Wednesday, August 6, 2014
Wednesday, July 23, 2014
Jeff Cannata and I
did a fun interview this morning on the Internet video show Sword & Laser.
We talked about the audiobook of my novel Traveling in Space, which Jeff so wonderfully performed.
Good hosts; good interview; good time.
Monday, July 14, 2014
Amazon and Goodread reviews by readers have become an important part of the current publishing experience. Every writer wants as many as possible, especially if they are positive and full of stars. But for some it’s a numbers game -- as many 3, 4 and 5 star reviews as possible, assuming that potential readers are only into the stars and numerology, and rarely read the actual reviews -- sort of like a Michelin Guide to Books. That, of course, has practical uses when it comes to selling the books you’ve written. And I am as interested in getting as many high numerical stars as any other writer. But what I really find useful is the engagement a good reader’s review offers. And I don’t mean good in the sense of 100% positive, but good if the review either confirms (or doesn’t) that you have communicated what you set out to communicate; that you gave the experience you set out to give. And I mean engage not so much with the readers one-on-one (although, as you will see below,that can happen) but rather engage the writer in thinking about, questioning, sometimes defending, and, on occasion, even understanding on a deeper level, his own work.
I recently received a review on Goodreads that got me to engage with my novel, Traveling in Space, in a way I hadn’t before.
The reviewer -- known only as Cheezstk, generally liked my novel, but wanted to know why -- well, I’ll let Cheezstk do the talking here:
This was an interesting take on the old alien encounter trope. Switching up old cliches can be interesting, and peering at humanity through an outsiders' point of view was entertaining. The take on the aliens, the Life, though nothing revolutionary, was well thought through and fairly clever.
The point, of course, is to have an "unbiased" critique of humanity. To look at humanity from an outsiders' point of view, so that it seems fresh and interesting. It's not quite as deadly serious as all that, however. The book has a light tone and is fairly fun throughout. This keeps it from being overly preachy, which might be a pitfall in this kind of story. I did like that some things were seen as amazingly positive, some as horrific, and some as just, well, alien. As would make sense. It did strike me, however, that it was odd that in all of the analysis of humanity that gender disparity is not mentioned once.
The Life seem to have an egalitarian society in this regard; didn't they notice that humans have treated half of their population as "tenpercenters" throughout most of human history? It seemed like an odd omission.
Regardless, this was a clever book, a fun read, and a cute twist on alien contact. I'd recommend it.
After giving Cheezstk’s comments some thought, I felt compelled to address that matter, and communicate. Via Goodreads, I sent this message:
Hello, Cheezstk --
I want to thank you for taking the time to leave a review of my novel, Traveling in Space, on its Goodreads page. I truly do appreciate it. You have a good and clear view of the book, and pointed out some of its strengths, which I’m happy to have revealed to potential readers. And, of course, it was very fair of you to question why the aliens did not note gender disparity among the Otherlife. For, indeed, they do not. Let me see if I can give an answer, and elaborate on another point you made.
The leader of the aliens -- known, as you know, as Our Leader -- made the assignments for the research his factfinders are sent out to conduct. And the assignments are pretty big -- find out the extent of the Otherlife’s collective knowledge of the universe; discover how they govern themselves; look into why the Otherlife seem to have so much hate for each other, expressed through violence and death; find out the details of love and marriage, a very strange phenomenon, indeed. And, because it was called to their attention with talk of angels, some data on this religion thing had to be gathered. No one was assigned to look into gender disparity. This is because, as you rightly point out, the aliens have a completely egalitarian society, so it wouldn’t occur to them to look for it, and, indeed, I don’t think the aliens would have recognized it if they saw it. And, unlike religion, it was not pointed out to them. Gender disparity is a much more subtle creature than governance, collective knowledge, love and marriage, and war and genocide. Which does not mean it is any less of a force, just that, to an extreme outsider, it may not be easily perceived.
All that said, of course, I do believe Traveling in Space considers gender disparity. Not by putting a spotlight on it, but by “leading by example,” if I may use that term, by portraying, again as you pointed out, a society that has gender parity. Indeed, I think you might agree, that the hero of my novel is not Life Seeder (later Leif), the narrator, but She (later Sheila), who is a great sportsperson, a pleasurepal, later the assistant leader of the lifeship, and eventually the leader. But, most important, she has the instincts to know, in regard to the birth gamble and the potential of life seeding, that if they were to seed themselves on a new planet, they will have to adapt to changing conditions -- the mark of true maturity. And she saves the day at the climax, by ending a war in an intelligent and clever way, without further violence and death, to bring an end to hate and bloodshed. The secondary hero, of course, is the 98 year-old Otherlife, Margaret Cleveland, who represents the hope that the Otherlife -- us -- will find that same maturity in themselves. It was my hope that by showing these women as smart, naturally sexy (which I assume Margaret was in her day), dedicated, and tough, I put at the forefront the simple idea that if there is not gender parity, then who knows what talent, what intelligence, what capacity for growth for the whole of the species, is being squandered.
