lwe: (Default)
I'm pleased to report that Chapter Three is posted.

Chapters Four and Five are paid for.

I'm still in the middle of writing Chapter Nine; I've been busy with family stuff and Vika's Avenger.
lwe: (Default)
I am pleased to report that Chapter Two has been posted. Read! Enjoy!

If you've made a donation, you should have received an e-mail informing you that Chapter Two has been posted. If you did not receive such an e-mail, please let me know ASAP -- it means your name did not make it onto my maillist. (Either that, or your ISP thinks my e-mail is spam.)

Anyway. Obviously, Chapter Two is paid for, or I wouldn't have posted it. Chapters Three and Four are also paid for. Chapter Five is very close.

I'm still in the middle of writing Chapter Nine; I've been busy with other stuff, such as sending out the last copies of The Sorcerer's Widow.

Thanks for your support!
lwe: (Default)
I'm starting another Ethshar serial. The first chapter of Ishta's Companion is now online here. Check it out. Donate money.


Jul. 12th, 2013 03:12 pm
lwe: (Default)
Well, it's finally happened. I got a renewal offer. Took longer than I expected.

About a year ago, I started getting stuff in the mail that I hadn't ordered. I'm not sure whether it was meant as a joke, or a birthday present, or what, but someone -- I don't know who -- had signed me up for a whole bunch of things. They started arriving, without explanation.

First there were the cosmetics on trial. I returned those. I was a bit concerned because the packing slip said they'd been paid for with an AmEx card, and I made sure it wasn't mine. Put a watch on my credit, just in case.

Then came the intro package from Book of the Month Club. I canceled my new membership immediately, explaining I hadn't actually signed up, someone else had, and I asked where I should return the books. They said not to bother, so I added them to my "to read" stack.

Next was the membership on the North American Hunting Club. That brought a knife, a game cookbook, and a magazine subscription; I returned the cookbook and canceled my membership, so I only got one or two issues of the magazine, but I kept the knife, as it was a "free gift." (Some gifts aren't free?) These folks were much less helpful and cooperative than BotMC or the cosmetics trial, but they eventually accepted that I wasn't interested, and I passed the magazines on to some guys serving in the military overseas. (The magazine wasn't bad if you're a hunter; I'm not.)

And after that, it was all magazines. New ones kept showing up through March 2013, too. I'm guessing my mysterious someone had a bunch of airline points to burn off before they expired. At any rate, I eventually found myself with subscriptions to Forbes, Yachting, ESPN: the Magazine, Men's Health, Men's Fitness, Entrepreneur, Fast Company, and Chevy High Performance. (I think that's all of them.)

Yachting was the first to show up, if I remember correctly. It's weirdly fascinating because there's the contrast between the rather down-to-earth attitude, with articles on maintenance, ports, etc., and the fact that it's about toys costing millions of dollars. I read the first one pretty thoroughly, but quickly got inured to it and now typically go through an issue in about three minutes, mostly looking at the pictures, before passing it on to friends who like boats.

Chevy High Performance -- if you own a Chevrolet muscle car from the '60s or '70s, you need this magazine. If you don't, it's absolutely useless and might as well be written in Etruscan. I don't. This is another one I pass on to guys in the military. But wow, if you want to know anything about restoring, maintaining, or hot-rodding an old Chevy, this is a gift from the gods.

I'd seen Men's Health and Men's Fitness on the racks at the supermarket, and assumed they were sister (or in this case, brother) magazines. Never had any interest in 'em. But once they started showing up, I read them, and discovered they aren't siblings, they're rivals, and Men's Health is the good one. It's more upscale, better written, better edited, and all around classier, so I still read it, though I'm not going to renew when my subscription runs out. It looks at lots of lifestyle stuff for guys in their twenties and thirties. Men's Fitness is much more concerned with, well, fitness -- exercise, diet, and not much else. Where Men's Health has a well-rounded feel and is clearly aimed at straight men, Men's Fitness is narrowly focused and has (at least for me) a faint homoerotic vibe. I found it really boring, and transferred my subscription to someone else who was interested. (I hadn't mentioned that homoerotic vibe to him, but then, it may just be my imagination in the first place.)

