Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Turkey Day!

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone.

I'll be back in a few days.

After I've recovered from the food coma.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Fear Me, Part One: Creative Fandom

In 1999 I became a hardcore fan of women's soccer and of the U.S. Women's National Soccer Team when they won the Women's World Cup. For the next three years, I glued myself to every televised game, went to Portland, Louisville, and Fort Lauderdale to watch live matches, bought up magazines and books and swag, and participated on various women's soccer forums. Two among those forums were BigSoccer.com and Shannon MacMillan's AOL Message Board (now defunct).

During that time, it became clear to me that it wasn't enough to merely watch games and cheer the players on.

No.

I had to take fandom up another notch and the wheels of creativity went into overdrive--

No. Not overdrive.

Hyperwarp.

What does this have to do with anything?

Remember what I wrote last time?

Read on...

* * *

In the weeks that I'd been posting on Shannon's message board I had written six songs in honor of Shannon. Tributes, really. Nothing wholly original. These were merely familiar and popular songs with new lyrics--think "Weird Al" and you get the idea.

While rummaging through my brain for a new tribute, I noticed that several posters on the Board were trading song lyrics.

I started to think, "Geez, it sounds like a musical--"

Oooh.

A musical. A musical about the Message Board.

That was it. My next tribute could be a musical about all of us and how Shannon brought us together--

Shannon.

A musical about Shannon.

Sure! Why the hell not?

If Sondheim could write a musical about Sweeney Todd, the demon barber of Fleet Street, if Andrew Lloyd Webber could write about the last week in the life of Jesus Christ, why couldn't I write a musical about Shannon?

Immediately, two songs wrote themselves in the space of an hour. Then I combed through my stack of articles as well as a copy of Marla Miller's book All-American Girls and developed the storyline for the "show." It would trace Shannon's story from her stint with the Portland Pilots all the way through the '99 Women's World Cup, as well as her impact on her fans.

On September 29th, I posted part one of MAC: The Musical.

The “complete show,” in two acts, ran ten installments, posted between September 29th and October 30th.

After Part One was posted on the Board, Shannon wrote: "Ace, you are too much. You're killin' me."

Yep. That's me.

Are ya scared yet?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Friday, November 21, 2008

Words To Live By

From August Rush:
You never quit on your music. No matter what happens. Cuz anytime something bad happens to you, that's the one place you can escape to and just let it go.
Goes along with this quote from Ray Bradbury:
You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.
Or as Stephen King put it:
Life isn't a support-system for art. It's the other way around
Excellent advice.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Gamer Humor

From IMs between Wil Wheaton and John Scalzi ("Me" in the below excerpt):

Me: Excellent. So, wanna be my In-N-Out caddie?

Wil: How does that compare to: a) lackey and b) flunky ?

Me: They don’t get animal style face smearings. Anyway, scratch that. You can be in my entourage.

Wil: OMG ENTOURAGE
That’s where I get to follow you around, and act like I’m really important just because I’m following you around!

Me: It’s like you’re rolling natural 20s, because I’m rolling natural 20s.

Wil: I’m an NPC!

Me: Really, is there anything better?

Wil: I’ll finally multiclass, and take some ranks in Insufferable Bastard

Me: You’re your own Expansion Pack, Wil. Live that dream.

Bwahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha--!

I am such a friggin' gamer geek...

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

U Cn Haz Feard of Me

My college buddy, Sendlo, once wrote in response to an email I'd sent: "I got the opportunity to run around Abner's mind for a while. It was frightening."

There's a good reason why my friends all "fear" me.

The output from that mass of grey matter between my ears.

"What do you mean?" you ask.

Let me give you a brief glimpse inside...

* * *

On one forum that I inhabit, a fellow poster made a comment about writing a story centered around an elementalist.

Unable to resist I posted: "So is he the very model of a modern elementalist?"

Reply: "Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant."

In response I wrote:
I am the very model of a modern elementalist
I simply wave my hand and I control the rain, the fog, the mist
Or call upon a rockslide or a firestorm if I am pissed
A waterspout, a hurricane, tornado, well, you get the gist
.
Here's another...

On another message board I frequent, this one for audio drama folks associated with Pendant Productions, someone made the joke of "Pendant: The Musical."

So I posted the following:
PENDANT FAN
I remember the first time I became a Pendant fan. Jeffrey helped me. Isn't that right, Jeffrey?

JEFFREY
That's right.

