Monday, January 20, 2014

Rish performs "Kalin" (Dumarest 4) over at Audible

This was the fourth Earl Dumarest book, and for some reason, I never did a post announcing it.  I did talk about my problems interpreting the ending, but in March (2014) I discovered I'd never done a write-up for it.

She here it is.  This one has Earl falling in love a second time, with a red-haired girl named Kalin, who has the ability to see the future (or possible futures).  Together, they may actually gain riches and the pathway to Earl's long-lost homeworld of Earth.  And if you've read even one of these books, you can probably guess whether it works out between them or not.

Here's yonder link:

I worked really hard on this one, and it, and to a lesser extent, the book that followed, really burned me out on audiobooks in general.  One day soon, though (again, writing from the future), I'm going to crack open another Dumarest of Terra books, and start this process anew.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Audiobook Adventures: Post 33

This is gonna be a short post, mostly because I wanted to mention Black Data.  November, and particularly December, were very busy months for me, and I focused on other things over audiobooks and blogging about audiobooks.  But now we're into January, and I've finally sat down to really focus on it again.

I do still have that write-up to post about "Kalin," but I figured I'd wait on it because that book isn't finished yet.  The publisher took about three weeks to get back to me on it, and when they did, there was a list of changes as long as my arm (or as long as somebody with long arms's arm).  I am really tempted to bitch about their complaints that my reading didn't match the text, since the book itself had plenty of typos and nonsensical sentences I had to translate into correct English, but I suspect that some of their changes were actual mistakes on my part.  I honestly don't know the difference between "torturous" and "tortuous," or "resplendency" and "respendicity."

I haven't taken the time to make all the changes and re-record bits of that book, but I really ought to.  Even if it only sells two copies, that's two more bucks than I currently have.

Instead, I focused the past few days finishing up "The Jester of Scar," which is the fifth (and last?) book in my Dumarest contract.  I had only three chapters edited when I finished up narrating the book two nights ago, sitting down and forcing myself to read into the wee hours of the morning until it was finished.  Then, yesterday, I discovered that both Chapters Four and Five had a sort of interference on the recording, a static that I hadn't heard while recording* the chapters, which completely ruins the recording, and which experience has taught me, is impossible to remove.

So, last night, I sat and re-recorded the two chapters, then checked Chapter Six, only to find that the static was there for a minute or so, and I had to redo the first page of that chapter too.

Now I'm sitting here, editing the old and the new recordings, and relieved to hear that the ones from 2013 blend seamlessly with the 2014 ones.  One less headache to wor--  Actually, I'm blogging instead of editing right now, which gives evidence as to why I'm a week late on my deadline (whoops, nine days late now).  Sigh.

The main reason I stopped editing (besides laziness) was that, when I had to re-record last night, I came upon a character name that I hadn't any memory of (indeed, I think I may have pronounced his name two different ways between now and then).  Luckily, I had taken notes when I first recorded the chapter, and had written "American, talks like he has a cigar in his mouth."

Immediately, I knew how he was supposed to sound, and went to work, the character totally recognizable in my mind.  In editing it, I had to smile, because he really does sound like he has a cigar, and I wonder if the listener(s?) of the audiobook will wonder why he sounds like he's got his mouth full, or if they'll just accept it and move on.  I do so enjoy narrating audiobooks (when it works).

Like the other E.C. Tubb books, this one is filled with characters who have names, but only appear once, and never again.  In my notes, I have descriptions like "Low-class Brit" and "Throaty redneck," which hopefully sound different than "Aussie ruffian" and "Friendly Canadian 30-something."**  I did throw in my usual celebrity notations, even though no one will ever know I was trying to do Billy Dee Williams or Gene Hackman or Giles from "Buffy," since they're really just faces I see while reading, rather than me doing impressions.

