Monday, July 31, 2006


So it gets to about ch. 4 and I realize: what am I doing with these voices? Maybe I can do a simple tough-guy accent or even two of them if I'm pushed, but when I get to women, Czechs, and others, what am I to do? I'm no genius actor here, in case you hadn't noticed. So tonight it's a fix, something I may be stuck on for the moment. I'll still post Ch. 2 and 3 on Wednesday, but from here I've got to figure out how I go forward w/ the voices. Anyone want to read a female part for me??

Well... this isn't a performance though, so much as it is a book that I'm trying to just read. But where's the line. This is what I'll have to figure out. Luckily I have a little time and I'm going back East to relax and soak in humidity, so that'll bake the answers out of me. For now, though, I'm recording, sad to be leaving my dog, and glad to have the summer term over so I can stop running around all the time. Now I can just run around for a day or two and then sit in Cambridge, Nantucket, the Berkshires, and relax in between jumps.

Post a comment if you have any votes as to what I should do about the voices. Also let me know how you liked Ch. 1.
It's going, and by Ch. 5 it really hits its stride. But for now, I'm still getting the engines going. Check today (Tuesday) to see my new story pub.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Podcast Chapter One Has Dropped

In the house now: Ch. 1 of Jack Wakes Up. It's there, on tap, ready for you to hear. As far as I can tell, itunes takes a few days to "approve" it, but you can download it from them now by clicking the "subscribe" link on my site (see Jack Wakes Up page). You can also listen to it right on the page, using Quicktime.

Oh, computers. We'll learn 'em.

Shooting for chapters two and three by Sunday. Wish me luck.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

The Good News / Spread the Word

Here's some new good news: my story Don Flamenco's Finest Round that was supposed to hit the web in September has been pushed up and is now going to come out on August 1 instead. So get ready to check that out. It promises to be a new favorite for those of you who liked the story Wigger, as it features the return of Dub and a few other characters from Cambridge's mean streets.

I'll have more info about that soon and links on the site. Keep checking in with, loyal readers, you few who're out there. And spread the word. You're my publicity; tell your friends, tell them to tell their friends, keep the word going. If there's anyone out there who's interested in podcasts, send them this way. Whether they're interested in learning how to do it (or what to watch out for) or if listening to Jack Wakes Up is more their speed, I hope you'll send them a link.

Podcast episode 1 to drop soon. I promise.

Keep it rolling, troops. Rock on.

The Snowball's Melting

I'm starting to feel like I should rename this blog "The Trials and Tribulations of an Amateur Podcaster in Berkeley." Turn the whole thing into a series like Orwell's Down and Out. But I'll try to refrain for now.

So here's the latest: I fixed up the smallest room in our new place (also one of the only two that has carpet) with blankets and sheets all over the walls and tried recording in there. Good news: the sound quality is good and you can hear a big difference between that one and the earlier recording. It's like the earlier one was recorded in a train station, or something, a little. Anyway, that's taken care of. But then we got hit with a Nor Cal heat wave and you can imagine what that did to the little room with no window that opens, one light, and blankets all over the walls. Right. So if the mic was really a snowball, it'd be water on the carpet right now. And me? Not much different. So that's on pause until I can go back in there.

Here' s little picture of what the room looks like so you can imagine.

I'm trying to stay upbeat about the differences between Apple's claim of podcasting "right out of the box" and what's going on here, telling myself that I'm going for a higher level of podcast than some might, but I'm not sure. Everyone I've talked to seems to say you need a better mic than the one that comes standard, and these room issues seem to follow suit. Anyway, it's making for a journey. Hope you're interested. I think I'll have the podcast of Jack Wakes Up by later this week. (They're saying the heat will break tomorrow.)

For now, visit the stories page and read one you haven't already.

Friday, July 21, 2006

T-Shirts on the walls, Book Rec, and Not so bad

Hey, here we are, back again and fresh out of the recording studio. Today's new word/concept: room echo. Can you say room echo, boys and girls? Turns out this is what happens when you're recording in a room that's not made for sound, doesn't have the foam stuff all over the walls. Until I get that (not likely) what I hear is that hanging T-shirts all over the walls works. I'll let you know how that goes. Question: does that mean I put nails into the walls to hang them or do I just tape them up or do I put them on hangers and find a way to get those stuck on the wall. You ever think of this?? Probably not. Thanks, again, to Jeff F. for suggesting this whole project.

But really it's not that bad. And a real thanks to Jeff for fixing up this blogger site. Almost blends in as a part of the rest of our place, doesn't it? Looking good. And yes, most of this is pretty fun. I'm getting closer. Much closer. Thanks again to Scott Sigler for listening to my dubs so far and offering the advice of someone who's been there.

The good news: once you get going with the reading, it's really not all that bad. I was able to get going last night and make some progress; it was happening in here. I'm showing signs of believing I can get through the first episode. Keep your fingers crossed. (Of course, I now have to redo it all once I get the T-shirts up.) Hanging in.

Last mention: I've got to recommend Down These Mean Streets by Piri Thomas, which is already Joelle's favorite book but now that I'm teaching it, I'm loving too. Got the rec from Junot Diaz in an interview he did with The Writer's Chronicle. It's a lot like Drown, which I hope you already love. One of his big influences, along with Family Installments. More on all of this later. And here's another picture from the new deck.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Making Sound is Hard to Do

OK. Two things: 1) I've been a lot busier these past weeks than I wanted or planned to be. This has been a frustration that has led to this project and the podcast not getting done. 2) I'm now planning to get things on track more and I've found out that making an actual podcast, doing the kind of production that a guy like Scott Sigler has on his episodes, is very hard and time consuming work.