Then there are the three business magazines. I'd heard of Forbes, of course, and always assumed it was a business mag, but it isn't, really; it's money porn. It's not about business, it's about billionaires. It's rather badly written, self-congratulatory in tone, and mostly about how wonderful the very rich are, simply because they made piles of money. Add in the editorials by Steve Forbes and others that demonstrate an insane misunderstanding of real-world economics, and the real world in general, and you have a magazine that I've found steadily more and more repulsive. When I noticed from the label that I'd been given a two-year subscription I decided I had to get rid of it, and Julian had a friend who works in finance, so I've just signed that one away.

Entrepreneur, on the other hand, is kind of fascinating. It's not about business in general, but only about entrepreneurs. It's better-written than Forbes, and doesn't take a political position; it just looks at how these guys got to where they are now (and maybe you can too!). That was one of the late arrivals, so I may revise my opinion in time. I don't really have much use for it, and would hit the old change-of-address road if I knew of anyone who wanted it, but at least it doesn't embarrass me to have it in the house.

And Fast Company is cool. It's about the cutting edge of business -- innovation in every field, high-tech news, online developments, etc. It's tied to several websites that I haven't really looked at yet, but every time I read an issue I come away with scribbled notes about things I want to check out online. This one might be a keeper.

Which brings us to ESPN. Okay, I watch ESPN sometimes. I've read Sports Illustrated. I thought I knew what to expect. I was wrong.

ESPN is the best magazine we get, including the ones I subscribed to myself, rather than having dumped on me. I'm not a big sports fan, but there is some fine, fine writing here. It's got stats I never thought about, human interest stories I'd never have considered. A recent issue had a huge feature on racism in Italian soccer that did a better job of looking at race and history than anything I've read in more general publications. There are big chunks I skip in most issues, because I frankly don't give a damn about basketball or most of the NFL, but even there, I can see it's some fine writing and excellent research.

And today I got a renewal offer for ESPN -- another year for just a buck.

I wouldn't even be tempted by any of the others, but that one...

But no. I don't have the free time to read more magazines; I'm years behind on my fiction reading, and could always use more time writing. So I am reluctantly going to let it go.

But it did prompt me to finally write this blog post. I'd been meaning to do it for months, and this renewal offer was what finally pushed me to do it.

So there we are.
lwe: (Default)
I've just launched my Kickstarter campaign to finance the publication of my science-fantasy novel Vika's Avenger. You can get the details on the Kickstarter page, but here are a few bits:

On a distant planet, 12,000 years in the future, a country boy named Tulzik Ambroz comes to the ancient city of Ragbaan seeking the man who killed his sister Vika. Ragbaan's civilization has risen to astonishing heights of power and technology several times -- and then collapsed each time, so that now most of the city is abandoned and empty, and the three million remaining inhabitants make no distinction between magic and technology. How can a stranger, with only a portrait his sister drew to identify his quarry, hope to find a single individual in such a place?

And if he does find him, what will he do about it?

If you want to have a chance to read the story, come pledge something. You have just thirty days.
lwe: (Default)
On a whim, we spent last weekend in Rhode Island -- mostly Newport, looking at the "summer cottages" of the rich and famous of a century ago, but with a couple of stops in Providence, as well. Toured five mansions in Newport -- the Elms, the Breakers, Chateau-sur-Mer, Rosecliff, and Marble House.

The variety was interesting. Rosecliff was designed entirely to throw lavish parties in -- the whole house is built around the magnificent ballroom. The "marble" facade is fake -- it's terra cotta. There have been some major movies that used Rosecliff when they needed a lush 1920s ballroom. The original owner, a silver heiress named Theresa Fair Oelrichs, intended to establish herself in high society simply by throwing the best parties, and seems to have succeeded -- though when the Gilded Age passed and such entertainments were no longer the thing, she went a bit dotty and died relatively young.

Marble House was built entirely to show off -- the people who grew up in it hated it and found it depressing, because it wasn't really meant to be lived in, it was meant to impress people. Each room was a recreation of a particular era in French design, all of them overblown. Alva Vanderbilt, who built Marble House, may have been important in the women's suffrage movement, but she was apparently a pretty horrible person.

The other three were all actual homes; yes, they were meant to impress people, but they were also meant to be comfortable places to live in and raise kids. The Breakers, built by Cornelius Vanderbilt II, is the best of them. The people who grew up summering there, or at the Elms, remember them very fondly.

Chateau-sur-Mer, the oldest of them, was the only one meant for year-round living; the others were just for the summer.