I hope this at least partly satisfies your pertinent and important question. Again, I thank you for reading Traveling in Space and taking the time to post the review. And, by doing so, allowing me to elaborate on something that I think concerns us both.
You know, when you go sharing opinions about fiction on the internet, you don't usually expect to hear back from the creator. What a nice surprise. :-)
Anyway, that's a reasonably good in-story answer to my concerns, and it's clear you've given the issue some consideration. Thanks for your reply, Steven, and for creating an enjoyable book. Hope to see more from you in the future!
There may be some spoilers above, and unless you have read Traveling in Space, you may not get all the references. But that’s okay, I thought it was worth sharing for a number of reasons. I hope you agree. Plus, of course, you are all more that welcome to read (or listen) to Traveling in Space. Go ahead -- I encourage it. Join the conversation.
Friday, May 30, 2014
As the readers of this blog know, Jeff Cannata has had a very active career as a host of a number of very popular internet TV shows, including The Totally Rad Show and his current show, Newest, Latest, Best, or NLB to the initiated. He is well know as an enthusiastic and intelligent critic of media, including games, films, books, TV, and comic books. Below you will see him being apologetic for taking some NLB time and being self-serving to talk about our recent collaboration, the audiobook of my novel, Traveling in Space.
As the author of Traveling in Space, and the producer and director of the audiobook of same, let me say that Jeff has no reason to be apologetic for being “self-serving” in this NLB mini-review. Because he really wasn’t. He spends much more time talking about the quality of the novel (Thank you, Jeff!) than his own performance.
I am. though, perfectly happy to be Jeff-serving. If you only know Jeff from his hosting on The Totally Rad Show or NLB or a number of other programs, you are in for a real treat. Jeff is a superb actor of range and depth and vocal versatility. I asked of Jeff not a reading of the book, but a full out performance of 35 plus characters, male and female, humans and aliens. He not only did not disappoint, he excelled in what was hoped for. No author could be happier. No friend could be more proud.
But it’s still fun to watch Jeff be slightly shy about talking about his acting. How refreshing! An actor with an ego in check. I guess you will just have to rely on me for ego.
Take a watch -- I would be thrilled if you pick up some of Jeff’s enthusiasm for our work together.
Thursday, May 29, 2014
This blog is going to be a bit of a love story. Not romantic love, or love of family, or love of country, nor any of those obvious loves. This is about a love that has no adjective to modify it that I can think of. I may have to make one up, if I’m clever enough.
It’s a love for two men, but they could just as well have been two women, or a man and a woman. On the giving end is myself, a writer -- an artist, let me be bold enough to say. On the receiving end are Dave Doody and Mitch Scaff, the principals of Blüroof Press, which has published my novel Traveling in Space in its print and ebook editions, and now as an audiobook.
I love them because they not only published Traveling in Space, but champion it.
I have discovered that the greatest joy outside of practicing the creative act, is to find a champion or two to support it. In days gone by and long receded, that usually meant a patron. Someone powerful with access to wherewithal who could commission or support your work. The state, the church, the aristocracy were the usual players. Such patronage was offered for several reasons, I assume, not the least being institutional and personal self-aggrandizement. It would also be nice to think that some of the patrons had at least a modicum of admiration, even passion for the work. And since it would be nice to think it, I think I’ll think it.
Later, as the commercial world became ascendant, the patrons were more likely to be Captains of Industry, or the trust-funded children of Captains of Industry, funding art to hang on walls and place in halls; music of a serious bent meant to play for crowds so they could admire the sounds -- and the patrons who gifted them with it. The same might be said for dance danced without the aid of taps.
Writing, though, has rarely benefited from patronage. It’s not impossible, but certainly useless, to hang a book on your wall, and fairly impossible to share in a bow before a crowd. And although there certainly have been grants and fellowships for writers, in the main, writing gets its support from people wanting to make a profit from what monies they advance -- grudgingly it often seems -- to the writer.
There was a time, though, when publishers were happy with just enough profit to stay in business, finding that profit in the widely popular, and willing to allow the widely, and wildly, popular to underwrite their efforts to bring to a public, no matter how few in number, works they had a passion for, hoping that, in time, popularity might follow. Not just for the profits, but because they felt it would be just, a right thing to happen in the world, a deserved recognition.
But such is no more. Or, rare. The huge corporate publishers demand profit, which is their right, from the products they put out. That is not to say that within their walls are not individuals who love and champion certain works, and know how to work the system to get them a shot, but they don’t seem to be a controlling factor. And, of course, there are small presses with dedicated owners who only want to publish what they love. But even they, at the very least, like a good profit now and then.
