Tag Archives: podcast

Interview with AF Grappin (Three Questions)

(This is part  “Three Questions With Xxxx“. If you’re interested in taking part click here and fill out the form.)

I’ve been friends with and a fan of Gus for a long time. He’s multi-talented and insanely creative, so coming up with questions was easy. Let’s get to the interview!


91014051) You’re what I like to call a triple threat when it comes to creatives; crafter, voice actor/podcaster, and writer. Do you find this spreads your time thin or does it actually make the whole of your creative experience more than the sum of its parts (or both)?

Oh, man. If you happen to have a time machine, that would be great.

In some ways, I do think it spreads my time thin, but then I really think about it, and each of these individual creative endeavors (hereafter referred to as “hobbies”) have their own space in my life. I’m a morning writer, for the most part, which leaves evenings free for other hobbies. My crafting (I make chainmail, for those who don’t know) is what I do when my brain needs to do nothing but I don’t want to sit idle. My hands still need activity, if the family is at home watching TV. We have our few regular shows, and those are golden times for me to make things. Audio work (voice recording, audio editing) is mostly a night kind of thing, really, when the family’s wound down and we just kind of want to do our own thing. Sure, my cohosts and I record together, but editing is solitary, so that’s automatic alone time right there.

Having all my time spread out like that stirs my creative juices. It’s easy to get bored with a hobby and then just… be bored. But I can always switch to something else rather than languishing in ennui. In particular, my podcast and my writing feed into eac9432139h other. I’ve had a few of my own pieces featured on the podcast, but it’s also a great way for me to explore short works by different authors. There’s nothing quite like reading something aloud and making it into a whole, cohesive audio work to help learn more about the writing craft. And it’s always refreshing to have a new story to do every month.

My chainmail though… that’s my immediate gratification hobby. Writing takes time. Publishing takes time. Recording and producing audio takes time. It all takes a lot of it. But I can make a bracelet in an hour or two. I can make big wall hangings and little keychains, and working with the hands, on something I can actually touch… it’s cathartic in a whole different way than the words are.

So I guess I would say my inability to stop creating is both the whole AND the sum of its parts. If that makes sense. If it does, explain it to me, because I don’t know if I get it. I just know that if I had to give one of them up, it would be difficult to pick which one.

2) When you get a new idea – whether it’s a chainmail piece, a story, or one for your show – do you jump on it right away, or do you let it sit for a while?

Chainmail1With my podcast, I want to do new things immediately. The Melting Potcast is a variety show, so coming up with a new kind of segment is something it’s easy to follow up on. In that kind of situation, I tend to jump on it right away. Like when I came up with our madlib segment. I started pretty much the day I conceived of it. Getting new submissions… not so much. I get more concerned about producing the next episode than starting work on a brand new story. Plus, we’re at about a 4-6 month or so turnaround time from when a story is accepted to when it’s released in an episode, so that’s all an exercise in patience.

My own writing… if the idea is for something short, like a flash fiction story or even a short story, I may go ahead and do it, or at least get started, just to get the ideas down while it’s still fresh. Novels… I’m at the point right now where if I started every little novel idea I got, I’d never finish anything. It took me quite some time to learn to put new novel ideas aside, and I got a little notebook to write down the basic ideas in. Just for the future, if I ever needed them again. It’s easier to let go of new time stealers that way.


Again, the chainmail is the different story. If I see something new I want to make, or get an idea, I want to make it NOW! I want to go through the process of making it so I can hold it when it’s finished. Luckily, I usually only have one project going at a time, so it’s easy to just finish whatever thing I’m making and then pick up on the new idea. The only real holdback I get is if I don’t have the right size rings or whatever I need to make the thing in question. It takes about a week or so for me to get in new supplies when I order them, so sometimes that wait is agony. What’s worse is when I’m halfway through making something and I run out of the rings I need… and then my supplier is out of stock. But I always have something else I can make.

3) As someone who publishes works by others, what’s your favorite and least favorite part of the process?

