Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Happy New Year

May 2015 be a happier, prouder, more successful year for you than was 2014.

Unless you were murdered in 2014.  Then you're just stuck.  Sorry.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Rish's story "Sleeptalkin' Gal" available on Amazon and Audible

My buddy has a wife who talks in her sleep.  Or maybe she actually wakes up, but not enough so she remembers the conversation the next morning.  This got me thinking, and the story "Sleeptalkin' Gal" was born.
 

Big was kind enough to create cover art for me, which is about fifty times better than what I'd be capable of, even though he says it's easy and fast.  If made ANY money off of these damned things, I'd toss some his way.  Or maybe I wouldn't.  Maybe I'd be too bowled over to be making money off these damned things.

Feel free (heck, feel compelled) to pick up a copy over at Amazon (here), or the audio version through Audible (here).

Rish "Sleepgawkin' Boy" Outfield

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Rish Outcast 18 (Christmas show)

Sorry kids, I'm a bit too tired and busy to do a Christmas story this year.*  But I'm still up for talking about doing a story, and about the Christmasness of it all.


I will consider trying harder next year.

Rish "I Wish To Be Left Alone.  Since You Ask Me What I Wish, That Is My Answer" Outfield



Hey, kids, to download the episode, right click right HERE

*Since this recording, I did finish that story, and the only way I was able to get past its major problem was to embrace it.  It was fun to have a main character who didn't know the difference between French and Italian (or "manic" and "maniac," for that matter), and I'm sure I'd be a happier soul if I didn't know the difference either.

Friday, December 05, 2014

Apropos of Nothing

A girl at work seems a little weird. 

That’s okay, anybody who’s anybody is weird.  It’s the “normal” ones who aren’t worth knowing and should all be put into camps, but I digress.  Anyway, she seems to enjoy talking about herself (and yes, everybody enjoys talking about themselves, and I’d like to stop digressing or I’ll never finish this thing), but in strange, semi-personal, oversharing ways, such as talking about bad experiences she’s had with other jobs and arguments she’s had with people I will never know.  Today, she mentioned that she hates it when people poke her in the ribs.  “It’s one of my pet peeves.” 

“Do people poke you in the ribs a lot?” I asked, because it certainly doesn’t happen to me (although my uncle is fond of grabbing my buttocks during Sunday dinners, so I can relate). 

“Yeah, sometimes.  My ex-brother-in-law used to do it all the time.  And sometimes guys at work do it.”  I nodded and continued my work.  “See,” she continued, “I’m really, really ticklish.  So I hate it when somebody does that.” 

“Oh,” said I. 

“Also, it kind of hurts.  Not a lot, but just enough that it bothers me.”  I could not see why she was explaining in such detail, but ah well. 

“Alright,” I said, “I promise I won’t poke you in the ribs.” 

“That’s good, because I’d probably hit you if you did.”

Fair enough.  Except that, now I kind of did want to poke her in the ribs, just a little bit.  Not enough that I’d actually do it, but apparently enough that I’m writing a blog post about it an hour or three later.  Maybe I’m the weird one, huh?

 Rish Out—

 Okay, that’s not the end.  I thought it was, but she came up to me a few minutes later and said, “Sometimes I’ll get a side-ache, mostly because I’ve drank something that has milk in it.” 
 
“What?” I asked her, not sure if I heard her right. 
 
“My sides will ache, because I drank something with milk in it.  That’s another reason I don’t like to be poked there.” 
 
“Oh,” said I, wondering if maybe she’d also had this conversation with somebody else, but was misremembering it as being with me, “are you lactose intolerant?”  My nephews seem to both be that way, and have to drink soy milk, which may or may not taste like actual milk, but I’d never drink it because I’ve a bias against soy, unless it’s soy sauce.  Or soy, the Spanish work for “I am.”  But guess what?  That’s another digression.

“No,” my coworker said, “I’m not intolerant.  I just have a milk allergy.” 
 
“Okay,” says me, and continued to do my work.  Potato, potato.  Which I realize just doesn’t work when you type it.  Maybe I could type ‘poh-tayto, poh-tahto.’  Does that make sense?  This post may well not be heading anywhere at this point.

A few seconds later, the coworker says to me, “So, don’t poke me in the ribs, okay?  If you’re gonna poke me, do it in the stomach.”  I kid you not, she said this, which is probably the whole reason I felt I had to describe her as weird.  I imagine that’s what they mean by ‘show, don’t tell,’ which was always a weakness in my screenwriting.  It’s easy for me to say, ‘Adelaide was weird.  She was short and thin and wore big glasses that made her look like a nerd on a Disney Channel sitcom, and she absolutely adored Robin from the Batman franchise, but not necessarily Batman.  She had an upturned nose, which was a little weird, but it was mostly her personality that made her weird, not the way she looked.  Oh, and her name ABSOLUTELY sucked.’  Rather than illustrate how she was weird through action or anything other than dialogue.  That was a fault in my writing, and probably still is.  I should work on it sometime, but I think it’s more important that I work on getting to a point in my writing, rather than going off on useless tangents that do nothing to tell the story or get to the end, which is what any reader truly desires, right?

So, I finished my shift, and didn’t see her—the employee in question (in case you had forgotten)--until I was walking out to the parking lot.  She saw me and said, “Hey, I’ve decided you can poke me in the ribs if you want to.”

The end.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Rish Outcast 17: Birth of a Sidekick (Part 4)

So, here's the end of the story.  Special thanks to Marshal Latham, who was kind enough to lend his voice to this episode. 

Hopefully, you enjoyed the lengthier story (and the shorter space between shows).  If so, let us (ie, me) know.



Hey, kids, to download the episode, right click right HERE

As usual, the full text can be purchased here (on Amazon), and the audiobook right here (on Audible).

