Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Rish Performs "The Concrete Mixer" by Ray Freaking Bradbury on Audible

It was exciting to get the contract on this one, to be able to perform a story--any story--by Ray Bradbury during my ill-fated experiment in audiobook narration.  Easily the most recognizable name I've had the pleasure to perform, I'm happy to announce that my reading of "The Concrete Mixer" is now up for sale on Audible.com.

The story was published in 1949, in a pulp magazine, and later republished in Bradbury's collection, "The Illustrated Man."  It tells the story of Ettil, a Martian family man who refuses to participate in his planet's invasion of Earth, as he has read many of our stories about the disastrous attempts to invade us.  Eventually, he is forced to go along, and lands on Earth, only to find it very different than the world depicted in the magazines.
This story, while amusingly dated, was a pretty audacious condemnation on Post-war America, and seemed more overtly comical than any other Bradbury I've read.  Also, it has a very different ending than the version that ended up in the collection, which alone should make you curious.

The recording can be found at this link : http://www.audible.com/pd/Sci-Fi-Fantasy/The-Concrete-Mixer-Audiobook/B00HETDFHK/ref=a_search_c4_1_1_srImg?qid=1388217409&sr=1-1

I did my best on this story, and it was an honor to be able to perform something from the Master of Science Fiction.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Rish Performs "Trick Or Treat" by Kristine Kathryn Rusch on Audible

So, when I first took on the contract to do the first Spade/Paladin Conundrum story (by Kristine Kathryn Rusch) early in the year, I was told that if it worked out, there were other stories in the series I might be asked to record.  That experience was a very lengthy and bad one, and prompted me to scrap the recording equipment I had been using for a couple of years, and go with the setup I now enjoy (which I have practically no complaints about).

Miraculously, I was asked back to perform the other Spade stories, and here we are at the end of the year with this, the final Spade/Paladin Conundrum story . . . at least the most recent to be published.  The stories vary in length and seriousness, and this one tells of poor Spade being cajoled into babysitting on Halloween by Paladin, who seems to have an unspoken ulterior motive for shackling him with a teenager dressed as a ghost.

The story's called Trick Or Treat, and can be found at this link: http://www.audible.com/pd/Mysteries-Thrillers/Trick-or-Treat-Audiobook/B00HETDOAI/ref=a_search_c4_1_2_srTtl?qid=1388217388&sr=1-2

These tales are always really geeky and referential to fan culture, and Ms. Rusch is a quality writer of more works than I'll probably manage in my lifetime.  Be nice to be proven wrong there, though.

Rish Outfield, Audiobook Lad

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Annual Love Actually Christmas Post

Because of work, illness, overwork, and apathy, I was unable to watch LOVE ACTUALLY this year for Christmas. That is a bummer, as that movie does wonders for my outlook on life, and helps me cope with the soul-torturing loneliness that's been known to climb in my window at night.

But, as it's a tradition for me to take a line from the movie and put a picture of it up, I thought it was the least I could do.  I went in search of an image from the scene I wanted, and started making the following:

To my surprise, however, someone had already done a screen-grab of that exact line I was going to use.   It may be better than mine, but I wish I'd discovered it two minutes earlier.

Thank you, random stranger.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

The Podcast That Dares Not Speak Its Name 7: Last Minute Shopper

Well, I've had to skip an episode (or four) to get my Christmas show in under the wire.  This was supposed to be the final episode of my solo podcast before I made the switch to the easier* Rish Outcasts.

This one includes a Christmas story (or anti-Christmas story, if you prefer) I wrote called "Last Minute Shopper."  It's fairly short and tells the tale of a reluctant venture into a mall right before the holiday.  Afterward, Sir Fake Sean and I do our worst duet ever, and there's a bit of monologuing by me. 

Hopefully, you'll miss these when they're gone.

Right click HERE to download the episode, select Save Link As, and save the file to your hard drive.

Rish Outfield, Podcaster

*Or perhaps I should say "easier," since it's a difference of maybe ten minutes' work either way.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Sleepytime Narrator

I have another post forthcoming, wherein I detail the quandary I had about the ending of "Kalin," but it's pretty extensive, so I think I'll bump it to next week, when I'm less busy (after Christmas, I mean).

In the meantime, here is a bit about a struggle of a different sort . . . staying awake while narrating audiobooks.  Nothing puts me to sleep faster than having to edit my readings, but occasionally, even the reading of them is a challenge.  As you can hear in the clip, I am aware, most of the time, of my condition, but the worst is when I'm not aware of it, and mumble through lines of the reading, never doing them over, only to be discovered in the editing process.

Yawn with me.

Rish Outfield

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Rish Performs "Snipe Hunt" on Audible.com

Carol Hightshoe seems to be a writer I can get behind.  All at once (I got the impression), she put a bunch of her stories for sale on Amazon.com, and then made a bunch of them available for narrators to audition for.  On my brightest, most energetic day, I'd be doing the same damn thing.

During that period when I was looking for small projects, I saw one of them, "Snipe Hunt," and thought it would be up my alley.  I sent an audition, and here I am to plug it in my blog.
It's a very short story, set in the bayou (which I can't do the accent of, but hopefully the dialect police have the day off), and I found it amusing.  A couple of hillbilly-types discover a passel of invading aliens in their neck of the woods.  They've come across the galaxy in search of running targets, but are they wily enough to hunt down the most elusive prey of all . . . the snipe?

I thought it would be fun to give the aliens low-pitched British accents.  I don't know if it worked or not, but for a couple of bucks, you can decide for yourself.  Here's the link: http://www.audible.com/pd/Sci-Fi-Fantasy/Snipe-Hunt-Audiobook/B00H2NMVYQ/ref=a_search_c4_1_1_srTtl?qid=1386723976&sr=1-1

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Audiobook Adventures: Part 30

I have finished my recording of "Kalin," the fourth Dumarest of Terra book.  Once again, I was unable or unwilling to sit down and record the whole darn thing in a couple of sittings.  Doing these readings takes a lot of out of me, which makes me wonder what it would be like to be a professional narrator, having to get through a Stephen King or John Grisham book in a studio environment, with tons of technicians standing by, doing it as a full-time job.  I imagine I'd long for these ACX days, when I have a month or so to get even short novels done.

I've done three short stories in the past month or so, and been offered another.  I declined it, struggling as I was with my "Kalin" deadline.  But the author of that story seemed to want me to do it, and sent me another offer, with the deadline extended a couple of weeks.  I accepted that one, and in absolute honesty, I completely forgot about it until I started typing this right now.  Sadly, I've now got two days before the first chapter deadline, and I haven't even downloaded the story yet.  Or finished "Kalin," which needs to be my priority.

I mentioned before the accent I chose for a major character, and how I struggled with it.  As I've been editing, I've either gotten better with the voice, or I've gotten used to it, for it doesn't grate on me like it did.

I have found that nothing is quite so sleep-inducing as editing my audiobook recordings.  Sometimes I can be sitting for five to ten minutes and find myself drowsing off.  If I get paid for each of these gigs, it's for the editing, not for the readings, which are usually a joy to do.

That's difficult, but worse is when I start to fall asleep while RECORDING the book.  That happened to me once in May or so, when I was narrating . . . wow, I cannot remember that name of that book.  Already, either my mind is going or I'm doing too darn many of these.  I was downstairs, recording on the couch (I mistakenly thought the sound would be better in the little room I use as a workshop, and I could plug a microphone directly into my brother's laptop), when my head started to sag.  I'd awaken, continue, doze, then try to rouse myself and keep reading to the end of the chapter at least.

This was repeated in similar fashion on one chapter of "Kalin," and it's not until the editing process that I realize just how asleep I had fallen.  Looooong spaces appear between sentences, and then between words, and then the words themselves become mumbles. 

Luckily, I caught myself on this one and said, "Man, I'm too tired to keep going.  I'm gonna stop."  On the other book, whatever it was, I had no choice but to edit around the sleepy bits, since . . . either it was too difficult to match my voice in recordings made days apart, or I was too lazy to go downstairs and record those lines again.  Maybe I'm not the world's best audiobook narrator after all.

So, what else?

In "Kalin," there were, after all was said and done, many named characters that didn't show up again.  I had a scene where there were three men on a hunting trip, and I gave them all different voices to differentiate them, including giving one a Hispanic accent.  A couple of chapters later, I discovered that all three men were brothers, and that the odd man with the accent shouldn't have one.  But I had already edited that chapter, and had absolutely no desire to do the thing over again.

So, I just decided that it was possible for one brother to be adopted, or a half-brother, or, hell, I don't know, have been brought up somewhere else, and have a different accent from his other two brothers.  As the character reappeared, again and again, I kept thinking, "Dammit, this character with this accent again.  What should I do?"  But I had made my choice, and I stuck with it.  I do worry, though, that someone listening will be bothered by that.  I hope not, but as long as it's not the publisher, I will continue to live with my mistake.

But that brings us to the weirdest part of the book, the part that I still don't know what to do about, even though the deadline is looming, and at the time of this writing (which I'm doing instead of editing, of course), is minutes away.  It's all about accents again.