I’d say my favorite part of the process is finally being finished! While I love casting and recording the stories and characters, and putting it all together can be a great creative blast, the best part is finally having the whole picture completed and being able to listen to it.

That and maybe adding sound effects when they’re warranted.

My least favorite part is definitely reading through submissions. I tend to fall behind on that. And it’s not that I don’t want to do it or that I’m afraid everything we get is crap. It’s not. I love to read. But there’s that lingering fear that I’m going to have to reject something because it doesn’t fit with us. I would rather be producing episodes than going through the logistics of picking what stories we do. I’ve actually been really lucky so far. What we’ve had submitted to us is great. Also… I’m not a huge fan of the grunt work of initial audio editing, weeding out the bad takes of readings so Chainmail2I’ve got usable audio. That’s tedious. But then I get to sift for bloopers, so there is an upside.

So if you submit to us and don’t hear anything for a while, it’s nothing against you. I just get lazy, let them build up, and then binge read submissions.

Amazon Page
The Chain Nerd Chainmail
The Meltingpotcast

Review – Tincture: An Apocalyptic Proposition by Matthew D. Jordan (Podcast)

tincture For me lately, finding a new bit of podcast fiction to enjoy comes more from recommendations than from actively searching. That’s certainly true for Tincture. Nathaniel Rich recommended it to me and when I saw that it involved a post-apocalypse with a wild west flair I was sold.

Synopsis: Grave robbing requires a corpse, so at most, this was all just simple thievery.

Rhamuel and the last of his family, Abranyah, travel their barren world, shack to shack, selling tinctures to keep a full belly and evading the dogmatists to keep their throats safe. Time turned funny after The Whatever, an apocalyptic event that few remember and even fewer can explain, danger now as commonplace as the unrecognizable relics of war, and the madman Aphulan – along with an iron rule over his small township – may hold the answers. With a cure for The Sick and a duty to protect their family, Rhamuel and Abranyah set off on a journey to the “other place,” the days before The Whatever, and ready themselves for a glimpse into what happened, and what was always meant to happen next.

Production: The audio quality is very good. The music complements the story and I do believe some use was made of reverb and the like.

Grade: A-

Cast: This is read by the author. He does an excellent job, using inflection and tone change to good purpose.

Grade: A-

Story: I wasn’t disappointed. The writing was very good. The thing that struck me most, though, was the world building he did. The use of language and description painted a world that was just different enough from our own in every sense to be unsettling but familiar. It’s never certain exactly what caused the Whatever, but that’s okay. He borrows some from Stephen King (more on that in a second) and much like King’s Dark Tower the why of it isn’t as important as how drastic the change is.

This isn’t fan fiction. None of the characters or situations borrow directly from King’s work. Still, it’s evident that the author loves the series (at least the first book anyway). And he does something I’ve very rarely seen in fiction. The book, The Gunslinger, is real in this fictional world and is treated by at least one character as being a biography of sorts. So, it’s more than a product placement. I hope to be talking to Matthew soon (and perhaps have him on a podcast) to talk about what inspired this.

You guys know by now that to me character is vital. That’s one aspect that makes this a win for me. All of the characters are interesting and well rounded (as well rounded as I suppose amnesiacs can be). Even the villain, while deliciously evil and psychotic, is three dimensional.

This book also does something that I often see used as a device that may or may not work. The interstitial book within a book. It quotes extensively from a sort of travel guide. It’s a good way of giving information out about the world without being info-dumpy. In this case it worked for me. Even the editing notes on the pseudo-guide are interesting and informative.

The only thing that I’m a little sketchy about is the ending. The nature of Rhamuel and Aphulan is revealed. I won’t spoil it here. Suffice to say that it seemed a little, strange. Not a good strange. Not a bad strange either, really. It’s something that I hope gets talked about more in book two (which I’m currently listening to).

Grade: A

Verdict: In case it’s not obvious, I thoroughly enjoyed this podcast novel. It’s one of those cases where I plan on buying the e-book and perhaps even reading it. It’s also one that I would consider listening to more than once.