P.S. If you REALLY enjoyed this story, a sequel was published a year or so later, called "A Sidekick's Journey," which takes place not long after this one ends.  Check it out!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Rish performs "Hunters Unlucky" by Abigail Hilton on Audible

How I spent my summer vacation:  I narrated an epic novel for Abbie Hilton called "Hunters Unlucky."  It is a massive adventure story about a faraway land with sentient animals, all battling for control and territories with the other species living there.  We meet Storm, a runt ferryshaft (a horse-like race that has been conquered by the creasia, great big deadly cats), and his struggles to survive in a world where the weak and small are often the first to die.  He develops speed and cunning and manages to increase the chances of himself and those around him.


Hilton has created an extraordinary world with history, personalities, grudges, fear, wonder, prejudices, and regrets that she describes as a teen book in the tradition of "Watership Down" and "The Jungle Book."  Basically, kids, it's like "Game of Thrones" with talking animals.

This was, hands down, the most difficult production I've undertaken, with real depth and a large page count, dozens of developed characters, with different voices and accents, and enough twists and turns to fill a boxed set of a J.J. Abrams show.  I'm not one to toot my own horn, but . . . toot.

Check it out at this link: http://www.audible.com/pd/Teens/Hunters-Unlucky-Audiobook/B00PMEU8PG/ or join Abbie as she presents the novel in podcast form over the next several months.  That can be found over at: http://www.abigailhilton.com/the-worlds-of-abigail-hilton-p/

Rish

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Rish Outcast 16: Birth of a Sidekick (Part 3)

Originally, this was going to be the final episode of my presentation of "Birth of a Sidekick."  But now . . . it's not.


Music by Kevin McLeod, the old Incompetech.  Special thanks to Gino Moretto for the above logo, which is only 612 times better than what I came up with myself.



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

Here are the links to the purchasable story, in text form, and in text form and in audiobook form.
Thanks!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Rish Outcast 15: Birth of a Sidekick (Part 2)

Continuing the story from last time, here is my long(er) form experiment in action.*





To download the episode, select Save Link As, and save the file to your hard drive.  Or click
here.

*If you'd like to purchase the story, the text can be found here, and the audiobook here.

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Skin-Thickening 101

Heck, maybe it's a remedial course I need, like Pre-Intro To Skin-Thickening.

"Remember the compliments you receive, forget the insults.  If you succeed in doing this, tell me how."
Baz Luhrmann

So, I've been writing for a while now, and podcasting for a few years, wherein I've shared a few of my stories.  Other podcasts have run my work, I've appeared on many other shows, and received praise and award nominations.  But I still haven't quite gotten used to criticism.

Two episodes of the Dunesteef, in particular, were big generators of criticism and complaints.  The first, I talk about all the time, because, hey, eff 'em if they can't take a joke.  The second, well, it really bummed me out, to the point where I never ran another story like that on the show again.  It sort of threw my whole worldview into question when I discovered that a story that I loved (and had been loved by others) was cliched, trite, preachy, naive, and unrealistic.  And badly-dialogued.  Can yuo beleeve that, coming form mee?

Anyhow, I keep trying to toughen up, knowing that to be a creative person (or, dare I say, an artist), you've got to expect criticism.  You've got to expect people not to like what you do.  You've got to know how to take it.

And I've apparently not yet learned it.

Just today, somebody took a swipe at me online (Big says it was probably just a joke, but I was too cowardly to verify), and instead of shrugging it off and saying, "That's, like, just your opinion, man" (when there is some pretty weighty evidence on the other side of the argument) . . . I chose to eat an entire lasagna in front of the computer and not leave the house for the rest of the day.

I know a lot of creative people, mostly through doing my podcast.  Some are extraordinarily talented in a certain area, some are all-around great artists, and some are just ambitious and persistent.  Whenever I talk to people who are successful, they sound confident and driven, two things they need in order to keep getting up when life gets them down. 

And life gets everybody down.  Scary, mean old unfair life.  The trick to survival is to bend and not break.  To grit your teeth and take it, thus being all the tougher the next go-round.

My buddy B.D. Anklevich is always complaining about being too fat, too old, and too gay.  He tries not to be, but from time to time, he slips up and eats a whole bag of Black Licorice M&Ms, turns another year older, and makes out with the coatcheck boy at a twink club.  But does he despair when he stumbles?

Well, yeah, he probably does, a little.  But then, he gets back up.  He brushes himself off, pays the coatcheck boy, and tries again not to eat too much (currently, he's sworn off of all soda, even though his wife will drink Dr. Pepper while standing over him in bed, singing, "I know something yooooou'll never have"), tries to stay in shape and keep the calendar at bay, and tries . . . well, he's a pretty butch guy, actually.

I've always been the one kid who could get eight or nine positive comments on a story or drawing, but still only focus on the one person who didn't like it.*  I know this is a character flaw, and has hurt me in many ways, both personally and professionally.  It's been decades, and yet this tendency doesn't seem to be fading soon.

Holy hand grenade, what if it never does?

Well, I have to try

I'm gonna keep getting up, though.  I know my hide seems to be made of vanilla pudding (no name brand rather than Jell-O too), but I'm going to keep trying to stay positive, brush off criticism, and keep on asking "Why not?" when someone scoffs, "Why?"

Rish "Wear Sunscreen" Outfield

*I originally typed "the one kid who could hit a single, a triple, and two doubles, but still only focus on that sixth inning strike-out," but I knew it would be too obviously a lie.

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Rish Outcast 14: Birth of a Sidekick (Part 1)

So, I'm going to try something a little different here.  I'm going to run my somewhat-lengthy story "Birth of a Sidekick" on the Rish Outcast, breaking it up into sections.*  If people enjoy that, I'll do it again, if I ever find the ambition.


I'll try to put out these episodes in a more rigid schedule, and see if I can't get the tale told in a timely manner.



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

*If you would care to purchase the story, it can be found here, and the audiobook is here.

Saturday, November 01, 2014

Another Halloween, Come and Gone/"Trick"

Did I miss Halloween already?  I only heard "Thriller" on the radio twice!

