Saturday, June 29, 2013

Barking. Mad?

I actually was published in a book one time.  I don't know if it was my first published story (or my last), but I once wrote a short piece about a dog barking at something in my house, something I could not see.  It was inspired by something that happened when I was a child (that I think I've told many, many times), and was one of my few brushes with the unknown I remember fondly.

My sister went camping this weekend, and was unwilling to take her yappy little dog with her, so I got saddled with dogsitting.  She didn't ask if this was okay, merely sent me a text that said I was watching the dog and it was already at my place, so have fun.

I have grown pretty intolerant of that dog (who I referred to as an "it" in the last paragraph, but will now refer to as "she" from here on out), since she is old and whines a lot.  I realize that I am not yet old, and whine just as much, but you know how it is.

So, it was around 3:45 in the morning, and I was trying to sleep, when the dog began to bark.  I had left the door to my room open, and got up to investigate.  The little dog was standing at the top of the stairs, barking and growling at something down there, in the darkness.

Well, this gave me pause.  I turned on a light, and the dog stopped barking, but kept growling low in her throat, all the while looking downward.  I went back to my room and got my baseball bat (this I bought it Los Angeles after my apartment was broken into time and time again, and sadly, has never been used for either baseball or beating miscreants).  I walked down the stairs, quietly, telling my imagination to do me the favor of not projecting the image into my mind of a leering old man or a ghostly screaming woman standing there in the dark.

To make a short story shorter, I saw nothing, and no one lurking outside or in the house, or any reason the dog would have to freak out like that.  She doesn't bark at the mailman or thunder or garbage trucks or Jehovah's Witnesses (a pity that), but something at quarter to four in the morning did get her barking.  I'm almost disappointed I don't have a cool, index finger outstretched ending to this tale.  A warning that animals can see or sense more than we can, or that the evil spirits are furious about DOMA being struck down.

But it's better I found nothing, in the long run.

Rish Outfield, Paranormal Ignoricator

Friday, June 28, 2013

Rish performs "Unholy Womb & Other Halloween Tales" on

I haven't done one of these plugs in a while.  Whoops.

A few weeks back, I contacted Steven E. Wedel, the author of a short story collection I narrated, to see if he'd let me run a story from the book on the Dunesteef, and he was amenable.  I picked the title story "Unholy Womb," and presented it unchanged from how it appears in the book, which is now available for sale at Audible

The collection itself features scary five stories, all taking place on Halloween.

"Unholy Womb" tells the tale of a youth who picks up a pair of pumpkins from a local farmer, only to find they're part of a sinister Halloween trick.
"The Halloween Feast" has a man who recently lost his wife and child invited to a costume party where the dead share drinks with the living.
"SKN-3" is about a modern day mad scientist in an inner city neighborhood, doing what mad scientists do best. 
"Hungry Is The Night" is a lovely tale wherein a small-time reporter starts hearing about some strange incidents, and discovers the local sheriff has been getting similar calls, leading to the suspicion that something otherworldy has entered their little town.
And in "Scream of Humanity," a nineteenth century doctor is called on to deliver a baby (from another unholy womb), but is given advice on what to do if the child comes out . . . wrong.

As I've said in these pages, some of the projects I've taken on were a pain in the taint, and some were a bit more fun.  This one was a pleasure from beginning to end, and sometimes I worry that this'll be the exception rather than the rule.

You can head over to and listen to the first story for free (if you don't like that one, you won't like the rest of them), or throw down a few bucks to listen to the whole thing.  Either way, Halloween wins.

Rish Outfield, Audiobook Narrator

Monday, June 17, 2013

Audiobook Adventures: Post Twenty

Don't know if it's week twenty (actually, I think I've missed two or more now), but this is the twentieth post, so that's pretty cool, I guess.

I really have nothing to say this week, and posted nothing in a while.  Actually though, there are two things I could talk about.  The first is that I finally, after revision after revision, had one of my projects accepted by the writer, and I can put it behind me.  It's sad that, because human nature is what it is, we tend to talk a lot more about the things we don't like than the things we do, but I will try not to say anything more about this one.  You know what I mean.

But I sort of want to, and don't at the same time.  Weird.

It's hard to write.  You have to make things up from your own mind and imagination, but then you have to be savvy enough to see what works and what doesn't work, and figure out a way to fix the things that don't.  Good thing I'm not a writer, huh?

I started editing that SF book I mentioned finishing last time.  Today I discovered that, in a scene about the prow of a boat, I referred to it as the "pro of the boat" one time.  Dumb, but hopefully understandable.  And rather than re-record that sentence or paragraph with the correct pronunciation, I decided to go through the other uses of the word in the chapter (where I said it correctly) and try and paste them into the sentence over my use of "pro."  Dumb, but even I don't understand that.

