Tag Archives: podcast

Forging Ahead

So last night I tweeted the following, “Well so much for podcasting any of my short fiction…” Why did I do that?

Well, I was chatting last night with Zach Ricks, a man who I’m proud to be a writing partner with and with whom I hope to continue to build a friendship and the subject turned to, as it often has of late, selling our fiction projects. It seems that according to one very knowledgeable source, podcasting your fiction before selling it to more traditional venues may reduce your pool of choices. Publishers, some publishers anyway, want first publication rights and if you’ve already self published it or put it out there for free then they may not be as eager to snap it up. That came as a surprise (though I’m not sure why). My instant reaction was to pull back and go, “I don’t want to hurt my chances at selling it”, because I do, in fact, want to sell what I write. I don’t want this to be a hobby, something I just do for fun. I want to entertain, but at the same time I don’t want to do it all for free. In this, Mr. Hutchins and I are in agreement.

After an okay night’s sleep, a cup of coffee and a dose of thinking, things look a little different this morning. As I have often said here lately, you need to look at why you’re podcasting. Why do I do this? I don’t do it for the money, obviously. I do it in part to improve my writing and generate feedback. I do it in part because it is indeed a hobby. I do it as a way to get my name out there in the writing world, even if it is “only” in the small pond we inhabit as podcasters. If these are the reasons why I do it then what harm is there in selecting a few stories from the ones I’ve written and use those to do that, while selecting others to pursue more traditional venues with? None, I’d say.

I believe in the “power of free”, but this is not an either or pursuit. I firmly believe that I can offer you, my audience, some freebies in podcast form and give you the opportunity to purchase it in various forms should you so choose. If those stories are less marketable to traditional venues, well I guess that means you can expect me to be pimping those in Smashwords hardcore. Some of you have actually bought my stories sight only half seen and for you I am especially grateful. I also believe that I can pursue print publication with stories that I won’t be giving away any time soon and once those stories are available in the wild, at a price, that some of you will go out and buy those magazines or what have you. Not all of you will and that’s fine, I don’t have that expectation. Once those particular stories are sold and it comes down to selling reprint rights, I don’t see why I wouldn’t podcast those as well.

I guess I say all of this to say that I will be forging ahead. I will be podcasting some of my short fiction in the near future, starting with Bitter Release and Music Box. I’ve already self published those after all and so if any damage has been done (and maybe none has) then what’s done is done. I’m rather proud of both stories and I hope that you’ll listen and if you like them, I hope that you’ll consider buying them.

I will also continue to submit stories to Great Hites. I think what Jeff is doing over there is great and while it’s a strictly “for the love” publication, I don’t think that diminishes its value and that may indeed be the largest source for stories I elect to sell and podcast through this site and Smashwords.

Ultimately what it comes down to for me is this. I have a great luxury. I don’t have to make a living doing this. I have the freedom to give some things away completely, with no expectation of making any money. I have the freedom to elect to try and sell other things without giving them away in the near term, to see if I can indeed one day make a living with words. My friend Dave said, “You need to choose which road to publishing you are going to take.” and while I agree with what I think he meant, I don’t think there’s only one road or that we have to do anything only one way. We’re trying to make our own roads here, aren’t we? There are “rules”, but there’s enough of a maverick in me to want to try and find out which ones of those I can break, or at least fold, spindle, and mutilate.

Thanks to everyone for their continued support of all of my efforts, monetary or otherwise, and be sure to let me know what you think of all this madness in the comment section. Maybe what I’m trying to pull off here is the publishing equivalent of a mullet. I think we can agree that pulling off the “business up front and party in the back” with your hair takes a great deal of moxie only truly accomplished by greats like the Swayze and perhaps the same is true of doing some free and some not free.

Public Critique

I asked a question on Twitter last week, the gist of which was, “why do I only see praise for podcast novels in the public stream. It generated quite a brisk conversation. I decided to create an audio response to the feedback. I hope you enjoy it!

Shows/People referenced:

Zach Ricks
Brand Gamblin
Dan Rabarts
Rich Asplund Jr
Pip Ballantine
Tee Morris
Rick Castello
Michael Falkner
Marnen Laibow-Koser
Dan Absalonson
Alasdair Stuart
Steve Eley
Nathan Lowell

Blogs mentioned:
Why Michell Plested cares about critiques and feedback.
Why Odin One-Eye reviews podcasts.
Svallie’s take on reviewer’s ethics.

A Trip to the South Coast

You may have never heard of Nathan Lowell. He, like many podcasters, exists in kind of relative obscurity. Relative, that is, to “accomplished” writers, ones that “made it” in the big leagues. However, relative to his fellow story tellers in this digital age he has garnered quite a reputation. His science fiction podcast has become quite successful as podcasts go and he did it without breaking much of a sweat in the way of self promotion. There’s a reason for that. They’re really excellent tales, well told. As such I expect, not hope but expect, that he will indeed “make it” one day.