Grade: A

Podcast Page
Amazon Page
Tincture’s Website

Super Heroic Idea

Every once in a while I get struck with an idea. Sometimes it hurts. Sometimes it bounces off. Occasionally it sticks. Last week I had the notion that it would be interesting to have a podcast that sought out short fiction (<2000 words) and art. I’m still ruminating over the idea and thought it would be good to lay things out here on the blog and seek feedback.

Here’s what I’m thinking:

On the first of the month I’d release a bit of serialized fiction. This serial would stretch over the course of a year. Each episode would follow a particular hero on a mission. These heroes would have been gathered by an older “golden age” hero and called into action. The heroes themselves would be a mix of golden and silver age heroes. The beginning and end of the arc would be written by me and I’d be the show runner. The other ten shows would each be written by someone different. This would be its own universe.

In the middle of the month I’d run short fiction that’s completely separate from the season/year long arc, but would still feature superheroes of all kinds. I’d like to keep the word count low to make production easier.

This whole effort would be supported by a Patreon campaign. Donors would receive things like downloadable art and a higher quality bit rate, an e-book version of the overall story once complete, and maybe some other rewards.

Please take this short survey to help me gauge interest.

Review – The Pariah by Philip ‘Norvaljoe’ Carroll (Podcast)

pariah I’ve known Philip for a long time. He’s a good writer and we worked together on a number of projects. He has a solid sense of story. When I saw that he was putting out a new podcast and supporting it via Patreon I knew it would be something worth checking out. It’s still in production. Usually I wait until a story is finished but I thought I’d help boost the signal. This review covers the first 8 episodes.

Synopsis: The kingdom of The Highlands has been peaceful for many centuries and has developed great wealth in that time. Her neighbor nations saw the country’s riches and grew jealous, plotting to take some for themselves.
Keo Noshahne new from a very young age that he was destined to do great things. He knew he would be one of the country’s special empathic creature handlers. He was unaware of his destiny to save the kingdom and possibly the entire world. Though, in doing so he must become The Pariah.

Production: The audio quality is sound. Not a lot of bells and whistles.

Grade: B

Cast: Philip does this as a dramatic reading. His talents as a reader are strong. He injects the story and characters with personality and energy.

Grade: B+

Story: This is a low fantasy universe that reminds me quite a bit of Ravenwood by Nathan Lowell. It’s not a YA fantasy per se, though that may be the target audience. I think it, like most YA, is easily accessible by a wider audience. The characters, even by this point in the story, are already developing and changing. There’s a lot of potential for growth. This feels like a fairly traditional “chosen one” kind of story line. The promise of the premise is that he will somehow become an outcast. We haven’t hit that part of the story yet, so I’ll be interested to see how that plays out. The pacing is a little on the slow side, giving the audience a chance to get to know the main characters and to develop the world. There’s a lot of potential here and I look forward to each new episode as it comes out.

Grade: A-

Verdict: I really think this is a podcast you should give a listen to. If you like low fantasy or are looking for new YA/MG stories, I highly recommend it.

Grade: A

Podcast Page
Amazon Page
Patreon Page

Review – The Diary of Jill Woodbine by Jay Smith (E-book/Podcast)

jill_woodbine One of the things I love about listening to so many podcasts is that I discover some of the most amazing authors that you’ve never heard of. One such author is Jay Smith. Today I’m reviewing the podcast/ebook.

Synopsis: Jill Woodbine is a young college student who finds herself in the middle of a mass exodus as the walking dead pour out of our decimated cities in search of fresh meat. Her flight takes her to a house and garden warehouse store (HG World) which has been converted into a temporary shelter for refugees.

As that temporary situation grows into something that feels permanent, Jill begins to investigate her surroundings, its leaders, and its growing culture of denial and power struggles. What she finds may uncover some dark secrets leading back to the start of the zombie apocalypse.

