Podcast Review #32: Half Share

•7 June, 2010 • 7 Comments

Title: Half Share
Author: Nathan Lowell
Genre: Science Fiction
Released: 29 April 2007 – 2o May 2007
LocatedPodibooksiTunesAuthor’s Site
Formats Available: Podcast only (soon to be dead tree from Ridan Publishing)
Rating: PG/R There is much in the way of sexual innuendo and some sensuality.

As many of you are aware, Mr. Nathan Lowell recently had the first of the Golden Clipper series books, namely Quarter Share, released by Ridan Publishing in a variety of formats. (I hope you have made your purchase all ready.) I purchased it and slowly read through it over the last week. Well, okay, three days. BUT, I can guarantee you that I made myself ration it out because it was just as good in print as it was with Mr. Lowell reading it. And if you have ever purchased one of your favorite podcast turned dead tree, you know how large that satisfaction can be. (Of course, if you have had the alternate experience, you know why this satisfaction is so, well, satisfying.)

After reading Quarter Share, I of course had to listen to the whole Golden Clipper series again. Come on, how many of you did the same? Be brave, fess up. Naturally, that led me to fall in love with Mr. Lowell’s universe all over again and I couldn’t refrain from providing this long over due review of Half Share.

So, on to the review.

Synopsis: After Ishmael Wang is promoted to the environmental section, he’s caught in a swirl of mystery, doubt, belief, lust and a really nice fitting pair of jeans. He has to come to grips with what it means to be a spacer while he’s still trying to figure out what it means to be a man. Join Ishmael, Brillo, Pip, and the rest of the crew of the Lois McKendrick as they help the newest member of the crew adjust to life in the Deep Dark.Half Share is the sequel to Quarter Share, also available at Podiobooks.com.Note: Some scenes in Half Share involve adult themes, nudity, sex and references to religions not based on Judeo-Christian traditions. Listen at your own risk. (stolen from Podiobooks site)

Production: I must reiterate from my review of Quarter Share, Mr. Lowell is a master of less is more when it comes to production. No one, and I do mean no one, does a narrated, straight read story better. For this style, this is as good as it gets. Very simply, a brief piece of music provides an introduction to the story, Mr. Lowell provides the chapter title, which tells us where Ishmael is, and the story commences. So simple. Such Genius.

Cast: Mr. Lowell has proven his narration skills time and time again. I introduced (yes, I take the credit whether deserved or not) one of my Twitter circle to Mr. Lowell in Ravenwood. Being a self proclaimed voice snob, she validated my proclamation of Mr. Lowell’s abilities (Yes, K, I do mean you).

Story: As is par for Mr. Lowell’s Golden Clipper stories, there really is no conflict in Half Share. It is more a process of self discovery on the part of Ishmael. I’ve never been fond of this type of story, but it works for Mr. Lowell, and it works in such a way as to leave no doubt that he shouldn’t change a thing. I must also say that until reading my copy of Quarter Share, I can honestly say I never even noticed the stories were written in 1st person narrative. I hate 1st person narrative. Except when Mr. Lowell writes it (okay, a few other exceptions, but I can guarantee, they are very few). Again, I wouldn’t want him to change a thing.

Verdict: Half Share is my least favorite of the Golden Clipper stories. Yes, you can flame and hate me now. In fact, please do. I love discussion. That being said, it is still one of the best ten podcasts I’ve ever listened to, and the Golden Clipper is in the top two series ever. I’d even put it up against Lord of the Rings in my list, and if you know me, that says a lot. But you see, if you listen to more than one story (or read for that matter) by an author you by nature most likely prefer one to the other. It doesn’t mean they’re not both good, just one isn’t your favorite. This was Half Share for me. I loved it, just not as much as the others. Why? Well, I’ve never been called a prude or a Puritan, oh wait…. I have. And that is your answer. However, even with that fact, all the adult situations in Half Share go to providing a good background for making Ish the man he is/will become, so I’m happy to have been allowed to see it. In closing, let me state now, I’ve all ready got my order in for the signed hardback (by which I mean I will sign up as soon as it becomes available.).

Disclosure: I currently follow Mr. Lowell on Twitter. He will always answer questions and is very affable. I was not asked to write this review and received nothing in the way of compensation. He is one of my very top favorite authors and I am thrilled to be able to buy his books in dead tree form.