It was an entertaining trip -- and since I'm currently writing scenes set in huge upper-class estates in On A Field Sable, the whole thing is legitimate research and therefore tax deductible!
lwe: (Default)
I've been working seriously on five different novels lately -- Ishta's Companion (an Ethshar novel that's been in the works under various titles for more than twenty years ago), The Innkeeper's Daughter (a fantasy with romantic elements I started on a whim last year), On A Field Sable (third in the Bound Lands series, after A Young Man Without Magic and Above His Proper Station), Stone Unturned (a big complicated Ethshar story), and Graveyard Girl (a young adult novel about a girl with a specialized psychic power). That's not counting assorted revisions, proofs, editing, etc. People have asked me how I can do that, work on five at once -- how can I keep them all straight? Why don't I focus on one?

The answer is, I don't know how I do it, or even really why. I learned to work on two novels at once back in the late 1980s, so if I hit a slow patch on one I could switch to the other for awhile and refresh myself; I did that fairly often, though not all the time. Typically one would be Ethshar, and one would be something else. I once tried working on three simultaneously, and back then it didn't work, I'd lose track of things and get confused -- so why is it working now? I dunno. Practice, maybe. I know that not only am I now able to juggle five, I could actually handle more -- I deliberately cut the number down to five awhile back because I was working on so many at once that none of them was making much headway. I counted eighteen at one point that were nominally active works in progress, though I wasn't actually getting much of anywhere on several of them.

How can I do that? No idea. It just happens. Sometimes when I switch from one to the next I need to re-read a little to remind myself where I was, but the voice and storyline are all there in my head, ready to go.

Why am I doing it? Well, mostly, I think, because I don't have a reliable major market at present. For most of my thirty-five years of writing novels professionally, I've had books under contract to a publisher, so I worked on those. When I didn't actually have a contract, I still knew more or less what the market wanted. After Tor cut me loose by rejecting On A Field Sable, though, I didn't know what would or wouldn't sell, so I've been trying lots of different things, and so far most of them haven't worked. No major publisher was interested in One-Eyed Jack or Vika's Avenger. Tom Derringer and the Aluminum Airship is still out there, but the prospects don't look good. My agent had ideas about what he could sell for me, but they mostly didn't mesh with what I wanted to write. (Graveyard Girl is the exception, but I've been working on that for three years now and it still isn't finished because I ran into plot problems and it's hard for a guy in his fifties to write from the point of view of a contemporary fifteen-year-old girl, especially when the story's all about coming to terms with death.)

So I've been jumping around, looking for something that would reconnect with the market. Why I haven't focused on one project at a time I couldn't really tell you.

At this point, I'd really like to get some of these done, and off the list -- partly so I can get back to others I put aside when I cut the list from eighteen to five. I'd like to work on The Dragon's Price, for example, or Earthright, but am resisting until I finish one of the five.
lwe: (Default)
I haven't posted here in ages, "here" being either Dreamwidth or LiveJournal, unless you count tweets that show up on LJ. Seems as if I ought to do a general update on things.

My writing: I've been working on several novels at once -- no short stories or nonfiction lately. Here's a partial(!) list:

Graveyard Girl is a "young adult" novel about a fifteen-year-old girl who acquires a specific limited psychic ability. I started it in 2010, but it was very slow going for at least four reasons; I finally finished the first draft Tuesday. 175 pages, 49,000 words. Now I need to get started on the second draft.

Ishta's Companion (the title on this one has changed several times) is the next (probably) Ethshar novel. I started outlining it back in the 1980s as A Stranger in the Forest. It'll probably be the next serial, starting this summer. I'm just over 60 pages in.

On A Field Sable is the third novel in "The Fall of the Sorcerers," following A Young Man Without Magic and Above His Proper Station. Tor decided to drop the series, so I put it aside for a couple of years, but dammit, I want to write it anyway, so I will. I'm about 200 pages in -- maybe halfway.

The Innkeeper's Daughter is a stand-alone light fantasy I started on a whim last year. I'm on page 37. No idea what will become of it.

Mirrors and Shadows is the first volume in an urban fantasy trilogy I started maybe twenty years ago and put aside because I was busy with other stuff. I recently decided to push it higher up the priority list. I had a chapter and a bit; now, after throwing out some stuff I decided wasn't working, I have a chapter and four-fifths.

Vika's Avenger is a science-fantasy novel I wrote a couple of years ago that didn't find a publisher. I'm revising it and planning to do a Kickstarter campaign to pay for cover art, getting it professionally edited, and so on, so I can do a decent job self-publishing it. I'm not quite halfway through the rewrite.