But I’m not here to talk about those today. No, today I want to bring to your attention South Coast: A Shaman’s Tale. It takes place in the same universe as the Share series so if you do intend to listen to it, it wouldn’t hurt for you to listen to those as well if you haven’t already. It’s by no means required, but it may help with a few things setting wise. Because it shares a world with those tales, in a sense South Coast is science fiction. The thing about it is though, none of these stories adhere to any particular genre so make sure that you check your baggage at the door.

That’s actually kind of the maddening thing about Mr. Lowell’s work. And for those in the peanut gallery, that’s maddening in a good way. The temptation as a writer, my temptation any way if not yours, is to think about what sort of genre you write in and stick to it. By all accounts it certainly makes getting published a bit easier. Trouble with that is though, it’s kind of a stupid game. You end up putting yourself in a box. South Coast, and really everything Lowell’s written so far, can’t be put in a box. It’s got elements of science fiction, fantasy, and literary fiction. What it boils down to is, it’s just a darn good story.

Here’s the gist of it from the Podiobooks page where it resides:

Otto is Richard Krugg’s only son and heir to the Shaman’s gift. The only problem is Otto doesn’t want it. He wants to be a fisherman. When company policies force unwelcome changes onto his life and threaten even the security of the village, Otto discovers that being a shaman isn’t optional.Jimmy Pirano is caught between the devil and the deep green sea when new production quotas are handed down from corporate headquarters. Locked into a century of existing practice, Jimmy is forced to find new ways to fish and new places to do it in or face the very real possibility that Pirano Fisheries will lose the St. Cloud franchise.Join Otto, Richard, and Rachel Krugg as they struggle with what it means to be the son of a shaman. Cast off with Jimmy, Tony, and Casey as they navigate the shoals and shallows of corporate fishery along the South Coast.

That’s it in a nutshell I suppose, though it is, as most flyleaf’s are, inadequate to the task. If that alone isn’t enough to make you run out and get it then stick around and let me give you a couple.

When I told him via Twitter that I’d be listening to it he said “I’ll be interested to hear your take on it. It’s *real* different.” As a side note that’s one thing I love about Twitter. If you like a podcast and he or she’s on Twitter, follow them. Talk to them. If you’re a writer yourself then I highly recommend using it to connect with your audience. That’s the writerly PSA for the day. So is South Coast “different” than the Share series? Yes and no.

It’s not different in a few ways. It gives the characters some problem to solve. Much like the Share series the problem involves economics, and through a combination of luck, hard work, and smarts, the problem gets solved. At least, I assume the particular problem here gets solved. I confess I’m only up to episode seventeen. Giving that away gives nothing away since the problem, while it provides some conflict, is never the best part about Lowell’s stories. It’s a good part and that’s a tribute to him since I find anything related to economics dreadfully boring. I suspect that’s the good teacher in him shining through. A good teacher can make any subject shine. It’s never the best part though. Like its cousins there is a lot of focus on building relationships and there’s character growth and development. Those are all good things to be sure and in my mind those are the best things about both series (I’m trusting we’ll see more of South Coast).

So what’s different?

Well for one thing, and perhaps the biggest thing at that, South Coast involves two separate story lines. For those who haven’t listened to the Share series it pretty much follows Ishmael Wang. We get to see him and how he advances through the ranks. With South Coast though, Lowell weaves together a much broader tapestry of characters and situations, snugging each thread in place before adding the next. This takes place mostly in two main plot lines that eventually twine together, the whole resulting in a much richer story. As a writer I gotta respect that. Too often I have trouble enough with just the one plot line and taking it where it needs to go.

Another thing that I like about South Coast is getting to know the world. That, perhaps, is another way in which it is different. Back to the genre for a second. In fantasy versus science fiction I think that world building is often different, at least the primary focus. In most sci-fi the focus is usually on the technology/aliens/future forecasting. Fantasy on the other hand tends toward the local. How will the different races interact? What will the government be like and how will that affect the characters’ lives? Sure you need to decide on the magic system and critters, but interpersonal dynamics take a larger place. So, to me, SC feels more like a fantasy setting.

Perhaps that’s not a difference between the two genres so much as it is, where mediocre writing stops and good writing begins? In any case it feels like much thought and or focus was given here to the groups of people and the setting. Come to really think about it, there was a good deal of thought put into the Share series in those areas as well or so it seems to me, so maybe that’s another way in which it’s similar. What I can say for sure, as someone who grew up in a fishing community not entirely unlike the one described in South Coast, is that Lowell nailed it to the wall.

Well I’m running a bit long on this review, so here’s a good place to stop. I wanted to do a full review here (somewhat like the awesome ones Odin does at his place) and I also wanted pluck out some story writing elements so that we could talk about them. I’ll likely do more of them down the road. So let’s talk about South Coast, world building, and twining together plot lines!