The oddest one, at least to me, was giving one of the characters the voice of "Black Data."  In this series of books, there are villains who are emotionless plotters that, predictably, try to kill Earl Dumarest at the end and end up getting killed by him.  The first one, I voiced as Data from "Star Trek: The Next Generation," but I have tried to switch each one up in each subsequent book, doing one with an English accent, doing one with a pouty expression on my face (which made him sound like Lorne Michaels or Doctor Evil), doing one as Mr. Spock.  But this one, I thought I would do as Data, if he were a black guy in Chicago playing him.

It was really hard, because I tended to lean more toward an urban inflection, or more toward an emotionless, curious Starfleet officer.  It, and indeed, many of my voices, could turn out to be simply obnoxious, but I hope that he at least sounds unlike any other character I've done.

Man, it would be nice to get paid for all this work I'm doing.

Rish Outfield, Audiobook Guy

*Which makes me wonder how that is even possible, unless I declined to wear my headphones during the recording of those two chapters (which would be stupid, but not out of character for me).  The second lesson Big and I discovered in doing our podcast was to always wear headphones while recording.  That way, if the refrigerator starts humming, or a baby starts crying, or a cellphone starts interfering with your signal, you hear it as the microphone picks it up, instead of later when it's difficult (if not impossible) to re-create.  We were reminded of this basic lesson as recently as this week, when we discovered that the microphone that recorded Renee Chambliss at one of our NMX sittings was not turned on.

**The Canadian turned out to be a very major character, which shouldn't have been a surprise, since I read an extensive summary of the book before I started it, so I'd know which characters I'd have to create a persona for, and which could just be "English dude."  To my ear, Canadian sounds just like American, except with a couple of words said wrong, but he started to have some sort of rhythm to his speaking, a cadence that made him a character instead of just an accent.  And that's nice.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

A Couple of New Media Expo Thoughts

For the second year in a row, I got to spend the weekend at the New Media Expo in Las Vegas, Nevada, side by side with Big Anklevich, attending panels and recording sessions of my own work and others'.  It was a wholly positive experience, and the people we hung around with were so awesome, it made me want to change my whole life, working harder and perfecting my craft so as to be worthy of both their company and their adulation.

The weather was pretty good, and it got to sixty degrees one of the days.  We did some walking around the Strip, and spent time with our fellow podcasters, most of whom we'd only ever met once before, yet felt like old friends.  We watched the music-choreographed fountains outside the Bellagio, rode the roller coaster at the New York, New York, and had our second-annual karaoke night at the Ellis Island casino (which my jacket still smells like).
I could actually do a whole blog post about the latter, as I was somewhat hesitant to go this year, having felt the locale and DJ inferior last year, but I'm sure glad I went this year.  We spent about ninety minutes longer there this year, got to sing a bit more, and supported everybody that went up and performed.  My voice did go out on me halfway through a song, but I was convinced to get up and do a song as Fake Sean Connery.  That was fun.

We also did some readings of stories, a couple of which I had written, and people were surprisingly enthusiastic about that too.  I honestly figured it would be Big and me who got something out of our recording sessions, but the others gave the impression that they were enjoying the experience, even though they were probably nice enough not to let on if that wasn't the case.

Like last year, the New Media Expo was held in the Rio Hotel and Convention Center, and it was a great place to develop new marketing arenas for your company or small business.  We were too busy to go to a lot of panels, so I didn't hear the word "monetizing" nearly as much as last year.  It turned out that, instead of the single panel Big and I were on last year, we were on five this year (technically, I wasn't a part of the first panel, but I got to introduce it, so I'm counting it).

On our first day, we met a charismatic bald guy named Marshal Sylver, who it turns out is a motivational speaker and hypnotist, but it disturbed me to find him sitting upon an honest-to-Odin throne in the main hall, surrounded by acolytes.  And the throne may or may not have been built out of baby skulls, I didn't dare check.