That's all the active stuff -- i.e., I think that's everything I've worked on writing since Christmas, but I'm not sure, and there are several others where I have files open in NeoOffice as I'm typing this.

On the publishing front, I'm looking into two novels that Misenchanted Press may publish by people other than me. One's a new revised edition of an SF novel Tor published, and the other's an all-new fantasy; I don't want to be more specific than that, since as yet there aren't any signed contracts. I was copy-editing one of them just before coming here to type up this post.

I've done our 2012 tax returns; Julie still needs to look them over before I can file them.

Was in a car crash Friday -- a very small one, no one hurt, but our car will be in the body shop most of next week.

We're getting solar panels installed on the roof this spring, if all goes well. The paperwork is progressing. Site design's been done, and we're waiting for permits.

Been making travel plans; looks like we'll have three vacations this year.

And I guess that's it. Thought there was more. I'm probably forgetting something; I got interrupted midway through typing this.

ADD: Oh, yeah! I'm going to be do an AMA ("Ask Me Anything") on Reddit on May 9th, barring disaster. Start thinking up questions now!
lwe: (Default)
So there's this award, Hatchet Job of the Year, that's supposed to go to "the writer of the angriest, funniest, most trenchant book review of the past twelve months." You can go look at the nominees; I did, several days ago, and immediately wanted to say something about it, but I waited before posting so as not to be hasty.

I'm not being hasty. Wrong, maybe, but not hasty.

Anyway, I read those eight reviews, and none of them seemed like hatchet jobs to me. When the most damning thing you do in a review is to quote the first page of the novel in question in the fourth paragraph of your review, that isn't a hatchet job.

It is, however, a sad commentary on the stuff getting published as "serious literature" these days.

As, in fact, are all these reviews. They're well-written negative reviews of books that, so far as I can see, thoroughly deserve it. They don't strike me as angry or funny so much as disappointed. "Trenchant," okay, I'll give them trenchant.

I originally visited the page expecting to be amused by witty displays of vitriol, and instead I find myself admiring the critics' writing -- and their patience -- but not laughing at all. I can easily see giving one of these people an award, but calling it "Hatchet Job of the Year" is horribly misleading.
lwe: (Default)
I'm fifty-eight. This is an age when a lot of my contemporaries are worrying about caring for their elderly parents or other relatives. Many of them, understandably, post about their concerns in various online venues I frequent.

Which makes me feel a bit odd. The last of my ancestors died more than twenty years ago. I have exactly four living blood relatives older than I am, so far as I know -- two siblings, and two first cousins once removed. (There may be some other distant cousins, but none of them live in the U.S. and I lost track of all of them long ago. One of the living first cousins once removed lives in England, come to that.) My parents and grandparents and aunts and uncles are all long gone.

My wife's parents and grandparents are all gone, too, though she still has some aunts and uncles.

While I can see that caring for aging parents must be stressful, it's a problem I sort of wish I had. But only sort of. I miss my parents very much, but I'm relieved I'll never need to worry about them.

So every time I see some article talking about how sooner or later we all go from being cared for by them to being caretakers for our parents, I have a rush of mixed emotions as I say, "Not all of us, damn you."
lwe: (Default)
Elsewhere, a friend's link led me to "10 episodes that show how Buffy The Vampire Slayer blew up genre TV," which is a pretty good bunch of recommendations for anyone unfamiliar with Buffy who wants to get an idea what all the fuss was about.

For me, though -- I didn't watch "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" from the beginning. I only vaguely knew it existed. Julie came across it while channel-surfing, though, and one evening I wandered into the room and started watching. I wasn't really all that impressed at first, but then -- well, the episode was "The Pack." A first-season rerun. When I realized that an ongoing character, Principal Flutie, was eaten by the monsters and it wasn't a "very special episode," just business as usual, I realized the people making this show weren't afraid of anything.

After that I started watching. Didn't get really hooked until "Reptile Boy," midway through Season Two.

Somehow other people don't see those two episodes as all that special, but they were the ones that got me.
lwe: (Default)
I didn't archive any LPs to MP3 Saturday, but I did plenty of work on my music collection in iTunes; I decided I was tired of looking at placeholders and wanted to fix the missing album covers. In doing so, I discovered several covers that were present, but wrong, so I fixed those, too.