Along the way, Jill chronicles the heroism and cruelty of her fellow survivors and explores her obsession with the beautiful and mysterious “Red Molly”.

Production: This is a straight read. There is some good bumper music, but no effects or additional production values. The audio quality is very clean.

Grade: B

Cast: If you’re going to do an audio book and you don’t have the talent for reading, then please, please, please hire Veronica Giguere. You can find her at http://voicesbyveronica.com. She’s an author and an audio producer as well. She voices all of the characters and provides the narration and is one of those voice actors who remains in my top ten. She developed strong, consistent voices for each character, and while the red skinned lady in the picture steals the show, the rest of her performances are stellar.

Grade: A+

Story: Every once in a while I think I’m over zombies. This, as it turns out, is often only because some writers forget that the best zombie stories actually have very little to do with the rotters and everything to do with the humans running and or hiding from them. Jay has not made that mistake.

The characters and situations in this book resonate with me, even though it’s been a couple of years since I listened to the podcast. Many of the scenes and the overall story have the same emotional punch for me that World War Z (the book/audio book) did. That’s about the highest praise I think anyone can offer for a book in this genre. That’s in no small part due to Veronica’s involvement in the audio. But even she can’t make a bad story into an A+ story.

This is done in first person. That irritate’s some people. Given the format (which follows the format of one of my other favorite zombie stories, Ruby Departed), it makes perfect sense and works for me. This is really the only thing that I could see as a potential for Your Mileage May Vary.

Grade: A+

Verdict: Gee, in case you can’t figure it out, my verdict is “Go get the darn book!”. If e-books aren’t your thing then go listen to the podcast (but buy the book anyway and gift it to someone who will appreciate it!!!)

Grade: A


Review – Space Casey Season Two (Podcast)

space-casey Space Casey Season Two is an audio comedy/space opera and is the sequel (as the title implies) of Space Casey. This isn’t an audio book, rather it’s a full voice cast audio production and was written by the inestimable Christiana Ellis.

Synopsis: n this follow-up to the award-winning comedy-science-fiction-audio-drama: “Space Casey”, Casey the intergalactic con-artist continues her thrilling tale of adventure, fraud, and time travel!

Ed. Note – This is not the best synopsis. Let me try.

Space Casey Season Two is the tale, told by Casey in her own defense on the witness stand, of the galaxy’s best con-artist who has stolen a time machine and in the process breaks nearly every rule of time travel three times.

Production:  The sound quality, music, and sound effects are very solid. Some of the manipulation used to make alien voices can be a little grating, but those voices are rare.

Grade: A-

Cast: If you’re a fan of podcasting you will here a LOT of familiar voices. Outside of Casey herself, voiced by Christiana, my favorite was probably Nathan Lowell as Benjamin Franklin or possibly Billy Flynn as the Defense Attorney. They all did stand up jobs.

Grade: A+

Story: This story deals a lot with time travel and you don’t get a much more untrustworthy narrator than Casey. If there are any holes in it the author has asked us as the audience to point them out. I was far too busy laughing to really worry about that.

Grade: A

Verdict: There aren’t many podcasts I’ve given A’s across the board. You need to listen to this and if you haven’t you need to listen to the first one.

Grade: A

Podcast Link
Christiana’s Site

Interview With JRD Skinner (Three Questions)

Skinner Co - Text (This is part  “Three Questions With Xxxx”. If you’re interested in taking part click here and fill out the form.)

I’ve been a fan of Skinner Co’s podcasts for a long time. The writer for the show, JRD, is a admirable for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the mountain he’s climbing with his co-horts (whom I hope to have interviews from in the near future). Creating hundreds of interlinked stories, voicing them in a compelling way, and putting out quality audio is a challenge I’m somewhat familiar with. So, I’m happy to bring you this interview and encourage you to subscribe at http://flashpulp.com.

1) All of the stories I’ve seen from you are ultra short aka flash fiction, thus the name for your podcast. What is it that you enjoy so much about this format?

