So, here's the rest of that Western/Horror tale with the funny name* This one's different from the Ben Parks stories, although they both take place in the American West, at the end of the nineteenth century, and focus on a pre-teen boy.
Whoops, guess they're actually pretty close.
Downloading the episode directly? Well, Right-Click HERE, stranger.
Do you long to give something back to Rish (other than your thoughts and prayers)? Click HERE to support him on Patreon!
*Romanian for harmful shapeshifter or undead creature.
Once again, Gary Dowell contacted me to do another story reading over on the Far-Fetched Fables podcast. Every time big-shot podcasters ask me to narrate for them, I pray (to Pan, most often) I get a good one. This particular fable is "Customer Service Hobgoblin" by Paul Hardy.*
Dang, this is a good one, sirs and madam. Basically, a snarky minor deity has fallen on hard times and is forced to process prayers in a call center, which is humiliating enough for us mere mortals. It's clever, it's funny, and it's got an awesome narrator.
So, this was the episode that got postponed from October. I'm presenting my short story/novella* "Varcolac," which is long enough I felt safe in splitting it in two. No qualms there.
"Varcolac" is the second Western story I ever wrote, but it differs from "Birth of a Sidekick" in that it's a Weird Western (if that's what a Western combined with another genre is called, in this case, Mystery or Horror). Give it a listen, y'all.
Go right ahead and download the show, when you Right-Click HERE.
Destined to be a Patreon Supporter? Well, just go HERE.
Two years ago, I wrote my young Luke Skywalker story "Beggar's Canyon," which I shared on both my own show and the "Star Wars: Delusions of Grandeur" podcast I do with Grandpa Latham, right before THE FORCE AWAKEN(ed). Well, following that tradition, here's a similar story presented on the show, "The Sleeping Princess Wakes," which comes out right before the JEDI LAST(s).
This story, which I talked about in 2015 but wasn't ambitious enough to write, tells a vignette about the teenaged Leia Organa, when she first meets Grand Moff Tarkin, and the seeds of rebellion that are planted within her. It's fan-fiction, sure, but I hope it's enjoyable, quality fan-fiction.
Anyway, head on over to the DoG podcast, as Marshal and I affectionately call it, and hear my reading of it, as well as our discussion afterward. If you dig it, there could be more to come.
I haven't posted much here lately, except for my Outcast episodes (which ain't nothin', I freely boast).
But I have recorded a couple of stories for other podcasts (including a sequel to the story I get the most compliments about, so there's that), Abbie tells me she's almost ready to send me stuff to record, and I'm on the edge of actually publishing another novella (there are some just sitting, farting around on my hard drive, helping nobody).
The blame is twofold: 1) Obviously, my lack of ambition. To me, actually WRITING something is quite an achievement, and years of amateur storytelling has left me without a burning need to share it with anyone. I feel good when I finish something (even if it's not very good), and that was the goal.
And 2) the bots-damn cover art once again stymies me. I have ideas in my head and no way to implement them, and whatever I create always looks like what it is: somebody who doesn't know what he's doing putting out the absolute minimum of effort to get it out there.
I wish I could just create cover art like this:
I wonder what would happen if I just put out eight or ten stories with covers like that and, one day in the future, swapped them out with better art. At least they would be published, which is a start.
Anyway, I do have several Outcast episodes on the schedule, a finished Dunesteef in the Dropbox, and another That Gets My Goat we just recorded. So, stay tuned. Like the man said, there is more to come.
If you're interested in the next episode of my solo podcast, I'm performing the uncollected Stephen King short story "The Reploids," about a stranger who comes out from behind the "Tonight Show" curtain when Johnny Carson's name is announced. It is only available for Patreon supporters, though I'm not charging for that particular show.
A combination episode of my New Year's show (timely, yes), and one from just the other day, wherein I talk about boredom, upcoming goals, and recount an almost-story about the film industry.
Do you wanna download this? Then Right-Click HERE!
Note: Because time is fleeting (and madness takes its toll), the next episode will be for Patreon supporters only. That way, the Halloween episode can drop before Halloween. Listen, but not for very much longer.
So, I was fortunate enough to lend my voice to another of John Ballentine's impressive audio dramas over at "Campfire Radio Theater." This one was called "Death and Alchemy," adapted by a short story by the bearded Patrick Moody.
This one be just as delightful as the others I've participated in, which is a zombie plague tale set in Victorian London. I am always impressed by the soundscape and am often surprised by the emotional resonance these guys wrest from the audio drama format. Check it out at THIS LINK!
John asked me if I could play a cranky old Scottish man, and I smiled big, thinking of my omnipresent imaginary friend and podcast partner. Unfortunately, once I thought of it, it became difficult NOT to sound like Connery, try as I might.
Oh, John told me that I was the only voice actor in this production not from the UK, and that made me smile. He also told me I was the only voice actor in this production who would die alone and unmourned. And soon.
Kind of mean, in retrospect, that John Ballentine.
"Well, I don't know, but I've been told, You never slow down, you never grow old."
Even the losers get lucky sometimes.
I saw Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers in concert only once, down in Irvine, California, with Jackson Browne as the opening act. My friend Jeff drove all the way to Los Angeles so we could go together, and the traffic was among the worst I have ever encountered. We finally got in as Browne played his last song.
But hey, we caught the whole Petty show, and both of us knew almost all the songs. I had just got my first cellphone, and I used the Voice Memo feature to record his performance of "Free Fallin'." Just the audio of that one song filled up all the memory of that phone.