I did put some decorations up, but most of them still sit in the corner of the lawnmower shed (along with all those twelve inch Star Wars figures I foolishly bought from the Disney Store...sigh), but I didn't get into the Halloween spirit the way I wanted to.  I did focus on getting my nephews good costumes, and trotted out my old Joker costume so I'd at least have something to wear on the 31st.

I spent the first half of October doing retakes on Abbie Hilton's book, finishing up another Dumarest of Terra paperback, and trying to write an audio drama.  Then I spent the second half rushing to get thirteen Halloween episodes done of my podcast (That Gets My Goat, which I do with Big Anklevich fairly regularly).  That left less time than I would've liked for fiction writing and blogging. 

I did publish a short story ("Sleeptalkin' Gal"), start on a recording of a Dean Wesley Smith book (the man breaks his writing into refreshingly short chapters, which makes producing a bit less painful, especially as it gets later and later at night), and edited two episodes of my solo podcast, which will drop any day now.  I had to work on Halloween, but got off early enough to take my nephews out trick or treating until they got tired and wanted to go home and eat all their candy.

While I was standing on the sidewalk, watching them approach door after door, I thought it would be fun to write a little story, which I ended up posting as my Facebook status for Halloween night.  I'm not sure if it's any good, or if I ruined it by expanding it from its original four paragraphs, but here it is:

Trick

I had volunteered to take my daughter trick or treating tonight, leaving her mother to try to get some work done (which I knew would be impossible with all the knocks at the door).  We had started out just as it got dark, admiring the lovely orange and pink sunset on the horizon.  It had been fun to see Caitlyn approach houses, ring doorbells, then freeze when someone answered, only remembering to say "Trick or treat!" every third or fourth doorstep.

But now it was getting old, even though I had eaten two of her Reese's Peanut Butter Cups and a mini-Butterfingers.  I just stayed on the sidewalk now, no longer listening to make sure she said "Thank you" at every house. 

She came back to my side.  "Those guys were giving out toothbrushes instead of candy," she complained.

"That's pretty funny," I said, taking her hand and heading down the block again.

"I don't want to go there," Caitlyn said, pointing at a house that had no lights on anyway.  "It's haunted."

"Right, right," I said, humoring her.  "Or worse, they don't celebrate Halloween."

She had no retort, which is how I like it.  We kept walking.

There were other children wandering the streets, usually in little groups, and I recognized a couple of other parents as well, two of whom asked me where my costume was (apparently it was a new law that adults needed to dress up in support of their children, though I wouldn't have known how to match my kid's costume--Riley, the girl from Inside Out--even if I had wanted to.  Which I didn't).  There was also a house or two that insisted on giving me a piece of candy too, and I wasn't about to complain about that.

I had to wait even longer for Caitlyn to come back from the house at the end of Locust Lane, and started checking my phone for more naked celebrity photos. After a minute more, the corner of my eye caught her stepping up to me, and quickly stuck the phone back in my pocket. The girl took my hand as we started toward the next house. I was glad to be moving on--something in the air smelled bad.

"Okay, only a few more doors, then we're done," I said to my daughter, expecting an argument.

I was pleased she didn't complain. Up ahead, the old bed and breakfast on the corner had decorated with a pirate theme.  Maybe I should have decorated our house, or at least put in the blacklight bulb I knew I had in the closet somewhere.
 
"Jeez, your hand is cold," I observed. As we passed under a streetlight, I happened to look down.

It was not Caitlyn. The thing holding my hand was once a little girl, probably, but was now a mouldering, stinking corpse. Decay and cakelike dead skin covered her very-visible skull, and even though its eyes had long since rotted away, it turned its head in my direction and looked up at me.
"You'll be my daddy now," I heard it say as the stench of a shallow grave began to overpower me.

It doesn't shame me to admit that I began to shriek then, on the corner of Locust and Shinooginah Avenue, flailing and trying hysterically to get away from the thing that clutched me. It held on with the grip of a man, but my terror and revulsion enabled me to break free.

The creature looked at me again, its eaten-away nose stiffling as I took two steps back. It was not hard to read disappointment in its posture.

"Dad!" a small voice said from behind me. I turned to see Caitlyn stomping toward me, her white tennis shoes slapping the sidewalk in anger. "You left me there? What the hell?"

It should have been funny to hear a six year old talk like that, but I was no longer thinking clearly. "There was . . . it was . . . you were . . ." I babbled, aware it was babbling, but not able to do anything about it.

Behind me, a kid dressed as Ant-man chased after a bigger kid dressed as Spider-man, but there were no undead children, no reaching little girls.  The smell of unburied corpse was gone too.

Caitlyn reached me and gave me a punch in the hip that might have floored me had she aimed just a little bit better. "Daddy? What's wrong with you?"

I didn't know what to say--wouldn't it seriously upset her to say what had just happened to me?--and held up my hand to her in surrender.

"Eww," my daughter said. There were two maggots clinging to my palm.

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Rish Outcast 13: Babysitter of the Month/Sea Monkey Do

So, this is an episode from back in July, before I got so hopelessly behind on my podcasting.  Ah, who am I kidding?  I was behind then, and I was behind the year before that.


But in this episode, which started out as me trying to do a blog post when I was too busy to do a blogpost, I talk a bit about what's going on in my world, and an idea I got for forthcoming episodes. 

Also, I present, "Sea Monkey Do," a little piece briefly summarizing the origin of the worst child scam in modern history (not taking Pokemon cards into account).



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

This is, hopefully, only the first in a series of more regular podcasts from yours truly (and Fake Sean Connery, if I can ever get our schedules to synch).

Rish

Rish's voice on Drabblecast

Apparently, on a clear day, you can see all the way to conspiracy. At least, that's what Desmond Warzel would have you believe.

Years ago, I heard this story on Escapepod, and this week, it's appearing in full-cast form on the Drabblecast. It's done as a radio show, using fans' call-ins as almost all of the parts.  Thanks to (the great) Norm Sherman, I am one of the callers.

