insert witty blog post title here

My brain is wrecked today. I recently started a new job and I forgot how exhausting it can be to learn new things all day. I love learning, but dang, son, not all day long!

Anyway, a couple of updates. The Iyrico (short ghost story) ebook version is up on Amazon. It’s free if you’re on Kindle Unlimited, 99 cents if you aren’t. It has been slightly edited because it needed a slight edit. It also has new, slightly creepier cover art because it needed slightly creepier cover art.

Here is what the cover looks like now.

Iyrico cover

 

Link to the story on Amazon.

Unfortunately, I am still doing battle with the audiobook. I have to tweak a few files and upload them to ACX again because I didn’t quite get everything right the first time. My bad, not theirs. Then I have to send it back through their review process again, which will likely take another 3-4 business days.

While this has been a giant pain in my rear, I am pleased that this is a thing I am capable of doing. I like being able to do stuff, even if it’s tedious stuff that I’m not all that good at.

 

The Audio Struggle Nears an End

I see why audiobooks cost so much to produce. I listen to audiobooks all of the time, and I don’t think I ever fully appreciated how much work goes into them. I mean, of course, I appreciated the fact that they exist. They’ve made many a commute more tolerable for me. My love for them is actually one reason I wanted to start making them.

But holy cow. Recording is grueling. Editing is even more grueling. The first night I worked on editing, it took me 2 hours to edit 6 minutes of audio. I’m not kidding. There was a bit of a learning curve with the software. I had to look a few things up, but most of that time was editing.

I’m still new at all of this, including reading my stuff out loud, so there was a lot of stopping and starting again. If I stumbled over words, I read them again. Apparently, sometimes I write in tongue-twister form. Who knew?

I edited out some breathing and some throat clearing noises, etc, maybe a drink or two of water. It was a lot. By the end of it, I will say that my reading was better and required less editing.

I need to work on opening my mouth a little wider when I speak, and I need to work on making the different characters’ voices more distinct. I learned that when I rerecord a certain part, not to start in the middle of a sentence. Duh.

I also feel that I sound a little more country than I’d like. The husband says I don’t, but I hear it in certain words.

The length of audio before editing was an hour and 48 minutes. It is now an hour and 4 minutes, which is a little less than ACX’s length estimate calculator. If I remember correctly, it said the estimate was 75 minutes.

I still have some sentences that I need to rerecord and splice in. That shouldn’t take too long, I hope. Then I’ll have to clean the whole thing up in Audacity and make sure the file meets ACX requirements. Then, if all goes well, we’ll be off to the races, kids.

off to the races.jpg

 

 

 

Semi-forgotten Demon

Guess what I forgot to do. I forgot to release a thing! About 4 years ago, probably not quite 4 years, I wrote a short horror story called Iyrico.

I posted it on the blog.

I posted it on Wattpad.

I intended to post it on Amazon and other places, but apparently, I did not end up doing that.

If you read my blog on a somewhat regular basis, you probably know that I’ve been working my way toward producing audiobooks. I’ve actually recorded some chapters for other books, but I decided to take on something shorter at first, in case ACX didn’t think my equipment/quality was up to snuff.

I thought for a long time about what that thing would be. Most of my short stories are pretty short, maybe too short for audio. Then I was like duh! Iyrico would be perfect. It’s about 22 full-size pages long, so long enough to be a somewhat decent length but not long enough that I would waste too much time getting it together if it didn’t work out.

I then noticed that the story was not listed on Amazon or Barnes and Noble or Goodreads or anywhere! It’s kind of cool because I get to do a new release and not do all that much work for it. Forgetful past me sometimes gives really good presents. 🙂

It’s also cool because I get to revisit a story I really like!

If all goes as planned, that should be the first audiobook I release, the first one with my voice on it, anyway. At the average timing (according to ACX) of 150 words per minute, the recorded story should end up being about 75 minutes long.

I’ve given the story a bit of an edit/rewrite because my writing and editing has improved a bit in the last four years, thankfully. Quickie cover redesign, which is already done, and maybe another read-through to make sure I didn’t screw anything up. Then mass release next week. Record the audiobook and release that…maybe within the next 30 days as long as ACX likes it? That’s sounds pretty reasonable. 


Now, because blog posts are better with pictures,  please enjoy this unrelated and slightly blurry photo of a tortoise we rescued from the street.

Dark Crystal News!

OMG, I am SO excited. The Dark Crystal is coming to Netflix as a new show. It’s a prequel. It’s called The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance. I think the book I have is a prequel so it might follow that storyline.

I loved this movie so much when I was a kid. Really, anything Jim Henson did was genius, but The Dark Crystal took it to a whole new level. The detail and love that went into that movie is so obvious throughout. In the teaser trailer below, Jim Henson says that he considers it art. I do, too.

As a lot of people were, I was devastated when Jim Henson died, and I hope he’s with this in spirit. I have high hopes that this is going to be awesome.

article link

Misc Updates

Hey, guys! I feel like I haven’t been on the blog much lately. My workload has been utter insanity, and while I like being busy, I’d be okay with it cooling off for a while. However, as soon as it did cool off, I’d probably get excited about some other project and dive right in…like the podcast I’ve been thinking about starting. Everything I’m working on simultaneously feels like too much and never enough. 

