Tag Archive: podcasting

So, for what it’s worth, here’s what I’ve been up to:

1. New posts on my writing blog at “jlbrackett.com“.

2. Saturday was my youngest daughter’s prom.  There was all the pomp and circumstance – the right dress, the right shoes, the fancy hairdo, etc.  And to top it off, I have the fortune to have a terribly pragmatic daughter, who has similarly pragmatic friends.  They decided to eschew the typical evening of financial irresponsibility – no limo, no hundred dollar meal at an overpriced restaurant… no.  We have always been a home away from home for many of these young men and women, and they decided they would rather have “Mom’s” home cooking.  Even then, all they wanted was one of her pasta meals.  Of course, my wife went all out.  Since all they wanted was a nice pasta dinner, she poured her time into the atmosphere of the event: fancy candles, flower arrangements, nice china, punch… just nice enough to let them all know it was a special event, but simple enough that they wouldn’t need to feel guilty about the work that she put into it.   The woman’s a saint.  I’m in real trouble when she gets her glasses replaced.  🙂

3. Friday, my parents got in from Oklahoma.  My sister put together a nice dinner for the occassion, or so we thought.  It turns out that the whole thing was a surprise belated anniversary party for my wife and I.  See, January was our twenty-fifth anniversary, and we had been toying with the idea of splurging on a trip to Hawaii.  However, between the economy, rising fuel costs and air fares, our daughter getting ready to go to college, and life in general not quite being as cooperative as we would like, we decided to postpone the trip for another year or so.  Now, the rest of the family evidently thought that wasn’t good enough, so they threw us a nice dinner, and pooled their nickles and dimes, handing us a little over a thousand dollars to spend on a trip.  What can you say to that?

4.  Figured out (I think) what part of my problem with my pocast recording of my novel and promo was.  I  was banging my head against the wall on this one for the last few weeks.  I was taking my raw feed from my reads, editing out all the breathing and stammering to get a decent base track, then running it through GoldWave Editor Pro for noise reduction, then running the resulting wav file through Levelator to level the sound, then filling with music and sound effects.  I couldn’t find anything wrong with my process no matter how many times I looked it over.  The sound quality just wasn’t good enough.  I finally noticed on Friday that the mic I’m using was set to record the source in a 16 bit mp3 format.  There was nothing wrong with my process.  I was suffering from a classic case of gigo (garbage in, garbage out).  My process was doing the best it could with the low quality source material I was feeding into it.  I have now set the mic to record as 32 bit wav.  Hopefully that will give me a higher fidelity sound file to work with.  Unfortunately, this means that I get to start all over on the whole thing.  😦

5.  Found out about “Goodreads.com” and set up an account.  Posted two reviews on books I’ve recently read (“The Hunger Games” and “The Second Ship: Book One – The Rho Agenda“).  You can read them on Goodreads.com, or on my writing blog.

That’s about it for now.


Yep.  Another part of the marketing plan.  Time to find a site to host a real web site.  I’ll need to find something that allows me to build off of this blog, letting me add more as my writing developes.  Eventually, I hope to have a site where folks can:

1. Read the blog (if they’re crazy enough to want to).

2. Download audio podcasts of my writing (if they’re crazy enough to want to).

3. Interact with myself and each other (forum?).

4. Link to the Amazon site that I don’t have yet.  (Hey, I did say eventually!)

That all means that I need to have a site that will allow me to blog, upload and download files via ftp, store said files for an undetermined amount of time, install various widgets such as progress bars and book cover carousels, set up a secure sales point.

It all sounds a little daunting, quite honestly.  But I figure if I start now, I can start small and build it a little at a time.  It’s not like I’m about to start posting podiobooks or selling e-books tomorrow.  I just want to make sure I get a host that can support me when I do get to that point.  After all, why start a site now with a host that can’t handle my plans for the future?

In my initial (uneducated) research, I’m looking at GoDaddy’s “Ultimate” plan for three years.  It comes to roughly $250 for three years of unlimited bandwidth, unlimited storage, 1000 email accounts (though I’m not sure why I would need 1000 email addresses), and a free SSL certificate.  Plenty of research still to do, and I realize I have a lot to learn.