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Arelene Radasky: How I do it!

•2 June, 2010 • 4 Comments

Arlene Radasky is the author of The Fox as well as short stories and poetry. She is also a proud grandmother of new baby boy!

General Writing Questions

1. Before you begin writing, do you script out the general outline of plot and characters, or do you let these situations evolve as you write?
Before writing I do not outline. I “see” the story in my head, and then write it. The written scene evolves around the scene in my head.

2. I’ve heard repetitively that writers should deal with writing as any other job. Do you have a scheduled or structured writing routine? Please detail.
Writing for me is not a job. I do not need nor wish to create a money stream from it.(Although, I would not refuse any $$!) It is much more a love, a need to follow the thoughts in my head. I am new to this so I am still experimenting. My life is in a state of change right now, so the bit of regular writing time is not available as easily, but I hope to create a niche for it soon. However, when a thought strikes me for a short story or a poem, I can get it done very quickly. It is the researched novel that is time consuming.

3. What is your writing environment like? (cats, music, computer etc.) How has this evolved/changed?
I write in a comfortable chair and in a comfortable room surrounded by cats and coffee. I do have a laptop and at times, especially when working on my novel, I take my computer out on my front porch where I can see the mountains, or in my car to the beach and watch the waves.

4. Do you write anything, or have you, that is solely for yourself? (no intention of sharing with a large audience)
I wrote a notebook filled with my thoughts and what was happening around me when my father was killed in a car accident. I have not shared that with anyone. I also have notebooks filled with events around the disasters I worked on when I was with the Red Cross. I have not shared those.

5. How has social media played a role in your writing?
Social media has been important in my writing. I was a member of a writers’ forum while writing The Fox and enjoyed the support, critiques and support. I suppose I would have found that available, especially through my local library, however, to be able to do critiques and respond to them on my own time was valuable to me. Now, the media is my connection to the huge writing and recording community of the world.

Podcasting Questions

1. What type of OS do you prefer? Linux? Mac? Win? What are your machine’s specs?
I have recorded everything I in GarageBand on a MacBookPro, now with 500 Gs of memory as recording takes up so space until done.

2. Would you please describe your current studio? How has this changed? (What did you start with?)
Studio? LOL I worked in a corner of a bedroom with beds around me and carpet on the floor. I am thinking of making a screen of cardboard lined with egg-crate foam, but have as yet to do it.

3. If you were able to build your dream studio, what would it include? Be as specific as you wish.
Since I am a rank amateur, I would have to have some else design and build a dream studio.

4. Other than a computer, what piece of HARDWARE would you recommend to a new podcaster?
I recommend a good USB mic, mine is a Blue Snowball.

5. What have you had to learn for yourself that you wish someone could have warned you about?
I use levelator. I know some pros hate it, but for me, it works. I wish I known how to use it in the beginning. I also wish I had rerecorded the first 5 chapters before I released them, but it the product was not horrible so even though I did rerecord and release them, I was not too embarrassed by the first attempt.

6. What would you consider a “beginner’s mistake” you’ve either experienced or hear others making?
Editing while recording is very easy in GarageBand. I was able to go back and record over my mistakes. I have talked to those using Audacity and it is not as easy. I hear left in mistakes and duplicated sentences, at times even swear words left in because they were not identified in the editing process. One author has told me that she snaps her fingers or makes a cluck with her tongue to make a spiked wave so she can find her mistakes. Others don’t do this. I smile at the mistakes but there are some books with several in each chapter or episode and it gets old.

7. How much time does it take, once you have all the elements, for YOU to put together a 30 minute podcast? (please describe your production technique)For a 30 min, straight read recording, no sound effects ++ To set up the mic, music stand to hold my material and computer, to get the program ready to use, record for about 60 to 90 mins., listen through and make corrections two times, turn into AIFF and levelate, add intros and music, listen, turn into mp3 and listen one more time, takes about 3 1/2 to 4 hours.

Casting Questions

I have done only a bit of one or two short stories, casted. I also put a short promo together. Whew, talk about time consuming and intense! I have to decide what read sounds the best where, find it and then insert it. Add 2 hours on to the process, at least for a short story!  I do like the outcome, however. So far I have kept the outtakes along with the stories. However, they also take up memory space.