It's been a little while since I got to be on the Drabblecast, and though I've given up my dream of ever having one of my stories run there, it's very cool to be back, even in a very small part.  I need to stop producing my own show, and start listening to Drabblecast again.

Seriously, kids.  This production (and the story itself) is AWESOME.  I make you this personal guarantee: you will be thoroughly entertained, or I will personally refund your purchase price.  Put that in your iPod

Here's your link: http://www.drabblecast.org/2014/10/05/drabblecast-340-clear-day-can-see-way-conspiracy/

Monday, October 06, 2014

Rish Performs on "Rip" over at Campfire Radio Theater

Just in time for Halloween, Blaine Hicklin and J. Scott Ballentine are presenting "Rip" (which I initially assumed was "R.I.P.") a two-part scary audio drama as part of their Campfire Radio Theater series. In it, a honeymooning couple in London get more than they bargain for when asking for details about the famous Ripper murders.

I voice "Old Jim," an eccentric Englishman in a pub, who has an almost unbelievable amount of information about Jack the Ripper.

This was a really unique experience for me, as I was told to develop a voice for Old Jim's character, which is supposed to falter a time or two, revealing another, more natural way of speaking, when he's not "performing."*

I know a little of the Old Jack mythos, mostly from film and television, but it was neat to be giving a lecture about it, even if I was reading instead of actually leading a tour. Blaine told me that he and his wife did go to Whitechapel on vacation, but he was too timid to do what the main character does and demand the residents tell him about their local history.

As I said, this is the first part of two, with the second episode dropping shortly. Here be yon links: http://campfireradiotheater.podbean.com/e/rip-part-i

http://campfireradiotheater.podbean.com/e/rip-part-ii/

Rish

*This reminds me of some of the work I did with Abbie Hilton's book, "Hunters Unlucky," where there are different species who speak with different accents (and different characters among them), but one or two of those characters will attempt to speak with the accent of the creatures they're interacting with in order to blend in. So, I had to come up with a way of sounding like the same character, even if he was now speaking in a new accent. A challenge I'm not so sure I was up to.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Rish Outcast 12: A Wish Your Butt Makes

So, no story this time, though they are on the way.  Find out what's coming for me, my projects, and the Dunesteef.  I recorded this quickly because it's rare to get me in a positive, goal-oriented mood.

Let's see if I can get it posted as quickly.



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

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Stay Tuned . . .

The deadline looms on the largest project I've ever taken on.  Because, of course, I assumed October would never come, and because I foolishly thought I could work on other projects too, I've still got around twenty percent left to do.  But that's okay, because I am actually ENJOYING seeing how close to the deadline I can finish this thing, and that entails spending nearly all of my free time working on it. 

Had I dedicated this much attention, sweat, and time focus on the project, say, back in July . . . I would have finished this puppy back in July.

But more on that later.  This is just a quick note to let you know that, as soon as the huge project is done, I can probably get back to publishing my short stories, writing new ones, getting my other (belated) audiobook commitments finished, creating cover art, putting out the Rish Outcast (which has about five episodes in the can and just waiting to be edited), reading through my stack of books, working with Marshal Latham again, typing up notebook stories, and of course, doing Dunesteef episodes.

So, stick around.  October may be an exciting month.

Rish Outfield, Audiobook Boy

P.S. Over at the Drabblecast this week, they're re-running my favorite story Norm's ever done on his show, "The Store of the Worlds" by Robert Sheckley.  Check it out, if you don't remember.

Monday, September 08, 2014

"Birth of a Sidekick" also available on Audible.com

Just a little note to let you know my reading of "Birth of a Sidekick" is up on Audible.com. 

I have been too busy with my other audiobook obligations to get much stuff done for myself this year (I did just finish one book, and am just over halfway through Abbie Hilton's giant tome), but I did have a mad plan of doing my own audiobooks in between doing them for others.  "Birth of a Sidekick" was my first attempt, and Big has suggested that I put three or four recordings together to make something significantly longer, which will justify people using their allotment of credits to buy one.

When I'm at work, I get all these lofty ideas in my head of the collections I'll put out, the stories I'll record, the artwork I'll create, the stuff I will share (both for a fee and for free).  Of course, when I get home, I fall asleep editing a single chapter of an audiobook-in-progress.  Don't ever get old, children.

But if anyone buys "Birth of a Sidekick," and encourages me, that might help me to achieve one or two of the many, many unrealized goals I have in my cramped little head. 

Here be yon link: http://www.audible.com/pd/Teens/Birth-of-a-Sidekick-Audiobook/B00NAC94MU

Saturday, September 06, 2014

Rish's voice on Pseudopod

It's been a long time since my voice has been heard on Pseudopod, the famed Horror podcast.   But I recently voiced a small part in a fullcast production of James Triptree Jr's "The Screwfly Solution."

This appeared in the last week or so, but today, I noticed that the movie at the top of my Netflix queue is the Showtime 2007 adaptation of Triptree's story.  I thought, "I wonder if that episode of Pseudopod has aired yet."  Well, it's there, their episode 400, which is quite a milestone.

"Screwfly" is a timelessly disturbing story about a plague of religious mania that causes males to despise females of the species . . . and murder them.  It starts with the remote crazies in far-away places, but soon spreads, infecting all corners of the more and more intolerant globe.

As you can guess, it's not a tale for the Hallmark Channel crowd.

In listening, I was disturbed by the story, and fear I may have been the weak link in this particular production.  I have a very minor role in the thing, but sometimes, that's good enough.  Check it out at: http://pseudopod.org/2014/08/22/pseudopod-400-the-screwfly-solution/ 

If you dare.

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Rish Outcast 11: Last Night of Freedom

So, here is another (overdue) episode of the show, one I meant to have drop right at the end of summer.  It includes the short story "Last Night of Freedom," as well as an explanation of its rather-convoluted origins.  Hopefully, you dig it.

If not . . . no refunds.