At one of the booths, there were these Eastern European women who would ask passersby if they were feeling stressed, and then attach electrodes to their bodies, jolting them with varying levels of electricity using a device that looked exactly like an mp3 player.  Big is always exercising and knocking up his wives, so of course he volunteered to try out the massagers.  Unable to say no to a Russian accent, I also got the electrodes attached to me, though unlike Big, I wasn't asked to take my shirt off for the procedure.

What followed was something out of a hazing ritual on Fraternity Row rather than something you would pay a Swedish or Asian sweatshop refugee to administer.  Buzzing reminiscent of licking a 9 volt battery entered my body on my neck and shoulder, and when I turned down the intensity of the vibration, the woman said, "No, you are turning up level like turning up volume; like this," and actually made it worse.

I told her where our secret base was located, as well as the names and aliases of everyone in my organization.*  I cannot imagine anyone enjoying the feeling of french-kissing a light socket, but to each their own; my friend Jeff does not like spaghetti.

A few minutes later, another Russian-sounding woman handed me a solar cellphone charger which seemed like a wonderful gift, until she told me she wanted two hundred dollars for it.  It really was a remarkable device, and I've no doubt that every new cellphone sold in 2022 will include one for free.  A much smaller version, that is.

Not far away was a booth where they had a caricature artist who would do a cartoony version of you using his iPad, and then print it out for you to keep.  I asked him several questions about his craft, and despite his reluctance to give me a good answer, he thanked me for the insightful questions when we were done.  He worked fast and well, despite my caricature looking like the survivor of a nuclear holocaust, and despite him refusing to do one for Abbie Hilton.  Big and I figured we'd stick them on our website, though we may never actually get around to it.

This year, Renee Chambliss was the one who organized all our panels and readings, and though she did it tirelessly, I think she ended up pretty tired in the end.  When we met up with Renee the night before the convention, we were shown a room (Miranda 7, which will probably end up in a story of mine someday, maybe as the name of a starship) and told that it would be ours for the entirety of the conference, with all our panels and presentations done there.

Also, there was free water for speakers, our own personal security guard (a small foreign woman of about seventy), and a ton of free ballpoint pens.  I told Big that it was my plan to "steal" a hundred of the pens, but I only managed to snag the following:
But it's a start.

One thing I didn't appreciate was when someone would ask a panelist a question, and they wouldn't answer it, but instead would refer them to a class they teach or a book they sell.  It may be the correct way to do things, financially, but it got on my fugging nerves.

I ran into an audiobook narrator later and asked him a question, one on one, thinking I would get a genuine answer.  Instead, I got, "I deal with that extensively in my course.  Would you like to sign up?"  Compare that to Bryan Lincoln, who opened up his laptop to demonstrate the answer when someone asked him a question about an audio effect.

But that's really the difference between the things we were talking about and the rest of the conference.  Big entertained me one night by reading the names of the panels that were running at the same time as ours.  My favorite was one that went something like "Taking Over The World Using Only Your Pinterest Page."

I mock, but I realize that I could use a bit more capitalism, a bit more ambition, a bit more drive to take advantage of the brave new world that is podcasting and internet publication.  Best-selling author (and podcasting royalty) Scott Sigler gave a panel where he talked about three things he did to get where he is today, and three things he wishes he had never done.  It was slick, and slightly-corporate, and felt like he'd given the presentation a bunch of times, but he had some good stuff in there, stuff I really ought to incorporate.

We also got to do a live reading of a wonderful story Sigler had written called "Chuckles Mulroney, Attorney for the Damned."  Nobody came to the panel for some reason (it was toward the end of the last day, which might have had something to do with it, but the room really should have been full, especially since the panel that preceded it was).  Big voiced the titular character, the author himself voiced a literary agent, and I got to perform the character of Satan.  I wasn't paid to do the recording, but I surely would've done it for free.