I’ve always been a sucker for the short story format, and one of the things I really wanted to work on when I started Flash Pulp was my density. Two of my cardinal genres, fantasy and science fiction, suffer from chronic bloat, and I was getting to a point where I was suffering page-turn fatigue just from reading the location descriptions of Frank Herbert, Neal Stephenson, Robert Jordan, etc.

On the whole I think “genre fiction” is on the rebound back to a reasonable size, something that’s certainly been aided by the current boom in digital sales.

I want folks to feel like they can depend on us to plant a flag and scale a mountain in fifteen minutes or less.

2) Pulp is one of those words like science fiction or pornography that has no widely accepted definition per se. They are what we point to when we say them. Having said that, I’d like you to define it.

By my thinking there are two aspects to this one: Pulp needs to be easy/cheap to widely distribute – I’m thinking of the mags and dime novels of the ’30s and ’40s, the cheap to-make shadow plays that were the noir movies of the ’40s and ’50s, the drive in flicks that followed, and even the direct to VHS shelf-fillers of the ’80s – and, as a more philosophical matter, it must have a certain sort of romanticism at its core. You can frame it in terms of swashbuckling, or idealism, or even actual romantics, but there’s got to be enough room to allow for some wonder, (be it in the notion that one man really can take on innumerable odds, or that the heroine can escape the fiends chasing her through the graveyard, or even the basic notion that there’s more to the world than we can see with a natural eye.)

3) What are you doing with your podcast that you didn’t think you would and how do you think the podcast will affect/influence any future non-Flashpulp projects?

I’m making a lot more friends through the project than I thought I would. I had only a fuzzy understanding of what exactly the end goal looked like when I started, but I certainly didn’t expect to be surrounded by so many fantastically like-minded folks. Whatever the future project, I’ll definitely be looking for this sort of feedback, both good and bad.

JRD, when not hammering at his keyboard, sells maple-flavoured beaver meat to school children and brags about it at Skinner.fm/FlashPulp.com

Review – Ballad of Iron Percy by Ed Clark (Podcast)

I’ve been hearing about this podcast novel for a long time. It would come up whenever I asked what podcast should be next in my queue and for whatever reason it just wouldn’t make it into the queue. Finally, I have corrected that oversight.

Synopsis: It has been twenty years since the island nation of Great Hale conquered the New World and became an empire. Lord Percival Wilmore, the Hero of Naruna Isle, has been the governor of the New Jucata since the war’s end, and it has been his life’s work to make the colony a peaceful and prosperous part of the Halan Empire. By all accounts, he has succeeded. The city-states of Old Jucata have been dominated utterly, the old religion has been completely supplanted by the Halan faith of the White Veil, and Jucatan goods have made Great Hale the envy of the world. He is beloved by the people, and he has ensured that this Halan colony is built to last.

But New Jucata’s future is not as secure as it seems. As the head of state for the colony, Lord Wilmore is the highest legal authority in the land, and he is called upon to try a most curious prisoner. The events and outcome of this interrogation threaten to tear Halan Rule of Law apart and bring anarchy to the region.

Pandemona stands accused of being a Pak Shar – a dangerous and seductive demon previously seen only in Veil mythology. With her scarlet skin, lithe tail, and dainty set of horns, she certainly looks the part. Her way with words and alluring demeanor only serve to underscore this perception. Under Halan law, the punishment for being a demon is death by fire at the stake, but Pandemona is entitled to a fair trial by Lord Wilmore and the colony’s Curate before she can be convicted and executed. This interrogation is her only chance to escape. She must use all of her wit and guile to survive.

Is Pandemona really what she appears to be? What is she here to accomplish? Is she an evil and subversive creature, sent from the Abyss to torment mankind? Or is she simply disfigured and misunderstood? Whatever the truth may be, her presence is not a good omen.

The Ballad of Iron Percy is a song of glorious triumph, written to honor Lord Wilmore’s victory against overwhelming odds in the Conquest War. It is an iconic tune in New Jucata. The specifics of the verses vary in each separate rendition, but the overall tone is one of bravery, achievement, and joy.