On a related note, after talking with a few new authors, and working as I do in the computer field, I think I’ve decided to begin writing under a pseudonym.  I’ve discussed with the family and together, we’ve chosen a nom de plume.  I’ve checked, and as of this morning, the name is available for domain registration.  Guess that adds another wrinkle to my writing life.  🙂

Just what I need, more complications.  Better that, though, than some of the worries I heard about from some other writers who are beginning to gain some success.  Had one guy who had received some frighteningly “innocent” emails from a fan who sounded more like a serial killer, and another who had been sent a bottle of his favorite scotch from a fan who managed to track down his home address through clues he found on the internet.

That, coupled with some of the things I already know from working in the field, makes me think it’s probably a good idea to take on a disguise.  I guess that also means that “Sm1ley” will have to change some of his blogging habits in the near future.  I may even go so far as to drop this blog completely, and pick up the new persona instead.  I haven’t really thought it all the way through, so I don’t know if I’ll have to go that far.  If I do though, and if I want to do it for security’s sake, then I have to make sure this new persona is completely disassociated with my real name and with Sm1ley, since the two can easily be linked with minimal research.

I guess it sounds a little paranoid, but I don’t want to do anything that could cause any additional worry for friends or family.

Finally!  I finished my first rewrite of Phoenix Rising, bringing it down from just over 130K words to just over 115K.  I may be able to bring it down some more, but I’m not really sure I want to at this stage of the game.  Yes, I need to give it another editing pass or two, but I’m less concerned about the word count than I was.  After all, the advice I was following (“new writers should keep their word counts under 100K”) was geared toward the old publishing industry model.  And while I’m not under any illusions that the old brick and mortar model is about to disappear, it is no longer the only game in town.

There is a growing and thriving community of indy writers and self publishers that are actually making money with their work, and I’m leaning more and more towards the idea of joining them.  No, I’ll never be a famous “household name” author like Steele, or King, but a decent writer has a decent chance these days of getting their work out to share with others, and maybe making a bit of spending money at the same time.  🙂

Last Christmas my kids all got together and bought me a Kindle 3 Wireless.  Let me start by saying, if you want an e-reader, and are trying to determine which one to get – I love mine.  I have since read reviews comparing the Kindle, Nook, and Nook color – and the Kindle 3 blows the others out of the water.  Kindle 3 has four weeks of battery life (with wireless turned off) compared to ten days on the Nook, and eight hours for the Nook color!  It also has 4GB storage compared to Nook’s 2GB.  In theory, that allows the Kindle 3 room for more than 3000 novels.  I currently have eight or nine titles on mine (including a PDF copy of my own novel) and it barely registers that there is anything stored on it.

I also love the fact that the buttons to turn the page are so freaking quiet!  Since I’m about to begin recording my novel for podcast, that’s a huge advantage.  I have taken the advice of so many podcasters before me, and have set up a small recording area in the guest room closet that has a mattress and some clothes to act as sound buffers.  In a few practice sessions, the main problems I have run into is the sensitivity of the Zoom H2 mic.  You see, attempting to read in front of the computer picks up the sound of the fans and hard drive.  Granted, in the case of the hard drive, it was an unusual thing.  For some reason, the TB drive on the system I recently built out as a replacement for my trusty old Dimension has a knock in it that you don’t notice at first.  But when listening to a recording made while sitting in front of it, it sounded like a faint tapping on the water pipes.  It took me several sessions to figure out that it was the hard drive.

But I digress.  🙂

Like I said, to get away from the computer sounds I’ve taken to recording in the guest room closet.  The sensitive H2 picks up all sorts of background noise. The closet eliminates most of them, but I have found that I still catch the occasional rattle of paper, since I have been reading off of printed pages.  Using the Kindle should eliminate that.

I haven’t tried it yet, as I am still working on edits for the novel, but I’m looking forward to the experiment.  I anticipate great success.