Here are a few things you might not have known:
1) Garageband takes up a huge amount of the horsepower inside a mac computer, making it hot, and making its fan run louder than any other program does. This, coincidentally, is the program that you use to record sound and yes, podcast reading. So it's funny. After a while, there's a new whir on the track which is, yes, the computer. I'm told that putting an ice tray under the mac doesn't help. Seems you just have to take your mic as far from the computer as you can, which making hitting record/stop kind of hard. Funny.

2) When you turn pages of a manuscript, it doesn't sound good in a recording. Same with moving your chair. And coughing or getting something caught in your throat, yeah those are forbidden.

3) Doing the actual cutting and pasting (editing) of your track to take out these kind of mistakes and to blend in the second takes in Garageband takes some time to figure out and it's not as easy as you'd hope. I guess I'll be heading back for another procare session on this one.

So, yeah, these three things are about where I am now. Though I've really only been working to record for a couple of days.

But I'm getting there. And I'll have something for you soon.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Working It Out

OK. Pretty much the whole site is ready to go full on public now. I've updated the blog, the stories page, and there's lots of new content there. Stories.

The good news about the podcast is that I'm working on it. Scott Sigler's offered his help and I'll be sending him a mock-up this week to check for quality, bumpers, things that I don't fully understand. But when that's over it'll be better off, I'm sure.

So there's that. There's the site, ready to go and I hope you'll be reading it, telling your friends about it, checking back often. Maybe even bookmarking it. There are a few ways that I can grab readers, but mostly it's you: you talking about the site and stories, telling friends, talking about it and spreading the word. Hopefully something you saw or read here today struck you or made you think and when you come back to that you'll tell someone else about what you saw.

From there, yes, the good news is that the podcast novel is on the way and coming soon. The snowball's worked out, my "bumper" is in progress, I'm learning all the tricks (or some) and it's almost here. Let's say that it drops this weekend, Sunday 7/23. Wow.

Keep checking in. Cross your fingers. Here we go.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Cold Feet at the Last Minute

OK. Here it is, right? The Snowball is ready. The website is ready. Jack Wakes Up (the writing) is ready. Even my theme music is picked out and we're all set to go. Right? Wrong.

What's happening? Well, yesterday I tried to start recording chapter one and maybe because I need to get used to the sound of my own voice and maybe because I got intimidated listening to the level of production (and bullshitting (no offense)) on some of Scott Sigler's chapters, I got slowed down right when things were starting to ramp up. Uh oh. I even started poking around on How to Podcast websites and considered buying Podcasting for Dummies. Ouch.

But here's what I can say this morning: all those things I mentioned are ready. Chief among them is Jack Wakes Up. And yes, I'm new to this and podcasting has a lot that I still need to learn about it, but I think it's time to just dive right in and start putting it together. Yes, I'll get better. Yes, there's more that I can do. Yes. Yes. Yes. But I also need to start somewhere, right?

Voice: check. Novel: check. Microphone: check. Theme music: check. Witty and informative segment to say at the start of the recording: well, maybe...

But whatever. Thanks to Craig at Rebel Without a Clause for listening and encouraging me. If you want, send more encouragement and I'll keep plowing forward. Here's the place for it to start. It's starting. Listen to Jack Wakes Up. Coming soon.

Thanks to Jeff for helping make the blog look better.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Snowball in effect

Today the snowball showed up. And the good news is that it not only looks good, but it sounds good too. Visit the my site to hear the quality test. That or wait a few days for the first chapters of Jack Wakes Up to start working as a podcast.

Next step: start recording. Hoping to have the post by Sunday.

Aside: at some point, it seems like it'd be worth while to unwrap the unfortunate coincidence of POD publishing and podcasting referring to two entirely different things, both of which I might be interested in soon. Ouch. More later.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

2nd post: the snowball in the mail and counters

OK, so if they matter, it turns out that counters are very hard to add to an iweb site. Counters are things that tell me how many people go to my site, where they're from, stuff like that. If I want these, I have to add a fancy code to my iweb site and I don't yet know how to do that.
But on Blogger it's easy. So maybe that's why I have this blog.
Anyway, if you're reading this, be sure to go to my site:

More there.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Podcasting and the snowball mic

Ok, so here’s the first blog. Here goes.
The main thing going on lately has been creating this web page, moving and learning about how to podcast. Thanks to our good friends at the Emeryville and SF apple stores, I’m learning about web design and podcasting. Also big thanks to Scott Sigler over at (worth checking out and something I’ll write about more soon, I’m sure) for helping me realize that my envisioned mic setup--the one that involved Joelle’s old microphone from her recording days--would not work for podcasting. So, a few ebay clicks later, a place in Florida is now shipping me “The Snowball.” As an alternative to buying a very expensive mic AND a usb mixing board, this usb mic currently seems like the right choice. But we’ll see what happens when it gets here.
One thing’s for sure about podcasting and this whole avenue: you have to learn as you go. So far I’ve worked out the website a bit (thanks to apple and Jeff Farbman back in The ‘Bridge) but this podcasting world is all new and I’m sure there are new hurdles to face that I don’t even know about yet.
But for now, that’s the best I know. More to come.