like every cheesy superhero movie you’ve seen, but it’s so much better!

The story progresses in Realm of Lost Souls, this one follows Jade and Kevin on a search for her father who had gone missing after the events of the first book. The Squeal to The Emerald Tablet, Realm of Lost Souls by JM Hart, is a lovely follow up to the first of the series. It follows Jade, the nerdy and seemingly out-of-place character who is introduced in the first novel. It was nice to see the character fleshed out more as she begins to come to terms with her native heritage and what her skills are. Sure, her intelligent insights help her friends out plenty, but there is so much more to Jade than she knows.

The Devil’s Harvest is another amazing installment by JM Hart. This book follows Shaun and Rachel on their quest to find her family who she left in Israel after the events of the first book. It takes place at the same time as Realm of Lost Souls. Hart further creates an amazing world for their adventure and the character development for Shaun in particular is brilliant and worth the read alone if you wish to see how far the troubled boy from The Emerald Tablet has come. Plus, learning more about Rachel is definitely great! Though this one has some pretty dark implications and I had trouble reading it before bed. That does not mean it is a bad read though, this fantastic novel has an almost Lovecraftian feel with its villain of biblical proportion.

Now in case I have not made it blatantly obvious. I. Love. This. Series. It’s my new favorite. I love it so much I wanted to reach out to the author herself. Now, this was a bit nerve-wracking because let’s be honest, a person is always nervous when they reach out to someone whose work they admire. Even though it says in the book’s back matter to reach out if you feel the desire, it’s hard to get over that bump. But I reached out to JM Hart hoping she would answer a few questions and was more than pleased to hear back from her!

I asked her the questions by email and was pleased she responded with wonderful answers that I am sure you will all enjoy as much as I did! Let’s just say, she sounds like one badass grandma.

What drew you to writing?

I’ve always enjoyed storytelling. My mom was my biggest influence. Every week she took me on a bus into town to borrow books from the library. Once a month on a Sunday we would get comics from the newsstand. When we didn’t have a book, we would curl up in bed and make up stories. In school I wrote Macabre stories which the teachers frowned upon. It didn’t stop me. I did the same with my children while my mom and I shared every book under the sun. My mom started to go blind. We didn’t have kindle or Audible; we had cassette tapes she would sometimes listen to, but she loved to read. So I started writing stories just for her with extra large print. She’s gone now, but with each story I write I can feel her on the edge of this world reading over my shoulder.

How do you come up with your stories?

I love learning about strange and unusual things, about ancient history, mythology, spiritualism, occultism and the unknown. I’m curious and often think, what if? I have a list of ideas I would like to turn into stories. Ideas come to me while reading the bible or hearing snippets of the news, or even from within my dreams.  When I’m ready to write a new book, I’ll sit in front of the computer poised ready to write, and I wait for inspiration. I’m always surprised at what comes.

 Do you have a favorite character in your Chronicles of the Supernatural series?

Wow, that’s a tough question. They’ll are special to me, with their own unique gifts and personalities. It’s really hard to say, It’s like asking me which is my favorite child. If I had to pick one character, I might say Shaun, because of how much he has changed. He also has some exciting connections happening with the power of the sacred stones, which I’m looking forward too. But I love Casey’s telekinesis abilities. I’d love to move things with my mind and levitate like he does. When I was a kid, I would try to open and close doors with my mind — I never succeeded. Exciting things are unfolding for all the characters as the series progresses. It was emotionally tough writing book four, and I couldn’t write it at night—it was too scary for me. Lol.

I noticed in the ‘Also By JM Hart’ section of your latest book that you have a fourth in the making. How do you produce these so quickly? Do you have a backlog or just love to write?

I wish I had a backlog, but no, I don’t. Writing is something I’ve always done and enjoyed. I started writing book four while book three was with the editor. Book four, Separated by Evil featuring Casey and Sophia, needs months of work and copy editing until the ARC is ready for the advance reader’s team. Comfortably, I can write two books a year because I still work part time, I’m constantly interrupted by my cat Benny, and I have two gorgeous grandchildren to love. And I won’t mention the Harley Davidson Sportster I get to ride around the highlands on weekends. 🙂

Do you ever get writer’s block? And if so, how do you deal with it?