Upon coming home from the New Media Expo, I discovered (to my horror) that some bills I had dismissed as imaginary have come due.  The bottom line is so great as to be something out of an Adam Sandler movie, forcing him into the local Backgammon tournament despite the fact that seeing red and black discs drives him into a murderous rage.  To put it another way, if I signed over fifty percent of every paycheck, I would have my debt paid off two or three years after I pass away.

So, I really, really need to buckle down and try to make some money, either with my audio work or my podcast.

I keep imagining that one day I'll wake up, and somebody will have paid me to write a screenplay (that actually gets made, that is), and my life will change, and suddenly, I'll be a successful writer.  Or that somebody somewhere will hear my crappy little recordings of audiobooks and say, "Wow, I want to fly that guy to the big city and pay him an ungodly amount to do his thing in a studio!"  But the truth is, I could publish more, podcast more, and record more audiobooks, and actually make money doing it, maybe not big city money, but enough that it pays to wash my sheets and disgusting socks.

Hell, I discovered that people other than me really like to hear Fake Sean Connery sing.  I could have an entire YouTube page with Fake Sir Sean doing touching and/or inappropriate Pop songs, and total strangers might appreciate it.

So, I need to try harder, and I need to draw attention to things when I'm done.

I've got a resolution.   Or two, I suppose.

Rish Outfield, Poor Podcaster

*As a result, Announcer Man was tortured to death over a three day period.  Sad.

Friday, January 03, 2014

Audiobook Adventures: Chapter 32

I had two interesting experiences in the last Dumarest book.  Well, interesting may be overstating it.

The first was that the book's titular character, Kalin, was a woman, and I had to determine how I would say her name.  First, I said, "kay-leen," because that sounds like a name.  But after a while, that started to bother me, and I switched it to "Kal-lyn," to rhyme with "howlin."  I went back and changed the first pronunciations to be in line with the second one.

But then, my work hired some dude, a scruffy-looking guy with Wolverine facial hair, and his name turned out to be Kalin.  He pronounced it "Kay-lin," and every time I saw him, I'd say his name like the girl in the book I was narrating, and then I'd apologize.  Toward the end, I started to get his name right, and you guessed it, when the girl's name showed up again in Book Five, I said it to rhyme with "wailin."  Irritating.

Secondly, there was a moment in the book where the text had two men arguing, and one of them shouted, "F--- you."

Nothing unusual there, I suppose, as everyone has had that said to them, either by a three year old child or a Jehovah's Witness, but I didn't know what to do with it.

Due to, I'm guessing, sensitivities of the era, or the publisher's policy, they had substituted the blank line for the word, and I'm (at least somewhat) cool with that.*

But how does one reproduce that in audio?

The way I saw it, there were three options:
1.  Say the word instead of the dashes,
2.  Say the word, then insert a BLEEP in its place,
3.  Say the "Ffff" sound and then nothing after it.

So, I did three different versions, one where I said it, one where I said "fff" and one where I actually said, "Eff you!"  Which, while a bit weak, is something people actually say.

But I wasn't sure what to go with when it came time to edit it, so I emailed the rights owners, and asked what they preferred. 

I was surprised to hear the publisher say, "I'd just say 'fuck' there.  You're a big boy."  She did, however, add, "If you're uncomfortable with that, you may change it to 'screw.'"

So, there's that.  Hopefully, this story was at least somewhat interesting.  If not, I wonder why you keep reading these little updates.  Only our mission for the Fuhrer matters.  I wonder sometimes, monsieur, if you have that clearly in mind.

Rish Outfield, Audiobook Childe

*Reading comic books, I always admired the substitution of #$@! for actual profanity.  I think it's a wonderful tool, and I totally prefer it to some writers' uses of "Go to hades!" or "What the blazes are you doing?"  The reader can just insert what they like there, and that totally works for me.  But I could write a whole series of posts on bowdlerization, and how there are clever substitutions (changing "fuck" to "forget," for example) and infantile, stupid, insulting substitutions (like saying "flip you" or "I'm miffed, Rog, let's get these funsters!")