General Questions

1. If someone approached you with THEIR book, and asked you to podcast it for them for a fee, what would you consider a reasonable rate per episode? (The way YOU do it)
How much to charge for doing a podcast for someone else? Whew, that is tough. It takes so much time that I would be severely limited in the time I would have for my projects. I do volunteer to do recording for free for some shorts but I don’t know if I would do a novel for someone. I would have to think deeply about the fee and why I would even think of doing it.

2. Do you podcast as part of a larger plan, or because getting your content out in some manner IS your plan?
Getting my story out and read/listened to was and is the larger plan. I started by distributing it for free on sites that allowed free PDFs and then ventured into recording. Podiobooks.com is the vehicle that allowed me access the listening audience.   I always plan on writing and recording my content and there are many ways to get it out to the world in these forms.

3. What is the nicest compliment you’ve been paid or what keeps you coming back?
I have two that stand out in the flood of compliments. I get them often. The first is that the reader/listener cried and the second is that my research shows and is accurate.  I get many more compliments but my heart beats a bit faster with these.

4. How important are numbers of downloads/subscribers to you? Do you keep track?
I do keep track of how many downloads I have. I think it is a bit of a pat on the back. I know many others are doing it to attract offers from publishers, however, since my book is free in most places, I do it for myself. And I like to know where it is being seen.

5. How important are reviews left on Podiobooks/iTunes/other venues to you?
Reviews are the authors pat on the back or a kick in the butt, which ever way they go. We all like to know our work is being enjoyed and need to know if there is a problem. Reviews are very important to me.

6. If not answered previously, how do you read your manuscript while recording (hard copy, teleprompter, etc)?
I have a music stand to prop my large-font printed pages on to read from and stop recording as I move or drop a page.

Podcast Review #31: The Red Panda – Season One

•31 May, 2010 • 6 Comments

Title: The Red Panda – Season One
Author: Gregg Taylor
Genre: Super Hero Crime Fantasy
Released: 15 October 2005 – 10 June 2006
Located: iTunesAuthor’s Site
Formats Available: podcast only at this time
Rating: G for mild old time radio type violence and a good ol’ “Yes boss!” adventure

During the spring of 2007 I was desperate to be entertained and had subscribed to a number of Old Time Radio shows. I love the old shows. I’d listened to The Shadow, Gunsmoke, Fort Laramie, The Six Shooter (Jimmy Stewart radio is not to be missed), The Green Hornet and numerous others.

Of course by this time I had also discovered podiofiction and had subscribed to many podiobooks. Still, I was craving a self contained story that also had a greater story arch. I missed that and after a bit of looking on iTunes I discovered Decoder Ring Theatre.

Now, some of you might think I’m stretching my own rules a bit. You may be right, but I think it is very close to the line, and hey, it’s my blog. Decoder Ring is built around two hallmark series. The Red Panda and Blackjack Justice. Each are released in turn in two week intervals with The Red Panda in the spring, Blackjack Justice in the fall and something unique in the summer. For the purposes of this review, we will be looking at season one of The Red Panda.

So, on to the review.

Synopsis: In the desperate days of the Great Depression, one man brought justice to the dark alleys and gas-lit streets of Toronto. Secretly one of the city’s wealthiest men, he lives a dual life as a masked man of mystery. Only his trusty driver, Kit Baxter, who joins him in his quest in the guise of The Flying Squirrel, knows who wears the mask of The Red Panda! (stolen from Podiobooks website, though now I can’t seem to find the page)

Production: Decoder Ring Theatre is very much a professional operation. Mr. Taylor, the writer of all of DRT’s standard stories, I believe is also the director and producer of the eps. However, this may be incorrect. Regardless, each episode is a fully produced extravaganza and and auditory masterpiece.

Cast: The Red Panda is a full cast audiodrama modeled very obviously after old time radio dramas. The cast members are all top quality professional voice actors and deserve to be recognized for their contributions. Unfortunately, I really don’t have the time to do that here. Instead I am providing a link to the cast page available at the DST wikipedia article. Two actors that have to be mentioned though would be the aforementioned Gregg Taylor, who plays the title character of the Red Panda, and his wife, Clarissa Der Nederlanden Taylor in the role of the Flying Squirrel. Both due a superb job and it is one of those voice duo’s that when you find out they are married just makes you more happy for some reason. Their chemistry just clicks.

