SFF Reviews reads Deleted Scenes

Over at SFF Reviews, Sara L. Uckelman has been reviewing the entire table of contents from Abandoned Places. And she liked my story!

I really enjoyed this story-within-a-story-within-a-story, a story that balances upon the precipice between romance and horror. It is only the deleted scenes that determine which it is.

Check out all of her reviews. It’s wonderful she connected with so many of our little tales.

Lily Cat on Stuff

Turns out tomorrow (Sunday, March 18th) I will be live on FCCFree Radio‘s Lily Cat on Stuff program, from 12pm to 2pm PST in San Francisco. We’ll be discussing Abandoned Places as well as my own writing, and–who knows? Maybe more surprises.

You don’t have to be in SF to participate! The program will be streaming online, and you can call in to participate at 415-829-2980 during the live show. And if you miss it all, a podcast will be available after the fact.

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Abandoned Places is now available

one_flyerIt’s here at last, the anthology I co-edited with George R. Galuschak. Abandoned Places features twenty-one stories by a variety of authors from beloved veterans to breakthrough writers. My story, Deleted Scenes, is also included therein. Exciting times!

It’s been a lot of work and lot of fun. For details of the process over the past few weeks, check out the new episode of Unreliable Narrators dedicated to the anthology. If you’re in the Bay Area, join us at one of two signings (or both!). Details are here.

May you all enjoy reading it as much as George and I did putting it together.

Abandoned Places

Abandoned PlacesThe bag is out of the cat! Or something like that.

The press release is finally live for the anthology I co-edited with George R. Galuschak. It’s called Abandoned Places, and it’s more fun than a roll of Smarties. We’ll be pushing out more info as the day approaches (March 9, as in the first day of FOGCon!), including Table of Contents, story inspirations and anything else we can think to hurl at you.

So now you know what I’ve been up to these past few months.

Comics and comments

You may have heard about the recent dust-up over Marvel’s comments on diversity killing their sales. As someoene who’s been reading comics for most of my life, I have opinions on the matter. And so does my pal George Galuschak! We have shared them as an Unreliable Narrators podcast, so no need to rehash here. Suffice it to say that the industry suffers from a plethora of ongoing issues, and too much diversity ain’t one of them.

Check it out on the UN site–or here, I’ll make it easy for you.

Boskone breakdown

This past weekend I traded biblical rains and landslides for ice, snow and surprisingly moderate temperatures at Boskone. This is my favorite East Coast con for several reasons, not the least of which is an opportunity to hobnob with Chia and George–the other coastal elites of the Unreliable Narrators–as well as other friends and cohorts.

A few highlights:

– The hotel. Westin Boston Waterfront is one of the best convention sites around: clean and modern rooms, a spacious lobby and bar, several decent restaurants and plenty of conference space. Relieves the downside of sitting in a quiet and uneventful part of town.

– Several lively panels. Hearing Brandon Sanderson, Charles Stross and Walter Jon Williams discuss their toughest books was highly entertaining. And moderator extraordinaire Julia Rios even plugged our podcast and drama series during her panel on podcasting.

– The horror contingent. A small but closeknit group of horror authors provided lively discussions of horror in literature and on the silver screen. They even showed up for each other at the Kaffeeklatches. Other genres, take note.

– The flash fiction slam. Three of the Narrators–George,Chia and I–participated in the contest, and George took second place with his tale of disease warfare. Three minutes is… not a lot of time to read a piece.

– Dinner with Walter, Julia and my fellow Narrators. Deconstructed shellfish and onion strings atop every dish (even the fish and chips!) Now we know why it’s called a test kitchen.

So very not a highlight: the three-hour delay into Boston and the two-hour delay returning home. This follows a four-hour stretch of boredom in Chicago on my last trip. Yeah, I think I’m done with United. This is not the sort of thing I’m interested in becoming business as usual.

Thanks, Boston. I’m sure we’ll meet again before long. And damn, was it nice not hearing about our orange dystopia for a few days.

