• Tech

    Recording Studio Mark 1.1

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    So up until now, this is what I’ve been using as a recording studio.

    Recording Studio 1.0

    (This is not actually where I record, but that’s occupied by a teenager just at the moment.Oh, and it’s a Zoom H1: small, portable, and really good sound quality.)

    Recently, however, I’ve made an upgrade. Not a very expensive one, but one that may have the effect of increasing my recording quality just a little, and hopefully reducing the amount of editing time I have to put in.

    Recording Studio 1.1

    It’s a small difference, and not a very subtle one. A homemade pop filter, consisting of a coat hanger, wrapped in a dollar store nylon and supported by a phone book that magically appeared on my doorstep. This fantastic, astounding, and amazing upgrade cost me one dollar plus tax because I already had the coat hanger. In fact, for the cost of three additional coat hangers (which I already have), I can make three more filters with that same dollar, because the nylons came as two pairs. And since they’re of the knee-high variety, I didn’t even have to get the scissors out.

    Has it made a difference? On the recording side, I think it has. Since using the filter while working on Days of Geek, my editing ratio has dropped from just over 3 1/2 minutes of editing time per minute of raw audio to less than 2 1/2, not counting mixing or leveling. There are still some pops here and there on my plosives, but not nearly as many, and I don’t have to do as many retakes because of them. Hopefully the audio quality is, at worst, as good as it was before with less time and effort spent, leaving me more time and effort for other creative things.

    (I do still have to do plenty of retakes due to the various verbal stumbles I make, and it’s worth nothing that now every two minutes of raw audio equals approximately 1 minute of finished audio. Still working on that.)

    I am planning an upgrade to the recording studio in the near future, a more significant one, perhaps to version 2.0. This will involve foam, exacto knives, and hot glue. Probably won’t be too long in coming, but it will also probably cost more than a dollar. With luck, sales tax included, if I spend a little bit of time planning and making sure I know what I’m doing, I should come in at around $20 plus tax, swearing, and labour.

    Wish me luck.

    Be well, everyone.

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  • Thorvald's Wyrd,  Writing

    Thorvald’s Wyrd Redux

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    All work and no play… no, that one doesn’t work.

    My grandmother used to say that a change is as good as a rest. I use this every so often when people accuse me of never relaxing. I also note that they weren’t around while I spend March break doing very little.

    But I do need variety to keep my energy levels up and keep going. Too much variety makes me a little scattered, but there are a lot of things I want to do with my life and I need to show some progress here and there.

    So, Thorvald’s Wyrd Redux.

    For a couple of years now, I’ve been threatening to commit both electronic publication and a fiction podcast. Thorvald’s Wyrd will be a training wheels run at both. I’ve spent a little bit of time planning and working things out, have reviewed my test recordings, and have decided to redo the two episodes worth of scenes I did record for consistency.

    To review, Thorvald’s Wyrd is a novelette that fits roughly into the sub-genre of Heroic Fantasy. I wrote the original draft of it way back in 2010, polished and edited late that year and into January of 2011, then posted it scene by scene on my blog. Oh, and it’s written in 100-word scenes. 129 of them. So it was an experiment, too.

    The original text is still up on my old blog, Small Realities, here, and I don’t intend to take it down at this point. Feedback was uniformly positive, which certainly doesn’t mean the story is perfect but it holds up very well to rereading.

    I’ve added the project under audio, though the % Complete will include artwork and e-book formatting as well. I was going to start recording today, but with all of the rain and melt in the last couple of weeks, my sump pump is still running every 4-5 minutes. Not really a lot of time in between cycles and it will likely just frustrate me. The weather forecasts promise increasing dryness over the next week, so I’ll try to get the primary recording done on my weekend then: Thursday and Friday, so the kids will all be at school and I’ll have the possibility of a quiet house between chores and painting someone’s room.

    If successful, I’ve already got the next similar project in mind. Not quite a novel, but three times as long as Thorvald’s Wyrd.