PENDANT FAN
I was searching high and low for good audio dramas. Wasn't reallyfinding them. Then along came Jeffrey who said to me...

(sung to the tune of "Over at the Frankenstein Place" from THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW [in this, the stage version, second verse has the same melody as the first verse])

JEFFREY
(singing)
You want audio dramas?
Well look no more
Shows galore
I can take you there
Now don't you fret
And don't you despair
There's a show

CHORUS
Over at the Pendant website

JEFFREY
There's a show

CHORUS
Try 'em all, they're outta sight

JEFFREY
There's a show, a show
Download one
And listen tonight

PENDANT FAN
There's so many choices
What am I to do?
Where to start?
Haven't got a clue.

JEFFREY
Pick one, there's lots
For me and you
There's a show

CHORUS
Over at the Pendant website

JEFFREY
There's a show

CHORUS
Try 'em all, they're outta sight

JEFFREY
There's a show, a show
Download one
And listen tonight

SETH
TWIP, Dixie, Bill Shakes, Vegas, Seminar, and the Kingery
Supes, Bats, Defiant, Indy, Bond, Blue Harvest, Supergirl,
Wonder Woman,
And Catwoman

PENDANT FAN and JEFFREY
There's a show

CHORUS
Over at the Pendant website

PENDANT FAN and JEFFREY
There's a show

CHORUS
Try 'em all, they're outta sight
There's a show, a show

PENDANT FAN
Download one
And listen tonight
You have been warned.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Now Playing: 18 November 2008

Here's the latest audio drama: Gaia's Voyages, episode 3, with yours truly as ship's pilot Lt. Andre Anjou.

They're Back!!!

In honor of the Annie Oakley post, I hereby resurrect a series begun at my previous blog.

Presenting: Chicks With Guns.


Israeli gals. Buying ice cream.


(H/T: SayUncle)

Monday, November 17, 2008

Countdown Clock

Hat tip to fellow AW'er mscelina for the countdown clock you see above.

She had one. I thought it was nifty so I borrowed one for Kat and Mouse.

heh

She Who Kicks Ass

Since I brought up Annie Oakley...

In the mid-80s, Teenage Me caught a glimpse of a blond-haired girl in a blue outfit on HBO. The girl appeared to be flying through the sky surrounded by giant insects.

Then, I had to leave.

What little I saw intrigued me so I vowed to catch it the next time it came around.

The next time came, I caught it, taped Warriors of the Wind* and fell for She Who Kicks Ass.

Who is She Who Kicks Ass?

She is feisty and fiery. Self-confident. Take charge. Takes no shit. Holds her own.

She can be pretty when she wants. But piss her off and she will kick your ass.

She is Princess Leia. She is Ripley. She is Xena. She is Buffy. She is Lara Croft.

I salute She Who Kicks Ass.

And if that's too long of a title, try "badass heroine."

Yeah.

That works, too.


*Warriors of the Wind, of course, is the badly-dubbed, completed mangled American version of Hayao Miyazaki's classic film Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind. Disavow any knowledge of the former and go see the latter. Now.)

The Realism Thing

A thread from one of my forums got me thinking.

The original post lamented the seeming inability of SF works to portray realistic space warfare.

At first glance, it's a good point. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized the lament falls flat.

The post wants realistic space warfare in science fiction.

But this is fiction.

Operative word: fiction.

We fictioneers deal with "what might happen." "What might be." Speculative.

As in spec-fic, or speculative fiction.

Again, there's that word. Fiction.

We deal with "things we don't know, but here's one way it might work/might happen."

That's not to say that we should sacrifice scientific laws simply to tell our stories. Place the story within the realm of the possible, yes.

But when I read it, I want to feel my pulse racing. I don't want to get bogged down in pages of written our astrophysics when you could simply say the ship didn't maneuver in time, collided with the asteroid, and blew apart.

I found that A. Lee Martinez weighed in on the issue:
Research is great if it helps you write your story. But if it gets in your way or limits your imagination or seems . . . just wrong to your audience then it isn't an asset. It's an obstacle.

This is not to say that research can't be useful. Even necessary depending on what you're writing. But it's not an excuse to write a dull story, to drown your reader in a sea of details while neglecting to give them characters worth caring about.

[...]

Research does not make a good story.
Lawrence Block puts it this way in Telling Lies For Fun & Profit:
[F]akery is the very heart and soul of fiction. All our novels and short stories are nothing but a pack of lies.