Does a writer really need a champion to get published? Not in today’s world. Writers now have the option, if they find no one to champion their work and bring it to print out of love -- for the work or for the profit -- they can always self-publish. There’s not a damn thing stopping anyone from being published these technological days -- in print, in ebooks, even in audio. But it is much like being alone on a raft going down a river. Will it lead to a big, beautiful city? Or rapids ending in gigantic falls? In either case, it would be nice to have someone along to hang onto.
I use to be a champion. It wasn’t in the art of writing, but a wholly other form of creative expression. One I was incapable of doing. I had no financing to offer, but hard work and a strong voice I gave to it. And I loved it and certain talents who I admired. To be frank, the love, much less appreciation, was not returned.
So I am determined to love and appreciate my champions.
I have, at times, I’m sure, been a pain in the ass to the Bluroof Boys, Dave and Mitch. But, nevertheless, they have supported my work with words and actions that have moved me greatly. I could do it alone. Dave even offered to help me do it alone, with no remuneration coming to him. But I did not want that, I wanted people on my raft so that I would know that I was not deep in self-delusion. This was important to me.
Dave and Mitch, with great sincerity and, I hope experiencing some fun and pleasure, have given me solid support. This is all the more important when you consider that Bluroof is not a huge company (yet), and these are gentlemen of intelligence and interests who are busy and do not lack for other ways to fill what spare time they have. I’m sure they wish to make a profit on Traveling in Space, and I hope they do. But they talk to me only of their love of the book, and their interest in getting it in the hands of as many readers as possible.
Or listeners, for that matter. It was Dave’s idea that we do an audiobook. And he supported my decision not to record it myself, and to share the profits with the talent I needed to do the audiobook as I saw fit. Dave patiently waited while the production took more time than anticipated to complete. Dave enthusiastically responded to the final work.
And it was Mitch and Dave who decided we needed to launch the audiobook at a public event, choosing the BayCon 2014 science fiction convention. It took time and money and effort with no guarantee of a quick payoff. But the Bluroof Boys did it.
Now that we are home from BayCon, I hope they felt it was worth it. I certainly do. I was daily thrilled by the energy they put out; the words of support for my work that Mitch repeated several times in my ear; seeing Dave talk to convention goers about the launch of the audiobook, thrusting Traveling in Space bookmarks into their hands.
They say writing is a lonely art. But it’s a wonder when the promotion of art isn’t.
And now, a bit of a album of selected photos of our time at BayCon 2014. I like to think of it as a family album.
Blüroof Press at BayCon 2014
|The Blüroof Press helpers -- my daughter, Miranda Leiva, and Clinton Hoggan, just after the setting up of the Blüroof Press table .|
|Just before the dealer's room opened on the first day.|
|On display -- Blüroof Press books; Space Craft International's models.|
|Space Craft International is the parent company of Blüroof Press|
|The Blüroof Press/SCI crew|
|You meet the most interesting people at a science Fiction convention|
|Blüroof Press/SCI raffled off cool stuff -- books and models and a Galileoscope throughout each day. Here is the first winner.|
|And another winner -- of a copy of Dave' s "Basics of Space Flight."|
|Miranda picking another winner|
|Looking over what we had to offer|
|And Dave picks a winner|
|And the winner is..... And he wins a Galileo spacecraft kit from SCI|
|This lovely lady, Regina, purchased the audiobook of Traveling in Space before coming to BayCon, listening to it on her drive up from SoCal. She liked it and wanted to tell me so. I was happy to have her do so|
|Signing Traveling in Space for a -- i hope -- happy reader|
On Sunday, Jeff Cannata, who performs Traveling in Space on the audiobook joins us
|Jeff Cannata and the Blüroof Boys|
|Jeff and I give a presentation on the making of the audiobook of Traveling in Space|
|I make a point or share a story.The ribbons seem to attach themselves to your name badge while you're not looking.|
|Jeff saying something that pleases the author|
|Jeff saying something that interests the author|
|The author is worried about the alien invasion that seems to be happening behind him|
|Jeff performs the first chapter of Traveling in Space|
|And performs some more|
|Answering one of the several very smart questions from the audience|
|Jeff -- amused and happy|
Jeff joins me to read the words of Ray Bradbury as I present a talk on Ray Bradbury: Masterheart of Mars
|Jeff and I have our audience up against the wall as the spaceship lands|
|Jeff and I listen to an interesting question or comment from the audience|
Back in the Dealer's Room
|My daughter, Miranda, morphs into an alien Eco-Cop of her own design|
|I think she's caught someone not using the recycling bin|
On sunday we have the Big Raffle
|The excited winner of an assembled and encased Voyager spacecraft model.|
|Jeff, me, Dave, the winner and the model|
|And the winner of a print of Todd Cronin's wonderful cover painting for Traveling in Space, signed by Mr. Cronin himself.|
Friday, May 16, 2014
I am happy to announce that the audiobook edition of my novel, Traveling in Space, which I have been producing and directing over the past two years, and which will officially launch at BayCon 2014 over the Memorial Day weekend at the end of the month, is now available on Audible, Amazon, and iTunes.