Podcast Pimpage

It’s been a loooooong time since I’ve done this so here goes.

There are these things called podcasts that you should really really really look into. They’re free serialized audio files that you can play on your computer or download to your MP3 player. They run the gamut from audio books and audio dramas to self help and inspirational. I listen to a lot of them and am going to try and give you a run down of the best ones. So buckle up buttercup, this may take a while and if you subscribe to even one it will be a fun ride.

Fiction I’m Currently Listening To-

7th Son – This is by no means a new one. JC Hutchins podcast this bad boy for the first time back in 2007. Getting the word out now is particularly important because JC has a print deal with a major publisher and this goes live in its print version later this month. I will definitely be dropping more information on the blog when it happens. This is a sci-fi thriller that is hands down the best in that genre that I have had the pleasure of experiencing in some time. The basic premise is covered in this trailer. If that doesn’t make you strap in the earbuds I recommend you have someone check your pulse. If you listened, then you heard that right. Even if you don’t “do” podcasts he is giving away serialized PDFs/Blogtext versions of the book through other websites. No reason for you not to at least give it a look (unless pulse pounding, edge of your seat fiction isn’t your bag).

Fetidus – This is a dark trip through the slimy underground of Washington DC, but not just any Washington DC. In this universe there has been an apocalypse. Zombies, ghosts, and who knows what else have been unleashed on the world. And just like in the real world they have their own Political Action Committee. FETIDUS is the Foundation for the Ethical Treatment of the Innocently Damned, Undead, and Supernatural responsible for making sure that they are treated fairly. James Durham; author, musician, and producer is responsible along with a full voice cast, for for bringing us in to that world and fleshing it out and flesh it out he does. This work is one that you don’t listen to so much as you experience. He won two awards for it and is muchly deserving. I will warn you that this world is a dark place and not for the squeamish. Well worth your time.

The Gearheart – The tagline for this podcast is “Magic, Adventure, and Gunfights” and it delivers on all points. Alex White brings us the story of a secret society of wizards called the Seekers of the Arcane Unknown. They are charged with keeping the knowledge of magic from the populace at large while combating threats to their world and to the political powers they are in league with. A great mix of mystery, political intrigue, action, and suspense this story has been a lot of fun so far.

Great Hites – This is a short fiction anthology podcast and the truly cool thing about it is that anyone is welcome and encouraged to participate. Write your story according to the prompt and send it in. Can’t record? Now problem, they’ll do it for you. Right now Jeff Hite is asking for submissions for 10K word creation stories. Got an idea along those lines? Send them in.

Harvey – Is author Phil Rossi’s latest novella. This dark tale takes place in a little town of the same name. Harvey has some dark secrets and musician Calvin Hubbard, who only wants to make a little music and have a little fun, gets mixed up in the middle of it all.

How to Succeed in Evil – An efficiency expert for super villains is at the heart of this story. He gets tired of the latest crop of villains’ inefficiency and inability to listen to his stellar advice and takes matters into his own hands. This thing is absolutely LACED with humor, at times dark, but ever present. Patrick McLean is working on getting this published and I highly recommend that you give it a listen if you’re into seeing genres flipped on their head. Seeing a comic book world through the eyes of a smart and ruthless villain, that becomes likable through McLean’s excellent craft, is a trip worth taking.

Tumbler – Brand Gamblin is writing the sort of science fiction that I am rapidly becoming very fond of. It takes characters that seem as real as my next door neighbors and puts them in a futuristic world that’s less about ray guns and aliens and more about life on the frontier of space. Libby Carter lost everything that means anything to her, so she hitches a ride on a rocket in an effort to become an asteroid miner. Things don’t go quite as expected and she has to make the best of it. Can she survive? Tune in and see.

A Traders Diary – This is another one of those sorts of science fiction stories I’d like to here more of. Nathan Lowell tells the story of Ishmael Wang over the course of five books (so far). His mother, a university professor and his only family, dies and with her any chances he might have at a future. Or so he thinks. In desperation he joins the space fairing equivalent of the Merchant Marine. Starting out as nothing more than a mess mate on a trading vessel that sails the stars, isn’t his first choice, but it’s his only shot. He’s a “land rat”, one unwise in the ways of space, and no one else will take him. These stories are all about how far hard work, perseverance, and a little bit of luck will take you.

Well this post grows long and there are a lot more fiction casts I’ve wither listened to or will be listening to in the days/weeks/months to come, not to mention the non-fiction. More on the latter in a future post. Meanwhile if you’ve already listened to all of these you should also check out Metamor City, Murder at Avedon Hill, V & A Shipping, and anything Scott Sigler, Mur Lafferty, or Tee Morris puts out. You should also take a gander at Podiobooks. They have over 300 titles.