Unless your writing is pure autobiography in the guise of fiction, you will continually find yourself practicing the dark arts of the illusionist and the trade of the counterfeiter.
In the end, our job is to entertain.

Let's not forget that.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Dresden In The Funnybooks

Yep, that's right.

A graphic novel featuring our fave Chi-Town wizard. This one, a prequel to the novel Storm Front.

Dresden adapts quite well to the four-color format. Butcher gives us Harry in all his quipping glory and throws in some great pairing of words and images. For instance, at the end of Chapter One, Harry has just taken out one attacking big cat only to find several more have crept up on him.

The caption reads: "Okay. That's just not fair."

Good ol' Harry.

I did notice that artist Ardian Syaf seems to channel Jim Lee and J. Scott Campbell. But unless you were looking closely, you probably didn't notice it.

Not that it's a bad thing.

Just noticed the style.

Overall, a fun read and probably a decent intro for someone unsure of the novel series.

Different format. Same Harry.

And I have to say, the Chris McGrath covers on this and on the novels are growing on me.

Now, off to the store with you...

Annie Get Your...Huh?

Jess and I just saw the 1950 movie musical Annie Get Your Gun, based on the 1946 stage musical of the same name.

Great Irving Berlin songs, especially the comedic duet "Anything You Can Do."

But...WTF? What the hell kind of ending was that?

I won't spoil it for those who haven't seen it. To those who have, I ask again: Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?

I can see the reasoning from a historic context, from the values of the time.

But it was still a crappy-ass ending.


NOTE: If you're interested in how Annie's life really progressed, PBS has a nice timeline.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Why A Serial?

One month before Kat and Mouse: Guns For Hire goes live and everything's pretty much ready to go.

Some of you may be asking,"Why self-publish online? Why not go with the traditional publishing routes? Don't you know you're jeopardizing your future in print publishing? Have you lost your freakin' mind?"

I guess I'm a bit of a limelight whore attention hound. Probably comes from the same bug that makes me voice act. And what led me to DM more than play.

I enjoy creating something, sharing that creation with folk, and getting the immediate feedback. It's much the same as being onstage in front of an audience and hearing and seeing their response to your words and actions. Anyone who's been there can tell you: it's a rush.

I'll continue to submit my other stories to print and online markets. No change there.

But I think Kat and Mouse lends itself nicely to the serial format.

As far as jeopardizing future publishing because it first appeared online?

David Wellington and Monster Island seems to have done fine in print...

Friday, November 14, 2008

"Balls Out" Fiction

Carla Harker talks about a " 'balls out' writing experience" with regard to her novel that was eventually picked up for representation:
I was afraid at first to make a heroine who was cold-blooded, efficient, didn't hesitate to squeeze the trigger. Much of the female-oriented action I'd read had heroines afraid of guns, or in the process of giving up the business because it bothers them, or very uncomfortable with the role they had in life.

But characters in movies often engage in acts of violence without remorse, without regret. I thought to myself, what if my heroine didn't hate her work? What if she knew exactly who she was and still liked herself? What if she didn't waste her time trying to avoid shooting the bad guy and just...shot him?
That's Kat and Mouse. No fear of guns. No hesitation in squeezing the trigger.

After all, their tagline is "When the going gets tough, the tough shoot back."

I like it. "Balls out."

Not in reference to the experience of the writing, the "take the gloves off" aspect that Carla talks about in her post.

No.

I'm talking about the type of writing.

I thought of it as "escapist." "Brain candy."

But I think I'll call it "balls out fiction."

On The Soapbox

Pardon me for taking a slight political turn, but... (well, it is my blog so I'm allowed. heh.)

Stumbled across this video of a recent Meet the Press segment.

Did she (she being Valerie Jarrett, co-chair of Obama's transition team) say what I think she said?

Listen...



Okay--go back and listen again. Around the 30-ish second mark.

Did she say Obama would "rule"?

Excuse me? Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?

Since when does a President rule? I just looked; nothing in Article 2 of the Constitution mentions "ruling."

I understood that Presidents "serve" their term in office. Have you heard of any U.S. President ruling the country? If you have, show me where. Title, author, page and line number, please.

You doubt she said it?

Transcript is here, my friends.

Nice going, folks. Well voted there.

(h/t: LawDog)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Former Ravings

My last foray into the blogosphere was the gun rights blog The Madman Raves. Begun in April 2007, Madman was my soapbox on gun rights, gun issues, and anti-gun control.