In order to get a couple of covers I had to go get the actual CDs and scan the covers in, because the albums are sufficiently obscure that I couldn't find them anywhere on the web -- e.g., the Christmas album the Chancel Choir at my sister's old church released, which they apparently never put on their website.

So I pulled out some of my CDs, and promptly discovered a couple that weren't in iTunes, even though in theory I'd ripped everything years ago. Turns out I had ripped a couple of albums in WMA format, which iTunes can't play.

For stupid reasons that don't bear explaining I wound up having to rip them anew on Iris, the computer in the upstairs study -- couldn't get either Chloe or Beth to do it right. Got it done, though. (That was "There's Trouble Coming," by GHz (pronounced "Gigahertz"), and "Strong Medicine," by Patty Reese -- both local artists.)

And there were a couple of albums I never did rip before. One's the original-cast recording of the 2002 Hexagon show -- Hexagon's a political humor group that does an annual musical revue in Washington -- "It's A Grand Old Gag." So that's now in my collection.

The other... well, it's in Japanese. I could tell from the art it had some connection with the series "Ranma 1/2," but the music wasn't anything I recognized...

I tracked it down on the web. It's DoCo's third album. DoCo is an all-girl pop group made up of five of the voice actors from "Ranma," who perform in character as the Tendo sisters, Ranma-chan, and Shampoo. Their first two albums were apparently fairly ordinary J-pop; their third is karaoke versions of all their hits.

Where the hell did I get that?

Anyway, I ripped that, too, and discovered that iTunes can handle Japanese text pretty well, but that moving files back and forth among my various systems did something weird and I was getting multiple copies of every song. Took awhile to make that stop -- for awhile they were breeding faster than I could kill them.

And there were some files on iTunes where I had to correct faulty data.

Basically, I spent the entire afternoon messing with this stuff, rather than doing anything productive, but at least my collection is more complete and up to date than it was.
lwe: (Default)
There's something beginning writers do -- especially, but by no means only, self-published ones -- that I don't understand. Beginning writers do a lot of stupid and counter-productive things, of course, but I have in mind one particular one that I find baffling.

Or maybe, now that I think about it, not all that baffling. Consider: There you are, Joe Author, and your new book Carbuncles of Mars is now available on Amazon, and you are simultaneously swollen with pride at your accomplishment, and terrified that nobody will buy it or review it or read it or acknowledge your existence in any way. You want to prove that you're a Real Writer, and you want to sell your book.

So you join writers' groups wherever you can find them, to prove you're a real writer -- I get that. But what I don't get is then posting ads in them, rather than talking about, you know, writing.

I suppose it comes from forgetting that proving you're a real writer, and selling your book, aren't the same thing.

But you know what happens when you post ads to writers' groups? The real writers leave. Because we aren't looking for more stuff to read; we always have more than we can possibly keep up with. We want places where we can talk about writing, but we won't wade through ads to do it.

I just saw this happen over on Facebook, where C.J. Cherryh left a writers' group because it was overrun with ads. She took the trouble to say she was leaving, and why; I suspect that most of the name writers there didn't bother, they just vanished. I'm not 100% sure why I haven't left that particular group yet; I've certainly dropped out of plenty of others over the years when the ads from beginners overwhelmed the discussion.

And that's the thing -- this always happens. Every. Single. Time. Any time anyone creates a writers' group that doesn't have either steep membership requirements or ferocious moderation, the newbies pile in, eager to be accepted, but instead of talking about the craft or business of writing, they always, always start posting about their own latest literary accomplishments, trying to coax everyone to check out Carbuncles from Mars.


Sometimes there's actually a substantive discussion for awhile, but it always fades out, smothered under a thousand variations of, "Lookit me! I wrote a book!"

Which is stupid. Writers aren't your market; writers have no time or money to waste on semi-pro work from unknowns. We have enough trouble keeping up with the big names in our field. You don't want to advertise to writers, you want to advertise to readers. Not the same group.

Other writers are not your audience. Really. Other writers are, in fact, a very hard sell, because we know enough about how it's done to see everything you did wrong.

So, all you beginners, newbies, would-be writers and wannabes, stop it. Oh, join writers' groups if you want, but don't advertise in them. All it does is chase people away.
lwe: (Default)
I set out to make MP3 archives of all the old Bob Dylan albums I'd inherited from my sister Jody, but ran into a few issues.