My niece told me Petty had died on Monday, and I was bummed and emailed Jeff, who is eight hours ahead and might have never found out otherwise (not sure how the news works on the other side of the world). Oddly enough, his Wikipedia page said nothing about his death, and the most recent article had been about the last concert he performed, the week early in Hollywood.
Conflicting reports started to show up, some sources saying he had died that morning, but some saying his condition was unclear. The LAPD issued a statement that they had not, as reported, issued a statement about his death (and that the LAPD didn't tend to issue celebrity death statements), so for a while there, I kept doing new searches to find out whether he was gone or not. He had suffered cardiac arrest and been pronounced dead at his home, he had been taken to the hospital and doctors were attending to him, he was in a coma, he was resting and looking forward to spending time with his new granddaughter, and most dubiously, he was a twenty-four year old blond woman and had been bassist for Grand Funk Railroad.
But that evening, the news came again, this time officially, that he had died, and a couple of publications stated that, in true rock star fashion, the sixty-six year old had died twice in one day.
"Well, I know what's right; I've got just one life. In a world that keeps on pushin' me around, I will stand my ground."
Well, this one has been a long time in coming. In what'll probably be my longest-ever episode, I record my thoughts about my father, our last times together, and the frustrating and exhausting days after that.
Again, this episode is the MUTHA of over-shares, so if you don't want to see how they make the sausage, and what happens to it when the body is through, you may consider skipping this one.
If that's the case, I'll be back to my regular shenanigans in just a week or so.
Download the show? Alright, just Right-Click HERE.
Also, I attempted to do a video version of the 2017 introduction, but the video stopped recording after six minutes, leaving only the audio. If you feel like checking that out, it's here:
I got to narrate another lengthy piece over at Far-Fetched Fables, District o' Wonders's Fantasy podcast. Have you checked them out?
It was "Perchance to Dream," by David Morrell, about a sleep therapist with a rather problematic new patient, one that struggles with more than just managing to sleep through the night.
This one as quite a challenge. Not for anything technical (although I did have to say "Clonazepam" four or five times), but because I was a bit vague on what it all meant, hence, how to perform it.
So, I did something I've never done before (although maybe I once did asking Aeryn Rudel how to say his name): I contacted the writer to ask his opinion on how to perform it. I recognized David Morrell's name from someplace, and realized that this was the guy who wrote The Name of the Rose and First Blood. So, I guess I was lucky he emailed me back.
Even so, I'd be curious to find out what listeners to the story think it all means, since I came up snake eyes.
Oh, another thing I did on this. There was a college in Georgia mentioned in the story, and rather than looking it up on YouTube, as I often do with town or celebrity names that may be pronounced a number of ways, I just called the school and asked how to say it.
I know close to nothing about television, but it seems to me that a TV pilot is made for two reasons: 1) to sell a network on your show, or, if it's a put pilot, to show the network what the show will look and feel like, and 2) to hook as many viewers as it can from the very start.
Well, "Star Trek: Discovery" premiered this week, and as it was not only sold as a series to CBS, but was ostensibly going to be the flagship to CBS All Access (much like "Voyager" was for UPN what seems like two or three years ago, but was actually more than twenty), all it really had to do was number two.
Gosh, I was excited to watch this thing. "Star Trek: Discovery" was so long delayed that my friend Jeff signed up for CBS All Access (their evil streaming service) in early 2016 and assured me we'd be able to see every episode that way (he did use it to watch "NCIS," though, so all was not entirely wasted). Even though I only had to wait two days to watch it with my cousin, I was tempted a couple of times to just watch the first few minutes, just to whet my whistle. Can't remember when I last anticipated a show that much.
Also, in the spirit of full disclosure, the gigantic, unscrupulous, no-tax-paying organization that used to own the channel the pilot aired on sold the station, so I was forced to watch it not only in Standard Definition, but in a cropped substandard definition that reminded me of how I used to watch TOS on Channel 20 adjusting rabbit-ears to try and get a clearer picture.
I really ought to sit down and watch it a second time, to fill out this review better. But I won't.
So, there was a lot of positive in the pilot (called "The Vulcan Hello"): it looked good, must have cost a fortune, had lots of lenseflares, and was two-thirds in English. But, as a longime Trek fan, it didn't speak to me, even less so than the Abrams movies (which were all quite enjoyable, say what you will about the scripts or treatment of the material). And if you were a newcomer to the franchise . . . jeez, would you even be able to make heads or tails of this?
Aside from the ridiculously familiar main theme, there wasn't any moment where my heart swelled, knowing that THIS is "Star Trek:" positive, optimistic, fun Science Fiction with a lot of wonder thrown in. Sure, there were wheelbarrows of diversity and conflict in this thing . . . but great, what else you got?
I didn't hate it, don't get me wrong. But as the second reason stated above to make this pilot, it absolutely failed. Not only am I not going to sign up for CBS All Access (something I considered doing once Jeff moved away, so that my cousin and I could watch it each week when we got together), but the episode, such as it was, ended on a cliffhanger, and I'm not even all that excited about watching the next one.
Part of that his due to the weirdness of the pilot's setup. The ship and crew we are meeting here is not The U.S.S.Discovery. It's a different ship, The Georgiu, with a different captain (though she does have a bit of noble gravitas). It introduces TWO characters that will go on to be regulars on the rest of the series, and we don't even meet the ship or its captain in this first hour. So why show just the first hour, why not show the introductory two hours, and let those who are hooked go on to greater adventures with the "real" ship and her valiant crew?