It has taken us -- co-producer, editor, and audio engineer Peter Lonsdale,
and actor Jeff Cannata,
and me -- a little over two years to create this audio performance of my novel. They have been, I believe, two years well spent.
Why two years? Well, that’s a story, isn’t it? I have chronicled that story in a series of postings on this blog, and which I have gathered together and put in chronological sequence below. If you are asking that question, or would just be interested in the story -- continue reading.
I thank Dave Doody, my publisher at Bluroof Press,
|Dave Doody and me|
for suggesting that we do the audiobook. It has been the most satisfying creative collaboration I’ve ever experienced, and a great deal of fun.
You’ll see above that I said this is a “performance” of my novel, rather than a reading. And that’s exactly what I believe we have achieved. I asked Jeff Cannata, and incredibly fine actor, to pull out all stops and give me full-bodied performances of all the characters in the book, including, of course, the first-person narrator. You will also notice in the title of this post, I declare that there are billions in the cast. That is absolutely true, for there are billions in my novel.
|Some of the billions in Traveling in Space|
Illustration by Todd Cronin
Fortunately for Mr. Cannata, not all of these are speaking roles, and I only had to ask him to create about 35 separate characters, both male and female; both alien and human. A minuscule amount compared to billions, but otherwise, in all rational consideration, a rather heavy dramatic and vocal load.
Jeff did not disappoint.
Audiobook fan or not, I believe you will enjoy the performance -- or, rather, performances -- that Jeff gives, as I hope you will enjoy the story have written.
And now, let’s return to April 6, 2012....
Friday, April 6, 2012
TRAVELING IN AUDIO SPACE # 1
An adventure is starting on Saturday. Well, that may be hyperbole, but I’ll stand by it because I’m excited and delighted.
On Saturday we have the first recording session for the audiobook version of Traveling in Space. I love the human voice, I always have, and when I write I try to write as if my work will be read out loud. This is obviously true of stage and screen plays, but it is also true for me when I write novels. That’s why audiobooks are such a delight. It is a full circle return to the beginning of literature, which started as an oral tradition.
And, as I said, I have a particular fondness for things oral.
My first published novel, Blood is Pretty: The First Fixxer Adventure was produced as an audiobook by Crossroad Press (who had previously published the ebook version), and I was really happy with the results. Crossroad handled everything, including booking the reader, Jonah Cummings.
Jonah, like many voice over artists these days, has a small recording studio at his home in North Carolina, and he produces his own recordings. Jonah and I had an initial conversation over the phone to allow him to ask me questions about the book and how I see the characters, and allowed me to tell Jonah what I thought were the things most important to emphasize in certain characters and certain moments of the story, and that since the book is a first person narration, everything in the book should be performed, not just read.
Jonah then recorded the text in chunks, and when he was happy with them, he would send me an audio file. I would listen and correct any mispronunciations of names or ask for changes in interpretation I felt should be made. There were little of either, and it was a very nice ride with Jonah bringing my characters alive. The biggest surprises came when Jonah would give a character a voice completely unlike that character’s voice that I had always heard in my head -- and it was better. That gave my own work a new dimension, a different texture, and a way for me to see my work as others might see it.
If you like audiobooks (or even if you just have an MP3 player and are tired of music), I suggest you sample a bit of Jonah’s work on Blood is Pretty on the audiobook's Amazon page here.
If you are intrigued by Jonah’s performance buy the audiobook .
I won’t stop you, in fact I encourage it.
Traveling in Space is going to be a different experience. The idea for the audiobook came from my publisher Dave Doody of Blüroof Press. When Dave saw me give a reading of a section of the novel for GuerrillaReads, he said, “Let’s do an audiobook with you reading.” “Great idea,” I said, “but not with me reading.” I explained to him that as much as I like reading my work at appearances,
and as much as I am a ham --
I am not an actor, especially not a well trained actor (high school drama classes do not count). But I had in mind the perfect actor to do the job.