First off, she had the first four in mono, rather than stereo; was it worth downloading stereo versions?

Eventually I decided it wasn't, and I got through "Bob Dylan" and "The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan," and I noticed a couple of things:

Bob Dylan was something of a prat back then. Not that he is or isn't now, I wouldn't know about that, but he definitely was back then, crediting songs (when he bothered to credit them at all) to "someone named Henry" he met in Texas, or whatever, and arbitrarily replacing every single "-ing" in any song or album title ever, regardless of whether he wrote it or not and regardless of how he actually pronounced it when singing, with "-in'." I guess that was supposed to be folkier.

And I didn't really want to listen to all those albums in succession. Yes, there are some classic songs on there, but there's other stuff, too, and after two albums I'd had enough for now.

I think I may do the rest out of order -- I suspect I'll find "Highway 61 Revisited" more congenial than "Another Side of Bob Dylan." For now, though, I cleansed my auditory palate with some Jethro Tull and Joni Mitchell.
lwe: (Default)
I have an unpublished novel, Vika's Avenger, sitting around unsold. It's a science-fantasy story with detective elements and a revenge motive. Two different editors have been interested in buying it, but were overruled by higher-ups who couldn't figure out how to market it; a third editor turned it down but had some useful comments about it. While it may have other failings, the largest problem seems to be that it doesn't fit any current known market niches.

I thought about self-publishing it, but my track record there is less than stellar. I thought about sending it to a smaller publisher, such as Wildside. I thought about serializing it online, as I've done with recent Ethshar novels. I haven't ruled any of these out, but none of these options has me wildly enthused.

And I've also thought about trying to launch it on Kickstarter.

If I do that, I'll have some interesting options. For one thing, if it makes the basic amount I set (which would probably be $10,000), I could then set stretch goals that would include such things as commissioning a David Mattingly cover painting. I'd probably rewrite it -- some of the creative choices I made when writing it were based on my perception of the market at the time, and obviously didn't help sell it, and that third editor's comments, along with some other events, have me thinking of ways it could be improved.

But if it doesn't make the nut, that could be embarrassing. Not to mention that running the Kickstarter and then publishing the book would be a significant amount of work. And that $10,000 would need to cover producing and distributing the various incentives, so my net proceeds wouldn't be all that much.

So I'm waffling. Do I try to Kickstart it, or not?
lwe: (Default)
Seems my copy of Bark, by Jefferson Airplane, is too badly scratched to get a clean MP3 from, so I splurged and downloaded it from Amazon. What the hell, $9.99 won't bankrupt me; probably worth that much to not waste time trying to get a clean copy.

Interesting listening to it again after so long. Especially "War Movie," a song that (a) I've swiped phrases and images from on occasion, and (b) convinced me that Paul Kantner was a fan of A.E. van Vogt and probably Poul Anderson. (I already knew he read John Wyndham, since "Crown of Creation" lifts half its lyrics from Re-Birth.*) I'd forgotten the super-science rebellion was supposed to take place in 1975 -- that's just so quaint here in 2012!

* And later, when Blows Against The Empire came out, I knew he'd read Heinlein, specifically Methuselah's Children.
lwe: (Default)
Between 1966 and 1982 I bought a lot of LPs. A lot of LPs. I took good care of them, too, so as of 2009 I still had pretty much all of them, as well as a dozen or so that Julie added when we got married. I stopped buying around 1982 or 1983 because CDs were invented and I thought it was obvious that they would replace CDs, but I didn't actually get a CD player for a few years.

From 1985 to the present day I bought a lot of CDs -- more than 400, I know, because I completely filled two 200-slot carousels and had lots left over.

Somewhere in the last few years, no later than 2009, I switched to playing music on my computer. I ripped all my CDs, bought an external hard drive so they'd all fit.

I had bought CDs of most of my favorite albums, and sold the LPs of those to a local collectors' shop when we moved to Takoma Park in 2009.

But now I'm working on making MP3s of all the remaining LPs, the ones I did not have on CD, with the idea that when I'm done I can get rid of the turntable and stuff the records into a box in the basement storeroom, clearing a little space in my office. I'm using freeware called Audacity, which works pretty well.

I hadn't played some of these in a very long time. Most of them I hadn't played in twenty years. These were, after all, the albums I either never cared for enough to get on CD, or couldn't find on CD. It's a sort of musical archeology.