It's a brave, Psycho-like move to introduce a bunch of characters at the start and then kill them all off (which is what I assume happens in Part Two), but it doesn't work as an introduction to the world, characters, and series itself. It's like one of those prequel novels you always find for big blockbuster movies now, where you can read all about where the characters came from, or how the universe got to be where it was the the movie's opening credits rolled. And I kind of like reading those . . . but not before seeing the movie or knowing anything about it, and certainly not instead of.
Could we at least meet (and hopefully) like our new captain and starship, so we'll want to see these people again and find out where they're going?
I was actually tempted to scrap this blog post and, I don't know, go look for worms in the backyard or check to see if the internet has any gifs of Reese Witherspoon vomiting, but I'll make myself type just a little more.
It's funny how a little thing can bother you to the point where it starts to not feel like a little thing anymore. I often use a friend of mine's dislike of SPIDER-MAN 2 due to its depiction of the isotope Tritium, but an example for me is the song "Come Dancing" by the Kinks. It's a lovely, fun tune, with nostalgia and . . . and the following line:
"My sister should've come in at midnight, And my mom would always sit up and wait; It always ended up in a big row, When my sister used to get home late."
And once I heard that line, and really heard it, I couldn't help but focus on that part, and how the inexplicable substitution of "row" for "fight" made the rhyme no longer work. It frustrated me, then did more than that. And today, I can't even listen to that song, even though it's such a little thing it should embarrass me to mention it on here today. But it doesn't.
"Star Trek: Discovery" has a couple of those little things. A lot of folks complaining online focused on the redesign of the Klingons, which seemed to take J.J. Abrams's reimagining of them in INTO DARKNESS (or the cool deleted scene in STAR TREK '09) and continued running, like Forrest Gump leaving the Touchdown line far behind. This bugged a lot of people (and this is just one example; a lot of stuff bugged a lot of people), and though I tried to keep an open mind, I felt like a third of the episode focused on the subtitled machinations of these ugly, indistinguishable, personality-free creatures.*
The main character ( was hard to like. It made me wonder if Spock himself could've been unlikable if he had been played by a different, less-charismatic actor. I think he could have. She came across as smug, impatient, brash, and a bit of an asshole. She questioned her captain's orders in front of the crew after serving seven years under her, then physically attacks her in her ready room and lies to the crew about it? Tom Paris did less than that on his whole run of "Voyager," and he got demoted and placed in the brig. Obviously, we're supposed to like Burnham--she's our main character and this isn't the last season of "Breaking Bad"--but I wonder.
Okay, let me nickpick. Her name is Michael. Yeah, that fuggin' bothers me. I know it's not entirely unheard-of (there was an actress on "e.r." called Michael Michele) and Bryan Fuller does it on all his shows, but dude, eff you.
And speaking of eff you, there has been a lot of talk that this new "Trek" wants nothing to do with the folks like me, that saw that borefest THE MOTION PICTURE in the theater, or were watching "Encounter At Farpoint" when it aired, or even a fan of 21th Century "Trek" before the reboot. I find that hard to believe, even having lived through the "This is not your father's Star Trek" era of the franchise. But . . . well . . .
I did feel a little bit like the show was not for me, and that it would prefer not to have someone who knows what "Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra" means watching week to week.
The uniforms were pretty ugly and GALAXY QUESTy. But there was a scene with the ship's doctor, and his uniform kicked ass, so I'm not even going to complain there.
Dammit, I've wasted too much time on this. The kids went out and caught worms without me, and you guessed it, no luck on the Reese Witherspoon thing.
Oh, it wasn't the worst pilot I've ever seen (I remember one a few years ago starring Vera Farmiga that I hated so much, I sorta vowed never to watch anything with her in it after that. Hell, I even had a hard time watching "American Horror Story" at first, because Taissa Farmiga was in it). But it should've been engaging, should have been addictive, should have been moving. Should have been "Star Trek."
Rish Tiberius Outfield
*Oh, so there's a white one. Guess he's the one we're supposed to notice. Still doesn't make him palatable to look at.
Rish presents most of his story "Sleeptalkin' Gal," then goes for a walk around the block to talk about dramatic beats.
A husband with a wife who talks in her sleep starts to pay attention to the things that she says . . . because there's something unexplainable going on every night around three.
I made the (rather arbitrary) decision to split this into two parts, so feel free to curse me in the comments below. Or hey, don't. Up to you. Here's a link to the full story, if you wanna check it out.
Shoot, am I still doing this accountability thing? You realize that was a mistake, right?
Well, I do.
I think it's fair to say that I wrote every single day in August, because I tried to remind myself every night before I slept. But that doesn't mean I wrote a great deal every day. I believe the technical term for it is "half-assed."
Also, I was supposed to edit audio every single day. And I did get a Dunesteef, a That Gets My Goat, two short stories, a Delusions of Grandeur, a Far-Fetched Fables, and three episodes of the Rish Outcast done (one of which is the longest, most dreaded episode since I started doing this thing, so that oughtta count for two).
I could have done more. But if you don't feel the same way about your accomplishments . . . I am your mortal enemy.
