Wednesday, August 20, 2014

New Voice Work: World War I

I am happy to announce that two more of my voiceovers are now available:

World War One and the End of the Bourgeois Century by Ryan McMaken

For a complete list of all of my voice projects to date, check out the last section in my Online Resume, and please check out all of the latest additions to the Mises audio and video library.  And, as always, comments, critiques, and criticisms are definitely welcome.


Thursday, July 10, 2014

The Teller of Tales

I was in Boy Scouts growing up, and living in Arizona, one thing we did every year was a week at summer camp. Camp Geronimo. in Payson, Arizona; I think I lived there a grand total of seven weeks or so, spread across six years. This would have been in the age of Star Wars--late seventies, early eighties. There was a man there, a camp counselor, who had long wild hair and wore a dark cloak. I never found out his real name...I only knew him as “The Teller of Tales.” He was the camp storyteller, if his title didn’t make that obvious. At the end of every campfire, as the bonfire was burning down to coals, he would come striding through the smoke, stand between us and the fire, and regale us with a story of some kind, purely from memory. He held us captivated. That was the first time I ever heard “The Most Dangerous Game” and “The Monkey’s Paw.” I think there was another one, about a gorilla trained as a servant by tormenting it with an alligator, and over seven trips, I have no doubt I heard him tell other stories, but these are the ones that still stick to my brain. I remember being fascinated by his ability to mesmerize us with words. No papers, no script, no dramatic flair or wandering around the campfire...just standing there, leaning on a walking stick, telling the story...letting the words do the work. One time I worked up the nerve to approach him. I think he was judging the Big Splash competition, and during a break, I walked up, introduced myself, and invited him to our troop campfire. He was friendly, and gracious, and happy to show; I introduced him myself, and I think that was when he told “The Monkey’s Paw.” Like I said, I never knew his real name.

A couple of weeks ago, our church asked me if I would like to read a children’s story. The church service starts with music, greetings, a song--and then a story for the kids. After the story, they go off to their Sunday School activities while the adults move on with the regular service and sermon. I volunteered to read the occasional story to the kids months ago, but this was the first time they took me up on the offer. “What would you like me to read?” I asked. “Oh, we can give you seven or eight minutes, do you have something you would like to read?” Well...I had this children’s book I wrote a few years ago, called “Quinn in Trashland.” I did a test reading and came up with over twelve minutes, obviously way too long. I warned them that it was a bit long, but that I would cut it down as requested. “Quinn” would be my story to the kids. MsQuill and I sat up late into the night, carving pieces out, trying to bring it down to the requisite time...and failing miserably. We were starting to cut out pieces that I thought were critical to the fun of the story. Finally, I decided, I wasn’t going to savage my story just to make it fit their timeframe. I was going to just *tell* it. I threw out all the papers. I got rid of the script. I sat down in front of the podium, right down there with the kids, and I told “Quinn in Trashland” straight from memory. Oh, I have no doubt I left out some stuff. Possibly some of the good stuff, but I doubt it; I think I managed to get all of the important stuff in there. The kids laughed at all the right spots...heck, the adults laughed at all the right spots. I think I kept it down well under ten minutes, rough guess, but I didn’t time it. And they didn’t record it; about the only real complaint was that they didn’t take the time to put a microphone on me. They record all of the services for people who are at home sick and can’t make it, and my story was too quiet to be picked up, so there’s a large hole in the recording for that stretch. Not having a script in your hands *helps* with telling the story. Your eyes aren’t trapped. You can look out at your audience, make eye contact, make a connection...especially with the kids. One little boy kept inching closer and closer as the story went on, until by the end he practically had his head in my lap. After the service, several people complimented me on the story, and one person actually used the words “Teller of Tales.” At that moment, something clicked. I remembered the *original* Teller of Tales, thirty some odd years ago at Camp he held us spellbound just by telling us a story. And at that point, I realized that this is something I need to do more of. -=ad=-

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Writer's Resume

Everyone needs some kind of resume, some way of saying "hey, this is what I do."

Hopefully, it also says "this is what I'm good at," too.

I think every writer should have a "here's everything I've published so far" list handy and available, preferably online.  I started putting my own together a while back.

I was pretty surprised, actually...I mean, an article here, a guest blog post there...throw in a couple of fanfiction stories...and my Writer's Resume is actually more extensive than I would have thought.

So, besides having a place where you can tell people to go (no, not like that), you could also consider it an ego-boost--a reminder that, even when you feel like you're not making much progress, you just might be making more than you think.

This is what I've done so far.


Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Welcome to the Neighborhood - Revisited

My last article, "Welcome to the Neighborhood," was picked up and reprinted by Bob Livingston's Personal Liberty Digest.

Welcome to the Neighborhood

Check them out...let me know what you think.


Voice Work

I've been reading stories to my kids for, oh. at least ten years now.  We started with Dr. Seuss, proceeded to Hardy Boys and Magic Treehouse, and very quickly graduated to young adult.  We've read Artemis Fowl, Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, and the Hobbit/Lord of the Rings series, back to back to back to back.

My kids like when I read to them.  I try to spice things up, add some energy to it, apply voices--when I can get away with it, anyway.  ("Daddy, why does Dumbledore sound SO much like Gandalf...?").