Story: As previously mentioned, each episode is a self contained story. There are times when, for one reason or another, this is exactly what I need. Season one introduces several other recurring characters (including several villains) and really allows you to get to know the two lead characters pretty well.  In this first season, most of the baddies the intrepid duo faces is in the guise of gangster types and supervillains. This is a great show, but the characters have such a chemistry about them that you just can’t get enough.

Verdict: Seriously gang, they just don’t get much better than this. If you have not subscribed yet, and you have ever enjoyed a good story well told, this really should be one you subscribe to. Now.

Disclosure: I do follow the @Decoder_Ring on Twitter, but I have never tweeted with them or had any conversation in any other manner. I was not offered anything in recompense for this review.

Eyes on: The Nifty Tech Blog!

•27 May, 2010 • 4 Comments

Title: The Nifty Tech Blog
Author: Doc Coleman
Genre: Reviews
Released: February 2010 to present
LocatedAuthor’s Site
Formats Available: blog only at this time
Rating: G for techie goodness

As many of you are aware, and quite possibly participated in, there was an auction event earlier this year with the proceeds to benefit the daughter of podcasting legend and all around good guy, Tee Morris. The auction, known as The Boom Effect, named after the young lady known as Sonic Boom went off without a hitch. More money was raised than could have been hoped and has been reported to be in Trust for her. It truly was nice to see the community come together and in such a wonderful way.

As part of the auction, Richard Asplund Jr. (of Random Pimpage) and I submitted a lot where the lucky (courageous) bidder would be simultaneously ripped to shreds, I mean discussed, on both of our blogs. The Nifty Tech Blog was the winning bidder and both Rich and myself appreciate the generosity shown in taking a chance on us and helping in this cause.

Unfortunately, what happened next was a fumble. Yup, believe it or not, two vikings do not a genius make. We both ended up with issues that prevented us from providing the intentioned smashing of the winner’s content. So, you will get my take on it here, and Rich will be providing his “over there” when time allows.

So, on to the review.

Synopsis: The Nifty Tech Blog is all about, you guessed it, nifty tech! Even before the auction I was a fan of the site, so it was easy for me to get excited about the prospect of reviewing the site.

Production: The production over at Nifty Tech is very nice. The red and cream colors and stenciled borders are particularly appealing. I have also always been a fan of “seriffed” fonts. Thankfully, Nifty Tech has foregone the use of a The Story So Far devise. On a blog, that would really be a mess.

Cast: The cast over at the Nifty Tech is a mixture of a one man show and an all star lineup! And what a lineup it is: Dropbox, the iPhoneGelaskinsBluBridge Auto – TalkCrash PlanGoogle Voice,  OmnifocusiPadGrocery Gadget, and iTunes.

Story: At Nifty Tech, the story is the cast. Without fail I can say that all of these stars are top notch in their fields and I employ six of the ten myself. I especially adore Dropbox which I use daily. Another notable fact is Nifty Tech’s willingness to employ newbies and unknowns. As a matter of fact, the BluBridge Auto-Talk was written by some guy that goes by Odin. While the product is stellar, the writing style was rather subpar for the site [ed note – yes, that review was written by me].

Verdict: All kidding aside, The Nifty Tech Blog is a fantastic site and a great resource for all your technical interests. I highly recommend it and suggest you check it out. Not only that, but Nifty Tech is always looking for new products and willing guest reviewers are happily considered. Please run by there and see what they have to offer.

Disclosure: As mentioned above, this review is being provided in an effort to make good on payment rendered. I would like to state however, that I truly endorse The Nifty Tech Blog and label them as required reading.

We have a winner! (Contest update)

•26 May, 2010 • 4 Comments

I’ll be stepping away from our regularly scheduled “How I do it!’ feature this morning to provide you with this update. “How I do it” will return next Wednesday.