The main female character has an accent, from the very first chapter.  I had read an overview of the book, trying to avoid the kinds of mistakes I made with the Hispanic accent mentioned above.  In it, it was explained that Kalin is not who she claims to be, exactly, but is actually someone else, sort of body-switched.  The girl Kalin used to be is on her world, very ill, and--

Oh man.  This is way too convoluted to write about here.  I'm gonna have to do an entire blog post to do it justice.  Sigh.

Rish Outfield, Audiobeast

Sunday, December 01, 2013

Paul Walker R.I.P.

So, actor Paul Walker died in a car accident yesterday.  He was one of the stars of one of my least-favorite film franchises.  My sister despised him with a fury beyond how I feel toward Dane Cook.

But I quite liked Paul Walker myself.  My best experience being an extra was working on Clint Eastwood's FLAGS OF OUR FATHERS, in which I got to play a U.S. soldier on a Liberty ship.  We'd arrive at the docks pre-dawn, get our hair cut, get in our uniforms, take our belts and firearms, and load about the vessel, shooting out in the ocean until the sun went down.  One of the days of the shoot, while Ryan Phillipe hung out with women who were not Reese Witherspoon, I ended up talking to Paul Walker and Adam Beach, who were other actors in the picture.

I asked Walker about INTO THE BLUE and making out with Jessica Alba, and he was surprisingly cool and forthcoming, reminding me of the coolest guy in my hometown, who was always friendly and accessible, even to social gimps like me.  Tall, handsome, blond and blue-eyed, Walker basically looked like a Ken doll, and yet he was down-to-earth and not above chatting with extras.  It made me a fan of Paul Walker.

There are a lot of d'bags in the world, and even more in Hollywood.  It was nice to be able to say that he was not one of them. 

I'd have cast him as Captain America, had the brother-in-law on "Chuck" not been available.

He died at age forty, and I don't really know if his star was setting or on the rise.  We won't know now.  As it stands, I guess he'll be remembered for the damned FAST & FURIOUS movies, but it's a shame DC or Marvel couldn't have made a superhero out of him before the end.

Rish Outfield

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Audiobook Adventures: Chapter 29

As the year winds down, and the holidays take up more and more of my time, I imagine I'll long for this period, when I record or edit a three or four times a week with practically no deadline pressure.

That's not to say that I don't have multiple commitments and deadlines looming--I do, but they're all pretty much doable.  As usual, the major projects are the two remaining Dumarest books, but I've got a handful of short stories I've also taken on, not because I need the money (what money?), but because I wanted to do them.  If I actually made a living doing this, that would probably be the ideal situation for me.

So far, the fourth Dumarest book has been pretty smooth sailing.  It's still got the long chapters to deal with, but it does seem pretty straightforward, with fewer characters (so far) that show up once and never again.  I am, however, really struggling with one of the character voices.  I decided to cowboy up and try an accent I'm not very confident with, and in the editing, it sounds awful. 

Like, Mila Kunis in OZ, THE GREAT AND POWERFUL awful.

But I am committed to it, and unless the publisher says, "Holy Narnia, Rish, that one voice is just too terrible to allow out to listeners; I'm gonna have to ask you to re-voice," that's the one I'm going with.  There was a Voice & Dialects course in college that I really wanted to take, figuring it would help me with my acting, but it was scheduled opposite a film class that was also only offered at that time, and I was already leaning toward Film instead of Theater, so I never took it.  Sometimes I wish I had, though, since that might've helped me out with my voicework.

So, I finished the third E.C. Tubb book, and submitted it the day before the deadline, only to find out a couple of days later that I had only uploaded part of the first chapter.  I'm not entirely sure how that happens (we're required to submit the first fifteen minutes of every project and wait for notes before proceeding, so it's possible I used the wrong file when compiling the whole book), but the omitted section was familiar to me, so I had to go through my files (luckily, I hadn't deleted any yet*) and find the rest of the reading to edit in.  Technically, I did miss my deadline because of that, but I'm not counting it.

These books are sort of keeping me from my solo podcasts, The Rish Outcast and the Podcast That Dares Not Speak Its Name, both of which have episodes recorded but not edited.  I also hoped to do a Christmas episode of TPTDNSIN, and with work, Dunesteef, and the other stuff, that's looking less and less likely. 

Too bad.  It was a really lousy story too.

I think I mentioned in the last post that one of the projects by a famous SF author fell through, after I had auditioned and won the part/gig, didn't I?  That was a bit sad, but I am happy to mention here that I did get the job to do the Ray Bradbury story, and that has to be the highest-profile author I've done since starting this hobby, head and shoulders above the other writers, at least as far as recognizability.  I have a little under a week to get started on that one, so by the time this sees print (virtual print, at least), I should have recorded it.

Then I'll press on with the fourth Dumarest book, and see if I can't get the others done as well.

Rish Outfield, Audiobook Boy

*Actually, I HAD deleted all these files, but as I hadn't emptied my Recycle Bin, they were still sitting there.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Rish Performs "Toyman" (Dumarest 3) on Audible

Somehow, "Toyman" is already available to purchase, despite me having finished it only a couple of weeks ago.  At this rate, book five will be for sale before I've finished recording it.

So, after the events of "Derai," Earl Dumarest should be on his own again, but he isn't.  In between books, he had another adventure, and has found himself stuck on the world of Toy, where the wealthy elite, or Stockholders, struggle for power against the Toymaster, the ruler of the planet, and the holder of the most stock.  Earl has encountered an ally in Legrain, another combatant in the Toymaster's war games, and has found himself on the losing side.  The rules say that all the combatants must win . . . or die.

That's how the book starts, and I'll not complain about that now, except to say that E.C. Tubb is good at writing action sequences and fights, and it would've been nice to start with that.  Instead, poor Earl finds himself on the bottom of the heap once again, finding a lot of new enemies on the planet Toy, and very few friends. 

Like the other books in the series so far, there's a lot of political intrigue, with Stockholders conspiring against the Toymaster, hoping to unseat him, and put someone a bit more decent and responsible in his place.  One of the Stockholders, Leon, allies himself with Quara, the Toymaster's sister, and eventually, Earl Dumarest gets wrapped up in it as well.

Here you go.  Toyman Link.

These are enjoyable books, and there are instances of great writing in every one, but on the other hand, there are repeated uses of the word "iritably," which my mouth is not capable of speaking.  So there's that.

At this point in time, I have two more books left on my contract, and then we'll see what happens.  Book Four is due in a few days, and Book Five is due at the end of next month.  Once those are done, I've no idea what kind of projects I'll take on, or if I'll be offered more Dumarest of Terra books.


Thursday, November 21, 2013

Have a Little Pride

I got an email today that vexed me.  It wasn't a huge deal, but with my personality, I could easily have made it a big deal.  After all, a single negative feedback on an eBay transaction can ruin my whole day.*

A month or two back, I did a search for books that were looking for auditions, and a familiar title came up.  It was for a book by a three-named author that I had heard about a couple of years ago, one on the way up, and I had even read a story or two by him in my travels.  This was one of those writers that I've complained about before that require, if you audition to get his narrating gig, that you perform an entire chapter as your audition, which ends up being way too much work for most narrators (and for Audible's rules, by the way, not that they'll do anything about it), and I was hesitant.

Big Anklevich had actually read the book in question, though, so I asked him for his advice.  Should I should audition or not for this thing, and whether the book was even worth the work I'd put into it.  He told me something pretty wonderful: "I think you'd really like it.  It's the sort of book you would write yourself."

So I auditioned.  That entails reading, recording, editing, and cleaning the sound, then sending it to the author or rights holder, and waiting.  I've auditioned for a ton of projects, and while I've certainly gotten more rejections lately than I did when I first started (since I was so much less discriminating in those days, and even auditioned for a couple of textbooks I shudder at the very memory of now), I don't wait with baited breath hoping I nail every part I try out for.**

So today, when I got an email from the writer, it did not surprise me that I didn't get the gig.  Most times, I just get an automatic rejection email that says the part went to someone else.  Every once in a while, the writer or agent will tell me they went in another direction, but thanked me for my audition, and both of those are fine, really.

But this one was different.  This was the first time I've ever got a personalized rejection from a writer that explained why I wasn't good enough to do his or her book.  This was the first time I've ever had a writer insult me in their rejection.

He described the way I deliver all my lines, and I won't copy it here word-for-word, because . . . well, I have no real reason not to, but I will say that he compared my narration voice to a Disney animated character well-known for having a terrible, enjoyment-shattering voice.

That he prefaced it with "I realize you spent a long time creating your audition" was all the worse somehow, because I don't think a lot of the writers out there understand that asking potential narrators to do a fifteen minute sample (or the one from six months ago that actually required the auditioner to record the whole story) is a great deal of work.

In the man's defense, he did add that my voice might be perfect for some other writer's book, just not for his.

So, for about two minutes, my feelings were hurt.  I started to ask myself if he wasn't right, and if I had been delusional to think anybody would want to hear me perform a book or short story, and if maybe I shouldn't consider . . .

But then, an interesting thought went into my head.  A magical phrase, it sounded a little bit like "Buck sim," and it made my shame and disappointment all but disappear.

I have worked hard, since I was eight or nine years old, to do the best readings I can, giving every narration my all, to the best of my ability, even if I'm not fond of the material I've been given.  And I've been doing it for so long, I think I've gotten pretty good.  Oh, eff it, better than good.