Jeff Cannata is an actor
and Internet TV host (The Totally Rad Show on Revision3)
who I had directed twice for readings at the Writers Guild of America. The first time was for a reading of a one-act play by Ray Bradbury, The Better Part of Wisdom. He had come recommended by a casting agent and I took the recommendation (there are no real auditions for one night readings). Playing opposite Seamus Dever from TV’s Castle, and the wonderful James Cromwell, Jeff impressed me greatly with his very subtle yet forceful performance as the British lover of an Irish man being visited by his grandfather in 1950s London. (you can see video clips of the reading here) Just his very accurate, seamless, non-cartoony accent told me how well trained he was in the technical aspects of acting. His performance showed me how intuitive he is in the art of acting.
|Jeff, James Cromwell and Seamus Dever|
photo by Michael Jones
Later I directed Jeff playing the lead in a reading of Sam Bobrick’s The Physic, a comedy mystery that won last year’s Edgar Award for Best Mystery Play. Although directed is a bit of an overstatement. Essentially I blocked for the reading the play’s original cast from the Edgar winning production that had been directed by Susan Morgenstern. Here I got to see Jeff’s comedic talents,
|Jeff in "The Psychic"|
photo by Greg Mitchell
So, I asked Jeff to perform Traveling in Space for the audiobook. Luckily, Jeff is a huge audiobook fan, a science fiction fan, and, I’m happy to say, after readingTraveling in Space, a fan of my book. He said yes. Simpatico compatibility reigns!
So...starting Saturday we will enter into my good friend Peter Lonsdale’s home recording studio and start a fun adventure.
is a long time film editor
(Back to the Future, The Rocketeer, Who Framed Roger Rabbit) who also loves audiobooks. He and I will produce the recording, I will direct, and Jeff will, I am sure, will reveal new dimensions to my novel.
Eventually the audiobook version of Traveling in Space will be available from Audible.com, Amazon and at the iTunes store.
Assuming there might be something interesting to write about as we move forward, I will continue with occasional new chapters in Traveling in Audio Space.
Monday, November 5, 2012
TRAVELING IN AUDIO SPACE #2
Actors are a particular breed of artists.
They are, if good, more than adept at painting portraits. Not, of course, with the paint and brush of a graphic artist, or even with the words and imagination of a literary artist. But with their own bodies, voices, and often a keen, if intuitive, understanding of what’s under the skin and within the minds of various personalities. It doesn’t matter if their medium calls on a deep exploration of their own selfs, or just surface tricks of the trade, if the outcome is a distinct individual you believe, their art is a joy.
I muse on this the day after another recording session for the audiobook of my novel,Traveling in Space.
As I have reported before in this blog, when my publisher at Blüroof Press, Dave Doody, asked if I could produce the audiobook, he also suggested that I be the “reader” of my own work. But a good audiobook of a novel to me is not read but performed. And, although I can be a happy ham in front of audiences, to record a story takes an actor, both innately talented and well trained.
Just the issue of knowing how to protect your voice, which I don’t, is enough caution against someone as untrained as myself in the thespian arts.
Yesterday’s session only proved this point to me again as I directed and listened to my first choice for this project, Jeff Cannata, not only narrate the story in the first person voice of my lead character, but give voice, and personality, to nine other characters as well. Four women and six men.
What fresh hell I put him through.
But Jeff, being not just an actor, but a damn fine actor, sailed in and out of the various personalities with ease, making it look easy, when I know damn well is isn’t. It was like watching someone with split personality syndrome -- no with fractured personality syndrome. Except it’s not a syndrome, it’s a talent, a fine and wondrous talent that is a joy to watch. And even more of a joy to listen to.
Here’s the odd thing I discovered. Jeff’s performance was of a certain kind when he was doing it live, a joy, as I said, to watch. But became a wholly different performance to listen to in playback. For it was no longer Jeff performing the characters, but just the characters being the characters. So, in a sense, it was no longer a performance, but a document of characters who had become real.
As good acting should be.
And I have more fresh hell to put Jeff through. Here’s the full cast he has or will be performing as we continue recording.
What you need to know about THE LIFE:
They are from the planet The Living World, and travel in space in their huge lifeship, The Curious, finding facts. They believe themselves to be the only life in the universe.
Each has a name that reflects a physical or personal attribute, or their position in society. When either change they have a name metamorphosis.
They swear a lot.
LIFE SEEDER — Later know as LEIF
The narrator of our story. His task on the lifeship is to look for a planet suitable for life so that the factfinders can eventually settle on it and plant their seed. A task disturbingly interrupted when a planet is discovered not only suitable for life but already teeming with it
SHE — Later know as SHEILA
The owner and manager of a fieldfloat sports team (her vocation) and one of the finest pleasurepals (her avocation) on the lifeship. Both vocation and avocation are dispensed with when she is given the task to study the strange Otherlife institution of marriage.
The leader of the lifeship and of the Life within. Gruff, insulting, bold and, worse, bored with traveling in space.
MEMBERS OF THE LIFESHIP COUNCIL:
THE LARGE MAN — Later know as ANGEL VOICE.
Sublimely superb in the composition and performance of hums. He has an ego as outsized as his body.
THE VERY SMALL AND DELICATE WOMAN — Later know as VENUS
Supremely intelligent factfinder even among all the other factfinders who are, of course, supremely intelligent. She would rather keep her eyes on the stars than stick her feet into the mud of the Otherlife’s planet.
THE VERY UGLY MAN — Later know as the NURTURER
Interpreter of the laws as they were perceived and created by The Master Provider. He likes to see things grow.