Okay, I really don't know what to do in September. I ought to write, I ought to edit, I ought to publish (and how), but I couldn't seem to find the gas in the tank to write this blog post, much less set any worthy goals for boring old September.
Wait, was there a band called September Death? Am I remembering that right? I don't know what that means or where it comes from, but what a cool name for a band.
So, I got this idea last weekend that I would drive up to the family cabin, sit down, and write five stories. Five whole stories with beginnings, middles, and whatever comes after. And they'd be done on that trip, by me, Mister Ambition. Just stay there and force myself to write them until they were done. I couldn't come back to civilization until--
Well, I didn't. My brother showed up at about eleven in the morning, and I pretty much wrote the trip off on my taxes after that.
But I did write down four IDEAS for stories, and I started one of them that same day (the one that seemed easiest to finish, as I knew the ending beforehand). I could choose that as a goal for the month: write all five in September, and be proud of myself . . . but to what end? It's not like I'd actually do anything with these stories, and I do have those damn novellas in mid-progress.
But what the hey. In September, I'm going to finish five stories. May the Force be with us.
So, I did drive down to the family cabin again, and while it was nice, and I'd gladly do it again, I didn't get nearly as much done this trip as I did the last. Last time, I started on a secret project (am I still keeping that a secret?) and was quite proud of myself, writing three or four thousand words on it. This time, I opened up that document (literally on the same scene where I left off), and wrote about two hundred more words before deciding to do something else.
I did edit audio for a few hours, and I did read a great deal--which made it feel like a vacation rather than a writing retreat--and I did record an episode for the Greatest Day of the Year(TM), but all in all, it felt like I did less with more time.* When I went down in July, I only brought one DVD with me, and when it was finished, I forced myself to write and edit again. This time, I had planned ahead, and had a lot more to watch when that single DVD ran out.
Even so, I could have done worse. I have still written every day this month, and edited audio every day as well. I just need to do it more.
So, in my last check-in (and probably every podcast and blogpost for the past eight months), I mentioned the episode of The Rish Outcast I most dread. Well, I spent a good long time working on it at the cabin, and it's nearly ready to go. In my mind, it'll drop next month, in between "Sleeptalk" and "Romantic Interlude." But wow, I am so not wanting to put it out. Do I dare charge my Patreons for something like that, or do I have to simply turn off my brain when it comes to that and automatically charge for episodes, whether they're full of encouraging words and poor impressions or not?
This is apropos of nothing, but I took my nephew to a small town festival last month, and while I had a good time, it was a hundred degrees out, and he liked it less than I did. The one thing he was impressed by, of all the crafts and costumes and wares being sold and at least one Goth chick with lots of pale cleavage, was a booth where they were raffling off a Nintendo Switch, and if you entered, they'd give you a free fidget spinner. So, I tossed the guy a buck, filled out a ticket, and, ignorantly gave the guy my email address (he said it was necessary to let us know if we'd won the Nintendo).
My nephew was pretty thrilled with the fidget spinner, and I'll admit that I found it pretty darn fascinating as well (about on the same level as pale-college-student-dressed-as-vampire-cleavage, at least at first) . . . but then, a couple of days later, I started getting spam in my email box. And not just one or two, which is forgivable, but I just looked, and there were five in my box today, and it's only 9:35 in the morning.
I'm half tempted to write a scene where Lara Demming's sister does this, keeps getting spam, and Lara complains to Old Widow Holcomb about it. So Holcomb teaches her a "harmless curse of inconvenience" that the girl casts on the spammers. Later, Lara sees on the news that a local businessman, who sets up booths at town celebrations obtaining email addresses and then selling them overseas, has drowned himself in his own toilet. "I wonder if he flushed first," the anchorman's partner asks, flashing white teeth.
Lara feels uneasy about this, but chalks it up to a coincidence, or something totally unrelated . . . not knowing that over a dozen others in Bangladesh also drowned themselves in the crapper.
Rish Outfield, Chalupa Guy
*I had made a point of arriving earlier and leaving later than I did the time before, but the only really efficient use of my time is when I fell asleep at one-thirty, and woke when it was still dark, trying to go back to sleep, and ultimately giving up and turning on the light (it was four-twenty-one) to read my book again until I feel asleep. And when I did, I still woke up as soon as the sun hit me, despite setting my alarm for what I consider to be pretty darn early. I don't know why the cabin does that to me. Maybe the bed is just that uncomfortable.
So, this is the first week in a long time (maybe months?) that I haven't posted an episode of the Rish Outcast (either for the Patreon supporters or on my blog). I guess that I was busy, going to the cabin and driving out of state to see the swallowing of the sun (not to mention taking time out of each day to feel sorry for myself), but that's not really an excuse. Ostensibly, I could be in a full-body cast and still post episodes for a month at least. Sigh.
Anyway, yesterday I worked on a film project with Kevin Costner. I've been a fan of his for many years, and was sitting around talking about his career, like DANCES WITH WOLVES, and WATERWORLD, and FIELD OF DREAMS, and ROBIN HOOD: PRINCE OF THIEVES, and somebody even brought up OPEN RANGE (which I dragged my poor buddy Matthew to on opening night*).
Then, of course, somebody brought up THE UNTOUCHABLES, and I was suddenly tempted to walk up to Costner and say, "You wanna get
Capone, here's how you do it. He pulls a knife, you pull a gun. He
puts one of your men in the hospital, you put one of his in the MORGUE!"
But I was too much of a coward.