I've been reporting as I go on SFF Net, in a thread called "Listen to the Music," but I don't seem to have many readers there anymore, so I've decided to post about it here, as well.

I've just finished transcribing Led Zeppelin's Houses of the Holy, which is pretty good.

So far, the one that most had me wondering how I could let it gather dust so long is Gris-Gris, by Dr. John, then calling himself the Night Tripper. I love having that one back, and have been playing it a lot.

In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida, on the other hand, probably wasn't worth the effort. Carole King's Tapestry was also slightly disappointing.
lwe: (Default)
For some time now I've been saying I was going to switch my primary online hangout from SFF Net to either here or Facebook, but somehow I keep posting on SFF Net, just from habit.

So you fine folks have not been informed that despite returning from Worldcon full of writerly enthusiasm, I have somehow only managed to write about half a dozen pages so far this month, half of it on projects that had been shelved for literally years (e.g., The Partial Observer, begun and last worked on, until yesterday, in 2007).

You remained ignorant of my ongoing effort to replace all my old LPs with MPs, most recently adding the Steve Miller Band's "Brave New World" to my iTunes playlist. It's a very fine album, and I find myself wondering why I hadn't played it since the 20th century. Best thing that Steve Miller (who is not the Liaden author) ever did.

And when I brought up the question of where Julie and I should retire to, a decade or so from now, you were not consulted.

I'm going to try to do better. Honestly. But some encouraging comments would help.
lwe: (Default)
Of late I've been going through my collection of old-time radio dramas and converting them to MP3, so as to have them more accessible. I've played back each transfer to make sure it worked, which means in the last couple of weeks I've listened to episodes of Mystery House, Inner Sanctum, Weird Circle, Mercury Theatre of the Air, and The Shadow.

And I realized something. I do want to preserve these, but it's really just for their curiosity value. The truth is that the old radio dramas don't work for me. I love the concept, and I do think it should be possible to do really good, involving radio drama; it's certainly possible to do radio humor, as Firesign Theatre and National Lampoon demonstrated. But when I sit back and listen to the Shadow or Inner Sanctum, it totally fails to draw me into the story.

I think it's partly the failure to convince my hindbrain that the people talking are anywhere other than a studio. For example, in the Shadow's episode "Aboard the Steamship Amazon," there's no background noise of engines or waves or wind, in supposed crowded environments there's no background murmur. The voices always have the same resonance, whether they're supposedly on an open deck or in a cramped cabin. There's no sense of place. In "The Thirsty Death" (I think that one was Weird Circle), the scenes supposedly in a jungle at night have no rustling leaves or calling birds or monkeys.

That leaves aside some of the plot absurdities and mannered acting. Those don't help, either.

I realize these things were done cheaply and quickly, and the technology was relatively primitive, but honestly, the reasons don't matter -- the final result is that they don't work for me.

Which is a shame.

There are some bizarre little details I find amusing, though -- like the "Africans" who have B-movie Chinese accents, probably because that was their default exotic accent and they didn't find anyone who knew what an African accent would actually sound like.

Or the cabal of enemy spies who all have different accents.

Or the Shadow's introduction (later changed) saying that the Shadow's secret of invisibility would soon be made available to regular law enforcement. Has anyone ever written a story in the nightmare scenario where the secret police can turn invisible? It was a different world in 1938.

That's probably the real problem; I'm simply not the more innocent audience of 1938, or 1941, or 1947.
lwe: (Default)
Chapters Thirteen and Fourteen of The Sorcerer's Widow are now online. This completes the serial and the first draft.

All fourteen chapters will remain online until the contracts with Wildside are signed, and I haven't yet received said contracts, but I expect them any day now.

I'll accept donations until August 1st. Right now I'm $14 short of my target, though obviously I took in enough to pay for the whole thing.

I'm two chapters into the second draft. I expect to have the whole thing done by the time we leave for Worldcon. No idea when it'll be published, though -- that's mostly up to Wildside. I'll keep donors posted on progress.

I intend to continue doing Ethshar serials, but I don't know when the next one will start. I don't know which story it'll be, either. Easiest would be Ishta's Companion (which keeps changing title, but is actually one of the very oldest unfinished stories in my entire collection). More ambitious would be the untitled-as-yet one I've referred to as "the Big Fat Ethshar novel." Azraya of Ethshar is also a viable option. We'll see. It'll be at least a few months before I launch, as I want to do other stuff for awhile; might be much longer than that.

So -- hope you like the story.