Somehow, I've developed a healthy (and out of character) pride in the audiobook work I do, to the point where I try to elevate the material in front of me, if not simply to do it justice.  I'd like to be up there on the short list of the people you'd want performing your story or novel, and wouldn't mind doing voicework here or there for the rest of my life.  It doesn't make any sense, but it's far easier for me to objectively stamp my narrating work as High Grade, than it is to do the same for my writing.  Must be a different portion of my brain or something.

And I think, were he alive, Ray Bradbury would get a kick out of the work I did on his alien invasion short story.  So, there's that.

In the end, I think I actually dodged a bullet.  Regardless of the quality of the man's novel, would I really want to dedicate twenty to forty hours of editing and recording to a book written by a douchebag?

Maybe this is progress.

Rish Outfield, Audiobook Guy

*Since writing this, I discovered that my little sister is very much like me in this regar.  If someone says something unkind to her, or she makes a mistake, or a person in her care dies, she carries it around for a long time, dwelling on it, replaying it in her head, blaming herself or regretting what she did or said or may have contributed to the situation.  That makes me feel for her, since it's no damned fun living your life like that.

**With the exception of the Ray Bradbury story I went after.  Because, hey, that was Ray Bradbury.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Rish Performs "Very Superstitious" on Audible.com

Sometimes, when someone produces a Dunesteef episode for us where I'm the narrator, and I think the reading is particularly strong, it's hard to know if the story is extraordinarily good, or if it's just me, and I'm a demigod among audiobook readers.  It's an occupational hazard, I suppose.

Derek Palmer's story "Double Vision" was the first story we ran on our show, back when we didn't know that you had to do sound removal, and that making an edited mp3 of an mp3 and then saving it as an mp3 would degrade the sound.  But I still like that story, and would like to do it again, if someone told me I had suddenly gained thirty extra years on my lifespan or something.  We've done a couple other stories by that author, including the one everybody hated.  I hope he took that better than I did.

So, here I am, doing a reading on Audible of one of his stories.

"Very Superstitious" is a story about a teenage girl, Ally, who is so out of control that her mother sends her to New Mexico* to stay with her backward, religious cousins and their strict, conservative parents.  She balks at the silly rules in the household, like not watching television on Sunday, never showing their underwear, and leaving reeds outside the house so the Bice, a sort of boogeyman, will leave their daughters alone.  Religious people are so stupid and backward.

Except, it turns out, that there are others in town that also believe in the Bice.  Non-religious people.

I like this story a lot.  It's hard to talk about this one objectively, but there were a couple of moments I found pretty friggin' scary, and if that makes me sound like a self-serving corporate tool, then I'm making progress in life.

Here's the link http://www.audible.com/pd/Teens/Very-Superstitious-Audiobook/B00FSSK6K8/ref=sr_1_1?qid=1384228938&sr=1-1 if you'd like to go over there and pick up that one, and I'd be (hestitantly) interested in your thoughts on it.

Rish Outfield, Bice Hunter

*Maybe she was from New Mexico and they sent her somewhere else, I'm not sure.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

A Couple of Stories To Plug

So, I have been encouraged, for more 'n a year now, to share some of my stories on Smashwords, which is a website like Amazon, but dedicated solely to books and stories.  I kept putting it off, but once I saw how easy it was, I decided to try to upload one story a week, grabbing pieces almost at random, and finding typos and/or things to fix in every single one.*

As you know, it's hard for me to muster the backbone to put my writing up in a public forum where it will inevitably be judged, but I did manage to stick up a couple of my works there recently, and I guess I will now take a moment to plug a couple of them.  After all, if only one in ten strangers like what they read, that's still potentially seven hundred million folks out there who will know who I am.

Of course, I struggle with math even more than I do with writing, so that number may be a bit off.

I thought it would be wise to put a few of my stories on there for free, especially if they had appeared before, like on my blog or a flash fiction site.  However, both Dean Wesley Smith and Heath Ledger's Joker suggest that if you do something well, you never do it for free.  As far as I know, only one of those two is considered insane.


1.  A Slight Delay (2013)  https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/371828
For an airline passenger, an unexpected wait on the tarmac takes a turn for the strange.
I wrote this as a gag on the Dunesteef message boards this month, when folks were talking about things that are and aren't scary.  Much like my moth story (written and produced for the 13 Nights of Halloween), I tried to come up with a scenario (however bizarre) where a man in a bunny costume could be frightening.

2.  The Awful Tale of the Minnesota Diarrhea Ghost (2013)https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/368531
In this tiny tale (really, the title is about half the length of the story), Grandpa sits down his two grandsons and tells them just enough about the Minnesota Diarrhea Ghost. 
This really was a joke, written in a series of IMs to try and make Big Anklevich laugh.
It did not work.


1.  Office Visit (2003)  https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/362484
Genie and Sally are two young girls living in a small American town, not too long ago.  When a new dentist moves into town, people begin to behave strangely about him, causing the girls to become suspicious.  Nothing ominous could happen in their peaceful little home, could it?
This is a lengthy story I wrote a decade back, during my series of Horror and Urban Fantasy stories set in smalltown America.  It very nearly got podcast by a horror site in 2011.  It's pretty likely it will end up airing in Full Cast audio on the Dunesteef soon, but here's your chance to read it first.

2.  Say Uncle (2013) https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/376129
Uncle Cal is driving his two year old nephew around, when the boy begins speaking in full sentences. Somehow little Alex is the messenger of adult Alex, in an unpleasant future that, just maybe, can be averted.
I wrote this little Sci-Fi Drama earlier this year, with the express purpose of doing it on our show.  Due to a number of obstacles, that has not (yet) happened, but it may still work in text, right? 

I have four or five more tales I plan to get up there before the year is out.  As I mentioned previously, I find the idea of producing cover art for each of these particularly damning, creatively.  A couple of the images I've stuck on my stories have been pretty vanilla, to put it delicately.  But I could take a week to put together an image for one story, or I could upload one in twenty minutes, do revision on a story for next week, and begin writing a third one.  That seems like math even I can do.

Most of these stories can also be found on Amazon.com, though they (like Dean Wesley Joker) seem to have a problem with giving stories away for free.  I've also put a slightly rewritten version of "On Dusty Wings" up there, trying to fix the plotholes that seemed apparent when read aloud.  That's at this link: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/366914


Rish Outfield, Book Peddler

*A story I grabbed from 2009 the other day was nearly ready to go before I discovered that the first two pages are just the original notes on the story, including a bunch of ideas that never made it in.  The story proper began about halfway through page three.  Needless to say, that one has not yet seen print.

Friday, November 08, 2013

Rish Performs "The Karnikov Card" by Kristine Kathryn Rusch on Audible

So, I've another Rusch story to promote.  It's called "The Karnikov Card," and it tells of SF convention sleuth Spade's encounter with a huge movie star, who turns out to also be a pretty huge villain.  This is number four in the Spade/Paladin series, and, if I recall, is the longest one.  I have little to say about this one, since it's the first one of hers that--

Whoops, I can't sat that.
What I will say is, these stories get a bit easier for me with every one, mostly because I keep racking up experience every month, and the specific challenges of each project toughen up my narrating muscles.  If I wanted to, I could take on more of these, have a full schedule, and be forced to do it every day.  Imagine my muscles then.

There is one more Spade/Paladin story forthcoming (which I haven't started on yet), but this is the newest so far.  You can find it here: http://www.audible.com/pd/Mysteries-Thrillers/The-Karnikov-Card-Audiobook/B00GC5BX5I/ref=sr_1_1?qid=1383932079&sr=1-1

Friday, November 01, 2013

Audiobook Adventures: Chapter 28

Wow, twenty-eight installments of these.  Y'know, twenty-eight is how old we've decided Big Anklevich is . . . forever.

I finished my third Dumarest book, and am about to start on the fourth, unwilling to let the deadline creep up on me the way it did on this last one.  If I can figure out the main female character's voice, I'll begin soon.

So, remember how I mentioned there was a Bradbury story up for auditions, and I felt like I had to try for it, despite having looming deadlines I wasn't going to reach?  Well, I saw a piece by Theodore Sturgeon go up, and I felt very much the same there.  Sturgeon was a well-known Sci-Fi writer of years past, and I only know him because of his work on "Star Trek."  He wrote my favorite episode of the series, "Amok Time," so I auditioned for the story, and it turns out I got that one.  That's pretty cool.  I'll let you know how that goes.

I've mentioned that I try to describe the voices I give characters in my notes, so that I'll be able to do them the same way when they show up again.  Sometimes, it's as simple as "Old Spock," "Professor McGonagal," or "Morgan Freeman," but they can get a bit surreal, like "Tight-lipped American woman," or "Italian Liam Neeson," or "the guy who did the voice for Piglet."  Actually, that last one was a pretty good description, because while I'm sure it sounds nothing like the actor who voiced Piglet in all those "Winnie the Pooh" things*, it tells me how to voice the character the same every time.

And that's a good trick for doing this kind of work.  Even if you don't do an impression of, say, Jeffrey Combs, my face goes a certain way when I'm trying to talk like him, and the voice comes out differently simply because of that.  You'll probably never know which guy was supposed to be Jeffrey Combs, but he's not gonna sound like the other characters.