While it was a lot of fun to write, I found that after a while, I was getting buried under a mass of time-specific issues. When I was finally able to throw in my two cents, the issue had passed and something new had taken its place. Since the blog was meant to be topical and mostly current, missing out on issues would not do.

In addition, I found myself wanting to chime in on matters besides gun issues.

But the blog just wasn't the right place for that.

After taking some time off and doing a lot of thinking, I decided to close up shop and "rave" no more.

Could I have pressed on despite how I felt?

Sure. But the blog would've suffered both in quality and in focus. I didn't want to do that to my readers.

Which brings me here. To this blog.

Much closer, I feel, to the worlds I tend to inhabit.


NOTE: For those interested, The Madman Raves still lives, though not at its own domain. You can find it here.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Progress Is Good

I had yesterday off from the Day Job and it proved to be quite a productive day.

Five months worth of installments are now queued up at the serial. We are ready for launch with a goodly buffer in place.

Had fun with photos of sharks and learned about bodice-rippers in space.

Yep. Productive.

Now Playing: 12 November 2008

Matt Leong of Atomic Clockwork Media/Double Dork Meter sent me the link to a show I did for him.

Seems to have come out already. Around Halloween, as a matter of fact. I didn't realize it so finding out about it is all sorts of cool.

Info on the show and download goodness are here.

Happy listening!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Happy Veterans Day

I offer this to all who served and to all who continue to serve...
This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne'er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered-
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen in England now-a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs'd they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.
--Henry V, Shakespeare
Thank you for all that you do and all you have done.

LOLSharkz

Always goodness from Uncle Warren.

Here's a good one:



(via Fuck Yeah Sharks)

Books Gone Wild

MightyGodKing gives us revisionist book titles here, here, and here.

My favorite:

Frickin' hysterical.

As in "spew coffee through the nose" hysterical.

The Waiting Game

No matter what your level (novice, intermediate, advanced, expert, deity), it's still stressful.

Not quite as stressful as other things, but it ranks up there.

I'm talking about The Waiting Game.

Whether it's a manuscript submission or a voice acting audition, waiting to hear back still gets to me.

Makes my skin itch in anticipation.

Makes me want to check my email inbox every thirty seconds to see if they've replied yet.

"N0, no," I say to myself. "I'll give it a little more time. Then I'll check."

Thirty seconds later, I'm scanning my inbox.

I can see the potential for ulcers.

So I do what the books tell me: put it out of my mind and work on the next thing. If writing, work on the next story. If voice acting, find the next audition or record your next set of lines.

And it does help.

A lot.

Now, if you'll excuse me, it's been thirty seconds. Gotta check my inbox...

Monday, November 10, 2008

Voice Acting Update: 10 November 2008

I've just been cast as "Jackson" in episode 24 of SEMINAR, from Pendant Productions.

Now Playing: 10 November 2008

Here's where to find my current audio drama "appearances" (along with episode links):

UMKET INDUSTRIES PRESENTS: THE DIXIE STENBERG AND BRASSY BATTALION ADVENTURE THEATER (episode 27) as "Harry the CEO"

THE KINGERY (episode 2x07: "The Certainty of Chance") as "Eddie"

STAR RABBIT TRACKS (episode 6) as "Fox 2nd Master"

GAIA'S VOYAGES (episode 2: "Disaster at Xaphoni, Part Two") as "Lt. Andre Anjou"

THE KINGERY (episode 2x06: "The Certainty of Chance") as "Eddie"

TWIN STARS (episode 6) as "Colonel Cole"

SEMINAR (episode 20: "Conversations") as"Paul"

WONDER WOMAN: CHAMPION OF THEMYSCIRA (episode 33) as "Dr. Lallande"

UMKET INDUSTRIES PRESENTS: THE DIXIE STENBERG AND BRASSY BATTALION ADVENTURE THEATER (episode 26) as "Jacques the Baker"

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Sunday Sing-along!

Here's a charming little ditty for ya, courtesy of the a cappella group DaVinci's Notebook.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Playlists and "the Zone"

Carrie Vaughn mentions using a playlist when writing her novels. Comic book writer Devin Grayson does the same when writing her comic scripts.

I do the same thing, only using whole albums. Sometimes, movies.

With one project, I listened to Weird Al's Greatest Hits and Running With Scissors over and over during the course of writing.

Another project was written with The Mummy playing the background. On repeat.

More recently, I repeatedly played the music score from Transformers while writing Kat and Mouse's big storyline. Interestingly enough, that was one music choice that fit. I think I may have found its unofficial soundtrack.