As was proposed back in November, View from Valhalla ran a contest coinciding with the release of our 26th weekly Podcast Review. A name was selected at random on Twitter on Friday, May 15, 2010. The honor (guilt, culpability, blame, etc) of drawing the name went to our good friend and regular commenter  Richared Green (aka Mainframe) who had asked to be excluded from the drawing himself.

After the drumroll ended, Richard provided us with the number matching that of DanDanTheArtMan, who is a right nice guy, fan of podiofiction and has posted here regularly.

As his prize, Dan selected the wonderfully funny and charming Christiana Ellis’s Nina Kimberly the Merciless. Ms. Ellis was kind enough to agree to allow us to purchase directly from her, and send send an autographed copy to Dan.

I would seriously like to thank all of you who have commented. I know it wasn’t for hopes of winning a book (well, I don’t know, and if it was, you are motivated, well and true) but I hope you had fun with the contest anyway.

I hope to be able to continue to run this contest 2 times yearly, so don’t forget, keep those comments coming! And yes, disagreeing with me counts JUST AS MUCH as agreeing. See you after Podcast Review 52!

Original contest rules can be found here.

Podcast Review #30: Goblin Market

•23 May, 2010 • 8 Comments

Title: Goblin Market
Author: Jennifer Hudock
Genre: Fantasy
Released:
Located: iTunes, Author’s Site
Formats Available: podcast only at this time
Rating: PG for mild violence and one scene of amorous kissing stuff

One of the nicest surprises I’ve received in podcast listening in recent times was Starla Huchton’s The Dreamer’s Thread. In fact, I enjoyed it so much I have actively sought out works by members of her cast. In doing so, I came across Jennifer Hudock’s Goblin Market. I wish I could say I immediately started listening, however, that wouldn’t be the truth.

I love doing these reviews. I have listened to multiple works of podiofiction that I probably wouldn’t have otherwise (with mixed results). However, these reviews have also changed my listening habits. I used to be an avid subscriber of new podfiction, if an author failed along the way, it made me sad, but it was no great loss. Now, I just don’t have the time. (Awe, I can hear you crying for me. It’s okay. Really.) In my effort to try to keep reviewing new material for you, I now subscribe, but wait until the story is close to ending before I dive in.

Well, Goblin Market ended yesterday, and I was ready….

So, on to the review.

Synopsis: Meredith Drexler has been the sole caretaker for her young sister Christina ever since their father went away. Sacrificing her life and her freedom to ensure Christina has a better life, Merry’s only escape from the monotony of every day life is her daydreams. When Christina arrives home late one evening speaking in delirious riddles, Meredith discovers her sister has been poisoned by Goblin fruit obtained in the Goblin Market.

She must travel to the heart of the Goblin Kingdom to retrieve the antidote to save her sister’s life, but at a price no sister should ever have to pay. Along the way, Meredith falls in love with the forest god who names himself her consort, and discovers a strange truth about her past and her identity.
(stolen from the author’s site.

Production: Where to start. I would love to be able to tell you how wonderful the production is. Unfortunately, I can’t. In fact the first several eps are painfully poor as far as production values. And yes, I do mean painfully. Feel free to argue the point if you feel inclined, however, Ms. Hudock has pointed this out herself and has acknowledged that the first seven episodes will being rerecorded.

Cast: Goblin Market is an author read story and Ms. Hudock does a fine job. She isn’t a Sigler or a Hutchins, but her characters do live through her and I was content with her performance.

Story: The Goblin Market is in reality a very simple story. It starts at point A and proceeds in a fairly straightforward manner to point B. I’m not saying it won’t surprise you or that it is uninteresting. Just simple. I will also say the characters are somewhat two dimensional. As character driven as I am, this wasn’t an issue for me. Why? Read on.

Verdict: In the first episode Ms. Hudock states that her intention was to create a story in the fashion of a dark fairy tale. She succeeds. As far as characters in fairy tales go, aren’t they all rather straightforward? How well do you know Jack, or Goldilocks, etc? The characters are simply vehicles for the tale. If you enjoy fairy tales, I would definitely recommend The Goblin Market. I did enjoy it and am looking forward for the sequel (Goblin Market ends as a bit of a cliffhanger and sets up the sequel well.)

Disclosure: I do follow Ms. Hudock on Twitter. She is a pleasant and encouraging individual. However, she did not ask for this review nor offer anything in way of compensation.