    Be well, everyone.

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  • Writing

    The Great Dictation Experiment

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    So I’m trying an experiment I’ve talked about several times in the last year or so. Maybe even longer.

    Getting to and from work for me takes about 50 minutes in the car. Ordinarily, most of that time is taken up by listening to podcasts. I’m subscribed to around 30 at any given time and usually one or two of them are recent so I’m working my way through back catalog. But I’ve thought about using this time a little differently, or at least some of it, by dictating fiction. First draft, theoretically.

    The basic idea is that I talk into my phone (or possibly my Zoom) for part or all of my commute in both directions, dump the files into some speech recognition software and walk away while they process, and eventually take a few minutes to clean up punctuation and stuff the software didn’t understand.

    I have the software trained fairly well at this point. Early experiments produced interesting results (e.g. “Yeti had a hairy wombat.” I get ‘yet he had’ but don’t remember what the rest of the sentence was supposed to be.), but things work fairly smoothly now as long as I speak at a measured pace and enunciate clearly. I did consider letting Siri do the work, but she’s only good for a few sentences at a time and I don’t really want to take my eyes from the road that much. However, if I’m doing something else that leaves my voice free and don’t have to worry about getting into an accident, Siri actually works even better.

    So what kind of results am I getting?

    Well, the prose is very rough. Much rougher than my usual first drafts, but I think that’s mostly because this is new. With practice, it will get cleaner, but until I get used to the work flow, I’ll be spending a bit more time in the “make it pretty” draft. Still, the early results are promising, at least in terms of word count. I’ve done this five times so far (with a sixth, today’s files still incomplete so they haven’t been processed yet), and I’m averaging 1,367 words per day just from the dictation. A few of them are even good words, but good or not they’re all above and beyond what I’d originally planned for each day.

    I wish I’d thought of this years ago.

    Actually, I did, but didn’t want to take the time to transcribe the audio and couldn’t afford to pay someone to do it for me. Now the technology makes it easy and just leaves me a little tidying up. If I keep liking it, I’ll keep doing it. That means I’ll spend more computer time editing than writing, but that’s okay too.

    And I think it will turn out to be a fairly heavy net gain.

    Be well, everyone.

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  • Writing

    Things I Brought Home from World Fantasy Convention 2012

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    A list, if you hadn’t guessed.

    1. Virtual friendships made real: I met quite a few people I’d only known on twitter up until this weekend. Uniformly an awesome group, I’m happy and better to have met them all.

    2. More new friendships than I’m going to try counting. See point number 1, but also people that I met randomly or was introduced to by other people.

    3. Tonnes of awesome experiences. In the bar, restaurants, panels, hallways. And all about the people.

    4. Two (or maybe three) semi-crystallized ideas of potential novel scope and I don’t know how many short story possibilities, all rubbing up against each other inside my head.

    5. Eight (8!) signatures in my contributor’s copy of Rigor Amortis. I am strangely, still inordinately pleased with “And Yet In Death”, my sonnet opening the book, even more so after one of the other authors, the awesome Renée Bennett, confessed to me that she’d nominated it for an Aurora. Stunned does not begin to describe my reaction to that compliment.

    6. Signatures in both of my Sarantine Mosaic hardcovers by Guy Gavriel Kay (plus the memories of cornering him at the Tor party and keeping my inner fanboy under enough control that I didn’t gush too much).

    7. This pile of (mostly) books:

    Which includes two signed by authors whom I got to spend some time with while there, the awesome Tanya Gough and Amanda Sun.
    8. 8.77 GB of uncompressed audio (14 hrs 50 min 22 sec = 16 panels).

    9. A hippocampus, sketched in 7 minutes on the table of a Korean barbeque restaurant a few blocks from the con by the talented Rebecca Blain. She felt bad for me that I’d promised not to buy any art and resolved to make sure I had something to take home.