. . .

Alright, the other thing I said I could talk about.  I'm worried that it'll make me sound like a bit of a tool if I talk about it (or maybe not even "a bit" of one).  But I gotta fill these blogs with something.

So, I got another statement from Audible, breaking down my sales and all the royalties I supposedly earned in the month of April.  It wasn't a lot, but it was slightly more than what I supposedly made in March.  I use the word "supposedly" because I have yet to get a check out of them.  The first month, I looked at the fine print and it said that any royalties that are less than fifty dollars do not merit them sending out a check, so I thought, alright, I can understand that.  But here we are a month later, and still nothing. 

I thought they might not have my tax information, so I triple-checked, and it is there, since January.  I'm not really complaining--okay, I totally am, but I warned you about the tool thing--but I did get into this as a way of earning money, even if it was fun at first.  But a sprawling, poorly-written horror novel, and worse, a Christian-themed YA book with less of a feel for American teen life than Kim Jong Un would have, well, those felt like work.  You know?

Regardless, I do plan on editing the SciFi book I finished recording this week, and I imagine they will pay me eventually.  Right?

I wonder how long I should wait before I start to worry that something is wrong.*

As I've said--often?--the SF book is the first in a series, and I recorded the whole book through to the end, and will wait until it's completely edited before I start on the second book.  I'm slowly, but surely, editing that book, at the astounding rate of about two chapters a week.  I think I may have burned myself out, at least for a little while.  Either that, or I'm even lazier than I remembered being.  Probably both.

I hope I get a second wind soon, or by the time I crack book number two (of at least five), I'll have forgotten what the characters sound like.

Hell, maybe I should stop blogging and edit the darn thing.

Rish Outfield, Serial Procrastinator

*My gut tells me, "Oh, a month ago."

Friday, June 14, 2013

Babysitter of . . . meh

So, I've been trying to encourage my two year old nephew to use the pottychair instead of his diaper whenever I think of it, and encourage my five year old nephew to try to read instead of his diaper-equivalent (which, I suppose, would be watching "Spongebob," or something similar) whenever I think of it.  It's easy to remember to ask if someone needs to go to the bathroom, but I rarely remember that the boy should be reading, or at least trying to. 

Every once in a while, we'll be driving somewhere, and we'll pass a sign that says "Stop" or "Target" or "Open" or "Live Nude Girls," and I'll try to get the boy to sound out the word.  More often than not, he'll check out the first couple of letters, then guess what the word is based on that, which teachers say is a logical way most kids first start to read. 

Unfortunately, that backfired on me this week when we went to the amusement park, and I saw a sign that said "Fun!" by one of the rides.  I asked the boy to read that word to his mother.

"Fff," he said, then "Uhh," and yep, he tried to guess the rest of the word.  It was not "fun."

His mother's eyes got big and she said, "WHAT was that?"

I thought it was hilarious, but I was also glad it was the boy's mother he had said it to, and not my own.

Rish Outfield, Contributor to the Delinquency of Minors

Sunday, June 09, 2013

Driving In Cars With Jeff

So, I went on a little trip with Jeff this week, to see Sting in concert yet again.  I can't remember what the Brits call it, a mini-holiday or something (for every stupid word like "bonnet" or "tyre," they have two clever and exotic-sounding words like "flat" and "lift" and "defenestration."  But I'm already digressing).  We left on Tuesday and came back on Thursday, so it wasn't long, but I thought it went extremely well, and we got along, despite the fact that he's from Hoth and I'm from Tatooine.

Jeff and I have been friends for over twenty years, and it's sort of strange that we continue to be friends, because he is very, very smart, and I am often not-so-smart.  He gets up at six in the morning without the use of an alarm, and I am typing this at 2:31am with no plans for quitting anytime soon.  Jeff got married young, and I will never, ever be loved.  Jeff reads novels for pleasure, I can't even be arsed to read comic books anymore.  Jeff wants to live in some of the drearier places in Northern England, and I'd prefer some place near the ocean, even if there's smog and crime and people working the register at Chinese restaurants who only speak Spanish.  Jeff hates the heat, and I hate the cold, but betwixt the both of us, we lick the platter clean, I suppose.

It was a pleasant, uneventful drive, with a ton of conversation, some of it much deeper than we usually get, discussing life, religion, GLBT tendencies, and death rituals.  But we still talked about the New Mutants and exactly what powers the Scarlet Witch has, so some things never change.