THE BT MAKER
He makes Brain Teasers and Brain Ticklers, and all his communications bubbles are flashy and multicolored.
THE LANKY GENTLEMAN — Later know as ARGUS
The lifeship’s expert on ignorance and hate, and is therefore given the task to study Ignorance and hate among the Otherlife. It is a daunting task.
THE LARGE HANDED WOMAN
The lifeship’s expert in mental states who is given the task to study the odd Otherlife phenomenon of religion.
He pilots the lifeship, keeps to himself, and loves to look at the stars.
THE LIFE SEEDER’S ASSISTANT
Happy in his position but still bearing a racial grudge millennia old. Upon the discovery of the Otherlife he is forced to grow and find a creativity in him he did not know he had.
THE LIFE SEEDER’S ASSISTANT’S SON
A particularly puerile and putrid pocket of puss.
What you need to know about THE OTHERLIFE:
Theyʼre human — what else do you need to know?
Until the arrival of the Life in the lifeship, he had been the Speaker of the House. However as the previous president dies of a stroke, and the Vice President quickly resigns, he finds himself in the Oval office with aliens from outer space. A classic pol from the old school, he is a bit intimidated by statesmanship.
A very grounded professional soldier who discovers the power of zero gravity.
Ex-TV star and owner of Michael Torme’s Honeymoon Paradise Resort. He knows that love and marriage goes together like a horse and carriage.
STAN AND MARY
A young honeymoon couple. She’s pregnant and he’s delighted.
JOSH AND RACHEL
An old honeymoon couple. Jewish, they fell in love while singing “Sunrise, Sunset”
JOHN AND CAROLE
A Christian honeymoon couple. God was the matchmaker, so who are they to argue.
Works for the International Genocide Project. Wise beyond her years — and she’s ninety-five years old.
White House intern charged by the president with the task of helping the Life understand Otherlife religion. She fails.
Owner of the Atlantis Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. Thinks the Large Man as Angel Voice will be a giant in the entertainment business.
A loving father down on his luck in Vegas. Convinced Angel Voice can take him to heaven, he starts a riot.
DAVID - Later know as BUSHFACE
Studies quantum physics, he believes science and religion can coexist.
ANDREW - Later know as SHARP CHIN/SHARP NOSE
SARA - Later know as BRIGHT SMILE
An astronomer and astrophysicist.
ADRIAN - Later know as ANGEL HAIR
A neurobiologist, he thinks Bushface has his thumb up his bum.
SALLY - Later know as TITS
A well-endowed paleontologist who knows how to make a mean Bone Diggers Delight.
POPE PETER II
Previously the Archbishop of Canterbury who effected a reconciliation between the Church of England and the Catholic Church, and now is determined to bring all other religions under the vast dome of the One True Church. He wants his “Children from the Stars” to help.
It is my fervent hope that after we are finished recording Traveling in Space, that Jeff will still be talking to me. Or even just still talking.
In the meantime, feel free to check out Traveling in Space now available on Amazon.com in both print and ebook editions.
Friday, February 8, 2013
Traveling in Audio Space #3
I’m looking forward to getting back to recording some chapters for the audiobook of my SF satire, Traveling in Space.
As I’ve reported on in previous posts (Traveling in Audio Space #1 and Traveling in Audio Space #2) I am producing and directing the audiobook for my publisher, Blüroof Press. It’s been slow-going as my reader/performer Jeff Cannata
and my recording guru and editor Peter Lonsdale
have busy schedules doing what they do. Jeff is not only one of the hosts of the internet’s popular The Totally Rad Show,
he’s always traveling for this that and the other
and putting in fine performances on the Los Angeles Stage.
Peter has been at Disney putting in late hours editing a new animated TV show D7
which I can’t tell you anything about except that it sounds like it may become a very popular show, indeed.
And me, of course, I’ve been on assignments for a super secret agency --
|Drawing by Brad Bird (1980)|
Yes -- that Brad Bird
but the less said about that the safer for all of us.
The last session we had was a real revelation of Jeff’s talents. I am, obviously, a fan of Jeff’s (I’ve directed him in several staged readings at the Writers Guild),
|Jeff Cannata and James Cromwell in the reading of Ray Bradbury's "The Better Part of Wisdom." - Photo by Michael Jones|
but I was a bit worried as we got to this session as it was of chapters where the tone of the book suddenly changes.
Traveling in Space is a comic novel my publisher describes as “A unique science fiction first contact novel from the point-of-view of the aliens; a 21st Century Gulliver's Travels with Homo sapiens as the Lilliputians.” But it is also a novel of ideas, as the reviews have pointed out:
"Superbly entertaining and unique...thought provoking." -- The Mindquest Review of Books
"Many of the aliens' encounters with human beings are downright funny...much to think about and I'm sure that "Traveling in Space" will play on my mind for some time to come" -- Russell Blackford, Neworld Review & Metamagician and the Hellfire Club blog
"A unique spin of science fiction... With much humor and much to think about...not to be overlooked" -- Midwest Book Review
A good way to spur thinking in such a work is to contrast the comic -- outsized characters, extreme situations, ironic absurdities -- with horrors. In the case of TIS, one of the horrors is a scene of genocide, reported on by one of the aliens who have “stumbled” across Earth while traveling in space.
