This Saturday, May 13, from 11am to 4pm, the Fremont Writers Club will have a book signing at Round Table Pizza, 37480 Fremont Blvd, Fremont, CA. We will sell books, like my Super Bad Hair Day book with a CD containing superheroine artwork and my audio stories. We will do open mic readings, and I shall PERFORM one of my stories! Probably my latest audio story, The Intellecta Rhapsody; it won first prize at this year’s San Mateo Country Fair Literary Arts Contest. (The background music is the Hungarian Rhapsody: Bugs Bunny, Woody Woodpecker, and Tom & Jerry all danced to that tune, so I add Super Holly Hansson to that list.)
Quick happy note!
Yesterday I got an email from the San Mateo County Fair Literacy Contest. My audio story, “The Intellecta Rhapsody,” won first place in the audiobook division, and my short story, “The Lutefisk Door,” won third place in the scifi/fantasy senior division. Yay, I will be in Carry The Light again! Looks like my Trumpy villain Billington Stumpfinger will be in print soon (in “The Lutefisk Door”, he built some nasty walls to trap Super Holly Hansson).
Click the Carry The Light picture to the left, or click here, to hear my audio short story: The Malevolent Mystery Meat! It stars the grade-schoolers Tucker and Wrigley, the two brothers with super doggie powers who save Super Holly Hansson from the evil lunch ladies. Super doggie car chase! Icky mystery meat! Licky doggie tongues! Go, Puppy Brothers, go! BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK!!!
Click here to read the text version, if you like reading along with my dramatic narration. I used the William Tell Overture (royalty free on YouTube) as the background music. Remember The Lone Ranger? Hi yo, puppies, away!
My first time on a podcast, here it is on Soundcloud. I start at 37 minutes 12 seconds, where Jorge introduces me with a Swedish accent. The mics had pop filters. The time went fast. I can learn from Jorge. You can too. www.jmspodcast.com
Maybe I could have been clearer about my Batman guy, Cal Critbert, becoming lots more human after I made him a Roger Ebert type movie critic. I forgot Sarah Kuhn’s name (she wrote Heroine Complex). I insulted Atlas Shrugged’s John Galt, I never get tired of that! I read The Intellecta Rhapsody (01:19:03) and the end of The Malevolent Mystery Meat (01:31:40) (scroll to a little before the Lone Ranger tag in the text).
At Sacramento Con, at the autograph area, I met Billy West of Futurama fame (Philip J. Fry, Professor Farnsworth, Dr. Zoidberg, Zapp Brannigan). I told him I am doing character voices for my story readings, and I asked for advice.
Go big, he said, I will not impress anyone with small. Put PASSION into your characters, make them live, they should feel REAL. And get the rhythm of a voice: Billy did Yogi Bear’s voice to make his point. (I suggest you look Yogi up on YouTube and listen to how he stretches syllables and bounces up at the end of a sentence.)
Billy talked to someone else about combining two actor voices to make another voice. I should try that sometime. Hope I don’t break something.
P.S. I’m not much for autographs, so I paid Billy for a photo with him. Autograph tables are part of the capitalist system.
After I received 20 copies of my Createspace book, Super Holly’s Super Bad Hair Day (two short stories and chapter zero of The Comic Book Code) for the Fremont Book Signing, I wanted to add a CD to each book for artwork, ebook files (mobi and pub and PDF), and audio files of me reading each story. I’ve done open mics for years, should be easy, right? Here is what I learned.
Use a quality microphone! I used Blue Nessie, same USB mic that I used for The Malevolent Mystery Meat. I spoke close to the microphone but slightly to one side so my hard consonants did not pop, like a “P” turning into “PUH!!!” (I do not have a pop filter. Maybe I should get one.)
Voice over the top! I do all the voices for all the characters. Holly is my voice while I think like a woman as best I can. Harry Headbutt, my villainous Hulk, is pretty easy: loud and dumb. But when I voiced my barber Lash, the audio file sounded like just plain old me. Lash should stand out, he is a character in real life. So I roughed up my voice and re-recorded those parts.
Audio stories are LONG! As in reading the entire story takes around 45 minutes. There is no way I can read out loud for that long and not flub up a word, or cough, or curse at a barky doggie barking. So I recorded until I made a mistake or needed to stop, about 5 minutes at a time, 10 at the extreme outside. I recorded in Quicktime, and put the clips together in Garage Band, where it is easy to remove the trailing edge of the recording, as in, “And Super Holly punched Harry Headbutt right in the… ARGH! SWEET PEA, STOP BARKING OR I’LL MICROWAVE YOU LIKE A HOT DOG!”
Avoid external noise! I was at my cousin’s home (house/doggie sitting), upstairs, doors and windows closed. It got warm. But I did not plug in my laptop cooling fan. I had to stop at airplanes flying over, leaf blowers, and my cousin’s littlest dog barking (see above advice).
No internal noise! Even with a good mic, you can get buzzing if you do not place the mic in just the right position. That can mean moving around the room, moving the computer, and moving the USB and headphone cables. Monitor yourself by wearing headphones and making sure there is no static. At all. NO BUZZ! I made the mistake of letting some buzz into a few of the recordings; I might have to redo them if I ever send them to Audible.com.
Music makes fun! I added clips from Al Fabrizio album Serenata Italiana (he makes beautiful mandolin music), and from Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com), who makes great royalty free background music. I am often told I am a good performer, but adding the right background music makes an audio story sing.
Use quality CDs! I tries Staples CDs. Ugh, sometimes they would not verify after my computer burned them. I bought Verbatim CDs instead. Worked perfectly.
I have more to learn. And I have to post these audio files (soundcloud, anyone?). Or bits of them. 45 minutes per story is a LOT of blabbing!
I previously mentioned that in the 2016 San Mateo County Fair Literary Contest, I won both honorable mention (print version) and first prize (my audio reading) for the Puppy Brothers (Tucker and Wrigley) in my short story, “The Malevolent Mystery Meat!”
This book has plenty of great stories, essays, and poetry from local writers. I highly recommend “Character Flaws” by Sumiko Saulson. A short story that lets non-writers feel how characters run around in a writer’s head. It’s educational, a little scary, and a lot of fun.
P.S. When my dramatic and exuberant audio reading of my story goes online, I will post a link to that. I read parts of “The Malevolent Mystery Meat” at the San Mateo Fair. The audience liked it.