I got an offer this week from a publisher to narrate a book by a famous(?) Sci-Fi writer of the past.  I put the question mark in because, while I recognized his name, I've never read anything by him, could cite any of his titles, or even know how to pronounce his first name.  I read the sample they sent me, and afterward, didn't know what to do.  While I know that, career-wise, it's way better to perform the work of famous writers rather than unknown ones, the writing itself really, really vexed me.

It went a little something like this...

Hglathath was regent of all Copernyiah, in the Trygroifth region, son and heir to all that the great Kjiastia left his people.  He was a wise ruler, advised on one side by Valmoroor the sorcerer, and his goodly wife Gynschi on the other.  His three children, Koobl, Bunchiast, and Dave would all inherit a third of the kingdom, each of which has an equally unpronouncible name.

A silly example, maybe.  And perhaps oversimplifying my issue with the writing, but I sent the actual paragraphs to Big, and they made what I wrote just now seem like Dick & Jane readers.  I, personally, hate Sci-Fi and Fantasy writing like this, and if you like it, you can burn in the fires of Quadiodor, where the great beast Amalagothorianyh dwells with his cast out followers, the Bilginiathy.

To me, I have to be able to, above enjoying it, appreciating it, or admiring it, understand what I'm reading, in order to do an effective performance.  Audiobook narration, to me, is not something a computer can do.  I'm not reading a textbook here, I'm not simply copying spoken word from written word.  I'm acting it, I'm translating it, I'm interpreting it, in a way, and trying to make it come alive in a way that will elevate the material, as arrogant as that sounds.

I've listened to quite a few audiobooks in the last seven years, and the best ones are the ones where you forget that there's a single person reading the book for you, but that when the daughter speaks, you know it's her even before the text tells you it's her.  When someone is angry, you feel that they're angry, even without the text saying, "He growled angrily."  When someone is emotional, when someone is whispering, when someone is thinking, your mind knows that's the case because of the performance, rather than depending on the author to spell it out.  Because authors don't write for audio.  They write in text, and it's so easy to have characters argue on paper and keep them straight.  But a narrator's job is to make it obvious which character is speaking when, so that when the author leaves out, "Adam asked," the listener doesn't miss it.

It friggin' blows my mind that I am not simply stating the obvious, and that everyone else feels the same way.  But hey, people are different.  Some folks are able to keep nonsensical names, places, creatures, and terms straight in their head, and such things do not derail the listening experience.  On the other side, my friend Jeff has no tolerance for audiobooks, and I wouldn't be surprised if he likened what I'm doing to creating Cliffs Notes for great literature.

So, I couldn't accept the offer of doing the book, because I wouldn't be able to give it my all, give an individual voice or personality to each of the characters, and, frankly, I fear the work would go so slowly that I would rue the day I ever agreed to it.

I struggle enough as it is with E.C. Tubb's language, and he writes in English.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Rish performs "Derai" (Dumarest #2) on Audible.com

So, the second Earl Dumarest book by E.C. Tubb just became available on Audible.  And here I am to plug it.  Coincidence?

In his second book, from 1968, Earl Dumarest continues going from world to world, hoping to find someone who knows about his long lost homeworld.  He meets a girl, Derai, heir to the House of Caldor, on the planet Hive.  He agrees to protect her on her way back to her world, and ends up stranded there, in the middle of scheming noblemen and giant killer bees.  Somewhere along the way, his feelings for Derai become something greater.

I've spoken a lot about these books, and I really do try to give them my all.  They're well-written, and the action sequences in particular tend to be pretty thrilling.  Hopefully, listeners think so too.

Here is the link:

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

A little overdue

Audiobook Adventures: Chapter 27

Not much to report this time around.

I finished recording "Toyman," the third book in the Dumarest series.  I thought I had till a certain day to turn in the completed reading, but in checking today, I discovered I have five days less than I thought I did.  Even if I edit one whole chapter each day (which is unlikely), I won't make the deadline.  I don't know why I can't be a bit more diligent about recording these things; if I just made a point to record the whole book in, say, a week, then I would better remember the character names and their voices, and I could take my time to edit the recordings, which is the worst part about doing these things anyway.

On that note, I haven't taken on any new projects, at least not for Audible.  I've got the three remaining Dumarest books on my contract, all due before the end of the year, and then I can think about the future, Eckhart.

But that's not entirely true, as I, just a couple of days ago, saw that a Ray Bradbury story was looking for auditions.  I thought about it, and figured I may never again get the chance to be the official narrator for a Bradbury project, and that it would be great to say I did that one day, so I went ahead and sent in my audition.  If I say nothing about it, I guess you'll know I didn't get it.

"Toyman" was a really solid book, and it feels more episodic than the last one, where at least Earl Dumarest fell in love.  In this one, he does get one more step toward his goal, but it's a little step, with a heck of a lot of work to get there.  Once again, Tubb did that thing I complained about in my last post about this stuff, except that he did it twice in "Derai," and once in "Toyman," and even then, at the very end of the book.  There is an action scene, it abruptly ends, and then, afterward, the character tells the other characters what happened.  I'm not at all sure why you'd tell a story this way*, but it must be something Tubb enjoys doing, much like when Stephen King will say, "They went their separate ways.  It was the last time Alex and Amanda would ever see each other alive."

In the last book, I chose for all the characters on the Planet Hive to have English accents, except for the villainous Cyber, who had a nasal American one.  In this book, I decided every citizen of the planet Toy would have American accents, and so, gave this particular Cyber a snooty English one.  There have been a Cyber in each of the three books I've read, and instead of giving all three the same voice--which might have been the way to go--I tried to make them each unique.

I also, for some inexplicable reason, chose to pronounce "laboratory" the other way at one point early in this book.  Then, to my horror, I discovered that later scenes actually took place in the laboratory.  Damn my dialectic creativity.

I also had our thirteen Halloween marathon episodes to edit, and that took a huge chunk--a positive, enjoyable one, though--out of my available edit time.  I wonder, is it better to have too many irons in the fire, or too few?


*The only real reason I can think of is if it's a children's story you're telling, and by having the narrator alive and well, and looking back on a life-threatening experience, it reassures the listeners that he did, indeed survive.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Rish Outcast 3: Beyond the Fence

Rish is back with his brand new edition.  Will he ever stop?  Yo, I don't know.

In this, Rish presents "Beyond the Fence," probably the shortest story he'll ever do on the show, then talks about its (and his own) shortcomings.  It first appeared here on his blog (in the week where he tried to write a story a day).  He also describes a new story idea he had completely forgotten about by the time he typed up this summary.

Right click HERE to download the episode, select Save Link As, and save the file to your hard drive.

Saturday, October 05, 2013

If You Can’t Love Yourself . . .

You know me. You know my sense of identity, and how the loudest Rish Outfield detractor will always be me. I’m not one of those guys who can go on and on about how great I am, or how dead-on that impression was, or how the narration for our latest episode was so awesome it really elevated the material (even if I feel that way).

There are people out there who can do that, though, and they are probably more successful than me. If you can say, “Hey, I wrote a story called 'Arse Assault,' and it’s the deepest, best Period Adventure Comedy you’ll ever read, a true bargain at £8.88!” you have to be more likely to sell a copy than my typical, “I don’t know if it’s any good, but I worked hard on it.” And even that is beyond me, since I’d probably add, “Actually, I could’ve worked harder, but I knew I’d never release it if I kept polishing it every time I went to sell it.”

I wrote a story a couple of years ago that I think is really scary, but I’m too afraid to say that in a blogpost. Is that irony?

I mention this because, I’m currently editing a reading of my story “Office Visit” that Bryan Lincoln narrated last January when we were at the New Media Expo. We got together in Abbie Hilton’s room, set up a bunch of microphones, and recorded for ninety minutes on my story. While I’m sure I mentioned it in my blog back then, it was quite an honor to have such a group wasting thei—er, spending their time performing my work. Renee Chambliss and Lauren Harris voiced the main characters, Marshal Latham was the villain, Big Anklevich voiced the love interest, and Abbie and I voiced the rest of the characters.

I finally started putting it together, and when you’ve got everybody live in a room, the editing process is pretty easy. At first, I was somewhat embarrassed by it. The story seems extraordinarily long, and seems to take forever getting started. I wanted to hit the Rish Outfield from a decade ago for writing two pages of exposition before anything happens, and was embarrassed for the Rish Outfield of months ago for sitting in the room there, all too aware of that fact.

But then, something strange happened. Renee and Lauren started in on their characters, best friends on the cusp of adolescence, and suddenly, the story started coming to life. I don’t know if they were trying to one-up one another (and if so, it was surely unconscious), but they brought excitement, humor, and humanity to those two girls, and just as suddenly, I started grinning, telling the ghosts looking over my shoulder, “Wow, this is really good stuff, isn’t it?”

The ghosts did not contradict me.

The story gets funny, and then it gets scary, and hopefully exciting before the end, but I can’t get over how lucky I was to have all these talented people taking time out of their trip to work on my story. For free.

I remember being in college, running auditions for student films I had written, listening to people read the lines I’d given them, and every once in a while, someone would speak them, and they sounded Really Really Good, as though somebody better than me had written them, as though these were real actors in a real movie. It was an exciting feeling, and it never failed to make me feel talented and proud of my work when it happened.