Why music (or a movie)? Why not just write in complete silence?

For Carrie:
it distracts the anxiety-ridden, obsessive compulsive part of my brain that's always worrying if I locked the door or left the stove on. I have to shut that part down or I can't write.
For Devin:
music allows me to suspend what is sometimes called the “critical” or “editor” mind — in a sense, I deliberately distract parts of my consciousness in the hopes of encouraging various subconscious streams to run more freely.
Same for me.

Kicks out the Inner Editor. Silences the Worry Section. Puts me in the proverbial "zone."

I've also found that in order for the playlist/soundtrack/movie to be effective, it has to quickly fade into the background. There can't be anything in it that interrupts the zone or the writing stalls and it takes a few minutes to get back in the groove.

In the zone.

For some reason, classical music doesn't work. You'd think it'd be perfect, right?

Not for me.

Tried it with one of my classical compilations. You know--the ones that have the more popular pieces on one disc. Goes from Pachelbel's Canon in D to Mozart's Eine Kleine Nachtmusik to Strauss's Blue Danube. Those guys.

I found that at certain points during the disc, I'd get kicked out of the zone.

Not sure why.

For whatever reason, non-classical ones work best.

There have been instances where I've switched albums in the middle of writing and not realized it until later. But during that switch I stayed in the zone. Example: during the writing of one story, I began playing the highlights disc for Rent and when I looked up at the end of that writing session, the theme from Jurassic Park was just ending.

Fully in the zone. Totally lost to the world.

Stephen King talks about this in On Writing:
I work to loud music--hard-rock stuff like AC/DC, Guns 'n Roses, and Metallica have always been particular favorites--but for me the music is just another way of shutting the door. It surrounds me, keeps the mundane world out. When you write, you want to get rid of the world, do you not? Of course you do. When you're writing, you're creating your own worlds.
"Keeps the mundane world out."

Yeah.

That's it.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Just This...

"They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty or safety."
--Benjamin Franklin

And I'll leave it at that.

Countdown to Live-Ness

One month and ten days before the serial goes live.

Can't wait. I'm pretty excited.

I've also created an accompanying site--The Red Dog Bar--which will serve as both news source and behind-the-scenes goodness.

Not yet sure what the posting schedule will be for Red Dog. I figure weekly for installment updates and news. For the other fun bits, maybe every two weeks. Maybe once a month.

We'll see.

More as we get closer.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

On Dreams

I get a series of "acting tips" via email newsletter from Bob Fraser. These primarily deal with the mindset and business skills necessary to be a "working actor."

In a recent newsletter, Bob writes:
Don't accept "reasons" to...give up your dream without a complete "investigation" into whether those"reasons" are real or someone else's illusion of reality.
Reminds me of a story Lawrence Block relates in Telling Lies for Fun and Profit:
There's an old story about a young man who cornered a world-famous violinist and begged to be allowed to play for him. If the master offered him encouragement, he would devote is life to music. But if his talent was not equal to his calling, he wanted to know ahead of time so he could avoid wasting his life. He played, and the great violinist shook his head. "You lack the fire," he said.

Decades later the two met again, and the would-be violinist, now a prosperous businessman, recalled their previous meeting. "You changed my entire life," he explained. "It was a bitter disappointment, giving up music, but I forced myself to accept your judgment. Thus, instead of becoming a fourth-rate musician, I've had a good life in the world of commerce. But tell me, how could you tell so readily that I lacked the fire?"

"Oh. I hardly listened when you played," the old master said. "That's what I tell everyone who plays for me--that they lack the fire."

"But that's unforgivable!" the businessman cried. "how could you do that? You altered the entire course of my life. Perhaps I could have been another Kreisler, another Heifetz--"

The old man shook his head again. "You don't understand," he said. "If you had had the fire, you would have paid no attention to me."
Here's another way of putting it, from Neil Gaiman:
It does help, to be a writer, to have the sort of crazed ego that doesn't allow for failure....Because the rejection slips will arrive. And, if the books are published, then you can pretty much guarantee that bad reviews will be as well. And you'll need to learn how to shrug and keep going. Or you stop, and get a real job.
"Paid no attention to me."

"Shrug and keep going."

Words to live by.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Embrace the Needy

I was planning to write about this subject but J.A. Konrath beat me to the punch.

Says it all for me.

And here I thought the feeling was something not to be shared, to be kept hidden in that proverbial closet with all the other skeletons.

But now I know it's okay.

Thanks, Joe.