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

Monday, August 18, 2014

"Birth of a Sidekick" available on Amazon

A few years ago, I started reading books in the Western genre, and I thought it would be fun to create a cowboy hero who would go from town to town to right wrongs, bed bad guys, and shoot maidens fair.  I came up with the barest idea for the character, and suddenly thought, "What if he had a kid sidekick, like Batman, Captain America, Green Arrow, Aquaman, the Human Torch, and (once) Indiana Jones?  They could have a series of adventures together, wherein the little boy becomes a man!"  I absolutely LOVE the idea of the child sidekick, and will make no apologies for it.

The story I wrote, "Birth of a Sidekick," was the result.  It's not really the first story in a series (though Big suggested I could write more), and it's not a true Western.  But it's something I wrote that was a bit different from everything else I had written, and I decided to put it out in both text version and audio.

I sat down and recorded the whole thing . . . and then left it there.  It sat for months, gathering virtual dust, and went nowhere, just like everything else I create.

But no, I mustn't think like that.  I must put out my stuff, give people at least the CHANCE to read it (or listen to it, if they prefer).  And so, here it is.


I was lucky enough to get some pretty impressive cover art by David Krummenacher (above), and if I could somehow employ him to do art for every one of my stories, I'd put out . . . well, probably one or two.

Link is here: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00MQMX05C at Amazon and http://www.smashwords.com/upload/details/468527 at Smashwords.

It took a couple more weeks, but here's the link to the audio version on Audible: www.audible.com/pd/Teens/Birth-of-a-Sidekick-Audiobook/B00NAC94MU  I performed it myself, and I'd appreciate it if somebody out there buys it.

Rish

Sunday, August 17, 2014

R.I.P. Spink and Williams (and Smith)

I was driving today, and the radio played "Your Love" by the Outfield.  It reminded me that I'd never written anything about the passing of John Spinks, who was the guitarist and songwriter of that Eighties band.  Many years ago, I had a roommate who was a huge fan of that rock group, and it must have been a formative influence on me, because, well...

John Spinks died last month (of liver cancer), and went largely unnoticed and unheralded.  The band, despite having several memorable songs that played in my childhood, peaked with their first album in 1985, and it was all downhill from there.  But it would be nice to hear them on the radio again . . . or my computer.

Heck, I think I might do that right now, as background while I type.

After getting home, my nephews were watching ALADDIN, which Disney Channel was apparently marathoning.  That was a second reminder, that I said nothing about the death of Robin Williams.  It was kind of amazing how hard that hit so many different people, and I'm sure the cause of his death greatly influenced that.  That someone could be so manic, boisterous, and funny could also be haunted and miserable enough to take his own life seems like a contradiction . . . or maybe it doesn't.

To be that high, one has to eventually come down, and I can't imagine what it would be like to try to be "on" all the time the way he was.  Williams was--at least when I was in college--the funniest man on the planet.  Watching the guy in interviews or on red carpets (or in his stand-up or on "Comic Relief" specials) was almost exhausting.
Nevertheless, he was able to achieve a very eclectic career.  He was able to balance making family films like JUMANJI and JACK (yeah, I said it), animated fare like ROBOTS and ALADDIN, dramas like DEAD POETS and GOOD WILL HUNTING, broad comedies like GOOD MORNING VIETNAM and DOUBTFIRE, and dark adult stuff like ONE HOUR PHOTO and INSOMNIA.  And he made time for really bad movies like TOYS, R.V., and FATHERS' DAY.  And NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM.  And POPEYE.  But hey, I digress.

In looking over his filmography, I am reminded that I've never seen THE WORLD ACCORDING TO GARP, AWAKENINGS, or MOSCOW ON THE HUDSON.  My friend Jeff asked me which of his movies I watched to honor the man (apparently this was a worldwide observance this past weekend, that I was not aware of), and maybe I can catch one of those.

My father despised Robin Williams, from the 1970's on, and like a lot of things, Child Rish Outfield suspected that if my father vocally hated something, then I ought to give it a look.  Kind of makes me wonder how many Ke$ha albums my own children would own, if I had any.

When I heard of Robin Williams's passing, I immediately thought of the last movie I'd seen him in, WORLD'S GREATEST DAD, where he's a father whose son chokes himself to death with a belt.  Eee.

But after that, I guess I thought of WHAT DREAMS MAY COME.  I had a very profound experience with WDMC, and it's private enough that I hesitate to share it here.  I was in a dark place at the time, and I appreciated that film in a personal way (I also walked out of the theater with my friend, seeing what I thought was an empty soda cup sitting in the snowy parking lot, so I decided to kick it.  To my surprise, it turned out to be completely full of half-frozen Sprite, and both of us were completely drenched in it, which made for an interesting drive home).  Needless to say, Williams had a huge body of work, from "Mork and Mindy" to THE BIRDCAGE, and it is a gargantuan loss to the movies, and the English-speaking world to say goodbye to the man.

So hey, carpe diem . . . if you get a chance.

Rish Outfield

P.S. Also, in preparing this blog post, I just found out that Dick Smith also just died.  Smith is a legend in movie makeup, especially in Horror circles, and is best known for this work on LITTLE BIG MAN, AMADEUS, THE GODFATHER, and of course, THE EXORCIST.  He was a great innovator, introducing the concept of prosthetic pieces and layers, and it's sad that in this digital age, those kinds of wonderful physical transformations just don't happen anymore. 
I do wanna mention, though, that his work in THE HUNGER (with David Bowie) is the best old age makeup I have ever seen in a movie, and is never mentioned by anybody ever.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Mirror Shard Post-mortem

Yeah, well.  My tale is finished, out there for all to see.

Big finished his story ("Doctor Claw") here: http://www.biganklevich.blogspot.com/

Bria Burton finished her story ("Little Angel Helper") here: http://www.briaburton.blogspot.com/

And, to my surprise, Katherine Inskip also wrote a story ("The Catch") here: http://trisigmatic.wordpress.com/

Algar Van Cluth is still struggling with his.