Now I'm older, and somehow less confident in ways than I was then, and am literally incapable of saying, "I wrote something for so-and-so contest, and I think it's really good." Even that sentence was hard to put down (I ended up substituting "so-and-so" for the name of the contest I entered yesterday).

It's sad, really, and just a part of my messed-up personality. I think some of the stuff I write is not only good, but actually pretty somewhat very good. I just can't say it. I can barely accept thinking it. I don't know where that comes from or how to overcome it. But, if in the near future, you see me write a blog post, talking about a story I wrote that I think is really scary, maybe you can nod and say, "That middle-aged boy is making progress."

Rish Outfield, Fan of Frogs

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Rish Performs "Stomping Mad" by Kristine Kathryn Rusch on Audible

Another of the short stories I've recorded is available for sale. This one is "Stomping Mad (A Spade Conundrum)" by Kristine Kathryn Rusch. The man known only as Spade has an unpleasant encounter with the woman who's known as the Martha Stewart of Sci-Fi, a woman he despises, but someone else (apparently) despises even more.
Stomping Mad: A Spade Conundrum (Spade/Paladin) | [Kristine Kathryn Rusch]

I believe I mentioned how much easier the last Spade/Paladin story, "Pandora's Box" was to produce than the first one.  Well, this one seemed to be even easier than that.

This is the first story Ms. Rusch wrote (or published) with the Spade character in it, a sort of SF convention detective who solves mysteries in the unique environment of fan conventions.  The story was published in 1997, and I picked up on that as I was narrating it, but when I got to the copyright at the end, it said 2013, so I may not understand the intricacies of copyright law.

I have recorded (and nearly finished editing) one more of these stories, and Ms. Rusch has apparently written a fifth one that is forthcoming.  With a little energon and a lot of luck, I'll be recording that one in the not too distant future.

Check it out here: http://www.audible.com/pd/Mysteries-Thrillers/Stomping-Mad-Audiobook/B00FKGVAFI/ref=sr_1_3?qid=1380783704&sr=1-3

I hear from some of my podcasting buddies about the hijinks and joys to be had at small conventions, where drinking and mingling are a greater priority than watching movie footage, buying t-shirts, and getting Power Rangers' autographs.  If I had the personality and finances to go to some of those, it might be pretty memorable.

The subculture of conventioneers and convention attendees is actually quite interesting, and when I lived in L.A., there were a couple of familiar faces I'd see every time I went to a convention (include an albino man who sold bootlegs at the Shrine Auditorium).  I became friends with a fantastic artist who I only ever see at conventions, and gave him three hundred dollars this year, which is a record.  I keep meaning to write a short story taking place at a comic book/Sci-Fi convention, and I nearly achieved it this year, but discovered a flooded basement the night I came home, and still haven't repaired all the damage.  If I had the personality and talent to actually write down my story, it might be pretty memorable too.

Rish Outfield, Convention Defective

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Audiobook Adventures: Chapter 26 (or Buh +1)

Part One

Nothing new to report this week. I finished my Kristine Kathryn Rusch story, and within two days, had been given another (presumably my last). I've been given a month to do it, so I oughtn't procrastinate, but since this is probably it, I'd sort of like to savor it and do it after my next novel is in.

Speaking of which, I came to the two-thirds done level of recording the next Dumarest book, but when I went to edit, I discovered that, somehow, I hadn't recorded two chapters. I guess I pressed the button, and it didn't start recording. Then, when I got to a character who hadn't appeared since the second chapter, I stopped the recording to go listen to how I did him the first time (I hadn't written it down). Well, THAT'S where the recording starts, with me going to the old files and listening.*

The chapters in this book are massive, about a half-hour long when edited. To lose two of them was pretty damning when it comes to meeting my deadline . . . which is a mere five days away. But ah well.

Part Two

In the end, I focused solely on that book, and got it finished the day before the deadline.  I worry, though, that there were two chapters where you could hear the damned crickets outside (normally, I'd say "the lovely, romantic calls of crickets," but in this one case, they be damned), and it might be too noticeable, despite my attempts to mask them.  This room gets so hot in the summer, because of all the electronics and sexual frustration, and though I often close the windows and turn off the fan when I record, on one night, I guess I forgot.

As I've mentioned, I signed up to do the first five books in the Dumarest series, and when I looked at how much time I have to do the third book, I discovered (to my horror) that the first fifteen minutes was due the same day as the finalized second book was due.  So, no rest for the wicked, I sat down and read most of the first chapter of "Toyman" by E.C. Tubb, only stopping when it was after three in the morning. 

I edited it the next day, and got it in only a day after it was due.

Oh, and let me briefly complain about something.  For some reason, Tubb's chapters are insanely long.  They are broken up in little sections, which gives you time to breathe, but each edited chapter ends up about half an hour long (which is, what, two hours work for each?), and that always makes me think I've made absolutely no progress on the book.

As it stands, I've done two recording sessions on the new book, and all I have done is the credits and the first chapter.

I complained to Big about a strange tendency in Tubb's writing that bothered me to no end in the second book, and has already continued in the first chapter of the third.  He starts his narrative after major action has already taken place, and has characters talk about it, or sums it up himself.  There was some exciting action and strong dramatic moments in "Derai" that happen in between chapters, that I would guess were due to editorial excisions, except that he does it in the OPENING of the third book.  I think I could probably do a whole post about it, because I just don't get it.  I consider myself a pretty experienced writer (whether that makes me good or not, I won't venture to guess), but I can't understand why the man would make the choices he makes, in describing the buildup to a big disaster, then cutting to its aftermath and having Earl Dumarest explain how everybody else was killed.**

I just read yesterday a screenwriting expert instructing that you want your story to begin as late as it possibly can, and that lengthy prologues or backstories are bad screenwriting.  I thought--as I always do--of STAR WARS, and how it begins with the Imperials having tracked down the Rebels, and that there would be "No escape for the Princess this time."  That certainly seems to follow that, and it made me think of my recent story "Unreleased," and how I cut out the entire first section (basically a prologue) to make it closer to the length requirement of the podcast that ran it, figuring me telling how the old man gets the bottle back was less important than what he does with it once he's got it.  I am 94% ready to put that story up for sale (I'm going to try Smashwords first on this one, then Amazon), but that the longer version of the story breaks that screenwriting rule . . . and may be weaker because of it.

I say may be.  I don't know for sure.

THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK starts with the Imperials releasing probes, then cuts to the planet Hoth, where Luke and Han are already out patrolling on their tauntauns.  Luke talks to Han and is immediately attacked.  I suppose you could easily have begun with Luke, Han, and Leia in the Echo Base, and General Reikkan asking for volunteers to go out on patrols.  But they didn't.

Conversely, RETURN OF THE JEDI originally began with Luke on Tatooine, putting the finishing touches on his new lightsaber, and inserting it into Artoo's dome.  Vader, communicating via the Force, tells Luke that he a) is his son, and b) must turn to the Dark Side.  This scene was shot, edited, and even scored by John Williams before George Lucas ultimately cut it, deciding to simply show the droids on their way to see Jabba the Hutt.  Obviously, Lucas was trying to start the story as late as possible, though the screenwriter might suggest he could've cut the journey to Jabba's palace and simply started with Artoo and Threepio arriving at the big gate.  I don't know, but now I'm paranoid about my writing.

I need to just post this, because once I start talking about STAR WARS, forever will it dominate my destiny.  Consume me, it will.

The point is, E.C. Tubb has a strange habit of cutting out the expensive action sequences and focusing on the cheap conversation afterward, which is totally understandable if you're a low-budget filmmaker.  Not that he is.

And now I'm outright criticizing, which was not my intention.  The man's writing is really strong, and I do feel honored to be able to read (at least) these first five books.  And that reminds me, I really ought to get to work on that, if I'm to finish the whole book before Halloween.

Rish Outfield, Audiobook Reader

*I guess it's fortunate, in retrospect, that I stopped the recording for that, or all of the sixth chapter would've been lost, instead of just most of it.

**I remember that Rolling woman doing something similar in "Harry Potter 7," where the battle is ended, and suddenly both Lupin and Tonks lie dead, having been killed while she was describing other action.  I understand that it's Harry's story (and secondarily, Ron and Hermione's), but when interviewed, Jo Rolling stated exactly who killed Lupin and his new wife, and how they died, leading me to think it was a deliberate decision not to include it.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Rish Performs "The Last Man" on Audible.com

When I first moved to Los Angeles, one of my jobs was with the F/X Network, a cable channel located on the 20th Century Fox lot.  I worked in the F/X vault, which was an underground, cooled room with thousands of oversized videotapes.  Each day, I'd be given the programming schedule for the next day, and have to find all the tapes and put them in order, on a trolley, and then they'd be put it cartons and taken (via golf cart) to the broadcast center.  Each day, I'd be responsible for returning the previous day's tapes, and even though it was an easy job, the hours I spent in that vault, alone, were really monotonous.  To pass the time, every day for a couple of weeks, I imagined that some kind of huge bomb went off outside while I was down there, and it had somehow sheltered me.  When I emerged, I found that L.A. was in ruins, and it appeared I was alone.  After exploration, I discovered there were only a handful of people left who had survived (due to happenstance like mine).  Among them were my old boss at the production company that made my life hell (she was the villain of the piece), homeless cannibals, and Katie Holmes.