If I have writers block, it means the seed planted in my subconscious isn’t ready to rise into my consciousness. The story is not ready to unfold and I need to be patient. I know some wonderful authors that can produce a book every couple of months—as much as I’d like too, it’s just not me right now.

How did you decide to use JM Hart instead of your full name? I am just always curious how authors decide what they want to be known by.

JM stands for my first and middle name. Both are long and would take up too much room on the front cover. And Jeanette often gets miss spelled, so I thought it would be easier to use my initials.

Posted in Books, Fun apps, Interactive Fiction, Interview, Reviews

Story Charmed, A must in interactive stories

Now and then I find a website or app that I will put a decent amount of time into, one that interests me enough to want to share with other people. Story Charmed is one of those. Now when you first look at Story Charmed, you may think, as I did at first. Oh, look, another interactive fiction app/site great, there are an endless number of these and they seem to be popped out by any development company capable enough to pump out romance stories.

Story Charmed, however, differs from these other story apps. And that is for one enormous difference. Story Charmed allows you to make your own stories! Now this isn’t some site asking you to submit your stories, hoping they will see them fit to publish. You get to create your own story using their application or web-based story creator. This creator allows you to create various characters, pick from an assortment of backgrounds, and create a story with choices. Some of these choices can even be made premium, and you can choose the amount of currency it takes to pick that option.

As mentioned Story Charmed uses a currency if an author puts premium choices in their story, one of these currencies is called StoryCoins, these coins can be purchased through the app and can be used used through the site and app, they are used to pay for premium choices, buying special outfits for your avatars and giving kudos to authors who you want to see more of. There is also StoryPoints, which can be used similar except you get these through reading chapters and rating stories.

I have a story on Story Charmed that I am slowly working my way through, and I frequent the Discord and speak with people on it regularly. But I wanted to know more about Story Charmed than is available on the site, so I reached out through the app and got an email reply from Chris Hughes, a member of the team who was willing to answer a few of my questions.

The first questions I asked was how the concept came to be.

“We were big fans of interactive story games, but there were a couple things we didn’t like about what was out there. 1. How hard it was to create stories on other platforms and 2. The lack of diversity in stories – and specifically in picking your own main character and love interest.   For creating stories: We brainstormed on ways we could make it easier and when the idea hit us, we knew we had to make it.  Our background is in gaming and game development, and there are lots of tools out there to help people make games with no coding.  We wanted to marry that idea with writing an interactive story game.  For diversity: we took another slice of our game-making expertise and landed on a robust Avatar system.  With an avatar system where users can create their own characters, users would feel more connected to the story.  They would be in control of the race, gender,  and sexual orientation of their character and love interest.”

Interactive story games are common these days. How was it decided to let people make their own stories?

“The very first stories created on Story Charmed were created by us – the people who built it.  We love writing and we wanted to make it very easy to write interactive story games.  Our goal became to make it the easiest way to create these sorts of games and we hope that we’ve done that (but we also have much more planned!)”

Is there an in house (those of you who work on Story Charmed) favorite feature to the apps and site?

“We’re pretty proud of the platform as a whole.  But, one of the innovations we are particularly proud of is our mobile editor.  You can write an entire interactive story game on your phone! “

How do you moderate this sort of content? Do you ever get stories you can not accept?

“This was something we thought of early on.  Every story has to go through an approval process before it goes live. We’re a “13+” platform, so we do reject content that gets a little too graphic.  We hope to have an 18+ version of the app at some point, but we wanted to reach as many people as possible with Story Charmed, so we limit stories to “PG13”-type ratings.  Cussing, sexual situations, and the like are totally fine, it’s just an issue if they are overdone or extreme.”

Are there any features you want to add to the app in the future? 

“We have a very long “todo” list of features we want to add. We will be adding much more functionality on both the reader and writer side of things, and we’re going to beef up the community aspect and have better interaction between writers and readers. “

Can you tell me a little about the group behind Story Charmed, how you came together and the like.