He seemed like a very nice dude, and thanked the extras when he went home (directors rarely do that, let alone the stars), but you never know how the star of FANDANGO would would react to a stranger approaching him to do his Sean Connery impression. He might find it hilarious, but he might find it creepy, or worse, an invasion of his privacy.**
Heck maybe it would sound creepy, no matter how good my Connery is.
I mentioned this to Marshal Latham and he reminded me that Costner also played Pa Kent in MAN OF STEEL, and it all came tumbling down. It's a good thing Marshal hadn't been around to talk about that, because all my admiration for Mr. Costner would've turned to bitterness.
Rish "That's The Chicago Way" Outfield
*He was the only Jewish black guy in the whole theater. Or pretty much anywhere we went, come to think of it.
**Like that time I was on the Sony lot in 1998 and asked Tom Bosley if I could shake his hand and he told me to go eat a bag of (uncircumcised) dicks. Oddly specific, in retrospect, that request was.
I have continued to write every day, but I've had no impressive, marathon writing sessions to boast about. I went to the library twice last week and once this week, but I use that time to type up my novella (and today, the craptop froze on me, and when I restarted it, found that I had lost about a quarter of the stuff I'd typed), so it helps you not at all.
Wait a minute, NONE of this stuff helps you. Whoops, I had my priorities way off.
But good old Taco Bell, I did go there on Sunday and force myself to write after I had eaten my Double Chalupa (I was the only customer), and I did manage to finish a short story I've been meaning to write since 2015. It ain't good, but I had to do it now, or I knew I'd never write it.*
I booked work on a TV show last week, and was looking forward to it, not only because I've always enjoyed that kind of work, but because I knew I could use it to write for an hour or six. But I ended up losing the gig three days later, to much bitterness and self-recrimination. I had a second chance booking to do it again this week, and then never got a text or a call about it, and no response to my emails . . . which makes me think it's not me, but that the casting director is, how you say in English, part of donkey what makes urine?
But I might drive up to the cabin and sequester myself again, see if that might not be productive and/or enjoyable. We'll see.
My other goal this month has been to work on audio every single day, and I honestly don't know if I've missed any days. I think not, since I worked on a Dunesteef episode, a That Gets My Goat, a Delusions of Grandeur, and the most dreaded of the Rish Outcasts, all in the last week. I've also nearly finished recording my silly Fantasy story with the ridiculous title. In fact, that's what I was about to work on when I started writing this blog. I'm not sure if I'll do it now.
Ah well. At least I did this.
*I heard that a project very similar is coming out in the fall, and I'm not sure if I'd forgive myself if I waited until that was out there without at least having TRIED to write my own version. I probably ought to record a podcast about that sometime, about where the line between "Influenced By" and "Ripped-off" is.
For example, I started reading a book a couple of months back, and something about it reminded me about an idea kind of like it I had had a couple of years ago, but abandoned it after writing the first couple of pages. So, I unearthed that, and started writing it again (this the YA project I keep mentioning). It's not going extremely well, but I'm still working on it.
Unfortunately, this week I started reading the second book in the series, and it is so very similar to my YA book, that even I am wondering if I'm just writing a third-rate knock off of it. It's a little discouraging, whereas reading the first book was quite encouraging. I wish I could be one of those people who writes a book that's just "Raiders of the Lost Ark" but with high school students (straight down to mathletes as Arabs and football jocks as Nazis), and never even blink an eye. But I'm not, you know what I mean?
Or "Star Wars" with teenagers, or "Harry Potter" but with American (teenagers), or "The Last Starfighter" but with American teenagers, or "The Silence of the Lambs" but in middle school, etc..
So, I have not been too brilliant with this blogging thing this month. Sorry. Although it's more "sorry" with air quotes around it.
Thing is, I don't want to blog about how my writing is going, or my audio work, because then there's some kind of accountability, and who wants that?
Yes, I have written every day this month (though I very nearly missed it yesterday, and forced myself to write last night at about quarter to three, just so I could say I did), though most of the time, it's just a few words/paragraphs here or there.
I did go to the library again on Saturday and stay there until I had "A Mark on the Sky" all typed up. In the end, it looks to be 25,445 words long. That's not too shabby, though it's nowhere near novel length, and apparently that's what you need to make money out there.
Still, in audio, it'll be over four hours long (unless my math is way off, and it might be), and that don't suck. I look forward to recording the audiobook version of this one, though of course, not the editing.
So, speaking of audio, the second goal for August was to work on audio every single day, and that I've also kept up so far. I recorded a short story and an episode to go with it, I began recording "Journey Into Another Dimension," and sadly only got through about twenty percent in the first sitting. I edited a story, "Romantic Interlude," I edited a two-part Rish Outcast story presentation (which was, shame on someone, originally intended to be only a single part), and I finally started editing the episode I most didn't want to run, because it's going on a year now. Oh, and I am nearly done with a That Gets My Goat, and nearly started on a Delusions of Grandeur.
On the writing front, I started on yet another new story on Monday, one that I feel I HAVE to write right now, or I'll never do it (time is sorta of the essence on this one), and I've decided that, unlike my short stories that become novellas (or novellas that become would-be novels), this is a novella that I'm paring down to a short story, because of the time constraint.
More on that later.