Yeah, I probably need counseling.

I mention this because I recently narrated a book by Ryan King called "The Last Man," wherein a husband and father, Sam, finds himself the only survivor of a plague that wipes out literally every other human being within hundreds of miles.  The story picks up a couple of years after the holocaust, with Sam traveling along the East Coast with a bunch of friendly dogs.  Sam longs to find a purpose in life now that everyone else is gone, and mostly just drives or walks from town to town, finding (or catching) food, and encountering various obstacles.

The idea of being alone in the world is not a new one, and I knew it was inevitable he would encounter somebody else alive before the book's end (though probably nobody who had appeared on "Dawson's Creek").  It therefore surprised me that it happened almost immediately, within the first dozen pages of the book, and pleased me to no end to discover that the people he ran into were only figments of his imagination.  All too easy to believe, from someone who had adventures exploring abandoned mansions in Beverly Hills, bicycling unmolested to the ocean in Santa Monica, and traveled to the exotic pet store over by the Mormon temple to feed the fish each day, all in my mind.

I previously narrated Ryan's book "No Kinda Life," and if I had a complaint about the two books, it's that I was left wanting more when the stories ended.  That's not not really a criticism so much as a desire to experience more in those two post-apocalyptic worlds.

Here is the link: http://www.audible.com/pd/Sci-Fi-Fantasy/The-Last-Man-Audiobook/B00EV18WJK/ref=sr_1_19?qid=1380324057&sr=1-19.

I got paid to read it, so I get nothing if you buy it, but it might bring us closer together.  And who knows, like me, you may also sit up and say, "Wait, Mary Shelley wrote a post-apocalyptic novel called 'The Last Man' two centuries ago?"

Rish Outfield, The Last Boy

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The Podcast That Dares Not Speak Its Name 5: The Signalman

It has been many months since I put out an episode of my original solo podcast, the one which should not be named aloud.  It's been so long that I can't remember if I used to post them here or just send them out to Dunesteef subscribers.

But, I recorded these before I ever had my Rish Outcast, so I need to release them somewhere.  In this one, I perform and discuss Charles Dickens's "The Signalman."  Hilarity does not ensue.

Right click HERE to download the episode, select Save Link As, and save the file to your hard drive.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Rish Performs "The Backworlds" on Audible.com

I know it hasn't been, but it seems like a long time since I've done one of these.

A while back, I finished production on "The Backworlds," by M. Pax.  It's one of the last novels I auditioned for, before realizing I was crazy to be taking on so many projects, and I'll admit that it's taken me longer than it should have (I still made it in before the deadline, though, which is a record I'm oddly proud of, considering nobody else knows, and few seem to care about due dates).

Initially, I believe the author told me it was a cross between "Star Trek" and "Firefly."  How could one resist?  The author had very little direction for me (which is usually nice), except for the kind of voices to give three or four of the characters.  I have to warn you, though, that one of those is highly annoying (or has the potential to be, anyway).  My fault, not the author's.

So, a couple friends of mine have talked about how sexist the world, and by association, the fiction community is, and how women from far and near have to use initials instead of their first names, use photographs of their fathers for the book jacket, and are required to wear a banana in their pantaloons when doing public appearances.  This particular author has been forced to use the initial "M." instead of his/her first name, because of this sad tendency.*

This is a shame, and I hope, with the advent of J.K. Rolling, Stephenie Meyer, and Suzanne Collins, the stigma against female writers is extinguished.
Regardless, "The Backworlds" is a fun Science Fiction book about the son of a barman, who is forced to go out into the big, scary galaxy to make his fortune.  He's basically chased off his world, and left to his own wits to get ahead.  Fortunately, he immediately meets up with a couple of similar youths, both with aspirations of wealth and adventure.

The main character is pretty decent and gormless, and unprepared for those who would take advantage of his naivete.  In trying to find his destiny, he makes enemies and friends along the way . . . and then the story ends.

That's my main criticism with this book, and it's really not a criticism at all.  I wanted to read more about the adventures of Craze and Talos and Lepsi, etc..  Luckily, this was just the first book in a series, as they all are, and lots more fun is to be had.

Here's the link: http://www.audible.com/pd/Sci-Fi-Fantasy/The-Backworlds-Audiobook/B00F3JRSEE/ref=sr_1_1?qid=1379192882&sr=1-1  If this sells, you never know, Ms. Pax may ask me to narrate another.

Rish Outfield, Hackworlds

*I'm reminded of the Hispanic actor A. Martinez, who had to do the same with his first name when he first started his career, because, well, the world is so sexist that nobody would accept an actor with the name Adolf.

Monday, September 09, 2013

Audiobook Adventures: Chapter Buh

After editing thirteen That Gets My Goat marathon episodes, it was surprisingly easy to make the shift over to editing books for Audible again.  For a while.

I finished one book the other day, and need to choose a five minute excerpt to use as my audio sample for it.  I'm also on Chapter Four of "Derai," the second book in the Dumarest of Terra series, where I have a five-book contract.  I was excited the other day to be reading user comments on io9 and see the Dumarest series mentioned.  On the downside . . . I was reading user comments on an io9 article.

"Derai" has been slow-going, mostly because of my own lack of dedication.  There are so many characters, and again, not having read more than a synopsis of the book before beginning (rather than the entire book), I don't know which characters are important and which are incidental.  Hence, I gave one of the main characters one of my standard Evil British voices, only to discover that he is the good member of that family, and I have to temper that bad guy voice so as not to sound misleadingly sinister.  Sigh.

Here's a little aside, though: man, I have so many plates in the air.  I wish I had some kind of switch in the back of my head that said, "Nope, you are never going to finish that, do not start.  I mean it, you already have a huge list of projects you're in the middle of, and you have way less ambition than you think you do.  Stop beginning new projects."  But I don't.

Oh, and one other challenge on this book: it turns out that the title character is a mind-reader.  This is revealed early enough on that I realized I was going to have to differentiate between spoken lines and inner monologues.  In text, it's traditionally been conveyed simply by having the thoughts be in italics, and "the spoken phrases in quotation marks."  I have chosen to put an echo on the characters' thoughts, despite having heard that that's "corny" or "cliched" or "childish" or "unprofessional" in audiobook circles.  I have listened to many books, however, where the ear cannot differentiate between the spoken dialogue and the thoughts of characters, and I become confused, or just as often, infuriated, because it sounds as though the inspector just called his supervisor a cowardly ponce, and got away with it.

I made the decision to do the echo in "Derai" because it simply has to be understood that when Earl thinks something, and Derai responds to it, that he did not say it, but she eavesdropped into his thoughts.  I know it's possible to convey that by simply changing the tone of my voice in the narration, but I challenge any of you to do so, and be confident the listener will realize that's what you're doing.  In fact, I challenge you to go out and start doing audiobooks yourself, if you're so frigging smart. 

Whoops, I guess I went a bit astray, didn't I?  The consequence of this decision is that, now, every single character's thought will have to be echoed, because it's the precident I have set.  Again, it may be possible to only echo the "transmitted thoughts," if you will, but I am not merely the narrator, I'm the producer as well, and just like television, the producer is king.

I am close to finishing editing another short story for sale.  I prefer short stories to novels, simply because of my aversion to hard work, but I reached a sentence that was so unacceptably false in the story that I heard myself say, "Oh, fuck you!" during the narration.  It made me laugh hard enough that I stopped editing and got on here to blog about it.

It's something I've complained to Big about before.  Just like bad special effects, I have a low tolerance for Oh Fuck You moments in audiobooks.  There have been some which made me push eject and throw the disc (or cassette in my younger years) into the back seat.  Just thought I'd share that.

I've got another deadline looming, and unless I reeeeally change my ways, it's going to be the first one since I started this that I miss.  I really ought to stop typing this and go to work.  Sorry.

Rish Outfield, Actually About To Log Into Facebook

Sunday, September 08, 2013

Opening the Floodgates

We had some kind of crazy, fluke disaster weather over the weeken--

Wait, no, let me start earlier.  Thirty years ago, RETURN OF THE JEDI opened, and my mom drove me to the city to watch it.  We spent that night at my grandmother's house, and all over the news was the crazy flooding that was going on all over the state (and maybe the country).  People were out sandbagging, cars and basements and streets and doghouses were flooded, and a little town was wiped clean off the map at the bottom of a canyon.*

So, for some reason, that sort of weather returned this weekend, and all of a sudden, a wall of water came down our street and washed, not into the gutters in front of the house, but down our driveway and into the basement.  I was not home to see this happen, but my sister took pictures and people in town posted hilarious videos of submerged cars, laughing teens waterskiing behind trucks, and a dude kayaking through our mall parking lot . . . all with the fucking phone turned on its side so you can't see any of what they're trying to shoot, but you get plenty of grey sky.  Bastardos suicios.