At one point on the trip, Jeff said he checked my blog to see if I'd written about the vacation, and it made me feel guilty, because I hadn't really intended to.  We had that aforementioned private conversation on the drive, and I wasn't about to share that will the absolutely no one who reads this, and the concert itself wasn't especially memorable, even if the venue was.  To be honest, I got an idea for a short story, and spent all my blog time writing it on my brother's laptop.  You'll probably hear that story in August, so it's good I didn't wait till the deadline to write it*, even though it meant I did no blogging.

The concert was in Denver, at the Red Rocks Amphitheater, which is up in the mountains, surrounded by rocks that are, ironically-enough, orange.  We parked in a big gravel lot, then had to walk, what, half a continent to get to where the concert would be.  Jeff and I like to walk, so it wasn't so bad, but there was an endless wall of stairs to get up there,** causing poor Jeff to sweat profusely, even though it was only fifty-four degrees out, which to me is an iceberg. 

As we climbed the stairs, friendly hippies gave away something like Larabar Cashew Cookies to anybody that wanted one, but Jeff shook his head wildly and refused.  I didn’t understand his nearly-hysterical reaction, since I was raised to greedily accept anything that is free, but Jeff explained that Larabars are made from something thick that is harvested in French Canada from the rectums of the elderly and the mentally ill.  Jeff has done his research, that I can guarantee you.

It was kind of an amazing locale, with the rock formations enclosing us, and a distant view of the Mile-High City in the horizon (though it was too cloudy to see much of Denver that night).  The people around us brought cameras, as well as drinks, blankets, booze, binoculars, and something that looked like the cross between a Slurpie and booze.  I would've taken several pictures if I had thought to bring a camera, and the way my phone works is that I have to delete one of the ten pictures it already has in it to take another one.

Sting sang his usual songs, and no mention was made of his new album or tracks from it, despite it having been announced the night before our show.  That was kind of disappointing, but we had bought the tickets not knowing there was a new album in the works at all.  The crowd was mostly older folks--which I suppose I'm lumped in with now--but the woman who stood next to me was constantly sending text messages on her phone instead of watching the show, just like a young person.

Afterward, we hiked down the stairs and hill, even though it was now dark, and sat waiting for cars to inch their way out of the various lots.  But that sort of thing usually doesn't bother me much, since it is part of the price you pay for going to a concert or a ballgame.

Mostly what we did on the trip was drive, whether to find food, a movie theater, food, the Mile High Comics warehouse we read about as children (we didn't end up finding it), food, gas stations, and places to eat. 

We made this same trip in November of 2011, and driving through the town of Fruita, there were these dead-looking trees that were so beautiful, I wanted to dance around them wearing only a loincloth (or less).  I had taken a couple of pictures on the return trip, but they didn't do them justice, and this time through, I had my camera in the suitcase, so I could only look.  It's summer/spring now, so the trees looked totally different, but still beautiful.

Sometimes we talked, sometimes we just sat in silence, listening to music.  Jeff played a song for me by a dude called Flowers, that I'd never heard before, and I've now listened to it about eighteen times.  But more on that later.

In 2011, we stopped in the city of Grand Junction, Colorado, and I told Jeff that I want to live there one day.  He wants Ireland, I want this town on I-70 where I liked the Target store.  This year, we stopped there for gas, and it didn't even occur to me we were in the same town.  I can't even remember why I liked it so much.  It sucks to give up on your dreams. 

Like when I realized I would never ever marry that girl from "Just the Ten of Us."

Last trip, it was winter and so it was dark when we drove through the desert, but this year, I actually got to see some amazing rock formations and buttes/mesas on the drive back.  They were amazing (or a better word than my second use of "amazing"), looking a lot like those mountains they drive on in CARS, during the romantic subplot, and I realized, in talking with Jeff, that I had no idea how they got there.  I didn't even know if they happened over centuries or all at once.  It also sucks to have a brain that only retains funny voices and quotes from "Leave It To Beaver," and not useful information or science.

The other thing I wanted to blog about, and it's a little thing, really, is that Jeff was driving and I looked at his iPod and discovered that he had a playlist there with my name on it.  But it wasn't a grouping of my favorite songs or songs we first heard together, but the exact opposite sort of thing: songs Jeff likes and was sure I'd despise.  I sort of got to choose the music when he was driving, but once I got behind the wheel, that playlist went right on.