I went to the family cabin twice so far this month, both times to do some painting/varnishing, but managed a few pages in my notebook while I was there. I keep trying to figure out a time when I can drive down alone again and really buckle down on my writing and editing, but it's not just MY cabin (in fact, it's not MY cabin at all), and there are other people wanting to go there on any given weekend. Maybe next week.
So, there's my status report for the first week of August. I'm sure the month will be over before I can summon a healthy fart, but I hope I do something (or other) to be proud of before it is.
So, every once in a while, I try to put out my audio recordings in collections, so people can buy them. A novel idea, I know. This was my first one.
Well, the second volume is out there, just waiting for some fool--er, someone discerning enough to buy it.
I got my pal Gino Moretto to do the cover art for this collection too, and while it's not the same as the first one, I feel they have a relation, a thematic consistency.
So, this particular collection consists of:
3.A Slight Delay
6.All Night Gas
7.The Awful Tale of the Minnesota Diarrhea Ghost
8.New Year’s Day
15.Leap of Faith
18.On Dusty Wings
19.Greetings from the Ninth Sector
A lot of these stories you have heard (or heard of) before, but with stuff like "Greetings..." it's an extended version than has previously been podcast, and there are a couple flash fiction pieces not available anywhere else.
I already have a story or three in mind for a third collection, but it'll be a while, unless I find some ambition in my travels.
It'd be cool if you purchased a copy. If not, hey, you're still cool. Scoop it up at this link!
So, Rish goes for an extra long drive, thinking about the recent writers' conference, the people he saw there, and the encouraging/discouraging things people said in panels. So he gets kind of inspirational too.*
Can we be frank, kids? I think this is my best episode ever. Yeah, I said it.
Your mileage may vary.**
Go ahead and Right-Click THIS LINK if you want to download it. I dare you.
*Warning: a bit of language and a bit of "La La Land" in this one. So, double-warning.
**I made some kind of promise in this episode, so here's the link to that story I vowed to not only write, but to publish. Me and my big mouth.
Oh, and feel free to Patreon me. Nothing's stopping you.
This was another of those cases where, right before bed, I figured I'd jot down a few words, and wrote more than I had intended. Which is fine. You see, I have three projects I've been working on the last week or so: 1) typing up "A Mark on the Sky" from my notebook to the laptop, which sometimes involves writing new bits, 2) my YA novel/novella/short story in my notebook, which is not well-organized, and I just write random scenes for, and 3) a new project I just started on the laptop, but am much more interested in than the other one, and am writing linearly from the beginning. This writing was on that third project, and what can I say, it's more fun.
Words Written: 533 Total Words: 16,381
My favorite summer month has ended. I was planning to go see DUNKIRK with that friend from work, but it fell apart, so I ought to write instead, right? Salvage the night, maybe at the library?
Alright, damn you, I went to the library, and stayed until they did their obnoxious announcement and flashed the lights. I really wanted to get all of "Mark on the Sky" typed up, but I didn't make it. I still have five or six notebook pages left to get down, but it's never just a matter of typing up my handwritten stories; there's always revising, expanding, and occasionally trying to figure out a better line or joke than what I originally wrote.* Sometimes it's just trying to make heads or tails of my handwriting. I really ought to work on that. But I won't.
Words Written: 316 Total Words: 16,697
And there you have it, the end of July. I wrote every single day, never cheating, never completely failing. And that's something. Still, look at those total words. Not particularly impressive.
And if we look at the total words in February, we got 23,969, and the total March words were never tabulated, so, I guess that gives me a little perspective. Or half a little. Why I was so much more dedicated in February than July is hard to pin down. Maybe I've been working more in July, maybe the hot weather kept my ambition in the shade, maybe the projects I'm in the middle of now are less compelling than the ones from a couple of months ago.
Nevertheless, I don't think I'm going to quit there. Not entirely, anyway. I plan on going to the family cabin for another night in a Friday or two, perhaps staying an extra four or five hours longer (or a second night, if I really want to stretch myself). And yes, I'm going to write every day in August, and I'll TRY to keep up a word count, though I don't think I'll blog it every other day like I did this time. Unless that's entertaining, I dunno.
Regardless, the month of July was a writing experiment that wasn't wholly unsuccessful, and there will be more to come.
Rish Outfield, Writer.
*For example, in the notebook today, I had a character exclaiming, "Holy god." I had to decide whether or not to capitalize God (I did), and then I wondered if there wasn't a better expletive for the character to say. I am ashamed to admit I wasted an inordinate amount of time on this, first changing it to "Mother of God," then changing it to "Jesus wept," and then trying to figure out a clever variation on "Jesus wept." Jesus slept? Jesus leapt? Jesus swept? (that's the one I picked). But then I thought, why not having it be something totally absurd, like "Baby Jesus' dirty diapers." Was that funny, or just a mouthful, or more blasphemous than even I had intended? I changed it back to "Jesus swept," but ended up dissatisfied with the whole thing.
This is strange. I think I went to the library again on this day, but now I'm confused. Did I really go two days in a row? I--
Yeah, yeah, I did. The day before, I'd gone right before closing, sitting on the first floor, and the second day, I went a couple hours before it closed, and went to the Quiet Floor, where the only interruptions would be in my pants.*
I didn't get a ton of new words written, but I did get very close to having all of "Mark on the Sky" typed up. Only one more session ought to do it.