I think I explained (apparently, falsely) how this story came about.  Big and I have both written stories based on the same claw machine premise.  He finished his earlier than I did--which is fine--and is probably on to his next story project now, which is also fine.

What I didn't say was that, about a month back, I went out to eat at a restaurant with my sister, my niece, and my two nephews.  By the doors, they had, ironically enough, one of those machines that smashes pennies into keychains.  No, it was a claw game, with all unironicalness.  And my nephew begged me, my mom, and my sister for quarters so he could play it.  I tried to explain that they eat people's money, and that they look easy but are really hard, and that he'd be throwing it away, and that Jodie Foster doesn't like men at all, but that Tom Cruise and John Travolta do. 

But there was no reasoning with a seven year old, and he insisted that he'd seen a guy win big on there, and he could win just as easily, if someone would just trust him with half a dollar.  I believe my mom and sister both contributed twenty-five cents each, and the boy ran off to waste it on the game . . . and won.

He just won a little rubber ball, which probably only sold for fifty cents in a store, but he sure was proud of proving me wrong.  And of course, by the same time the next day, he had both lost the ball and forgotten it ever happened (until the next time he saw one of those bloody machines).

I believe I originally planned on the brothers coming to the convenience store three times.  The little brother was supposed to win the first time, then the big brother won something small, and on the third day, the big brother was supposed to have tossed away a fortune trying to win something again.  But I lost interest in the story rather quickly, and it ended up being a) just the two visits, and b) plenty long with only that.

The story turned out to be similar--too similar?--to a couple others I've written where someone finds a magical item and becomes fixated on it.  I like that kind of story, and the kind of open ending this one went with.  In a way, though, it was a truer writing exercise than the last one was because "A Lovely Singing Voice" had already been written once, and this tale was wholly written for the blog.

So, look: "MagiClaw" is not going to win any awards.  It was meant to be short and amusing, and I don't know that it achieved either.  But I had a conversation with Big about it afterward, and it's possible I wrung the best story I could out of the premise.  I dunno, maybe somebody like Josh Roseman or Will MacIntosh could create a gem from this particular chunk of gypsum, but there is one moment in my tale that I like quite a bit, so I don't consider it a total loss.

And as far as that goes, I wrote it, I finished the damn thing (which has started to be par for the course on my writing of late), and I shared it with other people.  And that, good sir (and madam), is an actual triumph.

Rish Outfield

P.S. As before, feel free to let me know of any typos or grammar/structure problems, and I'll fix 'em.  But the "irregardess" has to stay, I'm afraid.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Broken Mirror Shard - Day 10

So, the story is done.  And it sure ain't great.  But that doesn't mean I shouldn't have written it.  You learn something by every new experience, every job you have, every time you get fired for throwing a pencil.

I have done a tad of revising as I went along, so the word count is way off by this point, and there was a bit earlier on that I had to change, but here you are, the last section.  Thanks for reading!

***


            They approached the MagiClaw.  Stewart thought of valuables hiding in there—treasures untold—and decided he would be happy with just more text messages from naked classmates.  Either one would be mighty nice. 

            But what he got was nothing, just more disappointment, more near misses with prizes he only glimpsed for a second before they disappeared, never to show themselves again.  His quarters ran out, and he found himself mad at the machine, mad at himself, and made at Anthony for having won and still being ahead of the game. 

            Customers came and went, all being rung up by the smiling boy cashier with a girl’s name.  Stewart was mad at him too.

            Anthony took over.  The lights blinked and the claw started moving. 

            Stewart stopped watching the claw and started watching his brother.  Anthony’s little hands were tight on the joystick, gripping it as though his life depended on it.  He had a wild look in his eyes, and Stewart suddenly understood what Adrian the Clerk had been getting at. 

            When Anthony—who was practically the swear police—muttered the f-word when a Transformers toy dropped from the claw’s grasp, Stewart realized it was time to go.

            “Hey, Ant, it’s we’re done, okay?”

            “What?” snarled the boy.

            “One more and we’re gonna go.”

            “No, no,” whined the boy.  “You said we could do what I want today and I want to do this.”

            “We have done this.”  Stewart sighed.  “Come on, man.  You’re almost out of money by now.  Let’s quit while we’re ahead.”

            Anthony snorted.  “Oh, I lost that twenty a long time ago.  This is Mom’s money from the back of the spice cupboard.”

            Stewart stared at his brother, hoping that had been a joke.  Anthony always walked the straight and narrow, so much so it was embarrassing (and angering, when Mom would ask why Stewart couldn’t be more like him).  But this was a completely different kid.  “Okay, then.  We’re done.  No more quarters, no more games.”

            But Anthony had already dropped a second quarter into the machine, and the lights were blinking as the claw started to move.

            “Come on, you . . .” the seven year old breathed, calling the MagiClaw a name so dirty Stewart himself would pause before saying it.

            The claw moved above the treasure trove, opened, and Anthony lowered it down.  The claw rose again, and it had something in its grasp: a piece of white and yellow cloth.  It was a shirt, apparently--not a clean one—and the boy muttered “the hell?” as the claw returned to its base and released the shirt into the trapdoor.

            It was some kind of sports jersey, or had been in its better days.  It seemed ragged and used, and at first Stewart was afraid to touch it.  But Anthony made a dejected sound, so Stewart reached into the trap door and pulled it out. 

            There were marks on the white fabric, and Stewart suspected someone had cleaned a locker room with it, maybe used it for a baby’s diaper.  He expected it to stink, but it had apparently been dry cleaned recently, because it still had the ticket on it.

            “I don’t get it,” Anthony said.

            “It’s a football jersey,” Stewart observed, turning it around to see a 75 on the back.

            “It says Greene, but it’s white,” Anthony pointed out.  From his tone, he felt pretty ripped off.

            “It might have been white once,” Stewart began, “but now I’d say it’s—”

            “What have you got there?” the nosy clerk asked.