“Our company is FGL (  We’ve been around for almost 15 years and have published thousands of game apps. However, Story Charmed is our very first in-house developed app.  We usually work with other developers to help them make their games successful.”

Is there anything you would like to add for potential and existing users of the platform? Words of wisdom for those who want to strike out as a creator of stories with your system?

“Have fun! And leverage the Story Charmed community.  We have a great group of writers already that chat in our discord channels and through social media.  I’ve seen writers improve their stories tremendously by getting peer feedback. And also feel free to reach out to us directly.  We want this to be the easiest and most useful platform for writers, as well as the most enjoyable platform for readers.  We can’t get there without hearing where we can improve, or being told where we are doing things right.”

If you enjoy reading or creating interactive stories, Story Charmed is a must for you.

Posted in Games, Interview

A conversation with Fargassier.

Last week I introduced you all to what I hoped would be the first of many interviews I will have to share with you all in the future. I am happy to state that this week we have another! I spoke with Jason, better known as Fargassier, a streamer on who I have recently taken up watching every evening. We talked over voice chat for a while, covering an assortment of information ranging from his view on mental health, streaming, and how his background in psychology and public speaking help him with his streaming career.

We started our conversation by discussing how the day had gone and how we’re too old to comprehend some abbreviations for words that seem to come up on the internet these days. Why do people have to abbreviate simple words? I will never get it. Eventually this lead us to the discussion of how difficult it can be to present one’s emotions throughs text.

“That’s the biggest problem people have in relationships, or business partnerships. Or even streaming or content production. We talk over text way too much for serious conversations, you can’t read sarcasm over text. I may be serious like, 5% of the time? Maybe? You’ll know when I get serious because I’m like ‘no seriously’. It’s one of those things, people used to have to introduce me, ‘Jason may seem like he’s being mean, but if he’s picking on you, he’s just trying to see if you can handle his sense of humor.’ ” Fargassier shared.

We moved on to something really simple. How old is he? Well at the time of this writing our streamer friend is 33 years old. Just a few months older than myself, actually. Admittedly, I had to ask because I had no way of telling by look alone.

“Yeah, that the beard. Everyone thinks I’m older, and then without it I’m baby faced. Everybody questions my age like, you saw even when I was going through editing the photos, people kept asking ‘well where are you in the photos?’ .. I’m right here…That redheaded guy right there, that weird looking ginger man.It’s like, who dat? Where? I dunno what it is, it’s the Clark Kent disguise! Is what it is!” For some context, he was editing his wedding photos on his stream.

With that we moved on with our conversation. What got him in to streaming?

“Well, back when I was a kid I grew up in a very small country town, where basically if you didn’t fish, you didn’t hunt; you didn’t go camping; you didn’t go mud bogging… well that was your way of interacting with people it was a very not technologically happening place, there wasn’t a lot of people who played video games back in the day. And I always enjoyed video games. And I never knew until like 4th grade what it was about, in 3rd grade I was playing the Magic School Bus, and- It was a game you went inside the human body and I loved that game.

I was in class one day, and the computer broke, I couldn’t play the game!

And then the tech specialist came in and fixed the computer and I was like oh my god! That person just fixed that computer! And I can play the video game that I like, I want to get in to computers. And doing that I learned a lot about how to fix them, how to build, and then that spawned in to me finding out about- doing some audio work, doing some video work, and just seeing all that computers could do.

And in 2009, I was working in the asphalt industry, and it was one of those times. You know it was really the happening time of YouTube and I was playing Call of Duty and Battlefield Bad Company and stuff like that. I saw these people and I really dug their style and they talked about life, and history, and stuff. And I thought, you know it would be really nice to connect with people online. I never really thought about that being an avenue to meet people like-minded, because I really wasn’t sociable, like I am now.

When I was in college, I took psychology to find out what makes my brain tick the way it does and the little quirks that I have, and I also took public speaking so that I could figure out with using psychology and using public speaking, on how to make somebody feel in five minutes like we’ve known each other for five years. And it was right after then that I was kind of finding myself to an online presence. It was one of those things where it just made me excited to start doing YouTube and then to talk to like-minded people.

It’s really getting in to why I started doing streaming and content creation was to meet people of like-minded love of video games, just to make new friends and to interact with people.”