Words Today: 433 Total Words: 15,079
Saturday was going to be a difficult writing day, because I had to get up very early and drive down to the family cabin with my mom and brother, where we were going to stain/varnish/paint the outside walls/paneling. I'm not sure what the word is where you put on a coat or two of brown glossy stuff, and then a layer of clear-coat over it. But that's what we did, and with three of us working, we managed to get quite a bit of it done with zero casualties.
Although, technically, my writing might count as a casualty. I did bring my notebook with me, and sat down at the table while my brother was mixing up the clear-coat, and tried to get some words in. My mom kept coming over and talking to me, mostly about the flowers outside or the amount of cobwebs inside, or the amount of people that could stay at one time or where did all the paper towels go? I think she may have just been talking to herself some of that time, but because I was there, trying hard to focus, I appreciated it less than I should have.
Not a lot of words. On the drive back, she asked me to tell her about what I was writing. I basically told her the entire story, at least all that I have, and she asked a couple of questions I don't know the answer to, and seemed to think this was a book series instead of a single YA novel. She may be right, but if I was intimidated at the idea of writing a novel, how much worse would writing a series of novels be?
There was a get-together of old high school friends that evening, so I had enough time to get home, get showered (I was very dirty from all the painting, and I still see brown varnish on my elbow and fingernails), run over to Walmart to buy "a side" for people to eat (I got chips and salsa; I don't know what a side dish is, let alone a side), and get there only a half hour late. I hobnobbed with some of the guys I knew in high school, but I was literally the only person there without kids, and that made me a bit of a third wheel (if not fifth or seventh). It was kind of an eye-opening get-together, a reminder of just how old I'm getting, and also of how much less grown-up I am than the people I went to high school with. It was still good to see them, but I have a lot less in common with those guys than I did decades ago.
I got home and felt like I should try to write just a little more, but I was too tired. And in counting up the words in that terrible notebook, I suppose I did get a lot more writing done than I thought I did. Maybe I wrote some of it in my sleep.
Words Today: 769 Total Words: 15,848
*Sorry, that's a bit of an overshare, yeah, but I sat down, got my notebook and my craptop set up, and then suddenly, had to run to the bathroom, if you know what I mean. In the past, I've been savvy enough to take all my belongings with me to the restroom, because you never know, but this one was indeed an emergency, and I didn't really decide to leave my stuff on the desk, but was rather forced to. I made my way, as fast as I could without drawing attention to myself, to the nearest toilet, and thank Bossk there was no one already in there . . . things would have ended badly. Or worse, anyway.
When I came back to the cubicle, everything was as it had been, except for the note on a 3x5 card that said, "I kNOw wHaT yOU dID," that was put there by a librarian. That was unsettling.
I don't know where the hours go. I had some time to myself today, and even though I posted two episodes of the Rish Outcast, mowed the lawn, and sat down to perform a Fake Sean Connery song, the hours of the day were not enough, and it was night by the time I checked what time afternoon it was.
I did manage a little bit of writing, during lunch, and hopefully tonight, but I'm just as undisciplined as one of James Cameron's Colonial Marines.
But as I've said (what, ninety times now), maybe July was just a jumping-off point, and August can be truly productive, at least by comparison. I'm not in a race with you, I'm in a race with mys . . .
Oh, I just checked. It IS you. I'm sorry, I didn't realize. I'm a race with you. Sorry.
Words Today: 659 Total Words: 14,502
Today, I decided it was time to head back to the library and force myself to write for an hour or two. After all, it is the end of the month, and though I did well three or four days this past week, I'm still pretty far from where I wanted to be. I thought I could write a whole novella this month, or a short story and part of a novel.
Well, I was on my way to the library when I ran into what I guess I have to consider the only friend I have left. I chatted with him for a few minutes, figuring I'd hit the library immediately after. But as the minutes became an hour, I started to wonder if I would miss my chance to hit the library and write*, and the bigger question occurred to me: is hanging out with my friend more or less important than going and getting my writing done?
I'm something of a recluse and a misanthrope, and living on my own in the big city showed me that I'm at least partially capable of being alone and just fine . . . but dude, it would be nice to have a friend or two, you dig?
So, I went to the library, and it was closing in just under an hour, and I sat at the first empty desk I came to and tried to make the most of it. I had made the mistake of stepping into the audiobook section and catching the eye of a helpful young man who, despite not being a library employee, asked me what I was looking for. I glanced to my left, saw the Veronica Roth books, and said, "Oh, there's a book by Patrick Rothfuss I've always meant to read. Just checking to see if it's here." The young man nodded. "Is it The Name of the Wind?" "That's right. But it's never here."
I went and sat down, booted up the computer, and managed just a few words before the helpful young man walked up to me. "Well," he said, "I looked it up in the computer, and there's no audio version." "Excuse me?" I asked. "The Name of the Wind. The library does have eight copies of the paper version of the book, but they're all checked out." Apparently, the chap had gone through the aisles looking for me to let me know. "Well, thanks, man," I said, still puzzled as to what was happening here. I suppose attractive young women get this kind of reception all the time, but for me, it's baffling. "You can put a hold on it," he said, ever helpful, "and when the library gets a copy in, they'll set it aside for you." I considered explaining that I never manage to read physical books, that I fall asleep, and that's why I wanted the audiobook, but instead, I just said, "I'll do that. Thanks again."
