Casey Wickstrom’s Kickstarter!

My friend Casey Wickstrom is doing a Kickstarter to help him create his next album, click here to check it out. If you like great guitar and a great singer, consider a contribution. Your ears will thank you forever.

As I have said before (click here), I got to know Casey when he did open mics. And he is so going into one of my future stories. Super Holly Hansson appreciates good indy music. And she’d likely think Casey is cute. As Super Holly once told him, “Hey, Casey! Love your music! Lemme show you how much!” (Holly wraps her arms around him and gives him a big kiss, and he tastes her strawberry lip gloss.) “How do you like that… Hey! Watch where you put those hands, guitar boy!”

Bay Area authors perform! (Like me!)

Music! Poetry! Prose! And maybe cupcakes!

Tina Gibson, local author and poet and karate master (I know, she showed me) will host local authors at the Main Gallery, 1018 Main Street, Redwood City, CA. Each author gets about 20 minutes or so to read their work. I’ll either perform The Intellecta Rhapsody or some superpowered fights from my Super Bad Hair Day book. Super Holly Hansson might get new fans!

P.S.There will be light refreshments. I will bring some cupcakes that my cousin’s wife baked. I hope they will turn out okay, I put them in an airtight container which I put in the fridge.

Casey loves Holly, Casey loves Holly!

I saw my friend Casey Wickstrom perform last Friday at the Art Boutiki in Santa Clara. He played several guitars, including an awesome guitar box guitar. I gave him one of my books. I have his music, and recommend you try Blues Song #666, Surf Zombies, and his Folsom Prison Blues that Johnny Cash would approve of.

I got to know Casey at open mics at Red Rock Coffee and other places. Casey says Holly is hot, and says rather directly what he’d like to do with her. I keep telling him she already has a boyfriend. Holly would love his music.

www.caseywickstrom.com
Casey’s blog (Check it out for essays, stories, and music.)
Facebook: /caseywickstrommusic
YouTube: /cmwickstrom
caseywickstrom.bandcamp.com
Instagram: /caseywickstrom
Twitter: @caseywickstrom

Analysis of my Awesome Audio!

bluemics2013-1357744813After 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!

Story Music for My Open Mics

EmerianRichEmerian Rich, writer of horror and romance and otherwise nice lady, just posted an article I wrote for her. She is doing a series of blog posts about how music has influenced writers. With me, it was how I use music when I read at open mics. It all started with Underdog…

https://emzbox.wordpress.com/2016/03/02/music-inspiring-writing-david-strom/

At little open mics, I never worried about rights, I was too tiny for big companies to notice. But now that I am going to do audio recordings of my stories and post and/or sell them, I need to find music that I can use without having to get the rights from the EVIL GIANT MUSIC CONGLOMERATES. Yeah, right, they’d let me use music from The Matrix. Thus begins my royalty free (or royalty cheap) search. I found the William Tell Overture for my Puppy Boys story.

Heartstrings Music totally RULEZ!!!

Music has influenced my writing. I have written many chapters where the action beats match movie songs I love. A few examples: Unchained Melody from Ghost (the heartbreaking conclusion to Holly’s book, The Last Super), Battle of the Heroes from Star Wars III (Holly’s desperate fight with Dan Mann), Main Theme from Superman by John Williams (Holly’s superpowers manifest when she stops a kidnapping), and Burly Brawl from The Matrix Reloaded (Holly fights about a hundred super soldiers). Too bad I can’t use them in a podcast!

But in September 2006, I influenced a couple of musicians. Or rather, influenced a few people to look in their direction. Years ago, I took a video of Al Fabrizio and Hugo Wainzinger playing a little godfather music at a Mountain View (CA) street fair. Here it is on YouTube. The video quality is low, but this still gets comments and hits.

Here’s an iTunes link to their Serenata Italiana album, which has that song.
https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/serenata-italiana/id381180874

Here’s their website, which has all but their latest album on CD or download.
http://heartstringsmusic.com

Their latest album, Mandolin For Lovers, is on cdbaby.
http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/fabriziowainzinger

Al Fabrizio and Hugo Wainzinger will be at the Mountain View Art & Wine Festival this weekend, Sept 6 & 7. If you are within driving distance of Silicon Valley, check out Castro Street in Mountain View this weekend and drop by the Heartstrings Music booth. Your ears will thank you. (They will sell CDs there.)

One of these days, I should use Heartstrings Music during one of my open mic readings. I am sure Al and Hugo would not mind. I just need to find a chapter/scene that fits.

Sorry, Mr. Tovar: an open mic background music lament.

I did a reading tonight from a new Holly story (working title: Super Sleeping Beauty, here is the part I read). It went well, considering that I did NOT expect to be called (I was number five on the waiting list.) The audience looked happy with my story.

nothing-in-los-angelesAnyway. I used background music. The soundtrack for a movie I saw at Cinequest this year: Nothing in Los Angeles by Alexander Tovar. I used Just a Cool (jazzy beat) and Loving in Los Angeles (sweet violins). I met Alexander and he is a nice guy. so I am plugging that soundtrack here. Go to iTunes and check that soundtrack out! Next time I use that music at an open mic, Mr. Tovar, I promise I will mention it!

My lesson: make my announcements just before I start reading! And use more indie type music. We small time artists should support each other.

caseywickstrom-a3373231080_10Another musician at the open mics I go to, Casey Wickstrom, said he’d really like if I’d use his music sometime. He is a fan of my work. Check out Blues Song #666 from his Casey Wickstrom album and you’ll hear why I am a fan of his work!

P.S. I might rewrite part of the story for the Just a Cool track: make it fit the jazzy beat better. Music influences my writing.