Honestly, I had never considered streaming as a way to meet people even though it is a very social career path; I am usually on the viewer’s side of these things, after all. Though I have met a number of people that way so I can certainly understand the social aspects.

As Jason had mentioned a background in psychology and public speaking, I decided to question him a bit on whether or not it helped with his streaming career.

“Oh god yes. I didn’t have they ability to – Like I’ve always been able to talk once I got to know you I could always carry a conversation with you. What the psychology and public speaking helped me out with is not only like micro expressions when your talking to someone like face to face. But also certain ticks people have when speaking. Which helps you out sometimes in games like in Among Us.

What I used to do on YouTube once I took that course I called em the one take wonders. Like I would never go back and restart a YouTube commentary, if I was doing like a 5 – 10 minute commentary. I would do my intro, and within that intro I would know, ok here’s 4 – 5 talking points I want to fit them all in to this 5 – 10 minute video and this is it. Helps you ad-lib, it’s like taking theater and stuff like that. And I never took that stuff, I never thought that I would be in front of a camera – I was always the shadow guy, Like no I’m cool I don’t wanna, I don’t like pictures of myself. I don’t like videos of myself. I wasn’t scared of the camera but I was like, uh… not a good-looking dude, I’m not funny, just let me build sets, let me run the camera, let me be on the board, you know I’ll be the tech guy. I’m good with that. I’m fine with that. Psychology and public speaking really helped me out to be able to go in to a room just playing with random people.

In the long and short of it. It helps you read an audience a lot better. It helps me just randomly keep talking about random things that just pop in to my head.”

Finally, Jason was willing to cover a bit of a darker aspect of life. When you meet him and ask how he is doing, he always answers that “It’s another day in paradise.” A sweet concept of course, but when people have such specific answers, it’s usually either a branding purpose or something they train themselves to do it.

Like many of us he went through a hard time in his life and I pointed out not many are willing to share their mental health struggles as openly as he has in his streams.

“I’ll be honest with you. I was one of those people. For the longest time, I was embarrassed. I don’t know why I was embarrassed. I guess it’s just the upbringing that we had as kids in my town. I still remember one of the nicest guys in high school. Like the most outspoken guy. And we caught up, it was like 5 or 6 years that we hadn’t spoken. He was just going through a tough time. We were always both so positive with each other. He was the first person I told about the incident and the guy looked at me and he said. You know I’m ganna be honest with you man, I can’t tell you about how many times I thought about ending it.

That moment right there, I donno what lead me to tell the guy; I guess we were just being super honest, and I just had something I had to get it off my chest.

I knew I had a purpose on this Earth. And that’s why none of the pills dissolved and I busted a blood vessel in my eye throwing everything up and that was a mark, that was a mark to remember. You get to see that for a few months, every morning, every day. That was basically the reminder right there, like hey, you about messed up. Here’s a mark, remember.

I made up an excuse; I raced motocross at the time and I just told people I took a hit to the head when I took a jump and landed on my handlebars on my goggles. And it was a really good excuse, not the truth. In that moment I realized that you can use- and if you’re comfortable enough, you should use your mental health to be real with people, that’s where the ‘Every days a paradise’ anytime someone asks I tell em it’s ‘Another day in paradise’. Self affirmation, I don’t consider suicide a thing, but even now, 17 years down the road, you still always battle with ‘why do people watch me?’ ‘People say your funny but you don’t see it’.

No matter what, you think some of the most positive people and the most funny people you see on live streaming or YouTube or in person. Some of the funniest people that you will ever come in contact with are ones that are battling with depression. So that’s why I don’t be a stranger, I don’t like- you never know, someone can just need a Hay, how you doin?”

We chatted a little longer about our plans for the day; he had a date that afternoon with his wife; I had some editing to get done. We said our farewells, and I continued to tune in to his stream every evening as I transcribed his interview. I learned a lot in my chat with Fargassier, some things I did not expect. He’s a very positive individual, and it rubs off on you if you talk to him a bit. Don’t forget to reach out in these trying times. You never know when someone may need a ‘Hey, how you doin?’