I’m still making the 45 minute to an hour drive into and working at the day job, proofreading, occasionally writing, trying to make the publishing thing fly, blogging (mostly over at NightLark), and working on publicity for the next release there, which isn’t my book. Not one I wrote, at least. The crazy thing is that I think I’m better at promoting someone else’s work than I am at promoting my own. The effort is more consistent, which is a good thing and a bad thing at the same time.


It’s good because better/more consistent promotion usually equates to better sales. It’s bad because I’m doing things for this book that I should’ve done for all of my own books, and I know that. While putting this thing together, I neglected my own work. And that’s my fault. I should’ve found a way to manage my time more effectively. I am getting better, though, I think…I hope.


I have found that habits are magic. Whether they’re good magic or bad magic depends on the habit.


As far as my book release schedule goes for this year, I should have 2 more kids’ books out by the end of the year as long as the editing is somewhat smooth sailing. Both of those rough drafts are done. Is it weird I don’t get overly excited about finishing rough drafts anymore? I mean, I am happy they’re finished, but it’s kind of just a big step 1.


The adult series I planned to start this year will probably have to wait until next year. I do have one adult novella that I need to finish writing. That may be out around…Novemberish?? Or it could come out in the first couple of months next year. We’ll see what goes down between now and then.


Audiobooks…I’m still working on that. I have an area set up for recording. It’s much better than the setup I had before. I just need to get my rear end in there and use it!


What I really need is an assistant to follow me around and nag me until I finish all the things and also to occasionally knock the PlayStation controller out of my hand.


That’s it for now. Another toy collection post is on the way. I’m thinking Disney Villainess dolls…

Now please enjoy this picture of Bleu with 2 of his favorite things: newspapers and a box.

What Sleepy Hollow Could’ve Been

Yesterday, I read that Sleepy Hollow was canceled. Like a lot of people, I was excited when this show first came out. I loved the concept and the characters.

Then it got kind of old and played out.

And then they killed off Abbie Mills.

Seriously? She was one of the two main characters.


The show has killed off characters, added new characters, etc, and yet, they could never quite recover the initial spark that made the show popular in the first place. I have a theory on why.


Too many episodes.


Any story, any TV show, is going to get old and stale if you try to drag it out too long. Our culture has a very short attention span, less than that of a goldfish.


Let’s look at the number of episodes per season for Sleepy Hollow.


Season 1: 13

Season 2: 18

Season 3: 18

Season 4: 13


Keeping up with that and everything else I want to watch could seriously be a part-time job.


My suggestion to the TV network people is shorter seasons. Seriously, a short season or a mini-series is an event. I make an effort to tune in for stuff I perceive as special.


18 episodes is not an event. It’s a freakin’ marathon.


Imagine if Sleepy Hollow scheduled their season during September-October and only made like 8 episodes. The story would be less diluted because they didn’t have to stretch the thing out over 18 episodes. Because of the span of time between seasons and the scarcity of episodes, more people might even get excited when it finally returns.


Not only that, shorter seasons would mean more open time slots at the network, which makes room for, I don’t know, new shows? More room for experimentation. More chances to find the next big hit.


So, yeah, I’m sad Sleepy Hollow was canceled. I did like it. Was I able to keep up with it? Honestly, no.

Chicken Scratches and a Trailer

I’m not sure what compels me to make book trailers. They aren’t very effective as far as advertisements go, not mine, at least. Like who really says, “I think I might want to read a book. Perhaps, I should watch some book trailers to decide which one.”

No one.

No one does that.

And yet, I persist. I think part of me just wants to prove to myself that I can do it…again?

So I did put together a trailer for Desmond Winters in the Realms of the Caged Sun. I really wanted an animated trailer; it is a book for kids, after all. Not crazy Disney-level animation but some variety of drawings moving on the screen.

I found some free animation software. The concept looked really great, but it was endlessly complicated and didn’t save my file properly one night after I’d worked on it for hours.

I also looked at using Flash. I actually have that software already. I can’t remember why it didn’t work out. It might have been due to my extremely rusty Flash skills. What I did end up using is PowerPoint. It does a few things with animation and worked okay.

But first, as with most of my projects, I started out with some chicken scratches. Step one was writing the words, and then I decided what images would go with those words.

Here’s a picture of what my semi-coherent notes look like.

trailer notes

Pretty, right? 🙂

I cranked up the contrast to try to make my chicken scratches stand out a little better. You might be able to bigify the picture if you click on it.

So we have 3 columns on the first 2 pages: script notes, animation notes, and timing of each component. I tried to allow adequate time for people to read the words on the screen.

Then I drew up the images in Fireworks, except for the sun at the beginning of the trailer. I did that one in Photoshop because I wanted to paint it.

Each moving part is a different drawing. There’s a beastie that’s a combination of a mole and a bat, and that drawing is a combination of 4 different image files if you count the fireball.

Animation in PowerPoint is pretty limited because it’s not really built for that sort of thing. There is an animation panel that you have to add to the interface through a setting. Here’s what the pane looked like for one of the slides.

animation pane

Once I had the animations finished, I picked some music. Then I hired a guy on Fiverr to do the voiceover. He was super nice.

Oh, I also edited the video in Windows Movie Maker. With PowerPoint, you can export slideshows as videos. I had to add the music and the voice separately, and I think I added them both in Windows Movie Maker.

The whole project probably took a couple of weeks of evening work time (maybe it was 3?) and I only spent $5 on the voice guy.

Here’s the finished product.