Well, apparently, the water arrived so fast, that it was impossible to prevent the destruction of a lot of what was in that basement.  Witnesses say that my big sister ran into my room down there and madly piled things up on the table and couch so no more damage would be done than already had been.  Neighbors came over--the ones who weren't also dealing with flooding, that is--my dad drove up, my uncle, the old guy who has a thing for my mother, and they used buckets and vacuums and the water equivalent of a snowplow to get the water out, while my brother-in-law pulled fallen trees (no joke) out of the gutter opening, so the water would go there instead.  By the time professional damage assessors arrived, most of the water had been redirected elsewhere, but it had gotten everywhere, from the stairs, to the corners, to my sister's room, to inside the closets, soaking the carpet, and leaving a line on the walls and doors to show how high the water got in.

I was out of town, and when I arrived, there was little I could do but help carry things upstairs and try to soak up muddy water from the floor.  A bunch of my comic books and books had been ruined, as well as half my CD collection (which I admit is an archaic and nearly-useless medium at this point), and it looked like the walls would have to be re . . . re-finished? as well as the floorboards, but I had gotten off easy, relatively (because of the heroics of my sister).  My closet is filled with, literally, hundreds of cardboard boxes, and they had soaked up an almost-laughable amount of water, filling up the whole blue garbage bin by themselves.

Today, though, it was time to go through and see what could be salvaged and what should be trashed.  We pulled up the carpet and pads, the wood around the doors, and tons of
I had boxes of books under the stairs I hadn't thought about, and much of those were destroyed, including my Stephen King collection, and the books from my childhood, as well as mementos from back then, including my baby book, my high school diploma, and my journal from my first year of college.  There were tons of photographs that I hadn't seen (or thought about) for many years, many of which had either stuck together, or run like watercolors.  I looked very, very young in them.

I went behind the door and discovered that my posters had soaked up water at the bottom, and it had crept up them like a creepy vine, ruining art, and prints, but mostly movie posters, including one signed by Stan Lee, one by Sam Raimi, one by Drew Struzan, and my INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS poster signed by Kevin McCarthy.  I didn't throw them away--it seemed too cruel--but my mom thinks a lot of the water will turn into mold eventually.

McCarthy is now dead, and in going through the tons of ruined books, I found the first edition of "I Am Legend," that I had spent way too much money on because I so loved that book.  It reminded me that, earlier this year, Richard Matheson died, and I never blogged about it.  I felt guilty about that, and thought, "I ought to stop looking at all this destroyed stuff, and go blog about him."  Weird, that.**

I found a bunch of college papers in a box, all soaked through, and threw away stacks of magazines, newspapers, and screenplays (all written by some dork who used to think he'd get to write for the movies).  In one notebook, I saw a story I wrote in 1994 called "Scritch" written in a blue pen, but once the ink had gotten wet, it had ran to the point where only the title and first sentence were legible.  I realized that I had never typed up that particular tale, and that it, about an old man or woman who is visited at night by something scratching at his/her door, is gone forever.  This isn't heartbreaking or anything, don't get me wrong, but it is strange to see it in my hand and realize that it's not recoverable.

Many folks from the neighborhood came over today, volunteering to put up sandbags, help tear out the carpet and the awful glued-to-the-cement padding beneath it, and carry stuff upstairs or outside

We were told that homeowners insurance does not cover an "Act of God," and that unless a pipe broke inside the house, there would be no coverage on their part.  They also told us that the story I had written in my notebook was not very good, and it's better off gone.

Rish Outfield, Floodthirsty

*My dad and uncle have a cabin in the woods and to get there, you have to drive through the remains of this little town.  To this day, there are still roofs sticking out of the water in what are now ponds, and it never ceases to amaze and disturb me to see these ruins (even though it's only, like, six houses total).  There's something post-apocalyptic about it, or hubristic, or at least historical, you know?

**Really, I do feel guilty for not saying something to honor Matheson.  I'm not a big reader, but he was a really wonderful writer, and both "I Am Legend" and "The Incredible Shrinking Man" were fantastic, engaging, throughtful books. 

Friday, September 06, 2013

Appearance on the "Strewn Along the Path" podcast

One-time friend (now full-time competitor) Marshal Latham's esoterica podcast "Strewn Along the Path" was created so he could talk about STAR WARS beyond the limits of his "Journey Into..." podcast (the episode with the story I wrote, not coincidentally), and it has somehow become a podcast devoted to that subject.  He was telling me that he's tempted to do it as a STAR WARS show permanently, and see if he can't get guests to sit down with him and talk about it, the way Kevin Smith does with his "Fatman on Batman" podcast.

I told Marshal he could call it "Fat Guys on Jedis."  But "Strewn Along te Path" is actually a much cooler name.

Anyway, I really enjoyed hearing him talk about his childhood and thoughts about the Prequels, and told him I wanted to be a guest on his show, and somehow, I ended up being the first one.  Not that I have anything to do with STAR WARS, except being told, "You're a bloody wanker"  by the woman who played Mon Mothma.  But I can still talk about it, for a long, long time.

Marshal was kind to indulge me, and we talked about our love for the franchise for a while on the show (linked here http://strewnalongthepath.blogspot.com/2013/09/3-strewn-along-path-wookies-and-hutts.html).  Check it out, if you're missing the sound of my jaw flapping.  If people like this show, he'll surely do more episodes in the future.  Maybe he'll even have me along sometime.

Perhaps Big and I can have Marshal on our show when the announcements for "Episode VII" start to drop. 

Rish Outfield, Jedi Pawn

P.S.  See, 'cause a Knight is a Chess piece, and so is a . . . never mind.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Rish Outcast 2: Subtext

As promised/threatened, here is the first "actual" episode of my solo podcast, essentially designed for me to read one of my stories, then talk about it. It's basically a much more stripped-down version of The Podcast That Dares Not Speak Its Name, which has two more forthcoming episodes, but since I haven't worked on them since February (or earlier), they are distantly forthcoming.

In this episode of the Outcast, I present the extended, full version of my story "Subtext," about the text messages from a dead girl's phone. It has been seen, here and there, in a 500 word edit.

Afterward, I talk about the tale, its point, and the one champion of it over the years.

Right click HERE to download the episode, select Save Link As, and save the file to your hard drive.

Rish Performs "The Winds of Gath" over on Audible.com

It's finally here, folks, my reading of the first book in "The Dumarest Saga," by E.C. Tubb.  Tubb wrote a series of books about the galaxy-traveling hero Earl Dumarest between 1967 and 2008, and though they have a cult following, they've never been done in audio before (to my knowledge).

This was a more difficult undertaking than the other books I've recorded, though not for the same reasons.  There are probably thirty or forty characters with speaking parts, and it was hard to know who would be significant and who would never appear again.  I tried to give anybody major a recognizable, individual voice, and made notes about them I hoped would help me through the next installments.*

I've complained about cover art before, about whether it's very important or only slightly important, and when you look at the art they've chosen for this one, it opens up a whole new page of discussion.

"The Winds of Gath" introduces the Dumarest character, awakening him on the planet Gath, where he is effectively abandoned, with no money to get off-planet.  He runs into an old friend, and gets in the middle of a couple of groups at odds with each other.  In my favorite part of the book, to earn money, Dumarest enters himself in a gladiatorial battle to the death with the Prince of Emmened's champion (that's the scene I chose to exemplify the book in the sample).

Here is the link to the audiobook and the sample: http://www.audible.com/pd/ref=sr_1_4?asin=B00EUE9ULC&qid=1377787753&sr=1-4

Recently, my uncle asked me to send him a link to something I had recorded, and that made me feel good.  But his exact words were, "Whatever you feel your best work is," which actually kept me from sending him anything.  I don't know if he likes Horror, or Sci-Fi, or bad religious Y.A., something long or something short, so I didn't know what to steer him toward.  But this one would probably be a good example to play for anyone.  It's not gonna be for everyone, that's for certain, but it's good work, on both my part and Mr. Tubb's.

Rish Outfield, Narrator

*I'd write the character's name and my description of the voice I did for them, but though not all of the good and bad guys die in "Winds of Gath," the only character who has come back for the second book (so far) has been Dumarest himself.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Rish Outcast 2: Subtext

As promised/threatened, here is the first "actual" episode of my solo podcast, essentially designed for me to read one of my stories, then talk about it. It's basically a much more stripped-down version of The Podcast That Dares Not Speak Its Name, which has two more forthcoming episodes, but since I haven't worked on them since February (or earlier), they are distantly forthcoming.

In this episode of the Outcast, I present the extended, full version of my story "Subtext," about the text messages from a dead girl's phone. It has been seen, here and there, in a 500 word edit.

Afterward, I talk about the tale, its point, and the one champion of it over the years.

Right click HERE to download the episode, select Save Link As, and save the file to your hard drive.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Rish's story "Overtaken" available in Bete Noire magazine

I am somewhat fascinated by the idea of little rural towns that have their own peculiar customs (ala Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery") or legends (like that guy in Haddonfield, IL).  I've written several stories about that sort of thing, and last month, wrote one about Murdertown, California, where everybody gets one free homicide.

Gee, it's sad just how many stories like this I've written over the years.  I could put out a collection sometime.