Jeff seems to have gotten pleasure out my negative reaction on one of the songs, so he played through all thirty-nine tracks in the playlist, keeping a kind of score as to how right he was.  It was filled to bursting with Florence & the Machine and something called The Wombats (neither of which I really despise), but there was only one Foster the People song in the whole bunch.  As each track played he'd ask for my verdict, and it turned out that there were only six points in Jeff's favor on there (four songs I hated, and four songs I didn't care for that he gave a half a point to).  I told him the Foster the People song could count for five points, but he didn't think that was fair.

It struck me as either really twisted or really kind of endearing that Jeff would create a playlist of songs to annoy me, and it's the same that he was talking about us making that same trip again in a year or so.  The worst thing was, when I asked him how much I owed him for the tickets and hotel room, he told me, "Happy birthday." 

Last time, I believe he said "Merry Christmas."

I'm reminded of the ending of THE NAKED GUN, when Priscilla Presley says to Frank Drebin, "Everyone deserves a friend like you."  And in the background, poor O.J. Simpson is violently injured yet again.

Good times.

Rish Outfield, Police Squad!

*And now I can leave it alone for a month and look at it again when I'm no longer close to it.  That's always a good idea.  That and reading the damn thing aloud.  Put that on my tombstone.

**Right past where our seats were, the stairs continued to a tunnel, where Shelob waits for unfortunates to come near.  She's always hungry, Precious.

Friday, June 07, 2013

Audiobook Adventures: Week Nineteen

I don't know how much longer I'm going to keep writing these.  Each one seems to have less to say than the last.  Less original stuff, at least.

I accomplished very little in the audiobook-producing realm this week.  I got yet another list of fixes to make on a book I recorded in April, and I was pretty upset about it.  So I called up Big and complained to him about it on his drive home from work.  He sighed a lot and it sounded like he kept throwing his hands in the air from the screeching tires and honking of other cars, but I actually felt a lot better after talking to him, and went ahead and re-recorded the lines she requested I re-do.  I think I've complained about her pickiness before, so I won't bother to do it again (except to say that, honestly, there's a law of diminishing returns on audio fixes when every line she wants redone will sound different than the lines that precede and follow them.  I may have said "tuck in her hair behind her ear" instead of "tuck her hair behind her ear," but if the correction draws attention to itself and the original error doesn't . . .).

Conversely, I got exactly two edit requests on the short story collection I narrated and sent in.  Both were parts where I said the same line twice and didn't catch it in my edit.*  That was an easy fix, and within twenty-four hours, that book was accepted and headed to the sales racks. 

Big had suggested I ask that author if he would let us run one of his stories on our podcast, and I asked the guy about it yesterday.  He told me to go ahead, so I asked Big which story he wanted to work on.  He told me just to pick one and we'd run it soon, just as I recorded it.  I was a little bummed about that, since I was hoping he'd want to voice one of the characters and put music in, but his reasoning was, this is a promotional tool for that audiobook, and it wouldn't behoove us to put out a different version than people would be buying (especially if our version had bells and whistles that didn't come in the purchased version).  That made sense, so I picked one of the five stories and we'll have an episode with it soon.  Kind of an efficient use of my time there, when I think about it.

As far as recording goes, I have focused solely on the first book in a series I've been contracted to do.  I've mentioned it a lot, and hopefully, it'll sell well, and I'll end up doing them all, but that's quite a commitment to make, and we'll see if it burns me out in the end.  This first book is really pretty fun, and the greatest challenge** in it is that there's so many darn characters.  I've tried to give them all unique voices (okay, uniqueish), and started writing them down on the bookmark, because it sucks to have to go back through the recordings to try and figure out what kind of accent or pitch or bad celebrity impression I did for one of the villains.

Because of that, I put away my other projects and just read through it as fast as I could.  I got in done this week, in about nine days, but I know that editing will take way longer.  A part of me is worried that if I send in the finished work too quickly, that the publisher will think I can handle every book at that pace, and that could be dangerous. 

But I have another first book in a series that I began last month, and as soon as this one is done--or I start to hate editing it--I'll pick that up and start recording again.  That one has been fun too, and is a much lighter read than the one written in the Sixties.

I haven't included outtakes in the last couple blog posts, mostly because I ran out of them on the old projects, and I saved some from one of my recent recordings and when I went to save them, the file was silent.  That's happened to me once before and I'm not sure what causes it, but they're just outtakes--thank Bossk--so I just closed the file and started a new one.  Maybe in two weeks or so we'll get more.


Rish Outfield, Occasional Reader

*I wonder how many more of those are out there.  Probably several.

**The second-greatest challenge was that there were some sciency-sounding terms and discussions in the book, and not knowing which words were invented and which were real, I tried to pronounce them every conceivable way every time I said them.  Time will tell whether I failed on that or not.