Unfortunately for Iron Percy, his Ballad is not yet over…

Production:  This is a straight read. There is some good bumper music, but no effects or additional production values. The audio quality is very clean, but the version I listened to had some editing marks. The producer used audio cues to tell her where to cut and they were not always removed.

Grade: B-

Cast:  If you’re going to do an audio book and you don’t have the talent for reading, then please, please, please hire Veronica Giguere. You can find her at http://voicesbyveronica.com. She’s an author and an audio producer as well. She voices all of the characters and provides the narration and is one of those voice actors who remains in my top ten. She developed strong, consistent voices for each character, and while the red skinned lady in the picture steals the show, the rest of her performances are stellar. 

Grade: A+

Story: This is Ed’s first novel. It shows a little. Some of the prose could use a trim. Some things get over explained. Having said that, I love what he does with the unreliable narrator tropes. We get Pandemona telling her story over much of this, so it’s a little like Scheherazade regaling her captors. In fact it’s almost exactly like that. I imagine that’s on purpose. About half of it is this and the other half gives us other perspectives.

I do enjoy the world Ed built. The conflict between the church and the government is nicely done, as is the conflict between homelanders and colonists. The story has a lot of action and adventure, with a dollop of trollop-y action. (That means sex.) Ed also takes the opportunity of using the outsider’s perspective to examine what it means to be human. I  look forward to the sequel (which is apparently written, but yet to be released.)

Grade: B+

Verdict:  I highly recommend this podcast. Don’t make the mistake I did by waiting. Move it to near the top of your queue. It’s quite long, but worth every minute.

Grade: A


Review – Implant by Michael Wallace and Jefferey Anderson (Podcast)

This book was recommended to my by my buddy Odin at View From Valhalla. It was less of an endorsement and more of a “try this one”.

Synopsis: Neurosurgeon Julia Nolan places cortical implants into the brains of field operatives to record data from their auditory and visual cortices. One of her subjects, an operative named Ian Westhelle, suffers a psychotic break and kills his handler before he can be recovered.

Julia tracks Ian to an asylum where the CIA warehouses insane former soldiers, scientists, and others with security risks too great for conventional psychiatric wards. Agents from the national intelligence directorate discover her snooping and target her for elimination.

A collaboration between bestselling writers Michael Wallace and Jeffrey Anderson, Implant is a heart-pounding thriller that will keep readers guessing until the final, chilling conclusion.

Production: This is a straight read. The audio is a little uneven places in terms of volume. I also wasn’t the biggest fan of the music that they chose for the podcast. The audio quality itself wasn’t bad, but nothing great either.

One thing proved problematic. As a note to all podcast fiction producers, for any scene break you should at least include a pause or some sort of musical cue. It lets your listener know what’s going on. More than once there was a POV shift or some other scene break within a chapter that left me momentarily confused.

Grade: C-

Cast: This is read by one of the authors. His vocal quality is generally fine. He’s definitely reading, rather than performing it. The problem is, his reading is flat. For the most part there’s very little energy or emotion. You can tell which characters he likes more as there’s a little more oomph. It occasionally gets in the way of the story.

Grade: C-

Story: This is a fairly well written bit of sci-fi/thriller. It’s a collaboration, but there’s very little indication of who wrote what. I’m not familiar with either author’s work, and it felt like a single writer was responsible. The writing was the only thing that kept me going past the first few episodes.

If you’re into thrillers with action, political intrigue, and a dash of SF I think you’ll enjoy it. The characters are reasonably well developed. A few of them will surprise you, in that they depart from the tropes.

The biggest strike is that it does take some time to get where it’s going. Some judicious editing would tighten up the story.

Grade: B-

Verdict: I can’t really recommend this as a podcast. If you want to experience the story your best bet might be buying the e-book. For $3.99 it’s worth it. Since I’m reviewing the podcast, my verdict’s grade reflects mainly that.

Grade: C-