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Monthly Archives: December 2011

Great Feeds

There are more and more podcast novels out there every day. I can’t recommend this type of entertainment highly enough. If you have time to listen but not time to read–think daily commute or music listening time–you owe it to yourself to check out podcast fiction. The best place to find great podcast fiction is a site called Podiobooks. First of all, it’s completely FREE. Secondly, if you like what you hear, you can make a donation and 75% goes directly to the author (the remaining 25% helps maintain the site).

Many of the books at Podiobooks are done as a singular endeavor.  Meaning not part of a continuing feed. It is those feeds that I wanted to talk about today. There are writers out there who not only provide great entertainment in the form of podcast novels, but who also manage to keep their podcast feeds going throughout the year with other forms of entertainment…essays, interviews, reviews, short stories, drabbles, mischief, and mayhem. Putting content up at Podiobooks costs little to nothing in the way of additional expenses for the writer beyond the recording equipment and the time. The author maintaining an independent feed has those same costs and then hosting as well. There is also the consideration of time. It’s one thing to record and produce a novel or novella, but to continuously provide content in between the major works is a very different kind of commitment.

There are tons of great podcasts our there on every subject. These are ones where it’s one author producing their own work in whatever form that takes and continuing to provide content month in and month out. Here are the authors I’ve been listening to the past few months (in alphabetical order)…

Jake Bible: Two novels, some short stories, lots of drabbles. (Science fiction of the sick, twisted, violent persuasion)

John Mierau: Lots of stories of all lengths and some great interviews with other podcasters and artists. (Science fiction of the alien sort mostly)

Mur Lafferty: A powerhouse in podcasting in general, in addition to her own stories, she has a great podcast on writing (I Should Be Writing), and is the editor at a podcast that showcases other writers (Escape Pod).

Neil Colquhoun: Stories of various lengths from shorts to a novel (Dark science fiction of the demonic sort)

Paul Cooley: Lots of great stories from shorts to a novel, essays, rants, interviews, and muppet mayhem (Psychological thrillers, horror, essays and rants on the publishing industry, reviews, science fiction/dark fantasy, and muppets).

Scott Sigler: One of the first to podcast fiction, this feed is insane! At least six novels, fan fiction, two short story collections, and counting…(Science fiction, football, violence, you name it)

Seth Harwood: Tons of stories here from shorts to novels. (Lots of crime fiction, mysteries, dark)

 
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Posted by on December 26, 2011 in Book and Podcast Reviews, My Writing

 

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Legends by Paul E. Cooley

Legends is a combination of two stories, “The Last Hunter” and “Keepers”. These are the first two entries in an ongoing series that combines ancient history, ancient mysteries, gods, monsters, love and loss. These first two stories introduce a creature–god? monster? yes!–and those who have been tasked with fighting him and making sure no one ever forgets the legends of the beast.

At a time when civilizations were first being formed, numerous religions fought for worshipers and influence. Many of their traditions and ideals seem strange to us now, but none as strange as Garaaga. As the stories unfold, the reader is forced to look at Garaaga, Garaaga’s children, his worshippers, and those who would rid them all from the ancient landscape from multiple viewpoints; causing the reader to question who is good and who is evil.

There is a bitter sweetness to these stories. Cooley has added elements of love and lust to tales that are at other times brutally violent. The result is a rich tapestry of emotions and actions guaranteed to leave the reader begging for more.

At just $ 0.99 for both of these stories together, it’s a deal you shouldn’t pass up.  You can find this newest offering at Amazon.

 

Disclaimer: Paul is one of my closest friends. I beta read his work and did the female voices for these stories in the podcast versions. I am obviously biased about him and his writing. He did not ask for (or even know I was going to do) this review. Check his work out for yourself and we can compare notes. I don’t think you will be disappointed.

 
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Posted by on December 19, 2011 in Book and Podcast Reviews, My Writing

 

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Thoughts on Podcast Fiction

These thoughts are from the perspective of someone who is a HUGE fan of podcast fiction. I love to read but don’t have much time anymore. I do, however, have a job where I can listen to whatever I want for most of the day and for the past couple of months, that has meant 6+ hours a day of podcasts. I have been catching up on my “reading” this way and having a ball. Most of the time. I have developed a few pet peeves as a listener and am sharing them here in the hopes that podcasters-to-be might read this and learn from the mistakes of others.

One of the things I need to remember, as a listener, is that I am getting this entertainment for free. These are not professionally produced audio books. Not that the creators don’t strive for that kind of quality. I know they do. I also know these are done by people at home in make-shift recording studios around the time and attention demands of full time jobs and families. I need to lighten up. I know that.

There are two sides to the issue of podcast fiction; the story itself, and the production quality of the recording. As for the story, my only comment is that the writing needs to be edited before it’s recorded. And, I do not believe the author alone can do this. If they can’t afford an editor, they need get a friend or another writer to go through the story with a critical eye. Then, they need to pay attention to what they are saying as they read it. And, if it doesn’t make sense, it needs to be fixed right then.

As for the production quality, consistency is the one thing I think most first-time podcasters lack. Considering it’s their first time, I guess that’s not terribly surprising. Things like suddenly adding sound effects half way through, or music when it wasn’t there at the beginning is one of the things that annoys me more than anything else. I would much rather listen to a simple read through without any fancy editing tricks than listen to one that changes every time the podcaster learns how to do something else. I’m thrilled that they are learning new skills, but really wish they could save them for the next podcast.

I think often the person doing the creative work tries too hard. I know I’m guilty of it myself in some of my own creative endeavors. Focus on one thing you want to improve on with each project. The idea is to get your work out there in as clean a way as possible so that your audience can focus on the message, not the method of delivery.