    10. A hole in the wall of my shyness in unfamiliar group situations. People who know me will be surprised at that statement, and I’m fine once I get through the initial barrier, but going into an unfamiliar environment with a large group of people I don’t know and expect/hope to interact with makes me anxious and a bit withdrawn. I get through it, but it’s not easy. A little assistance there from Tanya, Stefon Mears, and Andy Taylor.

    11. Some awesome conversations with Brian and Anita Hades (of Edge Publishing, Brian wearing the mantle of publisher and Anita being, at the very least, in the running for sweetest lady on the planet).

    12. The desire to start it all over again.

    Happy World Fantasy weekend, everyone.

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  • Audio Blog,  Fiction

    Show and Tell: Worm Bait

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    Greetings, everyone!

    I’ve decided that it’s show and tell day. What does that mean? Well, from a self-serving promotional standpoint, it means that I’m going to tell you about something I’ve published somewhere and what a great story it is. From a reader’s standpoint, hopefully I’m going to point you at something you’ll like.

    For this first edition of show and tell, I’m picking a very recent publication, a fun little story titled “Worm Bait” included in the Dead Bait 3 collection.

    With a caption of ‘reaching new depths of terror’, Dead Bait 3 is a 45,000 word Kindle book retailing on Amazon for $2.99 and published on April 30th of this year. I’m sharing the contents page with seven other authors, as follows (and my apologies to anyone whose name I’ve mispronounced in the audio):

    Stumped by Cody Goodfellow

    Worm Bait by Lance Schonberg (that’s me)

    The Demon in the Water by Mark C. Scioneux

    The Brotherhood of the Needle by S.T Gulik

    Old Man and the Fish by Randal Tanabe

    Sinkers by Murphy Edwards

    The Fish in the Fields by C. Dennis Moore

    The Old Man and the Sea of the Dead by Tim Curran

    If experience is a guide, my story is probably the least disturbing of any tale in the collection, but I’m more than okay with that and thrilled just to be included. The truly disturbing and horrific isn’t my forté, anyway. When I write horror, it’s designed to make you shiver a bit and maybe look over your shoulder. “Worm Bait” is a quick and dirty tale of two cryptozoologists on the hunt for the Lagarfljót Worm, a lake monster living in a glacier fed, silt filled lake in Iceland. Legend has it the beast is at least three hundred feet long and spits poison. My kind of cryptid.

    If you want to check it out, the Amazon link is attached to the cover shot below.

    Be well.

    Dead Bait 3 for Kindle

    Sorry, the audio claims it’s yesterday. I recorded last night but didn’t do it early enough to satisfy myself being able to listen to it on enough devices. Still working on the quality, but it’s pretty clear.

    Click the play button or right click the link below and choose ‘save as’ to download.

    Show and Tell: Worm Bait (18 Jun 2012)

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  • Announcement,  Writing

    The Great Audio Experiment

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    I thought I might try an experiment.

    I’m planning to do some podcast fiction this year. “Thorvald’s Wyrd” and “Turn the World Around”, both serialized on the old Small Realities blog and both destined to become e-books, at least, in the near future. I know I’ve said that before, but I am slowly finding time to teach myself how formatting really works. Artwork aside, there’s still at least one round of going through the stories in detail to make sure they’re as good, and as clean, as I can make them before I’m ready to publish.

    I’ve done some test readings, trying to find the places in my house where I’d have to do the least noise removal if I do nothing else. I need to practice reading aloud more, too. My kids aren’t nearly as interested as they used to be and I’m a little out of practice, especially for the longer stretches I’ll need to manage to do fiction.

    Either way, I have this lovely microphone I really haven’t done much with yet, so I thought I might try doing a little audio blogging. I should probably find some music first, at least. Maybe a couple of sound effects? Or maybe not. A little post-production on the fly for my regular posts will probably produce a reading in the 3-5 minute range. It doesn’t have to be complicated.

    But it does have to be fun.

    Be well.

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