Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Come see the Powers

It seems author and WoTF workshop teacher, Tim Powers, is coming to Toronto. He'll be at the Merrill Collection Saturday, Oct. 13 at 1:30 pm.

I'm guessing this is a free event.

Better be.


Sunday, September 23, 2007

Update of things coming to an end

As you might have guessed, I’ve run out of podcasts to talk about. There are others I listen to, like Slice of SciFi. The show is very much a news entertainment show, kind of an ET for genre stuff. If that’s your thing, then give it a listen.

And there are podcasts I’ve listened to and just don’t like. Some to the reasons I’ve mentioned already like the voice, and the schedule. Sometimes it’s just plain content. Whatever the reason, I’m not going to mention them. Not because they suck, but because I think they suck, and I don’t want my opinion to dissuade you from someone else’s pride and joy.

I will, however, rant about something that a majority of podcasts do, and that’s the VOICEMAIL show. This is intended as a fan appreciation show, where listeners can call in to an answering machine and ask questions, says what a wonderful, etc.

But most of what these shows have become is promos for other podcasters. There is rarely a caller who doesn’t have a podcast. There are others who have adopted cute nicknames and have used the voicemail show to become ‘characters’ in their own world. Many of the so-called questions are pats on the back for the show.

This doesn’t mean I hate voicemail shows. In fact I like them a lot, IF they are done with moderation. A weekly voicemail show is beyond overkill; it’s taking a steamroller to month-old roadkill.

Now, the beauty of podcasts is that I don’t have to listen to them, or even download them. Well, my itunes downloader doesn’t discriminate, but I don’t mind that. What I do mind is when she shows aren’t labeled as voicemail shows so I could delete them.

Ultimately voicemail shows are for three two people, the host of the show, and the people calling in. Anyone else listening to a voicemail show is just waiting to hear their own voice—mail.

My niece got married last weekend. There is nothing like going to a wedding to find out just how old you are. Kids you still remember babysitting are drinking, dancing, and carrying on like adults, because, well, they are. Somewhere time skipped a beat and everyone around you has grown up—or got old.

Another thing about weddings is that you meet people you don’t recognize, yet know you with a glance. I expected to know my family, sister, brother-in-law, and niece’s and that’s it. My sister is considerably older than my and naturally we hung out in different worlds, so why should I know her friends, or her daughter’s friends for that matter.

Well, it didn’t work that way. I kept get called over to talk to these people, most of whom knew me when I was little, but others my own age, like Joe who I played with when my sister babysat. And he has a son about 12, just to make me feel old again. I guess it’s worse for all those who knew me as a kid and now see me married with a family of my own.

BUT, I did look good in my suit. Which reminds me, if you have lost considerable weight since the last time a relative has seen you, it might be a good idea to let them know why, just to avoid the looks of concern and the "are you dying," questions.


Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Hippy Dippy Podcasting

Isn’t if funny how I complain about inconsistency in podcast schedules, yet randomly blog myself?


Boy, do I like a good laugh.


Okay, got that all out of my system.

Science Fiction author, Paul Levinson, does something with his podcast that’s a little different in its ordinariness.

Paul uses Light On, Light Through to discuss his views on television shows; movies, songs, other books or in other words, it’s an audio blog. He opens each show with music that might have come from the musical, Hair, then quickly introduces his topic. His tastes are surprisingly diverse, I mean you don’t usually expect a middle-aged Jewish guy to like rap. His views on movies tend to be in depth and his reasons for like or dislike are well balanced and grounded in common sense.

Levinson is also a fan of the short cast, piling in a load of information in a limited time. He doesn’t however, go on about his own accomplishments or appearances. He mentions his latest book, offers an audio drama of one of his short stories for a contest then gets to the nitty-gritty.

What he does do, however, is devote too much time to promos for other podcasts. He reserves this time for the end of his podcast and sadly I use it as a signal to skip to the next show.

Otherwise I enjoy the show.

Okay, it’s a short review, but then it’s a short podcast.


Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Tall Tales

Another kind of podcast I enjoy is the story podcast, that is to say someone, usually the author, reads a short story or novel. If you like audio books, then you’ll love this type of media.

Of course, podcasting a story has the same pitfalls as the audio book, and that, as I mentioned earlier, is Da Voice. Not everyone can read aloud and make it sound interesting. Again, having previous voice talent experience is a bonus. I remember listening to Steven King read one of his earlier books and I couldn't get past chapter one. Luckily, he's gotten better, so that, Bag of Bones was enjoyable. is an excellent resource for free novels to enjoy. Keep in mind that the majority are self-published and just another way for the writer to get his worked out there. In some cases, the work is self-published for the obvious reasons, but then there a guys like J.C. Hutchins and Scott Sigler who have embraced the medium, and offer excellent readings.

Podcasting is also a way to keep older books alive while promoting yourself at the same time. Tee Morris has given his Morevi book a longer lifespan than the average small press book, and Tracy Hickman had brought back one his older books.

It’s also fun to listen to the one-upmanship as each author raises the bar through production, guest voices, sound effects, etc.

If you prefer short stories, try Escapepod, Psuedopod and Podcastle, where you will find genre stories from writers both established and new.

If you commute into work, and want something better than the local radio morning show, then give podiostories a try. You won’t be dissappointed.


Monday, September 03, 2007

SHHHH! It's a secret.

The Secrets is Michael Stackpole’s contribution to podcasting. Here Michael offers his considerable experience in novel writing to help others achieve their dreams of writing a novel.

As Michael says, everyone has a novel in them, it’s just a matter of getting it down on paper.
Of course, that doesn’t mean it’s a good novel, but that isn’t the point.

In his earlier shows, Michael takes us through the steps of writing and its various aspects such as setting, character development and plot.

In later shows demonstrates these techniques by outlining a book from scratch, and giving assignments which the listener could do at home.

Presently, he is using one of his many Star Wars books, describing why he did what he did while writing it. This is especially interesting, as Michael goes in detail why a character was created, why another was introduced, and yet why another had to die and when.

This isn’t meant as a cut paste way of writing, but as a guideline, and offers details all writers should keep in mind while writing.

Michael believes in the 20 minute rule, that being, anything over 20 minutes is too long—so don’t expect long blocks of podcasts.

As with other podcasts, the release schedule for the show is uneven, with weeks going by without anything posted. I seem to recall him stating he would try to keep a regular schedule, but promising nothing. Well, the man does have other things to do, like writing books, so I guess I can forgive him.

On the whole, I would say this is the best podcast on the techniques of writing and is essential to any list of how-to podcasts. Try it .