Jeff’s performance of this scene I found riveting -- which makes it hard to be dispassionate as you are trying to direct. But then that’s the way, maybe the fun, of a creative endeavor -- mixing the passionate with the analytical. Jeff has that wonderful ability to move from the comic to the serious,
making both very real and immediate.
And now we come to another session. Peter is ready to man the board.
And Jeff is ready to face the mic.
And I’m ready to throw at Jeff some long “reports” from the various alien “factfinders” to read -- all in their very individual voices. It will be like a vocal Cirque du Soleil. But I’m confident that Jeff is limber enough for it.
Sunday, March 17, 2013
Traveling in Audio Space # 4
The above message came to me via Google+ which I seem to be part of and have very little idea what it is. Nonetheless, if it brings me such nice messages I'm all for it.
As to the answer:
Well, Peter, we are pushing forward and will, in fact, be recording Chapters 22, 23, and 24 tomorrow March 18th. Only seven chapters and little things to record after that. I'm hoping we can do that soon, and prepare the file for Audible.com and get it out by the Fall.
It's going well, and we are very happy with what we've got, the talents involved (Peter Lonsdale, our recording master; Jeff Cannata, our performer) can get together only when their schedule permits, so we have been moving slow. But that also means we have been taking a lot of care for the product, and I hope that will show in the end.
And I really appreciate you kind words, sir, and hope you'll enjoy the audiobook version of Traveling in Space, as much as you have the book book -- twice!
Thursday, August 29, 2013
TRAVELING IN AUDIO SPACE # 5
It wasn’t really three men in a boat, but it was three men on a journey, intermittent though it may have been. On April 7th of last year three men -- not J., George, and Harris, and certainly not accompanied by the dog Montmorency (although there was a loud-barking, annoying big bastard of a dog next door) -- set out to travel audio space and record my novel Traveling in Space as an audiobook. We -- Peter Lonsdale, Jeff Cannata and myself -- ended the recording journey on August 21, a little over a year and four months later. This is an awfully long time to be recording an audiobook, but circumstances were such that it took this amount of time. And I’m glad it did.
Audiobooks have been growing in popularity of late, and not just because of long distance commuters who may well have been the bulk of audiobook adherents in the past. It seems the proliferation of MP3 players, not only as stand-alones, but built into smartphones and tablets, have added to the audience for the out loud declaration of an author’s work. And this I am also glad about.
I have loved “Spoken Word” recordings -- to borrow the category from the Grammys -- ever since high school when Drama class saved, or possibly made, my life, and I would check out multi-disk LPs of Broadway plays from the local library. In listening to Lee J. Cobb as Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman,
or a very young Martin Sheen in The Subject was Roses,
I fell in love with the human voice -- especially when divorced from the visual. I did not grow up in the Golden Era of radio when it reigned as Home Entertainment, when dramatic plays of many genres, and comic greats coming in from the closure of Vaudeville, kept America company during the Great Depression and World War Two.
I grew up in the first decade of commercial television, my eyes focused on flickering black & white images of actors on horses packing six-guns,
and Dinah Shore.
My father loved Dinah Shore.
When I graduated from high school, after three years of involvement in drama classes, the drama club, and the plays that came out of them, having spent most of those years wanting to become an actor,
I left adolescence, ironically, not wanting to become an actor. For shortly before donning the cap & gown it had occurred to me that what my involvement in drama had developed in me was not my talent for acting -- which was fairly minuscule -- but a love of the written words that actors perform.
“Author” replaced “Actor” as the first letter in my alphabet.
But the idea of performing an author’s words remained important to me. And I do mean performing, not just reading aloud. Reading aloud gives only sound to words. Performing gives life to words. Not a revolutionary thought. After all, the stringing together of words in order to make magic was first done in order to present them orally, long before words were ever written down.
A bit of a burden as they had to be memorized. But eventually the tool of writing -- first created to notate the trade in beer and stuff,
|Sumerian tablet from 2050 BCE - a signed receipt saying: “Ur-Amma acknowledges receiving from his brewer, Alulu, 5 sila of the ‘best’ beer.”|
but soon adapted for more creative efforts, dispensed with the burden of memory. Except, of course, for actors acting on stage.
And as writing -- and the complimentary ability of reading -- was pretty much kept among elites in the commercial, political, and religious professions, most of the rest of society, if they were exposed to the creative endeavors of writing at all, probably were exposed through the human voice in readings from unrolled scrolls.
