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.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

"The Calling" available on Amazon.com

Today is a momentous day.  I actually did something I said I would.

Not sure that's ever happened before.

Almost a year ago, back in November or so, I vowed to start putting my stories up for sale on Amazon. 

Wait, even before that, in October, I was in the makeup trailer with a guy who was telling me about his super-dull local history book that he'd listed on Amazon, and that he still sold several copies a month.  I thought, "If this guy can do that . . ."  Of course, he was the type to tell a stranger all about his writing, and I'm not that type.

Then, in November, Abbie Hilton came down and told me how easy it would be to upload stories, putting them in little groupings, little themed collections, bigger unthemed collections, etc. and all but forced a commitment out of me, that I would at least try it.  Her theory was (and I'm a subscriber to it) that once I'd seen how to do it, and actually done it once, I'd do it again and again.

But months and months passed.  And I never did.  We even had a kind listener volunteer to do all the work--to take our stories and create a Kindle file with cover art and everything--and it didn't sway me. 

I did create an account in May or so, and came close to being brave and putting up one of my favorite stories no one has ever read.  But when I saw that it required cover art for each story or book, I gave up.  I realize I could just have blank text like so:
yet folks have told me that an image is always better.  The better the image, the more likely someone will click on it.

So, I gave up.  Oh, I thought I'd go back to it, trying to come up with a cover image I could do without much effort, but it was half-hearted.  I am no aspiring-author-only-slumming-it-doing-extra- work, apparently.

But this month, when we ran my story "The Calling" on the Dunesteef (http://dunesteef.com/2013/08/02/episode-145-bmse-the-calling-by-rish-outfield/), the response was really positive, and people had all sorts of thoughts and suggestions about the story.  They were supportive to a T, which it seems is what I need to hear.

But instead of doing what I always do, I actually sat down and incorporated a couple of those changes into the tale, and, encouraged by all the listeners, I went ahead and listed the text for sale on Amazon.

"The Calling" is a story about a man who fled a religious family years before because he didn't believe in what they believed: that demons are walking the Earth in human guise, and it's they're job to kill them.  He runs into his twin sister, and it all comes flooding back.  Here's the link: www.amazon.com/The-Calling-ebook/dp/B00ENMZIGC

It's my plan to do this again and again, if I can overcome the damn cover art problem.  And if anybody buys it, maybe I'll do it again faster.

Rish Outfield, Aspiring Author Slumming It By Blogging

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Audiobook Adventures: Post 24

Not much to report today.  I started the second book in my potentially-massive-but-contractually-large series, and finished another book for Ryan King, who wrote "No Kinda Life," which I recorded earlier this year.

I started my fourth Kristine Kathryn Rusch story, and got a nice note from her about my work on her tales (it surprised me that she had heard my recordings, but I suppose she'd have to have approved the narrator her agent hired, right? I'm not really sure how this sort of thing works. While I highly doubt she listens to the full recordings, she'd probably listen to the first thirty seconds of each sample before approving or disapproving. Heck, maybe she participates in the audition process, but leaves the rest to her agent)  I spent a lot of time editing, bouncing between audiobooks and the marathon of That Gets My Goat episodes Big and I recorded in the month of July.  Not a great deal to complain about.

Although . . . in the recording of that story, the battery ran out during my recording.  I grabbed another battery, stuck it in, and started recording again, and it too ran out (within five minutes).  I went to my recharger and grabbed both of the batteries there.  I stuck one in and continued.  Within five minutes, that too ran out.  It took me four tries to get the (very short) story recorded, and I commented that this particular story must be cursed.

When I transferred the files to my computer, I discovered that both of the first two recordings were blank, despite being large files.  In fact, the first thing that actually survived from that session was me saying, "I think this story is cursed."  Instead of editing it, when I was feeling ambitious, I had to record the darn thing again, and then wanted to watch TV or sleep when I was done.

Though unrelated to my audiobook work, Big sat me down to show me how he uploads the show. It has more steps (and is slightly less confusing) than watching Scotty prep the warp drive on the Enterprise before leaving spacedock, but he assures me that doing it again and again will make things easier. I have had a laundry list of problems posting outtakes to these pages, so I used the new way on the above outtake. Hopefully, it is easier to listen to than they have been in the past (I don't think I'll go back and alter the previous outtakes, since I usually delete those files as soon as I've posted them in my blog, but from here on out, they'll look like the above).

Having so many projects going concurrently could potentially be disastrous, but I've found it breaks 99% of any monotony to switch from, say, "The Backworlds" to a That Gets My Goat episode, to my novel series, to the Rish Outcast, which is my stripped-down solo podcast, which I've recorded a couple of shows of, but haven't edited them. I remember Renee Chambliss saying that she would record any audiobook for a publisher, if they were willing to do the editing themselves. This was before I started doing this quote-unquote professionally, and I thought, "Really? You'd record any kind of book? Even a boring one?" But now that I've done this for a while, the recording experience is the dessert, and the editing is the brussel sprouts and stale potato salad. I think I'd be on book five of my five-book contract if I didn't have to edit them, and eager to take on more. But ah well; nobody's making me do this, against my will.