E’ville Tracks

Meant to include this with that last post, my E’ville post mortem, and clean forgot. Here’s a quick playlist of some of the invented tracks for background music: a silly version of the Unreliable Theme Song that sounds more ’50s rockabilly than Jazz Age, but whatever; Derin Kivaner performing an original torch song with the C Sharp Lounge house band; a cover of a traditional Irish tune that became better known as an American folk song–that I updated to Gold Rush California (It keeps moving farther west–“When I first came to Galway/Louisville/Placerville…”); and the Number One song of 1927, made to sound like it’s being broadcast over a crappy old radio.

Was fun to dabble in styles I know very little about. Who knows? Maybe I’ll return to one or all of them. In the meantime, enjoy.

Everything I know about audio drama I learned from E’ville

Today I published the final episode of my eight-part audio drama, E’ville, over on the Unreliable Narrators site. What began as a group project became my own mission to write, produce and edit a radio-style serial. Strictly amateur, and an answer to many what-if scenarios rattling around in my head. Could I piece together such an ambitious project using crowd-sourced voice acting from my friends and cohorts? Could I deliver a series of episodes on a self-imposed schedule, eight episodes in eight weeks? Would it be any good?

Happily, all answers are yes. Well, that last one I leave to you, dear listener. But I’m satisfied with the results, as grand experiments go.

I did learn a ton. Some observations, in case I feel the need to undertake something like this again:

Nothing like starting out big. Maybe I should have tried a nice, single-episode short for starters. But where would be the fun in that? I wanted a challenge that combined my many creative interests, and by god, that’s what I got. Every writer knows that nagging idea that takes hold of your brain and refuses to piss off while you finish that other shiny project on your desk. This wasn’t going anywhere until I delivered, so I did. Perhaps a few too many characters, perhaps a few too-busy scenes for audio only. The important thing is, it’s out of my mind and I can reclaim headspace for a few other deserving projects.

Crowd-sourcing voice performances via the internet has its own rewards. The talent involved represents old friends, new colleagues, people I don’t know (yet). And it was fun to stitch together those elements of my life in one place. The drawback, of course, is that you sacrifice a good deal of control over audio quality when most of the actors are miles away–not nestled in your own, soundproof studio and using the same microphones. Given the size and disparate schedules of the cast, table reads were right out as well. But hey, I lucked into a great group of people who were quite talented and quite game.

Ah, copyright law. U.S. copyright law, in particular. Such an ungainly beast. I learned more about copyright law than anyone ever wanted to, in the name of keeping this legit. Did you know that no works published after 1923 can be safely considered in the public domain? How about that even if copyright has expired on a song, the actual recording of the song is still protected? And that’s just the beginning of the headache. (Even worse, there’s a ton of misinformation out there, mainly because copyright law confuses everyone. I started out using a 20s jazz collection the Internet Archive itself marked as “public domain,” but the recordings themselves technically are not free to use. Oops.)

TL;DR on that last paragraph, for those whose eyes have glazed over: screw U.S. copyright law and its war on the public domain. Ahem. Moving on.

Crowd-sourced sound effects rock. I knew early on I didn’t want to spend hours recording my own foley work, whacking a side of beef with a baseball bat during every fight scene. That’s where freesound.org comes in, a lovely and CC-licensed collection of sounds recorded by people from all over the world. Of course, I still spent lots of time blending them into soundscapes. But it was enormous fun piecing together a street in 1920s Emeryville using sounds from a Japanese market, a Polish bar crowd, beaches in Venezuela. Technology is grand sometimes.

I used to play in bands and learned audio recording the old, multitrack magnetic-tape way. E’ville also served as an excuse to finally wade waist-deep into modern DAW technology. The covers and original compositions for the series are all 100% sampled and sequenced. Perhaps not entirely period-appropriate–they drift from 40s lounge to 50s rockabilly at times–but I never claimed to know shit about Jazz Age composition. And hey, I collaborated with a singer in Istanbul on one track. Again, technology rocks.

Would I do it again? Perhaps, someday. But there’s a book that’s been fighting for gray matter real estate with this sucker, and its time has come.