How Not to Babysit a Snake, plus an only slightly-related Merlin pic

When I was about 15 or 16 years old, I had a friend who worked in the mall near the apartment complex in which I lived. I can’t remember if she worked at the pet store or the record store, but I do remember that one day, she bought a ball python while she was at the mall working.

Since she still had some hours left in her workday, she asked me to babysit the snake for her. Hang out with a 4-foot ball python? Heck, yeah! So I took the snake home back to my apartment.

I had no knowledge of how to handle snakes. I had no snake accessories, no fish tank in which to keep it, no cage, just a snake.

It was a sweet thing, very well behaved, but I was a teenager with a short attention span and who really wants to actively monitor a snake for hours on end, anyway?

I put the snake in the bathtub. I believe that my thinking was, even if it escapes the tub, where is it going to go? The bathroom door was closed. The room was small, no windows.

Yeah, snake is in the tub. I left it unattended to…I have no idea. I might have been watching Gilligan’s Island. I went through this weird phase in which I watched Gilligan’s Island reruns every day.

I did eventually go back to check on the snake. I was just in time to see its tail ready to disappear into a hole in the bottom of the cabinet under the sink. Apparently, at snakes-eye view, there was an escape route. I don’t spend much time lying on the bathroom floor, so I had no idea it was there.

I tried to grab the tail, and it slipped out of my hand.

I don’t remember if I called the maintenance man or I called my mom and she called the maintenance man, but he did arrive. He had to bust open the floor of the cabinet to get the snake out. I got the snake back, unharmed, and my friend picked up her snake later. I have not been asked to snakesit since.

Now, to make this a fully 100% reptile-themed post, please enjoy this fantastic picture of Merlin on a car ride. Photo credit: the girl.

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Mish Mosh Applsosh

I’ve been listening to the Red Queen series by Victoria Aveyard. I’m actually on book 2.

It’s a lot like The Hunger Games, and when I say a lot, I mean A LOT. Both stories are YA dystopian fiction. It’s the ruling class versus the lower class. Main character is a spunky female who isn’t satisfied with her situation. Both heroines are thrust into the midst of the ruling class. Both trilogies contain arenas and rebellion. There’s a Peeta-like character and a Gale-like character, a Prim-like character. The list goes on.

It really does.

I don’t have an issue with this. I actually like the books so far, but the similarity reminded me of a podcast I listened to recently. The author on the podcast advised other authors to find books and themes that are popular and mimic those if you want to sell books.

I wonder if that’s what the Red Queen author did, if she took the main plot points and mushed them and tossed in a few extra ingredients.

Is this really what writing has come down to?

I hope not. I have a binder of notes for books and none of those ideas were exactly lifted from popular books, not consciously, at least. I mean, given how many books there are, it’s impossible to come up with an idea that no one before you has ever come up with, but there’s a difference between that and using someone else’s work as a road map.

The idea feels icky to me. Of course, that Aveyard lady is making mountains of cash, so she must be doing something right.

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Audio Schmaudio

I am such a wimp when it comes to audio recording. My makeshift sound booth is HOT and I stand too long and my feet hurt. Both my mouth and my eyes do their best to dry up. Nevertheless, I finished rerecording Iyrico, so yay! This last round was the longest. It was about 45 minutes. The recorded file was only about 36 minutes. All that will probably boil down to about 20 minutes of edited audio, maybe slightly less.

In other audio news, I’m putting up the AnnaBeth trilogy on ACX to take auditions for an audiobook narrator. I do plan to work my way up to recording full-length audiobooks eventually, but I won’t record that particular trilogy myself.

The first couple of those books, especially the first one, came about really early in my writing career. I imagine putting myself through reading every word and then listening to/editing every word would be a bit like staring at my junior high school yearbook photo for hours on end. I’d see nothing but awkwardness and flaws.

So, if someone takes that business on, there will be AnnaBeth audiobooks!

The next book I plan to record myself is one that’s in final edit right now. It’s a kids’ book that’s about 30,000 words. The print version of the book should be finished very soon. I have no idea when the audio version will be out, but I’ll keep y’all posted.

Now, please enjoy these pictures of Bleu in a fashionable tote bag.

 

 

 

 

 

A Couple of Updates, No Stuffed Bee Butts

My son and I were talking about the lootcrate we received today. We weren’t big fans of it, so he started suggesting other subscription boxes. One was foreign foods. He informed me that it was just snack food and there was nothing weird like “stuffed bee butts”.

Stuffed. Bee. Butts. That kid cracks me up. He turned 14 a few days ago, and he’s thisclose to being taller than I am.

I’ve been very bad at blogging lately. I wish I could say it was because I’ve been working diligently 100% of the time, but alas, that is not the case. Work is done on a daily basis, yes, but the pace always feels leisurely to me. I read about other authors’ writing habits, and I feel like a giant slacker.

But today, I did finish a thing. It will be a while before that thing is out. I can’t even tell you where it will land in the editing schedule because I have 2 kids’ books in front of it. I will tell you a couple of things. It takes place in a valley in the Appalachian Mountains. Strange events occur. The book is very short, only about 40,000 words, so it’s more of a novella, I guess.

I plan to offer it free 30 days before the release to the hapless victims who sign up for my email list. Form is below.

Subscribe to my mailing list to receive book release updates and possibly other written shenanigans.

I hear all the cool kids are doing this email thing.

What else is going on? Ah yes. The audiobook. I decided to rerecord the entire thing because I’m a looney bird who can’t let things go in a timely manner. I’ve got the recording part about 2/3 of the way done. I’ve been using my makeshift sound studio, which gets rather warm.

Okay, I need to go edit something. And now, because every blog post needs a picture, please enjoy the fortune from my fortune cookie.
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Bleu Moon

Furbaby pictures. Let’s see, what is his most recent antic? Oh yes. I made the mistake of leaving some semi-pricey chocolate peanut butter ball things from Fresh Thyme on the kitchen counter overnight. There were 2 left in the bag when I went to bed. When I got up, one was on the floor with tooth marks in it. The other one was nowhere to be found. I still don’t know where it is.

I am pleased to report that when my daughter’s aquarium frog got out, he didn’t murder or maim it. I actually found the frog because of him. It was sitting on my sandal and Bleu was looming over it. Otherwise, I probably wouldn’t have noticed it was there. The frog is not really supposed to be out of the water, so I’m not quite sure how he made it so far away from his tank. Now, every time I walk through the house at night, I’m afraid I’m going to step on the frog.

Anyway, here are some pictures of buttface.

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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.

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