Starla Huchton: How I do it!

•19 May, 2010 • 6 Comments

Starla Huchton currently lives in Monterey, California with her husband, three children (minion v1.0, v2.0, and v3.0) and FAIL DOG, the black lab. She is currently pursuing a degree in Graphic Design. Her other part time job consists of live shows over streaming internet radio, where she sings jazz standards and modern tunes for venues in the virtual world of Second Life. She is very talented, if she does say so herself. Samples of her melifluousness can be found on her MySpace musician’s page here.

Ms. Huchton has been writing off and on since she was itty bitty, but completed The Dreamer’s Thread in late 2008 under the insane pressure of National Novel Writing Month to propel her. With the encouragement of her family and friends, she pushed forward with her obsession with sharing her stories with the world.

Previous to her present situation, Starla was enlisted in the United States Navy as a Lithographer (a glorified name for someone who runs a Xerox machine all day). She lived in Keflavik, Iceland for four years where she discovered her passion for design, and Sasebo, Japan for two, where she actually had a real job as a designer. After returning to the United States, she resided near Seattle, Washington where she discovered a love of pad thai and an unnatural abhorrence to PTA meetings. Despite all this moving, however, she calls Grapevine, Texas her home. HOOK ‘EM HORNS! [ED note: stolen from her site, I have no particular affiliation with any Texas team] [Go Cowboy Joe! (look it up)]

General Writing Questions

1. Before you begin writing, do you script out the general outline of plot and characters, or do you let these situations evolve as you write?
Outlines are for sissies!

Only kidding. But no, I plot develop as I write. There’s something I love about discovering the story as the characters do. I find that once I’ve written down notes about where the story’s going and decided how it ends I’m not really inclined to do the actual writing anymore. Creating a new world is an adventure that is best enjoyed through the eyes of the people in it. I can put myself right there with the characters and feel what they feel as the events unfold. That’s one of the magical qualities of the written word.

2. I’ve heard repetitively that writers should deal with writing as any other job. Do you have a scheduled or structured writing routine? Please detail.
Pardon me for a moment. I’m too busy laughing to answer this question seriously.

(Ahem) If I were getting paid to write, maybe. As it is, at the moment I’m typing with one hand and holding a baby with the other. So, really, I just squeeze in time when and where I can.

3. What is your writing environment like? (cats, music, computer etc.) How has this evolved/changed?
Ideally, peace and quiet and my laptop are the only ingredients I need to get some words out. But with the scarcity of peace and quiet, I substitute tea and chocolate instead. If I need audio distractions, I’ll put on something instrumental that’s appropriate to the scene/project. Nothing with lyrics, because I’ll just start singing along and nothing gets done. It’s like musically induced ADD. My time as a dedicated writer has been pretty short-lived, so there’s not been much in the way of evolution of that setup. The key is to be flexible as I also move every couple of years.

4. Do you write anything, or have you, that is solely for yourself? (no intention of sharing with a large audience)
I’ve got piles of bad poetry from when I was an angsty teenager that I don’t generally inflict on other people, but aside from that, there are no finished bits of writing hiding out that I’m keeping for myself. I’ve got notebooks and files of unfinished projects I may someday use or finish. Those go unshared because they’re more or less dead projects.

5. How has social media played a role in your writing?
Social media has furthered my writing in ways I never thought. Before, it was just my lonesome self dabbling in creating stories, but with the introduction of Twitter and podcasting and SecondLife and all the rest, I’ve come to know other writers who do it “for real”. This has changed my views and dedication to writing a hundred fold. Being able to bounce ideas off other authors and getting feedback from them makes all the difference. Without social media, I wouldn’t have the pleasure to know half of the people I’ve met in the last year. It also would have resulted in a much different cast for TDT, or no cast at all. So there’s that too.

Podcasting Questions

1. What type of OS do you prefer? Linux? Mac? Win? What are your machine’s specs?
It’s Mac or nothing for me. I’m currently running Snow Leopard on my Intel duo core MacBook, but it’s several years old so I’m planning an upgrade this summer… to a new Mac, of course.

