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/


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.

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

*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:


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.