            They looked over.  Adrian the Clerk was watching them over his register.  Stewart considered saying something mean like ‘Something 100% none of your business,’ or ‘Your mom’s underwear,’ but instead held it up with one hand.

            “Whoa,” breathed the clerk, and to Stewart, it sounded like he was being shown a topless photo of Claudia Espinoza.

            “What?  What is it?”

            They both went to the counter and the clerk held out his hands with excitement.  “It can’t be,” Adrian said.

            Stewart was hesitant to give him the jersey, at least till he understood what was so fascinating about it.  Upon closer examination, the dry cleaning tag turned out to be an auction tag.  Authentic Coca-Cola 1979 “Coke and a Smile” commercial shoot jersey, Sotheby’s New York.

            “I don’t understand.  What is it?”

            “No, you wouldn’t,” the clerk said.  “You’re too young.  I’m barely old enough.  This kid gave Joe Greene a Coke and Joe gave him his sweaty jersey.”

            “Gross,” Anthony said.  “Who’s Joe Greene?”

            “It was a commercial back when they meant something.”  The clerk imitated an excited child’s voice.  “’Thanks, Mean Joe!’”

            “Who’s Mean Joe?”

            “He was a football player, a defensive lineman from the Steelers.”

            “Football is lame,” Anthony said, but the wheels were already spinning in Stewart’s head.

            “So, this jersey is famous?  Or, at least, famous to old people?”

            “Yeah, to ‘old people’ like me, this is like the Holy Grail of jerseys.”

            “What’ a Holy Crail?” Anthony asked. 

            Stewart ignored him.  “So, this is worth something?”

            “Yes, surely.  I don’t know how much, but, at least a couple of—”

            Stewart interrupted him, never knowing the clerk was going to say ‘grand.’  “What will you give me for it?”

            “Me?  Well, you’ll get a lot more if you go to an auction house, or just list it on eBa—”

            Stewart hadn’t been born yesterday.  “Nahh, if you think it’s so great, you buy it.  Two hundred bucks.”  Stewart knew he was pushing it, suggesting a dirty old jersey from the Seventies might be worth hundreds of dollars, but the clerk seemed way interested.

            “You’re serious?” Adrian the Clerk asked, seeming suspicious again, like when they’d told him to double check the twenty.  “Two hundred dollars?”

            “Okay, if you don’t want it . . .” Stewart began, taking the ancient shirt away from his grasp. 

            “Oh, I guess I want it.  But you drive a hard bargain.”  The clerk grinned big, finding this all funny for some reason, and pressed a few buttons on the resister.  It slid open.  Adrian counted out two hundred dollars in twenties and tens.  “Look, Spencer, was it?”

            “Stewart,” he corrected, but tensing.

            “You’re ahead now.  Go outside.  Buy a girl you like a seashell necklace or a dreamcatcher or something.”

            “Why?”

            “Because girls like that stuff.  Enjoy the rest of summer.”

            Stewart put his hand out.  “Okay.”  He traded the gross old jersey for the money, and clutched the bills tightly in his hand.  He wondered, for some reason, if he’d gotten Anthony’s twenty from the day before in that stack.  “Thanks.”

            “You too, kiddo,” the clerk said to Anthony.  To Stewart, he said, “Take advantage of sunshine and youth.”

            “Why?”

            “Because neither of those things last.”

            Anthony nodded, Stewart stayed poker-faced, and both brothers turned to go.

            They passed the MagiClaw, sitting there, all mysterious-like.  Who knew what bounty still lay inside, concealed by that infuriating black partition?  Stewart fought the urge to kick the machine, but settled for flipping it the bird.

            They emerged into the sunny late afternoon, surprised to see how long the shadows were getting.  People were coming home from work, families were heading out to dinner, romances were just about to blossom.  Stewart had some cash in his pocket, and a story to tell. 

            He patted Anthony on the back and went to unlock the boy’s bicycle from where they’d stashed it.

            “Stewart?” Anthony said timidly.

            “Yeah?”

            “Is two hundred dollars a lot of money?”

            “Yes.  No.  Sort of.”  He thought he knew what his kid brother was going to ask, and he decided he’d share some of the wealth.  It was only fair.

            “It could buy a lot of quarters, though,” the boy said instead.

            “Uh huh,” Stewart chuckled, glancing behind them at the convenience store.  “I was thinking the same thing.”


the end
 
Words Today: 1314
Words Total: 5974

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Rish's story "Lighthouse View" on Horror Addicts podcast

Somehow, this is the fourth year in a row I've entered the Masters of the Macabre contest, a short story challenge over at Horror Addicts dot net.  They provide an overall theme for the contest, and those participating are given three variables that have to be in the story. 

This year, the theme was Creature Feature*, monster stories, and my three variables were: (Story) Location: Lighthouse, Item: Camera, and Creature Origin: Volcano. 

I actually started writing the damned thing right here on my blog, in the first (was it only the first?) of my live-blogging exercises.  Unfortunately, I discovered that I was contractually forbidden from publishing the story anywhere for a hundred days after the contest, and it couldn't have appeared anywhere previous to it.  So, I had to halt the blogging after the first page or so, and I'm still a bit bummed about that.

So, my tale tells of a young woman who comes to a lighthouse to interview the old man who lives there, but also hoping to get footage of the monster that supposedly emerged from an underwater volcanic eruption somewhere off the coast.**  She starts the interview, and then hears a noise from outside the lighthouse . . .

It should come as no surprise to you that my first version of "Lighthouse View" was way too long, and had to be cut down considerably.  Then that version had to be stripped down to be turned into an audio version.  Then that version had to be fed to piranhas, which removed any and all flesh so I could fit it into the time frame necessary.  When will I ever learn?***

Here be the link: http://horroraddicts.wordpress.com/2014/08/12/master-of-macabre-3-rish-outfield/

I don't know how good the tale is (or was before I machete-ed it).  As it stands, only Gino Moretto (and hopefully soon Renee Chambliss) has read the full story.  But it was fun to write (I went to a restaurant with my notebook and basically forced myself to reach the end before I could leave), and is yet another tale I'd never have come up with had the contest not suggested it.