He walked away, ostensibly looking for old ladies to help cross the street, and I resumed writing. Or attempting to write, because despite having very little time before the building closed, the blind Japanese guy who seems to live there has some kind of device where you push a button and it screams, "THE TIME IS EIGHT TWENTY-ONE PM!!!!!!!!!" which, I suppose, is to help him know how much time he has left, but he just kept pushing it, and the machine announced it to everyone in a two-block radius. It just bothered me, that he'd push it, and two minutes later he'd push it again. And then the library did their actual announcement, and I guess their policy is, after they do the audio announcement, they flip the lights on and off, in case, I dunno, the Japanese blind guy has a Japanese deaf best pal with him. The second time they toggled the lights on and off, I actually said, "Fuckers!" out loud.
It's okay, I wasn't on the Quiet Floor.
Words Today: 144 Total Words: 14,646
*At one point, I mentioned my library intentions to him and he said, "Why don't you just go to Starbucks and write, like the rest of the jagoffs?" He may or may not have used the word "jagoff" (okay, he didn't; I just like the sound of it), but it was a good question. Why does it HAVE to be the library? Back before my laptop became, first a craptop, and now a gigantic piece of shit, I used to be able to take it to the park and write, or heck, just into the backyard for an hour or so, but now it constantly needs to be plugged in, so my options are limited.
Although I did take it to Arby's once, and that wasn't an unpleasant experience. Maybe I will again (though I'll definitely have to start donating plasma to afford to eat at Arby's. Either that or donate a kidney. That ought to cover my meals there for a good month or so).
After two days of really good, solid progress (no, not compared to YOU, Your Highness, but for me, Friday and Saturday kicked ass), I got very little writing done. Guess I should've stayed another night at the cabin.
But in my defense, Your Honor, I was working a big chunk of the next two days, and that is kind of important, due to having a dollar sign attached to it. Heck, I should be working right now instead of writing this.*
Just managed to jot down a paragraph or two in my notebook at lunchtime.
Words Today: 88 Total Words: 11,636
Another day just like the one before. Except that, at the end of the day, I sat down and wrote a little bit, just so I didn't feel like the loser who only wrote eighty-eight words.
Which reminds me: I've been sort of revisiting a story I abandoned with a teen protagonist, and I keep struggling with how to expand it from a short story to a novel, and one of the additions I've made is to have a love interest in the story, someone who notices our guy, and because she's paying attention, sees that he has a secret nobody else can see.
Unfortunately, I already had a male character, a new best friend kind of thing, who served that purpose, and it makes me question the purpose of the love interest character. Is she just there so that there's the potential for kissing? Is she just there because I fear someone saying, "Why are there only male characters in this??" Is she sort of tacked on and worthless, just because I'm not talented enough to do something with her?
Don't answer that last one.
Anyway, I was able to call Big Anklevich after work and talk to him about this quandary, and he gave me some suggestions. Maybe there's something I can do with the love interest if I make it a quartet of teen characters instead of just a trio.
There's also a female antagonist that shows up on or about the midpoint of the story, and she sort of throws everything our main character knows into question. I wondered, is it stronger if she's his long-lost sister, or just his cousin?** And then I got the "brilliant" idea of, what if I combine this cousin/sister character with the love interest, and that way she's definitely got something important to do in the story? Yay!
Of course, a lot of folks find incest slightly distasteful, them not having written a sequel to "The Calling." And I dunno if I want to tackle that subject again . . . so soon, anyway.
Big told me not to worry about people thinking I'm repeating elements from previous stories, by asking if there's really anyone out there that's a big enough fan to have read everything I've written. It's probably okay to have more than one story about a family with supernatural abilities, where some of them are good and some of them are evil. Just talking through it out loud is helpful, as I have discovered when doing the Voice Recorder feature on phones and mp3 players (go ahead and look up what those were), and I think I'm in a better place having spoken to him.
So, while the conversation with Big doesn't count as writing (and neither do these blog posts), I think it might encourage me to write more tomorrow. And the day after.
Words Today: 993 Total Words: 12,629
I did work a little harder on this day, especially THINKING about writing the YA book. I don't really know how to do it, but I keep coming up with scenes I want to put in the book, and I've been writing those. That may end up being a disaster, but to me, it's kind of like I'm writing little connected short stories, and that may be what I have to do to get a novel written.
I sat up late tonight, meaning to jot down a few notes, and ended up typing quite a bit. And those words add up.
Words Today: 1214 Total Words: 13,843
*That reminds me, there was this podcast (which shall remain nameless, but it's similar to a line in the attached sentence, which I kept trying to listen to, but had the most godawful theme song in the history of music (and I ought to put "music" in quotation marks, that theme was so unlistenable). The content of the podcast was solid, and would have helped me, but every time I heard that theme song, I had to turn it off. Sad.
Then one day, a friend of mine sent me an email with an episode of that podcast attached. "You'll get a kick out of this, I bet," he wrote. I listened to the attached episode (it was from months or years after the point I'd stopped listening to the show), and right at the beginning, the host comes on and says, "You may notice that, starting with this episode, we have a new theme tune for the podcast. This was because of the endless complaints we would get here about it. I personally thought the music was charming and it made me smile whenever I heard it, but due to the constant stream of angry comments, we have retired it. Enjoy."
And I did.
**Originally she was going to be a cousin he had never heard about, but I thought, what if she's his sister, and like Luke and Leia, one was taken by one parent figure and one was taken by another? But I don't know if that works as well as it just being the daughter of his mother's brother he didn't know existed, rather than the daughter of his mother he couldn't remember. I still don't know. Hmmm.