2. Would you please describe your current studio? How has this changed? (What did you start with?)
My “studio” as you could loosely call it, also doubles as a baby nursery. I don’t have the luxury of setting up anywhere else in the house, so this is it. My own little corner. Literally, a corner. And for anyone who’s heard the blooper reel of The Dreamer’s Thread podcast, they’ll know that I have no insulation from outside traffic/airplane/woodpecker noise and I curse this regularly. My equipment consists of an Alesis 8-track mixing board (though this is overkill as I only use 1 track), a Shure PG58-XLR microphone, a boom mic stand, pop filter and my MacBook. I do my recording in GarageBand (please no throwing tomatoes!). After trying a few other programs, it was just the easiest to use and does everything I need it to. I hit record and begin reading from whatever script I’m working on that day. Easy peasy.

3. If you were able to build your dream studio, what would it include? Be as specific as you wish.
For what I do, my current equipment is just fine, but it would be lovely to have a soundproof booth to hide in. External noise is the bane of my existence. No dream studio would be complete without a built-in audio engineer to do the editing for me! Fortunately, I was lucky enough to have a good friend, Jamie Jordan, do the production for The Dreamer’s Thread, so I guess I’m halfway there!

4. Other than a computer, what piece of HARDWARE would you recommend to a new podcaster?
There are so many options out there, and I don’t know too much about them to make that call. I like what I’ve got, so I’d recommend that, but other than that I’d tell them to do lots of research and figure out what’s going to work best into their budget and audio needs.

5. What have you had to learn for yourself that you wish someone could have warned you about?
Actually, I feel like I was pretty well-informed about everything. There weren’t any huge issues that blindsided me. Maybe I was just lucky, but I think that’s due mostly to all the great advice other folks gave me before I started and working with someone that had done podcasting before (Jamie produced Mur Lafferty’s Playing for Keeps podcast as well). The community is surprisingly supportive of newcomers, which, I suppose could take you by surprise. Warning! Helpful people ahead! Shocking, I know.

6. What would you consider a “beginner’s mistake” you’ve either experienced or hear others making?
Audio quality! Listen to other podcasts and see how they sound. Listen to LOTS of them! When you’ve done this you can easily judge where your audio falls on the quality scale. This is much more difficult to be consistent with when doing a full-cast production as other people’s equipment isn’t necessarily the same or as good as yours. Ah! There’s something you can put under the last question! All mics are not created equal!

7. How much time does it take, once you have all the elements, for YOU to put together a 30 minute podcast? (please describe your production technique)
With a full cast production, it takes much, much longer to put together a thirty minute podcast than it does when only one person is doing the speaking. It takes me roughly two hours to do the recording for the main narration, but then it went on to production where Jamie had to clean up not only my audio, but cast lines as well before integrating them into the main track. And then there’s inserting the music and building the intro and outtro… well, depending on how many character lines there are that week, it can take two or three days to complete. And that’s for a week with no missing audio files or other issues. It’s pretty time intensive.

Casting Questions (answer if you can)

1. What is the hardest part of putting together a casted podcast?
I wouldn’t say there’s a hardest part, as it’s all pretty challenging. First you have to find the right voice for each character (and pray you didn’t miss any!), then you have to send out the “throwing myself upon your mercy” emails to each individual (I hated that part. I don’t like asking people for things, especially strangers.), you have to portion out all the scripts and highlight each character’s lines, send out said scripts, hope you get all the audio in time (lucky for me I had a bunch of people who preferred to be early!), then there’s the sound quality issue sometimes, and files get lost. It’s all a HUGE undertaking and a big hassle, but the end product is so very very worth it. I can’t imagine my story any other way now. As a bonus to the great end product, I got to know some fantastic people too.

2. Do you provide the entire chapter to your talent, or just their lines?
I provide each person with the scenes their character appears in, but not the entire episode text. There are a few reasons for this. The first being practical purposes, as it’s just easier for the reader to not have to search through pages and pages of text if they only have a few lines in that episode. The other reason is so that even the cast members don’t know the whole story before the episode goes live. I’d like them to be able to enjoy the adventure as well. No spoilers!

