Ryan Hodge’s Play/Write column

Play/Write banner with video game character with 'play' in pixels on left, inkwell and 'write' in script on the right

-Ryan J. Hodge
For someone who enjoys a great story, is there anything better than a narrative that engages you from the very start? Imagine a world so rich you can almost smell the scents in the air, a delivery so clever it forces you to think in a way you never thought you would. I’m Ryan J. Hodge, author, and I’d like to talk to you about…Video Games.

Yes, Video Games. Those series of ‘bloops’ and blinking lights that –at least a while ago- society had seemed to convince itself had no redeeming qualities whatsoever. In this article series, I’m going to discuss how Donkey Kong, Grand Theft Auto, Call of Duty and even Candy Crush can change the way we tell stories forever.

What Star Wars: Rebellion Teaches Us About Writing Asymmetrical Conflict

It may surprise some to know that my all time favorite strategy game is a rather obscure title from 1998. It’s called Star Wars: Rebellion and despite the weight of the franchise, its reception was fairly mixed among SW fans and gamers alike.

I can certainly appreciate their concerns; the pace is slow, the battle interface is clunky, and even for ‘98 the visuals…could be better.

Continue reading

Joan Beebe reviews Larry Higdon’s Storms of Deliverance and School from Hell

Storms of Deliverance by Larry Higdon

I just finished reading Larry Higdon’s Storms of Deliverance and I enjoyed it.  The plot was well thought out and the characters were well developed as the story progressed.  I reached a point where I did not want to put the book down.
Now I want to read Higdon’s second book, The School From Hell.  Reading the first novel will certainly help me in understanding this second novel because now I will be more familiar with each character’s personalities and background.  The plot of this story is a very interesting one and kept me wondering how each character will resolve their problems.  The ending phrase “Until Ellen” makes readers want to find out if she will appear again to Johnson and start helping him and the others to begin healing and find happiness in their futures.

School From Hell

(cover photo and book not yet available)

This second novel, Horseshoe Farms (or Horseshit Elementary, as some call it) continues the saga of Katy Nguyen, from his first novel, as a professional counselor for children in Georgia.  However, upon arriving to start her new job, the school is not what she expected.  The characters are well developed and certain ones play a pivotal part in the story.  There are twists and turns to the story but with all the problems and environmental and personal dangers to the children, Katy perseveres with her life’s goal that had been emblazoned on her coffee cup ––“Children Are For Loving”.

Essay from Joan Beebe



Originally my dad was a farmer but around 1943, we moved to the city.  This was a hard transition for my dad, especially, and we kids were also not exactly happy to leave the life we had known. Nevertheless, we were enrolled in school, met the neighbor children and settled down to our new home.

The war on and the neighbors and children knew our last name was German.  We were fighting the Germans and somehow the neighbor kids decided that we weren’t good people and thus started the harassment.  My mother would send my brother and I to a little grocery store around the corner. The kids would see us and make a circle around us taunting us with names and trying to keep us from walking to that store.  Well, they didn’t know that my brother and I were fighters and that is what we did so, eventually, we did get to the store for my mom.  We also had the German swastikas drawn on our steps and sidewalk in front of our house.  It took some time and letting the kids know we wouldn’t back down for them to finally stop the harassment.  We all grew to accept one another and played all kinds of games with them.

This episode in our lives did not stay with us as a form of hatred but taught us that what is really important is to keep love and tolerance in this world.  I look back now and realize what a learning experience that was.


Elizabeth Hughes’ Book Periscope

Three Yards and a Plate of Mullet by Adam Sachs


It begins with Jacob Yankelvich recalling when he was five years old and had a photographic memory. He would read everything on sports cards and then his father would have him recite what was on the cards when his parents had dinner parties. He would wow and amaze the guests with his memory. He tells of his life of trying out for sports all through school and how he became a sports writer. This is a very good story with lots of humor and will keep you on the edge of your seat page after page. I highly recommend this book. I absolutely loved it.

You may order Three Yards and a Plate of Mullet here.

Poetry from Joan Beebe


There is something mysterious about hearing a train,

Its lonesome whistle in the middle of the night.

You wonder if it is full of passengers traveling

To places unknown to you.

Though the train is traveling quickly,

The sound of the wheels on those tracks in the night,

Seem to lull you into a sense of yearning.

Sometimes, you wish you were on that train on a journey

Taking you to adventures so exciting.

Exploring places about which you only have dreamed

You will ride through mountain passes and forests so grand

As well as the flat prairies of the mid –west where

The horizons stretch endlessly into the distance.

Listening to the sound of that train brings visions

Of exotic places too beautiful to describe.

Your longing increases and you run to your window,

Its lonesome and mysterious whistle is quickly fading.

The night is suddenly over and the bright

Rising of the sun wakes you to another day.

Poetry from Tony Longshanks LeTigre

Turn Forward

DEAD END says the sign
but I wonder, each time
does the road really end,
or does it just pretend?
Love Poem for Trespassers
The only thing that makes me feel romantic
is when I come across a vacant house that looks charming
and think about how you & I could break into it
& live there happily & sexily ever after
for two or three months, maybe—
until we got busted