It was not until after the perfection of the movable type printing press in the Fifteenth Century, and the rise of the prose novel in the Eighteenth Century, that individual, silent-in-your-head reading took hold among a mass of readers.
Still, readers would often read out loud to their friends and family,
and some authors would perform their own words to crowds, most famously
and Mark Twain.
For millennia words were creatures of sound.
But written words, those rationally ordered little black bugs of type streaming across a white page, and now a white screen, eventually became, in the main, separated from sound, from the oral tradition. I have always found that to be a bit sad. Especially when certain people developed the ability to speed read, foregoing even the inner sound of the author’s words in their heads. (See my Huffington Post blog on this). But not to be deterred by that, I decided that whenever I would write prose (which has turned out to be more often than writing for the stage or the screen) I would write my words for the human voice, whether heard silently in one’s head or coming into one’s brain through vocal vibrations.
So I have always loved the idea of audiobooks. And to be able to produce this one (with Peter Lonsdale, also our recording master),
directing as fine an actor as Jeff Cannata
in the performance of my words, has been a joy. And the fact that it has taken this long, has just extended that joy. It inadvertently turned out to be a way to keep that joy to myself for a while. But, as we do these things to share, it’s time, now that the main recording is done, to do the editing, do necessary retakes, package it all together, and send it out to travel in audio space on its own and see if any of the joy I have felt is transferred to a listening audience. I hope so.
By the way -- can you tell me the literary allusion I used in the first paragraph of this blog? Now there’s a book that begs to be read/performed out loud.
Tuesday, April 1, 2014
Traveling in Audio Space # 6 -- Almost Done. No Fooling!
When we started this task to record an audiobook of my novel Traveling in Space, I thought it would take us a year. After all, Peter Lonsdale, my co-producer, editor, and recording engineer,
was only available on the weekends as he was spending his weekdays as a film editor for Disney and Dreamworks and places like that. And Jeff Cannata,
who would perform the novel, is a very busy actor and host of several internet shows on the wonderful world of all things fun in science fiction, video games, fantasy, TV and movies. And I was busy doing something -- I think. I’m not sure because that was almost TWO years ago.
But, no one had given us a deadline, and we were like kids putting on a show, so we wanted to have fun doing it, and we wanted to get it right. And the more senior members of our little crew had to take some time off to aid some starving surgeons who needed the extra work.
But be all that as it may -- here we are, about ready to finish up the audiobook, send the digital 0s and 1s off to Dave Doody, my publisher at Blüroof Press,
who will then send those 0s and 1s off to Amazon’s Audible.com.
We will officially launch the audiobook at BayCon 2014, being held in Santa Clara, California over the Memorial Day weekend.
Jeff Cannata and I
will be doing a presentation ay BayCon 2014 about our collaboration, which I think has been rather unique.
The audiobook of Traveling in Space is not a corporate product, handled by well seasoned work-for-hire pros with maybe input from the author, maybe not. And it’s not a new indie, freelance work-for-hire product many self-publishers and indie-publishers are producing these days for a market that is growing in size and listenership. We like to think our audiobook has been handcrafted by people who were all invested in it, not just as a product and as an adjunct to the print publication of the book -- but as an artistic endeavor that we believe can stand alone.
Of course, it will be up to listeners to tell us if we are correct or not. And we eagerly await their response.
Wednesday, April 9, 2014
Traveling in Audio Space # 7 -- Finally! The "Traveling in Space" audiobook wraps recording
|Giving "voice" to Traveling in Space|
Me, Peter Lonsdale, and Jeff Cannata
After a long two years of intermittent yet lovely days of gathering with Peter Lonsdale and Jeff Cannata to “expand” my author’s voice by producing, indeed, “handcrafting,” an audiobook of my novel Traveling in Space, we wrapped recording the book on April 2nd. They were days of a certain like-mindedness in bringing the book into this medium -- modern yet ancient; literary yet dramatic; one entering the mind via a different route -- with as much craft, art, and skill possible.
Peter was determined that every 0 and every 1 in this digital landscape would be perfectly placed. Jeff was determined to make the performance of the book layered and nuanced, as he made his performance of each character the same. And I was determined to enjoy the process, to be not only the director, but the first member of the audience.
And afterwards? We allowed ourselves to be a little silly
And now it's packaging the whole thing, adding the front and end credits -- voiced by my lovely wife, Amanda -- some music and sound design, and have it ready to launch at BayCon 2014
over the Memorial Day weekend,
And just in time for my birthday, which just happens to fall on Memorial Day.
It’s nice of all you good people to have a BBQ in my honor.
Back to May 16, 2014
And now it is done and ready to be downloaded through --
Or through your local iTunes store.
My thanks -- my love, indeed -- to Jeff Cannata & Peter Lonsdale. Guys, literally, I could not have done it without you.