Anyway, my story, "Overtaken," is one of them, and it's appearing in the new issue of Bete Noire magazine (link here: https://www.createspace.com/4411452).  It's about a husband and wife who move into a little Arizona town, right before Takeover Day.  What's Takeover Day, you ask?*  Well, depending on who you ask, it's the opportunity for members of the community to either be plagued with or blessed with a . . .  guest inside their bodies for a few minutes.

Sounds fun, right?
Well, it was fun to write, anyway.  They made it look really professional over at Bete Noire, and that pleases me.  In looking it over, it would appear that I named all of the characters after people who helped us on the Dunesteef Audio Fiction Magazine (the couple are Barry and Nicole Dugger, for example).  I'm sick that way.

It's only available in the magazine, for now, but we may do a podcast version of the story, if Big encourages me about it. 

In the meantime, I wonder if I ought to sit down and make a list of all my stories with small farming communities with unusual aspects to them.  I wonder if I would end up impressed or depressed.

Rish Outfield

*And if you didn't ask it, I didn't do my job well.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Babysitter of the Week

On Mondays I usually take care of my two nephews.  I don't do a very good job.

Today, I was coming in from the mailbox and I saw the two-year old finger-painting on the floor with something brown.   "Oh no," I said.  "Is that chocolate?"

"No!" he exclaimed, "It's poop!"

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Rish's Story "White House Tour" in the Masters of the Macabre contest

June/July/August 2013

Man, I have lived too long, since every one of my blog entries is about the same things.  I guess I could switch things up and talk about how I’ve been alone so long, it doesn’t even hurt anymore, or how my nephews have now become the second most important people in my life, and that doesn’t seem too sad to me either.  But today I’m at my family cabin, typing on my brother’s laptop, and the first thing I did was to get the story out that I wrote for a contest next month, and read it over, in case I could polish it up.

Unfortunately, turds have a strong aversion to being polished, and it occurred to me that there’s not really much I can do to fix the story: it just isn’t very good.  And instead of depression, a strange bit of apathy overcame me.  No, it’s not a good story, but I'm not of a mind to care, and I certainly don’t care to try to fix it somehow.  It’s a tale I wrote (the third or fourth, depending on your interpretation, that I’ve written) for the Horror Addicts podcast, and it’s the one I did the most research on.  They have a contest every year called the Masters of the Macabre, in which there’s an overall topic, and specific details given to each participant. 

The first time I entered, in 2011, the topic was Phobias, and I was given Fear of Insects.  I also had to include a luau and hang gliding in the story.  What I came up with was something I called “Friends in Paradise,” about a little girl who goes on a Hawaiian vacation with her family, and ends up using her ability to control bugs to cause mayhem.  It wasn’t a great story, and having never been to Hawaii, I had to ask a friend who lived there a couple of questions, and went ahead and wrote the story.  It turned out alright, neither very good nor very bad, and I recorded it myself, asking my niece to voice the main character. 

I didn’t win the contest, but it was an activity worth doing, since I never would’ve written that story without their prompts.  If left to my own devices, I'd probably write the same two or three stories over and over again.

The next year, I was eager to enter the contest, and the topic turned out to be Curses.  I got given the Curse of Macbeth, and wrote a story called “The Scottish Scene,” about a high school assignment to do a reading from a Shakespeare play.  The story turned out really well (I thought), but it was significantly too long, and I had to cut it down to fit it into the time limit allotted. 

I absolutely despise doing that kind of editing, because yes, it can increase one’s writing talent, trying to use an economy of speech and figuring out what is necessary to the story and what is expendable, but when you have to cut out too much, it becomes a waste of time and a detriment to the finished product.

For the podcast version, I asked my friend Renee to record the female characters, and I did the narration and the male characters (I ended up doing the witch’s voice myself, since Renee’s voice is too clear and youthful).  It’s hard to objectively state how good something I write is, but I really enjoyed writing, narrating, and editing the audio of that story, and would someday like to produce the full version, just because I enjoyed writing it, and the character who did the watch monologue from PULP FICTION as his reading in class.

You know, I will write a bit about my next story for Horror Addicts (“Unreleased”) and will publish it before this bit, but it was next, and written especially for the podcast, and again, I really liked everything about that one, except for cutting it down for length.

But the third contest, the one for 2013, is due soon, and its theme was Hauntings, a subject fraught with Horror possibilities.  They gave me the location of The White House, and an instruction to put “An Unopened Letter From 1842” somewhere in there.  It could only be ten minutes long, so I figured the tale had to be pretty simplistic.  I thought I’d write about a paranormal investigator, or a ghost expert, who goes to the White House to see if there’s any truth to the haunting stories there.

My pal Jeff and I went on a trip to Denver last month, and he tends to go to sleep early (and rise early too), while I can’t go to sleep unless it’s too late for non-criminals to be active.  That night, I thought I’d do a bit of research on the haunting of the White House, and spent an hour or two reading about the various ghosts or occurrences that have been reported over the years.  Turns out people way back in the 1800’s claimed to see or hear ghosts in the White House, and there have been various Presidents and civilians sighted there ever since.  I wondered why I’ve never seen a horror movie set in the White House, and figured it was probably budgetary.

I decided the story needed to be too short to have it be anything other than a simple, direct narrative (this blog post is itself nearly fifteen hundred words long so far), and figured I’d write the tale of when the paranormal investigator was a boy, and what got him interested in the unknown.  The boy is ten years old and goes on a tour of the White House with his mother and new stepfather.

Unfortunately, though it’s debatable whether the story turned out good or not, it’s definitely NOT scary (this is the "Masters of the Macabre" contest, after all, not "Masters of the Mundane").  I decided which of the famous ghosts he’d encounter, and went ahead with as short an account as I could.  It ended up being almost exactly two thousand words, and I stopped, content that it did what it was supposed to do.

Today, I re-read it, making a couple of minor changes, adding a bit of dialogue, and expanding it slightly to 2060 words.  I don’t imagine it’ll take much shaving to get it down to size, but if I need to, there’s a bit of fat here and there I can slice off.  The real problem with the story is that it’s not particularly compelling.  It’s straight-forward, and I leave the answers to the end (as you’re probably supposed to do), but it’s as though I went out of my way to make it tame and unthreatening, like I wrote it for the Disney Channel or something.  Also, I was sorely tempted to convey a lot of information from my research in the tale, but I’m afraid that would make it even less of a Horror story, and more of an Children's Educational piece.

I’ve complained a lot about the listeners of EscapePod (the Science Fiction podcast), and their arrogant tendency to claim to know where every story is going, complaining about predictability in each and every episode, and wow, they would have a field day with this story.  They’d probably ensure that I’d never appear on that vaunted podcast again.

Oh wait, I have never appeared there.  Touché, EscapePod listeners. Touché.

In a recent episode of That Gets My Goat, I spoke of missing the deadline for submitting this tale, and how it was the sort of stupid mistake I've made all my life, but it turns out there weren't a lot of participants in this year's contest, and they extended the deadline for a few days, so everyone could get theirs in.

Here's the link to the aired episode: http://horroraddicts.wordpress.com/2013/08/23/horroraddicts-net-093-masters-of-macabre-contest/

It's a contest, but I'm not asking anyone to vote for it.  That's not my bag, baby, even if I thought it was the best thing I'd ever written.  And I doubt that would work if I made it my bag.

I recorded the story, and once again had my niece voice the part of a kid (I honestly don't know if that makes the listening experience better or worse, but I like it when kids are used instead of adults, and want to encourage her to be artistic, if she likes).  Sure enough, the story was a couple of minutes too long, despite me trying to head that off at the pass.  It's easier to edit text than audio, since you can always shorten a paragraph to convey something in two sentences instead of five, but when it's recorded, you usually have to leave a sentence or two intact and lose the rest.  All in all, it was short enough it only took twenty minutes or so to get it to length.

They've also included the text of the story at this link: http://horroraddicts.wordpress.com/2013/08/24/mmm-contestant-1-rish-outfield/.  It's probably about one minute off from the recorded version, since I went from cutting out lines in both, to just trimming the audio.

Right now, my story is called “White House Tour,” and I wanted to be clever and call it something like “Tour De Force,” but that’s as lame as, I don’t know, a Dane Cook fan.  I could come up with a good title, if I really try, but the larger problem, the story’s content, is much more difficult.

I gave it my best shot, and the story is what it is (or rather, what it turned out to be).  Ultimately, I think I’m just gonna let it go.  I apologize to the Horror Addicts folks, who continue to encourage me to write stories I would never otherwise pen, but this will just have to be chalked up to experience.  I am, in my own estimation, a writer of some talent, but some projects turn out better than others.  You never know until you write them, and I’ll sometimes suspect a crappy story partway through, and will abandon it. 

It’s a part of life, reminding me of that ancient Spanish proverb, “Aun Spielberg hizo Hook.

Rish Outfield

P.S. In the weeks since I wrote the above (they gave us an extra few weeks so that more than . . . one person could enter the contest), I feel I may have been overly harsh with my story criticism.  I worked on it when I could've been doing something else, and tried to make the best one I could.  If you like my writing, it has the same charm I try to put into everything I do (even what you're reading now), and my niece's voice sounds good in the recording (better than mine, which has been so sped up to shorten the tale that it's almost ridiculous).  I'm still not going to ask anybody to vote for me over the other two entries, but if somebody out there actually does like the story, I'm not going to begrudge them for it.