Finally, I need to say, “Thank you” to those of you who produce these works. You make my day go by in a wonderful way that is so different from just listening to music. I will try to remember that you are doing this on a shoestring budget (if there is a budget at all) and as an artist working to share your passion with the world.

Now, about those sound effects and background music that suddenly showed up in episode 15…

 
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Posted by on December 18, 2011 in My Essays, My Writing

 

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Dead Mech by Jake Bible

There are a few things to keep in mind when reading this review.  First of all, I usually hate zombie stories.  I just don’t get them.  The whole coming back to life to eat the living thing is patently stupid (imho). Not to mention scientifically preposterous. Secondly, I’m not a big fan of post-apocalyptic stories.  They are just too damn depressing and dreary for my tastes. And, finally, I have a low tolerance for blood, guts, gore, and violence–the ick factor.  Well, I used to anyway…

I listened to the podcast version of Dead Mech and bought the ebook version because Jake is a friend.  I’ll try anything at least once and twice if a friend is involved.  Reading and listening were both wonderful experiences but for different reasons.  I highly recommend both.

This novel is unique in that it is the first drabble novel.  A drabble is a piece of flash fiction that is exactly 100 words.  Not 99.  Not 101.  I tried my hand at this form of writing last year and wrote about the process here. It was a very good experience for me, but not something I plan on repeating anytime soon.  Jake wrote this story one drabble at a time.  Each one is a complete thought, often a scene, sometimes a part of a scene.  But, each is a perfect drabble.  This alone astonishes me and made the read very enjoyable.  Because of the nature of a drabble the writing is tight and precise.Jake is a natural storyteller and hearing the book read by him was a joy. Dead Mech was his first podcasting experience and he learned and improved as he went; but it is good from the very first episode and only gets better.For me, the thing that is the biggest determining factor in whether or not I like a story isn’t the plot, or the genre, or the setting…it’s the characters.  If the writer can bring the characters to life and make me care about them, I’ll follow them damn near anywhere.  Jake does that beautifully here.  The story lines are all good and tightly interwoven. But, the characters are real and memorable. I was surprised to realize when listening to his Q & A episode afterwards that he never gave full descriptions to any of the characters.  Yet, even now, I still see them all clearly in my mind.  And somehow I know the Rookie has blue eyes.  Trust me on that.

Remember the objections I listed at the beginning of this: zombies, post-apocalyptic, and the ick factor? Well, this is about giant mechanized war machines in a post-apocalyptic world where not only are there zombies, but the mechs themselves become zombies…throw in some cannibalism and cage fighting and well, there you have it.  Even with all of that, I absolutely LOVED this book.  That’s how wonderful the characters are and how fine a job Jake did with the writing.There were moment when I laughed till I cried; others where I just cried.  I finally get zombie stories–it’s NOT about the zombies.  The zombies are just the obstacle for the heroes to conquer.

This book is available in free podcast format at Podiobooks.com and in paperback and ebook versions at all the typical retailers.  Jake is currently podcasting a second novel that happens at the same time as Dead Mech, a sidequel as it were…  That Jakey, he’s always gotta be different…

Jake’s website
Amazon
B & N
Podiobooks

 

 

 
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Posted by on December 11, 2011 in Book and Podcast Reviews, My Writing

 

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The Golden Age of the Solar Clipper: The Share Series by Nathan Lowell

Millions of books are published every year. Many are worth your time. Some are great stories. Few have characters that become a part of you; characters you genuinely care about; characters you wish you knew in real life. Ishmael Horatio Wang (rhymes with gong) is one of those characters.

The books in this series–and thankfully there are six, though I still wish there were more–are Quarter Share, Half Share, Full Share, Double Share, Captain’s Share, and Owner’s Share. A share is just that, a share in the profits of a trading ship. These ships ferry goods between worlds in the not so distant future.

These are not stories of epic space battles, or alien invasions. These are the stories of a boy becoming a man and facing the sort of personal challenges such a journey entails. He struggles with personal character issues in ways many of us wish we could. Ishmael is an imperfect person, as are we all, and he experiences triumphs, tragedies, love, and loss with a truly unique and endearing style.

If you are looking to read about epic space battles, these books aren’t for you. If, however, you want to go on the journey of a lifetime, with characters you will forever hold dear in your heart, welcome aboard.

You can find these wonderful stories in a variety of formats (including free podcasts) at the following locations:

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Smashwords

Podiobooks

And for more information, other works, podcasts, and info on what Nate is up to visit his site, NathanLowell.com.

 

 
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Posted by on December 10, 2011 in Book and Podcast Reviews, My Writing

 

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Disclaimer…

Here is my general disclaimer for any and all reviews I might be inclined to write.  I don’t think I am very good at writing reviews, but there are some works that really strike me and every so often I feel compelled to share…

 

***Disclaimer***
I am not a professional critic (though I am rather critical of some things some days, but I digress).  I occasionally will post a review of something I have enjoyed that I think is worth your time and/or money. I don’t as a general rule put up negative reviews.  Not because I love everything I see, hear, or read; but rather because I know how hard people work on these things and I have no intention of being overly critical.  I would rather just not say anything than trash someone else’s hard work. I usually know the people involved and want to do whatever I can to get their wonderful work out to more people.  However, I don’t write these because my friends created the work. I write them because I truly enjoyed the work itself.  I receive no remuneration of any kind for any review I write.

 
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Posted by on December 7, 2011 in Book and Podcast Reviews, My Writing

 

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