Sometimes I overdid it just a when the six year old ran and hid when the Balrog stepped out of the shadows...*sigh*

But, anyway, I've been told by more than one person (and by more than one person, I also mean more than one person not actually related to me or married to me) who seem to think I know how to read out loud and tell a decent story.  I did high school drama; I worked as a radio DJ for a year or two.  I understand how people don't want to listen to a steady dull boring monotone when someone is reading to them or telling a story.

The new job has a bit of a perk...there's a recording studio onsite.  So, I asked if there was any chance I could, maybe, someday, come in on weekends, and read my own stories, so I could set them up as audio books some time...

...not only did they say yes, they asked if I would be willing to record some things for them, too.  Officially, no less.  "Voiceover work" has been added to my job duties; I get to hide in the recording studio once or twice a week and record essays written for the Mises Institute.

For all of the latest recordings, drop by the Recent Uploads section of the site.  For some of my own most recent work, check out "Even the Feds Admit Minimum Wages Cause Unemployment" and "You Didn't Consent To Be The State's Victim."

Comments, critiques, analysis, suggestions, all welcome...and, of course, should you *need* someone to record your story...*wink*


Friday, May 30, 2014

Welcome to the Neighborhood

I have an article accepted and published at today, "Welcome to the Neighborhood."


Thursday, December 12, 2013

Fanfiction: The Geek Trifecta

Sherman, set the Wayback Machine to, oh, early 2008, give or take a couple of months.

I stumbled upon an online writer’s group, with a weekly challenge--the Friday Challenge (although, back then, the website was The Ranting Room).  The premise was simple; every Friday, a new challenge would be posted, while the entries in the previous contest would be discussed, debated, and judged through the weekend.

I lurked for weeks...maybe even months...before I decided this was a contest I wanted to enter.  And finally, I decided that I would definitely write for the next Challenge, no matter what the subject, no matter how many other things conspired to keep me from writing...Friday Challenge or Bust.

That was when Bruce posted the first part of The Geek Trifecta (that would be Star Trek, Star Wars, and The Lord of the Rings), with his challenge to “write the Hollywood treatment for a sequel to The Lord of the Rings.”

Here is how he phrased it:

In one of those horrible, hideous, tragic twists of fate that can only happen when a gigantic multinational media conglomerate gets its grubby mitts on a well-loved literary property, The Lord of The Rings II has just been given the greenlight. Tolkien's ending was too darn final to be overcome — but wait, here's a new idea! How about if the One Ring was not destroyed, but merely encased in lava for a few millennia, while the seas rose, and the land fell, and the slopes of Mount Doom became a peaceful tropical island known for its papayas and black-sand beaches. And there, at the edge of the sea, the One Ring waits…
That's this week's challenge. Three sections: beginning, middle, and end; I want you to sketch out a rough outline for the screenplay of The Lord of The Rings II: The Return of The One Ring.

Yes, the first Friday Challenge I ever declare that I would most definitely enter, and it’s...well...huge.  I mean, a freaking SEQUEL to Lord of the Rings?  Really?  For that, you would need...let’s see...reincarnated characters, repeated themes, general quest plotline...hmm…

I started brainstorming, scribbling out notes...three or four pages of ideas...and then started writing it.  And amazingly enough, it was fun.

Oh, it’s an awful story, as such things go.  Instead of plain old orcs, the villain has cybernetically-enhanced laser-wielding Neo-Orc Borg.  The reincarnated Fellowship sneaks into Island Mount Doom by hacking the security system with a wifi-enabled laptop.  And I just couldn’t resist throwing in snarky comments every few sentences.

It’s meant to be awful.  It’s meant to poke fun at how awful a Hollywood sequel to Lord of the Rings would really be.

It was also the start of a theme in the Friday Challenge--fanfiction in the Geek Trifecta.  And it left me with a small collection of unpublishable stories.  Well...almost unpublishable, anyway.  There’s really only one place on the ‘net to share fanfiction.

So, I would like to invite everyone to drop by, and check out the three Geek Trifecta stories that are currently online there:  Arfour’s Complaint (Star Wars), The Naked Never (Star Trek), and Lord of the Rings 2.

There’s a fourth story posted there, also; quite possibly one of my top three favorite Friday Challenge entries.  All of the Friday Challenge regulars agreed, if I remember correctly, that the remake of “The Day The Earth Stood Still” was awful--even more awful than any imaginary Lord of the Rings sequel could possibly be.

So, of course, Bruce turned it into a Challenge.

Imagine the humans at the end of the movie.  They’ve been attacked by aliens.  They’ve had their technology base completely destroyed, and they’re going to have to claw their way back up to civilization again.  Once they get there, what will they do?

Emissary takes place thirty years later, as the humans make second contact with the aliens that sent Keanu Reeves to Earth in the movie.  It also won that week’s Friday Challenge; Bruce described it as “a great, kick-ass hard SF story.”

So...thank you for perusing my meager collection of fanfiction; I hope you enjoy my take on the Geek Trifecta, so far at least.

Until “The Naked Never 2:  Q To The Rescue…”