There are five contestants in the challenge this year, including Solomon Archer, Ricky Cooper, Stephen Kozeniewski, and D.J. Pitsiladis, who (also) enters it every year.  I can't say whether mine is as good as theirs, or that you should go over there and vote for me, but I've lost every year previously, and it hasn't yet discouraged me.

Funny, that doesn't sound like the Rish Outfield I know.

Albrecht St. Neal

*Which is a much better title for my story than "Lighthouse View," but just like "Last Contact," it'll have to wait until later to be called that.

**I just discovered that another contestant, Solomon Archer, was given Oceanic Trench as his creature's origin, which I pretty much used in mine.  Whoops.

***I will run the full story on Ye Olde Rish Outcast one day, and have already done the episode for it.  Be warned.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Broken Mirror Shard - Day 9

I told Big I thought I might be able to finish this soon, and I was surprised to hear that he's already finished his. He really is doing good writing work right now, which is encouraging to me, because if he gave up on this, I certainly would have as well. As it stands, I am glad this story is a short one, because I am finding it difficult to care anymore.

We'll have to talk when it's over, but I'm not exactly thrilled with the way it's going, and once it's finished, I fully expect me to describe it--as I do all my completed tales--as "not a great story."

But the work waits.

***


            The clerk yawned.  “You understand that the only way a machine like that makes money is if people spend more to win a prize than the prizes are worth, right?”

            Anthony shook his little head.  “But I got money from it, and Stewart got a piece of paper with boobs on it.”

            The clerk opened his mouth, puzzled, then simply asked, “Who’s Stewart?”

            “He is,” said Anthony, gesturing.

            “Okay, it’s all luck then.  I don’t know.”

            Stewart got an idea.  “Hey, if I gave you fifty cents . . . would you play the game?”

            The clerk squinted at him.  “What?  After you’re gone?”

            “No, right now.”

            “Why?”

            “Because I’m not having any luck with it.”

            “You got some gum.  And you won ten bucks out of it yesterday, right?”

            “That was me,” Anthony said proudly.  “And it was twenty.”

            “Irregardless,” Stewart said, “I can’t get it to give me anything.  Will you try?”

            “You really want me to play it?”

            “Yes,” both boys said at the same time.  It was almost creepy.

            “Well, I guess so,” Adrian said, and stepped around the counter.  He glanced back at the cash register, just in case this was some elaborate ruse to get him away from the money there, but both boys were following him.

            Stewart handed him fifty cents.  “Here you go.”

            “And if I win something . . . what?  It goes to you?”

            “Yeah,” he said.  Then he reconsidered.  “No, we’ll split it.”

            “Alright, but if it’s a Chevy Tahoe, it won’t do you two all that much good.”  He smiled when he said it, but the smile faded when neither one of them laughed.

            They followed him to the MagiClaw and he almost inserted one of the quarters, then stopped.  “You know what?” he said, not to them, but to himself.  “I shouldn’t do this.  I’ll just hang out behind the counter.”  He handed the coins back to Stewart.  “Here you go.”

            “Come on,” Stewart demanded, and this time he was the one who sounded whiny.

            “You know . . .” the clerk began, but never continued.  He just walked back around to his cash register, and glanced away from them.

            For some reason, that caught Stewart’s full attention.  “What?”

            “Well, not for nothin’ but . . . it’s a nice day outside.  You shouldn’t be cooped up in here.”

            “Why do you care?”

            “’Cause I am cooped up in here.  Last week, I saw a girl I used to know, wearing Daisy Dukes.  And I just had to watch her walk past.”

            “What are Daisy Ducks?” Anthony asked, stupidly.  But Stewart was curious too.

            “They’re short shorts.  A rare sight nowadays.  You’ll understand soon.”

            But Stewart already understood, and wanted to tell the clerk about Claudia Espinoza and her glorious text message.  He’d never see something like that or something like her if he managed to master the toughest skate trick, win the lottery, and save the world, all on the same day.  He wanted to tell him that he hadn’t believed in anything for a long time, let alone magic, and now, for the last day, he’d been looking at the world differently.  With wonder again, like he had before Dad left, before Anthony was born.

            But this clerk was just a guy, a stranger, and Stewart couldn’t tell a stranger those things.  He couldn’t even tell his little brother.

            He handed over another five.  His last five.  “Quarters, please.”

            Adrian stared at him for a moment.  Then he opened the register, not glancing down.  “Listen, we’re running low on quarters.  I can only give you two.”

            “No, you’re not.  You’re just saying that.”

            “Maybe.  But I’m doing you a favor.  Just two bucks more, then go out into the sun and be young, enjoy the day.”

            “You have to give us quarters,” asserted Anthony by his brother’s side.  “We can tell your boss.”

            “Tell him what?”

            “That we wanted to buy something and you wouldn’t let us.”

            “Right.  Like beer or smokes?”

            Stewart gritted his teeth.  “This isn’t like that.  We’d tell him you wouldn’t serve us.”

            The clerk nodded.  “Hey, aren’t you the kid who tried to pass me a phony twenty yesterday?”

            “What?” Anthony asked, his eyes widening.  “You told me it was real.”

            “Ignore him, Ant,” Stewart said.  “He’s just being a . . .”  He nearly said, ‘prick,’ but a small voice told him not to, that he could get kicked out, banned from the store like Head was.  And that would not be good.

            “A what?”

            “A Yoda.”

            The clerk narrowed his eyes.  “A Yoda?”

            “He was in Star W­—” began Anthony.

            “I know who that is.  But what does that mean?”

            Stewart explained, “It means somebody old who’s full of useless advice.”

            “Hey, Yoda was not useless.  He . . .” The clerk sighed.  He seemed a little disgusted, a little angry, but he produced the quarters and pushed them in their direction.  “Spend on, boys.”

Words Today: 828
Words Total: 4649