3. Is instruction given to your talent on how you prefer the line to be read?
Yes and no. Mostly no. When they first sign on to do a part, I give them a character run down so they have an idea of how to play it, but after that, I let them have at it. Many of my cast members expressed surprise at this lack of direction, but I enjoy hearing how others see and interpret my characters. Each little bit of audio I get is like a new insight into the fictional people I created. It’s a fascinating process. Maybe I was just really lucky, but all the compliments I’ve gotten about what a great job (insert cast member name here) did speaks volumes for the talent of my voice actors. As many of them were writers themselves, I think that helps.

4. What do you do with all of that unused audio?
What unused audio?

Just kidding. Really, there wasn’t too much audio I didn’t use for TDT, but what oopsies I had went into the blooper reel that released at the completion of the podcast. Some of the talent opted to cut out their bad bits and only send us the usable lines, but I did get a few gems that made me chuckle.

5. What is the hardest part of putting together a “straight read” podcast?
Not entirely sure what is meant by “straight read”, so I’m opting not to answer.

6. As far as cast goes, what would you like to try, but haven’t so far?
After the TDT cast list was filled, I heard a whole gaggle of new voices I wish I could have used for that project. Also, there were some folks I would have liked to use more extensively, but as it was my first foray into podcasting/novelling, I didn’t feel comfortable asking some of the busier people to voice larger parts. Next time around I don’t think that will be as much of an issue, so prepare to hear more of some familiar voices (yeah, I’m talking about you, Mr. Morris. ;P).

General Questions

1. If someone approached you with THEIR book, and asked you to podcast it for them for a fee, what would you consider a reasonable rate per episode? (The way YOU do it)
As I didn’t put TDT together myself (that Jamie Jordan magic touch really made it shine), it wouldn’t really be right of me to put a price tag on his services. He says it would vary from project to project, and I think that’s a good answer. Also, as my cast members all donated their time and talent, I couldn’t really ask them to do so again if I was getting paid. So, when you add up voice talent + audio production costs… well, it might get pricey.

2. Do you podcast as part of a larger plan, or because getting your content out in some manner IS your plan?
Getting it out was really the plan for this book. Would I like to be picked up for publishing? Of course. That’s a given, but for me it was more about sharing the story with others. What’s the point of writing fiction if it just sits there and no one ever gets to enjoy it? The Dreamer’s Thread will eventually be available in print on demand and ebook versions, as some have requested it, and I’ll be querying agents and publishers as well. You’ll never know what can happen if you don’t try.

3. What is the nicest compliment you’ve been paid or what keeps you coming back?
The compliments that really make my day are the ones I get from other writers I admire. Of course, it’s always a treat to hear good things about TDT from anyone and I don’t want to belittle those other comments. Just knowing that more than my mother is listening to the podcast makes my day. And I’m not gonna lie, I’m an attention whore. Podcast feedback feeds my “LOOK AT ME!” addiction. LOL

4. How important are numbers of downloads/subscribers to you? Do you keep track?
Any podcaster that tells you he/she doesn’t keep track of downloads/subscribers in a general sense is lying to you. Having proof that people are listening is what keeps you in the game. If the podcast is a work of fiction and really successful (or even moderately so), it can be a good point to include in a query letter to publishers. It might not translate directly to sales, but it’s proof that the content is marketable.

Huge numbers aren’t my all-encompassing goal, but I do check in at least once a week to see my stats. I like to have a general sense of how things are going. My definition of success may not be the same as another podcaster’s, but I’m quite satisfied with how I’ve done to date.

5. How important are reviews left on Podiobooks/iTunes/other venues to you?
It’s more important than people think. I’ve started listening to podcasts because the description sounded good, but abandoned them soon thereafter because something about it put me off; started slow, narrator’s voice was too annoying, sound volume was inconsistent, etc. If there were reviews to check out before I downloaded, I might have known about those issues and been prepared or not wasted my time if it was a bad podcast. That’s as a listener. As a podcaster, good reviews are a huge ego boost, and bad reviews a challenge to do better next time. Whatever they are, I try to take them positively, and not too seriously. Perspective is important.

6. If not answered previously, how do you read your manuscript while recording (hard copy, teleprompter, etc)?
If you’ve listened to the blooper reel on The Dreamer’s Thread, you’ll know I read off of a Microsoft Word document on screen as I record. I curse it routinely, but for the most part it works just fine.