My first podcast

As part of the learning process for my Zoom H2 mic, I have been collaborating with a fellow Dead Robot (mrsmica) on creating a couple of mini-podcasts of some short short stories on Drabblecast.com. She acquired author permission, and I just completed the process of recording, editing the raw feed, taking mrsmica’s raw feed and editing, adding sound effects (she’s voicing the part of a robot 🙂 ) interlacing her read into mine, editing dialog tempo & gaps, running noise reduction, running it through Levelator, finding suitable royalty free music for intro and outtro, weaving same into the feed, creating a donut in the intro music for an introduction read-over, laying the intro into the donut, and editing outtro music for blending and fadeout at the end of the read. (Whew!) 😮

I tried to keep track of the time involved in all of this, since part of our discussion on The Dead Robot’s Society forum was regarding how long a podcast takes to put together.  I nearly freaked when they told me that it took about thirty minutes of production per minute of actual reading 😯 , so I decided to put it to the test. 

For this first podcast, I spent about six minutes reading.  Then I timed (as well as I could with interruptions) the amount of time I spent on the production.  Looks like it took about three hours, which gives me right at the predicted thirty to one ratio. 

Now, I also view this as a “learning” production, so I do expect that I will get faster as I progress.  But I should say up front, that I had so much fun with it, that the time spent didn’t seem like work at all.  Also, I believe the ratio may be skewed to reflect more work for shorter pieces, as a lot of the editing and effects get laid into the piece in bulk.  Say for instance, I want to change a straight read to add harmonics and pitch shifts to the vocal and make it sound as if a robot were speaking (which I did on this one). The amount of time spent with those sound effects would be the same whether the raw feed was three minutes or thirty, which would greatly impact the “production to read time” ratio. 

This leads me to think that the ratio might go down significantly for me when I go ahead with my eventual plans to podcast my novel.  For that, each piece will likely be more like thirty minutes of read time, and I am planning to do a straight read. that should also reduce production time.  The only outside voice work I will need will be where I’ll need someone who speaks fluent French to read part of the intro for each chapter, and that will be pretty much a stand alone read, so it doesn’t have to be woven into another read as part of a dialogue.  Also, once I choose the intro and outtro music and create the intro track, it shouldn’t change much from one episode to the next, greatly reducing the production ratio.

My one concern is background sounds and music.  I haven’t yet decided whether or not I’ll want to use any.  If I do, I think it could greatly enhance the quality of the production.  However, it will probably greatly increase that worrisome production to read ratio, also.

Anyway, first experiment is nearly done.  I’m waiting on mrsmica to get back to me regarding the ending credits.  She mentioned that she wanted to do them herself so the read I sent her was without.  However, I think I’ll go back and add some myself, just so I’ll have an idea of what to do for them.  That will give me the full production experience.

We still have one more podcast we are going to do together, but it is significantly shorter and I anticipate that the ratio will likely increase.   I suppose I’ll see soon enough.

Got myself a new toy

Number two on my new year’s resolutions list was to investigate & begin work on podcasting my novel.  Of course, to do this I need to have a decent mic.  I checked around and the consensus among most of the writers currently podcasting is that the Zoom H2 is the right mic for the job.  Anything less won’t give you the quality you need for a good podcast, and anything higher will end up recording more than you want to record.

Much more! 🙂

There were numerous stories out there from podcasters who kept their “stomach gurgle and fart reels” as reminders that sometimes, the “best” product made is not necessarily the best product for the job.   😆

Anyway, I had discussed my plans with my wife and told her what I was planning.  But I was actually planning to purchase my little toy in another month or two, as I haven’t yet begun the rework of the novel I’m going to record.  Well, we have also been investigating a new GPS system and made the decision to go ahead and buy one.  I went to Amazon, found the one we had settled on, and clicked buy.

And that’s where things went wrong.  It seems that when my kids got me a Kindle for Christmas, I must have turned on Amazon’s “one-click” purchasing option to facilitate wireless purchasing on the Kindle.  Combine that with the fact that I had also been looking at the H2 on Amazon, and apparently left it in my cart, and viola

Today the box from Amazon arrived and imagine my surprise when I opened it to find not just the GPS, but my new H2.  I hadn’t intended to get it this soon, but now that it’s here, it seems pretty silly to send it back, only to buy it again later.

So I’ve been playing with my new toy this evening.  The recording quality is amazing, but there are so many settings that I actually RTFM’ed before I started playing.  Even then, I think I’ve barely scratched the surface of what I’ll need to know about this thing.

Still, just with the little bit I learned this evening I can tell this was indeed the right tool for the job.  I’m really looking forward to experimenting with podcasting now.  🙂