I also auditioned for a novel, despite having felt a month ago that I didn't want to do this anymore.  As far as I know, I've sold literally no audiobooks in the month of August, which is a punch to the solar plexus, but I can't let that get me down.  It could be that things only sell when they're new, or that I'll sell more old stuff as soon as some new stuff catches someone's eye.  It may be a glitch in the system, and the next time I check, it will have jumped up a huge number.

Rish Outfield, Audiobook Dork

P.S. The sales number did eventually start going up again, just not by much.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Rish Performs "Pandora's Box" by Kristine Kathryn Rusch on Audible.com

Of the many stories I've recorded for sale on Audible.com, the one that has sold the most copies has been by Kristine Kathryn Rusch.  She's a very talented writer, and in looking over her Wikipedia page, she's got as many published works out there as I have abandoned short stories in my notebooks.

I performed "The Case of the Vanishing Boy" a couple of months back, which is being touted as "Spade/Paladin Book 1," even though it isn't (the first Spade story was published in 1997 and will probably be for sale in late September on Audible),* that had the rotund Science Fiction convention detective helping the lovely Paladin find a teenaged runaway.  It can be found here, if you like: http://www.audible.com/pd/ref=sr_3_9?asin=B00CA4P784&qid=1376585839&sr=3-9

So, this week, a second story, "Pandora's Box," has been made available.  In this one, Paladin has apparently made an impression on some crazy person, who promises to send a bomb to an SF convention, to either kill her or impress her, y'never know.  Spade once again teams up with her to take care of the problem.

This was about 96% percent easier to get approved than the first story, and that makes me want to sign on for more.  It's now available for purchase at this link: http://www.audible.com/pd/ref=sr_1_2?asin=B00EILQPZ6&qid=1376584740&sr=1-2

I make almost nothing off these little stories.  But they are well-written, uniquely geeky, and every little bit helps.

Rish Outfield, Audiobook Narrator

*My thought is that "Vanishing Boy" was the one I auditioned for, of the three stories available, and had I auditioned for one of the others, it would now be called "Book 1."

Friday, August 09, 2013

Audiobook Adventures: Post 23

I try to stay away from my stats (whether it's Dunesteef downloads, page reads here, or feedback on eBay), because invariably, I get bummed out by the numbers. I recently signed on to do a sequel to a piece I recorded earlier in the year, and to match my narration, I went to my Finished Projects. There, I saw the actual numbers of most of the books and stories I've recorded over the past half-year.

There were a couple with zero sales. Zero.

That means, even my evil twin did not buy them. Kind of depressing to think about, really.

Of course, there are some with several purchases, and those should way outweigh the non-starters. But zero . . . yikes.

But that only discouraged me for as long as it took me to type this.  Then I felt alright.


I haven't signed on for any new projects lately, and I plan to spend August finishing up the obligations I've already made before tackling anything new.  But having said that, I'm instantly curious about what books/stories are newly available, since I always think something awesome, like an old novella by Stephen King or something, is going to show up.

I was able to record that short story, another of Kristine Kathryn Rusch's, in two sittings, and I might have been able to do the whole thing at once, had I not stopped to edit the first fifteen minutes and see if that passed muster enough to continue.  I had more than enough reason to worry that my beginning would not be satisfactory in some way or another, but it went through fine, and in just a couple of days, I had the whole thing recorded . . . and edited.  Barring something unforeseen, this one will be ready to sell within the week, and I'll audition for another one in that series soon. 

I started the second book in my five-book commitment this week.  Whereas for the first book, I had an actual paperback in my hands, this one has an electronic copy in front of me.  I was surprised to discover the e-book version is much, much easier to narrate, and has, oddly, fewer typos.  I actually had to make a couple of executive decisions whilst performing the first book, because a sentence made no sense, or there was a word missing/extra in there a time or two.  I'm not sure how a digital file comes to exist, but it MAY be that someone had to physically type it into a computer somewhere.  And while that should fill it with more mistakes, the first chapter, anyway, only had one, and it was very nice to be able to make the text bigger with the click of a mouse.

Lastly, there was an author (and book) I recognized looking for auditions this week.  I remember podcasters advertising the book, and even thought Big had read it, so I emailed him and asked him if it was good, and if I should audition for it.  He told me it was right down my alley, but only I could make the decision as to whether it would be worth it to dedicate, what, seventy-odd hours to it.  I looked at the audition piece, and it was two full chapters of the book (which again, is asking waaaay too much of a prospective narrator).  In the end, what made me go ahead and audition was Big telling me, "I think you'll read it and feel like you're narrating something you wrote yourself."

We'll see if I get that contract.  And if so, whether his prophesy turns out to be correct.

Rish Outfield, Audiobook Guy

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Meet the Rish Outcast



Months ago, when Big and I recorded our last episode of the Dunesteef (by "last," I mean "most recent"), he encouraged me to create a solo podcast where I read stories and then talk about them.  I told him that I already have a podcast where I do that (The Podcast That Dares Not Speak Its Name), and he told me nobody ever hears those, that he was suggesting I do something like his Anklecast, where he records it during his drive to work, does no editing, and posts it on his blog.  "You could call it," he said, "the Rish Outcast."

Well, I sort of scoffed, despite the title being rather brilliant.  And then, on the drive home, I went ahead and decided to do it.  This is the recording I made on that drive, and the actual story-driven episodes are forthcoming. 

Enjoy?


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